Videos: 99 Gorgeous Places in Colorado, Part Two
Last month, we started exploring 99 gorgeous Colorado places as spotlighted on Colorado.com -- and on part one, featuring sites numbered 99 through 81, we barely scratched the surface. For part two, which encompasses picks 80 through 67, we unearth more hidden gems, as revealed through videos and Colorado.com text. Count down the latest spectacular batch below.
Number 80: Old Monarch Pass
The Scene: Those who frequently traverse Monarch Pass along the Continental Divide between Gunnison and Salida probably don't even notice the sign for Old Monarch Pass Road. Snowshoers and cross-country skiers like to keep it that way. The once-popular route, which was replaced by the shorter Hwy. 50, is now one of the best spots for traipsing through Colorado powder. Nearby Towns: Salida, Poncha Springs, Gunnison.
Number 79: Kenosha Pass
The Scene: Known as one of the Colorado Trail's easiest access points, the 10,000-foot-high pass is also a favorite for those hunting fall color. Aspen stands and views into the sprawling, green South Park Valley make it ideal for off-the-beaten-path photographers. Nearby Towns: Grant, South Park, Fairplay, Bailey.
Number 78: Barr Lake State Park
The Scene: In the northeast reaches of Denver sits an area that has been drawing birds like a magnet for decades. Wildlife-viewing records from the area's three habitats -- open water, shoreline woodlands and grassland -- date back more than 100 years, and the number of recorded species exceeds 300. Nearby Towns: Denver, Brighton.
The Scene: Colorado's version of the Great Wall of China (though this one is nature made) is a narrow rock ridge that runs through the Flat Tops Wilderness. In some places, the trail slims down to only three feet wide and calling its dropoffs sheer is being generous. Nearby Towns: Yampa, Gypsum.
Number 76: Handies Peak
The Scene: Handies doesn't gain much fame being the 40th tallest of Colorado's 58 fourteeners. That it's one of the easiest to climb is what puts its name on the lips of many mountaineers. Its (relatively) short, five-and-a-half-mile round-trip trek is why many choose it as their first to conquer. Nearby Towns: Lake City, Ouray, Silverton.
Number 75: Sangre de Cristo Wilderness
The Scene: It would be a shame to visit this area and not stay for the majestically colorful scene created by the setting sun. Colorado's early Spanish explorers were so inspired by the way the peaks turned a vibrant, crimson color as the sun went down, they named them the "Blood of Christ" mountains. Nearby Towns: Salida, Poncha Springs, Alamosa, Westcliffe.
The Scene: Atop this moderately difficult hike, the panoramic view that awaits is a curious collection of unusually shaped mountains named for their shape and color: Lizard Head, Pilot Knob, Golden Horn and Vermillion Peak. Nearby Towns: Telluride, Rico.
Number 73: Lost Creek Wilderness
The Scene: Lost Creek's red-rock formations aren't as dramatic as those at better-known spots like Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks Park, but there are a whole lot more of them. Many of the area's domes, knobs, spires and buttresses have eroded in such a way that creeks seem to disappear between their hidden crevices -- hence the name. Nearby Towns: Deckers, Bailey, Grant.
Number 72: Star Dune, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
The Scene: Scaling the tallest sand dune in North America (roughly 750 feet high) is a calf-burning endeavor. Because it's not quite as accessible as the dunes in the park's main dune field, the tracks to its undulating apex are fewer and farther between. Nearby Towns: Alamosa, Mosca.
The Scene: This valley is one of Colorado's best-kept secrets for fall-color viewing. Some of the oldest and tallest aspens in the state can be seen near La Manga Pass. On the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, riders can see parts of the area auto-travelers miss. Nearby Town: Antonito.
Number 70: Last Dollar Road
The Scene: This winding, one-lane dirt road leaves the pavement at the Dallas Divide and careens around the Mount Sneffles Wilderness before dropping into the San Miguel River valley, where lush ranchland, aspen groves alive with color, and spruce and pine forests make it a scene from a landscape painter's dream. Nearby Towns: Ridgway, Telluride, Ouray.
Number 69: Blue Lake, Rawah Wilderness Area
The Scene: The shady trek to Blue Lake is one of the Front Range's most diverse wildflower hikes. More than 90 varieties -- including white bog orchids, scarlet paintbrush, monkshood and glacier lilies -- have been spotted along the impossibly colorful trail. Nearby Town: Fort Collins.
The Scene: The area's frozen-in-time sandstone spires inside the Rio Grande National Forest were formed by volcanic explosions millions of years ago. They resemble coral beds found on ocean floors, which this far from the sea, gives them an otherworldly mystique. Nearby Town: Creede.
Number 67: Pearl Lake State Park
The Scene: Pearl Lake State Park a serene setting for low-impact outdoor adventure. Camping amid the trees along the water's edge grants access to peaceful early-morning canoe rides, fly- and lure- cutthroat trout fishing and gentle hikes. In the cool morning air, a light fog hovers over the still waters. Nearby Towns: Steamboat.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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