Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is located in the Western part of Colorado a bit South of center. It is along US Highway 50. Black Canyon is an interesting place to spend a few hours or a few weeks. The park includes 14 of the 48 miles of Black Canyon.
Black Canyon is about half as deep as the Grand Canyon (2772 feet deep at Warner Point); but is much, much narrower. This makes the sight of the steep walls of hard rock a magnificent site that is much different than; but about as interesting as, the Grand Canyon.
There are two ways to see the park: The Rim Road which follows the canyon and gives you the view from the high ground; or the East Portal Road which is a steep, 16% downgrade, to the river below.
The weather and the river that have carved this interesting piece of geology also gave us some interesting plantlife to see like this neat looking tree. Take one or both of the scenic drives or one of the hiking trails and explore it for yourself.
For more info see my Black Canyon of the Gunnision Page http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/e4221/b8cf0/Related to:
- Family Travel
- National/State Park
Trout Lake - Heaven on Earth
Most beautiful lake I've ever seen. Fine, fine, fine trout as well. There is a circular dirt road around the lake's perimeter. An old defunct trestle of the historical "Galloping Goose" narrow-gauge railway also traverses the deep ravine between the lake and the mountains. There is a public access boat launch and a picnic area but no facilities. The lake is surrounded by a number of private cabins of very, very fortunate individuals.Related to:
- Sailing and Boating
Unsinkable Molly Brown
One of Denver's most famous residents, Molly Brown, Titanic survivor, may be gone but her house in Denver is still around for all to enjoy. Tours of this beautiful place are very interesting for history and architecture fans alike.
Saved from demolition by a local historical group, the Brown house was restored to how it was when Molly lived in it. Besides the period furnishings, there are also a lot of Titanic things to see and a terrific little gift shop.
If you want to know more about not just the Titanic or Molly Brown herself but also U.S. history and, more specifically, the history of the West, then this is a definite stop while in Denver.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Family Travel
The Denver mint is one of only two of the mints that give public tours (the other is Philadelphia). Located downtown, it's easy to fit a tour into your visit to Denver. The guided tour (you can't wander around on your own for obvious reasons) shows how coins are currently made including the artistry that's involved and gives a history of coins and money in the U.S. It's interesting and very educational, especially for children. The best part? Like most government buildings, the tour is free. However, like other government building tours, there are a lot of rules so be sure to check out the website before you go. Tours are 45-minutes long and you have to make a reservation for the tour.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Denver Art Museum
When you're in Denver, you'll see a lot of signs that say DAM. They're not referring to the kind that holds back water but rather, this lovely place - the Denver Art Museum. Located in downtown across from Civic Center Park in a complex with sculptures (some are really cute, pop art types of things, like the giant broom and dustpan) and a collection of funky buildings in a mishmash of architectural styles, including one that looks like a giant house was dropped on its head, the DAM is a lot of fun. Just wandering around looking at the sculptures is nice (and a great place to have a lunch) but the museum inside is a good one too. They have a decent collection as well as attracting top notch traveling exhibitions. I saw the Toulouse Lautrec exhibit there and it was outstanding.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
The Denver Art Museum
Founded in 1918, the Denver Art Museum has the largest collection of art in the Rocky Mountain West. It is most notable for having one of the world's best collections of American Indian art.
Since 1971, all of the collections of the Denver Art Museum were housed in the North Building (pictured here in the background). The ten-story, 28-sided building was designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti and Denver architect James Sudler. It is clad in over 1,000,000 gray glass tiles. In 2006, major additions to the museum were completed, including the 5,700-square-foot (530-square-meter) Duncan Pavilion and the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, a modern, controversial building designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. It houses the museum's Modern and Contemporary Art; Architecture, Design and Graphics; and Oceanic Art exhibits.
The Denver Art Museum's 68,000-piece collection is divided into nine curatorial departments. The Paintings and Sculptures collection contains over 3,000 pieces of European and American art, and features such artists as Alessandro Botticelli, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Georgia O'Keeffe. The Modern and Contemporary Art exhibit contains over 4,500 works of art. The collection of Native Art contains 16,000 pieces from more than 100 Native American tribes throughout North America. It also exhibits 1,000 pieces from Africa, as well as artworks from Samoa, Tonga, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, and New Ireland. Asian Art features works from India, Japan, China, Tibet, Nepal, Southeast Asia, and Southwest Asia. The New World Art exhibit includes pre-Columbian Mesoamerican art, Central and South American art, and Spanish colonial art, mainly from Mexico and Peru. The museum's fine Western Art collection features works from Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington. The other curatorial departments represented in the museum include Architecture, Design, and Graphics; Textile Art; and Photography.
