Some of the highlights along the way are the towns of Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Set at more than 9,300 feet and surrounded by mountains, Silverton has one main street with a few shops and restaurants. In summer, it can be ridiculously busy, but in winter, most of the establishments are closed, and the place can feel like a ghost town. On the edge of town, Silverton Mountain is an old school ski "resort" with great backcountry downhill skiing for advanced skiiers. Ouray, with a sign at the main lookout calling it the "Switzerland of America," is another mountain town, known for its hot springs. If you choose to do the Skyway, you can stop in at Telluride. Known for the Telluride Ski Resort, this is one of the most beautiful mountain towns in America, with a traditional main street and gorgeous mountain scenery. You can take a free gondola up the mountain for a better look over the area.
Nestled just one mile from the south entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and two miles from downtown Estes Park, Rockmount Cottages is a 20 cabin resort covering 15 acres of wilderness. On the grounds, you’ll have access to a half mile of the Big Thompson River available for fishing and riverside picnics. To fit the lodge lifestyle, each cabin is constructed of knotty pine and most include cozy, stone fireplaces as well as furnished kitchens, a 40-inch flatscreen and DirecTV, wireless internet, and outdoor charcoal grills and picnic areas.
Guest rooms at both lodge buildings are tastefully decorated and fully equipped with the necessary amenities for absolute comfort, including private bathrooms with showers and soaking tubs, stone fireplaces, and flat-screen televisions. The inn is situated within walking distance of the town’s restaurants, bars, and clubs, as well as other entertainment and events that happen on a regular basis. The Minturn Inn is located two hours from Denver.
Baker Pass crosses the Continental Divide through the Never Summer Mountains and into the Michigan River drainage to the west of Mount Nimbus—a drainage that feeds streams and rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. Other mountain passes are La Poudre Pass and Thunder Pass, which was once used by stage coaches and is a route to Michigan Lakes. Little Yellowstone has geological features similar to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. The Green Mountain trail once was a wagon road used to haul hay from Big Meadows. Flattop Mountain, which can be accessed from the eastern and western sides of the park, is near Green Mountain. Shadow Mountain Lookout—a wildfire observation tower—is on the National Register of Historic Places. Paradise Park Natural Area is an essentially hidden and protected wild area with no maintained trails penetrating it.
Only a short drive from lively Steamboat Springs, the Aspen View Lodge is tucked away on the edge of the Rabbit Ears Pass recreational area and Routt National Forest. Surrounded by mature aspens, the lodge fits in perfectly with its huge rough-hewn timbers and a wall of glass. The lodge can accommodate 35 guests in 12 contemporary, comfortable bedrooms with all the necessary amenities.
At 14,115 feet in elevation, Pikes Peak, in Pike National Forest, is one of the Southwest's famous "fourteeners," a reference to mountains that stand over 14,000 feet. The snow-capped peak is easily recognizable from the nearby town of Colorado Springs. This is one of the most visited mountains in the world, second only to Mt. Fuji. Unlike many mountain peaks that are inaccessible to the average person, you can drive to the summit of Pikes Peak on the Pikes Peak Highway, off highway 24, west of Colorado Springs. Travel time is about 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway for a scenic 8.9-mile trip, with a round-trip time of just over three hours.
Putting my Rocky Mountain inspired rectangles away until February, I eventually knitted up the remaining pieces and ironed the whole thing out before I framed the simple square and placed it on my beige wall. Perhaps I needed the chill of winter to remind me of the brisk breeze of that famous mountain range, maybe I briefly tired of sweater and cardigan projects, captivated instead by the simplicity of knit-purl in straight lines.
The Leland House and Rochester Hotel are family-owned historic hotels with an authentic Western theme. The 14 rooms at the Rochester Hotel are themed after Westerns that were filmed in the Durango area. Each of the 12 accommodations in the Leland House is named after a historic Durangoan and is decorated with that person’s memorabilia, biographies and photos. All rooms have Wi-Fi, cable, Aveda products, complimentary gourmet breakfast and free Cruiser bike rentals. Grab a drink at the Rochester Bar which serves the hotel’s signature Rochester wine.
Wildflower-lovers are never disappointed in June and July when the meadows and hillsides are splashed with botanical color. Autumn visitors can relax among the golden aspens or enjoy the rowdier antics of the elk rut during mating season. And those brave enough to venture into the cold during the winter are treated to snowscapes unlike any other, as the park is open year-round.
Zach Zehr, an avid backcountry adventurer, spends a lot of time in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is open but operating with a limited staff since Dec. 22, 2018, due to the federal government shutdown. Because of the shutdown, the roads aren’t being plowed so much of the park is not open to vehicle traffic. Fat bikes, however, work just fine. Zehr, who is also the manager at the Estes Park Mountain Shop, and some friends rode their fat bikes to the Bear Lake Trailhead and did a backcountry ski trip in the park on Jan. 6, 2019. (Provided by Zach Zehr)
Above tree line, at approximately 11,000 ft (3,400 m), trees disappear and the vast alpine tundra takes over. Over one third of the park resides above the tree line, an area which limits plant growth due to the cold climate and strong winds. The few plants that can survive under such extreme conditions are mostly perennials. Many alpine plants are dwarfed at high elevations, though their occasional blossoms may be full-sized.