Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Colorado: June 17-24, 2009. Pike NF, & Royal Gorge area.

We had a nice 200 mile drive from Capulin Volcano, NM to Springdale campground (CG) in Pike National Forest, about 20 miles from Colorado Springs, Co. Since we have not visited this area before, we parked the Bug in Wal*mart’s parking lot, unhooked the Blazer and drove it up the National Forest Road to the CG. We needed to be sure we could maneuver the Bug through the trees in the CG and that the camping space was large enough for our 40’ length and still leave room to park the Blazer. It was going to be very tight maneuvering the Bug through the trees, but Al thought he could do it without scraping the pine trees. We went back and got the Bug and made it up to the CG and got parked without too much trouble. It was a little tight getting backed into the campsite (CS) we selected.

Picture of our CS

Early morning view out our front window. The tent is in the CS next to us

It is nice and cool here in the mountains at 9100’ elevation. Mornings are in the mid to low 40’s and afternoons are in the 70’s. Most afternoons between 2 & 4pm the thunder showers or clouds build up and keep the temperatures from getting very high. About 6pm the clouds pretty much go away and it starts cooling down into the 50’s & 60’s by 8pm.

Over the next two days we realized Sharon was coming down with a case of altitude sickness. Nausea, headache, and generally not feeling well. We moved from San Antonio at 700’ to Springdale CG at 9100’ too quickly. Even though we spent two days in Capulin New Mexico at 6900’ we should have spent another couple of days at the 6000-7000’ elevation before moving this high.

Some years ago in Utah we had problems with altitude sickness. A pharmacist told us to buy some Coke Cola syrup and take a couple of tablespoons to help with the nausea and to move to lower altitude. Walgreens didn’t have Coke Cola Syrup, but they did have a house brand of nausea medication with the same ingredients. This did help but we still needed to move to a lower altitude.

Saturday we left the high country and moved down to near Royal Gorge at an elevation of 6300’. Sharon is starting to feel a little better. We are now in an RV Park. While it is nice having full hookups (electric, water and sewer connections), we now have RV’s on both sides of us and little or no view of the country side.

Now that we are at a lower elevation the temperatures are warmer, mid to upper 80’s in the afternoon. The mornings are nice in the mid 40’s to low 50’s. We are in desert country. Nothing like the heat back in the San Antonio area, where it has been over a 100* for a number of days in June.

You may have heard of Royal Gorge, near Canon City, Co. About 1929 a suspension bridge was build across a deep canyon on the Arkansas River for automobile access to both sides of the river. It is or was one of the highest suspension bridges built. Today the main highway takes a different route and the suspension bridge has become a tourist attraction. For $24 a person you can walk, or ride a van across the bridge; ride a gondola across the canyon; and take a tram down to the bottom of the canyon. Oh yes! You can also visit the gift shop and buy all sorts of trinkets!

We didn’t go to the tourist attraction, but Al did find an overlook were you can see the bridge and canyon. Unfortunately to get to the over look you had to walk down a rough little trail. The trail was too rough for Sharon to drive her scooter on.

Some views of the bridge and canyon from the overlook:

Suspension Bridge. The red thing below the left hand side of the bridge is the gondola.

Another view of the bridge with the river below

A view of the river in the bottom of the canyon with a rafting party on the water.

If you look closely you will see the railroad track in the bottom of the canyon. There are sightseeing train rides through the canyon several times a day in the summer.

Some pictures taken from drives near Royal Gorge.

Mountain range with snow

Indian Paintbrush wildflower with mountain range in background

Cactus blossom

Bald Eagle in tree

We have always enjoyed driving some of the back country roads when we visit an area. Two roads, Shelf Road and Phantom Canyon, make a loop from Canon City, to Cripple Creek and back to Canyon City. It is about 20 miles in each direction with an elevation change of about 4500’ each way.

Shelf Road:

They named it Shelf Road because they cut a shelf along the side of the canyon wall for the road bed.

A natural arch along the road.

Phantom Canyon road:

Phantom Canyon road follows the railroad bed of the first railroad from Canon City to Cripple Creek. The railroad bed is the steepest I have ever seen for a railroad. Much of the roadbed seemed to be as steep as 3-4 degrees. It was a narrow gauge railroad, so the loads carried were lighter than standard. That may account for the ability to pull loads up the steep incline. Another thought is the heavy loads were the gold ore being carried down the mountain and lighter loads of supplies carried up.

Road in the distance


It must have been some train ride back in the late 1800’s

Flowers along the road

Wild Roses

Cholla Cactus

Sharon is feeling somewhat better, but not 100%. We are going to move to a little higher area, about 8300’ next.

Until later,

Al & Sharon

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