The infamous highway to the Rocky Mountain National Park gateway city of Estes Park from Loveland Colorady. It run from Granby, Colorado to the Nebraska Border east of Laird Colorado following the Colorado River Valley. It cuts through the Rocky Mountain National Park at Estes Park, going over Milner Pass, up into the Gore Mountain Range exiting the National Park at US 36 near Deer Ridge. It is considered the highest continous highway located in the USA. Headed east from the Rocky Mountains, it goes from Estes Park to Loveland, intersects I-25 and Highway 287. It continues into Greeley, past Highway 85, U.S. 34, and crosses the South Platte River, then heads east into Nebraska.
The second largest city in the state of Colorado, following under Denver in populace, Colorado Springs often nicknamed “The Springs” is a municipal hub for government, military, education, religion, sports, and recreation. It is the heart of El Paso County and is located in Central Colorado on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, in the shadow of Cheyenne Mountain, NORAD, and Pike’s Peak. It is located along Fountain Creek as its main water source. The region of Colorado Springs is located within the high desert of the Southern Rocky Mountains bordering its west, with the high plains to the east, high desert lands to the south, and the Palmer Divide to the north. It is approximately 60 miles south of Denver – the Mile High City, of which it beats in elevation at 6,035 feet. It is home to the United States Olympic Committee and training center. Colorado Springs has a population of over a 1/2 million residents. It encompasses over 195 square miles.
The area that is now Colorado Springs, was once home to the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Ute tribes of the first inhabitants of the Americas. Once Euro-American settlers populated the area, the lands here were included in the 1803 Louisiana purchase and the 1854 Kansas Territory records. The first settlement by Euro-Americans occured in 1859 and was part of the Jefferson Territory, at the Front Range confluence of Fountain and Camp Creeks during the Gold Rush plaguing the Pikes Peak region in the mid 1800’s. It became the capital of the Colorado Territory in 1861, but in 1862 the capital was moved to Denver. By 1871 the “Colorado Springs Company” established the towns of La Font (now known as Manitou Springs) and the Fountain Colony up and down stream of Old Colorado City (the foundation of Colorado Springs). The former “Fountain Colony” became “Colorado Springs”. At a later date, that which was “Fountain Colony” became Fountain, Colorado and that which was “Old Colorado City” became Colorado Springs. The Military camp and town of “Fort Carson” was built within the middle area between Fountain and Old Colorado City. These “annexations” occured primarily around the late 1800’s and included the creation and division of Seavey’s Addition, West Colorado Springs, East End, North End, and the Broadmoor suburb that hosted the Broadmoor Casino. By 1895 there were over four Mining exchanges and over 275 mining brokers running the city.
After the mining boom gaining attention to the city, the experimental scientist Nikola Tesla created a Tesla Experimental station here on Knob Hill from 1899-1901. The Airport was established in 1919, with the Alexander Airport towards the north end of the city opening in 1925. The current Colorado Springs Municipal Airport was established in 1927.
By the 1940’s Colorado Springs became a central hub for the military, first with the establishment of Peterson Air Force Base in 1942 during World War II. By the 1950’s it was the Cold War headquarters for the ADC Air Defense Command. Peterson Air Force base was reopened in 1951 as a US Air Force Base and by the 1970’s NORAD was built within Cheyenne Mountain. The city boomed again with the construction of colleges and Universities making it a place of learning with the acquisition of “University of Colorado: Colorado Springs”, “Pikes Peak Community College”, “Colorado College”, and “Colorado Technical University”. By the late 1970’s Colorado Springs became the U.S. Olympics training Center.
The region of Colorado Springs is located in a semi-arid climate zone gaining quickly changing weather patterns and temperature zones from the chinook winds that come down off the mountains during the winter, and drastic rapid warming in the summers. It is considered to be sunny year round at an average of 243 sunny days a year. It gets approximately 38 inches of snow a year, although the snow doesn’t stick around long. The region receives roughly 16-18 inches of rainfall a year. It is also a popular location for afternoon thunderstorms, even though they don’t always produce rain. It is one of the most active places in the United States for lightning strikes nad is one of the reasons Nikola Tesla selected it as a location for his lab studying electricity.
