Saturday, October 30, 2010

Heading South on the Colorado River in Utah

Fruita, Colorado to Bedrock, Colorado
Colorado National Monument
Fruita, Colorado
Utah Scenic Byway 128 - Upper Colorado River 
Colorado Riverway Recreation Area
Fisher Towers Recreation Site
Big Bend Camp Site
Moab, Utah
Arches National Park
Manti-La Sal National Forest

Bedrock, Colorado

On Saturday October 16, 2010, my dog Sawyer and I were camped in the Saddlehorn camp site in the Colorado National Monument There was a beatiful view from our camp site.

View from the Saddlehorn Camp site
We took a nice walk to the scenic overlook and had great views down to the Colorado River Valley.

View from the Scenic Overlook at the
Saddlehorn Camp Site

Colorado River Valley, Fruita Colorado
and  Book Cliffs in the distance

We then drove out of the park, a steep descent with several tunnels and stunning views to Fruita,Colorado, crossing the Colorado River once again and heading back West on Interstate 70. We quickly crossed into Utah and then took the Scenic Byway 128 - Upper Colorado River from the town of Cisco, practically a ghost town, south This is a roller coaster of a road that winds its way down from a high plateau to the Colorado River valley. It becomes obvious when you are nearing the river as the stands of golden yellow cottonwoods begin to appear on either side of the river. As you once again cross the Colorado river at the historic Dewey Bridge you enter the Colorado Riverway Recreation Area This has really developed over the past ten years. There used to be one camp site at Big Bend only 7.5 miles from Moab, Utah, but now there are many sites for camping and picnics, as well as beautiful guest ranches and a winery: The Red Cliffs Lodge with the nearby Castle Creek Winery;  The Sorrel River Ranch & Spa;

Sorrel River Ranch & Spa

We then took a detour for an amazing hike in the Bureau of Land Mangement's (BLM) Fisher Towers Recreation Site

Fisher Towers
It was getting rather hot and even though I had water for Sawyer, he already has a thicker coat to live at altitude and so he became overheated and we did not complete the entire hike. It was really nice to be on BLM land, as some folks saw me hiking with Sawyer on a leash and told me that the rules were not the same as a national park and that he could run freely which he certainly enjoyed, exploring in the rocks and gullies. At our rest stop we saw a group of climbers on the towers and had an incredible view down to Castle Rock. 

We then headed back to Highway 128 and to the Big Bend Camp Site to let Sawyer cool off with a swim in the Colorado River. There were still folks out river rafting and further up river we also saw a stand up paddler. After stopping to get some food for dinner we headed into Arches National Park intending to camp there for the night. There was quite a long line of cars to get to the entrance and when I finally paid my fee I noticed a sign with "CAMPGROUND FULL".  I asked the park ranger and was told that it was a fall break for the Utah schools and that the park only did camping by reservation anyway. I asked him about going back up Highway 128 and camping there and he said that he would doubt if I would find a spot, and also the road was going to be closed in the morning for a half marathon. As I knew that the road back to Colorado went through a national forest, I asked him if he knew anything about that area and he assured me that I would find somewhere there. So I decided to drive to the campground at the Devil's Garden Trailhead. We had camped there as a family years ago and really enjoyed the hike to the Double O Arch and I knew I would like to see the scenery again. It was a spectacular drive passing by Balanced Rock, the one that was in the first Indiana Jones movie.

Balanced Rock, Arches National Park

We had a great view from an overlook to the Petrified Dunes,

and also to the Windows Section.

