Colorado Points-of-Interest?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dave Hahn, Apr 6, 2002.

  1. Dave Hahn

    Dave Hahn Second Unit

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    I'm visiting Colorado this coming week; a hastily put together trip to see my uncle in the hospital. Anyway, I'll be driving from Denver down to Pagosa Springs, (Durango) and just wondered if there was anything along the way that I could stop off and see that would break up the trip a little. I've not been to this part of the state and don't know anything about it. I'll be driving down on Rt. 285 most of the way.
    Any insight or help would be appreciated. The trip down from Denver to Pagosa Springs will probably be made at night, (unless I'm too tired and get a room for a few hours), so I won't be able to see much, but my trip back to Denver Intl. will be during the day and I'll probably be looking for something to take my mind off my visit, as well as break up that five hour drive.
    Thanks again,
    Dave
     
  2. Jeremiah W

    Jeremiah W Stunt Coordinator

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    well It's been quite a while since I've been out there, but I'd say you can stop anywhere and find something awesome to see.[​IMG]
     
  3. Craig F

    Craig F Second Unit

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    You will be going through some very beautiful scenery. There aren’t any major attractions along that route. There should be local signs indicating any “views”. There may be some hot springs you could visit, again watch for signs.

    You will be going through some very high mountain passes, expect snow. Looking at the map, on 160 just before Pagosa Springs is “Wolf Creek Pass” (over 10,000 ft). Listen to the road reports, this pass is very treacherous and often closed.
     
  4. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Dave,

    While 285 is a beautiful drive, it's generally not the fastest way from Denver to Pagosa Springs. 285 is two lanes the whole way (one in each direction), and you can really get hung up in spots if there's a lot of traffic. Additionally, the speed limit is 65.

    I'd head down I-25 to Walsenburg, then take 160 west.

    I'm assuming that you were going to take 285 to 160 anyway. While the scenery is much less spectacular, you'll make much better time this way.

    Edited to add: Just re-read your post. I would definitely go I-25 on your way down at night, when you don't care about scenery. On the way back however, a trip up 285 is great if you aren't too concerned about time. If your interested in getting out of the car and doing a little hiking, the Colorado Trail crosses 285 at Kenosha pass (about 60 miles outside of Denver). You can hike about 2 miles west to the top of the mountain which has stunning views of the valley and the mountains that ring it. In the late afternoon in the summer, you can sit there and watch the thunderstorms roll off Georgia Pass off in the distance (about 17 miles away) down into the valley.
     
  5. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    Going into the Rocky Mountains this time of year can be treacherous. Denver (at 5,280 ft.) has seen major winter storms as late as Memorial Day. Above 10,000 feet, you can get snowstorms any time of year (except maybe July). In particular, there are parts of Rocky Mountain National Park that experience year-round winter weather. I saw huge swaths of unmelted snow on the sides of mountains - in June.
    So pay close attention to weather conditions, especially for the mountain passes. It is nearly impossible to predict in advance what kind of weather conditions you will encounter, as it is highly variable. If it has been dry, sometimes you can coast across dry pavement in the middle of December. Other times you'll be stranded waiting for a big March snowstorm to pass through.
    [Edit: I just checked the weather forecast for Pagosa Springs/Wolf Creek Pass. Snow is expected in the middle of the week, and nighttime lows are consistently in the teens. Most people would consider this to be winter weather. See: Weather Underground]
    If winter storms bear down on the mountains, you will need 4WD or AWD with chains or real snow tires if you even attempt to stray off I-70 (about the only major highway that is snowplowed constantly). Even so equipped, sometimes various mountain roads are not passable and will be closed.
    Many of the mountain roads are just two lanes - one in each direction - and very twisty. The guard rails are not big or strong enough to prevent you from skidding off a cliff (or large, deep, steep valleys) if you lose control of your vehicle. So when driving in the mountains, you MUST maintain total control at all times. Skidding off those roads can have fatal consequences.
     
  6. Dave Hahn

    Dave Hahn Second Unit

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    Thanks for the replys guys. My DeLorme Topo software plotted 285 as the "best way" between Denver and Pagosa Springs. I'll follow Cameron's advice and take I-25 on the way down. I'll make much better time on an interstate then on a two-lane state highway. I'm sure the scenery is better on 285 but this isn't a vacation so time is important.
    Thanks for the warnings about driving in the mountains in winter. Although born and raised a Connecticut Swamp Yankee; a "flatlander" if there ever was one, I've been to Colorado before and driven from Denver to the Summit County area, (Keystone, Copper Mountain, etc.), in the winter as well as up to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park in the early spring. We New Englanders know a thing or two about bad weather. I also went to school in Vermont, and had to drive over two passes, each way, twice each weekend to go to work at Mr. Snow, a ski resort. I've seen idiot tourists almost kill themselves and hope not to add my name to that list. I've rented a 4WD Ford Ranger and hope to make the trip with no problems.
    Cameron, will I need snowshoes or skis to hike the trail at Kenosha Pass, or is it now open ground? The hike you mention is just what I'm looking for, but I don't want to pack or rent snowshoes.
     
