Monday, November 23, 2015

Fish Creek Falls, Steamboat Springs

Wouldn't you like to hike up a winding trail through beautiful aspens groves to see a majestic 283-foot waterfall in a wilderness area of Colorado?  A place like this, that is very accessible for all to see, is Fish Creek Falls just five miles east of Steamboat Springs, in the Routt National Forest.  (All photos, and photo collages, in this post, will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

There are several hiking trails from the parking lot at the end of Fish Creek Falls Road ($5 a day parking fee, at this writing, for an all-day vehicle pass).  One trail is an easy 1/4 mile (400m) and ends at a viewing station where the entirety of the falls can be seen. Another trail goes straight down into the U shaped valley that was formed by glaciers during the Ice Age.

Click on to enlarge to see the trail map.

Along the scenic overlook trail, there were many interesting placards to read.

Click on the photo collage above to enlarge it to see the info on the other placards.  They give information about the importance of water to the ecological balance of Colorado and its wildlife and trees. Snowmelt makes up the bulk of water in our state, and that water also feeds into many other states' water supplies.  The average US household uses over 600 gallons of water a day! Conserving water is important everywhere, as our population grows worldwide.  Fish Creek drainage is one of the highest producers of water in the state of Colorado.

Our first view of the Fish Creek Falls!  We visited in early October, so the stream of water going over was not as great as it would have been with the spring snowmelt time, as the Steamboat area receives over 300 inches of snow throughout the winter. It also increases flow after a summer afternoon thunderstorm.

Even though they were not at peak flow, the falls were still impressive!

Can you see the man at the upper left corner of the falls?  He is taking their photo from a  precarious ledge near the falls. This perspective shows the height and size of the falls.

He sat by the falls for some time and I was very relieved when he climbed back on top to safety.  I would not recommend anyone doing this.  I'm sure it is not allowed and that it can be very dangerous!  

If you'd like to listen to the sound the upper Fish Creek Falls made please click on this direct link to a short video I made on my Mille Fiori Favoriti Facebook page.

A close up at the bottom half of Fish Creek Falls...

.... and the lowest section roaring over the large boulders on the bottom.

People were also exploring the bottom of the falls. I don't think the water is very deep, but I'm sure those boulders could be slippery!

My husband and I did a loop trail that leads to the bottom of the falls and along the way, we saw a placard that described the history of the falls and their importance to Steamboat and many other watersheds. Please click on the collage to read this info.

My husband and I looked at the falls in this area, from a historic bridge that crosses over the creek.  It was first built in 1927 and replaced in 1988.  If you'd like to listen to the sound of the roaring waterfalls at this point click on this direct link to that video on my Mille Fiori Favoriti Facebook link

The trails along Fish Creek reflect the Riparian zone and are full of lush foliage--ferns, shrubs, berries, scrub oak, pine and aspen trees.

Even though peak autumn color was past prime at the time of our visit, we still saw some beautiful colors and I had fun photographing much of it....... you can see by this photo mosaic!

It was almost the end of autumn in NW Colorado, and soon the snow would be falling, making the Steamboat Springs ski areas come alive!

Back home in our area, SW of Denver, we've already had snow a few times!  It doesn't last on the ground very long in our altitude of 6,000 feet. The sun comes out and most of the snow melts quickly, as the day time temperature goes into the 50's and 60's We've also been walking a new trail that was made by our community's trail club near our home. It leads up towards the foothills and gives us a good workout!

This is Thanksgiving week in the US, and I know many of my readers will be busy cooking, traveling and celebrating. Enjoy and be safe! This year, we gather together with our families and friends to give thanks for all our blessings, let us also say a prayer for peace for this turbulent world!  

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Seven Falls, Colorado Springs

Seven Falls is a series of seven cascading waterfalls that plunge 181 feet from the South Cheyenne Creek in South Cheyenne Canyon, Colorado Springs, Colorado.  It has been a privately owned tourist attraction since the early 1880s. After a devastating flood in 2013, it was bought and restored by the Broadmoor Resort and Hotel.  When my husband and I stayed at the Broadmoor in late September--click here to read that post-- to celebrate our wedding anniversary, we took a day outing to visit Seven Falls and hike some of the trails in the canyon.  (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on.)

The South Cheyenne Canon Road to Seven Falls has been called "The Grandest Mile of Scenery" in Colorado.  On either side of the picturesque 1,125-foot canyon, we passed through the  "Pillars of Hercules," which are only 41 feet wide at their narrowest point and rise 940 feet on the right and 790 feet on the left.

Upon our shuttle bus arrival to the Seven Falls Visitors Center/gift shop, we saw a staircase that would bring us to the top of the "Eagle's Nest" viewing platform.  There were 181 steps that we could climb to the top...

...but instead, we opted to take the four-story elevator inside the mountain to the Eagles Nest viewing platform. There were placards inside the tunnel leading to the elevator that contained photos and interesting information about the history of the Seven Falls area.

The view of the entire 181 feet length of cascading Seven Falls is best seen from the Eagle's Nest viewing platform. Seven Falls is the only Colorado waterfall included on the National Geographic list of international wonders.

