Fort Collins to Monticello via Rocky Mt NP, Arches with trip to Mesa Verde too!

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September 10th 2011
Published: September 13th 2011
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Rocky Mountain NPRocky Mountain NPRocky Mountain NP

Brrrr it was chilly!
When we arrived at Fort Collins after a long day’s travel we check into the Motel 6 (bit grotty) and as we unloaded the boot this old guy came up to Howard and asked him if he was here for the Wood Turner’s Syposium!!! Hee hee.

10th September ’11 Fort Collins to Grand Junction, Colorado

Well it turns out it is long drives plus sightseeing! On our way we visited the Rocky Mountain National Park, again different scenery – this time Alpine! In parts it looked like Switzerland or Austria, really pretty and really cold! The highest pass we drove over was 12,183 ft! Howard reckons that is the highest road he has ever driven over himself.

As we made our way out of the park we knew there was what appeared on the map to be a smallish road which would cut out a large chunk of extra driving we found what we guessed was the road (no signs anywhere) and soon realised why it was just a small road on the map. ¾ of an hour later after much knuckle clenching and bone rattling we emerged on the other side of the mountain! Yes it was the right road but my god was it bad!!! Howard reckons the phrase don’t take your eyes of the road was never truer! All potholes, grooves and the odd fallen rock, quite a few cars obviously use it but most we saw where 4 wheel drive at the very least.

We stopped at a look out point and it turned out it was one of the original routes pioneered through the mountains, the information board was peppered with bullet holes which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence!

Back on the highway again it was all canyons and gorges this time a fantastic red colour and it eventually widened out into a plain, we stopped at a small place called Parachute and then discovered it was the area that Kid Curry (anyone else remember Alias Smith and Jones?!) died after a train robbery and chase by the posse, all very exciting especially as he was a member of Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang!

Carried on and arrived at Grand Junction where we walked into the town and found Main Street which was lovely and full of little restaurants and shops. Staying at our first Rodeway Inn
Rocky Mountain NPRocky Mountain NPRocky Mountain NP

The Devil Road - my name for it!
tonight and I must say it is better than Motel 6!

11th September ’11 Grand Junction to Monticello via Arches NP Colorado & Utah

Set off from Grand Junction to drive to Monticello, today we visited Arches National Park en route. This park is red sandstone and the rocks are formed into amazing shapes and the reason it is named Arches is due to the number of rock arches there are! The whole area was subject to massive erosion and has left really unusual formations, towering pincales, balancing rocks, canyons, gullies, fins (thin sharp edges) lots of colour striations and general awesomeness.

We took lots of pictures but once again a picture just can not capture the scale and colours properly. Amazingly enough I hiked for nearly 6 miles today! And actually enjoyed it – which is even more amazing, I just kept thinking Butch Cassidy and his gang probably rode through here!!! It was great to be actually out walking through these amazing features and for a lot of the time we were own our own so the peacefulness was incredible. Then of course you hear some Yanks talking at the tops of their voices and the moment is gone!

12th September ’11 Day trip to the Mesa Verde Colorado
Well after seeing so many fantastic canyons we decided to visit something a bit different today. We heard about this place as it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is basically the remains of old pueblo villages that are built into the cliffs which sounded interesting so off we went. It was a short drive (100 miles) by American standards and the sites are really off the beaten track – how they were ever discovered is a mystery.

You have to do guided tours with park rangers to 3 of the main sites and a couple you can do by yourselves. We took a couple of the tours as they were the most complete settlements. Before you get your tickets you are warned about the climbs up vertical ladders and the narrow gaps to squeeze through and the drops!

The ranger begins by warning you again and going through all the conditions you might have that mean you should not go on, so by this point I am a tad worried and wondering what on earth we have let ourselves in for!!
Arches National ParkArches National ParkArches National Park

This was one of our hikes
The thought of crawling on my hands and knees through a tiny tunnel was not appealing – what if I get claustrophobic and panic and can’t get out etc.

Anyway off we went and yes there were lots of steep steps to go down, but they had hand rails and yes there was a section at one village which you walked along a sheer rock face but hey this is America, they had safety fences to stop you going over the edge, the tunnel was about 3 knees lengths long so it was a bit of an anti-climax! Not like Jordan or in the Sinai where one false move and you were a gonner! However the 30ft vertical ladder straight up the cliff face with no safety stuff was a bit daunting to say the least, it was a case of just don’t look down or up and keep going!

The villages were quite incredible, the engineering required to build them in these inaccessible places was quite phenomenal, apparently the death rate between 1-7 years was extremely high and I am not at all surprised, the sheer drops off into the canyon below were staggering! The park ranger was really informative and although a lot of speculation was involved as to what the culture of these people was like and why the villages were abandoned the fact that they exist and still exist is really impressive.

So gasping for breath we squeezed through the gaps, dragged ourselves up the rock steps and climbed the last 3 ladders up and out! Well we were at altitude and you could really tell it!

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


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Mesa Verde NP

Balcony Village
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Mesa Verde NP

Trust Howard!

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