The heat in Moab had us moving on in search of cooler temps and Glenwood Springs, Colorado, proved to be the perfect location. Moab starts heating up toward the end of May with temperatures in the 90 degree plus range. Those temps will only increase as summer approaches. Thus, spring and fall are the best times to visit this part of Utah.
It’s all about elevation when it comes to temperatures and knowing we have a few more repairs and purging to complete on the RV, Al and I seek out some of those cooler temps. We’re familiar with some private land south of the town of Glenwood Springs sitting at an elevation of 6,600 feet. After a quick phone call to the owner and a ‘come on down’ response, we were quickly on our way.
I’m so excited to be back in this part of Colorado. One of my ‘bucket list’ locations is just 40 minutes down the road and I can’t wait to set my eyes on it. Play before work!
The Maroon Bells are the most photographed mountains in North America and what a vision they are. Our visit was early in the season and the Aspen trees were still bare but budding plants were everywhere.I picked the Crater Lake Trail at the Maroon Bells for the days excursion. The 3.6 mile round trip hike is rocky and climbs about 700 feet in elevation.
We weren’t surprised that after an hour of hiking and hiking partly in snow that we had to turn around before reaching Crater Lake.
The snow kept getting deeper and eventually we lost sight of the trail. I was seeking cooler temps after the heat in Moab and I sure found them here at 9,600 plus feet. We did manage to climb quite a bit in elevation and at one point we could see Maroon Lake below. Our starting point and the parking lot are on the far side of the lake.
Since we weren’t able to reach our destination for lunch, we returned to a bench along Maroon Lake to eat and take in the surrounding scenery. Al and I both agreed this is one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever visited. I’m hoping we can arrange a revisit in July for wildflowers and in September for fall colors.
The Maroon Bells are a truly stunning sight to behold and my photos don’t even begin to do justice to the area. For some stunning photos of the area Google Maroon Bells.
The next day, it was all Al and I could do not to return to the Maroon Bells, but alas work needed to be completed. While Al was diligently working on the body of the RV by replacing the wheel fender; the fender that was damaged from the blown tire and all taped up,
I was diligently working on my body in preparation for the upcoming summer weather. Time to get out those shorts.
A little body work on the RV…… check!
A little body work on moi….check!
All we have left to complete is one more little fix after some silly forgetfulness and we’re back in business. Well, perhaps we still need to do a little more cabinet purging, but we’ll continue working on that during a rainy day.
We bid farewell to our daughter and point the RV west. Shortly after turning onto Interstate 70, we feel the slight climb in elevation starting. No surprise since we need to go from Denver’s elevation of 5,280 feet (the mile high city) to the Eisenhower Tunnel (the summit) at 11,158 feet. We have to cross the Continental Divide somehow.
This steady climb accompanied by plenty of turns, proves to be a challenge for some vehicles. The loaded down semi-trucks, vehicles pulling trailers, and other vehicles not used to the thin air struggle to maintain any speed in excess of 30 miles per hour as they trudge up the mountains in the right hand lane. I envision a little train engine and hear a voice…..”I think I can, I think I can, I think I can……” as they struggle to cross the Rocky Mountains.
Now the Mario Andretti wanna be’s in the left hand lane are another story. They’re whizzing up the mountain in excess of 80 mph hugging the turns and enjoying the challenging drive. It’s best to get out of their way!
Al and I opt to sit in the center lane (as long as we have three lanes ) driving at a steady speed of 65 mph…..the speed limit…. I believe, through this stretch of interstate anyway. It’ll pop up to 75 mph down the road a ways. The F-250 pulls the 5th wheel over Loveland Pass without any trouble. The Eisenhower Tunnel – Loveland Pass marks the first of two mountain passes we’ll encounter today. You can click here for more information on the tunnel. At Vail Pass we’ll encounter another climb and summit.
