Hit the dirt and say happy birthday to the Continental Divide Trail

This weekend, one of America’s most prestigious trails, and one that winds through Colorado, turns 40 years old. The Continental Divide Trail, which runs 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico, was officially founded in 1978, marking 2018 its 40th year serving as a beloved part of Colorado’s outdoor recreation. Hikers, horseback riders, runners, cross-country skiers,...

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Marriage Proposal Goes Awry After Hiking Couple Gets Lost

  A marriage proposal in Boulder, Colorado, went awry because of some overly ambitious hiking plans. Joshua Mason, 27, and his girlfriend, Katie Davis, 28, had set out on an eight-mile hike from the Fourth of July Trailhead to the nearly 13,000-foot summit on Jasper Peak. When the two came upon an isolated, scenic spot along the trail, Mason surprised Davis by...

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5 hikes to find Colorado’s last glaciers before they’re gone for good

Time is running out to see Colorado’s year-round alpine glaciers before they recede into extinction — which is, in some cases, a couple decades off, according to a study from the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. In the Ice Age, glaciers carved much of Colorado’s alpine landscape. Wide mountain valleys — now dotted with towns and zig-zagged by hiking trails — are...

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Gore Creek Trail, White River National Forest

This trail climbs from East Vail into Eagles Nest Wilderness alongside Gore Creek. There are some short steep sections that wind through meadows and aspen groves which change to spruce-fir stands as the elevation increases. Also look for a wide variety of wildflowers in season. Particularly during spring runoff, Gore Creek rages down the drainage with its series of fast...

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Between a rock and a high place: Facing down a 300-foot drop in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains

The path ahead, etched into a shadowy gray massif high in the Rocky Mountains, is narrowing — two feet wide, one foot, six inches and then . . . nothing. Your next step could take you into a column of air extending infinitely upward and, somewhat more concerning, more than 300 feet straight down. This is a couple of miles east of Telluride, Colo., halfway through a 1½...

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Hawkeye’s heroic hike

Michael “Hawkeye” Johnson plans to walk out the door of his Mountain Village home, and then walk almost continuously the next 36 days. Hawkeye is embarking on his third annual hoof around the San Juan Mountains to raise funds for his GoHawkeye Foundation, which provides high-tech gear and sports experiences to disabled athletes. Hawkeye has worn out his share of boots,...

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Rocky Mountain National Parks 15 Best Day Hikes

While massive glaciers shaped the meadows and peaks, Rocky was an inhospitable land. It was not until some 11,000 years ago that humans began venturing into these valleys and mountains. Spearheads broken in the fury of a mammoth’s charge and scrapers discarded along a nomad’s trail tell us little about the area’s early native peoples. Even though it was...

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Ouray Perimeter Trail surges in popularity

  A six-mile long hiking trail that almost encircles Ouray, Colorado has become one of the most popular paths in the San Juan Mountains. According to trail registers, more than 25,000 people trod the decade-old Ouray Perimeter Trail in 2017 — and that figure represents a mere fraction of actual users. “According to Forest Service estimates, the true number of...

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Drilling, one mile outside Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes

Since President Donald Trump was sworn into office last year, the administration has used its “energy dominance” agenda to require states to conduct quarterly sales on public lands across the West. As a result, the Bureau of Land Management is on track to double the acreage open for leasing in 2018, compared to 2017, in six Western states. This September, 11 parcels...

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Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge, a former nuclear weapons plant, prepares to open hiking trails this summer

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to open the Rocky Flats Wildlife Refuge in Colorado to the public this summer despite attempts to block developing the refuge, which circles a shuttered nuclear weapons production facility. Private tours have already started, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refuge manager David Lucas said. No hard date exists yet for the full...

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National Park Service warned lease sale could harm national monument in Utah

The Bureau of Land Management disregarded a request by the National Park Service that it hold off leasing 17,000 acres of public land in Utah because of concerns that drilling there could harm Hovenweep National Monument’s views and air, groundwater and sound quality. All 13 parcels were sold online as part of a broader sale, with the lease prices ranging from $3 to...

