Sunday, December 14, 2014

Denver; The Mile High City (and a funny story of inaccurate surveying)

Downtown Denver is a popular place for locals as it seems there is always a festival, concert, new restaurant or cultural event going on. Not to mention the art museum, history museum and central library are all located nearby as well.

Recently, as I was working on a history project, I needed to locate a specific monument designating the end of one of the old pioneer trails (the Smoky Hill trail marker at Colfax and Broadway), I remembered that on the steps of the Capitol building is the survey marker designating that you are standing officially one mile above sea level. So, I headed up to get some pics. The original engraving that says "one mile above sea level" was etched in 1947  on the 15th step of the Capitol (etched  because people kept taking the sign). However, in 1969 people determined that the 18th step was in deed the accurate elevation....Well....guess 2003 the marker was moved again to the 13th step. (Apparently, land surveying is not always easy to decipher). At any rate if you stand at or near one of these markers you are standing pretty much officially at one mile above sea level.

As you stand on the steps and face west, you can see Denver's courthouse across the lawn, and beyond that the mountains or front range as we say here in Denver.

So, if you are downtown and want a quick, fun photo op--walk up the west side of the Capitol steps and pick a survey marker.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's That Time Again; Aspen Leaf Viewing!

Upon moving to Colorado I began to experience life amidst four seasons (although I will admit the Fall season is seemingly quite short here compared to the other three). There is something about the changing of the seasons that speaks to the soul. Obviously change is a natural part of life. But the way we are able to enter into each season.... and then to see it fade away....and the process in between...there is something about those transition points where you start to notice, for instance, the nights becoming cooler....or the sun going down earlier....the wildlife changing their routines...or the leaves changing their colors....perhaps it makes me feel a part of something greater than myself...and encourages me to be conscious of the world around any case, I have come to love the four seasons (though I still am making peace with winter driving).

 My favorite season, that of fall, encourages me to look for the glorious beauty all enjoy the moment for soon it will the golden, quaking aspen trees do their annual this often times dry, arid climate the splash of yellow, orange and lime are not unlike masterpieces to behold. Soon winter will be here...and the colors more monotonous...but for about 5 weeks in September/October we have the chance to witness nature at its peak color spectrum.

So, get out and let nature brighten up your soul!

I have posted before on popular places and sites: here and here.

And I will also list more of the same below:

(in no particular order...most of the locals know of these.....and basically if you notice that most of them are pass roads...therefore, if you basically just drive in the freakin' mountains right now you're going to see some awesome colors....)

1) Guanella Pass
2)Kenosha Pass
3) Kebler Pass
4) Boreas Pass
5) Peak to Peak Highway
6) Maroon Bells
7) Rocky Mountain National Park
8) Independence Pass
and many others....these are just my favorites but also popular one's

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Denver Biscuit Company; So Good You'll Think They Stole Your Granny's Recipe!


The Denver Biscuit Company takes the Southern, backwoods breakfast biscuit and introduces it to the neon lights of the urban city! wont believe you're not in the south as the fresh, hearty biscuit flakes off into your mouth...only to make way for the juicy goodness that is to come; whether it be sausage, fried chicken or catfish!

I sampled the Dahlia; according to their menu it consists of: housemade sausage patty, apple butter, fried egg, and maple syrup (the only thing I would have added was a slice of cheddar cheese). It was almost as if I was sitting in my Granny's kitchen. It doesn't get any better than that folks.



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Walking in the Footsteps of the Ute at 11,000 feet

I have long been fascinated with the various Native American tribes that first inhabited the Colorado territory. Upon learning that the Ute tribe frequented the area now known as Rocky Mountain National Park, I have been fascinated to retrace their steps and to try to see through their eyes. Just this week I finally got the chance to walk along the Ute Trail, which traverses heights of  over 11,000 feet. I pondered the view as if I lived in the 1800's (or beyond) and marveled that I was seeing the very same view that the Ute's saw as they hunted in this area during summer time. The hike was more of a stroll and at times I was actually being pushed along by the forceful winds that frequently blow through the high elevations. Situated off of Trail Ridge Road, the views are astounding! I will always remember this hike as I felt connected to nature and to history.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gunnison KOA

Are you looking for a family-friendly place to camp or lodge while in the Gunnison area? Then look no further than KOA Gunnison.
With clean restrooms, hot showers, pool tables, shuffleboard and paddle boats this place makes for a great family getaway.