When we exit the tunnel, we are greeted with a gorgeous view and a downhill drive. There are several ‘runaway truck ramps’ along this stretch of interstate 70. We take our time going down the mountain and stay in the right hand lane. Within about 10 to 15 minutes of exiting the tunnel and after the Dillon exit, is a scenic overlook worth a stop.
When we moved from Chicago to Las Vegas, our daughter was a mere 3 years of age. This view made an indelible impression on that little girl, to the point she would regularly say, “When I a big girl, I move to mountains”. And move she did. I don’t see that girl leaving Colorado anytime soon.
Traffic is light today and we don’t encounter any construction delays on our three hour drive to Glenwood Springs. I enjoy the drive through Glenwood Canyon. I once again marvel at the construction of this stretch of interstate 70 and savor the beauty of my surroundings. I’ve written about this stretch of road before, click here.
Once we get to Glenwood Springs, we head south on Highway 82. Al found us a private property on line to spend a couple of nights. But did he get directions? Nope, just google mapped it. So we drive around some back country roads in search of the property before finally calling the owner. Gosh, we were close….very close actually. The address was slightly off making it impossible to find on google maps. We did pretty good, considering. Yep, a few pats on the back for both of us and Al gets a special pat for being able to turn the rig around in some rather tight spots. We drove up the road a ways, then back down, then back up….you get the picture!
Once we finally find the right spot, we get settled in. We’re pretty pleased with our little “home” for the next two nights.
The next day we take the scenic drive down Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. It’s been twenty-five years since I last visited this area in Colorado. I wonder, will I be in awe as much as I was all those years ago?…….. Al and I were celebrating our five year wedding anniversary with a trip to Colorado. We flew from Chicago to Denver and rented a car to take in the sights of Colorado. The only other time I had seen the Rocky Mountains was on a road trip Al and I took earlier in our relationship.
Aspen is a beautiful mountain town. However, after calling Colorado “home” for the past eighteen years, I’m not wowed. I guess I’ve been fortunate to see some pretty spectacular scenery. Aspen is missing the vast, open vistas seen in other places. The traffic is congested and parking is difficult. We did enjoy the abundance of outdoor cafes and the beautiful flowers everywhere.
Twenty-five years ago, we took the gondola to the top of the mountain. As a flatlander, this was a very memorable experience. At that time in our lives, we didn’t understand Colorado weather and the regular afternoon thunderstorms that roll in. Lightening is serious business around here and once lightening is spotted, all outdoor activities come to a screeching halt. Al and I had no sooner purchased a hot dog and drink to enjoy atop of this stunning mountain, when we were asked to leave. The mountain top was shutting down due to weather. Really?
This time around, Al and I are a little lot wiser. Al and I are on the fence about taking the gondola to the top, but with storm clouds in the distance and a price of $28 per person, we decide to take a pass. Smart move on our part as the storm starting rolling in thirty minutes later.
Although our time in this area is over, I would definitely like to return and explore the backcountry near Snowmass. I’ll be doing some research. Any recommendations on the area and the Maroon Bells is welcome. Next stop, Grand Junction.
As Al and I explore Colorado’s back country, we take in the sights and sounds of the stunning terrain. We travel from open mountain meadows, through scented pine forests, and past densely populated aspen groves.
The unique sound of the quaking aspen leaves lures us in…..we wonder, is there a gentle waterfall in the distance or merely the fluttering of aspen leaves?
This particular grove/colony is derived from a single seedling and spread by means of root suckers. New stems in a colony may grow as far away as 130 feet from the parent tree.
An individual tree can live 40-150 years above ground, but the root system of the colony can live for hundreds of years.
Legend has it the aspen tree can drive off evil spirits. An aspen stake was believed to be one of the few weapons suitable to kill a vampire. “Watch out Edward!” (However, I personally am a True Blood fan and thus…”Watch out Eric”)
Colorado is synonymous with this famous white-barked tree, adorning golden leaves in the fall. And ah yes, that peaceful sound of the quaking leaves…..just another reason to love Colorado!