Home is usually a place we tire of after a point. At the risk of sounding like an unappreciative Coloradoan, I don’t always stop and look at the Rocky Mountains from my window and think how lucky I am to live here. I should, but I don’t. This past weekend, I headed into those mountains perhaps to reawaken my love for this state, something I didn’t expect but I’m sure Colorado did. The state tends to win over travelers, locals and even skeptics whether they like it or not.
Along Interstate-70 on the way to Glenwood Springs, a monster is standing guard. Even those with glazed over road trip eyes will find their mouths gaping up against the car window. Not being much for skiing, snow or sweaters, I was surprised by Glenwood Canyon’s power over me. The rugged rock walls stack up as though their positions were all perfectly planned.
The canyon walls rise up 1,300 feet at an elevation of 5,700 feet. The Colorado River snakes along its side, forever pushing Glenwood Canyon to say more and go a little deeper. Considered one of the most scenic stretches of interstate not just in Colorado, but also in the country, 16 mile long Glenwood Canyon is also an engineering marvel.
In the 1980s, roads, bridges and tunnels were laid out along this stretch in such a fashion that the modern world wouldn’t hurt the canyon’s alarmingly beautiful appearance. While a road for automobiles had been here for nearly 100 years, it was time for improving. Upon completion and after my drive this weekend, I would say it’s safe to say the canyon’s integrity has been maintained. The road going westbound climbs above those heading eastbound. Cars heading east get to hug the Colorado River, but no matter the direction, Glenwood Canyon always lends different perspectives of perfection.
Heading west, I see Amtrak’s California Zephyr. If you want the best seat in the house of Glenwood Canyon, you may want to hop aboard the Amtrak from Denver. You can even just stop in Glenwood Springs, but the journey by train is even a historic one. This stretch was first completed in 1887, serving as a route for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad.
What impresses the traveler in me is man and woman’s quest to get through mountains and find out what lay on the other side, or even in the middle. While money from mining no doubt motivated a few travelers and engineers to head through Glenwood Canyon, I like to think they wanted those after them to experience this aspect of Colorado. It feels like Colorado here, the “wild wild west” as most foreigners say to me when I tell them where home is.
Just like snow melting for millions of years, sculpting Glenwood Canyon, my appreciation for having this in my backyard goes a little deeper. Just beyond the canyon, the rock formations take on a bright red tone, proving Colorado is colorful indeed.