Over one-third of Rocky Mountain National Park is above timberline, which is the primary reason the area was set aside as a national park. Theses high-altitude areas above timberline consist of a natural habitat, or ecosystem, called alpine tundra. Alpine tundra is similar to the arctic tundra that occurs at latitudes above the Arctic Circle, but differs in that the alpine soils are better drained, and therefore less swampy, than arctic tundra. Alpine tundra occurs above timberline on high-mountain summits, slopes, and ridges around the world.
Life is harsh here; trees cannot grow and the plants that do survive in these high altitudes are generally species of dwarf shrubs, mosses, and perennial grasses, sedges, and forbs. The plants tend to hug the ground to escape the strong winds that blow just a few inches above ground level. Most species of alpine plants have hairy stems and leaves to protect them against the wind, and many also contain red pigments that covert sunlight into heat.
There are well-maintained trails above timberline in Rocky Mountain National Park that visitors can walk in order to get a close look at the alpine tundra. However, visitors should stay on the trails, because alpine tundra is a delicate ecosystem that could be severely damaged by too many people walking on it.
The Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains are truly rocky, and show evidence of how glaciation and other natural forces have shaped and scoured the mountains over hundreds of thousands of years. The mountains, which form the backbone of the North American continent and stretch over 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers) from northern Canada to Mexico, are about 2,000,000,000 years old. The Rocky Mountains were formed by volcanic activity and uplift, caused by pressure inflicted on fault lines by the movements and swelling of ancient oceans that once covered what is now the central and western part of North America.
Of course, Colorado is known primarily for its mountains, which constitute the highest part of the entire range. The Rocky Mountains take up a large portion of the state, and are actually made up of dozens of mountain ranges, each with its own special character. The Rocky Mountains make Colorado the loftiest state in the nation. It has a higher mean elevation than any other state, and there are 53 mountains higher than 14,000 feet (4,267 meters) within its borders, much more than in any other state.
The State Capitol Building
Completed in 1894, the Colorado State Capitol Building was designed by architect Elijah E. Myers. It was constructed of material entirely from Colorado, except for the brass and oak trimmings. The exterior of the building is made of granite quarried in Gunnison and sandstone from Fort Collins. The pillar casings are made of Colorado onyx, a material unique to the Colorado statehouse; use of the onyx during construction depleted the world's supply of the material. All of the marble used in fixtures and as decoration is Yule marble from the mountain town of Marble.
In 1908, about 200 ounces (5,670 grams) of pure gold leaf, mined in the mountains of Colorado, was applied to the dome, and commemorates the Colorado Gold Rush.
Many of the windows are of stained glass and depict people and events significant to the history of Colorado.
The State Capitol Building is at an altitude of exactly one mile (1.6 kilometers) above sea level. The official elevation of Denver--the Mile High City-- is measured from the thirteenth step outside the west entrance of the capitol building. There is an inscription on the step that says "ONE MILE ABOVE SEA LEVEL."
The Coors Brewing Company
Established in 1873, the Coors Brewing Company is the third-largest brewer of beer in the United States, but is the world's largest brewery on a single site. Each year, the brewery produces 703,700,000 gallons (2,663,504,500 litres) of beer for distribution throughout the United States and several foreign countries.
The Coors Brewing Company was established by a German immigrant, Adolph Coors. He was a stow-away on a ship bound for the United States, and he ended up in Golden after making his way to this country. In partnership with another German immigrant, his brewery was originally called the Golden Brewery. It was not until he bought out his partner that its name was changed to the Coors Brewing Company.
The Coors Brewing Company offers a free 30-minute, self-paced tour of its malting, brewing, and packaging processes. After the tour, visitors over the age of 21 are allowed to try free samples of the different types of Coors beer in its Hospitality Lounge, and can purchase Coors products and memorabilia in its gift shop.
The Denver Mint
The mountains of Colorado have produced immense amounts of gold and silver. In 1858, gold was discovered in Colorado. The resulting gold rush brought in prospectors, merchants, and settlers. Because of the presence of so much gold and silver, the United States government established a branch of the United States Mint in Denver, the Denver Mint. (The other mint facilities are located in Philadephia and San Francisco).
In 1862, an Act of Congress established an Assay Office in Denver. It opened in 1863 and operated out of the former offices of a private company that had made coins from gold dust brought in from the gold fields by miners. The building that currently houses the mint was built between 1897 and 1906. Initially, the Denver Assay Office did not mint any coins, but was responsible for melting, assaying, and stamping cast gold bars. In 1906, the Assay Office finally began minting coins, and it was upgraded to a Branch Mint.
