Triceratops Trail Review: A Walk Back in Time to the Last Days of the Dinosaurs

If you have a love for dinosaurs and their history, Denver is truly one of the best cities to visit. You can spend half a day exploring the world famous dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Ridge as well as spending time in some of the museums like the Morrison Natural History Museum.

But one spot not to be overlooked is Triceratops Trail which is a quick and easy visit with a lot of bang for buck in terms of stunning dinosaur tracks. In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know before visiting.

What is Triceratops Trail?

Triceratops Trail is a one-mile roundtrip nature walk near Denver, Colorado, that allows you to explore well preserved dinosaur tracks and other fossils dating from 68 million years ago.

While its nearby neighbor Dinosaur Ridge was ranked as the number one dinosaur track site in the US by paleontologists, Triceratops Trail was ranked #3.

It’s free to visit Triceratops Trail (other than sometimes paying a small amount for parking). However, you can book a tour with a geologist that will allow you to gain a lot of interesting and valuable insight into the different sites. If you don’t want to go with a geologist, you can also purchase an audio tour to give you additional insight.

Triceratops Trail

Where is Triceratops Trail?

Triceratops Trail found in Golden Colorado, adjacent to the Colorado School of Mines.

We chose to park at the Jones Lot A which is operated by Colorado School of Mines (and free on weekends). This lot is directly adjacent to the trailhead but if that lot is full you can also look for public street parking or go to Mines Park. There may be parking available on Tangent Way.

Our experience at Triceratops Trail

After paying for parking, we set off on the trail which is directly adjacent to the main parking lot. The trail does run along a highway in the beginning but it feels surprisingly secluded once you start making your way down the path.

Triceratops Trail

Within a short amount of time, you’ll come across a small hut. Here, you can find maps of the area and also can take a pamphlet with you for more information.

Triceratops Trail

It’s pretty cool to think about that the rocks and remains that you’ll be looking at are from the late cretaceous period.

This era marks the end of the age of dinosaurs, making it a remarkable journey back in time. So you’ll be witnessing traces of dinosaurs from a period closest to our own, bridging a gap of millions of years and gaining a unique perspective on the distant past.

In ancient times, this region teemed with life as a lush, marshy delta, adorned with serene lakes, winding streams, and swamps and scrubby forests. Imagine towering palm trees reigning over a prehistoric kingdom, where mighty Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops roamed freely. That’s what you’ll be exploring.

Triceratops Trail

After moving through a gravel path you’ll come across what looks like a ravine and you’ll head down a couple of switchbacks to get down to some tracks.

Triceratops Trail

You’ll be looking at upright tilted layers of sandstone of the Laramie Formation. The wall was once flat but it was uplifted so that the imprints are now viewed from their underside.

It’s here where you can see some of the most intriguing dinosaur prints including those believed to be from a Tyrannosaurus rex and duckbill dinosaur! It’s not 100 percent certain if this is a print of a Tyrannosaurus rex but other clues like teeth and bones found nearby suggest that it is.

Triceratops Trail

Some other interesting sites to see here including raindrop impressions (although some scientists think these could have been gas bubbles). I couldn’t believe that such delicate details could be preserved over vast expanses of time.

Beetle tracks can also be found in the wall as well.

Triceratops Trail beetle tracks

As you continue your journey along the platform, another captivating site comes into view: the literal stomping grounds of dinosaurs. This section of the wall bears witness to the countless footsteps left behind by these magnificent creatures, creating a vivid tableau of their ancient activities. Dinosaur bulges can also be seen nearby as well.

Triceratops Trail dinosaur stomping ground

After checking that out, you will head back up where you came and you will pass through a clay mining area on your way to an overlook. The abundance of clay in the area allowed Golden to become a major center of brickmaking and the clay mine here was used for over 100 years.

Look closely and you can see dinosaur tracks and evidence of a stream.

Once you arrive at the overlook, you’ll have a really good view of some of the trail below as well as the neighboring golf course known as Fossil Trace Golf Course. (You have to stay off the golf course.)

Triceratops Trail golf course

There was a steady flow of golfers when we visited who were taking a little bit of time after their hole to check out some of the tracks. The novelty of the golf course reminded me of another unique Colorado golf course in Estes Park where elk roamed on the greens.

Triceratops Trail golf course

You’ll then take the path down towards the end of the trail. Make sure you keep your eyes open for snakes as they can be spotted out here and there is a lot of overgrowth they could be hiding in.

Also worth noting is that during the middle of the day, there is no shade on this trail and it can get pretty warm. We visited on a day with temperatures in the high 90s and even though this is a very short trail, it still was a bit taxing with the heat — my phone even stopped working at times!

Sunscreen, water, and even an umbrella could be handy.

Triceratops Trail

As you draw nearer to this second wall, even more fascinating sights await.

Witness the evidence of small animal burrows and intricate trails etched into the ancient ground, providing glimpses into the mysterious lives of creatures that once roamed these very lands. And not to be missed are the log impressions, preserving the long-lost presence of fallen trees that were once integral to this prehistoric landscape.

Triceratops Trail

The most impressive sight to behold at this location is undoubtedly the well-defined and enormous triceratops tracks. Unlike some other places where tracks might be less visible, the triceratops tracks here stand out prominently and clearly, making the experience even more remarkable. It’s possible the tracks could belong to another horned dinosaur similar to triceratops but either way they are magnificent to behold.

Triceratops Trail triceratops tracks

Another captivating site to explore along the trail is the mesmerizing display of palm fronds.

These exquisite patterns, exquisitely preserved and distinctly visible, serve as a captivating glimpse into the lush semi-tropical climate that once enveloped this ancient land. They are known as ichnofossils, which are “trace evidence of once living things.”

As you wander through this prehistoric terrain, you can also envision the magnificent magnolia and sycamore trees that would have towered above, alongside the delicate presence of low-lying ferns and herbs, painting a vivid picture of the diverse flora that thrived in this ancient ecosystem.

Triceratops Trail palm fronds

After checking out the palm fronds be sure to look for some of the other traces. There were mammal tracks once here but they were removed to be preserved but it’s worth mentioning that Triceratops Trail is only one of three places where you could find dinosaur tracks alongside mammal tracks.

After viewing these interesting sites, it was time to head back. But by this time, my mind had been sufficiently blown by seeing so many huge dinosaur tracks and hopefully yours will be as well.

Final word

Triceratops Trail is a must-stop destination for anybody interested in dinosaurs. It’s extremely accessible and you can see some amazing giant dinosaur tracks belonging to some of the most revered dinosaurs including a Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops.

Some of the other traces are also fascinating to see like the rain drops and the palm fronds, among others.

And lastly, the fact that these are from the last days of the dinosaurs makes this an even more memorable experience as you’re able to witness pieces from their final era.

Guide to Acorn Street at Beacon Hill (Boston, MA) [2023]

If you are traveling to Boston and looking for one of the most scenic and historic spots to visit, chances are you thinking about heading to Acorn Street at Beacon Hill. It’s one of the most photographed streets in the country and is renowned for its true cobblestone road.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know before visiting Acorn Street. I’ll touch on some of the interesting history behind the location and also give you some practical tips to make your visit as easy as possible.

What is Acorn Street in Boston?

Acorn Street is a small street (or more accurately an alleyway) that is famous for its charming cobblestones, gas-lit lamps, red brick sidewalks, and overall historic look and feel. It is arguably the most photographed street in Boston and some even say the entire country.

Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!

Acorn Street flag
Acorn Street with Civil War era flag.

Why is Acorn Street so famous?

In short, Acorn Street is famous because it’s an original cobblestone street which is super rare to find these days in the US. On top of that, the street cobbles its way through charming federal-style row houses complete with antique street lamps and hanging ivy.

The entire setting, while unexpectedly small, is a sight to behold and almost museum-like but make no mistake, the main attraction here is the cobblestone and it’s worth understanding why.

A common pre-industrial paving technique for roadways was to use cobblestones.

These stones were found abundantly throughout New England and more specifically transported by coastal schooners from Maine.

The stones (also called “cobs” or “cobbles”) were set against each other in beds of sand. They retained their natural shapes which is why the cobbled stones are anything but uniform.

To help smooth things over, the lads back in the day would pour sand between the cobs but that could only do so much.

These impossibly bumpy paths — which were found all over Boston — were not very friendly to wheels, horses, or humans. As a result, in the mid-19th century, paving with granite stones (or “setts”) came into use.

