Category Archives: Hiking

A Side Trip To The Black Canyon Of The Gunnison

This past July, while touring Colorado with my husband, we took some time out to visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. This particular canyon has been a stop on our adventures twice now. We love the views and it’s always worth a second look, or more.

There are several great points to stop and wander around. You can take scenic drives around the perimeter or if you would like, you can venture down toward the Gunnison River. There are plenty of activities if you choose to stay in the park. You can camp, fish, kayak, rock climb, and hike.

If you enjoy wildlife watching, there are plenty of animals that call the Black Canyon their home. With a little patience you may see animals such as black bear, mountain lion, or big horn sheep. More commonly you will see deer, marmot, chipmunk, and a variety of birds. To find out more about the wildlife in the Black Canyon, I recommend checking out the visitor center.

One neat thing that the park offers is an Astronomy Evening Program that runs from the end of May until the end of September. Neal and I did not partake in this activity, but if we had been there at the right time it would have been neat to see. This event takes place on Wednesdays and Fridays in the South Rim Campground Amphitheater.

While we were in the park we took time to wander, but we did not do any serious hiking. We arrived a bit later in the day and we knew that daylight was running short. We drove the scenic route along the outer rim and stopped to enjoy the view at several different spots. I was completely satisfied with this side adventure and came away with a bunch of fun photos. I definitely recommend finding a great viewing spot to watch the sun go down. The Canyon looks pretty awesome as the light begins to change across the rocks.

During this last trip to the Black Canyon, we had intended to camp inside the park. Unfortunately we procrastinated a little too long. All of the campsites were sold out by the time we decided to seek out the Park Ranger. I honestly was not overly sad about losing out on this camping experience, because the sites are quite small and very close together. Neal and I prefer to camp with a little more space and a little more seclusion, so we headed up the road a short distance to some BLM land and we camped out there.

For more information on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/blca/index.htm

Ouray Is The Place To Be

Yesterday I took the time to write about my experience with Box Canyon Falls. Box Canyon isn’t the only great thing about visiting Ouray, Colorado. Ouray is a beautiful, small town, surrounded by mountains. The city has a certain charm that just invites you to stay. It is notably called “Switzerland of America,” because of how it resembles Switzerland. There are many things to do during your visit to make it worth your time, even if you are more of a city person.

The downtown area has lots of quaint little shops to wander through. You can find most of the tourist items one would search for while on vacation such as: chocolates, magnets, apparel, a nice bottle of wine, etc. There are a decent number of restaurants to choose from as well. My husband and I have eaten at a few of them and so far everything has been great.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there are several waterfalls to visit in, and near Ouray. Box Canyon Falls is my favorite. I do, however, believe that the other falls are also well worth your time. You can easily visit Cascade Falls Park; the trail is short, but steep. Another waterfall that is right in the open is Bear Creek Falls. This is right off Hwy 550 and it’s pretty impressive. No need to hike to this waterfall; it comes right out of the rocks on the side of the road.

If you are looking to stay in Ouray for a few nights, there is plenty of lodging, but you must book in advance. You can find some great hotels or old mansions turned bed and breakfast. My husband and I have stayed at Black Bear Manor both times we have visited. The experience was so exceptional that we considered getting married there after our first visit.

Other things to do in Ouray include visiting the hot springs, hiking, and off-roading. There are tons of off-roading trails in and near town. We took time to explore several of these trails on our last trip. We lost our 4-wheel drive in the process, but we will definitely go back again for more.

Just up the road you will find several old mining camps. There is one particular ghost town that is fun to explore. There are lots of old buildings. You can come away with some great pictures.

Ouray is a place that I would recommend anyone to visit at least once. This romantic town will surely win you over. With so many great activities, how could you go wrong?

