Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Dinosaur track marks (i.e. footprints)

I have written previously about the awesome dinosaur park in Denver's backyard, called Dinosaur Ridge.
The world's FIRST stegosaurus fossils were found in this area.
Along with dinosaur bone quarries (now covered), exposed fossilized bones, dinosaur track sites, and well-preserved slabs of where the ocean once made Denver prime beachfront property (thanks to the Western Interior Seaway)---all of these sites you can see at Dinosaur Ridge.

Dinosaur Ridge is situated on a hogback between I-70 and Hwy-285. The west side of the foothill faces Red Rocks Park and Ampitheatre, while the eastside faces Denver. Most of this ridge is open space, a precious commodity with the continued growth and expansion of the Denver Metro area.

Jefferson County, who owns the surrounding land around Dinosaur Ridge, has made it clear that their only concern is money. Therefore, they are soon to partner with several developers to put in car dealerships and commercial space on what is vastly becoming limited green space in this area (notice the new residential neighborhoods popping up at Alameda and C470?). My concern is two fold: 1) This ridge is a valuable paleontological area. Why not protect the surrounding area for continued research? Not to mention, the degredation that will inevitably take place if zoned for commercial use. 2) The urban sprawl is real. And we are in the midst of it. If we do not put a halt on some of our scenic vistas and landscapes, we will regret it come twenty years from now when literally everything east of Morrison will be a concrete jungle (well, at least until you get to the eastern plains).

Fossilized Dinosaur Bone

Supporters, volunteers, scientists, and local neighbors are rallying together to try to stop this development. How can you help? 1) sign the petition 2) call Jefferson County and tell them your concerns 3) call anyone you know with connections
 4) call anyone you know who might be interested in purchasing the land and giving it to dinosaur ridge or putting it into a land easement.

Here is the link to sign the petition: SAVE DINO RIDGE

Save Dino Ridge: WHAT'S AT STAKE

Here is their GOFUNDME page

Here is the Save Dinosaur Ridge facebook page


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lamb Spring Archaeological Preserve

Replica of a Colombian Mammoth skull found at
Lamb Spring Archaeological Preserve
I continue to be enthralled and fascinated by the prehistory of Colorado.
I recently visited the Lamb Spring Archaeological Preserve in Littleton, Colorado. My friend and I met up with the tour guide at the Douglas County Library in Roxborough. After a thirty-minute slide presentation regarding the history of the site, as well as, a short spiel on prehistoric landscapes we then drove to the site.
We soon found ourselves standing where Charles Lamb stood in 1960, when he stumbled across bones of some very large prehistoric animals. Who knew that Colorado was once home to not only the Wooly Mammoth but also the Colombian Mammoth? And to date, this site holds title to the largest cache of Colombian Mammoth fossils in Colorado.
Other prehistoric fossils such as the Ground Sloth, Mastodon, North American species of camel and a distinctly North American species of horse have also been discovered.
 (Yes, you read that correctly).
Interpretive signs describing the site history

Wannabe historian (and this writer) holding a collection of projectile points
An issue of contention and topic of archaeological debate, is whether or not paleo-Indians inhabited this site at the same time as such mega fauna. According to our guide, evidence suggests that paleo-Indians may have used this site as a meat processing area (many of the fossils were discovered in piles). However, without the discovery of stone tools some scholars are reluctant to draw such conclusions.
Lamb Spring Archaeological Preserve is clearly a significant educational and archaeological site. However, despite the significance of the area, the Lamb Spring Archaeological Preserve has not been able to raise the funds necessary to be able to exhibit their findings.
I hope the educational and historic significance of this site can one day be displayed for all to see.
**FREE tours offered seasonally.



Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fall Foliage 2016: Three Ideas for an Autumnal Excursion

(Taken 8/24/16 in Estes Park, CO)

(Source: News KOAA 5, Sept. 2016)

Ah, the feel of Autumn.
That refreshing touch of crisp, cool air that waffs gently against your face.
You close your eyes, and sense the sudden urge for a pumpkin latte and a roadtrip.

So, here are three ideas for fall leaf-viewing excursions:


(J. Foster, 2011)
(J. Foster, 2011)

There's a reason this is the most photographed view in Colorado....
Simply put: It's just honestly an incredible panoramic view. Evergreen trees mixed in with multi-hued aspens, situated beneath Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak...and then throw in a mountain lake....and nicely lined photographic isn't hard to see why people flock to this area especially during the peak of autumn.