Setts are roughly rectangular quarried stones, capable of creating relatively even streets and walkways.

Initially, these stones were large but people realized horses needed to get more traction on slopes so they soon went with smaller bricks.

A lot of people confuse setts for cobblestones but they are very different.

Not only are the two completely different in terms of shape and composition, cobblestone roads would typically be older and rarer to find which is exactly why Acorn Street is so special.

The cobblestone alleyway at Acorn Street was laid in 1823 back when it was home to artisans and general laborers, almost exactly 200 years ago.

Today, taking a stroll among the cobs feels like stepping back in time.

And it’s that historic essence that many tourists are interested in when they visit Acorn Street.

If there is any site that will capture that New England charm people look forward to visiting Boston, it’s going to be Acorn Street.

Acorn Street cobblestone fall
Acorn Street during October.

Is Acorn Street open to the public?

As of 2021 Acorn Street is open to the public but that might be changing some time soon….

Back in the 1980s a group of residents created the Acorn Street Association. Their goal, in a pre-Instagram world, was to preserve the beautiful and historic cobblestones of Acorn Street.

They had no idea that they would actually be preserving something that would end up causing a lot of frustration for the roughly 18 homeowners that make up the association today.

It’s estimated that “2,000 visitors [come] to Acorn Street over the course of a weekend in late September or early October.”

That’s a lot of foot traffic for such a tiny stretch of street.

Interestingly, Acorn Street is a “private way,” which means that it does not receive maintenance or upkeep from the city of Boston.

Instead, it is the owners of the residences who are responsible for the upkeep

Reportedly, the owners could also keep the tourists out if they wanted to. Indeed, there is currently a proposal for putting a security gate on the street.

Recently, residents put up a photography sign (perhaps banning it) but that was ordered to come down.

They also have posted “No Trespassing” signs on the alleyway corners but those apparently don’t deter tourists.

It’s not clear to me that locals have the law behind them to exclude visitors from walking along the private way, though.

As stated in this article:

“Residents cannot put up a ‘No Trespassing’ sign at the front of a private way …

The public has the right to pass on it. People think of ‘private’ in the sense of something being exclusive. But it’s really private in that it has not been accepted as a public way, with public standards. It does not mean exclusivity.”

While the legal right to exclude visitors might be in question, it is pretty clear that local residents can at least set their own parking rules.

So I would avoid parking on Acorn Street because you could get your car towed. Driving through it is probably not a good idea either.

Acorn Street car

What’s up with the locals?

I’ve always been fascinated by people who buy famous homes or rent their homes to movie companies and then complain about the tourists that later come around to check out the house.

Oh, you mean you didn’t realize there was a chance thousands of people would be intrigued to come by and stop by your home?

You might be frustrated that some of the locals get annoyed with visitors coming to Acorn Street.

Shouldn’t the locals understand that they have brought this frustrating experience upon themselves by choosing to live in such a well-known location?

While that might be true for newer owners, Acorn Street did not really explode in popularity until fairly recently due to platforms like Instagram.

So it is feasible that some of the homeowners decided to live on Acorn Street before it became a tourist hot-spot. For that reason, I do sympathize with those owners.

Also, not every person who lives on Acorn Street has a problem with tourists.

While they seem to be in the minority, some do embrace the visits and might even be willing to share some of the history with you.

Value of the Acorn Street homes

These Acorn Street residences are high value homes.

Zillow shows 1a Acorn St, a two bedroom and one and a half bath going for $1,333,300 or rent at $3,899/mo and that’s the low end. 4 Acorn St is valued at $3,640,500.

The homes probably average from $2 million to $4 million in value but some of the larger homes adjacent to Acorn Street may go for as much is $7 million.

Where is Acorn Street in Boston?

Acorn Street is located in Boston’s Beacon Hill, an affluent area known for its steep streets which are lined with Federal-style and Victorian brick row houses.

On our visit, we arrived via rental car from Salem after a long day of checking out Hocus Pocus sites and Salem Witch Trial sites.

We chose to drive into the Boston Common and utilize the parking garage.

The parking garage was quite large and we did not run into any issues with parking availability.

Acorn Street was only about a 10 minute walk from the parking garage which wasn’t bad at all, although the terrain is pretty hilly at times.

The entire Beacon Hill area has some interesting architecture.

Cobblestones near Louisburg Square.

If you don’t have a vehicle you can just walk to the area or get dropped off by an Uber and simply explore everything the area has to offer.

Nearby attractions include:

  • Museum of African American History
  • Massachusetts State House
  • Nichols House Museum
Boston common
Boston Common.

How to visit Acorn Street

There are two ways you can visit Acorn Street.

Take a drive-by glimpse

You can choose to simply walk past the alleyway and take a quick photo of the alley from one of the ends.

If you do that, I would probably recommend taking it from the bottom as that angle looks a little bit more interesting but both sides have great views.

Note: If there is a car in the alleyway, your shot could easily be ruined and you may need to go to the other side.

Walk through the alleyway

The other option is to actually walk through the alleyway.

Plenty of visitors do this but this could technically be considered a trespass (not IMO) and there is the chance you could encounter an angry local when doing this so try to be as unnoticeable as possible.

Although the Acorn Street Association website does not appear to be active any longer they previously stated the following:

“Tourists are welcome to click a quick picture at the top or bottom of the street but access is limited and the privacy of the owners needs to be respected… Please remember that people live here; we are happy to share our view but please consider your fellow visitors as well as the residents as you pass by!”

Most likely, based on my experience and research, you won’t get any serious pushback from locals unless you are lingering around for a photo shoot, being too noisy (or nosy), etc.

If you choose to walk on Acorn Street you’ll find that the cobblestone street is extremely rugged.

I was surprised to find that it felt about as rugged as many of the rocky trails we’ve hiked on. If you are wearing high heels, it’s going to be rough.

Because there are private residences that line Acorn Street you definitely want to be considerate about being a nuisance.

What does that mean practically speaking?

  • Keep a reasonable distance from doorways and windows.
  • Don’t climb on stoops and definitely don’t go peeking inside the homes.
  • Avoid being loud and make sure that you don’t leave any trash behind.
  • Don’t linger in one spot for too long.
Acorn Street photography session

When to visit

Acorn Street is not just a popular place for visitors to come and snap Instagram photos.

It’s also where photographers get it poppin’ with engagement and wedding photos. In fact, we encountered a couple getting photographs done during our visit.

There are reports of photographers trying to clear the road of other people so that they can get their shots.

Presumably, the photographers have applied and received a permit for the photography which can cost up to $3,000 for a day.

I’m sure many photographers just hop in and hop out so that they don’t get called out for not having a permit so you might run into some of them. And they might be more pushy since they are trying to get out quickly.

So I think you should try to be mindful of the photography sessions but not to the extent that you’re not able to enjoy or snap a picture of the road yourself.

Between the photographers, fellow tourists, and the locals, the area can get a little bit hectic sometimes.

So if you want to avoid the crowds try to visit in the early morning or late afternoon on a weekday. If you come later in the evening the lamps will be lit which I also think is an ideal time to stroll through.

In terms of the best time of year, fall is a great time but will likely be the busiest (especially on nice days).

Winter might have ice or snow on the cobblestone road which could be magical (and deadly) but spring and summer are probably the next best times behind fall.

If you can catch it right after a rainstorm the colors tend to pop more on the cobblestone and bricks.

Are there other cobblestone roads nearby?

You can also look for cobblestone roads or pathways nearby off Spruce Street, Louisburg Square, and Mount Vernon Street. And although not in Boston, Nantucket is also another destination to head to for cobblestone roads.

If you wanted to find areas with granite setts, Boston City Walks recommends you look around the famous circle commemorating the Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall (Congress Street), North Square in the North End (in front of the Paul Revere House), and Marshall Street by the Union Oyster House.

Cobblestone on Spruce Ct with setts.

Acorn Street FAQ

How old is Acorn Street?

Acorn Street was built in 1823 so it will be 200 years old in 2023.

Is Acorn Street private property?

Acorn Street is located on a private way but members of the public still can legally access the street.

Does Acorn Street have real cobblestones?

Yes, Acorn Street has its original cobblestones from 1823 which makes it such a rare and interesting destination.

How long is Acorn Street?

Acorn Street is approximately 200 feet long.