Nowadays, the Denver Mint is the largest single producer of coinage in the world. It manufactures all denominations of circulating coins marked with the Denver "D", as well as collectible mint sets and commemorative coins. The mint is also a major depository for gold and silver bullion.
Visitors can take tours of the Denver Mint, but reservations are required. Visitors must also go through security, and photography and certain items are prohibited inside the building.
The City and County Building
Denver's semicircular City and County Building took 26 years to build and was completed in 1932. The Beaux-Arts neo-Classical façade houses the Mayor's Office, the Denver City Council, and other city offices and departments. Because it houses municipal offices, there is nothing within the building itself that would interest tourists. However, the building dominates the west side of Civic Center Park and faces the State Capitol Building to the east.
Since 1935, the City and County Building has been spectacularly illuminated at Christmastime with hundreds of colored lights.
Civic Center Park
Denver's Civic Center Park is centrally located between the downtown business district to the north and the museums and public buildings of the Golden Triangle neighborhood to the south. It is centered on an east-west axis with the State Capitol Building to the east facing the City and County Building to the west. The two-square-block park features a Greek amphitheater, a colonnade, fountains, statues, a war memorial, and flower gardens to admire, as well as views of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains to the west. It is a pleasant place to relax and enjoy the flowers and shade after a day of sightseeing in downtown Denver.
The idea for a park originated with Denver's mayor Robert Speer in the early 1900s. He was inspired by the City Beautiful movement to create a civic center around which institutions of government, arts, and history could be placed. Various plans and ideas for the park were drawn up by different civic groups and architects and all were rejected by the voters. It was not until Chicago architect, Edward H. Bennett, a protégé of the famous Daniel Burnham, was hired that the different ideas for the park were incorporated into a master plan. The park officially opened in 1919.
Trail Ridge Road
The 48-mile (77-kilometer) Trail Ridge Road, also called the Beaver Meadow National Scenic Highway, that traverses Rocky Mountain National Park is part of U.S. Highway 43. It crosses the Continental Divide and attains a maximum altitude of 12,183 feet (3,713 meters) at Fall River Pass, making it the highest continuous paved road in the world. The road connects the Estes Park Valley on the east side and the Kawuneeche Valley on the west side. Trail Ridge Road is generally open from Memorial Day weekend (in May) to mid-October, weather permitting. The road is one of the few in the United States that takes visitors to the unique high-altitude alpine tundra. And at several places along the road are scenic overlooks which provide spectacular views of the valleys below, and the surrounding mountains.
The Fall River Road had been the first road to penetrate the high country. Completed in 1921, it proved to be inadequate for motor traffic as it was too steep, it was single track, and there were too many tight curves. Therefore construction on Trail Ridge Road started in 1929 to connect the Estes Park Valley and the Kawuneeche Valley. The planned routed followed the Dog Trail, a route over the mountains that had been discovered by the Arapahoes, an American Indian tribe. By 1932, the road reached Fall River Pass, and by 1938 it was completed.
Pictured here is a view of Horseshoe Park from the Rainbow Curve Overlook. Portions of the switchback road can be seen far below.
Denver's Larimer Square is the oldest and most historic block in Denver. The area is characterized by its well-preserved Victorian buildings, giving the area a feel of the Old West.
In 1858, miners established a settlement they called Auraria south of Cherry Creek near its confluence with the South Platte River. Shortly after that, a group led by General William H. Larimer, Jr. established a rival settlement north of Cherry Creek which they named Denver, in honor of the territorial governor of Kansas. Its main street was called Larimer Street after General Larimer. Denver's first bank, photographer, and dry goods store were located on Larimer Street, and like all towns in the Old West, it had its share of saloons.
By the early 1960s, Larimer Street had become the city's Skid Row, where derelicts slept in doorways. However, in 1963 the historic Victorian buildings along Larimer Street were saved from demolition, and the neglected and abandoned buildings were restored to their original condition. Larimer Square was formed as a historic district, and included Larimer Street and the blocks between 14th Street and 15th Street. Larimer Square's transformation sparked a rejuvination of the entire 26-square-block Lower Downtown district (known as LoDo), which is now a vibrant place undergoing massive construction and renovation. Hundreds of restaurants, sidewalk cafes, and microbreweries attract large numbers of Denverites and tourists, making Larimer Square one of Denver's premier destinations.
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