For more information on Ouray, Colorado, please visit the following websites: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yd4tmAxx2Y4

http://www.ouraycolorado.com/

 

In Love With Box Canyon Falls

If you find that you love waterfalls as much as I do, and you are taking a trip to Colorado, I highly recommend a visit to Ouray. Ouray is home to several different waterfalls. While each of these waterfalls has its own unique characteristics, the most impressive by far, is Box Canyon. On a side note, if you choose to visit all of the waterfalls in the area, they are all quite easy to get at and require minimal, or no hiking.

Box Canyon is impressive because the waterfall is completely surrounded by rock walls. You can view this marvel from above, or on a more up close and personal level, from below. The experience is a bit noisy, but completely exhilarating.

To get to the top, you will have to climb stairs, and some bumpy terrain. Once up there you will stand on a bridge overlooking the falls and the creek. You can proceed on, after your viewing, to hike the surrounding area, or go back the way you came and head down the stairs to the lower part of the falls. I recommend both views, but the more impressive is definitely the lower.

Box Canyon is a great place to view wildlife. You may possibly see the most chipmunks you have ever witnessed in one area. These little creatures are quite daring and will run all over the place, right in front of you. While I visited the canyon, I was lucky enough to see a Black Swift in a nest on one of the rock walls.

This wonder of nature is a place that I have visited more than once, and I will continue to come back. I love the sound of the thousands of gallons of water just rushing into the creek below. It’s one of my all-time favorite waterfalls.

For more information on Box Canyon Falls, please visit the following sites: http://www.ouraycolorado.com/directory/outdoor-activities/parks/54-box-canyon-waterfall-park

https://www.boxcanyonouray.com/activities/summer-activities/box-canon-falls/

 

A Taste of Bryce Canyon

This past October, my husband’s aunt and uncle took us for a drive to Bryce Canyon, from Las Vegas. If you are okay with a 4 hour car drive, perhaps you would like to take this scenic drive as well. Bryce is definitely a trip you want to make when you have a full day, or more.

We chose to take this drive in October, because we were hoping to see some of the fall colors. While the colors were not as plentiful as that of the Midwest, it was still a pretty drive. Had we chosen to go a little earlier in the season, I think there would have been more to see, since the trees had already dropped quite a few leaves. The varying colors of the rock in the canyon, and the changing light as we went from midday to evening, gave us plenty of colors to look at aside from the foliage.

Upon reaching Bryce Canyon, we did a driving tour and stopped at many of the lookout points. The Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon are definitely a beautiful and impressive sight. We saw quite a variety of rock formations throughout the canyon, and of course, we took lots of photographs.

My husband and I only went down one hiking trail, but had we arrived with more time to burn, we would have spent a great deal more of our visit hiking. Even with the long drive there and back, Bryce was totally worth seeing. I will definitely come back again sometime and stay somewhere nearby overnight. I would like to hike and evaluate some of the trails and get even more photographs of the impressive rock formations. Definitely look for more information on Bryce Canyon in the future; this trip did not quite fulfill my desire to explore.

For more information on Bryce Canyon, please visit: https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm

Clingmans Dome: An Exceptional View

If you are planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains, Clingmans Dome is a must see. This particular mountain is the highest spot you can hike to in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. You can drive to the path that leads to the observation tower and then hike a half mile up to the tower. The path leading to the tower is completely paved.

Now this may seem simple, but I kid you not, even being in the best shape I had been in years, this was a tiring walk. It is a half mile walking at a consistent incline. There are several benches along the way and I used almost every one of them. Of all the hikes we did on our honeymoon, this one was the shortest and the most hard on breathing.

Not to worry, the view from the lookout is exceptional. I would do this walk again just to see that particular view. My husband and I took a nice long break just taking in our surroundings and photographing everything. The walk back down was quick and easy.

To find more information on Clingmans Dome, please visit: http://www.clingmansdome.com/

Finding Continental Falls

Last summer while visiting Keystone Colorado with family, we took a very impressive hike up to Continental Falls. Continental Falls is one of the first waterfall hikes I ever went on. I was wildly out of shape and had never been on such a hike before. Even in my poor hiking condition, I still made it to the falls with a bit of coaxing from my now husband, Neal.

