Monday, February 28, 2022

Garden of the Gods with Friends




In my last blog post--click here--I showed a few local places along the Colorado Front Range where we took close friends that were visiting from the east and staying with us for days before a ski trip.  On another day my husband and I decided to take them to Colorado Springs to see another one of our favorite places, the Garden of the Gods Park(See some more extensive prior posts about the park here and here.)   When we approached the north entrance of the park it was unfortunately closed as road and sewer construction was going on, so we had to skip the visitor center in that area and enter the park through the southern entrance. There we almost immediately saw one of the most popular attractions: Balanced Rock.  We parked in a nearby lot so we could take photos of the rock and our friends had fun posing with it, as you can see.



Balanced Rock is at 6,286 feet (1915.9 M) elevation in the park. Doesn't it look like it could topple over at any minute?  




We drove on to see more...




The Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark. It is full of towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies. It contains 21 miles of trails and is popular for hiking, technical rock climbing, road and mountain biking, and horseback riding. It attracts more than two million visitors a year, making it the city's most visited park.  



Although we did stop to walk a few short trails we mainly drove around the park on this visit it was late afternoon when we arrived and winter daylight would not be lasting much longer.




The waning sunlight made the formations glow.




That is what we love about the park as each season and time of day can bring different views and effects.




One happy surprise is seeing a herd of wild Bighorn Sheep eating in one of the fields in the park!




We spent quite a bit of time taking photos of them.  Although their numbers are growing, and they are the official mammal of the state of Colorado, seeing them in person is a rarity, as they usually habitat in the wilderness at high elevations.




A view of some of the trails inside the park.




A view looking at Juniper Way Loop, looking South.


The rock formations are breathtaking...





...and so colorful!





It was a wonderful drive



More of the beautiful giant red rocks structures including a view of snow-capped Pikes Peak --America's Mountain--in the upper right of the photo collage above.  Pikes Peak is a 14,115-foot (4,302.31 m) high mountain located in Pike National Forest.  My husband and I have driven to the top of the mountain many times and took the Cog Railroad to the top once.  There have been many renovations happening on the mountain with a new visitors center and new cog railroad track and cars--click here-- to see a visit we made with friends to see those renovations in progress last summer.  The famous "Kissing Camels" formation is seen in the lower right photo in the collage above.




Before we left the Colorado Springs area we took a drive to historic Manitou Springs, located at the foot of Pike's Peak. Please click on the photo collage above to enlarge it for easier viewing.




Please click on the photo to enlarge it to read the information on the placard.

There are eight naturally-carbonated mineral springs in Manitou Springs. Deep underground beneath the town is a system of cavernous aquifers whose healing waters have drawn people to the town for centuries. Our friends sampled the water at one of the springs.  My husband and I sampled the mineral water at each of the fountains in Manitous Springs one summer, and you can see more about them and the town in this post.




Another wildlife sighting and traffic jam made us laugh as we left Manitou Springs!  A flock of Wild Turkeys was crossing the road!




They seemed to enjoy peeking at the rocks of a Sinclair Gasoline Station and the green brontosaurus sculpture did not scare them a bit!




The light was fading as we drove home...




...and we were fortunate to see a gorgeous golden sunset light up the entire Colorado Front Range!

Our friends left the next day to go skiing in Steamboat Springs, where they had a wonderful time. We hope they will return in the future for another visit with us and another ski adventure. It was so much fun to share some of our favorite places with them and we will have even more show them next time



In the meantime, you can also find me on

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Monday, February 21, 2022

Colorado Front Range Favorites with Friends

 


As I mentioned in my last blog post, we had friends visiting and staying at our home last weekend.  They flew in from Pennsylvania on Saturday, and we caught up after many years of not seeing each other. I went to high school and nursing school with my friend Pat in Brooklyn, New York, and was part of her wedding party, so we go back a long time! She and her husband Dennis now live in a suburb of Philadelphia. They flew out to Colorado to go skiing in Steamboat Springs, Colorado but wanted to adjust to the altitude at our elevation for a few days and it was the perfect time to catch up with us!




We live only minutes away from Red Rocks Amphitheater, so it is always a place we bring visitors. Since moving to Colorado we've attended many concerts at Red Rocks, one of which you can read about here,  It is a magnificent outdoor music venue!  It was built into the natural formation of rocks along the foothills of Morrison, Colorado, in the years 1936- 42 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, which you can read more about in this post.   We visited the amphitheater's indoor museum and reminisced about the many musical groups that have performed there over the years.  The list grows longer every year!





The city of Denver, Colorado, can be seen in the distance from Red Rocks Amphitheater.  Even though it is situated on the relatively flat prairie, twelve miles (19 km) from the foothills, it is a mile high (5280 feet or 1609.344 meters) above sea level! 






Pat and Dennis standing in front of the northernmost red rock of the amphitheater, called "Creation Rock."


More views of the interesting red rock formations around the area.



We then drove over to the nearby town of Golden, Colorado.




Golden is a picturesque town with many shops and restaurants,




It is also home to the Colorado School of Mines, which is a top-rated science, engineering, and research public university.  In the past my husband and I visited the interesting geology museum located at the school--you can read about that here.



Golden is also the location of the Coors Brewery!  This is a statue of the founder, Adolph Coors, Sr., and a plaque about him on the main street of Golden, Washington Ave.  Please click on the photo collage to enlarge the photo to read the plaque, and to see a view of the brewery from Lookout Mountain.  Unfortunately, the wonderful Coors Brewery Tour was not being conducted during our friend's visit. The website said it was being upgraded.  My husband and I have brought many a visitor to the tour.  You can see a blog post I wrote about the tour on this link.



