Thursday, August 4, 2016

Vacation 2016, Salida, CO, Monarch Pass, Valley View Hot Springs

Barbara and I camped out about 8 miles east Monarch Pass at Heart of The Rockies RV Park near Salida, CO.  At 8,500 feet the first day was rainy and cool making it necessary to pull out our ceramic heater to take the chill out of our camper. The clouds skimmed over the mountain ridges making for a very surrealistic mountain scene. The first whole day was off and on rain so we decided to venture into Salida, CO for a tour of the town.  Salida besides its western mountain community charm is well known for its white water sports on the Arkansas River that flows through town. We enjoyed the shops and watching the white water kayakers and rafters as they maneuvered through the white water rapids of the river.  

Heart of The Rockies RV Campground

Our Campsite with rain clouds on the mountain ridges in the distance
Rafting on The Arkansas River near Salida, CO
We took time to venture out to a nearby ghost town which is on the national historical site register St. Elmo Ghost Town. Nestled high in the Rockies this old mining town was known for its silver and gold mines at the turn of the last century. We enjoyed the Chipmunk crossing where baby chipmunks and their mothers fed on the nuts that visitors left them. Humming birds flocked to the feeders hung in front of the general store which is the only place open in this ghost town. St. Elmo is one charming place with its many abandoned old buildings. The memories of the miners who lived here many years ago leave a haunting presence.

The last day of our stay in the Salida, CO area we spent at one of our favorite places, Valley View Hot Springs. Valley View is nestled in the foot hills of the Sangre De Cristo mountains overlooking the San Luis Valley. The air is so clear here that you can see for miles as we watched the scattered storms move across the mountain ridges and across the valley. The day we were there was mostly rain free except for a late afternoon thunderstorm. The hot springs are very nicely placed in a natural setting with sides built out of stone and sandy bottoms which blend in with the surrounding hill sides. Deer roamed about and were not shy coming close to the springs and feeding near the hiking paths that led to the hot spring pools. We enjoyed the shelter area with it's community kitchen and center campfire circle. At the end of the day we left many memories behind knowing that one day in the future we would be back to spend more time. 

The Arkansas River in Salida, CO

Kayaking on The Arkansas River

Mountain Hilltop over looking Salida, CO

Art Work near river front in Salida, CO

The Palace Hotel on the main drive in Salida, CO

Mountain Sun Flower

General Store in St. Elmo ghost town high up in the Rockies

Humming Bird feeder outside the general store

Chipmunk feasting

Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet crossing the Continental Divide

Back packers known as The 2 Groundhogs hiking the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango, CO

Monarch Mountain Tram ride on a clear morning

Panoramic view from Monarch Peak at 12,000 feet 

Majestic Mountain Peaks as seen from the peak of Monarch Mountain

Old Gold Mine on the eastern slope down from Monarch Pass

View from the campground at Valley View Hot Springs of The San Luis Valley

Rain Shower over the San Luis Valley

The Oak House guest quarters at Valley View Hot Springs

One of the many deer we saw during our visit

Sun Flowers lining the trails up to the hot spring pools

Out door community shelter and kitchen at Valley View Hot Springs

Rainbow over the San Luis Valley on the road back from Valley View Hot Springs to our campsite at The Heart of The Rockies RV campground

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