This last time that we visited the falls, I took off ahead of the rest of the group, with my step-daughter and husband’s cousin. The rest of our group was being shuttled up the rough, rocky road, by our Jeep. We assumed that the group would catch up with us, but we did not anticipate a turn of events.

When I say turn of events, I literally mean a turn, the wrong turn. As we were hiking up the trail we stopped to check out the old cabin that has stood there for many years. It’s definitely a great point to stop and rest, and sign the guest book. When we left the cabin, we turned to the left and continued on. We should have turned to the right. We had no idea that we were going the wrong way.

As we continued to hike we saw parts of the waterfall, but not as I previously had recalled. We decided to trudge on. It was early July and while it was nice and hot outside, there were still some huge snowdrifts left on the mountainside. The girls decided to stop and check out a snowdrift that appeared to be covering the entrance to a mine.

After a bunch of digging they gave up finding the entrance to the mine, and we continued on our way. We saw several old buildings that were part of the previous mining camp. The views were amazing. We saw a bunch of different wildflowers and we continued to see various small parts of the waterfall, but nothing as big as what I previously recalled.

After what seemed like quite a bit of time we made it to a beautiful lake. The lake was supposed to be after the falls, so at this point I was feeling a bit disappointed. Had I remembered the wrong waterfall? We sat and waited for a bit but the rest of our group did not show up. We decided to continue on because we still hadn’t seen an impressive waterfall.

After climbing and making our own trail at times through the snow, and then climbing upward some more, we finally hit a point of stopping. The view was amazing and none of us really felt like climbing any further. We had no cell service, so we could not locate the rest of our group. We decided to rest and take a few pictures.

Once we were feeling re-energized, we began our decent. The trip down the mountainside was fast. We moved at a very steady clip and it took about half of the time it had taken to get up to the top. Once we reached the ground we still had not seen the rest of our hiking party. Realizing no one was there we began walking down the long rocky road that we had been shuttled up by Jeep.

Halfway down the road, my husband appeared. He was a little frazzled, not knowing what had happened to us. Apparently there had been some miss-communications in regard to where we were going to meet. It turned out that the girls and I had hiked far beyond what was intended and as I was explaining to him what we saw, we both realized at about the same moment that we had taken two very different hikes.

He laughed at me, because I had been on this hike before, and I missed out on the best part of it. The view of Continental Falls is one of the best sights near Breckenridge, and it is impressive. I felt so silly realizing that we had taken one small wrong turn. I can laugh at it now, but at the time, I was definitely bummed out.

Despite the error in our direction, we had a great time. I would highly recommend this hike for the views as well as the impressiveness of the falls. The lake views are also very much worth the trek.

For more information on Continental Falls, please visit: http://www.protrails.com/trail/368/summit-county-eagle-county-clear-creek-county-mohawk-lake-and-lower-mohawk-lake

 

Hiking The Cascades in Pembroke, Virginia

I really don’t know how many people realize this about me, but I have a very strong love for water. If I am away from water for too long I start to get a little antsy. My love for water covers everything from rain to waterfalls and puddles to the ocean. I grew up in a home that had a large above ground pool in the backyard. It’s not until you are away from a constant such as having a pool that you realize how lucky you were or how much you miss it.

Perhaps it is my heart missing that daily swim in the summer that makes me want to seek out every single whirlpool, waterfall, or body of water that I can, while on vacation. When we travel to new places, hikes with waterfalls are number one on my list. I will take a waterfall hike over any other hike, pretty much any day of the week.

One of my favorite waterfall hikes is that of the Cascade Falls in Pembroke, Virginia. This particular hike is 4 miles round trip and completely worth it. You will have to pay a minor parking fee upon your arrival, but once you enter the trail, you will be happy that you did.

