Sunset, Monument Valley, Utah

The south westerly U.S. states of Colorado and Utah make up a region rich in culture and steeped in the history of the Wild West, blessed with breathtaking mountains and studded with the most amazing desert scenery.

The State of Colorado is located in the Rocky Mountain region and it’s capital city, Denver, is known as “Mile High City” because it stands almost 1 mile above sea-level. This is the first spot where gold was first discovered in Colorado in 1858, an event which sparked the Gold Rush and kicked off a migration of 100s of 1,000s of people to Colorado. With the arrival of the railroads and a burgeoning population, Denver soon developed into a supply town. By the late 19th century cattle trading was equally as important as mining, consolidating Denver as thequintessential cow-town. Ghost towns and old mining camps pepper the mountains and the prairies of Colorado, and bear witness to its socio-economic history.

Today, Colorado is the ultimate adventure get-away for hiking and trekking and cowboy folklore. The Colorado Trail stretches from Denver to Durango and offers a 2-day hike 3,500 metres above sea level, covering around 40km. Taking in the Lost Trail Creek,Cataract Lake, and Cuba Gulch – the Trail runs along the Continental Divide and is flanked by the the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean on each side. Enjoy an historic steam train ride on the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, winding its way through glorious mountain scenery, forests and glades, hugging precarious ledges high above the Animas River, as it transports its passengers to the local rodeo.

The neighbouring state of Utah was the 45th state admitted to the Union on January 4, 1896 – its name “Utah” comes from from the Ute Indian language, which means “people of the mountains”.Salt Lake City, the state’s capital, was founded by Mormon Brigham Young and his followers in 1847 when pilgrims arrived here on their flight from religious persecution. Today, over half Utah’s adult population are members of the Mormon Church which is also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many local Mormons are expert genealogists – an interest which stems from their concern for the souls of their ancestors – and the city’sFamily History Library provides an excellent resource for family history enthusiasts. Housing microfilmed records containing over a billion names, and gathered from all over the world, the library is the largest of its kind on the planet.

Meanwhile, half-an-hour’s drive from Salt Lake City, lies the ski resort of Snowbird where you can escape the city and ski in t-shirt and shorts in mid-summer. Utah’s mountains are a mecca for adventure sports enthusiasts. The state has a wealth of fantastic ski resorts on offer in the northern Wasatch Range, the Bonneville Salt Flats, and the Great Salt Lake. There are also 5 national parks to the south, amongst these The ArchesZion and Bryce Canyon.

Travel south to Circleville, and you can visit the home to the outlaw (and former Mormon)Butch Cassidy who was immortalised in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Butch was renowned for robbing banks and trains with The Wild Bunch Gang throughout the south west. He fled to South America with his partner Sundance Kid in 1901 and was allegedly killed in a shootout in Bolivia.

Journeying onwards to Monument Valley, lies the Kingdom of the Navajo Indians, and spectacular backdrop to countless classic Hollywood Westerns. The Valley is home to the first Navajo Tribal Park which opened in 1958 and holds a plethora of red-coloured monolithic sandstone buttes rising from 400 to 1,000 ft. above the valley floor. Enjoy panoramic views and visit key attractions Yei-Bi-Chei – a rock formation that resembles a Navajo holy man – andJohn Ford Point – one of the Hollywood director John Ford’s favourite locations, where he shot scenes from StagecoachThe Searchers, and Cheyenne Autumn.


1. Try your hand at bull riding, barrel racing and steer roping at the Durango Rodeo.
2. Kit yourself out cowboy style at Rockmount Outfitters, Denver.
3. Take in local history at the Black American West Museum, Denver.
4. Sample the great outdoors!
– trek the Colorado Trail
mountain biking from Crested Butte (where mountain bikes were born).
5. Ride the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and enjoy 70km of mountain scenery.
6. Visit Temple Square, Salt Lake City – home of the Mormon Church.
7. Go summer skiing in t-shirt and shorts at Snowbird.
8. See the birthplace of outlaw Butch Cassidy at Circleville.
9. Explore Monument Valley, spectacular drop to 100s of Hollywood westerns and…
10. …check out ancient petroglyphs at Navajo Tribal Park.