Details: Because of the popularity/traffic/parking issues there are some restrictions in place. Check the Aspen Chamber website for more details on how to drive your car or take bus (from Aspen or Snowmass).

 Lodging: There is lodging in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs (and some other places nearby as well). Also, there are some commercial and not commercial hot springs around. 

(J. Foster, 2012)

(J. Foster, 2012)
The Boreas Pass road takes you from hwy 285, up and over the continental divide, and into Breckenridge, CO.

As you enjoy the colorful leaves, you can also revel in the history that surrounds you.
You will be driving where many of the Colorado gold miner's once travelled on their way to and from South Park.
The road was later used for the railroad but the tracks have since been taken up.

Details: Look for the sign that says Boreas Pass, near the town of Como... once you pass Fairplay off of Highway 285.

Lodging: Breckenridge has many lodging, shopping, and dining destinations. The downtown area runs along a scenic river. Check out the Breckenridge Welcome Center that hosts a nice history exhibit. The town of Frisco and Lake Dillon are also nearby.


(J. Foster, 2015)
One of my favorite places to visit in September is Rocky Mountain National Park. Besides being able to see colorful aspen groves sprinkled among the evergreens, it is also mating season for the hundreds of elk in the park. It is an interesting phenomenon to listen to the elk bugling, trying to attract mates. Then to watch as bull elk battle each other for dominance over various harems.

Note: Weekends in September can be even busier than summer days at the park. Please consider taking the shuttle when possible. Also, please be considerate of the wildlife. As you view them, be sure to not get too close and be careful to not interfere with what they are doing or where they are wanting to go.

(August 2016)

Things to do: Besides viewing the aspen trees, listening to and watching the elk, there are many trails you can hike within the park. Today's featured hike: Alberta Falls. About a 3 mile roundtrip hike to a lovely rushing waterfall.

(August 2016)
Lodging: There are many, many hotels and lodges in Estes Park. Along with plenty of shops and restaurants.

Peak to Peak Highway: For even more scenic, fall foliage photos...consider driving from Blackhawk to Estes Park along the Peak to Peak Highway. Click here for more details.

For more ideas, click here and here.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ophelia's Electric Soapbox

It's hard to classify Ophelia's Electric Soapbox, there's basically a little something for everyone.

Whether you are in the mood for a seamier-sided happy hour, live music, or eclectic dining experience; Ophelia's has it all--with some interesting local history as well. As my waiter described, "The owner went from death to sex."

What he meant was, the owner of Ophelia's also operates Denver's popular Linger restaurant.  Before it was a trendy dining room/rooftop bar, it was Olinger Mortuary but they literally took off the "O" and kept the Linger. (I guess you could say the "O" became Ophelias). Located at 1215 20th Street, this site was first a brothel and later an adult video store. Several of the art pieces are reminiscent of its sensual past.

Now, with an updated interior and dance floor on the lower level, Ophelia's makes for a nice cozy dining experience during the week. Then, on certain weekends, the space functions as a music hall. Recently they hosted a sold out 90s dance party.


Eclectic drink menu
If happy hour is your jam, the couch area next to the bar is super cute and great for people watching. Their happy hour specials are cost-effective, as well as, tastebud approved.

Tip: Parking is mostly by meter. 

Beef slider, jalapeno cornbread, fries

Friday, July 29, 2016

Lair O' The Bear

If you've lived in Denver for any length of time, chances are you have probably hiked in an area of open space called Lair O' The Bear. This recreational area is located just past the towns of Evergreen and Kittredge, about 45 minutes directly west of Denver.

This park offers a handful of hiking trails, as well as, multi-use trails. So, bring your mountain bike and enjoy the beauty of the foothills! There are several picnic areas and there is also a stream that flows the entire distance of the park. What I like about this area is that you have the option of either hiking along more of a flat terrain, or hiking along more inclined trails. It's nice to have the choice of either a leisurely stroll versus an intensive hike.

When you're done here, you can head into Evergreen and grab some refreshments and/or live music at a place called Little Bear Western Saloon and Restaurant. Little Bear seems to be the place where most of the locals hang out. The town of Evergreen has a huge lake to enjoy as well as some cute shops. So, come on--go explore!