This particular hike is definitely going to take you up and down the hillside. You will climb stairs, walk across bridges, and trudge across some rocky terrain. While parts will be a little rough, you will see lots of wonderful sights along the way. The entire trail follows alongside a creek. There is no shortage of beauty during this hike.

The most difficult part of this hike is probably the stairs. If you are not used to stair climbing, it will definitely give you a workout; likewise if you are not used to walking four miles on uneven ground. I was tired by the time we arrived back at our car, but it was a great way to spend some free-time. We took lots of pictures of flowering trees and of the creek.

Once you reach your destination, you will not be disappointed by the 66 foot high waterfall. You will also see some shallow waters over to the right of the trail where people have stacked rocks, or may even be lounging after their hike. You can feel the water spraying off as the falls come crashing down. The feeling is peaceful and freeing. I would definitely be willing to take this hike again sometime.

If you would like more information about the Cascade Falls, please visit: https://www.virginia.org/listings/…/CascadesNationalRecreationTrail/

Montgomery Reservoir And Magnolia Mill

Montgomery Reservoir and Magnolia Mill

Colorado is by far one of my favorite travel destinations. I cannot get enough of that amazing mountain air and the peaceful feeling that comes over me when I am exploring the trails. I have been hooked on exploring Colorado from the moment I set foot in the state. It was seven years ago and it was the very first hike my husband, Neal, ever took me on.

We were visiting Colorado in early May; very few trails were open. He took me to check out Montgomery Reservoir, which is located in Alma, Colorado, just outside of Breckenridge. The view of the reservoir was beautiful. I was very excited to learn that there was a mill just up the trail a little further. I love checking out old buildings.

We hiked up to Magnolia Mill and it quickly became one of my favorite places in Colorado. It looked so cool from the outside. I couldn’t wait to step through the door. My husband, gentleman that he is, let me go first. As I stepped over the threshold I was quickly brought to my knees. I realized through shear panic that I was sliding toward the edge of a fairly high drop-off.

I hadn’t taken my sunglasses off, which was clearly a mistake. I failed to recognize that I was stepping onto a very thick layer of ice. Neal quickly pulled me to safety. I quickly lost my privileges of first person through the door, and I also learned my lesson about taking off my sunglasses when entering an unknown building.

Despite that first experience at the mill, we still come back to visit as often as possible. We have photographed Magnolia Mill, and the weathering it has been subjected to, each time we visit. The last time we were there we hiked up even further on the trail and we were able to see a group of Off-roaders coming down the mountainside.

At this time I do not believe it is possible to enter the mill; it has been boarded up for safety reasons. It is, however, possible to hike quite a distance beyond the mill. I suggest at least going to the top of the waterfall; this provides a great view of the area.

For more information on hiking Montgomery Reservoir, please visit: http://www.summitpost.org/montgomery-reservoir/155632

Valley Of Fire

One hour, northeast of the strip, you will find Valley of Fire State Park. This is another wonderful place to see if you love beautiful scenic drives and exploring. Much like Red Rock, you will find awe inspiring rock formations in various colors.

Upon arriving there will be a fee to get into the park. Currently that price is set at $10 per car. You can enjoy the park from dawn until dusk. Definitely pack a lunch, there are plenty of places to relax and enjoy a meal, along the way.

This park is filled with tons of hiking trails and lots of things to see. You can camp at one of the many sites available; you will have shade, a table, and water nearby. You will see things such as petroglyphs and petrified trees. The visitor’s center will provide tons of information about the 40,000 acres that make up the park.

If you wish to get married in the Valley of Fire, that can be arranged as well. My husband, Neal, and I, were originally supposed to say our vows in the park, but we skipped ahead and got married early. When we renew our vows in a few years, I am seriously considering the Valley of Fire because of its beautiful surroundings.

If you wish to remain in your car, you can still drive through the park and see many of the beautiful rock formations. I have taken this drive many times and I still find it exhilarating. Once you reach the petroglyphs, however, I would suggest getting out and taking a closer look.

For more information or to book your event at Valley of Fire, please visit: http://parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire