Doug & Barbara Peterson

Doug & Barbara Peterson
Barbara & I at a scenic overlook on the skyline drive in the Rocky Mountain National Park, 8-13-2016

Monday, August 5, 2019

Summer Trip 2019, Mueller State Park, Divide, CO

The Pikes Peak Range as seen from the Elk Creek Trail at Mueller State Park
We visited Mueller State Park on our summer trip last year. We enjoyed our stay so much that we decided to come back again this year to do more exploring of this high mountain park near Divide, CO. The hiking trails here are scenic and beautiful with mountain wildflowers, lovely forested areas and great views of the surrounding mountain ranges. The park is very well maintained with multiple sites, many with electric, laundry, showers and a lovely visitors centers. Every day a park naturalist takes visitors on hikes on the many trails that highlight the diversity of this amazing place. The park is quit high up in elevation, 9,500 on average, so visitors need to acclimate to the elevation and drink lots of fluids. The day time highs are pleasant with cool nights for sleeping. 

Our campsite at the grouse mountain loop at Mueller State Park

The Elk Meadow Trail, overlooking the Pikes Peak mountain range

Peak view pond

Mountain wildflowers were blooming all along the Elk Meadow trail

The terrain meanders from forest to meadow

The park is popular for equestrians

Large sculpture of a bull Elk in front of the visitors center
I did place a post up of Mueller State Park on last years summer trip to this area however each time a park for the second time we see new and unique scenery. Mueller State Park is no exception. The diversity of landscape, wildlife and plant life makes this place extra special. It is wise to get a reservation in advance to see this beautiful place as it is quit popular. 

Pikes peak granite boulders are visible from the Lost Pond Trail 

Lost Pond

  WESTERN TIGER SALAMANDER in Geer Pond, This species is the Colorado States official amphibian 

Colorful Wildflowers populate the areas along the Lost Pond Trail

From alpine valleys to spruce & pine forests to majestic peaks, Mueller has it all

A good variety of colorful mushrooms can be seen along the trails
 Each day of our three day visit I was able to take a hike with a naturist on some of the parks popular trails. One of the most interesting for plant life is the Wapiti Trail. This trail is easy with a small amount of elevation gain. Barbara was able to join me for a pleasant through some beautiful mountain meadows and forests along this scenic trail near the visitors center. 

The scenery along the Wapiti Trail is richly diverse with trees and plant life

The mountain wildflowers are rich in diversity with brilliant colors

Mushrooms thrive in colonies occasionally and are rich with texture

The landscapes in Mueller are breathtaking in scope

There is abundant variety of wildflowers to admire along all the parks trails
The views of the surrounding majestic mountain ranges in this part of Colorado provide visitors with a special glimpse into how unique this area is. During our last day in the park I took a hike up to Grouse mountain not far from our campsite. The views of the Pikes Peak mountain range are spectacular. At 9,843 feet Grouse mountain is a great place to take a moment and exhale knowing that nature and the wild lands are forever special and worthy of protecting. Every time I visit this beautiful state I leave a little piece of my heart out here. Colorado still and always will remain one of my favorite states to visit. 

Grouse Mountain not far from our campsite at Mueller State Park

The Pikes Peak Mountain Range, Grouse Mountain hiking trail

The view looking south towards Cripple Creek from Grouse Mountain

Pikes Peak summit as seen from Grouse Mountain in Mueller State Park

Friday, August 2, 2019

Summer Trip 2019, Elk River Campground, Curecanti National Recreation Area, Gunnison River Valley

Blue Mesa Reservoir, Elk Creek campground
The Curecanti National Recreation area is just west of Gunnison, Co located in the majestic Gunnison river canyon. We were pleasantly surprised on how beautiful this area is with the many reservoirs and national park campgrounds available for visitors to enjoy water sports and scenic views of the nearby Mesa's. We stayed just one night at Elk Creek campground on the Blue Mesa reservoir. There is electric in loop D however you have to make reservations well in advance during the summer season to get one. The sites are sunny however since this area is above 7,000 feet the daytime highs are comfortable with refreshing cool nights for sleeping. There are showers and flush toilets. We did not have electric however my solar panel provided all the power we needed to charge are lights and equipment. 

Our campsite at Elk Creek campground, (Our solar panel is mounted on top of our Aliner)

Blue Mesa

Water sports of all kinds our popular on the Blue Mesa reservoir 

Barbara enjoying the waters of the Blue Mesa reservoir 

Sunset over Blue Mesa reservoir 
On our way from Paonia State Park to Elk Creek we drove on scenic highway 92 over the mountains past the east entrance of Black Canyon National Park. The drive was perhaps one of the top 5 drives on our trip with beautiful views of the surrounding mountain scenery. We marveled at the Blue Mesa dam from the overlook not far from Highway 92 meets Highway 50. This area of Colorado is truly spectacular in it's diversity of landscapes and breath taking views

Hermits Rest high up above the Gunnison River Valley on Highway 92

View of the Gunnison River from Hermit's Rest

The Blue Mesa Dam

The Gunnison River Valley west of the Blue Mesa Dam

Traveling scenic highway 92

Gunnison River Valley

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Summer Trip 2019, Paonia State Park, Colorado

Spruce Campground

Paonia State Park is located in Gunnison county east of Paonia, Colorado. This park is in a canyon surrounding the Paonia reservoir on the north fork of the Gunnison river. Spruce campground is just north of the reservoir on the banks of the Muddy Creek. It is nicely forested with old growth trees. There is no electric, however there are restrooms and spacious sites with fire rings & picnic tables. 

View of the surrounding mountains from Spruce campground

Our campsite

Muddy Creek near our campsite

Enjoying a campfire at our campsite
The north end of the Paonia Reservoir 

The Paonia Reservoir 

During our three night stay at Paonia State Park we drove to the mountain town of Marble about 11 miles north of our campsite. Marble is a mining area where many parts of our country get there supply of white marble. We were lucky enough to be there for the month long marble carving workshop that is held once a year in July. The workmanship and skill level to carve marble is truly an art form that is fascinating to see. We saw great pieces of artwork either completed or in the process of being created. Marble, CO is a great place to visit while in this area of Colorado for not only it's amazing marble background but also for the many outdoor activities centered in the scenic Rockies.

Marble from the quarry ready to be shipped

The bell tower in Marble,CO

Crystal Falls

Marble and bronze carving

One of the instructors at the workshop working on very detailed carvings

The carvings are of all sizes with a good deal of content

High powered tools are required to sculpture white marble
Beaver Lake 

The mountain town of Paonia, CO is just west of the park. It is a wonderful place to visit with its many wineries, shops, and bed & breakfast providing a hospitality that is centered around this organic farming community. The areas residents are skilled in the arts, farming, craftsmanship and just down home friendliness that makes visitors feel welcomed. We enjoyed a day walking around town and visiting the local establishments in the area. 

Mural on a side of a building in downtown Paonia

Big B's orchids hand pick organic produce market just west of Paonia, CO

UP Coal train carrying a load of anthrisite from the mines north of Paonia in Somerset, CO

Local artist creation, great RV of the streamline variety
Elsewhere Studios for artist residency programs

For my readers who do not camp the The Wisehart Spring Inn is a great bed and breakfast to stay while your in town. Art and Erin have done a wonder job building a castle like upstairs that will accommodate up to eight visitors. I meet Art in downtown Paonia at the Thai takeout stand where I had lunch. The folks in Paonia are friendly and engaging giving visitors a warm welcome while they are in town.

The Wisehart Springs Inn

The view from the back of the Wisehart Spring Inn

The back yard at the Wisehart Springs Inn