February 8, 2015

Kaye Spencer’s Images of Colorado

When people think of Colorado, the first images that come to mind are often of mountains, hiking, snow, trout fishing, big game hunting, skiing, and professional football. But Colorado, like every other state, has
other treasures for the visitor to discover and enjoy. Colorado is separated north to south and border-to-border by the Rocky Mountains, which creates two distinct areas on the east and west of the mountains. With this geologic division, the state has different climates, population densities, and agriculture on either side.

Historically, during the settling of the West, many battles occurred between the soldiers and the Native Americans on the eastern plains and up in the high country. The Santa Fé Trail cuts across the southeastern corner of the state. Mesa Verde, in the southwestern corner at the Four Corners area, offers a grand experience with exploring Anasazi cliff dwellings. The Royal Gorge and Pikes Peak hold mountain secrets and spectacular panoramic views. Gold was discovered in 1859 and silver in 1864. Before statehood in 1876, the southern part of the state was called No Man’s Land, which was a safe haven for the people on the wrong side of the law. Legend has it that ‘not an honest man drank from Butte Creek’. The infamous Ludlow Massacre (coal mining camp) happened in 1914. The Dust Bowl years coincided with the Great Depression of the 1930s to make an already difficult existence that much harder for the inhabitants.

For the visitor who is interested in an historic driving tour of the state, it would take weeks to see even a fraction of the historic sites. But if that visitor yearns to experience out-of-the-way historical places, then pick up a road map, and head out on Highway 287—aka Ports to Plains highway—and make your way to the far southeastern corner of the state, where I live. Here is a brief list of lesser-visited historic places, with links to follow for more information:

Sand Creek Massacre – near Eads

Bent’s Old Fort – La Junta

Canyonlands of the Comanche National Grasslands (rock art *petroglyphs* in Picture Canyon and Carrizo
Canyon) – near Campo

Picketwire Canyon on the Comanche National Grasslands  – near La Junta

Two Buttes State Wildlife Area – near Two Buttes

When embarking upon any drive in Colorado, always pack plenty of water and food, blankets, coats, and don’t leave your camera at home. The wildlife, sunsets, mountains, and prairie are ripe with photographic opportunities you’ll not want to miss.

Kaye, a native Coloradoan born and raised on a cattle ranch in the northeastern corner of the state, relocated twenty-five years ago to the southeastern corner. Colorado is often the setting for her western romances.

Kaye’s western romances are out-of-print while they undergo revision for 2nd edition release during 2015. Currently, she has stories in three anthologies with Prairie Rose Publications.

Sign up for Kaye's newsletter at her website, www.kayespencer.com to receive information about her re-releases of her backlist, giveaways, family recipes, and more. Join her on Twitter for her daily Tweets on history trivia - @kayespencer

Kaye is offering a print or digital copy of a dessert recipe book AND choice of one of her western romance anthologies to a randomly chosen commenter. Kaye will also throw-in a couple of *surprise* items related to Colorado. Leave your email address with your comment so she can contact you and make mailing arrangements.

Kaye’s stories are in these anthologies:
Lassoing a Mail-Order Bride

Cowboys, Creatures, and Calico – Vol. 2

Wild Texas Christmas

 (All info provided by Author)


  1. I am heading to Colorado this coming summer and appreciated this list of places to check out.

  2. I enjoyed reading new things about your state, Kaye. I've traveled through Colorado to and from the West but have not spent time there. But now I hope to. By the way, my daughter's name is Kaye, spelled the same as yours. Good luck with your new release plans.

  3. Thanks for a great guide to one of my favorite Western states. Haven't visited all those sites yet, but maybe one day.

  4. Husband and I both have cousins who live in Colorado. We're probably going to have to wait until we retire to head out there to do some camping. I'd hate to have to spend days driving there, then only get 1 or two days to enjoy being there before we'd have to head back. Alas, no one gets much vacation time anymore.

  5. Ken,

    Colorado is the traveler's paradise: mountains, prairie, fishing, hiking, wildlife, Old West historical sites - just to name a few. So many places to visit, and so little time. I hope you enjoy your visit this summer.

  6. Linda,

    Thank you for your well-wishes and for stopping by today. I, too, have traveled through many states in my destination to somewhere else without being able to stop and enjoy the sights. I'd like to spend some time in Wyoming, but I never seem to find the time. *sigh*

  7. JR,

    I know what you mean about "one day". There are so many historical places in Colorado to visit that it's difficult to narrow it down to a manageable few when on vacation. The eastern Colorado plains are rich with Native American history.

    Thanks for commenting.

  8. Fiona,

    Yes, it seems that vacations nowadays are often a few days here, a few days there. The "old fashioned" two week vacation where you head out on an adventure don't seem to be quite the "thing" anymore. Colorado's Rocky Mountains are certainly a great place to go camping. I'm not a camper, but I do love to go to Fairplay, which is about 90 miles west of Denver. It sets in a beautiful valley (South Park), and it has an open air museum that is worth the time to visit.

  9. This is one state I have on my list of places to visit. I have always loved the stories from my friends who live there. I loved your post and now have moved it up to the top of my list. Thanks for sharing. Lynda

  10. Enjoyed your column today. I was bornin a little town in southeast Colorado and have been to the Bent's Fort you wrote about and the Picketwire River ran near my grandfathers farm..so know it well. I love my home state in many ways but grew up in Arizona and only went back for skiing trips.

  11. Although I've been through part of Colorado, I never got to really see it in it's full glory. I really enjoyed your photos and the links you posted. My favorite was the dinosaur foot prints. How wonderful it must have been to see those--like magical.
    Wonderful post, Kaye.

  12. Wow! Interesting post, Kaye. I'm moving Colorado to the top of my "one of these days travels". I've always wanted to visit the Colorado Desert... saw many photos and found it fascinating.

  13. Lynda,

    Colorado is my native state, and I've lived here all of my life except for the few years (many, many years ago) that I lived in Ohio while racing thoroughbred horses in Cleveland. I missed the prairie while I lived back east. Trees are great, but I felt hemmed-in because I was so used to looking across the open miles of the prairie. Thank you so much for commenting.

  14. Jackie,

    I've lived in southeast Colorado since the fall of 1990 when I moved here to take my first teaching job. While I'm a native coloradoan, my *roots* are in the northeastern corner of the state. You gave me a smile when you called the Purgatory River the "Picketwire". I'm about a two-hour drive southeast of Bent's Fort at La Junta and about the same distance from Trinidad. I like both of those drives because of the scenery: bluffs, hills, and scattered pinon trees. So glad you stopped by. ;-)

  15. Sarah,

    There are more dinosaur tracks just over the border into New Mexico near Kenton. There's also an extinct volcano not far from there (Mt. Capulin). I hope to make it back to the volcano this summer--it's been a good many years since my last trip. There are all sorts of out-of-the-way sights within a couple hours driving from where I live. Thanks for visiting. :-)

  16. Liette,

    I'm a prairie girl at heart, so when I do make it to the mountains (every couple of years), I'm always glad to get back to the grasslands. One of my favorite *moments* is coming over that last foothill and seeing the prairie stretching out for a hundred miles to the eastern horizon. Thanks for coming by.

  17. This is one of the states I have not been to, but I'd love to see it, particularly Sand Creek. I do follow a photoblogger from that area.

  18. William,

    I'm so glad you commented. If you ever do have the opportunity to visit the site of the Sand Creek massacre, try to work in time to also visit the historic site of the Battle of Beecher Island, which is another Native American/soldiers conflict. Beecher Island is south of Wray. The Beecher Island battle was a near "last stand" for the soldiers.


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