One can only marvel at these incredible rock formations in eastern Utah, that are repeated in Canyon Lands National Park just to the south and east of Moab and down to Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. This is just the beginning of the vast and unusual scenery that the West has to offer.
It was starting to get late so after turning around at the end of the road where there were so many cars parked, that I was glad that I had decided not to hike here, we headed back to Moab. This has really changed over the years too with tons of hotels and restaurants - it used to be a fairly sleepy town when my husband let outdoor education trips there starting in 1980. 
We headed south on Highway 19, that goes all the way to Arizona, to La Sal Junction, where we turned left on Highway 46 that heads 30 miles to the Colorado border up and through the Manti La Sal National Forest We ascended a winding forest road with spectacular colors in the river gullies. Then we came down from the high road to Colorado and the tiny town of Paradox on Highway 90 with a spectacular view of the Dolores River valley from the top. Of course we had not see any camp sites and the town did not even have a hotel or a Bed and Breakfast, just farms and a gas station that was not open to ask anyone. Next we came to Bedrock a town established in the late 1800s where the Post Office and the General Store were built on top of solid rock which had given the town its name. Just past the General Store with its one gas pump that was of course closed, as the sun was setting we crossed the Dolores River. Just before the river I saw a sign for a boat ramp for rafting access. There was a small road alongside the river on the eastern side of the bridge but it was marked private so I turned around, crossed back over the bridge and turned down the road on the other side of the river. We passed several abandoned trailers and a couple of houses with rusted vehicles and no lights, so I am not sure if anyone actually lives in Bedrock. The boat ramp was a picnic area with covered tables, a boat ramp to the river, a sign telling us that the river is only open to rafting for a short time in June, and two spectacular red rock buttes on either side of the river. It was certainly a beautiful place to camp but a bit deserted and scary to be myself with just my over friendly dog for a companion. But the next town was a long drive and for all I knew there could be nothing there as well.  So we settled down for the night - it probably did nothing to calm my nerves to be reading the "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" and I was up to the serail killer part. However we survived with no incidents and left at sunrise the next morning with a spectacular view of the alpenglow on the western butte.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Haunted House in Frisco, Colorado

Last night it was really fun to attend a reception and preview of the Town of Frisco's Haunted House hosted by the excellent marketing team of the town. The Haunted House is open from 6:30 to 10:00 pm Friday October 29 through Sunday 31.
The reception in the Frisco Information Center was really nice, and my neighbor Carol Bartoletti and I met some great people. The staff members attending were very informative and we even signed a petition to allow the Day Lodge at the new Frisco Adventure Park to have a liquor license. The park will have a tubing and jib hill opening in December, and the lodge has a great room with WiFi, perfect for parents to hang out while their kids are up on the hill. Wouldn't you want a nice hot chocolate with something in it, a beer or a wine, as you sit in front of the fireplace catching up on your e-mails? Seems like a no brainer to me.
Carol and I enjoyed chatting with Simone Belz, manager of the Historic Park and Museum Carol had just been to a bread baking class and they discussed the idea of adding historic interactive cooking classes to Frisco's Founders Day, the celebration during the 4th July holiday weekend of the history of the town.
We also met Brittany and Brain Anderson of Footprints Adventures Their story was profiled back in April in the Summit Daily Brian sustained a severe hiking accident and could have lost his foot due to the severity of the injury to his ankle. In the winter they work for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center that provides outdoor adventure for those with disabilities. This coming summer they will hold their first summer camp for teens 16-18 who have limb difference and limb loss. Brian had been the main volunteer helping the students with the construction of the Haunted House. With my connections to the disabled community in my previous role as Executive Director of the Colorado Wheelchair Tennis Foundation, we had a great deal to talk about and a lot of networking to share, and I look forward to helping them any way I can in the future. As a former special education teacher, Carol has some experience in grant writing, so she offered to help proof any of their efforts in this direction.
The networking at your local town events brings up many opportunities you might not have thought possible. So I encourage each of you to become involved with your local community if you have some time to give. The rewards will far outweigh the effort. But I digress - back to the events.
At 7:15 we all went outside to watch a Flash Mob. Now I had seen Frisco's Special Events & Marketing Coordinator Jaime Harmon's tweets during the day about this event and was luckily able to find her at the reception to find out what this was. I may have figured out how to blog and use, do Facebook and Twitter, but this one was over the head of this 55 year old. So a Flash Mob is when the social media networks give a call for everyone to gather in a certain place and then a dance or some other activity is performed This has been happening in large cities but this was to be the first one in a small town. Student dancers performed a great monster dance in the middle of 3rd Avenue to the Monster Mash tune and they were joined by all of the students from the Haunted House and some of the town's staff. I could not quite figure out the dance moves or I would have joined in.
Then it was our turn to be led to visit the Haunted House located behind the Information Center by Frisco Events Manager Suzanne Lifgren. The stars of this project are the students from the Mountain Mentors activity program as part of the Summit Cares program, that allows students to explore work opportunities.  They were amazing - they truly scared the ****** out of me. Their costumes are great and their acting suberb. Carol and I particularly liked the student having the fit chained to the operating table with cut off fingers in the surgical tray and the guy with the chain saw as you exit - but I do not want to give too much away and spoil the surpise or the scare factor. The Haunted House is $7 a person, $5 with a student ID, and there is a great deal - only $20 for a family of four. It is open to ages seven and up, any younger I think they might have nightmares - luckily I didn't last night! Proceeds from the house go to the Mountain Mentors program.
So come on out one and all - have fun and help a great program. Maybe make two trips to Frisco Main Street. Go to the Haunted House on a night other than Halloween and then come see High Country Activities in the Woods Cabin at the Frisco Historic Park on Halloween night for some candy.
Congratulations to the Town of Frisco and their staff and the students from Mountain Mentors for setting up a great event for the kids of Summit County and this one very scared baby boomer.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Heading West along the Colorado River from Frisco, Colorado

