Colorado Vacation Highlights – Part One

July 12, 2011

While not exclusively horses, I thought I’d share some images from the southwestern area of Colorado where Tom and I just spent 10 days.

Our first stops were the Monte Vista and Alamosa National Wildlife Refuges.

Click on the photos for larger/sharper views

The brightly colored Yellow Headed Blackbird

Ruddy Duck

A Coot youngster

An American Avocet

Ain't I something? πŸ™‚

First thing next morning, we were on our way to spend the day on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad – America’s highest and longest coal fired, steam operated, narrow-gauge railroad. Cool! I’ve been on the Durango Silverton and the Georgetown Loop, but this was my first time on this train. Our adventure began in Antonito, CO and ended in Chama, NM with a lunch stop in Osier, CO. Loved it and what a wonderful fall trip this would be!

Our mighty little engine

Making last checks before heading out

Blow out!

Known as the Speeder, this little car hangs back and follows the train to put out any cinders that may hit the ground thus preventing a fire.

Indian pictograph along the route - gotta be quick to catch this. The train doesn't slow down! πŸ™‚

Los Pinos River valley

During our ride, we met a young family from Ohio; Ryan, Carrie and Aiden. Ryan is a railroad buff and had been on a section of the route once before. He explained quite a bit about the mechanics, history, etc. of trains and when he remembered a particularly scenic or dramatic scene along the way, he always alerted me. Thanks Ryan! πŸ™‚

Hi Ryan!

Aiden spent most of the day on the observation car (as did I - I have cinders in my camera sensor to prove it). The red booster step was his constant companion.

Our lunch stop - Osier, CO. The train from Chama, NM (going the opposite direction) is already there.

The Chama train departing Osier and heading towards Antonito, CO

At the Cumbres Pass Summit (10,022 ft), we are greeted by a guy and his dog on an ATV. Hi!

Last blow out before coming into the Chama station

End of the line - Chama, NM (we rode the bus back to Antonito).

What a great day – a bit sunburned and windburned (but not bad) with a few cinders in the teeth and eyes (trophies – HA!), but so worth the incredible views. I’ll be back!

I’ll also be going back to Stunner Pass just to the SW of Antonito, CO. A bit high, but very doable (especially if you come from the southern side – you’re up against mountain the majority of the time) and absolutely gorgeous scenery. We camped one night just below the summit. Just a perfect trip. And did I mention something about it being GORGEOUS?! πŸ™‚

The pass follows the Conejos River for quite a ways.

We ran into these guys on the road in the little town of Platoro, CO along our route. My kind of place!

Looking back on Platoro

Summitville, CO

This was both a gold and silver mining location

Something old, something new

Lots of really pretty runoff streams along the way

Approaching the summit

So peaceful

And there's still snow up there! πŸ™‚

At the end of the drive, we found ourselves just west of South Fork. We weren’t sure where we’d end up, but this worked out well since our next destination was Creede, CO.

Downtown Creede

There's a loop you can follow just north of town that takes you to some of the old mines and buildings.

More streams...

We took a road we'd never been on and ended up at the Last Chance Mine. It's location is not for the faint of heart. It sits on a cliff edge and it's about a 2000 foot drop. Gulp!

It’s a very intesting setup and history however. You can find out more about it on their website: Last Chance Mine

They rent cabins for donations (again, cliffy, high locations), there’s a museum and it’s the home of Creede’s Amethyst Vein (my favorite stone). If we’d had more time, maybe I would have tried my hand at “mining” (also part of the activities available).

Some of the items attached to the outside of one of the cabins.

This sits out over the cliff - I will never have to go that bad!

And so does this deck. Sitting out there is one brave individual.

You can see this as you leave the Last Chance Mine.

Looking down at Creede

We stayed just west of Creede at Freemon’s Ranch and enjoyed a horseback ride along the river and into the foothills. The folks there are very nice and next door is their little store that they claim has the best burgers and ice cream around. We tried both and they may be on to something. πŸ™‚

Hi cowboy! πŸ™‚

We spent another day just driving around enjoying the sights and critters around Creede and Spring Creek Pass.

North Clear Creek Falls

Cow moose and calf

Chippy with his face stuffed in a dandelion (see all the seeds spread all over?). I have a whole series of images with this little guy. He was too much fun to watch.

Our state flower - the Columbine.

I just love these colors.

And, a very curious marmot shared his home with me for a bit.

My follow-up post to this trip (Part Two) will include some more incredible Colorado locations as well as many horses. πŸ™‚

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19 Responses to “Colorado Vacation Highlights – Part One”


  1. I love it! What a fabulous vacation! The train ride looks wonderful and reminds me of the train ride you can take into the Verde Valley in Jerome, AZ. Thanks for once again sharing your wonderful pictures.

  2. Gerri Kier Says:

    WOW…beautiful images Pam! Thank you for sharing your vacation with us…we are so blessed to live in such a beautiful country!

  3. cscurnow Says:

    I love all of your photos…brings back so many memories when we lived in Boulder when Bill was in school around 37 or so years ago. We took trips all around the area…it’s so beautiful!

  4. Brandi Says:

    Again I want to thank you for taking me with you on this vacation. All places I have never been, what a great trip this has been.

  5. pnickoles Says:

    That will have to be another train ride I try Natalie! πŸ™‚

    We are very lucky Gerri. It had been a while since we’d been down in the area. So much more to see and do…

    cscurnow – happy to hear these photos brought back memories.

    Thanks for coming along Brandi! πŸ™‚

  6. Jim Westin Says:

    You guys ROCK….what beautiful images. I am available for adoption and come complete with tent and tiny income. πŸ™‚ And that out-house….sure puts the OUT….in outhouse.


  7. I highly recommend it Pam (just not during the summer!) We went in early November. For an idea of what you will see feel free to check out the pictures I took while on that train ride: http://sexy6chick.smugmug.com/AZ/Jerome/10367112_Ztf7q#717654963_cQgjJ

  8. pnickoles Says:

    HA! Jim, you’re too funny. That outhouse gave me the willies let me tell you! We must plan another adventure soon. πŸ™‚

  9. Odakota Says:

    What a great photo journal of your trip! Makes me swell with pride for our wonderful state of Colorado! Love the little Coot!

  10. Lethie Lanham Says:

    Wow, that was wonderful. I would love doing something like this. Your photography is so great. I love all the critters, colors of the flowers and the scenery. Can’t wait for part two. Thanks so much for sharing with your fans.

  11. Shelva Wood Says:

    I feel as tho I have now toured that part of Colorado, the beauty is spectacular. Have been there a few times, but this is awesome. THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!!!!!


  12. Looks like you had fun Pam and hubby! Great images of a beautiful state. I can personally attest to that!

  13. TJ Says:

    Looks like a great visit so far! πŸ™‚

  14. patricia field Says:

    Thank you, Pam! More than beautiful!!

  15. Tony Cash Says:

    Very Nice, I’d like to do that.

    Brother

  16. celeste Says:

    How beautiful!! Thank you for sharing your photo essay of your vacation with the rest of us. For me, stuck here at home in hot, hot TX, those views are salve to my overheated soul – lol! We have done that Cumbres-Toltec train ride one time and I love how beautiful that trip is. I spent most of the whole ride in that outside observation car and I love so much how there is a guide riding along to let you know what you are seeing and the history. Again – thank you for sharing. I can’t wait for part two!

  17. Barbara Warner Says:

    Gorgeous pics ! Thanks, Pam.

  18. Craig Downer Says:

    What a great adventure and some exquisite photos. The moose mom and young’un was precious.


  19. […] Colorado Vacation Highlights – Part One […]


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