Aspen Ridge

Aspen Ridge features open meadows, dense forests, and wide views of the Collegiate Peaks. An extensive aspen forest gives this area its name, and is a beautiful area in all seasons.

They call it Aspen Ridge because it’s a ridge that’s covered in aspen trees. Who would’ve guessed? Aspen Ridge is traversed by Forest Road 185, which provides a fun little offroad route from the Fourmile Area/U.S. 285/24 to Salida. Aspen Ridge is passable by stock SUVs in dry conditions, and features open meadows, dense forests, old mines, wide views of the Collegiate Peaks and plenty of dispersed campsites.

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Heading up Aspen Ridge, traveling southbound towards Salida

For a several miles you’re pretty much driving through a forest consisting exclusively of aspen trees. Unfortunately, when we did this trail, it was too late in the fall for the leaves to still be the magnificent yellow/orange/red they become. But it was still a fun trail and certainly a place on the bucket list to return to next September during the peak color season for aspens. It’s a great trail to run right after doing Lenhardy Cutoff or Sevenmile Creek Rd., just to the north in the Fourmile Recreation Area.

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Old Flowers

Sometimes you’re on a backcountry road and wonder, “why does this road even exist?” The industries which built the West are often the reason, and Old Flowers Rd. is no exception.

Today, Old Flowers Road is simply another forest access road, and alternate (offroad) route from Stove Prairie & Rist Canyon to Pingree Park. Old Flowers Road actually consists of two parts, East Old Flowers, between Stove Prairie and Pingree Park, and West Old Flowers, from Pingree to the the trailhead for Flowers Trail, a hiking trail.

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Cripple Creek & Victor, CO

There’s nothing like having a cold one at a saloon which once served the same to miners over 100 years ago. New ownership, new patrons, but one thing is timeless throughout history: booze.

Mining history. Mining history is something which Colorado has plenty of. This visit to Cripple Creek and then Victor was another spur of the moment shindig. Instead of going straight from Salida back to Denver via US 285, we decided to take a slight detour and go via US 50 to Cripple Creek, and then via Rampart Range back to the Denver metro area.

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Mt. of the Holy Cross

The Halo Ridge route is challenging but rewarding. It offers the best views a hike on the Mt. of the Holy Cross can offer.

One of the lowest 14ers in elevation, at 14,011 ft (USGS), Mt. of the Holy Cross is a challenge as well as a spectacle. It is such named due to the cross-shaped snowfield on the northeast face. The first recorded ascent of the mountain was in 1873, but it is very likely to have been previously ascended by Native Americans or mining prospectors. Holy Cross is the highest peak in the northern Sawatch Range.

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Mt. of the Holy Cross (rightmost peak), viewed from Notch Mountain. The snow which forms the cross is clearly visible.

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St. Elmo

Today, Hancock pass and sister passes nearby are still passable to Gunnison by offroad vehicles, hiking, or biking.

This was a winter time snowshoeing trip, in which we followed the old road towards Hancock pass.

The St. Elmo general store is closed in winter

St. Elmo has a ton of history, in fact that is its main attraction today. It was originally a mining town and a stop for the Denver, South Park, and Pacific railway. At its peak in the late 1890’s, there were five hotels, several saloons and dance halls, a telegraph office, post office, general store, a school, and a local newspaper.

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Deadman Fire Tower

On a clear day, you can see Laramie Peak some 102 miles to the north, and traffic along Interstate 80 in Wyoming.

Deadman fire lookout tower is one of the few remaining fire towers in Colorado. It sits approximately 15 miles west of Red Feather Lakes along Deadman Road (County Road 86) at an elevation of 10,700ft. The original tower was a wooden structure constructed in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps based in Red Feather Lakes. It was replaced with a modern steel tower in 1961. The site of the original wooden tower is still evident, with its concrete anchors located just north of the current tower. The current tower stands at 55ft tall, the original tower was 40ft tall.

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Visible in this picture is one of the concrete feet from the original tower. Current tower in background.
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Laramie, Hahn’s Peak & Pacific Railroad

For many years, the 111-mile railroad transported coal, lumber, and livestock to Laramie.

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The original route of the L, HP & P.

The Laramie, Hahn’s Peak and Pacific Railroad operated from 1911 until 1996. Construction began in 1901 from Laramie west to Centennial, Wyoming, and then south to Walden and Coalmont, Colorado. Isaac Van Horn was the man behind the L, HP & P, and made the money to fund the construction of the railroad as a grocer in Nebraska. According to records from the Securities and Exchange Commission Reports, Vol. 116, p.352 (1921), Van Horn received $2,750,000 in stock from the railroad. The original premise behind the construction of the railroad was to serve the Acme Mine, owned by the Acme Gold & Copper Mining Co. The Acme Gold & Copper Mining Company had an interlocking board of directors with the L, HP & P and the Northern Colorado Coal Company, and this served extremely influential in materializing the railroad. All three companies were incorporated under Wyoming law with main offices in Laramie, WY.

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Wyoming Infrared Observatory, Jelm, WY

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” -Unknown

Spontaneity and novelty are the spice of life. It’s what keeps life interesting. My adventure to this observatory happened as a spontaneous decision, partly out of boredom, but mostly out of the desire to explore. It was a normal, run-of-the-mill camping trip. We spent the night camping near Red Feather Lakes, and the next day we took a cruise along Deadman Road to the Laramie River Valley.


The descent into the Laramie River Valley is much like the descent from Kenosha Pass into South Park, but wilder, and somehow mightier. Part of the difference comes from the remoteness of the Larimer River Valley as opposed to South Park. There are only unpaved county roads streaking cross the valley, and limited inhabitants. Larimer County Road 103 is a 35 mile road which traverses the valley, beginning at State Highway 14 along the Poudre Canyon and continuing to the Wyoming border, where it turns into Wyoming route 10. Continuing north, you eventually arrive at the community of Woods Landing/Jelm, WY, a cozy little settlement nestled along the Laramie River a mere 10 miles north of the Colorado-Wyoming border.

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White Rim Road

The White Rim provides you with unmatched access to and unrivaled views of Canyonlands National Park

It’s hard to describe what kind of experience the White Rim was. If you’ve ever been to Moab, or any part of the Desert Southwest, you might think you understand: red rocks, towering sandstone monoliths rising above you, canyons… But you don’t quite know the desert southwest until you’ve spent time on the White Rim (and I mean meaningful time, not just passing through to Potash Canyon or popping in to see Musselman Arch).

The start of White Rim trail, traveling clockwise, has you not far from the Island in the Sky visitor center. Across the road from the visitor center is an overlook, that gives you the first glimpse of the White Rim trail, meandering its way into the distance. On a clear day, the La Sal mountains make for an impressive backdrop, paired with the thousand-foot drop off from the top of the Island in the Sky mesa to the White Rim sandstone layer, the geologic layer that the road runs on its entire route until the very western end. The White Rim Road is a 71.2 mile road that was built in the 1950s by the Atomic Energy Commission, as a uranium prospecting road. It follows roughly along the base of the Island in the Sky mesa.

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Map of the White Rim road (in red). Source: National Park Service
The White Rim Road, despite being fully within Canyonlands National Park, is lightly trafficked. No more than 50 vehicle permits are issued daily (which, most of the time, are all issued by 8am), and there are a limited amount of campsites which are often booked as early as four months in advance. Backcountry camping and wood-based fires are prohibited on the White Rim, so you must use a designated campsite. There is very little to burn on the White Rim, so most of the time having a camp fire isn’t even an option.

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