Frisco, Colorado through Glenwood Canyon to Glenwood Springs, Colorado and Grand Junction, Colorado
Colorado National Monument

I left Frisco, CO about 2:00pm on Friday October 15, 2010 for a short trip to western Colorado and over the border to Utah. I immediately hit a traffic jam at Copper Mountain but was rewarded with an awesome view of the back of the snowcapped Ten Mile Range.
Then it was up and over Vail Pass and on Interstate 70 past Vail, Colorado. There were only a few Aspen trees still with their leaves - the silver trunks always look so bare when the leaves have all been dropped. The turn after West Vail at exit 171 towards Minturn is the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway that runs through Leadville, Twin Lakes and on to Aspen. 
I70 then runs past Avon with the ski are of Beaver Creek and then comes out of the high central Rockies into the Colorado River Valley. The Eagle River joins the Colorado River in Wolcott, Colorado, and the interstate, and the river are also joined by the train tracks of Amtrak's California Zephyr that runs all the way from Chicago to San Francisco. In one valley you have road, rail and river all going in the same direction. The railroad was part of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad built in the early 1900s that is now the Union Pacific Railroad. This area of the Colorado River Valley is filled with some beautiful ranches along the winding river. Rather than Aspen trees, the large Cottonwoods have groves next to the river, and the altitude is now so much lower the trees are in their full fall foliage.

Just after Dotsero, Colorado the road enters Glenwood Canyon , where road, rail, and river are joined by a bike path. There are exits to scenic areas like the Bair Ranch and the Shoshone rapids and another to the hiking trail that leads to Hanging Lake I never cease to marvel at the geology of the canyon and the way the river has cut through the various layers of rock. The water is a beautiful deep green - there has not been much precipitation lately so there is very little sediment flowing in the current. There is still a pretty good flow to the river as water has to be let out of Colorado reservoirs to meet downstream obligations - those golf courses in Nevada and California do have  to be watered, Lake Powell needs to be filled and the Glen Canyon Dam needs a certain amount of water to create power for Arizona.
The canyon finishes at Glenwood Springs where you will find the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and the Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves as well as the historic Hotel Denver and Hotel Colorado on either side of the river.
My trip then follows the river with the Roan Plateau to the north and Battlement Mesa to the south until reaching Debeque Canyon where the James M. Robb Colorado State Park  has five different sections. The canyon is really beautiful and the freeway is right next to the river, with many willows and grasses on the riverbank that have turned to numerous colors from golden brown, to bright yellow to deep red.
The canyon emerges after entering a tunnel with the town of Palisades on the left, the "Heart of Colorado's Fruit and Wine Country" After traveling through the center of Grand Junction, Colorado and crossing the Colorado River numerous times, I finally reach my destination for the night at the Colorado National Monument I pay the park fee and ask about the camp site, that I had thought was close to the east entrance to the park, but that it the day use Devil's Kitchen picnic area and the Saddlehorn camp site is 19 miles on the other side of the park. The road is winding with tons of switch backs as it ascends to the top of the monument and the sun is sinking and directly into my face when it is not hidden behind rock faces. There are bends that I come around where the sun goes into shadow and the ground drops off the side of the road sometimes with no barriers and I cannot even see the road until the light adjusts.
Luckily there are markers on the side of the road and I am able to follow the white tips on those and not plunge down to the bottom of a canyon. It is needless to say very nerve wracking but the scenery is dramatic. Ute Canyon with its overlooks is particularly breathtaking from both sides as is Monument Canyon. The camp site is really good with great bathrooms, a picnic table and a charcoal grill at every site. It is pretty full. mostly with campers with California plates. The stars are really bright as we are up on top of the Uncompaghre Plateau and the night time temperatures are relatively warm.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Peak 1 with Peaks 7 and 8 of the Breckenridge Ski Resort
in the distance, part of the Ten Mile Range
When you are taking a walk at this time of year in Summit County, Colorado, and for me that means in Frisco, Colorado next to Lake Dillon, you are lucky to be able to enjoy views of the Ten Mile Range with
Peak 1 and the Breckenridge Ski Area in the distance. In the other direction is the Continental Divide with the 14,000 foot peak of Grays and Torreys, part of the majestic Rocky Mountains. These kind of views and then you have skiing at Arapahoe Basin, or riding at Breckenridge, Keystone or Copper Mountain, and if you want to drive a little you can enjoy activities at Vail and Beaver Creek.

