Monday, September 16, 2013

Peak to Peak Highway, Colorado



Last weekend my husband and I took an exhilarating road trip along the beautiful "Peak to Peak" highway in Colorado. This scenic and historic 55 mile highway was established in 1918, and is Colorado's oldest scenic highway. It provides magnificent views of the Continental Divide, national park forests, wilderness, and nature preserves.


If you click on this (and every photo in this post) it will enlarge. Then click on it again for easier viewing of the entire Peak to Peak Highway route and the towns it passes through or by.


 Double enlarge this photo of a roadside placard that tells the story of the Peak To Peak Highway.


We joined the highway in the town of Blackhawk.


Blackhawk was once a mining town outside Central City, and now both towns are known for their casinos.


Once we hit the open road we could see the Rockies peaks in the distance. The weather up to this summer weekend has been hot and dry, and all the mountains were free of snow. We wondered if we were going to see any autumnal color change during our drive? 


Every twist and turn of the highway lead us to beautiful vistas....


...and through deep mountain canyons


We passed deep green pine forests topped by distant mountain peaks.....


....and we saw many peaceful valleys.


When we approached this interesting building near the town of Allenspark, we pulled over to see what it was.


We turned into the Saint Malo Center, and learned there was once a retreat center on this property which was almost completely destroyed by a fire a few years ago. Mount Meeker looms in the distance.


The Saint Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church, better known as "Little Chapel on the Rock," is on the Saint Malo Property, and was the building that caught our eye from the road


This charming little church is visited by thousands who see it on their ride on the Peak to Peak Highway.  It was also visited by Pope John Paul when he stayed at the Saint Malo Retreat Center during his visit for World Youth Day in Denver in 1993. He blessed the chapel and later hiked in the surrounding woods. My friend Betsy wrote more about the history of this beautiful church on her blog, Joyful Reflections, when she visited it a few years ago on a visit to Colorado.


An inspirational plaque that was on the wall inside the chapel.


We stopped again on the Peak to Peak Highway to enjoy this view of Longs Peak.


There it stands at 14,256 feet! Colorado has 54 mountains that are over 14,000 feet, more than any other state in the union.


As we drove further on the Peak to Peak Highway we could see in the distance more mountain peaks that lie within Rocky Mountain National Park.....


...and we knew we we were getting close to our destination!

We ended the Peak to Peak Highway trip in Estes Park and drove to where we were going to stay for the the next few days, the YMCA of the Rockies! More about our stay and our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park on my next blog post.

* Epilogue: As I wrote in my last blog post, my family is fortunately safe and sound, despite the record breaking and devastating rainfall that the entire Front Range of Colorado has received this past week. I had tears in my eyes as I looked at the photos I took of this trip along the Peak to Peak Highway and our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, as I knew many of these areas were severely affected by the storms. An area the size of the state of Connecticut has been severely flooded in Colorado and there has been devastating loss of life and property.  Major roads and bridges have been destroyed by all the rushing flood waters, and helicopter rescues by the National Guard have taken place in many mountain communities that have been cut off from civilization. This is being now called a rare natural disaster that occurs at most, every 500 years! The entire depth of the aftermath of this epic storm is still to be seen.

Estes Park has begun to clean up, and I know the resilient and resourceful people of Colorado will come together to repair and rebuild all that has been destroyed.  Please keep those affected by the floods in your prayers, and know that the beauty of much of Colorado remains, and what was damaged will be restored. I love my new state, and I know it will be able to recover!


Photo source: CBS Denver

The CBS Denver webs site --click here--lists ways to help the people of Colorado who have been devastated by this catastrophic flood! An estimated 19,000 homes have been lost or damaged, 12,000 people have been evacuated and over twelve hundred people are reported missing! 



I'm linking this blog post to the following blog events: Blue Monday, Our World Tuesday, Outdoor Wednesday, Oh, the Places I've Been.Thank you to all the blog hosts!


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46 comments:

pam said...

We were hoping to drive this next week. So much is up in the air, we will have to wait until we get out there to see where we might still "get up" in the mountains to see some color. It has broken my heart to see all the damage. Such a beautiful state. It will be interesting to see the changes down the road some time, to see how people/towns rebuild. Our youngest is still battling the rain and flooding where she lives up by Boulder. IT NEEDS TO STOP RAINING out there.

Kris said...

Beautiful photos as always! I hope you are safe from all of those rains!!!
xo Kris

Betsy said...