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Cog Railway closure could impact recreation on Pikes Peak

In an unexpected turn earlier this week, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which had stopped operating for the winter for maintenance work, announced that it would not resume operations in the spring, and may not operate for several years — or ever again. Other than a yet-to-be-seen impact to local tourism, both in visitor numbers and revenue, the closure of the railroad may...

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‘Orphaned’ oil and gas wells are on the rise

In March 2015, Joe MacLaren, a state oil and gas inspector in Colorado, drove out to the Taylor 3 oil well near the tiny town of Hesperus, in the southwestern corner of the state. He found an entire checklist of violations. Atom Petroleum, a Texas-based company, had bought out more than 50 oil and gas wells after the company that drilled them went bankrupt. Now, Atom was...

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What happens when the perils of the wilderness go beyond the forces of nature?

The wilderness outside Nederland, just 30 minutes west of Boulder, holds some of the most beautiful land near a major urban area in Colorado. Pine, aspen, and spruce trees dot the hillsides, and rock promontories provide ample scrambling opportunities from which to view the Continental Divide. Everywhere there are animal tracks, including those from moose, deer, foxes,...

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8 tips for cold-weather hiking and camping in Colorado

Finally, you can kick a pine cone on a Colorado trail without hitting five other hikers. As tourism swells and Northern Colorado’s population booms, sometimes it feels like the best way to escape outdoor crowds is waiting for cold weather. Plus, those mountain vistas look pretty spectacular this time of year. Hiking and camping in the cold isn’t without its...

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A military legacy loosens its grip on a landscape

In 1942, the U.S. Army transformed a valley near Leadville, Colorado, into training grounds for its 10th Mountain Division. The high altitude, climate and steep terrain prepared World War II troops for critical battles in the Italian Alps. At Camp Hale, as the area at the headwaters of the Eagle River became known, thousands of soldiers learned to ski, mountaineer and...

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McCullough Gulch Trail, White River National Forest

This trail follows the McCullough Creek drainage up the gulch beneath the massive summit of 14,225′ Quandary Peak. It starts on an old mining road south of Breckenridge, CO, then changes to single track trail as it climbs the gulch. You’ll pass through pine and fir forest, get splashed by White Falls, marvel at the colorful granite, and count the variety of...

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West Ridge Trail from Loveland Pass, Arapaho National Forest

The easier of the trails at Loveland Pass, West Ridge surrounds two sides of the bowl that makes up the Loveland area and the I-70 corridor over the Continental Divide. Still, at 11,990 feet, this is no piece of cake for folks like me who are used to mountains no more than half the elevation. Several ski slopes are visible from the ridge. Look too for cute rodents to...

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Vail Pass to Uneva Ridge, Eagles Nest Wilderness

This marvelous example of Rocky Mountain vistas starts, oddly enough, directly beside Interstate-70 at Colorado’s 10,585′ Vail Pass. The trail winds through forest and meadow, then climbs steeply above treeline to Uneva Ridge, 1,500 feet above. Along the way you will enjoy breathtaking views of four distinct mountain ranges as you pass into Eagles Nest...

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Rocky Mountain Summer at Hagerman Pass – A Photo Essay

Highway 4, west out of Leadville, CO offers a driving adventure that takes you past lakes, among a various assortment of summer wildflowers, and over a high mountain pass that tops out just short of 12,000 feet. I needed the drive rather than hiking the first day after recovering from a newly discovered adult-onset allergy to cashew nuts. The annual visit with my brother...

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10 backpack essentials for summer hiking adventures in Colorado

Colorado summers are as beautiful as they are volatile. Before you head into the high country for a hike this season, check your backpack. A well-packed bag can be the difference between a great day in the mountains and altitude sickness or — worst-case scenario — a rescue. According to a report based on National Park Service data, the most common contributing factors to...

