Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave

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  William Cody’s life was full of adventure. At eleven years old, to help support the family after his father died, he got a job delivering messages on horseback for a freighting company. By the time he was 25 he’d worked as a Pony Express rider, a teamster in the Union army, a US army scout and a bison hunter for the army and railroad. Drawing on his experiences he started acting with a “wild west” touring troupe which lead to the formation of his famous  “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” show.

  The show was spectacularly successful, playing across the US and Europe for almost 25 years. Unfortunately most of his fortune was gone, due to bad investments and business deals, when he died at 70 in his sister’s house in Denver. His grave is on Lookout Mountain along with a museum originally owned and operated by Johnny Baker, a long time Wild West performer and foster son of Buffalo Bill. The museum contains many original show items and personal belongings of Bill Cody.

 The accessible entrance is in the rear of the museum, up a steep ramp. Another series of ramps accesses the museum located on the lower floor. It’s necessary to go back up the ramps to exit. The gift shop, which is in a separate building, and the grave location, located up a paved pathway, are accessible but some wheelchair users may need to have help.

  The parking lot is large enough for any RV. The road to Lookout Mountain is part of the Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway. The section from Golden to the lookout has tight curves and vehicles over 40’ are prohibited.  Museum
39.73357, -105.23916
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Clear Creek Bike Trail

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  Clear Creek is shallow and fast with little rapids. It’s a very popular for tubing and the wide paved trail makes it easy for launching and carrying the tubes back upstream. Walkers can follow the trail over the bridges for a 1/2 loop. Longer walks are possible but may involve some gravel paths and uphill runs.

  The trail passes by the Clear Creek History Park, a small collection of pioneer era buildings that are only opened for special events. At all other times visitors can stroll through the grounds for free. An interpretive pamphlet is available at the entrance. The paths are gravel so wheelchair users may need to have some help. Most of the buildings are not accessible.
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The Golden History Center is also located along the trail.This is a very small museum with a film covering the town history from 1900-1950. Don’t miss the one of a kind velvet covered piano.
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   RVs can be parked in the gravel lot on the west end of 11th St. or on the street.  Trail
39.75459, -105.22554 
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Colorado School of Mines Geology Museum

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  Even if you have no real interest in geology this is still a very enjoyable museum. Display cases on the first floor contain incredible rock specimens - little works of art created by mother nature. The basement level is more technical with displays about mining, fossils, meteorites and radioactivity.
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  Everything is accessible. An elevator accesses the basement. Once downstairs follow the signs, push the button at the entrance door and listen for the click of the door unlocking. The door is a little heavy.

  Visit on the weekend when school is not in session for easy to find, free parking. Small RVs will fit in the museum lot. Larger ones can be parked on the street.  Museum
39.7519, -105.22481
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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Red Rock Park

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The amphitheater, built by the CCC in a beautiful open air setting of huge red rocks, is the focal point of this city park but the park is a nice place to visit even if you aren’t attending a concert. A scenic road winds through the park. There are a couple of trails and a few historic exhibits at the amphitheater visitor center.

  The exhibits are accessible. The trails are not due to the terrain. We didn’t go to a concert but the website has accessibility information – the first and last rows are accessible.

  The roads are narrow with tight bends and most of the lots are too small for large RVs. Visit the park early in the day or on days when  concerts are not scheduled because the visitor center closes early and later in the day the parking lots are off limits to anyone without a ticket.  Park
39.66642, -105.20739
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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Morrison Natural History Museum

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  Dinosaur fossils were discovered in the Morrison Formation in 1877. Although the dig areas ( at Dinosaur Ridge ) are not extensively worked now the museum crew is still digging, chipping away and making new discoveries like the tiny footprints of baby Stegosauruses. The museum has casts of fossils, a few real fossils and live reptiles. It’s a small museum but the displays are well done and the guides are very knowledgeable.

