Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hot Springs in Glenwood and Colorado Springs

Hot springs are natural occurrences of surface water heated from geothermal activity far below. Few places are lucky enough for the water to form natural basins, so often the physical structure of hot springs are man made. Because the water has so much mineral activity, it is often full of natural salts.

Mineral water is considered to be good for the body. People have been using natural mineral springs as healing therapy for thousands of years. Of course doctors cant profit of promoting anything free and natural, but supposedly salty hot springs increase the metabolism, relieve muscles, and improve circulation. The minerals are supposed to pass through your skin through osmosis to be used by the lymphatic system and other cells.

Outside of the therapeutic effects, the real reason people like to bathe in hot springs is because they just make you feel good. The heat has a relaxing and enjoyable sensation. These are great hiking destinations. After a long drudging hike the relaxation is exquisitely perfect destination for Colorado trips.

Some hot springs are made into giant pools that swimmers can use. Others are small grottoes ideal for romantic Colorado trips. Many are clothing optional, or are in national parks. This makes them free from rules. Smaller pools are more for relaxation and therapy than vigorous exercise. The smaller pools are usually hotter, and exercise is not recommended at extreme temperatures. You may not even want to stay in these pools for an extended period of time.

The best springs are those high up in the mountains in a natural setting. There is nothing better than diving into a hot spring after walking naked through the snow. The hot cold change is exquisite, and the views upon the mountain tops cannot be beat. Just be careful to bring a towel to dry off before hiking in the cold. The water steams upon contact with the cold air.

When hiking, be careful of apparent hot springs you have never heard of. Not all hot springs are safe for humans. Whether that be because of toxic chemicals or scalding water, do not jump into an unknown pool of hot water. The Glenwood Springs hot springs is one of the largest in the world, with an amazing flow rate of 120 degree water. These springs are obviously safe, as well as the ones you may find in the national park guide book.

Hot Air Balloon Rides in Colorado

Colorado offers a unique experience when it comes to hot air ballooning. The high altitude, clear air and mountain vistas offer ballooners an unmatched experience on their Colorado vacations. One popular location or thermal ballooning is the South Park Valley. No not because of the famous TV show, but because of the glorious views. This area is near the center of Colorado, so it is close by many other activities popular on Colorado trips.

This is right near the golden ski area that includes Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and more. The most convenient place to stay outside South Park would probably be Colorado Springs. Most air balloons do not go that high up. However the launch point at South Park is one of the highest in the world. You will leave the ground already around nine thousand feet above sea level. From up top you can see mountains over 100 miles away through the clear air. Some popular sights are viewing both sides of the continental divide, Mt. Elbert and Pike's Peak. The balloons have the ability to go high for views and lower to monitor native wildlife.

After the balloon ride there is a special ceremony for first time travelers. I can't give you the full story now for fear of ruining it. After the ascent is over, many Rocky Mountain travelers opt to finish their Colorado trips with a full fledged adventure. There is kayaking, river rafting, horseback riding, fishing, biking and all kinds of outdoor adventures. Colorado is not short on culture as well. There are many wine, music and beer festivals, as well as historical sites. Some people like to descend into the old gold mines for a peek. The mining and ghost towns preserve the gold rush culture well.

Afterwards you can return to stay at Colorado Springs, where a morning adventure might include a trip up Pike's Peak on the cog railway, or a visit to the Garden of the Gods or US Olympic complex.

Another popular ballooning launch point is Boulder. Boulder has plenty to offer for Colorado trips, but while in the balloon the primary attractions are Estes Park and the front range mountains. Boulder is famous for its Pearl Street mall. Nearby is the Coors Brewery, Red Rocks Amphitheater and many more. Consider visiting a Colorado welcome center for more ideas for Colorado trips after your balloon ride.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mesa Verde Pueblo Indians

The Mesa Verde National Park was established by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. It was the first park established more to preserve cultural heritage than to showcase natural resources. The pueblo at Mesa Verde is one of the best preserved pueblos, although the Indians stopped inhabiting the site around 200 years before Columbus first saw the West Indies.

Probably for protection, the pueblo people moved from the cliff tops to inside the cliffs around 1200. They built cities in amazing places. However it is not known if they moved because the protection was no longer necessary, if the ardors of living in a cliff were too much, or they were just following their food supply. The mesa tops were used for farming, while the people lived below. What we do know is that they left Colorado for Arizona and New Mexico, but left behind amazing natural wonders that are a must see for Colorado Vacations.

