Leaving Pueblo we headed west on US 50, enjoying the views all around us as the highway meandered along the Arkansas River.
As we approached the town of Salida some of Colorado’s many 14ers came into view. Colorado has 58 mountain peaks exceeding 14,000 feet (known as 14ers locally), the most of any state. Chaffee County, home to Salida, has twelve peaks which rise above 14,000 feet, making the county the one with the greatest number of 14ers in the state.
We continued past Salida for about 10 miles to the Salida KOA, our home during our visit to this area. The KOA is a decent park with great views all around us. Looking out the windshield of the motorhome we had a beautiful view of mountain peaks in the southern Sawatch Mountain Range. We’ll be crossing that range over Monarch Pass in a few days.
Our first adventure in this area was a drive about 60 miles north on US 285 and US 24 to the town of Leadville. This route is known as the Collegiate Peaks Scenic Byway. The byway runs through the Collegiate Peaks wilderness area, named so because of the many nearby 14ers with names of prestigious universities: Mt. Oxford, Mt. Harvard, Mt. Yale, Mt. Princeton, and Mt. Columbia.
At an elevation of 10,152 feet, Leadville has the highest elevation of any city in the United States.
A former silver mining town that lies at the headwaters of the Arkansas River, the Leadville Historic District contains many historic structures and sites from its mining era. In the late 19th century Leadville was the second most populous city in Colorado after Denver.
As we drove around the residential areas of Leadville we were so impressed with the stunning views all around us.
Leaving Leadville we returned south along US 24, stopping to enjoy the view at Twin Lakes, two beautiful reservoirs along Lake Creek.
We then continued south on US 24 to the small community of Granite. There we turned west on County Road 398 (Lost Canyon Road), a maintained dirt road that goes across a flat plain before heading steeply up into the mountains.
The changing leaves of the Aspen trees lit up the road as it went through a series of switchbacks while gaining elevation.
As we approached the tree line the maintained road ended. We put the Jeep in four-wheel drive and continued up the narrowing path to see what we could find.
Soon our efforts were rewarded as we came to a stunning view of the Twin Lakes far below us.
We have a couple more adventures to share from our visit to Salida. We’ll show you those in our next post.