  The museum itself is accessible but the parking lot, which includes a driveway that accesses the second floor, is covered with large, loose gravel which is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to push through.

  The parking lot is small. Large RVs may not have room to park or turn around.  Museum
39.64888, -105.19385
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Friday, July 26, 2013

Dinosaur Ridge

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   The construction of West Alameda Parkway in 1937 exposed this Jurassic age slab of fossilized lake bed covered with hundreds of footprints. The road has been closed to traffic and opened as a 1 1/2 mile bike and walking trail with interpretive signs.  Besides the footprints visitors can also see a quarry site where the first stegosaurus was discovered, imprints of vegetation, worm holes and dinosaur bones encased in rock. A guided shuttle bus tour ($5.00) is available.

   One of the shuttle buses has a lift but we walked/rolled so I don’t know the details. We also did not visit the small exhibit hall ($2.00)  managed by Friends of Dinosaur Ridge. The trail is in good condition but it’s uphill, a 200’ gain in 1 mile, so wheelchair users will need to have some help. The best parts, the footprints and the exposed bones, are at opposite ends of the trail. Most of the interpretive signs are easy to see.

  Parking for cars and RVs is along the road at beginning of the trail or at the exhibit hall. A smaller parking area is located at the end of the trail. RVs will not fit in that one. Trail
39.68655, -105.19305
009024
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Indian Creek Campground

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  Escaping from the heat! This little forest campground is only ten miles up into the mountains but about fifteen degrees cooler than than the flatlands on the outskirts of Denver.

  It’s not very well maintained but appears lightly used and is very quiet. Site # 5, above, which is probably filled on the weekends, is one of the best sites – large, fairly level and nicely shaded. The parking area is about thirty feet long and has a sideways slope so leveling is necessary.

  The campground has two loops with 11 sites. Most of the parking areas are small and uneven. The road to the second loop has deep erosion gullies. Suitable for tenting and small RVs only.  Campground
39.38143, -105.09682
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Denver Art Museum

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  We spent 4 1/2 hours in this museum and still didn’t see it all so allow plenty of time. The museum is actually two museums, a newer architecturally interesting building that houses modern and contemporary art and an older, seven story building that houses indigenous art from the Americas, Asian art, European and America art. A nice touch is the artwork from current artists that is intermingled among older art so that visitors can view how the artists have stayed true to their cultures while adapting the art to their personal visions. Several very nice seating areas for reading and researching are located throughout the museum.

The museum is accessible.

The best time to visit is on the weekends when there are no school groups or government workers and parking spaces are easy to find. We parked in a lot on the corner of 12th Ave. and Acoma Street. The entrance is very tight so wide RVs may not fit. Metered parking, free on Sunday, is available along Acoma Street. The lot is $5.00 a day. Street parking is $1.00 an hour per space.  Museum
39.73594, -104.98895
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Monday, July 22, 2013

History Colorado Center

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   This museum opened just over a year ago. The exhibits are very interactive and fun. All aspects of Colorado’s history are covered, both the good and bad, but there’s not a lot of depth to the individual exhibits.

  The museum is accessible but some of the interactive exhibits are not.

  The best time to visit is on the weekends when there are no school groups or government workers and parking spaces are easy to find. We parked in a lot one block west on the corner of 12th Ave. and Acoma Street. The entrance is very tight so wide RVs may not fit. Metered parking, free on Sunday, is available along Acoma Street. The lot is $5.00 a day. Street parking is $1.00 an hour per space.  Museum
39.73554, -104.98669
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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Denver Botanic Gardens

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  Make sure to get a map at the visitor center so that you don’t miss any of the smaller areas of the gardens. The gardens are very diverse with over two dozen different sections including a tropical conservatory, Japanese garden, flowering plains and bonsai trees. Very colorful with flowers blooming everywhere!

