Road Scholar : Home
Colorado's Scenic Byways

Program Number: 20907RJ
Start and End Dates:
7/19/2014 - 7/26/2014; 7/30/2016 - 8/6/2016; 8/13/2016 - 8/20/2016;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: Denver, Colorado
Price starting at: $1,765.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: On the Road Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 17; 7 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 6 Dinners    

Not just a route to a destination, a Colorado scenic byway is a destination in itself. Experience nine spectacular and little-traveled Colorado highways recognized as National Scenic Byways for their archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities. Local events, experts, speakers and Colorado backroads characters provide perspective on the real Colorado, away from crowds and tourist traps and in remote areas off the interstates. Take time to relate with the roads and hear the stories of the people who live, work and make homes along them.


• Meet the founder of a living history museum and talk around the campfire about her upbringing on a ranch in the mountains of northern Colorado.
• Journey to Colorado National Monument on the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway, then descend into Grand Valley to taste local wines of international acclaim.
• Along the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway, view peaks soaring 14,000 feet and learn of frontier prospectors.

Activity Particulars

Walking two blocks at a time, through museums and National Park Service sites. Elevation 4,500–10,000 feet, up to 6,200 feet at lodgings.

Elevation of 4,500–10,000 feet.

Date Specific Information

7-19-2014, 7-30-2016, 8-13-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Denver, 1 night; coach to Craig, 1 night; coach to Grand Junction, 1 night; coach to Montrose, 1 night; coach to Ignacio, 1 night; coach to Gunnison, 1 night; coach to Denver, 1 night; departure.

Coordinated by Mountains and Plains Institute.


Settled by gold prospectors in 1858, mile-high Denver today is the capital of Colorado and hub of the Rocky Mountain region. It has gone through booms and busts to become home to skiing, tourism and a thriving multi-cultural community.

Comfortable hotels, motels and inns throughout Colorado.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Joan Fields

A Colorado native, Joan Fields has always had a deep interest in the culture and history of the state. She is a member of several historical organizations and has had many years of experience in leading study explorations for various groups. She is a past president of Ghost Town Club of Colorado, an organization that focuses on the preservation and study of Colorado’s past. Her deep love of the state and passion for history brings everything together.
Lee Dahl

A Minnesota native, Lee Dahl graduated from Mankato State University with a degree in sociology and law enforcement. In 1998, he formed his own learning excursion company and offers visitors a look into the history, birding, geology and cultural highlights of the region. Lee is a member of several historical organizations and is a past president of Ghost Town Club of Colorado, an organization that focuses on the preservation and study of Colorado’s past.
Meals and Lodgings
   Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
  Denver, CO 1 night
   Clarion Inn Craig
  Craig, CO 1 night
   Wine Country Inn
  Palisade, CO 1 night
   Baymont Inn and Suites Cortez
  Cortez, CO 1 night
   Best Western Movie Manor Inn
  Monte Vista, CO 1 night
   Comfort Inn Gunnison
  Gunnison, CO 1 night
   Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
  Denver, CO 1 night
 Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
Type: Hotel
  Description: The prime location of our hotel makes us the perfect home base for your Denver vacation or business trip. Hotel is located in the upscale Cherry Creek area where you'll find some of the best shopping, dining and entertainment in all of Colorado. We are just a few minutes from downtown Denver and the famously trendy LoDo (lower downtown) area. Parking is free for registered guests and in between stays.
  Contact info: 455 South Colorado Boulevard
Denver, CO 80246 USA
phone: 303-388-5561
  Room amenities: •AM/FM Radio •Alarm Clock •All Guest Rooms Air Conditioned •All News Cable Channel •Cable TV •Coffee Maker •Complimentary Wireless High Speed Internet •Colorado Granite Vanities •Free USA Today Delivered to Room •Hairdryer •Iron / Ironing Board •Modem Connection •Private Bath •Voice Mail •Work Desk With Lamp •Views Of Cherry Creek And The Rocky Mountains
  Facility amenities: Fitness Center, Business Center, Indoor pool, free wireless Internet, restaurant and Lounge, Enterprise Car Rental Desk, 100% smoke free facility
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for rates Call hotel for rates and reservations
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for rates Call hotel for rates and reservations
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