Final word

Acorn Street is a picturesque and historic site to check out. There are not many places that can take you back in time like Acorn Street and show you true cobblestone roads. But at the end of the day it is a small and narrow alleyway full of private homes and so it should be treated with the appropriate level of respect.

Is Easter Island Worth It? An Honest Look

Are you thinking about visiting Easter Island?

It’s one of the most remote destinations in the globe so you probably have wondered whether or not it would be worth it to make it all the way out there, perhaps jumping on a handfull of flights.

Below, I’ll break down some of the key considerations you’ll want to think about when deciding if Easter Island is worth it.

Getting there is not always easy

If you’re coming from the US, you most likely are going to have to deal with a lot of flying time. You’ll need to make your way to Santiago, Chile, which is a pretty far trip, even from southern cities in the US. (Cruise lines also go to Easter island but that’s a much different ballgame.)

Once you arrive in Santiago, you will need to take about a five hour flight from mainland Chile to Easter Island.

There’s a good chance you may find prices more expensive when using the US website versus the Chile website for LATAM. And we’re not talking about minor price differences here. I was able to capture the Chile rate which cut our flight cost almost in half!

So be prepared to spend a nice chunk of change if you can’t snag the lower rates.

While the flying time and the expense make accessing Easter Island a hurdle for many, you also have to deal with additional paperwork to get into the island. Luckily, this is not that difficult of a process.

Related: How to get to Easter Island: Everything You Need to Know

SCL Airport

The history is unreal and unlike anything else

If you are drawn to ancient structures like Stonehenge and other ruins, you will absolutely love what Easter Island has to offer.

It’s a place where you really “feel” the history as there is nothing quite like staring up at a massive moai as the sun sets in the background or viewing them under the celestial masterpiece of the Milky Way.

The rich history surrounds you at every turn and it’s truly one of the most unforgettable places to visit for that reason alone.

Seeing the mysterious Moai up close — which are largely scattered about the island — is what made the visit worth it to me above all other things. It also helps that there are many to see and that they come in all different types of shapes and sizes, so it’s not like you’re just looking at the same thing over and over again.

easter island heads

Extra restrictions are a pain

Probably the biggest drawback of Easter Island is the amount of restrictions you have to deal with when visiting now.

After the island opened up after the pandemic, they decided to require (not just recommend) guides at all of the major archaeological sites. This means that when you do your exploring, you always have to be tethered to a guide.

Since you can’t see everything on Easter Island in one day this also means that if you want to experience all of the major sites (in a relaxing fashion) you will need a guide to accompany you at least two days and some people may need even more time than that.

Not only can this get expensive, but it gets a little tiring after a while, especially if you are like us and enjoy exploring on your own.

While I understand the need to preserve historical sites, at a certain point, it starts to feel like overkill and just takes some of the fun out of exploring.

There’s a lack of clarity

One thing that did drive me a bit crazy during my time on Easter Island was the lack of clarity when it came to visiting the sites.

Each archaeological site is part of the national park system and they set up checkpoints that require you to show your park pass which is simple enough.

But then there is the guide requirement. Initially, we received a lot of conflicting information about whether these guides were “recommended” or “required” at different locations.

One pamphlet we had said a guide is “recommended” when in reality it was required.

That’s a big difference because one option hits your wallet and requires a lot more planning. It’s not always easy to find a guide, especially one that speaks English or knows what they are talking about.

So in the beginning we’d show up only to be told that we can’t access the site because we don’t have a guide. (Only later did we find out that the “recommended” language was completely outdated.)

Then there is the passport issue. Some of the checkpoints require passports, others don’t. And some of the stations that do require a passport, don’t always ask for them.

I personally don’t like traveling with my passport on me because of the risk of something happening to it. Having to constantly pull it out is just a bit unnecessary and asking for potential trouble in my opinion.

Then there are the hours. The main sites are only open from 9 AM to about 5:30 PM. However, some open early. Just how early? Well, that could just depend on the day….

That might not seem like a big deal to you but if you’re traveling across the globe for astrophotography shots and only have a few days available, the lack of clarity can get frustrating as it makes planning a once in a lifetime shot a guessing game….

Eventually, we figured everything out but only after we had already spent quite a lot on guided tours and wasted some time trying to access places that did not allow us to get through.

I’m hoping that eventually Easter Island publishes a central hub with all of this information to clear up the confusion.

They do provide you with more details in your email confirmation after you purchase your park pass but all of the links in the email were broken!

So this lack of clarity was one of the major headaches we encountered on the island.

Communication challenges

Another challenging aspect of putting together an itinerary on Easter island is the lack of communication. Some of our lodging like the Kona Koa Lodge excelled at communicating with us. Seriously, they were amazing.

However, there were other hotels (including very expensive ones) and certain businesses that simply never got back or just failed to respond in anything close to a timely manner.

We even had one rental car company erroneously cancel our 8-day prepaid reservation (not cheap) and not respond to any of our emails until we finally arrived on the island. Talk about stressful.

This lack of communication can make it frustrating and difficult to plan your trip, so if you are a big planner be prepared for this.

Are you into astronomy?

Easter Island is home to Bortle 1 skies, which are some of the the darkest skies you will find. Because the island is so compact, you can easily access these skies making this one of the best places for stargazing in the world.

Also, if you love astrophotography, you will have a field day out here (aside from the lack of access to sites). So for people seeking to connect to the cosmos, Easter Island can definitely be worth the trip.

easter island dark sky

The food is on point

One thing you don’t have to sacrifice when you come here is satisfying your appetite.

You can find some of the most tasteful and fresh seafood on Easter Island. You simply can’t go wrong with ceviche, lobster, or local fish like tuna.

There’s a decent selection of restaurants on the island, too.

It’s not a beach destination but there are beaches

One thing about Easter Island is that most of the coastline consists of rocky cliffs.

These are pretty stunning coast lines with otherworldly lava rocks seemingly frozen in time. You can relax to waves crashing into these porous rocks and explore some of their warped crevices and tide pools but you will not find many beaches here, aside from two main beaches: Anakena Beach and Ovahe.

There are some “fun size” beaches like Playa poko poko and a little snorkel area where you can get up close to sea turtles so if getting in the water is your thing then there still is something for you. Just don’t expect it to feel like Hawaii or many other iconic Polynesian destinations when it comes to beaches.

The scenery is barren but beautiful (to some)

Another thing that might catch your eye is how barren the island is. Lots of it is devoid of trees.

It still has beautiful rolling green hills that I found to be very scenic but some people might find the desolate nature of the landscape to be a little boring or maybe even depressing as it sort of leaves you constantly wondering, “what the hell happened here?” For those looking for a lush tropical island covered in palm trees, you won’t find that here.

Scuba diving is a little meh…

If it’s SCUBA that you are into, Easter Island does not have a bustling coral reef due to a shortage of plankton. You’ll encounter wildlife down there but it’s not on the same level as a vibrant coral reef system like in the Maldives or somewhere similar.

But this lack of plankton contributes to super clear water which means that you might get to scuba dive in some really clear water.

Personally, when I went diving at Easter Island the water clarity wasn’t the most amazing thing I’d ever seen (see below). It was good based on local reports but based on everything I had heard, I was expecting something more impressive. So don’t set your expectations too high.

Can you deal with some unpleasant locals?

Every destination is going to have its share of bad apples when it comes to people. Unfortunately, during the week long stay in Easter Island we encountered some of those.

They mostly came in the form of just inconsiderate people. For example, we were blatantly cut in line on multiple occasions by locals who seemed to just feel like it they did not have to wait behind a tourist.

One of these was a registered local tour guide who cut us with her large tour group so they could get the best seats which I found to be really unprofessional considering we’d been there 30 minutes before her (that was only one of many inconsiderate things she did).

There were many locals here that did treat us well but it’s hard to not feel like there was a certain lack of hospitality based on the handful of bad experiences that we had in such a short amount of time.

Final word

So overall, is it worth it?

The history of this place is undeniable and so unique that it makes it worth any minor to moderate trouble you’d experience visiting.

My biggest complaint was the lack of clarity which made it hard to plan out things and the restrictions on visiting the sites. I just really don’t care for having to be glued to a guide and the conflicting info we received about the need for guides drove me a little crazy in the beginning.

If you can get past those things and equip yourself with the knowledge you need (hopefully these articles help), you’ll enjoy the island as it still has a lot of things going for it, including nice weather, beautiful scenery, and some pretty good eats.