I will say that it did look crowded in the RV area and several of the deluxe cabins face the RV I would definitely recommend the A-frame cabins as they are on the other side of the lake and all to themselves. They are small; comfortable enough for two and very basic. I found it very peaceful and cozy.

**Do bring bug spray as the mosquitoes have been active

(The A-frame cabins)

The atmosphere was one of a satisfying summer folks grilled out, children rode their bikes, others lounged in their camp chairs, and I stared at the reflection of the sky splashed across the pond....

I would definitely recommend this place for families, couples or individuals who want a few amenities while enjoying an outdoorsy getaway.

**There is also a fenced dog-off-leash area where you can play fetch with your canine family member. Also, the staff were very friendly and the property was clean and well-maintained.

(View from inside A-frame cabin looking across the pond)

There are several places to visit nearby (of which I have written about previously). Click on the links for more information.

KOA Gunnison information:
click here for their website

105 County Road 50
Gunnison, CO 81230
Reserve: 800-562-1248
Info: 970-641-1358

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Curecanti National Recreation Area

In the heart of Colorado, along the edges of ruggedly beautiful mesas and where the Gunnison River once flowed freely, sits the Curecanti National Recreation Area.  Now three dams (Blue Mesa, Morrow Point and Crystal) form a more tame waterway and beckon outdoorsy folk to come and play. This area is perfect for all kinds of water sports (motorboats, kayaks, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing,etc.), fishing, hiking, camping, picnicking and best of all--nurturing your wild spirit. 

Managed by the National Park Service, there are a couple of NPS staffed visitor centers where you can learn more about the landscape and context of the region....or where you can simply stop for refreshments or to check your map. The Elk Creek Visitor Center is along Hwy 50, about 16 miles outside of Gunnison. The Cimarron Visitor Center is along Hwy 50 near the town of Cimarron. Stop in for more information. You can also sign up for a National Park Service guided pontoon boat tour!


Recreational Activities Abound!

There are several marinas in the area where you can rent pontoon boats, kayaks and fishing gear. I stopped at the Elk Creek Marina (pictured below) and rented a kayak for a half day. They also have paddleboards available for rent.

There are ten official campgrounds in the Curecanti Recreation Area. Several of them are available by reservation while others are not. Also, due to the arid climate many of the campsites do not provide shade. However, the Dry Gulch Campground (9 sites), Red Creek Campground (group site), East Elk Creek Campground (group site) do have some shade available. For sites that take reservations, you may book online here.

The view as you drive along hwy 50 is refreshing; nothing but mesas, vistas and buttes almost as far as you can see.

Should you decide to get out of your car and hike or picnic, there are many trails and resting points nearby. 

For a list of hiking trails click here.

Also, if you have time remaining, be sure to check out the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park just a few miles to the west.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your friends and go for a float, a swim, a boat ride, a hike, a picnic....or just a good ol' fashioned drive! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Thrill of the Chase; The Forrest Fenn Treasure

Whether in romance or treasure hunting there is definitely something found in the thrill of the chase.          

Forrest Fenn, a retired Airforce pilot turned art and relic collector, surely thinks so. Likened to a modern day Indiana Jones, Mr. Fenn, developed a strategy to be able to leave a part of himself tied to this earth perhaps forever--or at least until some brave, lucky human finds his treasure. Yes, there is literally a treasure chest (an ancient bronzed 10x5 box) buried somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. The chest contains gold nuggets, double eagle coins, ancient relics, Forrest's autobiography, and even reportedly a piece or two of his own hair...among other items.

          Forrest wrote a book titled, The Thrill of the Chase, wherein he shares a poem he wrote that includes nine clues that if followed "precisely" can lead anyone to the treasure. He also states in his book that when he buried it (don't get hung up on the word buried, for apparently the box may be "exposed to the elements") he intended the search to be "difficult though not impossible." Forrest has shared in television interviews, as well as, in his book that he wants to encourage people to get outside and to explore in nature. Forrest has seen his share of adventures; having spent his early years visiting Yellowstone National Park, fighting in combat zones, exploring Native American sites (he actually owns his own archaeological site, even though some might say is controversial) and has battled with and beaten cancer. Oh, and without even a college degree was able to start from scratch his own art gallery in the heart of Sante Fe....and became virtually a self-made millionaire. Yep, indeed, quite a life he is leading!


