Monday, July 30, 2012

The last of Hot Sulphur Springs and RMNP

Our last day at Hot Sulphur Springs found us heading once more to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Our goal was to travel the entire Trail Ridge Road, stop in Estes Park, then head back on the Old Fall River Road.  Fall River Road is 11 miles of dirt, climbing from the bottom of the canyon up to the Trail Ridge Visitor Center.  It is a one way road only.
More wildlife.  Here are two large bull elk just grazing away on the hillside.

We saw several herds of elk with their young.  

On the way to Fall River Road we stopped at the Alluvial Fan.  The alluvial fan was formed after the Lawn Lake Flood of 1982, when the earthen dam of Lawn Lake broke, releasing 29 million gallons of water.  The flood rushed downhill four miles to this point, picking up large bolders and trees.  Here at the base of the mountain much of the debris was dropped, forming the broad alluvial fan that still exists today.  The flood also caused the dam to fail at Cascade Lake downstream, causing the death of several campers as nearby Aspenglen Campground.  A six foot wall of water eventually arrived in the town of Estes Park.  At the end of the day, three people were dead from the flood.

The town of Estes Park is also the home of the Stanley Hotel.  Built in 1909, it stands as a testament to a man with a grand ideal.  F.O. Stanley, builder of the Stanley Racer, came to Estes Park as a young man with his family.  He loved the area and wanted it to remain as a recreational area, so he funded the building of the Stanley Hotel and much of the infrastructure that is still in place today, making Estes Park the recreational haven it is.

The Stanley Racer, which won the land speed record in 1906 with a speed of 45 mph.  This machine cost $850.

Just one of the many falls, cascading down the mountains, carrying the melting snows off the mountaintops.

We have completed the entire loop.  Above is the Trail Ridge Visitor Center.
Tomorrow we leave for Cheyenne, WY, and Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Hot Springs at Hot Sulphur Springs

We were just a block from the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort and Spa.  Yes, they have commercialized the hot springs, but it was well worth it.  After paying our day fee, we could go back and forth to our RVs as often as we wished.  So we went over in the morning and stayed until NASCAR racing started.  Then after the race, we returned and spent some more time soaking.  

They are one of the oldest and largest hot springs resort in the nation.

The water comes from 35,000 feet below and bubbles up through fissures.  There are seven natural springs with temperatures from 104 to 126 degrees.  Over 200,000 gallons per day flow through the pools and baths.  The tubs are kept at different temperatures, from 95 to 112 degrees.  There are no chemicals added, no filters and no re-circulating of the mineral rich water.

Ute Cave Pool

Many of the pools are only big enough for 2-4 people.

Hot Rocks Pool is barely big enough for one person.

But this pool was easily large enough for us.

I tried nearly all the pools, but the 112 degree pool was just too hot for me.  It was a lovely day, so we would soak for a short while, then lounge, then soak, then lounge.  Get the picture?

Hot Sulphur Springs, Buffalo BBQ and Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park

After Leadville, Max and I left the group and headed to Hot Sulphur Springs.  I had never been there and the thought of a hot springs sounded good.  Plus, I love Rocky Mountain National Park.
Parked at Pioneer Park in Hot Sulphur Springs.  It is a State Wildlife Area  located on the Colorado River.

A look at the Colorado River.

As we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park for a day trip, we found Grand Lake was having a festival.

We stopped and had some buffalo BBQ before heading onto the park.

Everyone was out enjoying the celebration.

In 1881 James Cairn built his first store to serve the miners.  He rebuilt the store in 1908.  It now remains as the main part of the Humphrey Store.

Ezra Kauffman built this as a hotel in 1892.  He operated it until 1920.  It is now a museum.

They were having a wooden boat show too.  The canoe on the left was built in 1915.  The darker canoe was French made, exact date unknown, but the logo on the side was used by the company in the 1890s.

Another wooden boat, this Chris Craft was built in 1944.

Although this is only a picture, I though it captured the heart of winter in Colorado.

Grand Lake Lodge opened with a Grand Ball in 1920, the same year Fall River Road was completed.

A unique way to state the elevation.

The west entrance of the park.

Moose usually hang out on the west side of the park and I was hoping we would see some.  Here we have a mother and her young.

In 1917, German immigrants, Sophia and John Holzworth built this homestead.  They started hosting their friends at the Holzworth Trout Lodge in 1920.  Eventually it became known as the Never Summer Ranch, and offered fishing, hunting and horseback riding.  It was in operation until 1975 when it was purchased by the park.
This was in 2010, notice all the snow behind the sign.

Notice there is no snow anywhere in site this year.  They even opened Trail Ridge Road two weeks early because of so little snow this year.
In 2010, the snow was still piled around the visitor center.

At the Trail Ridge Visitor Center this year at over 12,000 feet.  Notice the lack of snow.

