Sedona, Arizona is a well known as a town with numerous spas as well as artists, who all have gathered among the amazing red rocks. We passed through town on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, and it was packed, taking away from the natural beauty.
Colorado is another of my favorite states. With it’s towering mountains and sunshine it is a majestic place.
Our visit starts with a 1948 Colorado map. Much like many of the western states Colorado was a very different place 70 + years ago. When this map was published there was less than 1.2 million Coloradans. Today it is nearing 6 million.
The state is filled with amazing natural wonders. The backside of the 1948 map details many of these.
Colorado however is not all mountainous. In fact the eastern 1/3, including Denver, is located on the high plains. It is most impressive where the plains reach the mountains, as in this scene where the newly completed Denver to Boulder Turnpike shows.
The turnpike was opened in 1951, just in time to make the cover of this 1953 map.
These photos from 2012 show a similar scene.
As we move into the 1960s the cover scene is Maroon Lake, near Aspen.
Founded as a mining camp for the Colorado Silver Boom, Aspen later found the real money was in snow – for skiing. Around the time this map came out Aspen was becoming a destination for the rich and famous, resulting in some of the most expensive real estate in the country. The photo below is representative of the wealth in Aspen, with a line of private jets at the airport – in the summer!
Buttermilk Mountain – where I learned to ski a lifetime ago, as part of a group trip with a bunch of people from Chicago. Nothing like being 22 years old, crashing down a mountain in the day and partying in Aspen at night. There were about 15 people in a house designed for 8, but it worked.
As you leave Aspen heading due east you cross Independence Pass. This pass is closed in the winter because of the heavy snow, but is beautiful in the summer.
Independence Pass – the treeline is very clearly in evidence here as you peak out at 12,095 feet – 3686 meters to my metric friends.
The mountain scenes continue in 1965 with Berthoud Pass. The pass is named for Edward Berthoud, the chief surveyor for the Colorado Central Railroad in the 1870s.
As with most roads through the mountains in Colorado, the routes were originally blazed by the railroads.
For 1966 and 1967 unidentified mountain scenes grace the cover.
It isn’t hard to find great mountain scenes in Colorado – this view is going up Mt Evans.
The mountain scenes continues throughout the 1960s and 1970s
All of the maps from this era featured the state symbols on the reverse side.
Colorado is known as the Centennial State, as it was admitted to the Union in 1876. The country’s bicentennial year in 1976 was more special for Colorado as the state celebrated it’s 100th anniversary.
The cover of this year’s map shows just how tough it was for those early travelers.
This view of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon shows how much easier travel is today. This section of Interstate is known as an engineering marvel, it’s design took into consideration the flora and fauna, and natural surroundings, while providing a much needed transportation route through the mountains.
The late 1970s continued the mountain scenes.
Denver is featured in 1978. One of America’s great cities, Denver has a feel like no other – very young and energetic.
Union Station is a classic train station. It has been remodeled since these photos were taken in 2010.
Denver International Airport – the roof represents the mountains of Colorado.
Aspen is again featured in 1987.
For 1988 Garden of Gods is on the cover, with Pike’s Peak in the distance.
We made a stop at the Garden of the Gods in 2012…
In 2012 there were a number of very large forest fires impacting Colorado. On the afternoon we visited Garden of the Gods the first rain in weeks had just occurred, a huge thunderstorm that soaked everything. The entire state smelled of a campfire that had just been put out with water. Not only did it greatly aid in the forest fires, but it gave the wildlife a much needed drink.
Telluride is another ski town that has a number of tourists in the summer for the ranch life.
Coincidentally the next Colorado map in my collection is from 1997, and again features the area around Telluride.
Pawnee Buttes is featured in 1999. This geologic feature is not located in the mountains, rather it is located in far northeastern Colorado on the prairies.
The landscape is mostly flat, until you come across this area.
Rising out of the prairies are two 300′ high buttes.
The buttes are a result of erosion of the surrounding high plains.
Chautauqua Park in Bolder is on the 2002 cover. The Chautauqua society was an adult education movement from the late 1800s.
Boulder is home to the University of Colorado. Situated at the base of Boulder Mountain, it is a great little city with some impressive parks.
Interestingly there was a second edition map printed in 2002 featuring Lake Isabelle.
Mesa Verde National Park is the 2003 subject.
Mesa Verde is not only a national park, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has some of the best Ancestral Puebloan archaeological dwellings in the United States.
For thousands of years the area was inhabited by Paleo Indians. There are over 600 cliff dwellings in the park, including the one featured here – The Cliff Palace.
A visit in 2015 gave lots of photo ops at this amazing place.
Some people apparently can’t read….
In addition to the regular road map Colorado for a few years published an Educational Map, highlighting areas that can be used as a teaching opportunity for young people.
We had the opportunity to observe rafters on the Arkansas River during a trip on the Royal Gorge Scenic Railroad…
The Royal Gorge Bridge. Built as a tourist attraction in 1929 as the world’s highest bridge, suspended 955 feet above the river. It held this title until 2001.
It is still the highest bridge in the United States, although it is primarily a pedestrian bridge.
For much of the ‘teens’ the return to generic outdoor scenes returned.
Our last stop on this tour is Red Rocks Amphitheater. This natural bowl provides the perfect setting for concerts; numerous artists have recorded live albums here.
We had the opportunity to see the Blues Travelers here for a 4th of July concert.
Colorado – easily one of the 5 best states in the country to live, or visit.
Wednesday was July 4th, and we started our day by heading out the Boulder Turnpike to the city of Boulder. Just before entering town there is an overlook that has a panoramic view of the city with the Front Range behind it. Next to this rest area is a prairie dog field.
We wandered around town for a while, getting the car washed while forgetting to close the gas cap (no problems, apparently just cleaner gas), then headed up Flagstaff Mountain. This mountain rising about 1800’ above Boulder, and affords a view all the way to Denver.
Travelling south from Boulder on Colorado 93 we passed through open spaces with continuous views of the Rockies, which continued all the way to Golden.
One in Golden we spent a few hours wandering the town and watching the people tubing in the river, and had lunch.
After this we continued south to Dinosaur Ridge. Dinosaur Ridge is a segment of the Dakota Hogback in the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark located in Morrison. The Dinosaur Ridge area is one of the world’s most famous dinosaur fossil localities. In 1877, some of the best-known dinosaurs were found here, including Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Stegosaurus and Allosaurus.
With the high forest fire danger there were no fireworks anywhere in Colorado, but we had something even better, a concert at Red Rocks. I had pre-purchased tickets for a Blues Travelers show. They were celebrating their 25th anniversary, and apparently play Red Rocks every July 4th. This year they opened the show by playing their latest album Suzie Cracks the Whip in its entirety. The band Fitz and the Tantrums opened.
The Blues Travelers played a 25 song set, finished up with a cover of The Devil Went Down to Georgia. We took our time leaving, which was surprising easy, and after a late night snack, was done for the evening.
Despite the fact we spent the morning snowboarding/skiing, when we returned to Denver it was 70 and sunny. Since we had time, I went to seek out somewhere I had always wanted to see, Red Rocks Amphitheater.
To our good luck, they were having a high school graduation (not the one we were there for) that day so it was open, giving us the chance to tour the entire facility.