Here are some additional articles you may find helpful when preparing for your visit:

The Art of Slow Travel: Embracing the Journey

Slow travel is a mindful and intentional approach to exploring the world, where the emphasis is placed on quality over quantity and savoring the journey rather than rushing from one destination to another.

It encourages travelers to immerse themselves deeply in the local culture, environment, and experiences of a place, allowing for a more meaningful and enriching travel experience.

It’s about embracing a slower pace, being present in the moment, and fostering a genuine connection with the destinations visited. And after years of largely doing the exact opposite it’s my new style of travel.

My lessons learned

When I initially started traveling, I had a strong desire to visit as many countries as possible in the shortest time frame.

This feeling was natural since I didn’t have much travel experience while growing up. And even when I did start venturing outside the US in college, I was living abroad in a single country like Mexico or Australia where I didn’t explore any other countries.

So at some point I felt compelled to make up for lost time.

As a result, we embarked on some extraordinary trips where we jetted around the world for weeks or even months, sometimes spending just a couple of days (or less!) in each country before hopping on a long flight to a new continent. It was an exhilarating way to travel, but it also presented significant challenges.

Dealing with jet lag, plane fatigue, and the various issues that arise from constant travel was not always easy and took a toll on the body.

But a bigger challenge was connecting meaningfully with those places we were visiting.

When we rushed through countries and spent only a brief time in each place, I found it difficult to form meaningful connections with the destinations.

Lots of time was spent waiting around in busy airports and getting to/from hotels. It was as if I had only glimpsed the outer layer of what each place had to offer without getting a feel for its deeper essence.

Sometimes when I reflected on the memories of certain places I’d visited all I had was a sort of fleeting memory to try to grasp at. Mere glimpses of the wonders I had encountered.

Traveling in a hurry also meant that I often stuck to the well-trodden tourist spots, missing out on the hidden gems that locals cherished. I couldn’t fully immerse myself in the local culture or truly understand the traditions and way of life.

It often left me longing for a more memorable travel experience.

The new approach and its benefits

I now take a vastly different approach to travel. A slower approach.

On a recent trip to Easter Island earlier this year we spent eight days on the island compared to many people who may only venture to the island for a few days.

I found this to be a remarkably more pleasant way to travel.

On previous trips, our days felt like a whirlwind, meticulously planned from morning till night. However, with the new slow travel approach, each day unfolded more organically, sometimes allowing for spontaneous discoveries.

For example, on a whim we spent some time just driving along the coast exploring and we randomly came across a magnificent blow hole (that kept us entertained probably longer than it should have). And then later on, we walked on a tiny secluded beach that was not mentioned in any maps or travel guides.

When we were able to see a lot of sites on those prior hectic trips, it came at a price that to be honest wasn’t always worth it.

One price was just the entire experience flying by.

It was like we blinked after stepping off the plane, and suddenly we were already stuffing our suitcases to head back home. I’ve learned that anytime I feel like life is coming at me 1,000 mph for days on end it’s usually a sign that I’m overcommitting. That’s true even if “fun” is involved.

The other problem was me just getting older.

In my 20s, bouncing around like a hyperactive kangaroo wasn’t a problem but moving around like that in your 30s hits differently.

I can’t count the number of times that I visited a destination while battling extreme fatigue or just a worn out body.

While there is something to be said about pushing through those never-ending marathons of sightseeing, at a certain point you’re not even enjoying the sites any longer and your travel becomes purely a battle of willpower which is not always so appealing.

But on Easter Island we had real downtime.

That is, we had at least half a day on a couple of occasions where nothing was planned. Sometimes this allowed us to rest and other times it allowed us to add on unexpected experiences like exploring some Moai we hadn’t seen.

I also enjoyed staying in the same hotel for several nights as opposed to bouncing around every couple of nights. You truly forget how much time it takes to transfer hotels or even catch a short flight – something that a lot of people realize when doing things like island hopping in Hawaii.

Giving ourselves more time at the destination also allowed us to embark on experiences that otherwise would be difficult to enjoy with a full schedule.

For example, on a few days we woke up around 3 AM in order to go check out some of the brilliant dark skies on Easter Island and see the celestial masterpieces of the Milky Way as well as other deep sky objects found in the southern sky.

This of course meant that we would be exhausted later on in the day due to limited sleep. But by having the extra time to rest, we could actually enjoy something like star gazing without dreading the fatigue we’d be battling later.

On another occasion, we went and enjoyed one of the Polynesian dance shows that lasted well into the night. We knew that in the past, this would have meant sacrificing precious sleep and facing a groggy morning ahead. But with a less-filled schedule it wasn’t a problem. We didn’t even set an alarm.

For culinary fans, spending extra days at a destination is a huge benefit.

On short trips, I often found myself over eating (eating when I wasn’t even actually hungry) because I wanted to try so many different places in a short amount of time. But with more time, I found myself actually developing a real appetite, complete with a growling stomach.

It’s amazing how much better you feel about your dietary choices when your appetite has a chance to catch up to your wanderlust.

It also makes it more practical to take advantage of grocery stores which is a great way to experience a destination. Nothing will make you feel more like a savvy local than picking up fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and exotic snacks that are a far cry from the usual touristy fare.

In the end, the extra time we spent on Easter Island meant that we missed out on experiencing another country and adding to the ole country count. Most likely this would’ve been Peru or Brazil where we could’ve spent probably three full days.

While I would have loved to have experienced one of those countries, the extra time meant that I got to dive deep into this island paradise, embracing the “island time” vibe that renders any attempt at a rushed pace futile in any event.

When I close my eyes and think back on my time spent on Easter Island, it’s not just fleeting snapshots that come to my mind, but a vivid and profound experience etched deeply into my memory.

Slow travel gifted me with the opportunity to go beyond the surface and truly understand the essence of this place. I recall the locals (the good and bad), the magical sunsets, the breathtaking night skies, and the thrill of tracing the ancient mysteries of moai in a way that I just wouldn’t be able to do with less time.

I truly felt like I was able to peer into the soul of the island, understanding its rhythms, and embracing its essence in a way that will forever resonate within me.

So going forward I think I’m addicted to this new type of slow travel and those fast paced travel days are now a thing of the past.

13 Oppenheimer Film & History Locations to Visit

The movie “Oppenheimer” is poised to create a new wave of interest in the atomic era, delving into the captivating narrative surrounding the development of the atomic bomb and its transformative impact on the world.

Exploring this topic is particularly fascinating, considering the profound changes that unfolded as a result of these historic events.

Luckily, you have the opportunity to personally visit several authentic historical sites related to the atomic era’s emergence, some of which were featured in the “Oppenheimer” movie.

In the past few years, we have had the privilege of exploring these sites firsthand, and it remains one of the most immersive and informative ways to delve into the rich history and intricacies of this remarkable era.

Robert Oppenheimer’s House and Bathtub Row (Los Alamos, NM)

Los Alamos, the headquarters of the Manhattan Project, continues to preserve several buildings from that historic era. Some of these structures were featured in the Oppenheimer film, although a custom set was also constructed in the Ghost Ranch, New Mexico area.

Notably, Robert Oppenheimer’s house stands out as a key location used in the movie, adding an authentic touch to the portrayal of his character and the events surrounding the project.

As he was head of the operations, it’s no surprise that Robert Oppenheimer had one of the nicest houses in the area. Built in 1929, the house is nearly 100 years old and it’s said that it’s going to be undergoing renovations soon.

It was within this residence that Oppenheimer, his wife Kitty, daughter Toni, and son Peter lived from 1943 to 1945. But it wasn’t a very low-key existence. It’s reported that Oppenheimer was quite the party thrower and that many of the parties took place in this house. It was truly a work hard, play hard situation.

Related: 16 Things to Do in Los Alamos (+ Tips For Your Visit)

Robert Oppenheimer House

Just down the street from the Oppenheimer house is “Bathtub Row” which is is an actual street name with historic homes that were originally built for the Los Alamos Ranch School and then adapted during the Manhattan project to be used by scientists.

Back during the WWII days, these homes were the only ones with bathtubs which is how the street got its name! And as you would expect, this is where some of the top scientists lived while many of the workers lived in much different living quarters such as dormitories.

