Tag Archives: Tour

Aspen Tours – Cripple Creek, Colorado

Fall Color for a Good Cause

Vibrant Aspen - B 

2 Mile High Club Aspen Tours

Cripple Creek

Join members of the 2 Mile High Club for golden tours of changing aspen in the Cripple Creek mining district. The annual tours are scheduled for September 18, 19, 25 and 26, 2010. Beginning at 10am tours leave from the Cripple Creek Heritage Center, with the last tour departing at 4pm. Reservations are not accepted; the tours are offered on a first come, first served basis.

Donkey Sculpture - B The 2 Mile High Club was formed in 1931 to care for the town’s free roaming donkey herd. No fees are charged for the annual Aspen Tours, however, donations are greatly appreciated. They are applied to feed costs and veterinarian services required for the donkeys. The donkeys are believed to be direct descendents of those used by miners during the region’s gold rush days. The club also sponsors Donkey Derby Days, Cripple Creek’s most popular yearly event, in late June.

Aspen and Mines

The Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co. provides buses, drivers and opens access to private land for the fundraising aspen tours. The 2 Mile High Club provides tour guides and lots of local history. The buses make several stops allowing participants photography opportunities not usually available to the public.

Grab the camera, head to Cripple Creek, revel in the autumn splendor and contribute to a good cause. Enjoy!

Mesa Verde National Park – Colorado

New Visitor Experiences

Mesa Verde National Park – Summer 2010


18 - Long House


Mesa Verde National Park visitors find three new experiences available during the 2010 summer season. In partnership with the nonprofit Mesa Verde Institute the park expands their visitor programs to include guided hikes to Spring House, Mug House and a Wetherill Mesa Experience. The hikes, which begun Memorial Day weekend, will continue through Labor Day. The Spring House trip will be offered until September 30th.

“We want visitors to know that there’s more to Mesa Verde than Cliff Palace, Balcony House and Spruce Tree House,” says Acting Superintendent Bill Nelligan. “This is a great opportunity to learn more about Mesa Verde National Park.”

  • Spring House – This very strenuous hike is an 8-hour, 8-mile trek for the physically-fit adventurist. The unpaved, uneven trail includes steep drop-offs and switchbacks with a 3,000-ft. elevation change. In addition to visiting Spring House hikers will view Buzzard House, Teakettle House, Daniel’s House and archeological sites in Navajo and Wickiup Canyons. Lunch is included.

  • Wetherill Mesa Experience – Introduces the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here from early pithouse to cliff dwelling occupancy (A.D. 600 – A.D. 1300). Hikers will learn about The Wetherill Mesa Archeological Project during the 6-mile, 6-hour easy to moderate hike. The joint effort between the National Park Service and The National Geographic Society was one of the largest archeological projects ever conducted in the United States.
  • Mug House – Is a 2-hour, 3-mile round trip on an unpaved, uneven trail with a 100’ descent. The strenuous hike involves a ladder, knotted rope, steep drop-offs, switchbacks and scrambling over boulders. When Mug House was excavated three mugs tied together were found hanging on a peg inside one of the rooms.

06 - Tour Group The three new adventures are limited to 14 people per tour. Tickets for the Spring House and the Wetherill Mesa Experience may be purchased online. Mug House tickets are only available at the Far View Visitor Center up to 48 hours in advance.

The Mesa Verde Institute continues to hosts Cliff Palace Twilight Tours between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Led by historic characters from Mesa Verde’s past, the 90-minute evening tours begin at 7pm. Tickets, purchased at the Far View Visitor Center, are limited to 20 participants each evening.


Previous Related Posts

Mesa Verde Mystique

Lodging in Mesa Verde National Park

Visiting Abraham Lincoln Sites

Tracing Lincoln’s Trail

Abraham Lincoln was born in a simple Kentucky cabin 201 years ago. With little formal education but great vision, determination, and integrity he abolished slavery and preserved the Union of the United States. Even 145 years after his death the impact of his leadership lives on. Trace his trail from humble boyhood to the presidency by visiting one of the national or state sites memorializing Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site – Hodgenville, Kentucky

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial – Lincoln City, Indiana

lincoln-memorial2Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site – Petersburg, Illinois

Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site – Lerna, Illinois

Lincoln/Douglas Debate Museum – Charleston, Illinois

Lincoln Home National Historic Site – Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln – Hendon Law Offices – Springfield, Illinois

Old State Capitol – Springfield, Illinois

Ford Theater National Historic Site – Washington D.C.