*Originally posted: 9/11/07.
* Updated 7/29/16

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Denver: Historic Walking Tours

(The Daniels and Fisher Tower, built in 1910 and once the tallest building West of the Mississippi. The top floors were recently put up for sale and therefore tours of the upper levels may only last for a limited time).

The city of Denver is currently undergoing a surge in population growth, making way for a new wave of businesses and infrastructure adjustments. As these changes continue, let us not tear down all of the old for the new.

On the contrary, Denver's foundations (like all cities) are layered with pieces of the past.

As you walk along the sidewalks, drive along the streets, or sit among the city are treading where Amerindians, gold seekers, homesteaders, and early entrepreneurs have already walked.

And let's not forget about the architecture.

Many of early Denver's buildings line the streets of downtown, as well as, surrounding neighborhoods. It is apparent the quality of design and thoughtfulness that went into early 20th century construction (especially in contrast to many of the new, fast and cheap designs going up right now).

Denver is the cool place that it is because of the way it has preserved its historic elements. However, whether it be forests or urban jungles, preservation usually takes place because of bold, passionate individuals. (Lower downtown Denver is no exception. See: Dana Crawford).

So, whether you are a Colorado native (and there seem to be fewer and fewer) or perhaps you recently moved here ....and all the rest of us in between....come explore Denver's past.

There are several historic walking tours offered seasonally or year-round.... And at least one that is even dog-friendly! Take a look and then book a tour today!

Historic Walking Tours!
View of the 16th Street Mall and downtown
1)  History Colorado offers historic walking tours. A new and exciting program they are offering is their History Hounds program. Tours consist of dog-friendly historic walking tours of Cheesman Park, City Park, and Mt. Falcon Open Space Park. Join expert guides, Shawn Snow or State Archaeologist Holly Norton for a guided tour! Sign up today!
2) Historic Denver initially began as a way to protect the Molly Brown House. Now, they are guiding the way, helping to preserve Denver's architectural treasures and historic past. They have several historic walking tours.
3)  The Crawford Hotel offers tours of Union Station.
4) Walk and sip, anyone? Check out a Denver microbrew tour.
5) Another option is Historic LoDO Walking Tours.
6) And, of course, there are several house museum tours (I have mentioned most of these before): Denver's oldest house, known as the  4 Mile House, the 17 Mile House, Molly Brown House Museum, and the Byer's-Evans house to name a few (there are many more).
7) Here are some ideas if you would rather make up your own walking tour.

So, put your walking shoes on and get out and explore! 

View from behind the clocktower of the Daniels-Fisher Tower

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

When I first visited Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, I wondered why they called it an arsenal. Come to find out that during World War 2 the arsenal was a chemical weapons manufacturing plant for the United States government. Later, the site was used for agricultural chemical development by Shell Chemical Co. In the 1980's, a cleanup of the area was initiated.

 Now, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and used as a wildlife refuge. The refuge boasts as home to bald eagles (seasonal), burrowing owls (seasonal), bison, coyotes, prairie dogs, and many other species of fauna and flora. There is a lake for catch-and-release fishing (fee required) and several trails for hiking. There is a newly built visitor center with a mini museum of the site's history and wildlife. There are also guided naturalist tours and programs. Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a close, urban escape into nature.

* I recently found out that the best time to see bald eagles at this site is from Dec. to March. Also, the best time to see burrowing owls is from May to August.

**(Updated: 7/20/16.  Original post was 9/13/11) The arsenal recently introduced 32 black footed ferrets into the refuge. In addition, they have a new outdoor exhibit featuring a resident black footed ferret. However, the little guy was hiding underground while I was visiting. Black footed ferrets are a keystone species and have been endangered. Several States are trying to reintroduce the species in hopes of population growth.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

National Parks Are for the People and for the Protection of Our Natural Resources.

As I stopped in to grab a cold beverage while on my way to Rocky Mountain National Park recently, the clerk behind the counter started talking with me about the park.  At one point he stated, "I don't think you should have to pay to see God's creation." He then shared that he has lived his entire life in a town just outside of the park but has never once entered the park.

At the time, I was a bit caught off guard. Wanting to get this guy to visit the park despite his hang-up, I suggested a couple of locations where I knew he could still be technically "in" the park but without having to pay. He seemed pleased with this news and so I headed on my way.

But his statement has rattled around in my brain for several weeks now.

There are so many things I wish I would have shared with him.

