Lots more to Colorado than Denver and those remarkable ski resorts...
Had a brief sit-down with the folks from Colorado tourism on Monday and learned quite a bit.
I mean, I probably always knew that Mesa Verde, that incredible series of cliff dwellings, was in Colorado. But I think I forgot and just kind of put it up there in the four corners area in general; that neat geographic feat that has the corners of Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico all meet up in one spot.
Anyhoo, I didn't realize that Colorado has four national parks: Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes (the newest national park in the US of A, I was told; see photo), Rocky Mountain National Park and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The latter, they say, is just as deep as the Grand Canyon but more narrow and perhaps even more imposing. Rocky Mountain National Park is more of an alpine-looking park such as we might expect. The Great Sand Dunes park really captured my attention as they're said to be the tallest dunes in North America; hundreds of meters high. You can rent a sandboard and ride down them as if carving out a track in the powdery white valleys of Whistler, or try a more conventional sled. And you don't have to worry about snow boots or icicles on your face. You also can do Jeep tours and there's a dude ranch not far away called Zapata.
Like lots of states, they're producing a fair bit of wine in Colorado, too. My contacts told me there are some 60 wineries clustered around Grand Junction, west of Denver. I've never had any Colorado wine but I've tried some from Texas and it was pretty good, and they make great stuff in Washington and Oregon and even Idaho, so why not?
If beer is more your thing, Colorado is home to some 300 microbreweries and there's an annual Great American Beer Festival in Denver. This year's runs Sept. 29-Oct. 1. And there's a Telluride, Colorado Blues and Brews festival with beer and top blues musicians, and what's not to like about that?
As for city folk, the officials told me there's a new Four Seasons Hotel in Denver, which is a fun town with some fun shops and great restaurants.