Welcome to Colorado—home of craft beer, cowboy culture, avant-garde art and a lot of high-altitude huffing-and-puffing.
In This Colorado Photo Essay You Will Discover:
- Avant-Garde Art in Denver
- Authentic Cowboy Culture
- High-Altitude Hiking
- One Seriously Determined Housecat
- And More!
Colorado is a state at odds with itself. Its high plains harbour historic dude ranches, while Denver is home to a progressive arts movement rivalling any in America. You’ll find folks in gun-propaganda t-shirts alongside tie-dyed stores peddling legalized marijuana. You’ll encounter card-carrying Republicans and left-leaning outdoorsy hippies. Wild West heritage with a vibrant craft beer scene.
But maybe this all makes sense. Once common thread runs through it: freedom. There’s an allowance to do whatever you want in the Mile High State, whether that’s buy a six-shooter or an ounce of pot.
I returned from my second trip to Colorado a few weeks ago. Rather than jet into the San Juan Mountains, as last time, I spent a couple of days in artsy Denver, toured delightfully high-end and high-altitude Vail and—the highlight—immersed in cowboy culture at Tarryall River Ranch, near Colorado Springs. I’m writing about these experiences in Explore and Canadian Traveller magazines, starting with the Fall 2015 Explore (September 1).
To tide you over ’till those articles are published, please enjoy these images I shot during my time in the Centennial State:
The Source—Denver’s craft beer and farm-to-table epicentre.
Sour beer (an acquired taste) at Crooked Stave and small-plate paradise at Acorn, in The Source.
Painters at work in Denver Botanic Gardens; a living museum.
My favourite stop in the Mile High City: the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
A photorealist exhibit at the MCA—all subjects are NFL players suffering from brain injury (artist: Monique Crine).
A brilliant glasswork by famed artist Dale Chihuly, at Denver Botanic Gardens.
Exciting, subversive art by Kim Dorland at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
Stunning artwork by Deborah Butterfield—they are actually crafted from bronze, but made to resemble driftwood. (Denver Botanic Gardens.)
The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
Vail Village’s famous martini glass. Some say it looks like “clouds.”
Vail Mountain’s popular Berry Picker Trail, a 5.2-km route that climbs from (or descends to) Vail Village,
We didn’t do it! I don’t condone this defacement—but in moderation, it does look kinda cool. (Vail.)
Hiking past wildflowers on Vail Mountain.
Learning horsemanship from Paula, manager at Tarryall River Ranch.
The only mountain lion I saw. Thankfully.
Trap shootin’ in the Wild West at Tarryall River Ranch.
Outdoor living and cowgirl couture at Tarryall River Ranch. (And M.J., the hiking cat.)
I’m gleefully introduced to Checkers, my steed for the week.
Paula leads us on our orientation ride in Pike National Forest.
Modern cowgirls (and one cowboy) at Tarryall River Ranch.
Western singer Will Dudley performs at Tarryall River Ranch. Awesome.
Does this count as a mountain lion? Never before have I been hiking with a housecat.
Hiking to Lizard Rock, Pike National Forest.
Lizard Rock, Colorado’s Front Range, at a little above 10,000 feet.
Line dancing clinic at Tarryall River Ranch.
No cowboy experience would be complete without a campfire singalong.
A blue-eyed beauty at Tarryall River Ranch.