There are actually several pueblos in the area. The largest is the Cliff Palace, which had over 150 rooms. The area was first found by American settlers in 1888, far after the surrounding areas had been colonized. Cowboys looking for their cattle found the archaeological spot. The cliff dwelling alcove was made out of a natural geologic actions over thousands of years. The cliff is made primarily of sandstone, which water seeps through easily. However there are deposits of shale that trap water. When the water freezes in winter it expands and cracks the rock forming holes or natural caves in the cliff walls. The rocks are fragile and the area is labeled under the strictest standing by the clean air act. This is a higher standard than most cities.

In addition to the large number of rooms, the Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde has 23 ceremonial kivas. Although the society that lived in the cliffs changed or died out, we do know something about their ceremonies. It is possible that more than one community lived in the cliff and that the kivas were like diplomatic areas. The descendants of the cliff dwellers probably became the pueblo peoples of New Mexico.

They took with them the knowledge of adobe building, but built their structures on the flat earth. Both people were primarily farmers who stayed in the same place. They built the structures to house their grains and to protect themselves, unlike the plains Indians of the movies who were nomadic. People coming on Colorado Vacations may expect to see Indians on the site, but all these Indians moved away. The only remaining Indians are the Ute, who operate casinos in southwestern Colorado.

Pike's Peak and the Cog Railway

Pike's Peak is a famous mountain in the Colorado Rockies. Although not the highest peak in Colorado, this mountain is famous because its namesake, explorer Zebulon Pike, claimed that the mountain could never be scaled. After trying to climb the peak in November 1806, he turned back about 2/3 up because of the snow. Even today, the 14ers association does not recommend anyone on Colorado vacations to attempt to scale Pike's Peak without ample mountaineering knowledge and heavy equipment.

By 1820, the mountain had been climbed, however the mystique was etched into Americana. It is completely possible that the Ute Indians had already scaled the mountain because they had a tradition of putting eagle traps on the peaks of high mountains. The area was popular with Indians and trappers for its abundant natural resources. Although not the highest peak, because it is so close to the great plains, Pike's Peak was often the first part of the Rocky Mountains seen by settlers moving west. After the discovery of gold in the Rockies, the popular phrase "Pike's Peak or Bust" was coined.

The mountain became a popular tourist attraction. The creator of the Pike's Peak cog railway was a telegraph inventor. A weather station had been established on the top of Pike's Peak, and Zalmon Simmons took a trip to the top to inspect his materials at the weather station. He loved the views, but was so tired out by the trip he had to relax in one of the local hot springs. These are still popular locations for Colorado Vacations. Supposedly while shooting the breeze in the hot springs someone talked about a railroad to the top and Zalmon loved the idea.

The cog railroad replaced a carriage road that used horses and mules to haul tourists to the top. The railroad was the only avenue for getting to the top until 1915 when the road was improved to allow cars. To encourage auto travel, the Pike's Peak Hill Climb was established, one of the oldest car races in the United States.

The view from Pike's Peak is legendary. Supposedly the "purple mountain majesties" part of America the Beautiful was inspired up top Pike's Peak. There are several different ecologies as one goes up the summit. Each 1000 foot of elevation lowers the average temperatures 3-4 degrees. At the top is tundra, made of hardy grasses an lichens. Few animals can live at these altitudes beyond the yellow bellied marmot and similar adapted mammals.

Red Rocks Amphitheater

The Red Rocks Amphitheater is a unique natural rock theater owned by the city of Denver, Colorado. The red rock is formed by sandstone monoliths over 250 million years old. These giant structures frame the amphitheater and create great acoustics. These are just two of thousands of giant rock structures in the "Garden of Angels."

Used by the Colorado settlers for religious gatherings, and by American Indians for the same purpose before, the natural power of Red Rocks, from a beauty and acoustic standpoint is what sets it apart. In the early 1900's there was a temporary platform for concerts in the area. Although the amphitheater is close to Denver, before cars were common it was quite a hike through the steep rocks.

The actual man-made portion of the theater was constructed during the depression by the CCC and WPA. The project was designed from the outset to not just incorporate natural elements, but emphasize them. Today the two monoliths on the side and one behind the stage still steal the show.