Lincoln Tomb – Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln Memorial National Memorial – Washington D.C.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum – Springfield, Illinois

Brown Palace Hotel – Denver, Colorado

“Affairs of the Heart” Tours

Brown Palace Atrium Lobby Historic tours of Denver’s venerable Brown Palace Hotel focus on “Affairs of the Heart” during February. Oh, the tales Debra Faulkner, hotel historian and archivist, has to tell. After 118 years the “Brown” reveals stories of intrigue, romance, love triangles and even murder. Public tours are offered every Wednesday and Saturday at 3pm and last approximately 75 minutes. Tours cost $10/person, reservations are required. Children must be 10 years of age.

Besides “Affairs of the Heart” and general history tours, specialized  themes include a presidential tour (Every U.S. president  since Teddy Roosevelt in 1905, with the exception of Calvin Coolidge, has visited The Brown Palace.), an architectural tour and the ever-popular ghost tour given in throughout October. Groups of 5 or more must make arrangements for a private tour. Private tours can be arranged for those requiring a time outside of the normal scheduled tours.

brown-palace-lobby-teaI suggest making reservations for Afternoon Tea before your tour. Served in the eight-story atrium lobby the traditional afternoon ritual includes tea sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream shipped directly from England and tea pastries. All accompanied by a harpist or pianist. If your valentine is a chocoholic the Chocolate Decadence Tea is sure to be loved – and, you for the idea.

When You Go: Brown Palace Hotel, 321 17th Street, Denver, Colorado

Related Posts:

Month of Love

Hammonds Candy Cane Festival – Denver, Colorado

9th Annual Candy Cane Festival

Red Candy Canes Along with thousands of others we stopped by Hammonds Candy Factory for the 9th annual Candy Cane Festival today. After a week of extremely cold temps, grey skies and snow everyone was ready to bask in the pleasantly warm sunny day, visit with Santa and stock up on holiday sweets.

Families waited patiently for tours of the factory to see candymakers at work. Lines also formed for rides on ‘Lil Spike’ the motorized train and hay rides drawn by a handsome team of draft horses. Entertainment, story time, face painting and inspecting emergency vehicles kept visitors busy. Blue Face

Of course, there was a full array of Hammond candies for sale. Buckets of the hand-formed candy canes in a rainbow of colors and flavors, baskets of old-fashioned ribbon candy, giant lollipops and peppermint pillows tempted shoppers. Bags of candy coal reminded us of those who were more naughty than nice this year.

Although the 2009 Candy Cane Festival is over one can always stop by the factory for a free tour or visit the retail store Monday – Saturday.

View the slide show for more photos of the 2009 Candy Cane Festival. A sweet time was had by all.

Old Town Museums – Albuquerque, New Mexico

So Much to Explore!

Three outstanding facilities stand without walking distance of each other. It couldn’t be easier to explore art, history, science, technology, natural history and astronomy. Time and energy runs out before we can do it all; but, the journey proves fascinating.


Albq Museum


Albuquerque Museum of Art & History An outstanding permanent collection and excellent temporary exhibits make this a repeat experience when visiting the city. A permanent exhibit, Four Centuries, covers 400 years of history in Albuquerque. The museum’s art collection emphasizes contemporary and historic regional artists. We’ve been fortunate enough to see several quality visiting exhibits over the years. The outdoor sculpture garden presents numerous styles and genres. Guided tours of galleries and garden are available. The education department sponsors informative walking tours of Old Town.


Explora! – An incredible, hands-on experience awaits learners of all ages interested in science, technology and art. Robotics lab to interactive fountain, principles of sound, motion, or electricity, this is a learning laboratory that fascinates tiny tots to senior citizens – a perfect multi-generation spot. Explora! is so popular with adults they get periodic adult-only Friday nights scheduled just for them. Visitors get so involved they spend twice as long as planned. This is truly an exception facility – a “have-to-do” while in Albuquerque.

  Explora3   Explora2Explora1


Dinosaur enthusiasts find the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science a must stop. We explore an ice cave, stand inside a volcano and ride the “EvolaAlb Natural History Museumtor” for a Journey Through Time, from Origins 200 million years ago to the Ice Age. Collections include the world’s longest dinosaur and oldest mammal fossil.

Within the museum, the Astronomy Center showcases a 55-foot diameter planetarium dome and high-definition imagery to explore our universe – and beyond. Permanent exhibits, Space Frontier and Making Tracks on Mars leads us through space exploration.

