Colorado Mountains

The second leg of our August 2023 road trip landed us in the Colorado mountains on the Western Slope and then on to the base of Pike’s Peak.

Here’s what we did.


Our first stop was dinner and a hotel in Cortez a small town near Mesa Verde National Park (which we did not visit on this trip) and the Four Corners area. I’ve shared a visit here.

After the long drive through the lovely but barren desert of Four Corners, Cortez is the beginning of agricultural land and lovely Western Slope mountain vistas.

About one hour from Durango, the smaller town offers less congestion and an easier place to pull in off the road as a good rest spot on a long road trip.

Pagosa Springs

Several years ago we visited a café and got the best breakfast burrito in Pagosa Springs, so it was on my travel agenda to go back to that café and get a burrito.

Any time I’m in Colorado, a breakfast burrito is a necessity.  Colorado Mexican food is made differently than Arizona or Texas, so I get my fill when I’m “back home.”

Pagosa Springs used to be known as an agriculatural area with nearby natural springs as the only draw for visitors.  It is now overrun by tourists and quite busy, but the produce trucks still deliver to stands daily.

We stopped and got a basket of peaches from Palisades, Olathe corn and an orange watermelon from I don’t know where.

Nothing beats fresh produce.

Cripple Creek

My dear sister Susie and her hub Mike generously have let us stay in their gorgeous mountain home in Cripple Creek in years past and we invited ourselves back this summer.

Cripple Creek is an old mining town revitalized by casinos.  The town’s elevation is right under 10,000 feet so cool weather and brilliant blue skies make it so pretty.

There are a number of housing developments in the remote mountain areas outside the town comprised of very old homes and newer ones.

Now, when I say “housing development” I mean the land has been developed with electricity, water, etc,. but the homes are nestled in pines and aspens on acres of land. The roads are unpaved and if feels as if you might be quite alone.

A couple days of no internet access and no cell phone reception allowed us to unplug.

We took a lovely walk to some nearby ponds.  

An ATV ride to the top of their mountain neighorhood was so fun.  I posed as the driver below, but I was more comfy with hub in the driver’s seat and I rode in the back. My arms and legs were just a wee bit too short.

We ate lots of good food and enjoyed our stay.

Colorado Springs

At the foot of the other side of Pike’s Peak is Colorado Springs and is where Susie and Mike live full time.

The visit with them was so great and included a trip to a local town’s annual festival, a trip up Pike’s Peak on the cog railway and dinner with my nephew!

As you can see from the parade photo below, the monsoons have had no problem visiting Colorado this year.

Pike’s Peak

A few comments about Pike’s Peak here. My sister, a life-long Coloradoan, had never been to the top of the peak (14,115 feet elevation) so it was on her bucket list.

Pike’s Peak is the highest peak along the Rocky Mountain front range and is the prominent backdrop for Colorado Springs – including the Air Force Academy.

Vistors can reach the top by walking, driving a hairpin road or taking the cog railway.

We opted for the train over the drive, and praise the lord we did, but more on that in a sec.

We were lucky to get reservations on the cog because it sold out, but we got great seats and a nice honeymooning couple to take our pics.

And then chug chug up the hill. To the very top. And then. Sleet and rain and thunder and BOOM! a lightning strike that had EMTs sheltering us in place in either the train or the visitor’s center.

From the top of the peak you are supposed to be able to see as far as Oklahoma. Um. Well, we couldn’t see past the guardrail.

Can you imagine if we had decided to drive the switchback road and had to come down in four-wheel drive? Yikes.

Anywho. The train ended up taking two lightning strikes, the computer rebooted and still we could not get back down the hill (after sheltering in place and a half-hour delay) any faster than five miles an hour.

It took forever. And a good half of the ride was foggy so there wasn’t even much of a view.

So. Not exactly what we were hoping for, but an adventure nonetheless and time spent with loved ones. I’m not complaining.

What I’m Reading

We have had some down time for reading (when we’re not driving or doing other fun stuff) so I wanted to catch you up on a couple of books.

Iron River by T. Jefferson Parker is number three in the Charlie Hood series.  Number two in the series, I missed, but it didn’t seem to matter.  I really liked this book because it had a little paranormal twist to it. This book gets four stars on Goodreads from me.

The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer looks like it’s written by Joyce Reardon, PhD, but it’s written by Stephen King.  If King is a hit or miss for you like he is for me, I’m calling this one a miss.

Wrap Up

We will be heading back to Arizona this week but our adventures are not quite over yet.  I can’t wait to share those with you as we go along.

August is half over; how are you spending the month?

Getting out of the heat for a bit and enjoying family were our top goals and they were met!