Home on the Range
Envision gigantic volcanic explosions and earth moving forces that gave rise to majestic rugged peaks that thrust more than 14,000 feet into the air. This is Big Mountain Country, where the peaks are higher, the mountains more massive, the canyons cut deeper and the scenery so spectacular that it inspired John Denver's song, "Rocky Mountain High." Beginning in Denver, you'll be traveling to explore natural wonders throughout Colorado and the northern Rockies. You'll be viewing some of the most majestic mountains in America just as they appeared to early settlers. As you venture deep into the landscape, you'll appreciate the courage and determination it took for early pioneers and settlers to make the journey into this vast wilderness in search of new and prosperous lives.
While you're on this great trip through Colorado and Utah, we've arranged for you to get up close and personal with the land at Zapata Ranch and follow in the footsteps of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at Sundance Resort. Three days at the Powderhorn will have you riding and fishing just like a Colorado native. Over at the Resort, a majestic sunset over the Rocky Mountains will have you wondering why anyone ever left the American West. In between, there are mountain landscapes as far as the eye can see, and its Pike's Peak or Bust in Colorado Springs!
- Colorado Springs
- Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak
- Zapata Ranch near Alamosa
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
- Robert Redford's Sundance Resort
- Vernal, Utah
- Steamboat Springs
Denver gets its name, the "Mile High City", from the brass cap positioned exactly one mile high on the State Capitol steps. A truly Western town, Denver got its start as the first gold rush camp in the region. The Wild West era of Bat Masterson and the Unsinkable Molly Brown, with gunslingers, gamblers, gold miners, saloons, cattlemen and a sheriff has never completely ended. The city was so sure it would be a success, that the Historical Society was founded in 1879. After winning the title of capitol, a cattle exchange, banking and energy industry contributed to making Denver the thriving contemporary city it is today. An incredible amount of early architecture still exists, because almost from the beginning, Denver was built for permanence.
Introduce yourself to Denver on a walking tour of the 16th Street Mall and downtown Denver. Starting and ending in Civic Center Park, you'll be passing the Colorado History Museum, the US Mint, Larimer Square, the historic Brown Palace hotel and the Denver Art Museum—you'll have to see its architectural design with your own eyes to believe that it actually stands on its own!
You can experience the natural side of Denver's high desert region on a tour of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science which features thousands of objects on local geology. The Denver Botanical Gardens presents 32,000 plants that thrive in the dry mountain climate.
On your second day in Denver, you may want to get out and explore its great neighborhoods. Go to LODO (Lower Downtown) for arts, entertainment and great restaurants. The Santa Fe Arts District has Denver's largest collection of art galleries. Cherry Creek has the best shopping and dining in Denver. Quaint Old South Pearl Street has a Farmer's Market every Sunday and the Highlands neighborhood was recently featured in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure Magazine. Today's blend of western, southwestern, Hispanic, African American and Native American cultures make Denver's neighborhoods most interesting.
Today you can experience the ultimate "Colorado Rocky Mountain High," visiting the area that inspired the anthem "America the Beautiful." Soaring high above Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak, at 14,110 feet, rises well above the timberline and into the clouds. Majestically luring in the distance, the Peak has been a magnet for visitors for nearly 1000 years.
During the 1850s, "Pikes Peak or Bust!" became the mantra of pioneers as they traveled to the edge of the Great Plains, where the mountain represented the gateway to the West — the land of new possibilities. When gold was discovered in Colorado in 1858, thousands of fortune seekers arrived. Soon after, pioneers settled into the area, creating the towns that we visit today. By the end of the century, Colorado Springs was a popular resort and luxury community of tycoons who had made their fortunes in the nearby gold mines.
On the way to the top of Pike's Peak Highway, you will pass through five of the eight life zones in Colorado. As you ascend, you may need to add another layer of clothing, as the Peak tends to be 30 degrees cooler than the base at Manitou Springs. Traveling this exhilarating mountain road, with its 156 hairpin turns, you'll be following in the tracks of one of the nation's oldest auto races, the Pike's Peak Hillclimb, which started in 1915 and continues today.
Mosca near Alamosa
Zapata Ranch is an authentic Colorado Guest and Worling Ranch, and Sister property to the Chico Basin Ranch. This is a Nature Conservancy Preserve located just outside and surrounding the Great Sand Dunes National Park—the newest unit in the US Park Service group. This region is called the American Serengehti and on the ranch you will find bison, antelope, elk, deer and other wild animals. Rate includes comfortable accommodations, family style meals, activities, tax and gratuity. Work alongside the ranch hands or take a trail ride or other activity into the preserved lands.
The route to Durango today is a scenic one. If you think you’ve seen Durango before, it’s because it’s the picture perfect Old West town that has starred as the backdrop for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, City Slickers, Cliffhangers and many other movies. It’s so authentic that you might expect a gunslinger to step right into the street any minute. The nightly show at the Strater Hotel is right out of the Old West.
Founded by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in 1880, Durango was once a young city surrounded by silver mining towns and the wild, Wild West. Today the railroad still passes through here, even though the mining towns it was built to serve have long since been abandoned. Durango has grown-up into a carefully preserved National Historic Landmark, unlike any other in America.
It's hard to imagine what forces of nature worked for millennia to sculpt the greatest density of natural arches in the world at Arches National Park. Over 2,000 structures range in size from a three-foot opening (the minimum considered to be an arch), to Landscape Arch, which measures 306 feet from base to base. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area. You can explore the many areas of Arches National Park by car or on foot. Two drives through the park take you to a number of exceptional viewpoints, including Delicate Arch Viewpoint from which you can see the park's most famous arch at a distance. Take a moment to get out of the car and walk under the two largest arches, North Window and Double Arch, for a truly up close and personal experience. If you prefer to hike, there are trails to the park's highlights that take from 1-1/2 hours to a half a day. We suggest that you do the longer hikes early or late in the day to avoid the mid-day heat.
Everyone has to have a bit of relaxation time and we have planned yours at Robert Redford's Sundance Resort just south of Salt Lake City in Provo. The setting invites you to "come stay with us, watch the moon climb over Utah's Mt. Timpanogos from your Sundance patio and enjoy a fireside dinner in your mountain home." We invite you to retreat where centuries ago the Ute Indians found sanctuary to escape the summer heat and enjoy the earth's natural abundance. As Robert Redford says about his very special resort, "this place in the mountains is the perfect host for inspiration." Spend two days relaxing and being inspired at Sundance Resort.
The stories of the thousands of dinosaurs who lived and died near Vernal, Utah are captured in the rock at Dinosaur National Monument. The quarry has already revealed over 1,600 bones from 11 different species. This is the story that Dinosaur National Monument was first established to preserve, yet only one of the stories of the park. The Monument was expanded to include 300 square miles of great high desert canyon country.
Viewed from the top, you can see the end of the Rockies and the beginning of the canyon country desert.
The second of the park's stories is told through the petroglyphs of the Freemont Indians who lived in the canyon between 800 and 1,200 years ago. And yet a third is revealed through the preserved homesteads of some of the early settlers in the region. Combining all three, Dinosaur National Monument contains famous fossil finds, dramatic river canyons, mysterious petroglyphs, and endless opportunities for adventure. The story continues at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in downtown Vernal. The new facility displays a full size dinosaur skeleton and artifacts that illustrate the entire geological history within an 80-mile radius.
From Native American hunting grounds to early pioneers; from the Flying Norseman, Carl Howelsen to the newest of our 52 Olympians; from gold and silver mining to coal ore; Routt County offers a rich, colorful and inspiring past.
For hundreds of years prior to the first settlers' arrival in the valley, the Yampatika Utes found the area ideal for summer hunting. Trappers began to come to the valley in the early 1800s. They called the area The Big Bend because the Yampa River makes its turn toward the west at this point in the valley.
Enjoy another day and evening to spend exploring Denver before heading home later today.
- Direct return flights from London (Please ask about other departure airports)
- 14 nights hotel accommodation and room taxes
- Fully insured compact car hire
- A detailed travel pack with driving instructions and maps
Daily Departures 18 May to 30 September.
We can also offer this itinerary in a wide range of other accommodation types, including superior hotels, character properties and small inns.