  7. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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  8. Trace Downing

    Trace Downing Supporting Actor

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    Dave,
    This weeks forecast is 70s and sunny in Denver (Front Range) and 50s-60s in the mountains, with minimal precipitation. You're drive should be relativley trouble free. Pagosa Spr. is 36F Today. Conditions are clear.
    Welcome to Colorado. Now when you get back to Denver, take a trip along E Colfax, and see all of the hub-cap stores we have. It's amazing that they still have business, especially with all the competition.[​IMG] Also, stop off at Colfax and Race (Capital Hill area) and drop by Pete's Kitchen for lunch. They have great gyros, phillies, and other sandwiches. It looks like a dive, but it's the safest restaurant in town, since there's always 2-3 cops in there.
    And Colin, thank you one more time for the negativity all over Colorado yet again.
     
  9. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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  10. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    Cameron -

    I used to live in Colorado - from 1971-2000. So I hope you weren't rubbed the wrong way because I currently live in Austin. Yes, I know about that Colorado-Texas thing. I heard all the quips about Texans growing up ... and took some flak when I packed up and headed for Austin in the summer of '2000...

    It wasn't recently that I traveled the roads in question, but I have seen many narrow, twisty mountain roads that if you skidded off, you could go tumbling down a steep drop. My mom lived in Illinois and Washington before moving to Colorado. She was shocked to see the relatively unguarded drops on the mountain roads when she moved to Colorado in the late 1960s. Her experience is likely typical of someone visiting from other areas who isn't familiar with the highly changeable area weather and hazards of mountain driving.

    All these things aren't supposed to be a big-time Colorado bash. But I will admit that I bashed Colorado a lot over on the DVDFile forum during 1999-2000.

    Why? There has been a real-estate bubble that made houses unreasonably expensive. Open up the real estate ads, and you'll quickly see the going rate for homes is in the mid-to-high $400K range. Yet those houses sold for about $150,000 up until about 1998. Even 1-bedroom condos often command prices in the high $100K-low $200K range. But salaries are not sufficient in the area for locals to afford these prices. Too much out-of-town money came in and drove up costs tremendously.

    It is extremely demoralizing to have worked hard to get an advanced degree and "good" job, only to discover you STILL can't afford a decent place. Not that Texas is a perfect place (too hot in summer, and WAY too conservative), but at least I have made some liberal-minded friends in Austin, and can afford a nice place to live. Someday I may return to Colorado, but prevailing salaries need to double, or housing prices need to come down by at least half. Then I would consider returning, but I'm not holding my breath. The worst of the California & Texas real-estate busts brought prices down by 30-40%, not the 50-70% that would be necessary to bring value back to the Colorado residential market.

    If I could afford $500K for a home, I'd move to the Bay Area over Denver in a heartbeat. Milder winters and summers, and Silicon Valley is the center of the tech universe...
     
  11. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Colin,
    I'm actually a Texan by birth, if you consider El Paso to actually be in Texas, whenever I go back to visit my father I swear it's Mexico (which is exactly how I remember it). I moved to northern NM as a kid, and I still remember on Friday afternoons and Sunday nights the caravans of Suburbans (the official car of Texas) with TX plates coming into and out of town.
    The additional clarification makes sense, and I'll give you that on roads without guard rails, you do have to be extra careful. What I didn't like about your comment was that the guard rails didn't work, as I've seen lots of lives saved by a 2ft high piece of wood and steel.
    I also used to think that Colorado house prices were high (back in '97), until I moved to the NY/NJ area for two years. Let me tell you, when I moved back in '99, even the fact that the townhome I sold back in '97 had increased 50% in price didn't bother me.
    Feel free to bash Colorado as a place to live all you want, I'm more than happy to have someone telling people NOT to move here (as long as they keep sending us tourist dollars). You also forgot to mention the increased traffic problem, which has gotten infinitely worse since you left [​IMG]
     
  12. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Dave,
    I thought I had a TOPO trail defined for this section of the Colorado Trail (I've been taking a GPS with me the last few years), but it looks like I may have lost it in my last hard drive crash [​IMG]
    Oh well, it's pretty easy to find anyway.
     

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