August 29 – September 1
Our next adventure involved soaking in hot springs and riding whitewater rapids. To get from here to there we started with an early drive through more magnificent countryside. This included driving through ski country and over mountain ranges 10,000ft up in sometimes heavy rain and watching the cloud banks roll over the mountains.
After stopping for breakfast the drive continued south past giant 14,000ft mountains. Not just 1 or 2, loads of them. The stretch of road from Frisco to Poncho Springs is known as the Collegiate Peaks Byway and is lined with fourteeners.
Our stop this night was at the Valley View Hot Springs located at the end of a 7 mile corrugated dirt road. The plan was to spend time over 2 days soaking in the many thermal hot pools and enjoy the peace and quiet. This plan was somewhat disrupted by the site of a bobcat near our camp site and word of a bear in the vicinity. These seemed to be the topic of conversation during our time here with most conversations beginning with “Have you seen the bear?’, “No but I’ve seen the bobcat.”
Despite the wildlife we did enjoy the pools, sauna and sunsets provided at the hot springs. There’s something really nice about sitting in a hole in the ground, immersed in 104F water in the middle of nowhere and Valley View is one of the best in my opinion. The sauna is a must see as it contains its own cool plunge pool so a person doesn’t have to leave to cool down. I’m thinking of doing this trip again only next time do it as a hot springs tour of the USA.
Our next adventure also included water, only this time of the more turbulent and cold kind. All trip we have been looking forward to riding the rapids on the Arkansas River and today was the day. The ride included 17 miles of river, over 4 hours going down rapids classed from class 1 to class 5.
Great fun was had by all and we scored big time with a guide who likes to mix things up a bit and create a truly enjoyable experience for the customer. This included going down some rapids backwards and spinning the boat in circles as we rode the quieter parts of the river. The other boat on our trip did not have nearly as much fun as we did.
A bonus was stopping, and various places to swim in the river and jump off rocks from a great height. The feeling of jumping in a fast flowing river and then try to get back to the edge is wonderful. If it weren’t for all the rocks it would be good to float down river a while and enjoy that ride.
By the end of the rafting we were cold, wet and sore, looking for a hot meal and more hot water to soak in. This manifested itself into a pizza and a few hours soaking at Dakota Hot Springs where we stayed the night. The added benefit of this was to be able to soak again in the morning and try to move the aches out of our bodies.
On the raft trip we passed through the Royal Gorge which has at one point a bridge that was the prototype for the Golden Gate Bridge. There is also a railway that runs alongside the river and we were met with many waves from the passengers as the train trundled past us.
The day after our raft trip we drove to the Gorge to walk that bridge and take the Incline Railway down into the Gorge at a 45 degree angle to the river’s edge. Now we could watch the rafters from land and see in part what we did the day before. Another feature of the Gorge is a Scenic Aerial Tram that spans the 2 sides of the Gorge. This takes you for a ride 1100ft above the river for a spectacular view as it travels the 2200ft from rim to rim.
I cannot think of a more fitting way to end our time in Colorado. We have spent time over 14 days here and still did not see everything we could. I love this area and really enjoyed what we did and wish we could have done more. And as I write this I am reminded of an old showbiz line of always leave the people wanting more. Colorado certainly has done that…