 Clarion Inn Craig
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Contact info: 300 South Highway 13
Craig, CO 81625 USA
phone: 970-824-4000
  Room amenities: Free Wireless Internet Mini-refrigerator Micro Wave Coffee Maker Premium cable TV Hair Dryer
  Facility amenities: Two restaurants, Cocktail Lounge Indoor pool Hot tub-spa Fitness Center Business Center Wireless Internet Lounge area ATM
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Wine Country Inn
Type: Inn
  Description: Experience the romance of the vineyards at the Wine Country Inn, Colorado’s first wine-themed hotel located in Palisade. Stroll through the working vineyards that surround the inn, an 80-room Victorian style hotel, which sits in the middle of 21 acres of vines. Wine Country Inn is adjacent to two wineries and a short drive from a dozen more. Get to know our ever-expanding wine industry, popular orchards and local art scene, while pampering yourself with first-class accommodations.
  Contact info: 777 Grande River Drive
Palisade, CO 81526 USA
phone: 970-464-5777
  Room amenities: Free Wireless Internet Mini-refrigerator Micro Wave Coffee Maker Premium cable TV Hair Dryer
  Facility amenities: Outdoor pool Hot tub-spa Fitness Center Business Center Lounge Outdoor Patio
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Baymont Inn and Suites Cortez
Type: Motel
  Description: Baymont Inn & Suites Cortez hotel is located off Highway 160 in scenic Southwest Colorado. Take in the sweeping views of La Plata, the Blue Mountains and Mesa Verde Ridge from your room. Our 100% smoke-free hotel is just minutes from Four Corners and other attractions. Enjoy the comfort and convenience of our AAA-approved Cortez, CO, hotel with free continental breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a full business center, our on-site gym, heated indoor pool and hot tub, and sunrise / sunset deck.
  Contact info: 2321 East Main Street
Cortez, CO 81321 USA
phone: 970-565-3400
  Room amenities: Free Wireless Internet
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Best Western Movie Manor Inn
Type: Motel
  Description: As one of the world's most unique lodging concepts, the BEST WESTERN Movie Manor is attached to a historic drive-in movie theatre, which means guests can watch movies on the big screen from the comfort of most rooms every mid-May to mid-September, while enjoying fantastic mountain views.
  Contact info: 2830 US Highway 160 W
Monte Vista, CO 81144 USA
phone: 719-852-5921
  Room amenities: Internet Data Ports Premium TV Channels Coffee Maker Hair Dryer
  Facility amenities: High Speed Internet Business Center Fitness Center
  Smoking allowed: No

 Comfort Inn Gunnison
Type: Motel
  Contact info: 911 North Main Street
Gunnison, CO 81230 USA
phone: 970-642-1000
  Facility amenities: Indoor heated pool and hot tub Free wireless internet Rooms have microwaves and mini-fridges Coffee makers
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in hotel between 3 and no later than 5 pm. Meet in lobby at 6 pm for orientation session followed by dinner You will be staying at Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek that night.
  End of Program:
Check out by 10 am after breakfast You will be staying at Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Acknowledgement of Risk Form to be mailed to the Mountains and Plains Office
  Parking availability:
Parking available at originating Denver Hotel for entire program
To Start of Program
  Location:  Denver, CO
  Nearest highway: I25 and I70
  Nearest airport:  Denver International Airport (DEN)
  From End of Program
  Location: Denver, CO
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details



From Train Station






Per Person/One Way:


$10+ depending upon traffic
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


25 minutes 




6 miles




From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
phone: 800-258-3826
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Call for current rates
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


45 minutes 




22 miles


Reservations required for the airport SuperShuttle. There are also taxis available at the airport. Persons who drive, parking is complimentary.

Driving Directions
  Denver-Interstate 70 East and West Take I-70, exit Colorado Blvd #276B, proceed south on Colorado Blvd for 5 miles and you will see the Holiday inn Select hotel on the right hand side, at 455 South Colorado Boulevard
Elevation Note: 4,500 to 12,100 feet during travel; overnight elevations from 4,500 to 6,200 feet

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Check in at hotel between 3 and 5 pm followed by 6 pm required Orientation-Welcome Dinner
(Saturday, July 19)
 Arrive To: Independent arrivals in Denver by 5 pm. Upon arrival at the hotel, you should check in at the front desk. Meet in the lobby at 6 pm. for directions to dinner. At the orientation and dinner, you will meet your Program Coordinator who will provide important travel and program details and answer all questions. You will also be provided with a name badge, and a package of information describing the program for the week.
 Dinner: Meet in the Lobby at 6 pm. Orientation and welcome dinner, introductory lecture and information
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
Meals Included: Dinner