We walked along Clear Creek in Golden for a bit.  It was one of the first places gold nuggets were found and the location of the most intense early mining activity during the Colorado Gold Rush of 1859.





Our next destination was a drive up Lookout Mountain in Golden!  It is a winding, switchback drive up and up to its summit at 7,377 feet (2,249 m).  I blogged once about driving up during a snowstorm--here.  




The views from the top are beautiful!

This view is looking northeast, where North Table Mountain can be seen, as well as the suburbs of Golden.  We once climbed to the top of North Table Mountain which you can see on this blog post.




This view is direct east with Denver, Colorado, in the distance





This view is looking west at some of the Rocky Mountains in the distance.





Buffalo Bill's grave is located at the very top of Lookout Mountain. If you enlarge this photo by clicking on it two times you can read the plaque that tells the story of why Buffalo Bill is buried here.  We did not walk up to see his grave, as there was a lot of snow on the path, but if your read this post, it will tell you more about Buffalo Bill Cody and show his gravesite.





We drove down the west side of Lookout Mountain and continued west at bit on the Lariat Loop Scenic Byway




At one point, traffic came to a full stop to allow a herd of elk to cross the street.  They all took their time and the head of the herd, a big bull, looked like he had been in many a battle during the rut, as his antlers were broken.





As we passed through Evergreen we could see the large lake was frozen and we saw ice skaters and ice fishermen who had set up their tent on the ice to fish.




When we returned to our community, we stopped to show our friends what remains of the Bradford Perley House.  The first occupant, Robert Boyles Bradford, built this house in 1860 and set up the Bradford Wagon Toll Road to convey miners and settlers from Denver, first to "Bradford City" and then into the foothills to what is present-day Conifer, and then to the mining camps in the mountains, to Tarryall, Fairplay, Leadville and eventually to Breckenridge.  You can read more about Bradford and see more photos of the house, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places, on this blog link.

It was a very full, fun day and we returned to our house to watch the Superbowl! We had some dips and crudites and chips, and then for dinner during halftime we had an Italian-style feast of eggplant parmigiana, sausage and meatballs, chicken cutlets, and a salad that I had prepared ahead of time.  

In my next post, I'll show you more favorite and beautiful places we visited the next day with some more surprise wildlife that we encountered.

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Sunday, February 6, 2022

Where Eagles Soar


I'm always excited to see a bald eagle in my neighborhood!  

Every winter bald eagles pass through Colorado, stopping for a short time before moving on to their next destination.  Some stay and nest. Last year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported more than 200 occupied nests statewide and more than 90 on the northern Front Range from Denver to the Wyoming state line. There was a popular eagle cam located at Standley Lake Regional Park in Westminster, Colorado, but sadly in May of 2021 the cottonwood tree that supported the nest split in half because of age, and the nest fell down and the eaglet in it was lost.  It was a loss for the many that enjoyed watching resident eagles on the live cam feed raise their young. Bald Eagles keep adding to their nests each year, and often the structures get so heavy they eventually fall out of the tree, and the birds have to start over. There are hopes the Standley Lake eagle couple will return and build a new nest this spring.




Bald eagles are not really bald--their heads are covered with white feathers.  It is believed that the name came from the Old English term "piebald" which means "white patch."  An adult male is around eight to nine pounds, while a female is larger at ten to fourteen pounds, Their wingspans are six to seven and a half feet.  




The female eagle lays one to three eggs and incubation takes around 35 days with both the females and males keeping the eggs warm.  It can take up to five years for an eagle to develop its characteristic white head and dark brown plumage.  As juveniles, they are different shades of brown. They often nest near water as their favorite meal is fish or waterfowl, although they will also eat squirrels, rabbits, prairie dogs, muskrats, and roadkill.





They also are known to have "eagle eyes" which give them eight times sharper vision than humans and enables them to hunt at a height of 10,000 feet and also see into the ultraviolet on the spectrum which enables them to better see fish below the water.





The proliferation of bald eagles in Colorado, despite an increasing human population along the northern Front Range, has prompted Colorado Parks and Wildlife to launch a four-year study on why this is occurring.



The interesting Youtube video above shows how some of the bald eagles are being tracked by Colorado Parks and Wildlife with transmitters, to learn more about their migration, habitat use, and hunting practices to see if population growth in Colorado's most densely populated corridor between Denver and Fort Collins is interfering with their activities. 



We had more snow last week and a few days of sub-zero temperatures from an "Arctic Blast," but this week we should be back to normal with a blue sky and sunny, milder days.  

Friends from the east will be visiting us next weekend and staying with us a few days before a ski trip.  It will be fun to see them after a long time and reconnect! Hopefully we will have good weather to take a few drives and show them around our area. 

In the meantime, you can also find me on

I'm linking this post to some of the following blog events:

 Mosaic MondayBlue Monday, Through My Lens MondayHearth, and Soul Link PartyYou Are the Star Blog Hop, Inspire Me MondayHome Matters Linky Party,  Good Random FunNature NotesGrand SocialTravel Photos, Travel TuesdayHappiness Is Homemade, Our World TuesdayRuby TuesdayTuesday's TreasuresTuesdays With A Twist, Wordless Wednesday on a Tuesday,  Party in Your PJ'sWordless WednesdayOh My Heartsie Girl's Wonderful Wednesday, Wednesday My Corner of the WorldWonderful WednesdaySigns2 Little Things ThursdayThankful Thursday,  Thursday Encouraging Hearts and Home,  Thursday Thinking Out Loud, Thursday Favorite ThingsFriendship FridaysA Morning Cup of JoeFriday Features Linky Party, Skywatch FridayWeekend Roundup,  Pink SaturdaySaturday SparksSaturday CrittersSunday on Silverado


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