After we took the elevator back down to the bottom of the canyon we walked over to the bottom of the falls.

To see the waterfalls up close there is a staircase with  224 steps leading to two viewing platforms...

...and this time we walked up all the steps to the top of the falls

Along the way up the stairs, we saw the different fall formations/ From bottom to top they are Hill, Weimer, Hull, Shorty, Bridal Veil, Feather, and Ramona.

The stair climb up is scenic in all directions.

At the top of the Canyon, there are three hiking trails that one can take to see different sights. They are open certain hours and months--check the Seven Falls website for further information.  

One trail leads to Midnight Falls which is close to the headwaters of the South Cheyenne Creek...

....and the other trail leads to Inspiration Point, described above.

We did not hike the length of either trail due to time constraints, as we had early dinner reservations, but we did enjoy the beauty of the trail that we hiked partially. This majestic 450-year-old Ponderosa Pine tree captured my attention.

You can read more about this tree on the placard above that is situated in front of it.

We turned around and walked back through the quiet forest...

...back down the staircase next to the Seven Falls...

...and back to the rocking chair area where people waited for those that made the climb or just wanted to sit and listen to the sound of the falls.

The Broadmoor remodeled and enlarged an existing restaurant on the Seven Falls property, which they call Restaurant 1858.  It is an approximately 100 seat high end, rustic in appearance, restaurant, meant to evoke the feel of a gold rush era. It may be closed during inclement weather and admission to the Seven Falls area is required to dine there--check the website for further details.  The Broadmoor has also installed an area of 10 zip lines they call the Broadmoor Soaring Adventure, which also offers stunning views of the canyon for the adventurous.

Seven Falls was truly a wonderful sight to see, even in autumn when the amount of water is lower than spring time's snowmelt season. Next time we visit we'll leave more time to explore all the trails on top.  It is so exciting for me to be able to enjoy all these beautiful places in Colorado. There are many more places I have yet to see in this great state so there is much more to look forward to!

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Garden of the Gods

 I had quite a few comments about the "Balanced Rock" formation at the Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs in my last blog post--click here to read-- so I thought I'd catch up with the photos I took of this amazing place we visited when we stayed at the Broadmoor Resort and Hotel in September--click here to read that post.  This beautiful area of Colorado Springs is not to be missed!  (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

The Garden of the Gods is a registered National Natural Landmark in Colorado Springs, comprised of giant red rock formations that were created during a geological upheaval along a fault line millions of years ago.  When two surveyors came from Denver City (now Denver), in 1859, to begin the Colorado City (now Colorado Springs) townsite they came upon this beautiful area of sandstone formations. M.S.Beach, who related this incident, suggested it would be a "capital place for a beer garden." His companion, Rufus Cable, exclaimed, "Beer garden! Why it is a fit place for the Gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods." It has been so-called ever since.

We began our visit to the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. There, the complex geology, ecology, and cultural history of the park come to life through new hands-on interactive exhibits.  Both the park and the visitor center are free and open to the public--click here to see the visiting schedule.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the exhibit of the wildlife that lives in and around the park.

One can see many of the remarkable rock formations by driving through the park... if one is short on time you can drive through the 1,367 acres of the park.

The outstanding geologic features of the park are the ancient sedimentary beds of deep red, pink and white sandstone, conglomerates, and limestones that were deposited horizontally, but have now been tilted vertically by the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak massif.

To truly appreciate the park, however, one must park the car and go walking on one of the many trails in the park!  The 700 hundred ton Balanced Rock is best viewed this way. Click on to enlarge the collage above to read interesting facts about this formation.

There are more than 15 miles of trails in the park, with a 1.5-mile trail, Perkins Central Garden Trail,  that runs through the heart of the park that is paved and wheelchair friendly.

There were still wildflowers blooming in many areas.

White sandstone in the Lyons Formation.

The "Three Graces" rock formation.

It was fun to see the "Cathedral Spires" and the "Sentinel Spire" rock formation close up and be able to touch something that was millions of years old!

In 1879, Charles Elliott Perkins, a friend of William Jackson Palmer, purchased 480 acres of land that included a portion of the present Garden of the Gods. Upon Perkin's death, his family gave the land to the city of Colorado Springs in 1909, with the provision that it would be a free public park. If you click on to enlarge the photo collage above you can see the plaque that has this dedication on one of the rock formations. Palmer also donated the land upon his demise, and the city of Colorado Springs purchased more to make the park as large as it is presently.

The last hike of our visit was along the Siamese Twins Trail to see the rock formation with the same name.  It's a gentle vertical climb of 150 feet, and well worth the effort.

When you get to the top of the trail you are facing the "Siamese Twins" that look as if they are attached in the middle, as well as many amazing surrounding, giant rock formations.

Almost at eye level, right below where the twins are attached, is this natural framed view of another amazing sight---Pikes Peak!

My husband and I drove up to the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak, nicknamed "America's Mountain," this past summer--click here to read that post.

It is easy to see why two million people visit the beautiful and magnificent Garden of the Gods every year.  It is one of the most beautiful natural places to see in Colorado!

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