Bathtub Row

Bradbury Science Museum (Los Alamos, NM)

The Bradbury Science Museum has over 60 interactive exhibits and showcases the history and achievements of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which played a pivotal role in the Manhattan Project, the top-secret research and development program that led to the creation of the atomic bomb.

There’s also a lot to connect you to the Oppenheimer movie.

Your visit to the Bradbury Science Museum can commence with an immersive 15-minute film that delves into the captivating history of the Manhattan Project. This film serves as an excellent introduction, providing a comprehensive overview of the project’s origins, scientific breakthroughs, and its impact on the world.

Following the film, you can explore the range of atomic era exhibits and the intriguing trinitite display.

Trinitite, also known as Alamogordo glass or atomic rock, is a unique glass-like material formed from the intense heat generated by the explosion of the first atomic bomb.

These rock fragments, once ordinary desert sand, embody the fusion of human ingenuity and destructive force, truly encapsulating the complex legacy of the Manhattan Project.

Finally, be sure to check out Oppenheimer’s chair.

As you stand before Oppenheimer’s chair, you can’t help but ponder the weight of responsibility that rested upon him and the countless decisions that were deliberated upon from that very seat. Imagining the intensity of the discussions, the ethical considerations, and the complex calculations that occurred evokes a sense of awe and fascination.

Los Alamos Historical Museum (Los Alamos, NM)

A notable addition to your museum itinerary is the Los Alamos Historical Museum. Constructed in 1918, this building holds a significant place in history as the oldest continuously occupied structure in Los Alamos.

The museum itself offers a unique glimpse into the past, providing a comprehensive exploration of the region’s history, including its pivotal role in the Manhattan Project. As you explore the exhibits, you will discover the remarkable connection this building holds to the development of the atomic bomb.

During the Manhattan Project, this very building served as the preferred lodging for General Leslie Groves, a key figure in the project’s management and coordination. General Groves worked closely with J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientific director, in overseeing the construction of the first atomic bomb.

Related: Los Alamos, NM: Where to Stay (Tips and Recommendations)

Los Alamos Historical Museum

Ashley Pond Park and the Ice House Memorial (Los Alamos, NM)

Ashley Pond Park stands as a prominent highlight within the city of Los Alamos. In the era of Project Y, the pond was surrounded by laboratories but these were dismantled by the mid-1960s.

Presently, this serene location serves as a public park and a vibrant community gathering spot, hosting various events. But it’s the Ice House Memorial that you want to check out when on your Oppenheimer tour.

Ashley Pond Park

The Ice House Memorial sits on the site of the old Ranch School Ice House where the students once stored blocks of ice cut from Ashley Pond during the freeing winters.

During Project Y, scientists used the icehouse to assemble the nuclear core of “Gadget,” the prototype atomic bomb that was later transported to the Trinity Site.

The Ice House Memorial contains original stone from the Ranch School Ice House and it’s a must stop especially if you plan on making your way to the Trinity Site at some point.

Ice House Memorial

Main Gate Park (Los Alamos, NM)

All of the workers during the Manhattan Project had to pass through a main security gate to access Los Alamos and there is a re-creation of the gate just outside of the main area of town. An additional replicate of the gate was also featured in the movie as seen in the custom set built in Ghost Ranch.

If you’re leaving town, the re-created gate is found just past the airport near a landscaping store — you should easily see signs for it.

Main Gate Park

Fuller Lodge (Los Alamos, NM)

Originally built in 1928 as the dining hall for the Los Alamos Ranch School, the Fuller Lodge is a magnificent historic building crafted using 771 pine logs that were personally selected by architect John Gaw Meem and Ranch School director A.J. Connell.

Today, the Fuller Lodge has been transformed into a vibrant cultural center that offers a versatile space for social gatherings, meetings, and housing various offices, including the Fuller Lodge Art Center and the Los Alamos Arts Council.

The interior of the building was used for scenes in the movie, such as the Christmas party and one of the most haunting scenes of the movie. The fireplace in the middle is easily recognizable.

As long as no events are taking place when you’re visiting, you can check out its cozy interior, which is quite beautiful.

Fuller Lodge

Groves and Oppenheimer statues (Los Alamos, NM)

And before you leave Los Alamos, make sure you check out the Groves and Oppenheimer statues, which pay homage to the enduring legacy of two pivotal figures in the history of Los Alamos and the development of the atomic bomb.

These statues symbolize the intricate relationship between Groves and Oppenheimer, representing their collaboration and shared responsibility in shaping the course of modern history.

Los Alamos statues

The next few sites are all found at the Trinity Site in New Mexico.

The Trinity Site is a tricky place to visit because it is only open two days out of the year during their open house. You’ll want to get familiar with how they operate the open house and I have a full guide to help you out with that.

Seeing all of the buildings in Los Alamos is really fascinating, especially because as mentioned many were featured in the movie.

However, there’s something extra special about making it to the Trinity Site. It’s not just about its exclusivity; there’s a distinctive aura that envelops the site, something that can only be truly felt and appreciated through firsthand experience.

Ground Zero (Trinity Site, NM)

Perhaps the most crucial site to see related to the Oppenheimer story is Ground Zero: the exact spot where the first atomic bomb exploded.

Once you arrive, you’ll see a monument towering in the middle. Erected in 1965, The Trinity Monument is a lava-rock obelisk about 12 feet (3.7 m) high that marks the explosion’s hypocenter.

It’s a bit of an eerie feeling standing directly where the explosion occurred and you can’t help but to think about how much the world changed at this exact location on July 16, 1945.

Right next to the obelisk, you can find the remains of the 100 foot steel tower that hoisted Gadget, which was obliterated during the explosion.

Carefully inspect the radioactive grounds in the entire Ground Zero area and you’ll surely find bits of trinitite still there from the initial explosion over 70 years ago. There are also different artifacts and photographs you can check out surrounding the area that will give you more context to the events.

trinity site monument

McDonald Ranch House (Trinity Site, NM)

The McDonald Ranch House, a property with a rich history, played a pivotal role in the assembly of the atomic bomb on July 13, 1945.

Originally constructed in 1913 by Franz Schmidt, a German immigrant, the ranch later came under the ownership of the McDonald family in the 1930s. However, with the outbreak of World War II, the government assumed control of the property in 1942 for its strategic importance.

When visiting the McDonald Ranch House, one can only begin to fathom the intensity, focus, and nervous energy that permeated the atmosphere during that crucial period in July 1945.

Standing in the assembly room, you are transported back in time, imagining the meticulous final modifications and adjustments being made to the atomic bomb by the dedicated individuals working within those walls.

It’s also incredibly moving to see the nails still placed along the windows which were used to shield the building from the explosion. Something about those little details just takes you right back to the 1940s.

McDonald Ranch House Assembly room

LeConte Hall (UC Berkeley, CA)

Oppenheimer taught at UC Berkeley from 1929 to 1943 and during this time his office was on the third floor of LeConte Hall (now called generic a Physics Building), a 1924 building designed by John Galen Howard and known for being the site of the first atom collider.

This building is located right by the beautiful Campanile Esplanade (Sather clocktower) which is where some shots of Oppenheimer were filmed.

The crew filmed here for a couple of days and brought in an assortment of potted plants and trees, which were strategically placed to conceal modern elements like bike racks and disabled parking signs. To cover large trash and recycling bins that could not be moved, wooden sheds were placed over them.

While you may not be able to enter all of the buildings’ corridors and rooms, the Berkeley campus is just a beautiful campus to explore although I might be a little bit biased since I spent a few years there.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (UC Berkeley, CA)

Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves first met at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in late 1942 as Groves was organizing the Manhattan Project.

The laboratory was a major contributor to the war efforts and is known for its contributions to three valuable technology developments (the atomic bomb, proximity fuze, and radar).

There are several buildings in the laboratory area and obviously there is going to be security issues given the nature of the facilities but there are some tours available.

And again, this is just another beautiful area of the campus to check out and you can make your way up to the Lawrence Hall of Science to give yourself a sweeping view of the laboratory facilities below.

Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton University, NJ)

Both Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer worked in the same building found out the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University. It was near here where Robert Oppenheimer and his wife lived in the director’s house and Oppenheimer served as director from 1947 to 1966.

Some of the filming took place in Albert Einstein’s former office in this building and the building’s exterior is also featured in the movie several times. In addition, the infamous meet up scene with Oppenheimer and Einstein takes place by the Institute Pond.