Wise visitors include a Dynatheater show during their touring. Sitting back to watch the giant screen presentation offers the perfect way to rest without wasting a minute. Mummies: Secrets of the Past is the current feature.

Cemetery Walks – Colorado

A Walk with the Spirits


Crested Butte Cemetery Arch A leisurely walk through an historic cemetery relates intriguing details of the region’s settlement and struggles. Styles of enclosures, markers and headstones reflect cultural, ethnic and societal influences. Inscriptions tell of epidemics, natural disasters, gunfights or the steadfastness of a man’s character. A chiseled boulder in the Cripple Creek Mt. Pisgah Cemetery states, “He died as he lived, honest, loyal and an upright man.”

Crested Butte Child's Grave Children’s graves were frequently enclosed with wooden or wrought iron fencing, or carefully laid stone borders. Headstones with carved lambs denote infant burials. Poetry abounds. Especially memorable is a monument in a Central City cemetery marking the graves for one family’s five children – all who died before reaching their first birthday.

Graveyards near ghost towns and mining camps remain worthy of investigation. Spend a crisp autumn afternoon strolling the distinctive cemeteries near Alma, Central City, Cripple Creek or Leadville for a Colorado history refresher coarse.

The Littleton Cemetery on South Prince Street is the permanent (?) resting place of Alfred Packer, the only man in United States history to be convicted of  the crime of cannibalism.

The tombstones in Cripple Creek’s Mt. Pisgah Cemetery tell so many stories of the town’s famous and the infamous. On September 26, 2009 the Gold Camp Victorian Society planLeadville Grave with Aspens a day of Mt. Pisgah tours with character reenactments throughout the cemetery. Tours start at the Cripple Creek District Museum located next to the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad Depot. The tour begins with a ride aboard the historic trolley. The first tour leaves the museum at 9:30am; the last departs at 2:00pm. Donations to benefit the society’s historic preservation efforts are $8/adult, $15/couple and $5/child under 12. I’m sure you’ll meet Pearl.

Under the October full moon, Riverside Cemetery is the site of a History & Mystery Tour on October 2 & 3. Tours at 4:30, 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30pm each evening with tickets priced at $12/adult, $10/child. Required reservations can be made by calling 303-322-3895 or emailing heritage@fairmountheritagefoundation.org. On Halloween, Oct. 31, Crested Butte Cemetery Open Gate free tours are planned every 15 minutes between 2:00-3:15pm. Historians and actors will share the stories of influential Colorado residents such as Governor Evans and Augusta Tabor. Reservations are encouraged.

In Glenwood Springs, costumed historic characters recall their lively pasts as lantern led tours visit the “spirits” of Linwood (Glenwood Pioneer) Cemetery. Doc Holliday is reportedly buried here … or is he? Join the Annual Historic Ghost Walk to hear the story. The walks are planned for Oct. 16-18, Oct. 23-25 and Oct. 30-31, 2009. Tickets are $15/person and go on sale Oct. 1. These annual walks sell out quickly, purchase tickets as soon as they go on sale by calling the Frontier Historical Museum at 970-945-4448.

Leadville Sunken Graves We’ve tramped around many of Colorado’s cemeteries through the years, especially those near early mining camps. Each has its own distinctive characteristics and slate of citizens with fascinating stories. Leadville’s Evergreen Cemetery contains graves from 1879 to the present, graves with ornate headstones and those with rotting crosses. One early section with sunken graves ranks as the spookiest I’ve ever visited. Judge Neil Reynolds introduces the spirits of  Evergreen Cemetery during Halloween Cemetery Tours, Oct. 30-31 at 8:00pm each evening. This popular event usually sells out – call 719-486-3900 or 888-532-3845 for tickets, $10/person.

Colorado Fall Color – Denver Day Trips

Take to the Hills for Fall Color

Yellow Aspen Twig Fall arrives early in the Colorado Rockies. Beginning in late August aspen begin their shimmering transformation to golden yellow. Many forecasters predict an early and short color season for 2009. Even residents who rarely travel beyond the Denver metropolitan area plan a fall foliage day trip or Sunday afternoon drive. Consider these routes as you grab the camera and take to the hills.

