Scenic Drive: Colorado – Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway

Trappers Lake

This byway cuts through the heart of the original White River Plateau Timberland Reserve, set aside in the late 19th century as the second unit of what eventually became the National Forest system. Two decades later, in a foreshadowing of the 1964 Wilderness Act, development of any kind was banned around Trapper’s Lake (the “Cradle of Wilderness”). The area’s long-standing history of preservation and multiple-use land management makes for pristine scenery and superlative wildlife viewing. Yet this remains very much a “working” byway, dotted with active mines, ranches, and timber-producing woodlands. Meeker and Yampa, the route’s two endpoints, embody the rugged individualism that lies at the heart of western lore. Continue reading ‘Scenic Drive: Colorado – Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway’ »

Scenic Drive: Colorado – Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway

Top of the Rockies - Independence Pass

Independence Pass

At 10,200 feet, Leadville is the highest incorporated community in the United States. Yet in this setting, surrounded on all sides by 14,000-foot behemoths, the city occupies the lowlands. South of town, Colorado’s two loftiest mountains – Elbert and Massive – stand side by side like Jupiter and Saturn. The colossal peaks of this area yielded fortunes of like proportions in the 19th century, as miners pulled millions of dollars’ worth of mineral from the ground. The luckiest of them, Horace Tabor, became one of the titans of Colorado’s silver industry. This 82-mile route crosses the Continental Divide twice and traces the Arkansas River nearly to its source in the vicinity of Fremont Pass. The small communities of Redcliff, Minturn, and Twin Lakes add charm. Continue reading ‘Scenic Drive: Colorado – Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway’ »

Scenic Drive: Colorado – West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway

Crested Butte

Shaped like a lasso that’s been dropped on Colorado’s pristine West Elk Mountains, the West Elk Loop Scenic and Historic Byway unites three very different mining communities, gets within arm’s reach of four diverse wilderness areas and meanders through the Gunnison Country mountain towns of Marble, Gunnison and Crested Butte.

The twin summits of Mount Sopris and the incomparable Black Canyon of the Gunnison anchor the ends of the West Elk Loop. This magnificent landscape has been home to uncounted generations of Native Americans, most recently the Utes. White settlers originally came in search of minerals and stayed to farm and ranch.

The coke ovens at Redstone bear witness to the toil that built the communities of today. Carbondale, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Gunnison, Crested Butte and other towns offer a slice of Colorado’s rich history, varied lifestyles and natural beauty. The route gives access to the White River and Gunnison National Forests, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Curecanti National Recreational Area, and Crawford and Paonia State Parks.

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Review: Dixon Springs State Park

Located near Golconda Illinois, Dixon Springs State Park is small, but packs a lot into a small place. It offers camping, picnicking, hiking, group cabins with a shower house and even a modern pool complete with lifeguard and a 45-foot waterslide. Its central location makes it an excellent place to stay while exploring the Shawnee National Forest.

Cliffs and huge boulders line the small canyon valley alongside of a small creek that is central to the park. The hiking trails are quite nice, and lead to some very interesting rock formations that are creatively name like Ghost Dance, Pluto’s Cave, Rib Wrencher and Devil’s Workshop. Our favorite trail is the Bluff trail.

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Review: Lake Glendale Recreation Area

Located near Golconda Illinois, Lake Glendale Recreation Area’s location makes it the perfect hub for visiting Shawnee National Forest attractions. You will be surrounded by tall pines and hardwoods; there is even an 80 acre lake with a beautiful beach and concessions.

 

Lake Glendale offers a wide range of recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, swimming, boating, fishing and bicycling.

It is surrounded by several worthy natural and cultural attractions including: Continue reading ‘Review: Lake Glendale Recreation Area’ »

Review: Wayne Fitzgerrell State Recreation Area

Wayne Fitzgerrell is located north of Benton Illinois on the north end of Rend Lake. Whether your interests are hunting, fishing, boating, jet skiing, horseback riding, hiking, camping or picnicking, you will find it all right here.

Although we have only camped here a few times over the years this is a very popular camping mecca. We love the bike trails and abundant wildlife. We have seen our fair share of Great Blue Heron and an occasional Bald Eagle, tons of Deer, Wild Turkey, Pheasant and lots more. An evening ride is always exciting.

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Review: Cave-in-Rock State Park

Cave-in-Rock State Park is nestled on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River just east of the little town of Cave in Rock Illinois.  Although it is rather remote and isolated on the extreme southeastern edge of Illinois , we love this park. The park’s main attraction is a 55 foot wide cave that opens onto the Ohio River. When the river is not up, the cave is accessible via a trail along the riverbank. Note: There are many steps leading down to the river trail.

Settlers first discovered the cave in 1729 and it is mentioned in many diaries and accounts of those who passed down the Ohio to settle the area and beyond. The cave is infamous for the River Pirates that sometimes made it their home and famous for being part of the 1962 movie “How The West Was Won”.
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