  The main pathways are paved. Most of the smaller paths are hard packed, crushed stone which is easy to roll along. There are some obstacles such as steps, narrow sections and bumpy stone pavement. Most of the gardens can be seen but a little backtracking may be necessary. The top level of the conservatory is accessed by a old, kind of decrepit elevator.

  Vans can be parked on the top level of the garage but RVs are too heavy. We were told that it’s okay to park in front of the building in the indentation for buses as long as there isn’t a sign saving the spot for buses. Park but then ask if it really is okay. There’s also plenty of parking along the street in Cheesman Park, outside the west end of the gardens but it’s a half a mile from the garden entrance. The best way to get to the gardens from the park is along 11th Ave – good sidewalk and curb cuts.  Gardens
39.73192, -104.96151
046049054033
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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Indian Paintbrush Campground

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  Bear Creek Lake Park is a large community park with a lot of activities – swimming, fishing and boating in the lakes, an archery range, a stable with guided horse rides, a golf course, hiking trails and paved bike trails. The campground has few large trees so there’s little shade or privacy between the sites. All of the sites have electricity plus there are water faucets at several locations and a dump station.

  None of the campsites are marked as accessible either on the campground map or on the campsite posts but the one the we did notice was near a toilet and had a fire pit with high sides and a table with a long overhang on one end.

  The campsites are large enough for any RV. Some are pull through. This park is very popular so you may need to make reservations. Unlike the state parks a daily entrance fee, in addition to the campsite fee, is not required.  Campground
39.64254, -105.16023
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Friday, July 19, 2013

Hudson Gardens

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  Meticulously maintained flower gardens, vegetable gardens and wetlands are all represented in this small garden. The land was donated by a local woman, Evelyn Hudson. She and her husband loved horticulture and spent their retirement years working on the property which was opened to the public in 1996.

  The first section of paths in the garden is paved. The rest are hard packed, crushed stone and are fairly easy to roll along. The interior path in the rose garden has a one brick high step at either end. The nature trail and the trail in the plant zoo are not accessible due to uneven and narrow paths.

  RVs can be parked across the car spaces.  Garden
39.60575, -105.02219
014026
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Osprey Campground

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  Rand McNally maps lie! This is the second time that we’ve started along a nice scenic short cut only to have the paved road become dirt even though it’s marked on the map as paved the entire way. We thought that we would drive from Woodland Park to outskirts of Denver through Pike Forest and skip the interstate. Instead we hit an extremely rough road and had to backtrack and take the interstate anyway. There was another way which would have been shorter but with no internet we didn’t have any way to verify that the pavement would not end on that route too.

  We spent the night at Osprey Campground which isn’t much of a campground. The website says tent camping only but there’s enough room for RVs. It’s a gravel pull off with tent sites, campfire rings and porta-potties, no water, no tables. It’s right on the Platte River so there is a nice view. The river is very popular for fly fishing and tubing.  Campground
39.34926, -105.17665
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Garden of the Gods Park

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  Garden of the Gods Park is a very unique, stunningly beautiful, 1300 acre city park. The land was owned by railroad magnate Charles Elliot Perkins who kept the area opened and free to the public. On his death his children donated it to the city. The huge fins of red sandstone throughout the park are composed of layers of sediment from ancient dunes and beaches that were uplifted and tilted vertically then sculpted by wind and water.

  There are more than 15 miles of trail. 1 1/2 miles are paved. The trails are wide and smooth but most wheelchair users will need to have some help because of the grades – very little is level. The visitor center which is mostly a gift shop with a few displays and a short movie ( $5.00-everything else is free) is accessible.

  The visitor center has a large parking lot with RV spaces. The RV spaces are a good distance away from the entrance. RVs may fit in the main lot near the accessible trails but this lot fills fast. A lot with long spaces is located on Garden Lane. This lot is not near the accessible trails. Most of the other lots have handicapped spaces where a van or very small RV will fit. Buses and RV are not permitted northbound on Garden Drive.  Garden
38.87914, -104.87076 
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