American Locations 9

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Top of the Rockies Scenic Drive & Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

The next morning we drove north on Hwy. 24 from Leadville on the west leg of the Top of the Rockies Scenic Drive (which took us across Tennessee Pass (10,424 ft.). This time we stopped frequently to look around.

This is an abandoned mining town.

I could have hiked down for a closer look, like this guy in the bottom right did.

But it was a steep climb, so I just zoomed in.

Both the drive in and the drive out on the Top of the Rockies Scenic Drive were incredibly beautiful. We roved around mountain after mountain, one fourteener after another, up and down high mountain passes. An impressive drive. Eventually, we arrived back at I-70 just west of Vail. We continued west on I-70 into Glenwood Canyon. The Interstate through this canyon is an engineering masterpiece. The road follows the Colorado River through a canyon so narrow often the east and west bound lanes are stacked on top of each other. As you can see in these photos.

The Colorado River.

There are several tunnels.

We stopped at a rest area to hike the Hanging Lake Trail. It was rocky and very steep.

But well worth it. Hanging Lake at the end of the trail was a wonder.

There was a higher waterfall feeding into the waterfalls feeding into Hanging Lake.

You could walk behind it.

After sitting down for a while to admire the lake, it was a long rocky way back down.

Near the bottom the Interstate came into view. Almost there.

Then it was back in the motor home to crash. That’s one of several advantages of traveling in a motor home. Your bed is always with you. Anytime you get tired just stretch out in back. After a good rest, it was back onto I-70 to continue west.

Next Location – Rifle Gap State Park, Colorado

American Locations 8

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Leadville, Colorado

Leadville, Colorado, is the highest incorporated city in the country. At 10,152 feet, they call themselves the 2-Mile High City. We had crossed Freemont Pass, which has an elevation of 11,318 feet, yesterday coming into Leadville. Visible side by side to the south of Leadville are Colorado’s 2 tallest peaks – Mt. Elbert (14,440 ft.) and Mt. Massive (14,429 ft.).

After resting a bit, we took a walk through the historic old mining town. It was a sunny day, but at this altitude chilly.

There were a lot of murals.

This mural was especially eye-catching. This is an actual event the town holds in the winter:  horse-drawn skiing.

And this statue of a prospector, which I didn’t get a good angle on.

This old saloon looked impressive.

By the time we finished our walk through town we were finished. At this elevation we were gasping for breath. We had not had a chance to get acclimated, passing from the flatlands of Kansas up to over 10,000 feet in one day. That night it got down to freezing, but we turned on our tank heaters and we were okay. But the next night it was supposed to get even  colder, so we decided not to risk it. We left the next morning for lower elevations and warmer temperatures.

Next Location – Top of the Rockies Scenic Drive & Glenwood Canyon, Colorado

American Locations 7

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

I-70 into the Rocky Mountains, Colorado

You don’t notice driving out of Kansas into Colorado on I-70. Eastern Colorado is as flat and barren as western Kansas. People tend to think of mountains when they think of Colorado, but the eastern third of the state is flat. A lot of cattle ranches. But once you can see the Rocky Mountains in the distance the drive becomes much better. Although the mountains don’t ever seem to come any closer. That’s because they rise up out of the flat plain without the benefit of foothills, which makes them even more impressive. Driving through Denver wasn’t bad. We arrived in the middle of the day, no rush hour traffic. Driving up out of Denver into the Rockies on I-70 is one of the best drives you’ll ever do.

We pulled over frequently to take pictures.

This lake was ice-covered, even though there was no snow on the surrounding mountainside.

The original plan had been to camp at Frisco, but none of their campgrounds had opened yet. So we went a little further west on I-70 and exited at Copper Mountain. We drove south on Rte. 91 and took the east leg of the Top of the Rockies Scenic Drive. It was beautiful, but we were tired and anxious about finding a campground. We found one at Leadville. It was only  a parking lot with the units squeezed in as tight as possible, but that didn’t bother us at all. The view was fantastic.

Next Location – Leadville, Colorado

American Locations 6

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Monument Hills, Kansas

Early in the afternoon, after finishing our hike on the Rockhound Trail at Wilson Lake, we continued west on I-70. Since we got such a late start we didn’t get very far. We pulled off the Interstate at Oakley, about 70 miles east of the Colorado state line. We set up in a private campground and crashed for the evening. There was a glorious sunset.

A serious storm was predicted for eastern Colorado, so we sheltered in place for 2 more days. The first day was nice, so we explored. People at the campground told us about Monument Rocks Natural National Landmark. We drove south from Oakley on Hwy. 83 to turn east onto Jayhawk Rd. At the junction with 460 it went from paved to gravel, and we continued east on Grove 3. We followed this until it ended, then turned south on Grove 14. This gravel road zigged and zagged until it reached Grove 16, which we turned south on. We followed this to Monument Rocks. Kansas is supposed to be so flat, but these rock formations were impressive since they rose up out of such flatness.

This photo with our motor home gives some sense of scale.

We were the only people there. So we parked and roamed all over.

On the way back to Oakley, we stopped to see a Buffalo Bill Memorial.

The next day we stayed in, since it stormed all day long. So by the next morning we were antsy go go.

Next Location – I-70 into the Rocky Mountains, Colorado

American Locations 5

The trip is from Lewis & Clark Monument, Illinois, to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois, by way of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona

Wilson Lake State Park 2

We woke up to a rainy day, which we spent touring around Wilson Lake. First, we drove north on Rte. 232 to the town of Lucas to see the Garden of Eden.

Here is some information I found online concerning this site:

S. P. Dinsmoor was a retired schoolteacher and Civil War veteran who moved to Lucas, Kansas in 1891. During most of the remaining 31 years of his life, he created a unforgettable legacy in three parts:

The “log cabin” was completed in 1907.  The “logs” are up to 27 feet long and are carved from limestone. Dinsmoor called the home “the most unique home for living or dead on Earth,” and conducted tours of the 11 room house.

The garden surrounding the home was built during the following 22 years. Built of limestone and 113 tons of concrete, the garden tells the history of the world starting with its creation. There are 150 figures plus other forms, from insects to 40 feet tall trees in the Garden of Eden. Sunflower Journeys calls it a work of art, a statement of political & religious beliefs, and a record of Kansas history.

The pagoda at the northeast corner of the Garden of Eden is a stone and concrete mausoleum. It houses Dinsmoor and his first wife in a glass lidded coffin.

After, having nothing better to do on a rainy day, we drove an entire circuit of the lake.

The next day was much better. We left the campground to hike the Rocktown Trail along the lake. Note the limestone fenceposts.

It started with an easy hike through prairie.

Down to the lake.

Where there were some unusual rock formations.

Then it was a hike back up from the lake.

Past some forlorn limestone fenceposts.

And back up to the motorhome.

After completing the hike, we drove south from Wilson Lake on Rte. 232 to I-70, and continued west.

Next Location – Monument Hills, Kansas