(Sunday, July 20)
 Depart From: Depart from hotel on motorcoach after breakfast traveling to Fort Collins then west on the Cache la Poudre Scenic Byway.
 Breakfast: Full hot hotel buffet breakfast
 Morning: CACHE LA POUDRE - NORTH PARK SCENIC BYWAY This Byway provides a glimpse of Colorado “pre-interstate and pre-ski resort”. Native Americans traversed Poudre Canyon, as did the fur trappers of the early 1800’s, followed by miners and lumbermen. Some of Colorado’s earliest history began in this area. The highlight of the east side of the Byway is Colorado’s only designated Wild & Scenic River -- the Cache la Poudre. The canyon walls tower above the highway. Vegetation on the east side is a little more lush with cottonwoods along the river and pine forests as elevations increase. The Byway tops out on Cameron Pass at an elevation of about 10,250 feet. Small villages and summer resort communities dominate the east side. The west side drops into North Park and is an entirely different world of sagebrush, grass and expansive views. North Park unfolds at an elevation of 8,100 feet in a basin carved by Ice Age glaciers. The Medicine Bow and Never Summer Mountains ring the park. The valley is home to some of Colorado’s oldest ranches, raising livestock and hay. The willows along the meandering Michigan and Illinois Rivers have provided perfect habitat for moose which were introduced in the 1970s. Elk, deer, antelope and beaver are also plentiful. North Park is a birdwatchers paradise. It is home to both golden and bald eagles, the red crossbill and sage grouse. The Byway ends in the town of Walden, county seat of Jackson County and the only incorporated municipality in the county. Walden has a population of about 750, while Jackson County is home to about 1,400 residents. The county covers about 1600 square miles. The nearest “large” town with health care and shopping amenities is Steamboat Springs, which is about 60 miles away over Rabbit Ears Pass
 Lunch: Lunch in Walden at locally owned restaurant
 Afternoon: Participants will travel through Steamboat Springs (population 12,000), one of Colorado’s first ski areas and on to Craig. Steamboat Springs has been home Olympic skiers, Buddy Werner and Billy Kidd. Craig, Colorado is home to about 9,100 people. Ranching and coal mining drive the economy. Colorado’s largest electric power generating plant is in Craig. Wyman’s Living History Museum in Craig is our next stop. The Wyman Museum was founded by Lou Wyman. The dream started in 1949 in Elk Springs, Colorado. While Lou was filling up a water barrel for his sheep herders, he noticed an abandoned 1932 Lincoln. He paid $15.00 for it and has been collecting ever since. The museum opened in August of 2006. The Wyman family has gathered an absolutely unique collection from throughout the west, giving museum guests an experience spanning one hundred years of Colorado life, ingenuity and advancement.
 Dinner: After the Museum tour, the Museum will host a special barbecue dinner on the grounds. Following dinner Lou Wyman will speak about his family homestead, growing up in the Yampa Valley, and changing life in the area.
 Evening: Free to relax and prepare for tomorrow's adventures.
Accommodations: Clarion Inn Craig
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Craig to Grand Junction and Palisade: DINOSAUR DIAMOND SCENIC BYWAY Visit to Dinosaur National Monument
(Monday, July 21)
 Depart From: Board the motorcaoch after breakfast to travel along the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic byway.
 Breakfast: Full breakfast at hotel restaurant
 Morning: We start out by traveling west from Craig on US Highway 50 to Dinosaur National Monument. After being closed for over five years the Quarry Exhibit Hall located over the world famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry has reopened. The exhibit hall allows visitors to view the wall of approximately 1,500 dinosaur bones. The facility also features exhibits on life during the late Jurassic Period. A Park Ranger will explain the importance of the park and the conflicts with encroaching oil and natural gas production in the area. The Yampa and Green Rivers join deep within the National Monument. Local legend has it that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were frequent visitors of the Bassett sisters whose family homesteaded in what has now become part of the National Monument. Dinosaur National Monument's cultural history dates back at least 10,000 years. Indian rock art in the form of petroglyphs and pictographs reveal evidence of the first people who resided here. The Fremont Indians lived in the canyons of Dinosaur National Monument 800 - 1,200 years ago. Following the Fremont were the Ute and Shoshone, who still inhabit communities in the area today. Spanish explorers crossed the region in the 1700s. In the 1800s, settlers from Europe and the eastern United States arrived in the area and left their mark on the landscape with their homesteads. The Yampa and Green Rivers provide water for survival in the arid country. Those who had access to the rivers and a constant flow of water survived, while others dried up with drought and moved away. Now, many of the remains of homesteads are found alongside the Indian art work of the past.
 Lunch: Buffet Lunch in Rangely
 Afternoon: We travel the length of the Dinosaur Diamond Scenic byway through mountains and rugged valleys to Colorado National Monument. The Monument celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011. The amazing geology of the Colorado Plateau begins here with the red rock formations that extend into Utah and northern Arizona. Between 1912 and 1921 Grand Valley residents completed the Serpents Trail which was the first motorized route into the Monument. The 23 mile long Rim Rock Drive was constructed by CCC and WPA workers in the 1930’s. We descend from the Monument into the Grand Valley known for its orchards and vineyards. In the late 1800s, settlers drew water from the Colorado River to irrigate their vineyards. To survive during Prohibition, they planted peaches, apricots, pears and apples. In more recent years, vineyards have replaced the older orchards and grape production is now a mainstay of the economy. Overnight will be at the Wine Country Inn, 777 Grande River Drive, Palisade, Colorado. The Wine Country Inn is a locally owned inn in the heart of Grand Valley vineyards and orchards. Locally produced wines are gaining worldwide fame. Participants may take part in a wine tasting from the Inn’s own cellar.
 Dinner: Special Dinner and Wine Paring at Wine Country Inn, Palisade, Colorado. Menu will include locally produced “farm to fork” products. Each course will be pared with wines produced from the Inn’s vineyards. The Inn will provide speaker who will explain the foods and wines.
 Evening: Free to enjoy the grounds and scenery of the Wine Country Inn
Accommodations: Wine Country Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

