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 Arches, Zion 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 Stagecoach, The Searchers, and Cheyenne Autumn.
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