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Hikes To Explore Colorado’s Western Slope This Summer

Colorado’s Western Slope is rich in backcountry hikes. Knowing where to find them — and what to expect on a trail — just got easier with a new guidebook by Grand Junction outdoor writer Bill Haggerty. The Falcon Guides “Hiking Colorado’s Western Slope” has details on more than 45 trails in Western Colorado. It doesn’t have just...

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Vail Nature Center expands hiking schedule

Walking Mountains Science Center and the Vail Recreation District’s hiking schedule kicks off in June 2017 with added trails, more peaks and learning on public lands. The Backcountry Hiking program, centered out of the Vail Nature Center in Vail, Colorado, runs from the beginning of June through the end of October, catching the summer wildflower blooms along with...

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Public Library Card in Colorado Offers Hiking Perks

When it comes to Colorado’s great outdoors, the Mesa County Public Libraries are here to help connect you to local scenic hiking trails at no cost. Bob Kretschman, Public Information Manager of the Mesa County Public Libraries said, “With a library card you can do a lot more than just check out books. This parks pass program lets you actually get out and...

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Spruce beetle infestation crosses Continental Divide

The devastating spruce beetle infestation in the San Juan Mountains has crossed the Continental Divide, and within the next few years, will spread into the high country around Durango and Silverton, leaving in its wake an expanse of dead trees. “I tell people all the time: you need to get up there before it starts to look different,” said Kent Grant, a Durango-based...

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Hiking in Snowmass provides solitude and views that canʹt be beat

Hikers who are looking for a pleasant jaunt in the woods, a steady climb that alternates between patches of forest and open, flower-choked meadows and slogs through dark timber have it all in their backyard in Aspen’s Snowmass Village. The town has done a good job over the years of creating an extensive trail system that now boasts 26 miles of natural-surface...

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Biking, hiking contribute $1.6 billion to Colorado’s economy

Biking generates a $1.1 billion annual economic impact in Colorado, in addition to $511 million in health benefits that include the prevention of about 50 deaths every year, according to a new study done for the state. Also, walking generates an additional $497 million economic impact and saves some 285 more lives every year from people who use it to enhance their...

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Hiking in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Located in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument a dozen miles west of Cortez, CO the Sand Canyon Trail accesses an array of small ruins deserted by the Ancestral Puebloans centuries ago. It’s a combined-use trail with hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders welcome. Color-coded diamonds mark the route and “You Are Here” signs display maps at trail junctions....

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Autumn Drive from New Mexico to Colorado – A Photo Essay

The final day of our recent trip to New Mexico, my brother Dave and I returned to his home in Colorado. Along the way we stopped for some sight seeing in Los Alamos, NM, Pagosa Springs, CO and near Leadville, CO. When we originally left Colorado a few days before, the weather had been summer-like, and we had enjoyed the turning of the aspen trees to their brilliant...

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Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve protects the tallest sand dunes in North America, and a whole lot more. From the San Luis Valley floor to the crest of the 13,000 foot peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains — the park and preserve contains ecosystems ranging from sand sheet to dunes to tundra — each supporting specially adapted plant, animal and...

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County Road 2 from Hoosier Pass, Pike National Forest

There’s a reason they call it Summit County. An old mining road climbs from Hoosier Pass above 12,000 feet and is surrounded by several of Colorado’s famous fourteeners. The first half of the road meanders through a spruce and fir forest with occasional views of the massive mountains that envelop the region. The rest of the way is above treeline, offering...

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Shrine Ridge Trail, White River National Forest

Fog and low-lying mist is very common in the Southern Appalachians. It is a product of the rainforest effect. Fog is highly unusual in the Rocky Mountains, but that’s what greeted Dave and I as we hit the trailhead to climb Shrine Ridge. It was somewhat of a dreary, forlorn scene as we walked from mountain bog to spruce forest to high meadow on our way to the...

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