USS Missouri (Pearl Harbor, HI)

The narrative sparked from the first atomic bomb remains ongoing, as its successful creation marked a profound turning point that unleashed a realm of unsettling possibilities, still present in our world today.

But if you wanted to choose an important milestone connected to the “end” of the first atomic bomb’s story, you can do so in Pearl Harbor.

The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, served as a catalyst, propelling the United States into World War II and instigating a series of events that led to the development and eventual use of the atomic bomb.

And today, at Pearl Harbor, you can visit Surrender Deck located on the USS Missouri where all of these war efforts (including plans to deploy additional nuclear bombs) officially came to an end on September 2, 1945.

Standing on the spot where the Empire of Japan surrendered unconditionally, just one week following the devastating atomic bombings, holds profound historical significance.

It serves as a poignant endpoint, offering a sense of closure and culmination to the events surrounding the United States’ involvement in World War II and the advent of the atomic bomb.

Final Word

The Christopher Nolan film “Oppenheimer” is likely to ignite a renewed interest in delving deep into the complex history of the atomic era.

While books, documentaries, and other educational resources offer valuable insights, nothing quite compares to tracing the footsteps of history by visiting the actual sites where these significant events occurred.

Embarking on a journey to some of these historic locations requires careful planning, but the experience offers a profound connection to the events and people who shaped the atomic era.

Visiting these sites allows one to walk in the footsteps of the scientists, leaders, and ordinary individuals who contributed to the development and deployment of atomic weapons.

By standing in the places where pivotal decisions were made and experiencing the surroundings firsthand, a deep understanding of the complexities, moral dilemmas, and far-reaching implications of the atomic era can be gained.

It will surely be something you never forget.

Visiting The Mother Cabrini Shrine: Retracing the Legacy of the US’s First Saint

The Mother Cabrini Shrine has indeed emerged as an iconic destination for tens of thousands of pilgrims each year, drawing visitors from various walks of life to embrace the powerful story of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini.

Even if you’re not here on a religious pilgrimage, the shrine holds a profound appeal that transcends boundaries. The life of Mother Cabrini, her unwavering dedication, and her remarkable mission are a source of inspiration for all who encounter her legacy.

In this article, we will take you on a captivating journey through the history and offerings of the Mother Cabrini Shrine. From its origins as a summer home for orphaned girls to the establishment of the chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, there’s an abundance of historical significance to explore.

What is the Mother Cabrini Shrine?

The Mother Cabrini Shrine is a religious site and pilgrimage destination dedicated to Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, also known as “Mother Cabrini.” Located in Golden, Colorado, the shrine is a tribute to the life and work of this remarkable humanitarian.

Mother Cabrini was an Italian-American nun and missionary who dedicated her life to being a champion of immigrants, children, and the poor.

Her early arrival into the world, two months ahead of schedule, marked the beginning of a fragile existence that persisted throughout her days. Enduring constant skepticism due to her delicate health, she faced numerous obstacles, including being denied membership in the Daughters of the Sacred Heart solely because of her physical condition.

Defying all doubters and naysayers, Mother Cabrini embarked on an awe-inspiring journey, establishing a multitude of institutions dedicated to the care of the marginalized. With unwavering determination, she founded 67 institutions across the United States, Europe, and South America, including schools, orphanages, and hospitals that provided much-needed education and healthcare.

Her relentless dedication extended beyond the realms of care, as she ardently championed the rights of immigrants and fought for social justice. Her profound commitment to compassionate service earned her the ultimate honor: she became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized as a saint, a testament to her remarkable legacy of selflessness and love for her fellow human beings.

After establishing several missions and orphanages throughout the United States she turned her attention to Denver after the turn of the century.

In 1904, Mother Cabrini demonstrated her boundless love and care by founding Denver’s Queen of Heaven Orphanage, a sanctuary for girls, many of whom were orphaned by local Italian miners. Her compassion knew no bounds as she also established essential hospitals in Denver, such as the St. Joseph Hospital and the Columbus Hospital.

During her extensive travels in 1902, when she journeyed to visit Italian workers and their families, Frances X. Cabrini stumbled upon a remarkable property owned by the town of Golden on the east slope of Lookout Mountain. Recognizing its potential, she saw an opportunity to create something truly special.

In 1910, seizing the chance to provide a haven for the girls in her care, Mother Cabrini purchased the serene rural property from the town of Golden to serve as a summer camp where the girls could revel in nature’s embrace.

During the summer months, groups of about twenty girls would spend several weeks at the summer camp. They enjoyed the freedom of the outdoors and recreational activities while also tending the animals and performing farm chores.

After the canonization of Mother Cabrini, the significance of the summer camp site elevated to a new level. Officially recognized as a shrine, it became a sacred place of pilgrimage for those seeking inspiration and connection with the extraordinary saint.

As the years passed, the shrine underwent remarkable transformations with thoughtful additions. Each new element served to enrich the visitors’ experience, ensuring that the legacy of Mother Cabrini thrived and continued to touch the lives of countless individuals.

Today, the shrine stands as a testament to the enduring impact of Mother Cabrini’s compassionate mission, attracting pilgrims and admirers from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Our experience at the Mother Cabrini Shrine

We started out visiting the Meditation Walk garden, a peaceful garden with benches and a winding sidewalk where people come to seek a spiritual journey filled with enlightenment and revelation.

It’s one of the few different sites created for meditation and prayer here, which also include the Sacred Heart Overlook and the Path of the Holy Spirit.

Mother Cabrini Shrine meditation walk
Mother Cabrini Shrine meditation walk

Then we made our way to “The Spring.”

Back in the days when the site served as a cherished summer camp destination, water was a scarce commodity, limited to a small pond adjacent to the spring house. Then came a pivotal moment in September 1912 when the sisters, in dire need of water, expressed their thirst to Mother Cabrini.

In her characteristic wisdom and unwavering faith, Mother Cabrini offered a simple yet profound solution. Pointing to a nearby rock, she told them, “Lift that rock over there and start to dig. You will find water fresh enough to drink and clean enough to wash.” 

Following her instructions, the sisters embarked on the task with hope and determination. To their amazement, they struck a bountiful spring, gushing forth with water.

This miraculous spring, now housed within an 8,000-gallon tank, has been a constant and generous provider. Through the years, it has never ceased to flow, a testament to the blessings bestowed upon this sacred site.

Indeed, the water from the sacred spring at the Mother Cabrini Shrine has become a source of profound belief and solace for countless pilgrims. Over the years, numerous visitors have attested to the power of this blessed water, sharing stories of healing and inner peace that they attribute to its divine essence.

Mother Cabrini Shrine spring
Mother Cabrini Shrine spring

You can also stop in the Rosary Garden and go for a prayer or simply admire the beautiful landscaping.

Rosary Garden mother Cabrini shrine

Near The Spring, there’s a grotto that is a replica of the grotto at Lourdes, France. Originally constructed over the spring in 1929, this hallowed site has undergone a transformation, with the present-day version crafted from the rustic beauty of sandstone.

Within this peaceful haven, the soft glow of candlelight sets the stage for heartfelt prayers and contemplation. Visitors, drawn to the gentle ambiance, gather before the radiant Mother Cabrini altar, seeking her intercession with the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Mother.

In this tranquil atmosphere, they pour out their hopes, dreams, and supplications, finding solace in the presence of a saint who once walked the earthly realm with compassion and grace.

grotto mother Cabrini shrine
grotto mother Cabrini shrine
grotto mother Cabrini shrine

A visit to the Mother Cabrini Shrine would be incomplete without embarking on a journey up the Stairway of Prayer.

This transformative project began on September 11, 1954, as 373 steps were carefully placed to pave the way up the glorious Mount of the Sacred Heart. Astonishingly, this architectural feat was achieved in a mere 67 days.

The stairway mirrors the very path that Mother Cabrini, the sisters, and the children she cared for once trod upon.

As pilgrims ascend the steps, they traverse a spiritual pathway that also mirrors Christ’s agonizing path to his crucifixion. Each step taken becomes a contemplative reflection of the Stations of the Cross, a profound journey through the sufferings endured by Jesus.

If you just arrived into the area, take your time making your way up the steps because you might need a little bit of time to adjust to the altitude.

Stairway of Prayer mother Cabrini shrine
Stairway of Prayer mother Cabrini shrine
Stairway of Prayer mother Cabrini shrine

Upon reaching the pinnacle of the Stairway of Prayer, you will be greeted by a breathtaking sight: a magnificent twenty-two foot statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a true masterpiece crafted by a skilled Italian artist.

