We woke up this particular morning to find hot air balloons serenely floating past the hotel. Somehow, in my trip planning, I neglected to learn that Colorado’s largest annual hot air balloon festival was happening this weekend in Colorado Springs. If I had, it might have enticed me out of bed and over to Memorial Park to see the launch. Maybe. After a long day of travel, or even without a long day of travel, 7 a.m. comes awfully early for a night owl like myself. Instead, we enjoyed the pleasant surprise from our comfy hotel bed.
Today’s objective was to reach Durango, CO by the end of the day and to enjoy the scenery in Southern Colorado along the way, road trip style. We popped onto I-25 towards Pueblo. We headed to city center and stretched our legs on the “Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo“, Colorado.
It was pleasant enough but hot and sunny with little shade. We felt like it was nice place to get out and stretch but not something to go out of your way to see. We grabbed what was supposed to be a quick and convenient lunch at Angelo’s Pizza. They have a large outdoor seating area with umbrellas that overlooks the river. The staff seemed a bit frazzled and our food took forever to come out. Eventually the server mentioned that there had been some kind of accident in the kitchen so food was coming out slower than usual. If yelp is to be believed, our experience with speed and service was not unusual.
Shortly after Pueblo, we broke off of the interstate onto US 160 west. This scenic route zig-zagged us through small towns and rural areas of picturesque Southern Colorado. Colorado is famed for its mountains and winter sports, but the southern part of the state is really gorgeous in an Old West / Americana kind of way.
We pulled off at the entrance road to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. We jumped out to take a deep breath and take in the stillness and beauty. You may be amused to learn that we didn’t actually drive the 13 miles into the park. With our unexpectedly leisurely lunch, we had to make a choice between seeing the Sand Dunes and fitting in a hike later on. The hike won out, so we hopped back in the car and headed westward again.
Just as the sun was dropping low in the sky, we made it to the Continental Divide Trail where it crosses US 160 in the Wolf Creek Pass area. This was our evening hike. A little reward for spending much of the day in the car.
Do “Scenic Overlook” signs woo you into stopping? Or at least make you wish you had more time so you could? Nate and I stop at our fair share of scenic overlooks all across the country. If we stopped at every one we’d never get anywhere but I love it when we travel in that carefree way that allows for way-stops along the way and we don’t have to constantly rush from Point A to Point B. This one overlooks the valley on the way into Pagosa Springs, CO.
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