First time visitors, mistakenly thinking we are more like a suburb of Denver (the "big" city on the Colorado map) are often surprised by the distance and differences when they make the trip from there to here. First of all, the map is flat; the real route isn't. It covers a lot of high mountain passes, and places that snow, even in July.
But, oh! the wildflowers and waterfalls along the way. And the glorious fall color, more intense than anywhere else. Or the deep snow blanketing magestic mountains, many topping 14,000 feet. The diversity between Denver and the western slope — that'd be where we are — is as night is to day. Denver is a full-grown city, with all that entails: clogged freeways, screaming sirens, over-crowded subdivisions and cement lawns. Western Colorado is still, thank goodness, open space and open lifestyle. There is room here to breathe, scenic vistas to view, and a blessed shortage of stoplights.
If you can't live here (and frankly, we'd close the gates if we could, before we look like Denver or Phoenix, or Chicago for that matter), you can visit. And, visit we hope you will, for tourism is the heart and soul of our high country, now that the industrious mining days are gone. With their passing, also went most of the railroads and much of the mining and ranching as well.
We're doing our best to preserve what we can, a tall order, perhaps, although, fortunately, those times are not too far gone, and many picturesque reminders remain. Our towns here still have the flavor of the Victorian era not too distant. Colorful, lovingly restored homes and commercial buildings invite visitors and welcome old and new families. Ruins, relics and revived remnants of old way of life remain, begging to be preserved through photography and stories.
Slideshow of Colorado images depicting our four fabulous seasons and our well-preserved and diverse history. (See photo credits below for descriptions and names of photographers.)
Colorado is at the heart of "sustainable tourism" as we strive to keep faith with our past, sharing it now and for future generations.
1, Columbine at Pophyry Basin, San Juan County, San Juan Mountains. © Priscilla Sherman.
2. Yankee Girl headworks, Red Mountain Mining District, San Juan Mountains. © James Burke.
3. Poprhy Falls and Field of Wildflowers, San Juan County. © Jim Baumgardt, Image Counts.
4. 473 Steaming Across the Highbridge," Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. © James Burke.
5. Mt. Sneffels and Red Oak, East Dallas Creek Road, Ouray County, San Juan Mountains. © James Burke.
6. Abandoned Farmhouse on Cimarron Creek, Ouray County. © Kathyrn R. Burke.
7. Chatanooga, San Juan County, San Juan Mountains. © James Burke
8. Ouray County Courthouse, Ouray, Colorado. © James Burke.