Mounted on an imposing eleven-foot base, this awe-inspiring statue was erected in 1954, representing the profound devotion that Mother Cabrini held for the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Today, the Sacred Heart statue stands as an iconic landmark, a beacon of faith that can be seen from afar as you drive by on interstate 70.

Sacred Heart of Jesus mother Cabrini shrine

Be sure to check out the stones carefully arranged in the glass case. These stones hold historical significance that dates back to 1912, during Mother Cabrini’s final visit to Golden, Colorado.

On that visit, Mother Cabrini, accompanied by a group of devoted sisters and a few children from the orphanage, embarked on a journey to the highest hill in the area. Traveling by horse and buggy, they reached the summit where Mother Cabrini arranged white stones in the shape of a Heart, crowned with a reverent cross, dedicating the hill to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

You’ll also want to stop by the Cabrini museum, which opened up in 2014. Its purpose is to share the life and missionary work of Saint Cabrini with visitors and pilgrims. The museum features a replica of Mother Cabrini’s bedroom, a timeline of her life and many artifacts once used by Saint Cabrini.

It’s housed within the charming building affectionately known as the “pump house.” This historical structure holds a special significance, as it is one of the original buildings on the property from the time it was acquired by Mother Cabrini.

mother Cabrini shrine museum
mother Cabrini shrine museum

Conclude your meaningful journey with a visit to the Cabrini Garden, a sanctuary dedicated to celebrating the life and mission of Frances Xavier Cabrini.

At the heart of this serene garden stands a poignant statue, capturing Mother Cabrini’s tender guidance of two young orphans. It serves as a powerful reminder that the very grounds of the Shrine were once intended as a summer refuge for the girls of the Queen of Heaven Orphanage in Denver.

For your final stop, you may want to venture inside of the expansive gift shop. The gift shop is a haven for those seeking to take a piece of the Mother Cabrini Shrine’s spirit home with them. Here, you’ll find a diverse array of religious items, from sacred artworks and intricately crafted statues to inspirational books and prayer materials.

mother Cabrini shrine gift shop
mother Cabrini shrine gift shop

It’s worth noting that mean you also want to visit the chapel, a sacred space devoted to the veneration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, offering daily Mass and warmly welcoming visitors seven days a week.

During our visit, we may have found the chapel undergoing a transformative phase, undergoing renovations and construction. However, this exciting update promises an enchanting and newly designed chapel in the near future.

Final Word

The Mother Cabrini Shrine offers a captivating and enriching experience that transcends religious boundaries.

The enduring legacy of Mother Cabrini’s dedication, resilience, and compassionate service speaks to the universal values of love, empathy, and the pursuit of a meaningful life.

As someone who is not Catholic, I still found myself inspired by her legacy and quite frankly her work ethic and tenacity to overcome perceptions about her frail health. The grounds are also just a beautiful and peaceful place to spend a little bit of time.

So even if you’re not coming here for a pilgrimage, it’s still a sight worth exploring.

Visiting Pando Aspen Forest Ultimate Guide

Pando has fascinated me for years. It is still a largely unknown site but it is steadily growing in popularity. So when we decided to head out on a road trip through Utah, I knew we had to stop and check out the site.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about Pando including some interesting facts and what you should know before you visit.

What is Pando?

Pando is a quaking aspen clone found in Fishlake National Forest that is thought to be the largest organism in the world measured by weight. In fact, it’s estimated that the total weight could be around 13,000,000 pounds.

All of the quaking aspens are connected by an underground system of roots and each aspen tree is essentially one sprout or branch of this mega organism. This means that every tree that you see has identical genetic markers.

The clone spreads over 106 acres and is made up of over 47,000 individual trees. After one tree dies, it is replaced by another tree that sprouts up from the root system.

Related: 18 Arizona National Parks & Monuments to Explore

Pando color change aspen trees

How old is Pando?

It’s disputed as to how old Pando is.

Most scientists seem to be in agreement that the organism is very old, likely thousands of years old but some take it even further.

For example, some have given an age estimation up to 1 million years and others have settled around a more modest figure of 80,000 years.

Many scientists think that the age is likely capped at around 16,000 years because Pando would have had to survive ice ages to be older which may have been unlikely.

As for the individual sprouts, some of the trees may be up to 130 years old. (These aspens typically do not live beyond 100 to 130 years.) The sprouts are on average older because mule deer have been feasting on the younger sprouts.

It’s not uncommon for quaking aspens to grow in colonies full of clones. And it is reported that some clone colonies have been found that cover and even wider area. But what makes Pando special is the density and the number of total sprouts that together comprise such a large organism.

Related: 40 Places to See in The Western United States 

Pando color change aspen trees

Pando under threat?

The word Pando is a latin word that means “I spread.”

But that spreading could be slowing down due to a variety of factors.

Ever since the 1980s, there has been a decline in young stems that has been largely attributed to mule deer. Grazing cattle and elk may also provide threats to Pando.

This is why there have been measures put into place to preserve the grove which is why you will find some of the area fenced off.

These fencing measures have proven to be effective and have allowed the mean regeneration per 10,000 m² to increase in areas that are fenced off.

Best way to visit Pando

Pando is extremely easy to visit.

As you can tell from the map below, the Pando Aspen Grove straddles Highway 25 and so you can choose to visit either side of the Aspen Grove. The western portion seems to have a much thicker density but that is also the side that is more fenced off.

Meanwhile, the east side is easily accessible via a dirt road which I will talk about below.

How to get to Pando

If you are using Google maps, you should be able to simply enter in Pando into the GPS and you should see a resort for “Pando,” “Pando aspen forest,” or perhaps for “the trembling giant.”

If you are coming from the south on Highway 25 you’ll see a sign for the Pando Aspen Clone as you approach Pando. (This sign was not always there and I believe was added recently to make it easier to find where to visit the aspen grove. )

Shortly after that sign there will be a turn off on the right that is a dirt road (FR 1483) that takes you through the grove.

This is where I would recommend you to turn off because it is the most convenient way to access Pando. Along the road there will be a few spots where you can park and then you can simply wander through the forest. (If you’d like you can continue down FR1483 through the Aspen Grove and it will eventually take you to the edge of Fish Lake.)

Pando color change aspen trees

The best time to visit Pando

I think most people would agree that the best time to visit Pando would be in the fall. The entire area is a beautiful site if you can time it right with the fall color change.

Pando is at an elevation of 8,848 feet or 2,700 m, which means that the color change will usually happen on the earlier side of fall. When we visited in late September it looked like many of the trees were peaking or maybe just slightly past peak. So don’t wait too long to visit.

Pando color change aspen trees

Since these are aspen clones, they should all color change right around the same exact time. When we visited, it looked like the majority of the leaves were in sync.

By the way, nearby Fish Lake is also an extremely scenic spot to check out. I would highly recommend to do the scenic drive that loops around the lake on Highway 25.

There was a decent amount of color change surrounding the lake area and it was a pretty beautiful site to check out and get some photographs. If you catch it on a still day you will be able to capture some awesome reflections from the hillsides.

There are some trails that wrap around the lake which would be great for going for a leisurely stroll.

Final word

Pando is such an easy destination to visit and its status as arguably the largest organism in the world makes it a worthy place to check out.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado Review: A Miniature World with Big History

When visiting Tiny Town in Colorado, you can expect to explore a collection of meticulously crafted small-scale structures. From historic buildings and landmarks to quaint homes and businesses, these miniatures offer a captivating glimpse into the region’s past.

With a legacy spanning over a century, Tiny Town provides an immersive experience that showcases the beauty of miniatures and the fascinating stories they tell.

Below, I’ll give you a good idea of what to expect if you plan on visiting Tiny Town.

What is Tiny Town?

Tiny Town and Railroad is a miniature village containing over 100 1/6 scale buildings, located near Morrison, Colorado. The village features a variety of buildings, including a schoolhouse, a church, a train station, a general store, and a variety of recognizable structures. There is also a 15 inch gauge miniature railway that takes visitors around the village.

Tiny Town has a remarkable history that stretches back to 1915. It began as “Turnerville,” created by George Turner, who gradually expanded the miniature town until it reached a point where it was ready to be opened to the public in 1920.

