Precambrian metamorphic rock formed the core of the North American continent during the Precambrian eon 4.5–1 billion years ago. During the Paleozoic era, western North America was submerged beneath a shallow sea, with a seabed composed of limestone and dolomite deposits many kilometers thick. Pikes Peak granite formed during the late Precambrian eon, continuing well into the Paleozoic era, when mass quantities of molten rock flowed, amalgamated, and formed the continents about 1 billion–300 million years ago. Concurrently, in the period from 500–300 million years ago, the region began to sink while lime and mud sediments were deposited in the vacated space. Eroded granite produced sand particles that formed strata—layers of sediment—in the sinking basin.
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.
The Western Slope has plenty of charms, including being a dinosaur mecca with plenty of hands-on science, and is the heart of Colorado’s agricultural region. At the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey, visitors can get up close and personal with dinosaur skeletons, a working paleontology lab and realistic robotic dinosaurs. Dedicated to “putting science in the hands of kids,” the Western Colorado Math and Science Center features interactive exhibits in biology, physics, earth and space science, and electronics. From June through October, orchards are laden with some of the sweetest harvests around: cherries, grapes, apples, plums, pears, apricots and peaches. Take an orchard tour or check out the myriad of roadside stands selling fresh produce, jams and ciders. For great biking or strolling, the Colorado Riverfront Trail winds for more than 18 miles through the city of Grand Junction’s picnic grounds, botanical garden, protected wetlands and fishing pier. Buy one/get one free passes are available for six major attractions from the Grand Junction Visitors Center. This “Map to Adventure” includes Dinosaur Journey, Museum of the West, Cross Orchards, the John McConnell Math & Science Center, The Art Center and the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens.
“This isn’t a furlough for us,” Oropeza said. “There are definitely folks who, if this continues into next week, they’ll have to forfeit their commitment. Some are exploring applying for other jobs. They have student loans, they have car payments and other bills. …There are ripple effects this is having down the road. Our seasonal contracts, we have to have our contracts for summer seasonal work signed soon. All these things are getting backlogged.”
There are 14 individually decorated guestrooms, each furnished with rustic décor and modern amenities. Floor-to-ceiling natural stone fireplaces create a cozy ambiance, and handcrafted beds and lush linens beckon you to try them. Relax in the comfort of your room or enjoy a pampering in-house massage before heading out into town to enjoy an exceptional dining experience at one of the many local restaurants.
Brian and I descended back to ~7,000 feet for dinner in a small-town Indian restaurant in Nederland, Colorado, west of Boulder. By then, both our heads ached like a bad hangover, and my lungs literally burned when I tried to inhale anything but shallow breaths. Add generalized joint pain, and I had a full-blown case of altitude sickness. Given that I am a noted hypochondriac, I expected the worst.
In winter you can try cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails and after an energetic day out there is nothing better than a soak in one of the natural thermal springs. You can visit the Buena Vista Heritage Museum or go on a Ghost Town adventure, visit several working art studios and galleries, or quench your thirst at a local brewery. Things to Do in Buena Vista
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.
Georgia peach, coffee addict, and Bananagrams champ (in no particular order), Olivia is a travel writer and designer based in Central America. She has a particular affinity for road trips to warm Southern cities and down the California coast, with frequent pit stops for local fare at roadside stands. Follow her on Instagram @olivia.ashra for lots of nature pics and keep up with her travels at therecouldbeblackberries.com.
The Experience: Located in a Western ghost town in the Rockies, Dunton Hot Springs is the rustic escape for families that want to experience the great outdoors without compromising luxury or comfort. Dunton offers perma-tents, tepees, and cabins for lodging. This remote destination hotel will get you off the beaten path and out of your comfort zone in the best, most luxurious way possible.
The Experience: This gorgeous crystal-blue mountain scene captures Loch Lake, which is in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Take a day trip here to see the national wonder and spend the rest of your vacation enjoying the charming college town of Boulder. Stay at the St. Julien and enjoy a spa treatment or book a room at the hip, adult-only Basecamp Hotel for a quintessential Colorado vibe.
The Experience: Like Crested Butte, Telluride is a place that anyone will fall in love with no matter the season. Plus, it's a bit more down-to-earth than Aspen and Vail for anyone looking for a Colorado ski town that has a more casual energy. Surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, the charming town is lined with authentic saloon-like bars, boutique gourmet eateries, and old-school chop houses. If you visit during the winter, hit the slopes or go helicopter skiing and dog sledding. And in the summer, you can do anything from riding around the backcountry in an old Jeep to river rafting, fly-fishing, and hiking to the many striking mountain springs, including Blue Lakes, Hope Lake, and Navajo Lake. Book a room at the Dunton Town House for an intimate stay.
The weather in RMNP is highly variable. To avoid being caught off-guard, pay attention to the weather report (especially afternoon thunderstorms in the summer or heavy snow during the winter). The NPS also warns that wintertime visitors planning on cross-country skiing should be aware of the risks of avalanches, and should consider completing an avalanche training from places like the Colorado Avalanche Information Center before hitting the trails. For more safety tips, consult the NPS website .
Would you like to stay in a historic red barn, a former milk room, or an original historic log cabin and get an idea of how the original Colorado settlers lived? Converted to the luxury Four Mile Creek Bed and Breakfast, this former 1885 homestead is a quaint reminder of the area’s adventurous past. With its main lodge building, old converted barn, and two log cabins, the Bed and Breakfast today offers rustic luxury and unparalleled comfort. The rooms are furnished with antique pieces and fireplaces, with luxurious bathrooms featuring claw foot tubs, conveying a sense of times gone by while providing entirely modern comfort and amenities.