We had planned to meet up with Steve and Janice for a few days of camping in Colorado and we made it into a 12-day road trip. While our first destination was Durango, we decided to get an earlier start and stop somewhere along the way to break up the 7-hour haul. That somewhere turned out to be the Meteor Crater, near Winslow, AZ. This is the first crater confirmed as being caused by a celestial body. It is relatively young, large and well-preserved, as far as craters go. Worth a visit as both a natural phenomenon and a roadside attraction.
We stayed at an RV park near the crater and took off in the morning for the Colorado border. The scenery changed from high desert to mountain ranges almost as we crossed the state line. It was nice to see some green!
In Durango, we had reserved a creek-side camping spot at Lightner Creek Campground. It was a great base from which to explore the area. That evening we wandered around the streets of Durango and stopped in at a brew pub.
Our first destination was to double back to Mesa Verde. The drive into the park was spectacular in itself.
We had stopped at the visitor center the day before to reserve a spot on a ranger-guided tour of the Cliff Palace, so we were ready to go. It was interesting to learn how the Ancestral Puebloans lived in these cliff dwellings.
After the tour, we drove around the rest of Chapin Mesa, taking in the views from across the canyon of Spruce Tree House and visiting pit houses and the Far View site.
The fire in the San Juan Mountains north of Durango was never far from our minds. In the morning the smoke was settled low to the ground and the rest of the day it was ever present on the horizon.
We headed to Salida where we met Steve and Janice for a few days of camping along the Arkansas River.
We were surrounded by the Sawatch Range (the “backbone of the continent”) and had great views of the Collegiate Peaks. We took a side trip to St. Elmo, a ghost town that had had 2000 residents in its mining heyday in the 1880s.
After more fun in and around Salida,
we drove up to Monarch pass and took the tramway to 12,000 feet, where we enjoyed breathtaking views of the continental divide and all the way to Pike’s Peak.
The next day we had a beautiful drive to Conifer, home of the world-famous Brooks Place Tavern and to Morrison, home of Steve and Janice.
Ted and I took the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, the highest paved road in North America, all the way up this fourteener. The views and the mountain goat sightings were spectacular. Abbey and I hiked the remaining 140 feet of vertical to the top. Afterward at least one of us was tired.
We saw lots of tundra and sub-alpine flowers along the route (making up for the paucity of spring wildflowers in Arizona this year).
The next day we headed west on 70 and were floored by the scenery. When you haven’t been to Colorado for a few years, you forget just how astonishing the views are, even from the interstate!
In Utah, we took a back road following the Colorado River, to Moab, where we returned to one of the better urban RV parks and to the Moab Brewery, which has pretty good beer and food.
And our last trek was through Navajo country and back home.
It was great to be on the road again and nice to be in the RV. It made us nostalgic for our full-time RVing days, but taking it in 12-day increments isn’t bad. And we have a lovely place to return to in between jaunts.