Thank you for posting these beautiful pictures, my daughter and her family used to live in Colorado springs. I loved visiting Colorado , one beauty of a state.
Can't get over the rain that has fallen there. A rare disaster it's called and hope it stays rare for 500 more years. Glad you are safe.
betsy

The Gathering Place said...

I have such a fondness for the Rocky Mountains and the beauty of the all the different parts. Your photos captured so much beauty. I guess I need to take a drive through the Utah mountains soon-before the fall colors are all gone.

Pondside said...

Your new state has had more than its share of natural disasters this year. I am glad you and yours are safe and sound. It's sad to think of that beautiful park being damaged by flood - every one of your photos was like a post card.

eileeninmd said...

Pat, your photos of the Rocky Mountains are beautiful. The scenic highway looks like a wonderful road trip! The little church on the rocks is pretty. The news on the flooding in both Colorado and New Mexico is sad. I hope everything returns to normal soon and I am happy you are all OK. Have a great week!

Wandering Wren said...

Nature can be cruel. The devastation in Colorado is immense. It is very poignant having your epilogue after your beautiful photos and the amazing roadtrip. We wish everyone involved the strength needed to get through the next few months thank you for bringing Colorado to life for me and putting context to what I read in the newspaper.
Hope you have a lovely week
Wrenx

Old Kitty said...

That little chapel is adorable and a wonderful surprise to see! And the peak to peak route looks so lovely! The mining town - 118 people!!! It's very very pretty - loving the rooftops!

Oh but the mountain range! And the valleys! Gosh I do hope the weather has now calmed down now! The BBC news showed a clip of your governor and he said very simply "we just need it to stop raining".

Hugs and prayers to all of you! Take care
x

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

What beautiful views along that highway. I would have a hard time driving for wanting to look.

I know that area has been hit hard, especially Estes Park. After going through many hurricanes, one really bad one, my heart goes out to people who suffer from natural disasters. Glad to know you are your family are safe Pat.
Sam

Tracy said...

Glad you are OK there in CO, Pat! Was wondering how you were faring with the flooding... Heartbreaking... Glad you are safe. LOVE seeing all the mountains. :o) Happy Days ((HUGS)) P.S. I’m needing to take an extended digital sabbatical due to health reasons. But I hope to be around when I can.

Jim said...

Beautiful chapel.

SmilingSally said...

Wow Pat,

Colorado is sure getting its share of troubles. America is praying.

Thanks for sharing.

Happy Blue Monday!

Vee said...

Beautiful country. We've watched much of the coverage on tv of course. Weather like this reminds us all how little control we have. We are certainly praying for Colorado and Coloradans. Now I must go check your weather report.

Cathy said...

Spectacular photos, Pat. I have visited Estes Park and remember how beautiful it was. The people of Colorado are in my prayers every day.

acreativeharbor.com said...

Wonderful 'road trip' and fantastic photos ~ thanks for 'bringing us along' ~ carol, xo

Lorrie said...

What a beautiful, scenic drive. I love the wide vistas and varied topography. The small stone chapel looks like a lovely place to worship and the quote on the plaque is certainly true for me. There's nothing like nature/creation for getting a true perspective on life.

The news about the Colorado floods is so devastating.

Betsy Adams said...

Thanks for mentioning my blog. I love that church --and that road. We were on part of that special highway --but need to go on more of it...

By the way, once your Aspens are really yellow--go on that road between Nederland and Ward up to the Raymond area. The Aspens were MARVELOUS there.. I'll send you my blog link....

Hugs,
Betsy

Ann said...

I'm adding this church to my list during my next visit to see our Son and his family. What a charming small town too.
Ann

Cheryl @ TFD said...

I really enjoyed your beautiful photos, Pat. I love Colorado but haven't been on that particular highway. I hope we can see more of this wonderful state in the coming years after hubby retires.
I'm glad you and your family are safe. Have a nice week!

Gary Phillips said...

Beautiful mountain shots!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

annie said...

Great photos.
I keep thinking "Pike's Peak or Bust!" that was written on the sides of many old wagons.

Nellie said...

What lovely images you have captured to share with us, Pat. My heart just aches when I see the reports on TV about the flooding and devastation.

podso said...

So beautiful! Road trips in Colorado have constant changing views with the wide open spaces and the magnificent mountains!

Barb said...

You took fabulous shots on your road trip. I am so saddened at the devastation in our beautiful state. We remain unscathed here in Breckenridge - rivers and streams are high but no severe flood damage.

Maria Kristina Maano said...

I love the vistas! Thank you for sharing these photos, It's like I took the road trip, too. The green scenery is really calming. :)

Visiting you from Blue Monday. ~maria

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I now have a new place I want to go in Colorado. What a drive.

