Do It Before You Die: Visit Black Canyon, Colorado

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Do you have a favourite place on Earth? I think I just found mine. Situated in western Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a hidden treasure of North America.

julia pelio black canyon colorado thisworldexists this world exists

The Canyon got its name because some parts of the gorge only receive 33 minutes of sunlight a day. It's incredibly steep, it’s more than 2000 feet tall and probably one of the deepest and narrowest canyons I have ever seen in my life.

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You can access the park from the South or North Rim. The South Rim has more to offer, like a visitors centre and picnic areas. We had no time to see both sides, so we only explored the North Rim, which is reachable only by an unpaved road (closed during the winter) but has many breathtaking view spots. 

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This park is less popular than Grand Canyon (and very different), so you won’t see many tourists - great for getting a deeper connection to the magical nature around.

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Take a moment and listen to the sound of Gunnison’s rushing waters. Feel the magnitude of this place and think about how small and humble we are compare to these unique rock formations. It is hard to imagine the age of Black Canyon rock is 1.7 billion years!

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This is a park I’d like to camp at and spend a few days to a week exploring. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is just a must see if you are in this part of Colorado.

julia pelio black canyon colorado thisworldexists this world exists

Written by Julia Pelio. Photos by Arthur Pelio.

Julia is a THISWORLDEXISTS Adventure Ambassador. You can see more of her adventures on Instagram: @juliapelio or @THISWORLDEXISTS

 
 

Hundreds of Miles to Nowhere

Some of us look for adventure in our own backyard, while some of us travel hundreds of miles away from where we call home. The end result isn't always the destination, it’s the journey taken to get there. Riding dirt bikes in Texas during the summer can be a real bummer sometimes. It’s hot, humid, and there's only so many places to ride. This conundrum creates the need to find cooler weather and trails that traverse the unknown. I, along with 10 other dirt biking souls, travelled west to the Rocky Mountains in Taylor Park, Colorado to bask in two-wheeled camaraderie. 

Taylor Park, Colorado is home to the Taylor Park Reservoir, a place within the National Forest marking the start of all kinds of adventures. We split our wallets, tent camping in the Reservoir, trailer camping at Taylor Park Trading Post and cabin dwelling at Holt’s Guest Ranch. Every morning started and ended as a group to keep us all aligned on the day's journey.

Photo credit: Cooper Bailey

Photo credit: Cooper Bailey

For four days we challenged our bikes, bodies, and minds as we rode through diverse weather and trail conditions. Afternoon rain storms were the best. The traction on sandy sections of the trail was amazing, it seemed to calm the soul. Rockier sections became very slick and slowed you down entirely, taxing every muscle. We knew these showers were coming, and we were prepared. Afternoon showers in Colorado are quite normal and only add to the level of adventure. 

Hardest to prepare for were the mountain-top views. On our dirt bikes, we followed trails that took us to some extremely remote locations. Cresting climbs, we were welcomed by miles and miles of gleaming beauty. It was hard not to stop and soak in the views, high five your closest buddy and realize you never want to leave such a magical place. But the trail still called, there was more that awaited, and having made it to the top was just the beginning.

After four days of riding more miles than most remember to count, it was time to head back home. I felt so sore, yet still so alive and recharged towards life. The drive home created a longing desire to stay, immediately reminiscing about the days spent biking and hanging out with friends. I'll certainly be back, prepared to tackle new terrain, but only to add more memories. 

Written by Brian Pierce

Follow Brian on Instagram: @woodybepierced

 
 

How To Ruin Your Life


9 Must See Locations in Colorado for the Most Incredible Fall Colors

Fall is fast approaching. Along with it comes the crisp air, cool temperatures, and golden mountainsides. Aspen gold is Colorado's main Fall color, which can be seen driving or walking through Aspen groves. Snowcapped mountains contrasted against a cloudless blue sky and vivid golden and yellow leaves draws people into the mountains every year. 

