Day 1: Quick jaunt over the Divide to my hometown ( Rifle) to check in with family.
Day 2: Beautiful drive over 3 passes to Durango.
Day 3: Telluride.
Day 4: Getting lost–2 hours the wrong direction, and then to Moab, Utah.
The picture above is from a former favorite place of mine to hike. Rifle Mountain Park. If you’re a climber, you already recognized it. If you aren’t, the canyon holds some of the best sport climbing in the world. And even though it’s not as popular as it once was, the canyon is still littered with chalk dust and people wandering around in harnesses gawking upwardly. If you are a climber, you will like it, despite the greased out holds. If you are a hiker or mountain biker, drive further up the canyon. To where the road dead-ends at the Three Forks trail. The hike will take you to the top of the Flat Tops Wilderness (a good day hike). If you bike it, make a loop and come down Little Box Canyon (you’ll pass it on the way up just before you get to the trail head).
Rifle gets it’s fair share of bad mouthing for being a redneck town ruined by oil and gas, but I promise you there are still beautiful places to go. The mountain park and Rifle Falls are one of them. I used to live in the park ranger house at the falls:
On the way there, you’ll pass:
Rifle Gap State Park. This is where the locals go to water ski and wake board. The lake is beautiful, but super low. It was prettier when I was a kid. If you just want to hang out by the water, BBQ by a swim beach, or row around in a canoe, go to Harvey Gap:
The last two pictures were taken when we lived in Rifle. Harvey Gap was low that summer, but is full right now. The water is turquoise, the trees have leafed out, and there is a quiet peace there that makes my soul swoon.
If you’re in Rifle, eat breakfast at Creekbend and dinner at Thai Chili (both on 3rd Street). Avoid the bars 🙂