For instance, I do not necessarily enjoy having to pay for entrance either. I have a tight monthly budget and it took a big chunk to pay for my annual park pass.
However, what I wish I would have reminded him of is that each time you and I pay to enter our National Parks (and also State Parks) we are paying to keep them OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.
Otherwise, they would go the way of the land....and become guarantee that people like you and I would be able to enjoy the views, the trails, and the wildlife.

Heck, in the 1800s before RMNP or Estes Park existed as such, people were already trying to buy up all of the land and hunt out all of the wildlife. Well, specifically one man....called the Earl of Dunraven. Were it not for Enos Mills, F.O. Stanley, John Muir, and others....I guarantee you that the area now known as Rocky Mountain National Park would have been sold to the highest bidder and  turned into vacation home property for the wealthy.

But now, everyday of the year, people from all walks of life can enjoy the views and the various flora and fauna.

So, while we would probably all wish that such places of beauty and unspoiled resources were always America it just doesn't seem to work that way.
However,  you can have peace of mind that every time you pay to enter one of our incredible National Parks, you are helping to protect our parks for future generations.

And when you hear on the news or see me posting petitions against the privatization of public lands....this is why....public lands such as National and State Parks are for the benefit of the people. Perhaps someone doesn't want to pay $20 bucks for a day pass.....I can understand.....but the amazing thing is.....for $20 bucks ANYONE can have the chance to hike to Emerald Lake, to drive to the Alpine Visitor Center, to sit beneath a lodgepole pine and watch for grazing elk, etc. Were it not for our public lands (and some ARE actually free) these regions might be bought up and sold for private property.

So, yeah, perhaps we shouldn't have to pay to see God's creation....but at least we get to see it, is the point.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Paddle Boarding Around Denver

Still a relatively new outdoor watersport for Colorado is stand-up paddle boarding (also known as SUP). There are numerous places to rent your own board or to take lessons. Some companies even offer SUP Yoga.
You can start out on your knees or on your bum...and then as you feel comfortable can progress to a standing position while paddling.
Like all water sports...have fun and be safe!
Places for Stand Up Paddleboard Rentals:

Colorado SUP Sports partnering with Chatfield State Park.

The Marina at Cherry Creek State Park

The Boat Marina at Aurora Reservoir.

Rocky Mountain Paddleboards at Boulder Reservoir.

Paddle Boarding at Evergreen Lake.

Big Soda Lake at Bear Creek Lake Park

SUP at City Park and Washington Park with Wheel Fun Rentals.
 (although the water is not as clean as the above mentioned locations)

Independent SUP Rentals and Lessons:


Altitude Paddleboards (inflatable rentals)

5280 Paddle Sports

Confluence Kayaks

Other articles/blogs who have posted about where to SUP in Colorado:

Rocky Mountain Health Plans have some great ideas.

Tips from Alex Mauer (pro SUP athlete)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

On Top of the World: Trail Ridge Road

People and cars look as small as ants when on top of the world.

One of the most scenic drives in all of Colorado is definitely Trail Ridge Road, driving between Estes Park and Grand Lake.
I usually find myself singing along to the Dixie Chicks' song 'Top of the World' (toward the end where it starts to build and crescendo...more of an overcast day song) or any of James Taylor's tracks... as I traverse this high mountain road full of beauty and mountain views. Every which way you look as you approach the top, are myriads of mountain peaks, sky, and craggy open space.
This is probably my favorite drive in all of Colorado.

Just the facts, Ma'am:
  • Generally takes about 1.5 to 2 hours (depending on how often you stop for photo-ops) to drive from one end to the other.
  • 11 miles of road are above treeline in the alpine tundra.
  • 200 species of alpine plants. Very fragile ecosystem. Please stay on trails as these plants especially take much longer to grow back if trampled.
  • Trail Ridge Road crosses the Continental Divide at Milner Pass (elevation 10,120 feet).
  • The highest point on the road is 12,183 feet (east of the Alpine Visitor Center).
  • Look for wildlife such as marmots, pika, and ptarmigan who live in the arid, wintry alpine tundra environment.
  • You can often see other wildlife such as deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and moose along the way.
  • It is only open all the way through from late Spring to early Fall.
  • To check road status call: 970-586-1222.

