Thursday, June 13, 2024


In late May, we took a trip to Colorado. Our goal was to both finish the state county-wise, as well as visit some National Parks. We flew out of Minneapolis early Saturday morning and arrived in Denver shortly after 8. We rented a white 2024 Chevy Equinox and were on our way.

Our first stop was Rocky Mountain National Park. On the way there, our route naturally took us through Boulder County, our first new county of the trip. We briefly stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s, then headed straight for the park. Although a few roads in the park were still closed due to snow, there was plenty to see. In addition to snow-capped mountains, we were treated to waterfalls and wildlife.

When we left the park, we had to double back toward Loveland (where we picked up some subs at Subway) as our planned path was closed because of snow. Although the drive was a little longer than planned, we were treated to an endless supply of breathtaking sights. This was to be a familiar trend on this trip. We eventually worked our way down HWY 14 and into Jackson County. We then snaked back up to the city of Walden before coming back down again, entering Grand County, followed by Routt County a few minutes later. From there, we headed to Denver and our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Aurora. Along the way, we turned off I-70 at exit 243 to drive into Gilpin County, our last new county for the day.

On Sunday, we got off I-70 near Copper Mountain, headed south on HWY 91, and entered Lake County. We planned to drive near Mt. Elbert to see the Continental Divide and enter Pitkin County. Unfortunately, the road was closed about a mile before the county and Divide, so we turned around and hoped for another way later in the trip. We continued south into Chaffee County, before heading east into Park County. We planned to visit Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument but learned they are sometimes closed on Sundays. Instead, we drove to our hotel, the Hyatt Place Colorado Springs Downtown. After checking in early, we walked a few blocks to Bambino's Pizza. Then, we visited the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, which had a “Flintstones” vibe to it. After that, we returned to Colorado Springs to visit the Garden of the Gods. While there, we saw deer, long-horned sheep fighting, and Balanced Rock.

On Monday, we headed south toward Great Sand Dunes National Park. Our time there wasn’t very long, as the creek was still running, preventing people from reaching the dunes – unless they were willing to get wet. We were not. After leaving the park, we headed west into the small town of Hooper, where we crossed into Saguache County. From there, we headed west. After stopping in Del Norte for Subway subs again, we took HWY 149 northwest out of South Fork and entered Mineral County. We then traveled through Mineral County until we reached Hinsdale County, which has one road running through it. Most of the county is surrounded by mountains. Because of its remoteness, it’s perhaps the most elusive county in the continental U.S. But we got there! We then drove a few miles farther to North Clear Creek Falls – a lovely waterfall in the middle of nowhere. The drive through Mineral County was one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever experienced. It’s quiet and remote with very little traffic. We even saw a moose feeding in the valley! After leaving the falls, we had to drive back to South Fork before driving southwest to the Hampton Inn Durango, our hotel for the night. Along the way, we picked up Archuleta and La Plata Counties.

On Tuesday, we set off for Mesa Verde National Park, where we toured Cliff Palace - the mountain homes of the Pueblo Indians from a thousand years earlier. We then stopped in Cortez to eat lunch at Las Casita Mexican Restaurant. After leaving Cortez, we headed northeast on HWY 145, driving through Dolores and San Miguel Counties. When we reached Placerville, we hooked up with HWY 62 and picked up Ouray County. At Ridgeway, we turned south on HWY 500 to pick up another county. We had to drive through the city of Ouray, at which point we found ourselves on the Million Dollar Highway. It was breathtaking. However, the weather didn't cooperate. It rained, hailed, and snowed. The road itself is devoid of guardrails in many spots. And they lose about seven people each year to the cliffs. Nonetheless, we persevered to reach the San Juan county line. We earned that one! Of course, once we reached the county line, we had to turn around and head back, repeating the trip. Eventually, we left the mountains, returned to warmer weather, and drove to our hotel, the Hampton Inn – Montrose, entering Montrose County on our way.

On Wednesday, we needed to trek back to the Denver Airport. But we first had a few things to do. We started our day by heading east, visiting the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. After touring the park, we had to go back into Montrose to head back to Denver. Along the way, we entered Delta County. At the city of Delta, we traveled east on HWY 92 for another remote route through the mountains. We entered Gunnison County and Pitkin County, our last two counties for the state of Colorado and our final counties for our trip. We then stopped at the McDonald’s in Glenwood Springs, before taking I-70 to the airport.

When it was all said and done, we had picked up 21 new counties and completed Colorado, our 32nd state. We all agreed that Colorado may be the most beautiful state in the country. After seeing all of it, it’s hard to argue. So, what’s next? We’re planning to finish Kansas in July. So, stay tuned!

When it was all said and done, we picked up 21 new counties and finished our 31st state. So what's next? We have a trip to Kansas scheduled for July. Stay Tuned!

                  TOTAL COUNTIES FOR 2024 - 124
                  ALL TIME COUNTY TOTAL - 2687