This time of year the grasses in the wetlands are
particularly beautiful. Summer in Summit County,
Colorado you may not notice the variety of the
grasses around Lake Dillon. However when the season
starts to change to Fall and the grasses become all
different shade of brown, you will notice the incredible

Wild grasses gathered in the wetlands of
Lake Dillon, Colorado
Close up of grasses with
lavender in the foreground
gathered from my garden

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Flower Dilemma

Last flowers in the rock garden

So I love flowers and plants - any kind. In bouquets at weddings, growing in the forest, in flower beds and rock gardens, house plants, and summer planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. I grew up in England and because of the climate you could just get a small cutting from someone else's garden, stick it in the ground and it would grow. My home town of Rugby wins awards every year for the hanging baskets on its main thoroughfare through town. My mother had an incredible perennial garden and collected cuttings from all over the place. She even took one cutting of everything from one garden to the other when we moved house - kind of her own Noah's Ark. Then I moved to Colorado, where the climate is oh so dry, we may have snow in June and then again in August, and there are a lot of temperatures below freezing. I love winter and everything it has to offer for the active lifestyle, but the flowers are gone. So every Fall I hang on to flowers. Recently a neighbor left for a trip to Europe and she gave me all of the planter boxes and hanging baskets that she creates herself every year. They are gorgous with lobelia

- one of my favorites with its vivid blue and purple and white pansies. Lobelia is anything but hardy and will be gone with the first hard frost - the pansies can resist a bit of cold. So for the past month I have checked every day to figure out the evening temperatures and every time the nighttime low is predicted at 34 degrees or below I bring all of my plants into the house (I had done my own plants for my main floor balconies as well) - a total of seven hanging baskets, plus three window boxes and two pots of double geraniums. I have also transplanted all the geraniums that were in my front little piece of garden and have them in planters to save them for next season. It is a true labor of love but it makes a mess that I have to constantly clean up and the house looks like a landscaping store. But you see there are tons of buds left on the plants and I cannot sabotage their growth. So inbetween working on the web site for High Country Activities I carry on my fight against winter's approach, even though I love winter and everything it has to offer, as one of my favorite places to hang out, and act as the protector of my natural friends. At some point I will have to let go but it will be a sad day. 