  • Peak to Peak Aspens Peak to Peak Highway from Blackhawk to Estes ParkThis National Scenic Byway nearly parallels the Continental Divide for 55 miles between Blackhawk and Estes Park. Although it’s a continuous route various segments hold different Colorado State Highway designations 119, 72 and 7 as it travels northward through Rollinsville, Nederland, Ward and Allenspark. Some years the segment between Nederland and Ward offers especially stunning aspen color.
  • Old Fall River Road in Rocky Mountain National ParkA rewarding road less traveled in the park, the one-way (westbound)Old Fall River Road dirt road climbs from Horseshoe Park, west of the RMNP Fall River Entrance Station, to Fall River Pass, 11,796-feet above sea level. Along the ascent the terrain changes from mountain meadow to montane and subalpine forests before reaching the wind-swept alpine world above timberline. Nine of the 11 miles are car passable (except extremely low clearance vehicles) dirt surface – posted speed limit, 15mph. Tight switchback turns make the route  Elk - Head Shot unsuitable for RVs or trailers. In addition to changing aspen you’re almost guaranteed to see grazing elk along the way. A $1 Old Fall River Road guidebook is available at park visitor centers. The road terminates when it intersects with Trail Ridge Road near the Alpine Visitor Center. Turn right to descend the west side of the park to Grand Lake or turn left to follow Trail Ridge Road back to Estes Park.
  • I-70 from Empire to the Eisenhower/Johnson Tunnels – Large groves of aspen paint the mountain slopes along this Interstate corridor. Watch for bighorn sheep on the rocky slopes above Georgetown Lake and Silver Plume. Fill the day with exploring the shops and historic sites in GeorgetGeorgetown - Reflectedown or  Silver Plume, take a hike up Herman’s Gulch or ride the narrow gauge Georgetown Loop Railroad. Sample wines at Canyon Wind Cellars or lunch and tea in the Silver Plume Tea Room. Make it an overnight with reservations for dinner and lodging at the Peck House in Empire – the oldest hotel extant in the state. Caution: Eastbound I-70 frequently becomes stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper on Sunday afternoons during color season. Plan your trip accordingly, consider stopping at a local restaurant for dinner or you may have lots of time to view the same grove of aspen.
Road Closing: The Guanella Pass Road, a frequent destination for leave peepers, between Georgetown and US285 closed August 21, 2009. Heavy summer rains created unsafe conditions due to rock instability. For current information, call 303-569-3251, press “2” for Guanella Pass.
  • Squaw Pass – Bergen Park to Idaho Springs – I don’t find a lot written about Squaw Pass but I think it’s a great Sunday afternoon drive, especially in the fall or on a clear winter day. From the Evergreen Parkway, CO74, head west on Squaw Pass Road, CO103. The road is paved albeit with a few rough and narrow spots along the 18-mile route to Echo Lake. The Squaw Pass Summit at 9,807’  is about half-way to the popular lakEcho Lakee.  A left turn in summer takes gasping visitors to the top of 14,264’ Mount Evans – the country’s highest paved road. CDOT closed the top four miles of the Mt. Evans Highway for the season on September 3, the lower portion remains open as of this posting. Check their website for updates. CO103 continues approximately eight miles down the Chicago Creek Road to Idaho Springs and I-70. Pick a sunny day to fully enjoy the sweeping views of mountain ranges and quaking aspen.

Check Back Soon for Additional Suggestions

  • Kenosha Pass
  • Gold Belt Tour – Florissant to Cripple Creek

Colossal Cave Mountain Park – Tucson, Arizona

Down Under and More

Curiosity about Colossal Cave Mountain Park propelled us to the longtime Tucson area attraction that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. We joined a cave tour with several family groups. As we waited kids stayed busy finding the Discovery Tour stations and collecting the different paper punches on their maps. Aftccmp-ramadaer completing all 18 they receive a “Treasure” from one of the two gift shops.

 Because Colossal is a dry cave the formations don’t have that moist sheen frequently seen on “cave bacon” or “draperies.” No beads of water gather on the stalactite  tips waiting to be the next drip.

ccmp-caveOur guide was pleasant if not exactly animated. She shared human history at the cave as well as natural history. In the late 1800s the cave was a reputed bandit hangout. Imagine the wide-eyed expressions on the youngest tour members’ faces. Early in the 20th century a local dude rancher encouraged visitors to explore the cave and bring back a formation piece to prove they had been inside.

For a dramatic ecology lesson visit Colossal followed by a tour at Kartchner Caverns State Park. It’s a graphic demonstration of abusing an environment verses protection and preservation. There are two other caves in Colossal Cave Mountain Park that are carefuccmp-windmilllly protected and used for research.

