May 27, 2010

Crossing the Rockies from Grand Junction to Boulder

We decided to cross the Rockies again and head over to see Denver and Boulder. We could have just jumped on I-70 for a straight shot. But, instead we decided to take the scenic route and take a few days. We had planned to do some hikes, but the combination of thick snow, thunderstorms, and Linda's allergies made it difficult at that time.

The mountains near Aspen

We first went to Aspen and walked amongst fancy boutiques and wealthy ski resorts. That was certainly an interesting and unexpected experience. But, we determined we couldn't possibly afford to stay overnight in that town. So, we headed out into the outskirts and camped in the nearby White River NF.

Setting up camp

We found this absolutely beautiful aspen-covered campground that remains one of my favorite places to tent camp I ever did. From there we headed out on CO-82 over the 12,000 foot Independence Pass, one of the highest in North America.

Independence Pass

This highway then descends down a dizzying array of switchbacks and takes you to the base of Mount 14,433 foot Mount Elbert, the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains and 2nd highest in the lower-48 (and just 22 feet higher than Mount Rainier).

Mount Elbert and the Twin Peaks

Mount Elbert from Twin Lakes

There it was off to Leadville, at 10,150 feet, the highest town in North America. We stayed overnight at a historic hotel in town and enjoyed the nice coffee shops in its historic district. It was formerly a mining town, but has been trying to change its image. It was really chilly in the morning, and being July, it gave us insight about how cold it must be to live there.

From there it was off to Boulder and the home of the University of Colorado. But, first we had to go over 11,300 foot Fremont Pass. Anyways, Boulder is a beautiful town, with pedestrian areas in the shopping districts, and an almost European feel. The University of Colorado has a nice campus too. If they want to join the Pac-10, I wouldn't be against it.

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