Locals come to exercise on the unique challenge red rocks presents. Try running up the steps a few times and see what the altitude does to you. There is also a Colorado welcome center inside the visitor's center where volunteers will help you plan any trips in the Rockies.

The rock monoliths used to be part of the ocean floor. The park is full of natural history, with fossils of dinosaurs throughout the ages. With heights higher than Niagara falls, this is a truly majestic destination for Colorado trips. Inside the park there are trails where you can wonder along the rock formations. Hiking is not allowed on most rocks to prevent erosion. There is a visitors center however, which tells of the history of Red Rocks, with memorabilia from famous artists who have played there.

This makes Red Rocks a great Colorado trips destination for historical purposes. Nearby the rocks is the gateway to the rockies, with hiking, fishing and skiing. Denver is one of the largest cities in the rockies and has plenty to do with all kinds of relaxing amenities you may want on your Colorado Vacations as well. Common suggestions include visiting the Coors brewery, the Buffalo Bill Museum, or Bandimere speedway.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Colorado Mountain Climbing

Colorado Mountain climbing can be a very dangerous undertaking. There are ways for almost anyone to climb a fourteener. On the other hand people have died from dehydration, altitude sickness, exposure and other problems at lower elevations.

The most important consideration is safety. This may sound like a broken record, but no recreational activity is worth dying over. The weather and conditions on top of a peak can change quickly, so every climber needs to be prepared to turn back if possible. Not scaling a peak does not ruin a Colorado vacation. Getting frostbite does. No serious mountain climber would attempt a summit in stormy weather. The best cure for altitude sickness is to get to lower elevations.

Colorado is a skiing mecca because of the numerous rocky mountain skiing areas. However back country skiing poses numerous dangers. Just like hiking, before going skiing always notify someone of where you will be and at what time you plan on returning. Colorado has more avalanche deaths than any other state, and experience does not make you invincible.

Some new hikers should take mountaineering classes. The Colorado Mountain Club offers such classes. At high altitudes physical conditioning is very important. Just because you think you are fit in Florida does not necessarily mean that your Colorado vacations to 14,000 feet will leave you in the same condition. Most climbs require several hours of climbing up.

Other safety precautions all new climbers on Colorado vacations should take include traveling with experienced climber with maps. Always plan out your day, with and early start and emergency contacts. Long hikes should start before sunrise. Most thunderstorms roll in in the afternoon, so if you can plan your decent before noon you will miss most of the weather.

The forest service offers information on all trail heads. Some are not accessible by car or during certain parts of the year. You need some sort of navigation equipment like a compass or GPS. Then know your route on a map and tell a friend. You should know your Colorado hiking route so well that on the first trip you recognize many landmarks. The forest service should also have information on avalanche dangers in the area.

Some of the gear you will need on a hiking trip include lots of water. A hat to block the sun. Gloves in case you have to climb up cold rocks. Read a hiking guide to see other important survival gear.

Mountain Biking in Summit County

Posted by: Colorado Vacation Blog

If you like thrills and outdoors mountain biking just might be your new favorite hobby. If you have not yet felt the rush of high speeds, fresh mountain air and the blur of trees in your peripherals it is something you can't explain. Summit County, known for its ski resorts and high peaks offers some of the best mountain biking in the whole state of Colorado.

There are two types of mountain biking; single track and downhill. Single track biking involves a dirty "single" path that weaves up and down, back and forth, between amazing scenery usually on a wooded plot of land. Riders usually ride a lighter bike which helps with climbs. Downhill is exactly as it sounds, down hill usually at a ski resort. Riders ride a chair lift or gondola up the ski runs and bike down. Riders usually wear full equipment, a full faced helmet and ride a heavier bike made to take steep slopes and crashes.

A great thing about mountain biking is it can be as difficult or as easy as the rider wants to make it. If you want to go faster you have the ability to choose quicker trails and control your bike to do so. If you want to go slow you can choose an easier route down as well as ride your brakes and ease down the mountain.

There are so many trails to choose from in Summit County all offering spectacular views, new challenges and one hell of a workout. Summit County is so perfect for all riders because of all of the trail systems it offers.

If you are planning Colorado trips and your family enjoys the outdoors and sports, mountain biking is a must! Summers in Colorado bring great weather and beautiful landscapes. Enjoy it all with your family on a bike!

Here are a few places to rent mountain bikes in Summit Count: Alpine Sports (Breckenridge) Pioneer Sports (Frisco) Rebel Sports (Frisco)