Now, at 84, I wonder if he really wants his treasure to be found in his lifetime....or if he would rather the satisfaction of it being discovered centuries from now.....

In any case, the treasure is out there.
And many have been searching since 2010 to find it.

The internet is full of blogs and stories of people getting out into the streams, mountains, valleys and highways. Exploring. Searching. Enjoying the thrill of the chase.

Could the treasure be in Colorado? Let's go find out!

Here is the poem containing the 9 clues (taken from The Thrill of the Chase by Forrest Fenn):

As I have gone alone in there

And with my treasures bold,

I can keep my secret where,

And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt

And take it in the canyon down,

Not far, but too far to walk.

Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it's no place for the meek,

The end is ever drawing nigh;

There'll be no paddle of your creek,

Just heavy loads and water high.

If you've been wise and found the blaze,

Look quickly down, your quest to cease,

But tarry scant with marvel gaze,

Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go

and leave my trove for all to seek?

The answers, I already know,

I've done it tired, and now I'm weak.

So hear me all and listen good,

Your effort will be worth the cold.

If you are brave and in the wood

I give you title to the gold.

One of the various TV interviews with Forrest 
Other blogs involved in the chase:

A Gypsy's Kiss
Chase Chat
Mysterious Writings
Mountain Walk
Up A Cold Creek With No Paddle

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Denver Places to Swim and Cool Off

With the steady sizzling heat here in Denver, I thought a list of swimming holes might be appropriate...most of these places require a fee but to beat the heat...why not? Also, you can check out Denver Parks and Recreation for a list of local rec center pools.

(Disclaimer: Please always use caution and awareness when swimming in rivers/creeks; check that it is safe)

Apex Park and Recreation Facilities

Aurora Reservoir

Bear Creek Lake Park

Boulder Reservoir

Boulder Creek(you can tube down this section also...but beware of unpleasant butt bruises! A lot of rocks. :)

Cherry Creek State Park

Chatfield State Park

Confluence Park
(this seems to be more of an unofficial swimming hole but there are usually people kayaking and playing in the water here, behind REI. However, I don't know how clean the water is here....)

Elitch Gardens

Pirates Cove

Water World

Your local Recreation Center!

(original post: 8/1/08; updated on 7/5/14)

Banjo Billy's Bus Tours

For my 34th birthday I went on a fun, historical tour of Denver. It was a lot of fun learning about the history surrounding me! And Banjo Billy's Bus Tour was not disappointing! The tour guy was very knowledgeable and witty. The bus was decked out like a gypsy's home on wheels as we traveled back in time to the 1800's and the founding of Denver. We learned of gold prospectors, Molly Brown's home (whom apparently would not be too thrilled that everyone these days calls her Molly), brothels across from the Brown Palace, sacred Native American burial sites, and various other tidbits. It was a very interesting and fun time! Also, I highly recommend reservations if you are going in the summer.

For more information:

Banjo Billy Bus Tour

They also do tours in Boulder, as well as, Brewery and private tours.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Best of Denver 2014

 best veggie burger sliders: Jonesy's (during happy hour only) (update: Jonesy's is now closed. Total bummer!)

best burger: Park Burger

best brunch: Sassafrass; An American Eatery

best cake shop: Cake Crumbs

best Mexican restaurant: Benny's Restaurant and Tequila Bar

best Mexican burrito:  Benny's or Hacienda Colorado 

best pad thai: Tommy's Thai

best southern BBQ: Moe's Original BBQ

best locals favorite restaurant: Racine's

best doughnut shop: Voodoo Doughnuts

best happy hour: Euclid Hall

best cocktail: Steuben's

best specialty happy hour: Park Tavern-- $2 You Call It Tuesdays

best local brew and food: Oskar Blues (Lyons and Longmont)

best rooftop bar: Linger

best place to hike nearby: Roxborough State Park

best place to swim: Bear Creek Lake Park

best little known town: Crested Butte

best dogpark: Chatfield State Park off-leash dog park

best place to see wildlife: Mt Evans or Rocky Mountain National Park

best place for a date night: Sante Fe Art District on First Friday
or the new RiNo Art District on First Friday

best coffee shop ambiance: Tattered Cover (downtown location)

best museum experience: History Colorado Center

best antique store: Rockin' Horse Antiques (Golden,CO)

best place to play games: Punch Bowl Social Club or 1UP

best movie theatre overall: Landmark Greenwood Village

best movie and dinner theatre: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

best place to chill with your dog and drink on the town: Bark Bar or the Watering Bowl

best make-out spot: along Lookout Mountain

best festivals: Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Planet Bluegrass Folk Festival

Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Favorite Colorado Hot Springs

Colorado is fortunate to have at least about a dozen popular hot well as some that are off the beaten path. I thought I would list my favorites for you and also a few that I am hoping to check out in the near future.

Favorite Colorado Hot Springs:
(Click on the underlined title's for links to the websites)

1. Strawberry Hot Springs
(Located in Steamboat Springs)
This place is awesome! I love the way they have kept the natural look and feel. They also have several small but cozy and rustic camping concoctions. Also, be advised that after dark is "clothing optional" soaking.

2. Mt. Princeton Hot Springs
(Located in Nathrop...between Salida and Buena Vista)
I enjoy these springs because they are in one of my favorite areas in Colorado. After a fun day of camping, hiking, rafting, or four-wheeling this is a relaxing way to spend an afternoon or evening. Also, they have a couple of big pools but the coolest part is being able to find a few of the completely natural hot spots on the bank of the river (when the water is not too high0--right next to the commercialized pools.As of 2013, Mt. Princeton Hot Springs is now more of a resort-with an additional lodging facility and private pool for those staying in the lodge.

3. Hot Sulphur Springs
(Located near Granby)
What I like about this place is that there are around a dozen individual pools...some smaller and bigger than others. This can make for a cozy atmosphere if there aren't that many other guests. However, if the place is packed...then it could feel like alot of sardines in a can....but usually you can find a nice little pool for yourself and friends.

4. Indian Hot Springs
(Located in Idaho Springs)
This is probably the closest hot springs from Denver. It is a quick relaxing getaway located in the old mining town of Idaho Springs. One of the cool features of this resort is their Geothermal Caves. Guests can sit in an actual pool inside of a cave. However, one thing to know is that the caves are divided among and wives would not be able to go into the caves together...and note that bathing suits are optional (it used to be mandatory NO bathing suits; glad that has changed).. There are private pools and there is also a main pool.

5. Glenwood Springs Hot Springs
(Located in Glenwood Springs)
This resort is one of the main attractions to the town of Glenwood Springs. It lies right in the heart of town and can often be seen full of happy guests and swimmers. This is one HUGE hot spring pool! This offers more of a communal and open space for children and swimmers.There are actually two large pools that from a distance look like one large pool; one averages around 90 degrees (more of the swimming/active pool) and the other is around 102 degrees. Also, nearby is the Yampah Vapor Caves where you can also spend a day relaxing and steaming.

6. Cottonwood Hot Springs
This is a small but cute commercial hot spring with a handful of pools. A nice quaint oasis near Buena Vista and Cottonwood Pass. As of 2014, they have added some additional lodging facilities.

A few that I want to eventually check out:

7. Pagosa Hot Springs
(Pagosa Springs)

8. Orvis Hot Springs

9. Conundrum Natural Hot Spring
(off the beaten path hike near Aspen)

For some other hot springs that I have not mentioned, check out the Colorado Hot Springs Enthusiast Blog here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Palisade; Colorado's Wine Country

When you think of Colorado you probably don't immediately envision images of grapes on the vine or peach orchards. But in Palisade, Colorado that is exactly what you can find. Although there are small vineyards sprinkled throughout Colorado, the major concentration are in the sun-kissed valley of Palisade. Surrounded by mesas, in what is known as Grand Valley, Palisade is a quaint and savory experience.

Whether you are a wine connoisseur or simply want something to do this weekend, there is pleasure for all in this valley of produce. Palisade, is home to many annual festivals: music festivals, bike tours, and of course their famous peach festival.