Other Highlights Along the Way:
  • The Alpine Visitor Center is a nice destination once you get to the top. There is a café and snack counter if you want some refreshments, as well as, the main gift shop/souvenir center inside the park. There is a short trail just beside the parking lot if you want to stretch your legs. However, due to the altitude and wind you may prefer to chill and sip hot cocoa inside.
  • Old Fall River Road is a one-way (up only) road on the east side that will take you to the Alpine Visitor Center. It generally opens around July 4th. It is a narrow, gravel road with a 15 mph speed limit. Be advised. Check road conditions to be sure road is open.
  • Take a tour of Holzwarth Historic Site, near Grand Lake. Hike about half a mile to the old cabin.
  • On the east side, just after the treeline stops, walk in the footsteps of the Ute Amerindians along the Ute Trail.
  • The Bear Lake Road trailheads can fill up fast in the summertime. If you don't want the hassle of trying to find a parking spot there are free park shuttle buses. Highly recommended.

Be Aware:
Due to the high elevation be sure to stay hydrated and be aware of altitude sickness symptoms.
Even if the temperature is 80 degrees in Grand Lake or Estes it is always cool (if not cold) and generally windy up above treeline.
Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road are narrow, high mountain roads. Use Caution.
Be prepared for the possibility of fast moving weather systems.
Enjoy the views.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pagosa Springs: Hot Springs

Looking across the San Juan toward The Springs Resort and Hot Springs

Located along the San Juan river, in the center of Pagosa Springs, Colorado is The Springs Resort (and hot springs).

Home to the Guiness Book of records for the deepest geothermal spring, this commercial hot spring is the central attraction in this beautiful mountain town. I have driven through this town on several occasions on the way to other destinations, never stopping to enjoy the hot, mineral rich pools until recently.

I would place The Springs Resort in my top five Colorado hot springs resorts. I will have to update my previous list soon.


I loved relaxing in the various pools and listening to the rushing river directly adjacent to the resort. I also liked that there were a variety of pools to enjoy. During my recent visit I had several conversations with others who were also soaking up the springs. Everyone was friendly and laid back on this trip. Later, I was able to find a small pool and relished some moments of peaceful solitude beneath a shimmering moon.

Pros: Located in a charming mountain town, local vibe, variety of temperatures and pools, resort feel.

Con: No discount if you arrive in the latter part of the day. Price is fairly steep, doesn't include cost of locker.

Although the immediate area around the Resort offered several places to eat, I found a cute coffee shop on the other side of town called Boulder Coffee Café. The café was rustically charming, and like most of Pagosa Springs was an independent shop.

Driving along the scenic Wolf Creek Pass
There are other attractions on the way from Denver, such as, the opportunity to drive over Wolf Creek Pass. This mountain pass is one of the more lush and scenic passes. Treasure Falls is a nice brief stop-off, with several scenic look-out points along the pass.

Pagosa Springs is a convenient stop if you are returning from New Mexico or if you are headed to Durango, CO.

Also nearby is Chimney Rock National Monument. Another ancestral Puebloan site where you can tour ruins and learn about the prehistory of the region. Check their website for tour times as I recently learned they close earlier than I expected. The drive and area was scenic, mountainous, and wondrously secluded.

Looking up at Chimney Rock and adjacent formation.

So, whether  Pagosa Springs is your main destination or if you are just passing through....there is plenty to see and do. But especially make a point to check out The Springs Resort and soak in the refreshing hot springs.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

New Mexico: Indeed the Land of Enchantment

On the road to Santa Fe.
All photos property of J. Foster

Lately, I have been exploring places outside of Colorado but relatively close to Denver. Last year I gallivanted around the Four Corners area and also Santa Fe, NM. I fell in love with the dusty, artsy, wide-open feel of the southwest.

Just recently I went back to New Mexico to explore some more places on my list. The recent swelling of  Colorado traffic made me appreciate the empty back roads meandering near the Rio Grande. Nothing but land and sky for as far as the eyes could see. I think I understand more of the allure that artists such as Georgia O'keefe enjoyed about the high desert mesas and tumbleweed landscapes. New Mexico is a place full of history, art, and a sense of mystical intrigue. It is a place for romance, adventure, and reflection.

Below are some places I have enjoyed visiting over the past year. Perhaps you will enjoy them as well.

Fort Union
Old Spanish Trail

Ft. Union operated as a military outpost from 1851-1891 for those traveling along the Santa Fe Trail.
Still visible today are several deep and wide wagon ruts (pictured below) along former frontier trails. Remnants of the second of three forts are what visitors can see and explore. While onsite you can vaguely see where the original fort was situated closer to the mountains. This was a fun, off the beaten path excursion that allows you to feel, if only slightly, what it was like to live out west in the mid-1800s. Personally, I loved seeing the old wagon ruts.

