Colorado Heritage Timeline
Total Number of Days/Nights: 8
Travel Southwestern Colorado,rich in history and heritage. Follow a timeline beginning with the early Native American presence in the region and progressing to the settling of the west through mining, railroads,bordellos and frontier forts. Then travel into the present day with farms, orchards and wineries celebrating the richness of Southwest Colorado today.
Mesa Verde National Park
Ute Indian Museum
Ute Council Tree
Pagosa Hot Springs
San Juan Mountains
Chimney Rock Archaeological Area
Anasazi Heritage Center
Four Registered Historic Districts
Historic Mine Tours
Durango & Silverton Train
Orchards and Vineyards
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Day One: Cortez. Visit the Anasazi Heritage Center, an outstanding archaeological museum and the headquarters for the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument (north of Cortez.) The Heritage Center includes archaeological exhibits, hands-on activities, cultural videos, and two small archaeological sites.
Day Two: Mesa Verde National Park. Just east of Cortez, visit the spectacular cliff dwellings and mesa-top villages in world-renowned Mesa Verde National Park, a World Heritage Site. Ranger-guided, self-guided, and ½ day guided tours are available in the park.
Day Three: Chimney Rock Archaeological Area, Pagosa Springs. From mid-May to the end of September, take a trip back in time at Chimney Rock Archaeological Area. This site, once home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians, is of great spiritual significance today. Travel on to Pagosa Springs, whose name “Pagosah” is a Ute Indian word meaning healing waters. Learn the lore of the fight for hot springs ownership between the Ute and Navajo Indians.
Day Four: Durango. Take a ride on the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. A coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive carries you through the wilderness of the San Juan Mountains to the historic mining town of Silverton. Enjoy lunch in Silverton, before returning to Durango for a walk through their National Historic District.
Day Five: Silverton and Ouray. Explore Silverton’s National Historic Landmark District, including a stop at the San Juan County Historical Society Museum,
formerly the San Juan County Jail, and a walk along Historic Blair Street, where during the mining days, the “ladies of the evening” entertained the miners. Explore the secret underground world of the hard-rock gold miner by taking a mine tour, and afterwards, try your luck panning for gold. Continue along the San Juan Skyway.
Day Six: Ouray and Telluride. The Red Mountain area was one of Colorado’s richest and most productive mining districts. Take a 4 x 4 ride on the region’s back roads to visit historic mines and mining towns that link Ouray to Telluride. While in Telluride, a National Historic Landmark, enjoy their charming downtown featuring restored Victorian homes and storefronts, and stop into the Telluride Historical Museum. After your 4 x 4 trip returns you to Ouray, enjoy an historic walking tour through the National Register Historic District and visit the beautifully restored Beaumont Hotel, 1887, or the authentic St. Elmo Hotel, 1898.
Day Seven: Montrose. Visit the Ute Indian Museum, one of the few museums in the country devoted solely to one tribe. The life and culture of the Ute People, the indigenous inhabitants of western Colorado, are commemorated in this museum. The grounds include the Ouray Memorial and the grave of Chipeta, wife of Chief Ouray. Travel on to explore Black Canyon National Park. This steep, dark canyon has been a barrier to humans from time immemorial. Only the rim, never the canyon, shows any evidence of human occupation, not even by Ute Indians.
Day Eight: Delta. Discover the Ute Council Tree, dedicated in memory of Chief Ouray and his wife, Chipeta, where Ouray and his braves met with white settlers to smoke the pipe of peace and settle their differences. Then venture into the frontier life at Fort Uncompahgre where Ute Indians and trappers once traded. Complete your Colorado timeline by touring the countryside of Delta County, an agricultural area steeped in pioneer sentiment for more than 100 years.