(Tuesday, July 22)
 Depart From: Today we depart after breakfast traveling South to Cortez aling the Unaweep Tabeguache and the San Juan Skway Scenic Byways.
 Breakfast: Full breakfast at the Inn
 Morning: We arrive in Gateway, a tiny community where the geology changes dramatically from the Precambrian to the multicolored sedimentary formations of Dakota, Wingate, Kayenta, Entrada sandstone. The name of the community reflects that this is the Gateway to the geologic changes. The Owner of Discovery Channel has developed a large resort and auto museum in this very remote part of Colorado. Participants will visit the Auto Museum, which houses one of the finest collections of American automobiles in existence today. With just over forty vehicles in the privately owned Hendricks Collection, the Gateway Colorado Automobile Museum tells a story of how the automobile impacted society. It is an educational experience with historical perspective. Mining has been an important factor along the route. In the late 1800’s, high above the Dolores River, courageous men built the “Hanging Flume”. Water from the River was carried by the flume to be used for hydraulic mining of placer gold. This engineering marvel has been the recipient of many engineering awards. In 2012, a 48 foot section of the flume was repaired and/or reconstructed. Those working on it, with modern equipment, are even more baffled by the engineering feat accomplished by the original builders. The real mining story, however, is in the radium, vanadium and uranium found in the area. Radium from here was shipped to Madame Curie for her experiments in France; in the 1930s and through WWII vanadium was shipped from this area to be used in hardening of steel; and 60% of the uranium used during the Manhattan Project of WWII came from the Uncompahgre Plateau. Remnants of the uranium boom of the 1950s still remain along the route, and uranium exploration is once again drawing interest. Markers along the way point out that the Dominguez-Escalante Spanish Expedition who traveled through area in 1776 providing extensive written diaries about the area and giving place names that exist today.
 Morning: Zebulon Miracle will be a step on guide from Grand Junction to Cortez. Mr. Miracle is a Grand Junction native and has been Curator of the Museum of the West for over ten years. He has degrees from the University of Colorado in history and anthropology. He recently helped restore uranium mining sites and a 48 foot section of the Hanging Flume. He is well versed in the history, geology, culture, flora and fauna of this incredible Byway. Along the route we will learn about the diverse geology from beginning to end. Unaweep is a native word that roughly translates to mean “canyon with two mouths”. Unaweep is a geologically unique canyon that cuts across the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado. It is unique because two creeks, East Creek (which flows into the Gunnison River) and West Creek (flows to the Dolores River), flow out of opposite ends of the canyon, separated by the almost imperceptible Unaweep Divide at an elevation 7,000 feet. Precambrian rock forms the canyon walls; aspen and pine forests dominate the vegetation. Also along the route we learn about the ancestral Puebloans built structures and occupied the area between 750 and 1000 A.D. Archaeological digs have revealed fifteen feet deep, centuries-old middens containing projectile points, stone tools, bone awls and bones from game animals. In addition we will spot an interesting landmark. In 1914, a wealthy New Yorker had a home built of local stone and known as the Driggs Mansion. The home is in a meadow below Thimble Rock. Unfortunately, Mrs. Driggs was less enchanted with the dwelling and its location and it was abandoned after a few years. The majority of this scenic byway travels through the Unaweep Seep that is a 55 acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern because of its a unique wetland ecosystem that is home to the rare and beautiful Nokomis Fritillary butterfly.
 Lunch: Chuckwagon Lunch in Naturita
 Afternoon: After lunch we travel along the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. This Byway is often described as the Crown Jewel in the state byway system. The landscape ranges from limitless alpine forests and pristine mountains to fertile valleys and ancient apartment complexes. It is as old as the most famous mining camps and as modern as the latest condominium development. The Byway skirts the edge of the famed Telluride ski area. Nestled in a bowl of mountains, Telluride was one of the most prolific gold and silver mining communities in early Colorado. The Byway provides views of the incredibly beautiful San Miguel Range including several peaks over 14,000 feet in elevation. The Ames Hydroelectric Generating Plant, located near Ophir was the world's first commercial system to produce and transmit alternating current (AC) electricity. In the summer of 1890, Westinghouse Electric supplied the station's generator and motor. They were installed in the winter, and from spring 1891 provided alternating current electricity that was transmitted 2.6 miles to a motor-driven stamp mill at the Gold King Mine that was at risk of shutdown from lack of timber fuel for its existing steam mill. The Byway crosses Lizard Head Pass at 10,222 feet above sea level just below the unique Lizard Head Mountain (13,113 feet). The road follows the Dolores River passing through several small mining and agricultural communities. As we descend into Cortez, the byway leaves the Precambrian formations and once again enters the Wingate, Entrada and Kayenta sandstone formations. Vegetation becomes sage-desert scrub. Agricultural interests dominate the valley floor and Mesa Verde looms above.