Colorado Springs has become a backdrop for many art projects, films, and books including but not limited to Stargate, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, War Games, Homicide Hunter, and the Prestige. In 2013 North Korea produced a propaganda film stating Colorado Springs as one of its four main targets for a missle strike.
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One of my favorite parts of Colorado is its great diversity in the ranges of the Rocky Mountains. One of those hotspots of “oddity” is the vast Sahara-like desert of sand dunes in the San Luis Valley. Of course California, New Mexico, and Arizona has tons of sand dunes – but Colorado’s is very unique, especially at the foot of snow-covered mountain peaks and being the tallest dunes in the United States. This geologic feature extends 5 x 7 miles with a grand height of 700 feet above the valley floor (over 7,600 feet above sea level). As early as 440,000 years ago, the dunes were formed from the Rio Grande River’s and associated tributaries flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over a period of several thousand years, and continually growing today, the westerly winds blow the sand over the Rockies and down along the river flood plain, collecting sand, and depositing them on the east edge of the San Luis Valley before the winds rise up and over the Sangre de Cristo mountain range shaping these huge stable dunes. There are also some parts of the dunes where patches of black sand can be found made up of magnetite deposits as crystalline iron black oxide. Medano Creek winds through the dunes as it is fed by melting snow from the mountains. It extends roughly 10 miles, flowing from spring and early summer from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and disappears into the floor of the valley. An unusual feature of the creek is that it never finds a permanent and stable streambed causing small underwater sand dunes that act like dams are continuously formed and destroyed, causing what seems like “surges” with “waves of water” flowing downstream with intervals of a few seconds to a few minutes, and can appear as large as a foot in height with an appearance of an “ocean wave”. The geological area is known as a “High Desert” with summer temperatures not typical of normal high desert lands, varying from high and low temperatures of exceedly cold nights (even below zero). There are also alpine lakes and tundra in the park, with six peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation, ancient spruces, pine forests, aspens, cottonwoods, grasslands, and wetlands. The park is also notated as being the quietest park in the United States. The park, is managed by the National Park Service, and has been a place of enjoyment under their reigns since November 2000 with over 85,000 acres. In 2004 it became known as the “Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve”. It can be reached west from Mosca along country road 6 North, or from the south along CO road 150. The park hosts a great visitor center, a campground, four wheel drive trails, restrooms, and picnic areas. The park is great for hiking, wading, sand castles, sandbox play, sunbathing, sand sledding, rough play, skimboarding, photoshoots, and ATV sports. Rating: 5 stars out of 5. Visited 7/12/2008. 2/16/2017. Review by Thomas Baurley, Leaf McGowan, Leafworks and Technogypsie Research/Review Services.
One of my favorite parts of Colorado were the stretches of the Rocky Mountain ranges that extend half-way through the state. Stretching over 3,000 miles from northern British Columbia down to New Mexico, across Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. It is one of North America’s major mountain ranges. Formed 55-80 million years ago by means of erosion, glaciers, water, and wind … these majestic mountains were home to North America’s first human inhabitants as well as early Euro-American explorers. Most of the mountains consist of public parks, National Parks, State forests, and Bureau of Land Management acreage – it is a major tourism attractor for camping, hiking, photography, fishing, hunting, skiing, biking, and outdoor recreation. Some of North America’s highest peaks are located within this range, such as Mount Elbert at 14,400 feet and Mount Robson at 12,972 feet above sea level. Formed by tectonics, the oldest rock found in the range is pre-cambrian metamorphic rocks that formed the core of the North American continent as well as pre-cambrian argillite (1.7 billions years old). During the Paleozoic, most of this area was under a shallow sea adding dolomite and limestone to its composition. During the Pennsylvanian Period in Colorado, the ranges saw much uplift and erosion producing what is now called the “Ancestral Rocky Mountains” leaving much sedimentary rock layers. Much of this uplift created tilted slabs in Colorado which attract many tourists and photographers to the area especially in the hogbacks. The Rockies have numerous biotic zones ranging from stone with no trees to heavy forests. Landscapes range from rock outcrops, grass slopes, aspens, pines, junipers, firs, oaks, and hemlock. Bighorn sheep, deer, elk, moose, mule, mountain goats, black bears, grizzly bears, lynxes, mountain lions, coyotes, and wolves are predominant. The first human inhabitants were Native Americans such as the Ute, Kutenai, Sioux, Shoshone, Apache, Cheyenne, Crow, Flathead, Blackfoot, Bannock, and Arapaho as well as others. Their archaeological remains date back almost over 6,000 years ago. Euro-American explorers invaded the Rockies, hunting, farming, exploring, mining, trading, and mapping the regions from as early as 1540.