Barbara said...

Pat, such a beautiful blog post. Your timing for that scenic trip could not have been better. You continually do an excellent job of reporting on the beauty of our wonderful state.

ladyfi said...

Beautiful scenery and such a gorgeous church!

Fun60 said...

That was a beautiful journey you took us all on. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be living in that area after such a disaster.

backroadjournal said...

It is such a shame that the weather has caused destruction to such a beautiful state. I know you must have enjoyed your trip to this wonderful area. Happy to know that your home has not suffered and that you are safe. Karen

Elizabeth Wix said...

So glad to have found you again.
Our hearts go out to the flooding victims -I have a friend there who has taken lots of pictures and posted to Instagram.
Luckily she has not lost her home but her bike path is gone etc etc.

The little chapel is charming.
Greetings and love from NYC!

Jeanne said...

Good morning Pat, I sure hope the flooding won't happen again for 500 years. Your information about the losses is staggering. I am devastated for the people who have lost loved ones and property. I am thankful that you and your family are safe.

We have visited so many places in Colorado over the years but we have not driven the Peak to Peak hwy.I just told my husband about it and he and I are so sorry we missed it over the years. A good reason to visit again!!!

The church is so lovely and so much history too. What a great chance to see something very special. The Pope visiting there is amazing.

Be safe and keep writing your adventures on the beautiful state of Colorado. We are loving the tours so much. I agree that the damage will be repaired but the cost (not just $) is great and so sad.

Hugs, Jeanne

Jenny said...

Oh beautiful.
For spacious skies.
For lovely stone buildings.

Ummm.

Okay.

That's not the right lyrics but you know what I mean...I hope!

Pamela Gordon said...

What a beautiful road trip through the mountains. The chapel is so nice rising out of the rock like that. A 500 year flood. Wow. And there were no people or houses 500 years ago to be destroyed by the flood. Amazing!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Pat - It looks like you and Vinny never run out of beautiful places to visit in your new home state, and this is no exception.

Al said...

What a beautiful highway - I need to add it to my list. And I'm glad you're safe from those floods, we are too. But I don't think these are hundred-year events any more...

Cindy said...

I was thinking about you and your family as I heard the news broadcasts about the terrible fires then floods that Colorado has suffered over the pasts months. I'm very happy to hear that you and yours are well and safe. Thank God for that.
Your scenery photos of the highway and mountains are breathtaking, I LOVE that area of the USA. It's probably my favourite. Colorado, Wyoming and Montana and over to Idaho, it's so very beautiful. I could just park and feast on the views every time we drive through there. I will be flying to Idaho in another month, I love to fly over the USA and enjoy the landscape spread out below me. God certainly blessed North America with beautiful scenery, didn't He.
The Saint Malo photos are beautiful, it hardly looks real!
Thank you for the magnificent photos to feast my eyes on.

Noel Morata said...

the mountains are spectacular, thanks for sharing

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I had momentarily forgotten that you'd moved to Colorado. Glad you are safe. And lovely to look at these beautiful views of one of our favorite states instead of at the devastation the rains caused.

We have kids who live in Boulder County and they were evacuated for one day, but their house was not harmed.

I know the state will bounce back too... .

The Tablescaper said...

Wow! what a magnificent drive. The views are spectacular. I'm so sorry to learn of the devastation that has taken place there.

And hey lady, stay put next year - first Sandy and now this. You don't need another once in a lifetime storm.

Glad you are all safe and sound.

- The Tablescaper

GailO said...

I am so glad you are safe...I thought of you whenever Colorado was on the news....which was often recently.

GailO said...

I am so glad you are safe...I thought of you whenever Colorado was on the news....which was often recently.

Noel Morata said...

gorgeous scenery,

I'm inviting you to join us for Travel Photo Mondays, the link runs all week so I hope you can join us for the next installment?

Michele {Malaysian Meanders} said...

That is indeed a gorgeous, breathtaking drive. I have heard many good things about the Estes Park YMCA. My prayers go out to all the people affected by the floods.

Michele {Malaysian Meanders} said...

That is indeed a gorgeous, breathtaking drive. I have heard many good things about the Estes Park YMCA. My prayers go out to all the people affected by the floods.

Annesphamily said...

My niece Katie is hiking the fourteeners nearly every weekend. The father of the little girl killed in the Aurora Shooting also will be hiking these fourteeners. He feels it is the only place he can have any peace since the loss of his daughter.
Your photos are beautiful.