Living Room Plant Sanctuary

Buds waiting to bloom in planter

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Great Walk by Lake Dillon

My dog Sawyer and I had a wonderful walk by Lake Dillon in Frisco this morning about 10:00am. It had snowed during the night and I had woken up to the sunrise Alpenglow on Buffalo Mountain which was dusted with snow. By 10:00 most of it had melted but there was still some snow on Peak 1 and quite a bit on the Fourteeners of Grays and Torres up on the Continental Divide to the east. The melting snow had made a small stream that had intersected the dried up part of the lake and filled a small pool that disappeared a couple of weeks ago. I love the forest after precipitation, snow or rain. The pine trees are greener and drops of water cling to the ends of the needles, lit up by the sun like many diamonds. The berries on the juniper bushes are bluer and the moisture brings out the dusty blue color of the foliage. The scrub oak have turned to a tarnished copper hue, and some of the ground leaves in the grasses are bright red. The grasses are so many different yellows and browns. Here and there a few asters are still blooming, small lavender daisies hugging the ground. And a lone purple hairbell clings to a stem.

Met the guys finishing up the Summit County bike path resurfacing. They have built some great steps down off the path to the wetlands dog walking paths from the Prospect Point path. One of them is from Leadville and his grandmother bought a ranch south of town in the 1940s for running cattle and growing hay. It was originally homesteaded by two men from Sweden - probably the only hardy soles who could stand farming at that extreme altitude - Leadville is the highest incorporated town in the United States. The town has a big dispute going with the town of Alma, south over Hoosier Path from Breckenridge, that is higher but is not incorporated. I imagine that Swedish farmers, used to three months of almost 24 hour darkness, thought that Leadville was a great place to live. There are many ranches in Summit County whose water rights extend back to the late 1800s. I love living in a place with the history of the Ute Indians, the beaver trappers, the gold and the silver miners and now the ski industry. Growing up in Europe with its long history including the Roman Empire, the Renaissance and its modern wars, it is a different kind of history in the high country with pioneers who came to an unknown land to explore and make a living in rather harsh conditions. So the rest of us are just waiting for massive amounts of snow to fall, but for the guys doing the bike path, snow means that they have to leave the county and find work where the ground is not frozen.

I have to say that I meet all kinds of interesting folks walking Sawyer each day, and it is really great to live so close to Lake Dillon with its incredible views. No matter the season it is never the same on any given day. The whole county morphs with the weather and the light on a daily basis. What a great place to live.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ready for the Winter Season

So Annie Turri, of and I have spent about six weeks designing and writing the winter portion of the High Country Activities web site This has been a fun project for me as I love to write, and I am passionate about Summit County where I live and everything that this resort area has to offer guests. If you need web site design, Annie is great. My learning curve has been huge and not only have Annie and I figured out a great working relationship regarding the web site, but she has been educating me on Face Book business pages, Twitter, blogging, and RSS feeds, so I have at least a basic understanding of the all of the social media out there. She also sends me monthly diganostics to see how the web site is doing.

I have some great lodging partners to help me with referrals for customers and I believe have chosen the best companies in the area for my activity partners. I have worked with all of these companies for the past 11 years and know that they will provide awesome experiences for all of my guests.

Now we just need some snow. It has been unusually warm this Fall and is not cold enough at night as yet to make snow. With upper 70s during the day it would all melt anyway, even if the temperatures did drop below freezing at night. Some moisture is expected this coming week. Even though I am enjoying these balmy temperatures and still having my summer flower pots blooming for some extra Fall color, we are due for some good precipitation of the wet and white kind.

So start thinking SNOW and planning a winter vacation to Summit County, with four ski areas, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper and Keystone and two close by in Eagle County, Vail and Beaver Creek. Read about all of these ski areas and what they have to offer on the Lift Ticket page You are also able to read about the towns and resorts of Summit County on the town page Event information for the towns and resorts is coming soon.

Welcome to High Country Activities Blog!

Welcome to our first blog post for High Country Activities!

We hope that this blog can share our Summit County experience and expertise and help you plan the vacation of a lifetime for you and your family.

High Country Activities is your full-service concierge for the towns of Frisco, Dillon and Silverthorne, Colorado and the surrounding area.  We offer complete custom vacation planning, activity bookings and guest services during either winter or summer for your Summit County vacation -- at no additional charge to you.

Book your Frisco, Dillon or Silverthorne airport shuttle transfers, activities, rentals and services, as well as your dining reservations with one simple call. Our vacation experts have years of local knowledge and insider tips to help make your vacation a one of a kind, custom experience.

What to do in Frisco, Colorado