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RBC I As we head towards 2015, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is suggesting another type of New Year’s resolution for Coloradans: experience the byways!
A journey along Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways can combine new and old interests for a multi-day trip or an adventure with one specific purpose in mind.
Here are a few wintertime thought starters for your 2015 resolutions:
Theaters and Opera Houses—For those new to the arts or those with an existing appreciation for the arts, we recommend a fine selection of theaters and opera houses to enjoy live entertainment. Along the Peak to Peak Scenic and Historic Byway you can visit The Central City Opera House, built in 1878. Or visit Leadville on the Top of the Rockies Scenic and Historic Byway to enjoy the Tabor Opera House.
Creede Repertory Theater is found along the Silver Thread Scenic and Historic Byway and produces award-winning contemporary and classic theatre. The Avalon Theatre built for the residents of Grand Junction by local publishing giant Walter Walker in 1923, is one of Western Colorado’s largest performing arts halls. It is sited on a gateway to the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic and Historic Byway.
Geologic Heritage—Geologic heritage encompasses the significant geologic features, landforms and landscapes characteristic of our nation, which are preserved. Some incredible land formations, also known as Dikes, are located along the Highway of Legends Scenic and Historic Byway. As the name implies, myths have been passed on from generation to generation regarding those odd formations that have been pushed up through the earth’s surface.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park is another unique geologic feature found along the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway. Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway contains a geologically unique canyon, with water that flows out of opposite ends of the canyon. Close to the Front Range, the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic and Historic Byway offers a haven of sites, including the Florissant National Fossil Beds, Garden Park Fossil Area National Natural Landmark and the Royal Gorge Canyon.
Hot Springs—Colorado gives you a chance to experience one of the state’s most surreal phenomena: relaxing outside in a pool of steamy water while it’s snowing. The Collegiate Peaks Scenic and Historic Byway contains the highest concentration of 14,000+ foot peaks in the country. Along these peaks are also hot springs, including Mt. Princeton Hot Springs and Cottonwood Hot Springs. The San Juan Skyway All-American Road is one of America’s most amazing drives. Along this 236-mile route you can enjoy the Trimble Hot Springs and the Ouray Hot Springs Pool.
Idaho Springs is a gateway to the Mount Evans Scenic and Historic Byway. In this historic town, you will find the Indian Hot Springs. The Soaking Life’s online article states that these springs were sacred to the Ute and Arapahoe tribes and also attracted guests as diverse as Walt Whitman, Sarah Bernhardt, Billy the Kid and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Forts—Visiting local historic forts provides a sample of the 1800s, when the area was settled by frontiersmen, military men, homesteaders, miners and more. As you travel along the mere 19 miles of the South Platte River Trail Scenic and Historic Byway, you will find a marker and flag where Fort Sedgwick used to stand in Julesburg. A rendition of Fort Sedgwick’s story was brought to life through the movie, “Dances with Wolves.”
Fort Garland Museum is found in the San Luis Valley, a high mountain desert, alongside the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic and Historic Byway and embraced in the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site features a reconstructed 1840s adobe fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic and Historic Byway, where traders, trappers, travelers and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes came together in peace for trade. Today, living historians recreate the sights, sounds and smells of the past with guided tours, demonstrations and special events. The Fort Restaurant is a replica of Bent’s Old Fort, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is part of the Lariat Loop National Scenic and Historic Byway.
Before you travel, CDOT suggests that you contact the above entities for their calendar of events and hours of operations, which are often reduced during the winter and early spring.
This year, Colorado’s Scenic and Historic Byways program is celebrating 25 years of service to tourists and the state’s economy by designating routes that provide exceptional scenic, historical, cultural, and recreational opportunities.
For additional publications or more information about the Scenic and Historic Byways, please visit ColoradoByways.org.