When I sat down in the driver seat of my 2012 Subaru Outback around 6:00 am on a cool Sunday morning in June, I had no idea what the next 3800 miles had in store for me.
If there is one phrase I would use to describe my mother, it would be “moss doesn’t grow under her feet”. She is an east coast gal, born and raised in rural Virginia. After meeting my father at eighteen, she spent years living on military bases, using half of a century to explore much of the world. Yet, at the time of my moving to Colorado, she still had never traveled west of her own country’s mighty Mississippi River.
As an adventurer and her youngest daughter, I felt an obligation to amend this situation. I knew if I suggested teaming up for a western U.S. road trip, she would jump at the opportunity.
I was right.
These are the views I captured with my lens, shared in the hopes that the stills will inspire others to seek their own mother-daughter adventures.
After my mother flew halfway across the country to Colorado, and with stomachs full of delicious crepes, our adventure officially begins. We stand at 11,990 feet along the Continental Divide Trail at Colorado’s Loveland Pass.
From high mountain passes, we drive south to Del Norte, a sleepy town nestled in the San Luis Valley between the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges in southern Colorado. This high alpine desert features miles of singletrack mountain biking as well as a multitude of climbing routes, unlimited backcountry skiing opportunities, and natural hot springs.
After a day of hiking in the valley’s Elephant Rocks and Penitente Canyon, we take rest with some friends and wake the next morning to drive to Navajo National Park’s “Four Corners” marker: our gateway to the southwest.
Travelers can expect the unexpected heading west on Route 160. The two-lane highway stretches from Walsenburg, Colorado to Tuba City, Arizona and passes through Navajo lands that abound with mesas, buttes, and classic southwest scenes.
Along the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is Horseshoe Bend, a swooping curve of river and rock sitting 1,000 feet below an overlook point outside Page, Arizona. As we admire the power of water and time, we think about the ancestral Puebloans (native Anasazi) who roamed this Colorado plateau and river over 800 years ago.
We venture to Bryce Canyon National Park and stand at “Sunrise Point” to get a glimpse at the vista of hoodoos spread below. Over time, these rock formations were shaped by freeze-thaw cycles and rain.
This northern section of the park is world renowned; no where else on the planet are hoodoos more abundant.
We follow pinion and juniper forests along our travels. Here, the vegetation frame Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos.
Arches National Park is our last southwest stop. We are lucky to visit the park on a “slow” day, as visitation to Arches has increased substantially over the last few years. Still, opportunities for solitude present themselves and we embrace the slick red rock walls as they tower above us from canyon floor.
The sandstone along the park’s 7.2-mile Devil’s Garden Trail is cool to the touch — at least when located within the shelter of canyons. Outside of this shaded oasis, the heat of the day draws lizards and other desert wildlife.
Arches’ half-mile-long “Sand Dune Arch” trail is considered an easy trek, and the arch is impressive. Despite the popularity of the park and the easiness of the trail, this arch is secluded. Located within a wide opening of a canyon, visitors have to pass through a tight corridor before rounding a bend and catching sight of this natural wonder.
Returning to Colorado, the decision is made to stay in the high country for the remainder of my mother’s visit. We head north to Steamboat Springs, then turn off for our destination: the Routt National Forest’s Zirkel Wilderness, a 160,000-acre wilderness area.
We set up camp in Hinman Park, a short drive to wilderness trailheads and the perfect location to share a few more western sunsets with my unstoppable mother — until our next adventure, of course.
. . .
About the author: Ryan Scavo is an avid outdoors-woman, amateur blogger, passionate photographer and life-long adventure seeker who grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania. After exploring the backwoods of her home state, she made her way west to southern Colorado, a place she now calls home.
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