A sample of  Palisade wineries:

Maison La Belle Vie

Garfield Estates Vineyards

Canyon Wind Cellars

Meadery of the Rockies

Palisade Brewery Company

Grand River Vineyards

Colorado Cellars Vineyards

DeBeque Canyon

There are a few places to lodge in the area but even more lodging options about ten minutes away in Grand Junction. For nearby lodging:

Wine Country Inn

A Divine Thyme Bed and Breakfast

Vistas and Vineyards Bed and Breakfast

I loved the Vin De Peche sampling at this lovely French winery. It was like drinking a refreshing taste of summer.

Palisade; a beautiful outdoor experience.

Enjoyed the V2 sampling at Garfield Estates.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

How to dispose of your camping propane bottles; recycle!

With as much camping as Coloradoans enjoy, I could probably start my own propane bottle recycle program. But I'd rather spend my time outdoors! So, if you are like me and have a multitude of empty camping propane bottles lying around, here are some ideas as to where to properly dispose of them:

**Many places will gladly recycle them for you but for a small fee (like $5/bottle).

1) AAA Propane
Last year, after camping season, I found this place and have been forever grateful! It is a small, no frills, propane company located in Lakewood and Wheatridge. The manager at the Lakewood facility was super friendly and very glad to see people recycling. He told me that there is NO CHARGE to drop off my tanks whenever I want. Needless to say, I'll be seeing him again at the end of this camping season.
***Updated 7/19/17--just found out the location at 2651 W. Hampden has closed. I will call the one in Wheat Ridge and see if they are as friendly and helpful.

2) Your local waste disposal service--Check and see if your city/county has a hazardous waste disposal service. For Lakewood (Jefferson County) they prefer you take your propane bottles to Rooney Road Recycle Center (there is a small fee).

3) **Updated on 6/24/16: I just read that if you camp at Moraine Campground in Rocky Mountain National Park that they have a small propane tank recycle bin near the entrance.

Before finding AAA Propane, I called several other propane rental companies and like I said earlier, they would gladly take my camping bottles off my hands but for a small fee.

People used to tell me that I could drop my propane tanks off at the local fire department but this really isn't true.

So, if you have a collection of small camper propane bottles around--take them to AAA Propane!

Enjoy camping season!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Colorado Historical Sites

Denver was founded amidst the backdrop of the Old West. If you are fascinated with Native American culture, pioneer and mountainman stories, 1800's architecture, gold mining folklore or many other facets of what we have come to call the American West then gallop on over to many of the Denver/front range historical sites and museums. Here is only a sample:

 Historic Houses or Lodges:

  The Four Mile House or The Seventeen Mile House
Discover a couple of special "mile" houses that dotted the dusty trails like that of the Cherokee Trail or Smoky Hill Trail in what is now Denver and Aurora. I have written previously about Denver's oldest house; the Four Mile House. But Seventeen Mile is also now open to the public. Each of these houses served as pit stops for those traveling west toward Denver City in the mid 1800's.

Astor House Museum
The Astor House, built in 1867, was used as a boarding house for miner's and later legislators.

Molly Brown House
 Visit the home of the "unsinkable" Margaret "Molly" Brown

Byer's-Evans House Museum
 Built in 1883, housed prominent Denver family.

Healy House Museum and Dexter Cabin
 A Victorian home and cabin in the historic mining town of Leadville, CO.

 The Stanley Hotel
Built in 1909, Freelan Stanley was one of the main financial contributors to the development of Estes Park. His hotel is now famous for ghost activity and a couple of movie productions.

Hiwan Homestead Museum
 A beautiful log lodge built in 1893.

Trujillo Homestead
One of the first permanent Latino settlements in Colorado, built in the mid 1800's.

Historic Forts:

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
Bent's fort was at the epicenter of trade along the Sante Fe Trail. Charles Bent acted as a middleman between many Native American tribes and mountainmen/trappers during the early to mid 1800's. Many councils took place at Bent's fort.

Fort Vasquez Museum
A former fur trading post north of Denver.

Ft. Garland Museum and Pike's Stockade
An 1858 fort supervised by Kit Carson.

