The first summer we lived in Colorado, we were so excited to start exploring that great state! Well, me anyway, as my boyfriend is from Colorado and as a child had the opportunity to explore this amazing state!
One day in mid-August, we packed up our camping gear and headed south to explore the south end of the state. First stop the sand dunes…huh?
Designated a national monument in 1932 by president Hoover, the sand dunes are the largest in North America. Sand blown into the San Luis Valley from dried up lake beds covers approximately 30 sq miles with some dunes as high as 750 feet and it is estimated there is 5 billion cubic meters of sand! There is evidence of human habits in the area dating back over 11,000 years. It was certainly a wonder to see these huge sand dunes settled up next to the mountain. The day we visited a small stream was running through the park and during the Spring run off this stream resembles more of a river. The cool water of the stream was relief to our burning feet after we had walked through the sun soaked, heat packed grain of sand! What an amazing experience!
After we had explore the amazing wonder of the sand dunes, we continued south to find a camping spot near Durango. Originally a mining town, Durango has developed into a quaint little tourist town, offering tourists a historic downtown area, amazing restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. The Durango/Silverton railroad is a heritage railway known worldwide for it’s steam-powered trains and scenic route. Although while there we did not ride the train, we did manage to wander through the streets of this cute town. We camped just outside of Durango near the trailhead of the Colorado Trail. Our camping spot allowed us to be in nature but close enough to explore the area.
When one finds themselves this far south in Colorado, of course it’s logical to make the trek to the Four Corners. The Four corners monument is the only location in the USA where 4 states meet; however, it is said that the monument that we stood on is actually not 100% accurate on the map and the true “four corners” are located somewhere else! After driving through some amazing scenic desert and navigating our way to the monument, you bet we stood on the spot and took a picture! The area this monument is located on Navajo land but 6 government agencies have jurisdiction at the point of the monument to include: Navajo Nation, Ute mountain Ute Tribe, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Although to stand on the monument was an occasion, the whole experience was mostly anti-climatic. Many of the local shops at the site were closed for the season, it was incredibly hot, and there was no other services located near by, even finding food was difficult.
As we headed back north, we detoured to visit the ruins of Mesa Verde. These cliff dwellings were seasonally occupied by nomadic Paleo-Indians who arrived in the area at around 9500 BCE.
We found it interesting to venture around the structures and imagine the purpose of each building. Our guide informed us that much of the structures have been reconstructed over the recent years as theft and tourism contributed to the decline in the structures integrity and overall appearances. The tour was interesting and informative; however, I felt it somewhat limited due to group size and the availability of space on the paths. I enjoyed learning about the ancient peoples and found it amazing how they carved their dwelling so far up the cliff walls!
Onward to Black Canyon! The last national park on our travels had an amazing drive into the canyon! Although only 12 miles of the 48 mile canyon are
located within the park, the park is home to the deepest and most dramatic section of the canyon. The canyon is named “Black Canyon” as parts of the gorge only get just over 30 minutes of sunlight per day. We enjoyed our day hiking around the rim of the canyon and took in the sites of the amazing views from each lookout point!
Although we did not capture any video footage of our travels, Here’s a photo compilation of our adventure!