 Dinner: Participants will be on own for dinner. Main Street in Cortez has several small, family owned eateries where participants can mingle and get acquainted with the locals.
 Evening: We visit the Cortez Cultural Center for an evening performance. Native American presentations differ nightly. Performers might be dancers, flute maker/player, sand painter, story teller, or the like
Accommodations: Baymont Inn and Suites Cortez
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Cortez to Monte Vista: TRAIL OF THE ANCIENTS SCENIC BYWAY Visit to Mesa Verde National Park
(Wednesday, July 23)
 Depart From: After breakfast we depart to travel along the Trail of the Ancients Scinic Byway and Mesa Verde National Park
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast in the motel
 Morning: The Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway takes participants to Mesa Verde, which was designated a National Park in 1906. The mesa top ruins and cliff dwellings have been abandoned for over 700 years. Ruins were photographed by W.H. Jackson and written about by the Hayden Survey in 1874. In the 1880s, while looking for stray cattle, members of the Wetherill family explored and began publicizing the ruins. Each year new discoveries are made. In 1997 hydrologists found part of an ancient reservoir fed by a 1400 foot canal that provided irrigation water for crops grown by the Ancestral Puebloans on the arid mesa tops. The morning will be spent with a step on guide from the Park. Mesa Verde National Park Tour: A three hour chronological account of the ancient culture of Mesa Verde with stops and short walks to pit houses and early pueblo sits and overlooks of inaccessible canyon dwellings. Tour will also include a one-half mile round trip walk into Spruce Tree House, the second largest cliff dwelling on Chapin Mesa. (Participants who do not wish to participate in this portion of the tour are able to sit at a shaded overlook or browse the Chapin Mesa Museum.)
 Lunch: Lunch is at the Far View Cafeteria in Mesa Verde National Park. After lunch we leave Mesa Verde and rejoin Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway.
 Afternoon: Ancestral pueblos, Spanish conquistadors, silver & gold miners, hearty settlers all left a deep foot print along this Byway. The Dominguez Escalante Spanish Expedition of 1776 traveled through here and many place names were given by them and recorded in their extensive diaries. The La Plata Mountains come into view on the north side of the road. Silver mining in the La Plata’s during the late 1800s brought early settlers to the area. Author Louis L’Amour purchased a ranch in this area and the inspiration for many of his books came from the landscape and local legends. In Durango, we connect with the Silver Thread Byway. The highlight of the route is Wolf Creek Pass in the San Juan Mountains. Reaching an elevation of 10,857 feet, the Pass was made somewhat famous in 1975 by Country music artist C. W. McCall's humorous spoken word song “Wolf Creek Pass”, in which the pass is fondly described as "37 miles o' hell -- which is up on the Great Divide." The Silver Thread Byway then enters the San Luis Valley. At over 8,000 square miles The “Valley” is about the same size as the State of Massachusetts. The valley is bound on the west by the San Juan Mountains and on the east by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, with the average elevation over 7,000 feet. Once part of Mexico, some of the land is still owned by descendants of original Spanish-Mexican Land Grants. Agriculture is the major economic resource. Potatoes, barley, alfalfa and quinoa are major crops. The valley is a flyway for many migrating birds, including the Sandhill Cranes, with an occasional Whooping Crane among the gray Sandhill Cranes.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Movie Manor Restaurant
 Evening: As one of the world's most unique lodging concepts, the Best Western Movie Manor is attached to a historic drive-in movie theatre. If guests choose to do so, they can open the drapes of their picture windows, turn on the sound that is piped into their room and watch movies on the big screen, while enjoying fantastic mountain views. Movies are G, PG, or PG-13. Guests can get popcorn and other snacks at the snack bar. The drive in theater was completed in 1955 by George & Edna Kelloff. In an effort to create a year-round business, George Kelloff built 14 motel units with large picture windows that face the movie screen. The concept was a success and now includes 59 motel rooms, a restaurant, and an RV Park. This is the only drive-in movie motel in the country and has been featured on NBC Dateline, PBS; BBC Radio; NPR, Smithsonian Magazine and many other media forums.