We even spotted some elk.  When I was here in 2010, all the elk were on the east side of the park.

We spotted this bull moose on the way back to Grand Lake.

Once back in town we stopped for the entertainment at Lefty and Pancho's.

Adams Falls on the outskirts of Grand Lake.  This is part of the Colorado River.

Just above the falls.  Part of the headwaters of the Colorado River.

On our way back to the car this fox passed us on the trail.  It wasn't afraid at all, but simply gave us a wide berth.  It was carrying a corn cob in its mouth.
I was hoping to see moose, and I saw lot more than I expected.  These were on the side of the road outside of Grand Lake.

It was a long day and I'm glad we're headed home.  Tomorrow I think I'll soak at the hot springs.

Camp Hale and Silver King Loop

The last of our stay in the Leadville area had us making the long trip around once again to do one last day of exploring the Leadville area.
Down in the valley, outside Leadville, is the headwaters of the Arkansas River.  It's hard to believe that just several hundered miles further south this river has Class V rapids.

This loop drive is about a 20 mile loop with 14 marked stops.  It is a self-directed drive and you pick up brochures in town.  You see several old ghost towns, the old mines and mills.

California Gulch, where the first gold was found in 1860.

The head frame at the Wright Shaft of the Denver City Mine.  This is a fine example of the "A" shape frame, predominate of the tin mines in Cornwall, England.

Baby Doe's cabin at the Matchless Mine.  Baby Doe Tabor, wife of Horace Tabor, silver tycoon who lost his fortune when silver prices plummeted, believed her fortunes would return.  She was found dead in her cabin, living above the closed mine.

Remnant of an old silver mine.  The silver days began to decline when the U.S. government adopted the gold standard, causing the silver panic of 1893.  During the panic, an agreement was signed with the miner's for an agreed to wage of $2.50 per day.  But in 1896 the miner's struck for higher wages of $3 per day.  The strike closed 90% of the mines and the Coronado Mine was burned and three men were killed.  The strike ended in 1897, the strikers returning to work without any pay raise.  Pumping began to de-water the mines, but the water had carried sand into the mines, sealing them.  As a result, many of the mines were closed permanently, thus ending the silver boom.

The site of Stumptown, which began in 1879 and was largely abandoned by the 1930s.  Once a thriving community, including the early residence of the famous "Unsinkable" Molly Brown of Titantic fame.

Johnny Hill and Little Johnny Mine, a part of the Ibex Mine Complex.  J.J. Brown developed the Little Johnny Mine.  As a mine manager, he overcame some drainage problems for Ibex Mines and they awarded him 1/8 ownership in the mine for his services.  This was the start of J.J. and Molly Brown's fortune.
Although some men did make their fortunes, they say for every man who made it rich, such as J.J. Brown or H.A.W. Tabor, there were a thousand miners who worked 10 to 12 hours a day, barely able to make a living.

Looking across the valley, Leadville is at the bottom with Turquoise Lake in the distance.  Mt. Elbert is on the left and Mt. Massive is on the right, the two tallest mountains in Colorado, both over 14,000 ft.

Quincy's has no menu, only your choice of the size steak and how you wish it cooked.  You also get a baked potato and a salad.  The steaks start at $8.95.  We had reservations for about 25-30, but because of the collapse of Hwy 24, only 10 of us made it.  But the restaurant was ok with the change, they were happy to have any business at all with the highway closure.

Great meal, good friends and a great time.

The hole under the road.  One day a group of us drove up to the road closure, then walked up and talked to the CDOT engineer on site.  He wouldn't let us get any closer, but did take our cameras and took some pictures himself.   

The collapse actually uncovered an old railroad tunnel.  It had been closed off many years ago and even the opening was closed over.  Somehow the thawing caused the wood framing started collapsing.  The CDOT will eventually fill in the holes with a lightweight combination of foam and concrete.  

They were drilling to find out exactly how bad the cave in is before they start filling in.

An old cabin on top of the mountain at Camp Hale.

At the top was this hut.  It is available for hikers and skiers.  The 10th Mountain Division Huts is a non-profit organization which provides over 30 huts along 200+ miles of mountain trails.  Reservations are made by phone or in person at their office in Aspen.  You can find out more about the organization at

One of the primary purposes of Camp Hale was to train men for mountain warfare and created 3 Army Regiments of Elite Ski Corps.   Camp Hale opened in 1942 and was decommissioned in 1945.  It once boasted over 1000 buildings and up to 15,000 soldiers.  

Our group camp site at Camp Hale.

One morning we spotted something hanging off Brent's antenna.  Upon closer inspection, it was a bat.  It had gotten its tail wrapped around the antenna and couldn't get loose.  Mike got his leather gloves and freed the bat and he flew off.