I don’t regret visiting, however, it goes on the list of “Been There, Move On, Don’t Need to Go Again.” That list is much shorter for me than the “Want to Repeat” one. For those who had never before been in a cave seeing the underground world was a treat.

After our cave tour we drive to the La Posta Quemada Ranch section of the park – a working ranch for more than a century. We didn’t have time for a horseback ride but a ride in the Rincon Mountains along the National Mail Stagecoach Route would be very scenic.

ccmp-cccThe Civilian Conservation Corps were largely responsible for development of Colossal Cave Mountain Park in the 1930s. The adobe CCC office building has been renovated, housing a museum recalling their efforts and the men who served. From developing the tour route through the cave to the limestone buildings and ramadas the CCC deserves great credit.

The ranch house serves as a museum with exhibits covering topics from ancieccmp-human-sundial2nt Hohokam Indian culture to modern cave research. I was most intrigued with the Analemmatic Sundial which I renamed the human sundial. The horizontal calendar grip is unlike any sundial I’ve ever seen. I tried to get Bob to stand still long enough to serve as the gnomon (vertical rod).

Cave, museums, natural areas, horseback rides, picnic area, and mining sluice –  a family can easily fill an entire day at Colossal Cave Mountain Park.

ccmp-whoaWhen You Go: Colossal Cave Mountain Park is open every day of the year. The park is located about 17 miles southeast of Tucson. Saguaro National Park – Rincon Mountain District lies north of Colossal Cave.  The basic cave tour lasts about 50 minutes covering a half-mile route with numerous stairs, temperature inside the cave is a consistent 70° – a pleasant relief in mid-summer. Reservations are not required, tours are not pre-scheduled; they promise you’ll never wait longer than 30 minutes after purchasing your ticket. There are also Ladder, Wild Cave and Candlelight Tours – these do require reservations. They also suggest reservations for the trail rides.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park participates in the Tucson Attractions Passport program (see blog). The Passport covers the park use entrance fee. Regular fees for cave tours and trail rides apply.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West – Scottsdale, Arizona

Night Lights on the Desert

flw-sun-on-logoFrank Lloyd Wright created Taliesin West as the winter home for his school of architecture. The campus sits on the flank of the McDowell Mountains overlooking Scottsdale, Arizona. Protected acres of pristine Sonoran desert surrounds the Wright designed buildings as suburbia creeps ever closer. Visitors from around the world come to tour Taliesin West and learn more about Wright’s design philosophy.

On past visits we’ve taken the 90-minute Insights and the 3-hour Behind the Scenes Tours, each time learning about, perhaps, the best known of 20th-century American architects. This time we made reservations for the Night Lights on the Desert Tour.flw-sculpture-in-sun1

Beginning just before sunset, the two-hour tour includes everything on the daytime Insights Tour plus a stop for refreshments. On most evenings participants are also treated to colorful sunsets followed by star-studded skies and the lights of Scottsdale/Phoenix in the valley below.

Before the tour begins Bob scurries to catch photos as the late afternoon sun warm buildings, sculpture and landscape. As our guide gives background on Wright and Taliesin West we keep eyes focused westward, not to be rude but to watch the kaleidoscope of changing colors – from pinks, violets and lemon yellow to bronze, burnt orange and deep purple.







When the color show fades we visit Wright’s private office and the living room. Labeled the Garden Room by Wright, this was the social center for family, guests, associates and students. We sit in Wright-designed furniture while the guide tells us about construction methods and materials. This evening we are guests in the Wright home, perhaps his dynamic spirit hovers there with us.

flw-sun-on-studio1After stopping in the bedroom wing the group partakes of tea, lemonade and cookies in an alcove outside of the dining room. Wind prohibits the fire-breathing dragon from staying lit but an outdoor corner fireplace nips the slight chill in the air. The tour concludes with visits to the Kiva, Cabaret Theater and Music Pavilion.

Although there is some duplication, each tour we’ve taken has offered new information and insights. Every guide has been extremely well versed with an obvious dedication to accuracy, however, you do get a slightly different view as the guide’s own interest, knowledge and background come through. We plan to take the Desert Shelter Tour the next time we’re in Scottsdale


When You Go: Taliesin West offers the Insights and Panorama Tours Daily except Easter, Thanksgiving Christmas and New Years. Other tours are available either seasonally or on particular days of the week. The website gives tour details and rates. Reservations taken by phone at 480-860-2700 Ext. 494. Tours often fill to capacity, especially those not given daily, reservations are strongly advised.