1. Castle Creek Road

The road itself travels through miles of Aspen filled mountainsides as it transitions from mostly private property to National Forest and many popular hiking destinations. Castle Creek road gives access to hikes in the area including Cathedral Lake, Electric Pass, 14ers Castle and Conundrum Peaks, and the popular Conundrum hot springs. However, the one destination that sets this road apart from many others is the Ashcroft ghost town. A small ghost town renovated several decades ago, this ghost town is nestled amongst Aspen trees with views of many more. All of these sites equal a very unique experience.

2. Kenosha Pass

Kenosha Pass is a popular fall color location along the Front Range of Colorado. Colorado trail runs through the area, providing miles of hiking bliss! There are Aspen groves on both sides of the pass with some very close to the road or miles away, secluded from other visitors. Weekends in September become very busy, so be prepared to get there early.

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3. Capitol Creek

The views from the end of Capital Creek are famous for their jaw-dropping beauty. At the end of the narrow and rugged dirt road are amazing views of the majestic 14er, Capitol Peak with Aspen trees sprawling for miles. For the adventurers, walking as far as you can along Capitol creek is a wonderful way to spend a day. At the end of the road do not forget to look east at the wonderful views. If you plan to shoot sunset, make sure to get there early as it has become a popular spot over the last few years.

4. Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

The Peak to Peak is a stunning drive any time of the year, but comes alive in the Fall when Aspen trees light up along the route. The 55-mile long Peak to Peak byway provides wonderful views of the continental divide from Estes Park in the north to Blackhawk and I-70 to the south. There are several larger groves of Aspen on national forest land that provide walking access, but be careful not to wander into private property dotted along the trails. The byway is a local favorite, especially when snow in the high country acts as a backdrop to the beautiful Aspens near the road. The byway is made up of highways 7 (in the north), 72, and 119 (in the south).

5. Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs is one of the first areas in the state to show off its beautiful Fall colors, with some of the grandest displays in Colorado. Due to its distance from Denver and early seasonal change, many of the roads and trails in the area are less popular than areas to the south. Areas like Buffalo Pass, Elk River road, Steamboat lake, and Rabbit Ears Pass are more popular destinations. There are also many other less-discovered drives and hikes worth exploring.

6. Mt Sneffels/Dallas Divide

The Mt. Sneffels and Dallas Divide areas are probably the most popular location in southwest Colorado to shoot Fall Color. The mountains (including Mt. Sneffels) often have a thin layer of snow above the many scenic ranches and Aspen groves in the area. Many of the best roads originate from Ridgway and Telluride, Colorado.            

7. Twin Lakes area-Leadville

The Twin Lakes area consists of a pair of large glacial lakes flanked by some of the tallest mountains in the state, 14ers La Plata and Mt. Elbert. It's a beautiful scene all year round, but comes to life in Fall. Oftentimes these groves contain more red Aspens than many other places in the state. Many sightseers stop and walk to the lakeshores to take in the views but if you have a 4x4 or enjoy hiking, the slopes of Mt. Elbert also provide a wonderful vantage point to enjoy the show. Highway 82 will provide wonderful and colorful vistas all the way to Independence Pass and down the west side into Aspen.

8. Kebler Pass

Kebler Pass has the distinction of being one of the largest Aspen groves in the world! There are miles of Aspen easily accessible by Gunnison County road 12 and many more accessible by those willing to explore the ridges and valleys in the area. The views overlooking the Beckwith Mountains are some of the most famous in the state. Several small lakes in the area are also beautiful spots to catch reflections. Gunnison County road 12 is open to all cars with some sections even paved and access can be gained from state highway 133 (west) or through the town of Crested Butte (east). 

9. Maroon Bells

The Maroon Bells are by far the most famous mountains in Colorado and this is especially true in the fall. Prepare to stand shoulder to shoulder with other photographers as they crash the shores of Maroon lake for the iconic shot. Be sure to enjoy the sight of what many photographers have found to be a portfolio-worthy shot!

Other areas that are worth checking out for fall colors include Rocky Mountain National Park, Guanella Pass, Boreas Pass, Cottonwood Pass, Independence Pass, Million Dollar Highway, and Highway 24 between Minturn and Leadville. 