Boulder, Colorado is a kitchy little artsy town to the Northwest of Denver, Colorado. The areas was first settled by the Arapaho Indians who lived in a villaged near the Haystack Mountains. The area was heavily visited and occupied by the Utes, Cheyennes, Comanches, and Sioux. The first Euro-Americans to settle here came in for the Gold Rush … settling the first non-native settlement in the area on Oct 17, 1858 at Red Rocks near the entrance to Boulder Canyon. A year later, the town was organized and property became sold. Originally a supply base for gold miners, Boulder quickly grew into a stable town with restaurants, gambling, schools, and hospitals. Mount St. Gertrude Academy was the first private school to open in the area in 1892. By 1905 tourism swept over the area and became prosperous. Between 1950-1972, Boulder grew from 20,000 inhabitants to 72,000. In 2005, the Best features of Boulder were listed as: “50 fabulous gay-friendly places to live” – book by Gregory A. Kompes, November 2005; “Top 10 cities for masters athletes” – GeezerJock Magazine, September 2005; “7th Best Running City” – Runner’s World Magazine, August 2005; “#6 in “The 100 Best Art Towns in America” by John Villani; “50 Best places to live – best overall city” – Men’s Journal, March 2005; “Going to Boulder” – The New York Times, May 2005; “#18 in the Top 25 Art Cities” – American Style Magazine, June 2005; and “Top 20 greenest spots in the country” – Vegetarian Times, July/August 2005. Today its is well known as a retreat, an artist’s collective, an alternative city, inspirational, relaxing, very educated, and a city rich in culture, arts, music, education, and open spaces. Rating: 5 stars out of 5.
The Rugged San Juans * Near Gunnison, Colorado *
One of Colorado’s most panoramic features, is the rugged mountain chain in southwestern Colorado that is an integral part of the Rockies known as the San Juan mountains. They consist of very steep, highly mineralized stone composition slopes and are the heart of what is known as the Colorado Mineral Belt, most famous throughout history for its gold and silver mining. Because of the minerals, gold, and silver; towns, mining camps, and settlements populated these remote regions – some very notable places like Creede, Lake City, Silverton, Ouray, and Telluride. Through time, the mining industry saw its boom and declines. Large scale mining is uneconomical in the area even though its still prospected by individuals and smaller mines. The mountains saw a major environmental disaster in the 1990’s when the Summitville mine saw leaking from its cyanide-laced tailing pond. The area also has many extinct volcanoe calderas such as Summitville and the large 35 mile diameter La Garita Caldera. The floors of the San Luis Valley below are scattered with large beds of lava towards its eastern slopes. The mountains are heavily frequented by outdoor recreationists and tourists – from archaeology, to history, hiking, jeeping, boating, fishing, skiing, mountain climbing, ghost towns, snow and water sports. The San Juans see the Rio Grande rising from its east side, and the continental divide on its western slopes, which are drained by tributaries of the San Miguel, Dolores, and Gunnison Rivers which all flow into the Colorado River. The National Forests nestling the mountains are the San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests.