We had been told about the Garden of the Gods by a friend who suggested we stop by and take a look as long as we were traveling nearby. For that reason we are camped at the Garden of the Gods RV resort in Colorado Springs and yesterday we took a short drive to see them.
The Garden of the Gods is an outcropping of ancient sandstone that had originally been laid down around 300 million years ago. The rise of the Rocky mountains (that’s Pike’s Peak covered by clouds in the background) turned the sandstone layers on their side and weathering and erosion have done the rest.
They reminded us strongly of Arches National Park in Utah which had similar layers of sandstone also turned on its side. Like Arches, there were several fingers or leaves of sandstone.
We are staying at a RV park in Alamosa, Colorado so that we could visit the Great Sands National Monument. You can actually see the Great Sands from our RV park even though it is over 15 miles away.
The sand is eroded from the surrounding mountains and is carried to the valley below by streams and rivers in the late Spring and early Summer when the snow melts. The prevailing winds (from the southwest) then tend to blow the sand back up against the base of the mountains. From the the road and from the Visitor Center all you can see is the front of the dunes, which are several hundred feet high. If you could look at the dunes from above you’d be able to see that they are at least 15 miles wide and 5 miles deep.
There were no wheelchair accessible paths of any kind and the parking lot for the picnic area near the dunes was full and cars were parked along the road up to a half mile away. We followed this dirt road for a while, driving through two streams with water up to the bottom of our doors until we got to this sign:
and then we turned around.
The Great Sands Dunes are very impressive and it would have been nice to have better access but after all it is sand that moves around a fair amount from year to year, and any boardwalks would probably either get buried or end up leading nowhere. There were a number of scenic pullouts along the road so we got a good look at Great Sand Dunes from a number of different angles. It was a nice day with blue skies, a light breeze and occasional clouds and we both think it was well worth the trip.
We’d give the Visitor Center a B+ for handicap accessibility. Of the three doorways that were supposed to open electrically only two worked and then only in one direction. Other than that there were an adequate number of handicap parking spots and the handicap bathroom was easy for Susan to get in and out by herself.
We visited the Taos Pueblo on our last full day in Taos. It was built around 900 AD and claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited town (village?) in North America.
We had visited the Millicent Rogers museum several days before and one room had nothing but drawings and paintings of the Pueblo by a number of different artists. We took a group tour of the Pueblo with a local resident who showed us something of the history of the place.
It’s not clear how many members of the Red Willow tribe still inhabit the Pueblo. We passed a number of more modern homes within the boundary of the reservation while driving to the Pueblo. Most of the ground-level rooms at the Pueblo seem to be mostly artist studios, souvenir shops and small eateries.
There are very few places like the Taos Pueblo and that, I think, made it worth a trip. It was a pretty day with mostly blue skies and a light breeze and we enjoyed our visit. We’d give it a C for handicap accessibility. With a bit of effort I was able to get Susan’s wheelchair just about everywhere you could walk, but it was a bumpy ride for her.
We went shopping at a nearby Wally-world for a variety of odds-and-ends but also partly because Susan wanted a new hat. We couldn’t find a mirror for her to see how she looked in it so I took a photo with my smartphone and showed her that intead.
So many times I try real hard to get photos to come out right and they end up coming out blurred or too dark or too light. This time I just snapped a quick photo and it came out real well. Go figure.