My wife Kris and I took a 19 day road trip this summer to Colorado and back. This 4 part series and the photos (and a couple videos) are from our journey.
Part 1 - NC to Colorado Springs
Part 4 is our time in Salida, CO and our journey east back to NC.
Read on for more commentary amongst the photos...
We left Telluride and drove to Salida for one day/one night. The locals pronounce it "Sa-LIE-da". There was still haze in the sky from far away out of state wildfires. After checking into our river side AirBnb room, I went mountain biking while Kris and the boys checked out the river and went tubing on it. I biked from our place in town to the very nearby S-Mtn trails in the Arkansas Hill Trail System, and rode the S-Mtn Chicken For Dinner Loop plus some adjacent trails...14 miles and close to 1,300 ft elevation gain. The above photo is the view from S-Mtn looking over downtown Salida.
The trails were well marked
The next morning, we went for a river rafting tour down the Arkansas River with Independent Rafting Company. We elected to do the mellow family trip on the river (Class 1-2) into Salida. Our guide was great and we had a fantastic time.
This is the burial site of Duke, The Loyal Dog. It sits up on S-Mtn (Tenderfoot Mountain) overlooking Salida. Duke was adopted by the manager of the local Monte Cristo Hotel in the early 1890s. He was known for greeting passengers as they arrived at the train depot next to the hotel. Legend has it he even saved a boy from an oncoming train by dragging him off the tracks. He was so popular, that when he died in 1902, the whole town carried him up the mountain and buried him there with an elaborate gravesite memorial that has since been refurbished a few times.
very rocky sections of the S-Mtn Chicken For Dinner Trail Loop
Salida is a rafting and biking town.
After leaving Salida, we drove through Buena Vista a little bit and stopped at their Arkansas River Park. It was also very nice complete with a bike shop, coffee bar, brewery, and restaurants nearby. Nice low key mountain town and another nice place to play in the river or bike/hike.
We dropped the boys off at the Denver Airport the next morning for their flight home, then Kris and I started making our way south, then east towards home...
We drove south from Denver along I-25 and then made our way down through the panhandle of Texas to I-40 and the town of Amarillo, not before stopping at the world famous Cadillac Ranch along the old Route 66 Highway. It wasn't what I was expecting (I don't know what I was expecting). Lots of people there adding their own spray paint graffiti to it.
Barren, hot, flat Texas Panhandle
Kris and I then made our way to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It's apparently the second largest canyon in the US behind the Grand Canyon. I think that distinction has to do with canyon width, not depth. These Texas Longhorns were at the state park entrance.
We did a driving tour by road and stopped along all the scenic overlooks. It was too hot to do any real hiking.
We were going to stay in Amarillo that night, but after a nice authentic Tex-Mex restaurant dinner, we decided to go a bit further in order to shorten the next 2 days of driving. We drove into Oklahoma along I-40 and stayed overnight near Elk City, OK.
Lots of windmill farms along the highway. Saw this in Kansas, Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma.
After passing through Oklahoma City and Tulsa, we then decided to make a small detour into Bentonville, Arkansas. I wanted to sample the mountain bike trails there that I've been hearing so much about.
The mountain bike trail hype in Bentonville is real. I biked on the Slaughter Pen Trail System in town. I need to return and ride more of the trails there perhaps in spring or fall when its cooler. After having been in dry cooler temperatures in Colorado for the last two weeks, the sudden humidity crushed me. That combined with poor nutrition that morning, and I bonked near the end and couldn't ride more (did almost 16 miles and 1,200 ft elevation gain).
But those trails are awesome. You can tell the Walton Foundation sunk millions of dollars into the trail system. There are full time trail crews working, maintaining, and improving those trails every day. It is definitely worth the trip there to go mountain biking and there are many more nearby trails to ride.
Perfectly manicured high berms and jump features (and Bigfoot)
Even the sidewalks have bike features!
After Bentonville, we drove on and stayed just outside Little Rock, AR...then drove through Memphis the next day, had brunch at the renowned Brother Junipers in the University Area. Then on to Nashville where we stayed with McIntyre for the night.
Ryman Auditorium in Nashville TN
Letting it all hang out after a long road trip.
All in all a great trip. We're very grateful for being able to do this (and having a flexible job allowing for remote work and longer than normal time off). As I said before, Kris and I treated this trip as an experiment to see how we would do together on such a long trip. We were very compatible travel partners, no fuss, and really enjoyed the journey together. I see some tweaks we can make for future road trips such as taking along our dog, a couple of inflatable SUPs, and a bike for her. Can't wait for future road trips!
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