Accommodations: Best Western Movie Manor Inn
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Monte Vista to Gunnison: SILVER THREAD SCENIC BYWAY
(Thursday, July 24)
 Depart From: We board our motorcoach after breakfast to discover more of the Silver Thread Scenic Byway.
 Breakfast: Breakfast in Motel restaurant
 Morning: We travel a highway full of scenic beauty and natural wonders, with rich geology. The Byway passes through Colorado’s two least populated mountain counties with a combined population of about 1500 people. Geologists believe three eras of volcanic eruptions created the Byway’s terrain. One eruption about 26 million years ago, labeled the La Garita, is believed to be the single largest volcanic eruption in Earth’s history. The caldera is about 45 miles across and we drive through part of it on the byway. We arrive in the town of Creede is located in a narrow mountain canyon at an elevation of 8,844 feet. Silver was discovered here in 1889. Mining was the area's main industry through the years until 1985. In its heyday, Creede was one of the roughest mining towns in Colorado. Robert Ford, who shot Jesse James, was the “boss”. He ran the saloons and brothels until he met his demise at the wrong end of a shotgun. Harsh cold and snowy winters were hard on fire trucks and the town needed a place to keep trucks so they would start in the winter. The concept for an underground facility began in 1976, when a local miner proposed building an underground fire station where the temperature remains 50 degrees year round. This project was so well accepted that in 1990 local citizens decided to build a community center and mining museum underground with the fire trucks that we will visit. Three out of work Creede miners began breaking rock in 1990. By 1992, the mining portion of the museum was completed and most of the displays were in place. While the museum has never been used for the commercial production of silver, it was 'mined' from solid rock and is an authentic example of the methods and techniques used in the 'boom' days of Creede, Colorado. The enthusiasm and ingenuity of these local mountain folk has created one of the best mining museums in the country. Local former miners are the docents and provide the intriguing story of mining in the San Juan Mountains.
 Lunch: Lunch on own. There are several very small family owned restaurants where participants can visit with local residents while dining. Creede has a population of about 300 residents. After the mines closed in the 1980’s it has depended entirely on tourism for survival.
 Afternoon: Following the Rio Grande River, the Byway is lined with willows and boggy meadows which provide perfect habitat for moose. We stop at a cluster of waterfalls on North and South Clear Creeks. South Clear Creek Falls is a clean sixty foot drop from the edge of the sand colored volcanic tuff to the boulders below. North Clear Creek Falls drops about a hundred feet. It is possible to get views from several angles and is an excellent photo stop. The Byway continues to the summit of Spring Creek Pass and enters dense spruce fir forests. Windy Point pull off, offers a spectacular view of eight peaks of the San Juan Mountains ranging from 12,821 to 14,309 feet in elevation. The Slumgullion Earthflow is another geologic wonder on this Byway and has been designated as a National Natural Landmark. The huge multi-colored earth flow (slide) occurred about 700 years ago when the cliff face collapsed and ran downhill. It moved significantly again about 350 years ago. The United States Geologic Survey (USGS) tracks the movement of the slide. We see a marker on the road marking the Alferd Packer massacre site. In the winter of 1873 Packer set out with several companions on a prospecting venture. They became lost during snowstorms and spent the winter in the mountains near Lake City. In the spring only Packer stumbled out alive. He claimed to have been injured and separated from his companions. The remains of his companions were found and there was evidence of cannibalism. Packer was charged with cannibalism, but claimed self-defense. He was tried and convicted in Lake City. The story is part of the local history and retold time and again. The tiny (population 375) town of Lake City is the only incorporated town in Hinsdale County. It was a mining and transportation center in the 19th century. The entire town is on the National Historic Register. This is the perfect community for a stop to peruse the Victorian buildings housing unique locally owned shops.
 Dinner: Dinner a locally owned restaurant.
 Evening: Free for relaxation. Gunnison is home of Western State College. It is frequently one of the coldest places in the U.S. It is on the Gunnison River and in the heart of rich farming and ranching country.
Accommodations: Comfort Inn Gunnison
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

