Why mountain vacations? Hmm... Two days ago I was swimming in the Arkansas River. A few days before and an hours drive away, I was playing in the snow at a roadside rest area. Tomorrow I will drive an hour to the trail head and hike to a beautiful mountain lake at 11,000 feet.
Of course, this is all made easier by the fact that we live here in Colorado now. The point however, is the same if you are vacationing here from other places: You get the widest variety of climates and experiences in the shortest time when you vacation in the mountains. Where else can you be hiking a snowy pass in the morning and sunbathing in the desert in the afternoon?
It isn't all about the outdoor activities either. There is a unique atmosphere to small mountain towns like Silverton or Buena Vista. The isolation seems to make them immune to the rushing and busyness of the cities. You can walk the streets safely at night, stop in a saloon that may have been there for a hundred years, and see the stars as you walk back to your hotel.
There are ghost towns throughout the mountains of the west. They range from the restored ones that have become parks, to the remnants of small towns left in the weeds. Yesterday my wife and I explored an old abandoned schoolhouse on a back road near Canon City. Last week we poked around an old town site that used to have five grocery stores, nine bars and over a thousand residents. Now there is nothing left but a few foundations where the buildings once stood.
Just driving from one town to the next makes for a scenic and relaxing vacation when you are in the mountains. Even if you don't get out of the car very often, it is enjoyable to look out the windows like you are watching a beautiful scene in a movie. One moment you are staring up at huge cliffs, and a few minutes later you are on top of them looking down on a river winding through a grassy valley.
A Few Tips For Mountain Vacations
- Weather is always unpredictable in mountains. Have clothing for all conditions.
- Afternoon thunderstorms are common in summer. Plan hiking early in the day, and come down from higher elevations before one in the afternoon.
- There can be long stretches between gas stations in many mountain areas, so fill up when you have the chance.
- Altitude can make you sick. The solution is to go lower if this happens.
- There are some dangerous animals in most mountainous areas. We disturbed a six-foot rattle snake while hiking yesterday - just back off as we did in this case. Bears don't normally attack, but may break into coolers and picnic baskets if you leave them unattended outside.
- If your vacation in the mountains is in summer, bring sun block. The sun can be especially severe at higher altitudes.