  • When to go: You can visit Utah and Colorado all year round – try and avoid Utah in July and August as it gets way too hot! The winter months in Utah and Colorado and great for skiing. During spring and summer hiking in the Rocky Mountains is fantastic – you can also try your hand at canyoonering in Utah’s famous canyons.
  • What to wear: As per most of the USA, people in Utah and Colorado dress very casually, so go prepared to enjoy the great outdoors. Try to dress conservatively if you plan to visit Temple Square in Utah – avoid tight tops and wear long trousers if possible.


  • Getting there: Colorado’s main hub is Denver, which is serviced by a number of domestic and international airlines. The city also serves as a regional centre for bus travel and sits at the confluence of a number of major interstates, making it easy to reach by car. There are convenient air links to a number of other cities and resorts in the state.Utah’s major airport is Salt Lake City International. An alternative for visitors planning to go to southern Utah is to fly into McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • Getting around: Local transport options, public transport (train, metro, tram, etc.), ferries, taxis, car rental, etc


  • Holly travels to Denver by train and visits:
    – The Colorado State Capitol
    – Black American West museum
    – Rockmount Ranch Wear (suppliers to the cast of the film “Brokeback Mountain”)
  • Next she travels to Idaho Springs, scene of one of the first important gold finds in theRocky Mountains and visits the Phoenix Mine where descends 600ft with an ex-miner to search for gold. She stops off at Colorado Springs to visit the U.S. military base –The Cheyenne Mountain Operation Center.
  • Holly heads onwards to the mining town of Lake City and starting point of her 16-mile trek along the Colorado Trail from Carson Saddle to Stoney Pass. She then boards the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, reaching Durango the same afternoon in time for the local rodeo.
  • Next, she crosses the state line into Utah and visits Salt Lake City taking in:
    – Temple Square (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints HQ)
    – The Tabernacle
    – The Family History Library
    – Pony Express Association ceremony (plus re-ride of the Pony Express Trail)
  • The following morning, she heads off to the ski resort of Snowbird, 30 mins. drive from Salt Lake City. Continuing to Southern Utah, she visits the village of Circleville, birthplace of famous outlaw Butch Cassidy.
  • Her journey ends at Monument Valley where she visits the Navajo Tribal Park, taking in panoramic views and visiting the spectacular rock formations at Yei-Bi-Chei and John Ford Point.


  • Population:
    – Denver: 
    4.8 million
    – Colorado: 
    2.7 million
  • Don’t forget to pack:
    – Maps
    – Suncream
    – Walking boots
    – Outdoor wear for all seasons


Book hostels & hotels:
– Denver
– Durango
– Salt Lake City
– Silverton


  • Colorado offers something for every palate, whether it’s a palisade peach or tender bison, or homegrown delicacies from local farms, you can sample the eclectic tastes of local and international cuisine at a wide selection of award-winning restaurants, urban bistros and mountainside eateries. With its low humidity, warm days, cool nights and high elevation, Colorado has the perfect climate for producing premium wines. There are more than 60 wineries located on the Colorado Wine Trail from the Grand Valley (Palisade and Grand Junction) to the West Elks (Hotchkiss and Paonia) to the Front Range(Boulder, Denver, Loveland). Colorado also has more breweries and micro breweriesper capita than any other state in the U.S. and beer has been brewed here since the 1800s. Most of the breweries offer tours of their facilities as well as beer tastings. TheGreat American Beer Festival, the largest domestic beer festival in the United States is held each year in Denver.
  • When it comes to great cuisine, Utah might not be the first place that comes to mind. But after you spend a little time enjoying a meal in a quaint roadside diners, or 5-star-service restaurant, that may change. Don’t let the rumours about Utah’s liquor laws put you off – there’s a huge selection of beers and wines to choose from, including quite a few local varieties created and bottled locally in Utah.


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