(Friday, July 25)
 Depart From: Today we begin after breakfast our coach journey back to Denver but with much beautiful scenery ahead on the Collegiate Peaks and Top of the Rockies Scenic Byways.
 Breakfast: Buffet Breakfast in Motel
 Morning: Leaving Gunnison, a short drive along U.S. 50 over 11,312 foot Monarch Pass will take us to Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway. The Byway parallels the Continental Divide the Arkansas River The state gemstone, the aquamarine, is mined on Mt. Antero. Local rockhounds also look for garnets, tourmaline, agates and other gemstones. The Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway picks up where Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway ends Colorado’s highest peak, Mount Elbert (14,440 feet) and Mount Massive (14,421 feet) are visible to the west. Historic ranches dot the meadows below the high peaks. Evidence of old stagecoach roads and abandoned rail lines are marked on the hills and along the river to the east. The Byway takes us to the Town of Leadville, the highest incorporated town in the U.S. Leadville’s history begins with gold mining, then silver. The Climax Molybdenum Mine fueled the economy from about 1924 until its closing in the early 1980s. The closing devastated Leadville economically. Capitalizing on its location, tourism has sustained the community of 2,900 people. Leadville is full of stories and among the most amazing stories is that of Horace A.W. Tabor. By grubstaking a couple prospectors he soon became one of the country’s wealthiest individuals. HAW Tabor built the Tabor Grand Opera House in 1879 that we will visit All of the materials were brought in by wagon from Denver. A local guide will take participants through the opera house, tell the Tabor story, and allow them time on the stage and backstage. The Matchless Mine was the only thing Tabor owned when he died penniless in 1899. On his deathbed, he told his wife Baby Doe to “hang on to the Matchless”. The mine was never worked after HAW’s death. Baby Doe lived out the rest of her life in poverty. She lived in a shack at the mine and died there during the winter of 1935. During our visit to the mine, we will have a local docent whose family had ties to the Tabors and remember Baby Doe.
 Lunch: Lunch on own in Leadville. There are many small family owned restaurants for the participants to enjoy while visiting with locals.
 Afternoon: Leaving Leadville we will travel over Fremont Pass passing Copper Mountain Ski Area near Camp Hale. During WWII the Army needed a place to train a division of soldiers in the science and art of mountain warfare. Camp Hale was established in 1942 and 16,000 men were assigned to the camp. The Tenth Mountain Division tested equipment, skied, climbed, fought cold temperatures and dealt with isolation to become one of the most elite divisions in the army. The route then joins Interstate 70 for the return to Denver passing through the mile long Eisenhower Tunnel bored through the Continental Divide. The tunnel provides a quick easy passage through the mountains avoiding the two lane road over 11,992 foot Loveland Pass, known for its winter avalanches. The tunnel is the longest mountain tunnel and highest point on the Interstate Highway System. Finished in 1979, it was one of the last major pieces in the completion of the Interstate Highway system in the U.S. The Interstate then passes through several small communities that date back to the discovery of gold and silver in the 1800’s. Participants will arrive in the Mile High City of Denver. Started in 1859 by gold seekers who were rushing to the Rockies, Denver has evolved in to a diverse, sophisticated city.
 Dinner: We dine at the hotel restaurant for our final closing dinner.
 Evening: Free for packing and reflection of our amazing journey.
Accommodations: Holiday Inn Select Denver-Cherry Creek
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 8: Departure after breakfast, check out by 10 am.
(Saturday, July 26)
 Depart From: Independent departures after breakfast
 Breakfast: Full breakfast in hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast
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Suggested Reading List