Written by Eric Schuette, photos also by Eric.

 
 

Eric is a THISWORLDEXISTS Adventure Ambassador. You can find more of his adventures and photography on Instagram: @ericschuettephotography or on @THISWORLDEXISTS


Do It Before You Die: Climb a Colorado 14er

Colorado always leaves me wanting more. The first time I stood on top of a 14er at age 12, I remember the excitement from the overwhelming vastness of Colorado’s mountain ranges. With each 14,000 foot peak climbed, the feeling has never changed. I recently travelled back to Colorado from Washington to visit my family and got a chance to climb two 14,000 foot peaks. 

We started off the week climbing peaks in Durango. After a few days of warming up on peaks and messing around the Southwest, we travelled to the Breckenridge area to bag Quandary Peak. Herds of goats mix with flocks of people, due to the mountain's popularity.

Next up on the list was the Mount of the Holy Cross, known for cross-like couloir. The length and the elevation of this mountain posed as a challenge, but provided breathtaking views of the Vail region. 

Among 47 of Colorado’s most notable 14,000 foot peaks, five of the most notable are Mount Sneffels, Mount Elbert, Pikes Peak, Longs Peaks and the Maroon Bells.  Mount Elbert, located in the heart of Colorado, is the tallest of them all, sitting at 14,433 feet.  The others are distinguished for other reasons: The Maroon Bells are the most photographed, Pikes Peak holds the history of an American explorer, Longs Peak is the cornerstone of Rocky Mountain National Park, and Mt. Sneffels defines the skyline of the Colorado Southwest.

From beginner hikes to peaks that challenge seasoned climbers, Colorado has so many amazing options for your next hiking and climbing adventure.

Written by Jake Tonnessen, THISWORLDEXISTS adventure ambassador.

 
 

Jake is a thisworldexists Adventure Ambassador. See more of his hiking treks on Instagram: @intothinair

Do It Before You Die: Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park

We sat in the coffee shop, debating what we were going to do that weekend. Would we go to a farmers market? On a hike?

“Just drive,” she said

Drive I did.

We left at 8 in the morning and found ourselves at Rocky Mountain National Park, a place where human existence is limited to daily visitors. Where animals rule with an iron fist.

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It was our red Jeep, built to survive the harshest conditions and the roughest of roads. 

Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuous paved road in America. At over 12,000 feet, there is about 35% less oxygen to breath. A short mile walk can leave you struggling to catch your breath. It’s like trying to breathe through a straw.

Driving through the gates of the national park, we immediately saw an elk. So graceful and dominant, it wasn’t spooked by visitors. It was amazing to be just five feet from such a massive animal. It had gentle, thick fur, for warmth in the below freezing nights. With antlers up to four feet long, we were frightened to get any closer. 

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The drive through the park takes you further and further away from civilization. The views of the mountains were incredible and the summer heat trying it's best to melt the mountain snow, much still remained. The sheer beauty of being surrounded by wildlife in the mountains and amongst the clouds made for an irresistible attraction to a whimsical adventure.

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The more and more we climbed, the more animals we saw. A baby moose and its mother lay on the side of the road just before two big horned sheep ran across the road and scaled the rocks on the mountains to our left. It was mind clearing to see wildlife in its natural habitat at such ease. 

Distracted by the animals, I was sidetracked to the natural beauty that surrounded me. There were snow-capped mountains everywhere we looked.  We could see secluded lakes that surely acted as a water source for the animals nestled in between the mountains.  

rocky mountain national park colorado trail ridge road thisworldexists this world exists

The mountains have a way of making you smile, no matter who you are or how you feel. It makes your senses come alive. We could have spent the entire week looking at the wildlife and spending time in the mountains, but the road was nearing its end. 

Even when the chaos of the wind strikes, you are undaunted, distracted by the world around you. Nature’s peace moves you as the clouds roll over the peaks. As close to the angels that you can possibly be.

Check out more adventure like this on Instagram at @DenverLiving