Regional/Local History Museums:

History Colorado Center

Denver Art Museum
(They have an amazing section on early Native American life, as well as, an intriguing  American West art exhibit).
Lakewood Heritage Center

Littleton History Museum

El Pueblo History Museum

Ute Indian Museum

 Historic Sites:

Sand Creek Massacre Site
A horrific site where hundreds of Native Americans were caught off guard and slaughtered. (No other way to say it). 
Amache Internment Camp
During WW2, many Japanese-Americans were relocated to internment camps to be sure they would not retaliate against the American government during the war. 

 Historic Mining Sites:

 Mollie Kathleen Mine
Argo Mine
Country Boy Mine

 National Parks
 (Remnants of early Native American and/or Ancestral Puebloan life can be seen at many of Colorado's National are my favorite in the history category)

Mesa Verde National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park
Dinosaur National Monument

Historic Towns:
(Most of Colorado's towns are themselves historic sites  but here are some examples)
Black Hawk and Central City
Glenwood Springs
Manitou Springs
Idaho Springs
Cripple Creek
South Park

There are many other historic sites, museums and stories to find! Get out and explore! :)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

My Favorite Colorado Hiking Spots

The summer season is almost upon us which means it is time to dust off the old hiking boots! Here are some personal faves:

1) Rocky Mountain National Park

Is there a National Park that isn't beautiful year round? Well, summertime highlights Rocky's abundance of hiking trails and iconic views! Pick any trail in this park and I doubt you'll be disappointed. One of the most hiked areas is Bear Lake. There are multiple pristine lakes in this area to hike near, as well as, ascending mountain views. On the way up to Bear Lake is another favorite area with several waterfalls; called Glacier Gorge. For a less populated experience head over to the west side area of the park (either driving the picturesque Trail Ridge Road or entering through Grand Lake). Another beautiful but less traveled area is the Wild Basin area--check it out! One note of caution: check the website for weather or road conditions due to past flooding and weather updates.

2) Hanging Lake

Definitely one of the most famous and dreamy mountain lakes in Colorado. I've posted on this hike before but it is worth mentioning again. Imagine a clear, emerald blue-green tiny lake with a few fallen trees....fashioned like an Ansel Adams photograph....and that is what Hanging Lake means to me. Also, it is a very popular hike in the summer so go early to beat the crowds! Tip: it is indeed a hike, bring water.

3) The Colorado Trail

The Colorado Trail is a 500 mile stretch encompassing the essence of Colorado's Rocky Mountains! It is divided into 28 segments and varies in elevation and level of difficulty. Some folks take 4 to 6 weeks to hike all the way through while some do a little bit at a time over their lifespan. You can catch part of the trail (segments 5/6) at Kenosha Pass (about 40 min outside Denver...and this section is highly popular in the fall as there are several aspen groves in this section). Also, another segment that is pretty cool is segment 13 (North Cottonwood Creek Road to Chalk Creek Trailhead). Nearby are two popular hot springs to soak in. Also, leashed dogs ARE allowed on the trail except for segment 1 (Waterton Canyon) so as to protect the bighorn sheep habitat in that region.

4) Great Sand Dunes National Park

Amazing hikes, views, and photo opportunities abound at this park! Hike in the dunes, on the dunes, around the dunes....just seriously go see the tallest dunes in North America--in Colorado! However, in the summer the sand is very hot so definitely forget your flip flops and grab your boots instead! Seriously, they are like no sand dunes I have ever seen! Nestled beside the Sangre de Cristo mountains many trails abound! And many views to explore! For more trip planning ideas see my blog posted here.

5) Collegiate Peaks Region

This area was mentioned in number 3 as part of segment 13 of the Colorado Trail....and this region is actually my favorite area in the summer. Have you always wished to have Ivy League blood in you? Well, now you can! Mt. Princeton, Mt. Harvard, or Mt. Yale; take your pick! Hot springs, rivers, recreational fun galore in this part of Colorado! Also, gem mining is popular in the region as agates and rubies have been found here.

Honorable mentions closer to Denver:

Staunton State Park--Say hello to Colorado's newest addition to the State Park system! About 45 minutes west of Denver, near Conifer, is a tree hugger's paradise! Hike in solitude beneath conifer trees and mountain blue birds.

Pike National Forest--Hike and camp surrounded by rock outcrops and mountain pine trees in this calming nature escape.

Mt. Falcon Open Space--Scenic views, historic sites, and open space characterize this park. Just 35 minutes west of Denver.