Colorado Scenic Byways, Taking the Other Road

Author: Jim Steinberg, Susan Tweit

Description: This two volume set was inspired by those blue highways and a quintessentially American love: the open road. Americans had begun taking to the road such as it was long before the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1925 designated the first numbered cross-country routes. After the interstate highway program was authorized in 1955 as a way to move troops and material around quickly, Americans became obsessed with speed. And forgot the soul of the open road: the freedom to wander, the chance to stop and sniff a wildflower, ramble beside a creek, shape a snowball from a late-summer snowbank, gawk at a long-abandoned mining town, buy a fresh peach from a farm stand, or simply discover a new vista. The Scenic Byway system was born out of a desire to identify roads offering just those kinds of opportunities. It harks back to national routes designated in the 1930s such as the Great River Road tracing the course of the Mississippi and the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachian Mountains. States and federal government agencies began designating scenic and Highways historic byways in the 1980s. Colorado identified its first byways in 1989; now the state has 25 official Scenic and Historic Byways, chosen for their outstanding archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and of course, scenic qualities. Ten have also been selected for the National Scenic Byways Program, begun in 1991.

Colorado Scenic Byways Road Atlas & Travel Guide

Author: Jim Steinberg, Susan Tweit

Description: This book is a guide to the open road, to the opportunities that beckon just around the bend, over the next hill, beyond the far horizon. But not just any open road: this Road Atlas & Travel Guide details the sights and stories of Colorado's 25 scenic and historic Byways, reveals the heart and soul of each route in spectacular photography and insightful essays. These diverse byways shows off the state's extraordinary variety in landscapes and history, from ruler-straight roads traversing the wide-open expanses of the far eastern plains where bison once flowed in herds like dark rivers, to winding routes through rumpled foothills dissected by river canyons and dotted with aspen groves and historic lodges; from bumpy jeep tracks to ascending nose-bleed heights over alpine ridges splashed with summer wildflowers and acid-bright mine tailings; from the surprise of two lanes traversing mountain parks to gravel roads winding between massive walls of red sandstone that hide centuries-old cliff dwellings in the canyon country of the far western edge of the state. This rich network of scenic and Historic Byways shows off Colorado's captivating spaces and lives, both wild and human. Colorado Scenic Byways Road Atlas & Travel Guide is for travelers who prefer winding roads to straight, choose to explore a new route rather than get there fast, are curious enough to stop and read a roadside sign, and marvel at a waterfall, wildflowers or a flock of sandhill cranes high overhead. It is for those who think they know Colorado, as well as those who are new to the state's enchantments. Open these pages, pick a byway at random, and set off on a journey.

Scenic Driving Colorado, 3rd (Scenic Routes & Byways)

Author: Stewart M. Green

Description: This guidebook offers travel and historical information for 30 visually stunning driving routes, from Pawnee National Grassland of the Great Plains to Rocky Mountain National Park, the San Juan Mountains, and the deserts of the Colorado Plateau.

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