On the Road Again

This state was designed for explorers -- and a 1986 Jeep Wagoneer.

Lost Lake

There are three Lost Lakes in Colorado -- one near Granby, one near Gunnison, one near Fort Collins. And those are only the Lost Lakes that have been found.

There's no better place to spend the day than on or alongside a misplaced body of water, especially if the day is July 4 and you're floating alone in paradise while chaos and gunpowder rule in the city below.

Gone but not forgotten: The well-traveled Jeep 
Gone but not forgotten: The well-traveled Jeep Wagoneer.
Another roadside attraction: Bill Swets at his 
Swetsville Zoo.
Brett Amole
Another roadside attraction: Bill Swets at his Swetsville Zoo.

Trail Ridge Road

Sure, it's crowded. And the air is anorexic. But no other paved road in Colorado showcases as many celebrated peaks as Trail Ridge Road, the aorta of Rocky Mountain National Park.

My only tips: Grand Lake is much less trafficked than Estes Park, so head in from the west; dogs are allowed only on the Bowen and Baker trails; and get the hell out of your car and onto the trail, you lazy TV junkie.

For information on Rocky Mountain National Park, call 1-970-586-1206 or log on to www.nps.gov/romo.

Lost Creek Wilderness Area

For an eighty-mile click from downtown Denver, camping doesn't come any better than in the Lost Creek Wilderness Area. You'll find cool summer days, trout-rich beaver ponds and remnants of the pioneers, as well as the Colorado Trail and the excellent Ben Tyler Trail. Camping comes developed (i.e., with outhouses), undeveloped (i.e., without outhouses) and downright gnarly (i.e., with outhouses that date from 1899).

Lost Creek Wilderness Area is near Jefferson, about 75 miles southwest of downtown Denver via U.S. 285. For information, call 1-719-553-1400 or log on to www.fs.fed.us/ r2/psicc.

Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs

At about 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the pools here sizzle and soothe. The scenery is wonderful, and it's even better when the moon is out. The first -- and last -- time I visited, I got naked with a Zoroastrian girl. How can you top that?

Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs is about ten miles north of Steamboat Springs. For information, call 1-970-879-6834 or log on to www.strawberryhotsprings.com.

Rafting the Arkansas

The Arkansas River is the most commercially rafted river in the country. But unlike the second-most-rafted river -- the Ocoee in Tennessee -- the rafting area in the Arkansas runs for about 100 miles (versus 25 for the Ocoee), right through the Royal Gorge. Outfitters such as Rio Expeditions (1-800-291-2080, www.rioexpeditions.com) and Wilderness Aware (1-800-462-7238, www.inaraft.com) will take you where you want to go for about $75 a day.

Colorado Springs, with its escalating thirst, looks longingly at the Arkansas. But no one should ever try to tame this beast.


All right, Carhenge isn't in Colorado, but this nearby monument to dead vehicles is a fitting end to a road trip in memory of my dead Jeep. Built during a Reinders family reunion in 1987, Carhenge is a meticulous re-creation of Stonehenge -- constructed entirely from Gremlins, Cadillacs and other gray-painted hulks of American automobilia. My only regret is that the Jeep could not have been laid to rest by their side.

Carhenge is about 250 miles northeast of Denver near Alliance, Nebraska. For information, log on to www.carhenge.com.

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