Colorado– Starting from the southwest corner of the state and journeying up to the Wyoming border and then westward into Utah, we spent a couple months taking in as many spots as we could route. Visiting all of state’s national parks, exploring the mountains, small towns, big cities, and rolling ranch lands, here are a few things that stood out about Colorado along the way:
Million Dollar Highway
Colorado has an incredibly scenic stretch of highway (US 550), which we took from Durango in the south through Montrose in the north, that winds its way through the San Juan Mountain range and along many scenic mountain towns along the way, including Silverton and Ouray. It is something of a badge of honor that most of the highway has dramatic views and drop offs, without the added security of rail guards. So if you have even a slight fear of heights, the vertigo effect will play with your senses at certain points, especially riding high in a camper. Dubbed as both one of the most scenic highways and one of the most dangerous, it is truly breathtaking, for many reasons!
Perhaps because we don’t often see it or because we had incorrectly thought it was now illegal, but having travelled throughout most of the US, we were under the impression that hitchhiking was a thing of the past. If that is the case in other parts of the country, it wasn’t the case in Colorado where hitchhiking is not only legal, but regularly employed amongst the free spirited, intrepid, outdoors-folk. Though we never picked any up ourselves, both because we don’t have any cab space, and also because we are unaccustomed with the practice, it was interesting to see this throwback to an era of “shared economy” before the invention of smartphones.
Between dramatic landscapes, outdoor activities for every season, adventurous locals, legal herb, thriving cities, Colorado has no shortage of ways to enjoy life. And beer is no exception! Each city we went to had their own local brews and we did our best to sample as many as we could. A couple of our favorites from along the way were the Horsefly Brewing Company in Montrose, Manitou Brewing Company in Manitou Springs, Rock Cut Brewing Company in Estes Park, Equinox Brewing in Fort Collins, and Mountain Tap Brewing in Steamboat Springs.
We spent most of our time in the western part of the state in or near the mountains, so our elevation was always higher than what we were accustomed to. We definitely noticed that we were a bit short of breath by just doing normal activity and walking about. Trying to keep up our running routine was a lot more taxing when each run felt like we were starting from scratch all over again. It sure made us feel super conditioned when we finally descended back to sea level!
Reminiscent of the Von Dutch early 2000s trend, the trucker hat industry has a definite foothold in Colorado. Baseball caps of all sorts are a staple and likely to always be. Trucker hats are a distinctive breed with plastic mesh and adjustable plastic snaps in the back. These used to be my go-to childhood cap, as they were cheap and abundant, which was good, because the plastic sizing tabs were always breaking. Same basic design and principle, but now that they are “trendy” again, cheap no more (averaging around $30 a pop). Every gift shop, brewery, and landmark we went to featured their own logoed version, and after our first month in Colorado, we definitely started to feel like outsiders without one.
With all the driving we do, this one was no fun! Since we only thought about pot holes as we were literally dodging them, snapping pictures of the many, many, many potholes we encountered along the roadways was not something we ever got around to doing. One place that surprised us was Colorado Springs. As one of Colorado’s largest cities, we figured they would have a better handle on their roadways and infrastructure, but it was definitely one of the cities with the most pot holes that we encountered- though Denver had a lot too. Granted, Colorado gets treated with 4 very distinct, and often extreme, seasons, and all that freezing and thawing takes its literal toll on the roadways!