Santa Fe, NM

I got a good deal on a hotel room near the downtown plaza. It was perfect being able to walk to the galleries, restaurants, and historic sites nearby. Plenty of art and history at my hotel doorstep.
I enjoyed visiting what many call the oldest house in the United States (Barrio de Analco), as well as, oldest church (San Miguel Chapel).

Just a few blocks from these sites is the Loretto Chapel, home of the beautiful yet mysterious staircase (pictured below).

Also located off the main plaza is the Georgia O'keefe Museum. I watched a video about her life and viewed several of her original works. While she seems to be mostly known for her flower paintings, I have always been fond of her landscapes. On my recent trip I stopped in Abiquiu, NM where Ghost Ranch is located (Okeefe's former residence). I was excited to view the pedernal that is pictured in several of her famous paintings. If you stop by the Abiquiu Inn you can get a tour of one of her residences and office. Tickets can also be purchased in Santa Fe at the museum.

Cerro Pedernal as viewed from Abiquiu Lake. One of Georgia O'keefe's favorite subjects.

Bandelier National Monument

The second ladder leading to the Alcove House at Bandelier
Bandelier National Monument is about an hour south of Santa Fe.
An incredible historic site showcasing various cliff dwellings that were once inhabited by ancestral Puebloans. Several ladders let you see or climb inside various rooms or shelters. The farthest site on the trail leads to the Alcove House which consists of two high ladders. This particular site is not for the faint of heart.

Many petroglyphs decorate the canyon walls if you pay attention closely. This was a really cool park to explore. The trail meandered along the rock wall and through open space. A lot of accessibility to the sites.

Taos, NM

I did not spend much time in Taos but I made it to my destination: Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the oldest, continuously inhabited pueblos in America. For $16 you can walk through the area. Guided tours are also available. There are specific rules for photography to be aware of while visiting since you are essentially touring people's residence.

A small section of Taos Pueblo

Ojo Caliente, NM

One of the best hot springs I have ever visited is the Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort and Spa. Practically in the middle of nowhere, this place was so relaxing and nice. The pools were organized by mineral and temperature. For instance, there was an arsenic pool (good for skin conditions and arthritis), iron pool, mud pool, etc. Definitely one of the more relaxing and health-focused commercial springs I've seen. Will definitely go back one day!

Aztec Ruins National Monument

Located in Aztec, NM near the Colorado/NM border is Aztec Ruins National Monument.

This place allows for easy access inside the  world of the ancestral Puebloans. On a much smaller scale than Chaco and in a residential neighborhood this park was quite different than other National Monuments/Parks that I have visited. This place seems like a good place for field trips since it provides such easy access to the ruins.

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

The main attraction for me on the most recent NM trip was to see Pueblo Bonito located at Chaco Culture National Historic Park. On the NPS website they refer to Chaco as the "center of an ancient world." That statement is bountifully accurate. Located in one of the most isolated sections of New Mexico, away from modern conveniences except for a tiny gas station about 30 minutes away in the town of Nageezi...

After you drive for about 20 miles on a rugged, dirt road you come upon the Gallo Campground and then the Visitor Center. Once you pass the Visitor Center you will see many remnants of a civilization that lived in this canyon over 1,000 years ago. The people who once lived in Chaco canyon are the same people who also built Mesa Verde. But Chaco, according to recent scholars, was built earlier than Mesa Verde. Pueblo Bonito (photo glimpse below) was the main hub for community life, ceremonies, and trade. Several other sites consisting of many ruins, petroglyphs, and high mesa stairways exist in this vast historical graveyard of sorts.

And the night sky.......the only other time I have witnessed such an intense, vastly populated blanket of stars was the summer I camped on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona (circa 1996). The sky at Chaco was incredible. In fact, I didn't even have a campfire the first night because I just wanted to see the stars in all of their glory. Chaco is in the top 12 worldwide night sky programs of the NPS.

There is so much more to see in the lovely State of New Mexico.
I still would like to explore Carlsbad Caverns, Gila National Forest, Las Cruces, Truth or Consequences, Acoma Pueblo, and Bisti Badlands to name a few.

Just a half-day drive from Denver; come visit the Land of Enchantment.