Filed under: Campgrounds & RV Parks
Most folks traveling from the east in the 1800s ended up at the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado – unless they were hunting gold or trying to make it to the West Coast. Because of this, the range’s prominent craggy heights, Pikes Peak, became the most famous and most visited mountain in America. English professor Katharine Lee Bates was so moved upon visiting Pikes Peak in the 1890s that she wrote “America the Beautiful.”
The Rocky Mountains are indeed a formidable travel obstacle; Pikes Peak is one of 53 mountains that stand taller than 14,000 feet. The lowest point in Colorado is higher than the highest point in 18 states. When Route 66 -the Mother Road- was being planned from Chicago to Los Angeles, it rolled due south away from Lake Michigan so motorists could avoid the Colorado highlands altogether.
Today, RVers can explore Colorado and poke into all the corners of the Centennial State – founded in the 100th anniversary of America’s birth in 1876. In Colorado, you’ll find the Black Canyon where the Gunnison River makes one of the steepest plunges on the continent, the high desert landscapes of the Colorado National Monument, and the earth’s tallest sand structures in the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
At the Royal Gorge, the Arkansas River has cut a narrow canyon more than 1,200 feet deep that is spanned by one of the world’s highest suspension bridges near Canon City – it was THE highest for more than 70 years. The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad train-ride through the gorge stands as testament to man’s doggedness to travel through Colorado. Even those old mining towns like Leadville and Silverton now place prominently on RV itineraries.
Before travelers descended on Colorado, there were the red rocks that gave the state its Spanish-influenced name. The sandstone formations of Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver have hosted concerts for more than 100 years. Near Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods is a wonderland of spires and exquisitely shaped rock formations carved by the winds and the moisture while the five Flatirons in Boulder have been adopted as state symbols.
Despite all the ingenuity in transporting people to the mountainous splendor of Colorado’s interior, most residents still cluster on the Front Range. Denver has been the Queen City of the Plains since shortly after it was established as a mining camp in 1858 and it remains the apogee of culture and civilization in the American inter-mountain west – the ideal counterbalance to natural Colorado.