During the 1920s, it became a tourist hotspot receiving 20,000 visitors per year which is really good considering the era and the difficulty of driving through the mountains. In fact, it was right up there with other tourist hotspots like the Buffalo Bill Grave.

Regrettably, Tiny Town faced a series of challenges in its early years. The vicinity of Turkey Creek made it susceptible to damage from multiple floods in the subsequent years following its opening. In 1935, a fire inflicted severe damage to the town.

Moreover, the rerouting of Highway 285 in the 1940s diverted tourists away from Tiny Town, causing a significant decline in visitors.

These combined factors posed significant setbacks for the attraction, impacting its popularity and visitor numbers. At this point, the venue struggled to stay afloat and was closed and put up for sale only for it to be devastated by yet another flood in 1969.

Then Lyle Fulkerson stepped in and in the 1970s made major restoration efforts including a zoning change, widening and deepening of Turkey Creek, and regrading of the railroad bed. Unfortunately Lyle would be tragically killed by a runaway train car on his way to Tiny Town in 1977. So once again Tiny Town would fall into disrepair.

Efforts were made to reopen Tiny Town in the 1980s but ultimately failed and the site closed once again.

But then in the late 1980s, The Northern Colorado Chapter of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) adopted Tiny Town as a civic project and helped to revive lots of the structures through a series of auctions. This allowed Tiny Town to re-open to a highly anticipated public in 1988.

After a period of challenges, Tiny Town experienced a resurgence in its fortunes. In 1990, the World Famous Tiny Town Railway was inaugurated, which further enhanced the appeal of the attraction. The following year, in 1991, Tiny Town saw a remarkable milestone as over 100,000 people visited.

With the exception of the pandemic-affected year of 2020, Tiny Town has remained open to visitors and has continued to expand, introducing new additions such as additional locomotives.

A visit to Tiny Town today invites you to reflect upon its rich and dynamic history, with its highs and lows spanning over a century. As you explore the miniature structures and immerse yourself in the intricate details, it’s worth considering the countless sightseers who have traversed these very grounds throughout the decades.

Starting from its humble origins as Turnerville, Tiny Town has persevered through numerous challenges, including floods and fires.

Despite these obstacles, it has managed to endure and maintain its status as one of the early and enduring tourist attractions in Colorado.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

How to book a visit Tiny Town

Tiny Town and Railroad is a summer destination, typically only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Admission is very cheap and when we visited it was only five dollars for adults for entry to the village and only four dollars for the train ride. You can purchase your tickets once you approach the main entrance of Tiny Town.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

Our experience at Tiny Town

We arrived to Tiny Town about 10 minutes before opening hoping to beat the rush but there were already a few people in line. This place can get pretty busy on weekends although it was not unbearable when we visited.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

After purchasing our tickets we made our way inside and then made our rounds through the village.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

For the most part, the village is built along a wide and long path that runs along flowing creek on one side and train tracks on the other side. There are some shaded areas but lots of the town is exposed to the sun so bring some sunscreen along to give you some relief.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

One way to explore it is just to take a stroll down one side of the road and then make a U-turn at the end to explore the other side although sometimes you’ll want to meander through the “neighborhoods.”

If you ever need to go to the bathroom there are (human-sized) portable toilets located in various spots in the town.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

Most people seem to go for the train ride first which allowed us to enjoy lots of the town without many people. We didn’t end up riding the miniature train but it looked like some kids and families were having a good time on it and considering how cheap it is, I don’t think the train ride could be a let down.

Related: Georgetown Loop Railroad: Worth It?

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

The detail in some of the buildings is really impressive.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado
Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

Be sure to take a look inside some of the windows to see some of the fine details that were added to these mini creations. It’s evident that a significant amount of time and effort went into crafting these projects, as every nook and cranny is adorned with precision and care.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado
Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

Some of the structures have some interpretive panels to give you some background information which helps you to appreciate what you’re looking at.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

In addition to the detail, another thing that is impressive is the sheer amount of structures found in the village.

There are over 100 buildings but you can’t see all of them up close unless you take the train ride.

I found it interesting that they had re-created some buildings from the area like the Argo Mill, which you can find perched up on the hillside.

They also had buildings re-created from nearby mining towns like Georgetown and Black Hawk.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado argo mill

Other buildings are just sort of randomly re-created like the Addams Family mansion, which is a true work of art.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado addams family

Another interesting building to check out is the American Gothic House which of course is based on the famous Grant Wood painting which you can find at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado gothic house

Another aspect that greatly appealed to me about the experience was the rich history associated with it. It’s fascinating to see structures like the schoolhouse that have been around for approximately 100 years.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado schoolhouse

In addition to the miniature displays, Tiny Town offers an opportunity to delve into its history through curated displays featuring photographs from its past. These visual exhibits provide a glimpse into the evolution of Tiny Town over the years, allowing visitors to witness the transformations, floods, and cherished moments that have shaped its story.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado
Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado

As you would expect, Tiny Town is a huge family/kid friendly destination.

There were only a few other adults without kids visiting so if you plan on coming without kids, you will definitely be outnumbered. With that said, the unique nature of the attraction and the opportunity to explore the miniature structures and learn about the venue’s history can still captivate adult visitors, whether they are traveling with or without children.

For those visiting with kids, the train ride, the chance to crawl inside the structures, and the playground located towards the end of the tour are bound to be highlights.

Tiny Town and Railroad Colorado playground

If you work up an appetite there is a café which serves up ice cream along with certain treats like chili dogs and popcorn. When we visited they only took the cash so be sure to bring some cash with you although they do have an ATM machine located on the inside.

And finally, there is also a gift shop although it is pretty small and definitely catered to smaller kids.

Final word

I had never visited any type of miniature town before so this was a new type of experience.

Considering the village’s uniqueness and rich history, I found it to be a fascinating destination for adults without children. Moreover, the affordable price point made it an even more appealing side trip.

But if you are in the area with children, I think Tiny Town will be a hit as it’s really a great place for kids to explore.

Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave Review: Exploring The Legacy of the Wild West

The legacy of the Wild West did not materialize in isolation; it was shaped by influential individuals such as William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Beyond his success as a showman and the captivating Wild West shows he produced, Buffalo Bill’s impact extended far beyond the realm of entertainment. He was a trailblazer who embodied progressive ideals ahead of his time.

A visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum offers an immersive experience where you can delve into the intricacies of this extraordinary legacy.

This article aims to provide you with a comprehensive overview of what to expect and what you should know before embarking on your museum visit.

What is the Buffalo Bill Museum?

Situated on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado, the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is dedicated to the life and legacy of William “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

At the museum, visitors can explore exhibits that showcase the life of Buffalo Bill, his Wild West shows, and the history of the American West.

The museum features artifacts, photographs, memorabilia, and interactive displays that provide insights into Buffalo Bill’s career as a buffalo hunter, Army scout, and showman.

Visitors can learn about his impact on popular culture and his contributions to shaping the perception of the American West here in the United States and abroad.

In addition to the museum, the site includes Buffalo Bill’s grave, where he was laid to rest in 1917, although controversy around the grave lived on much longer (but more on that later).

Buffalo Bill Museum

Where is the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave?

The Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is located in Lookout Mountain Park, just west of Denver, Colorado. The museum’s address is: 987 1/2 Lookout Mountain Road, Golden, CO 80401.

The road leading up to the museum is a popular route for cyclists so if you’re heading up there on a morning during the weekend, make sure you are extra careful about avoiding the cyclists with your vehicle.

Buffalo Bill Museum

Our experience at the Buffalo Bill Museum

We arrived at the Buffalo Bill Museum just before its summer opening time of 9AM on a Saturday and we were one of the first people to show up in the parking lot.

As you arrive at the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, be sure to take advantage of the breathtaking scenic overlooks located along the perimeter of the parking lot.

These vantage points offer stunning views of the Denver skyline, the vast expanse of the surrounding plains, and the majestic mountain peaks of the Front Range.

Buffalo Bill Museum overlook
Buffalo Bill Museum overlook

After indulging in the breathtaking views for a while, we eagerly headed towards the museum entrance. A warm and welcoming staff member greeted us with a friendly smile as we purchased our tickets, setting the stage for an enjoyable experience ahead.

When it comes to admission pricing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that this museum offers an incredible value for what it has to offer. At five dollars per adult, it’s definitely a budget-friendly option, allowing you to explore and immerse yourself in the rich history and captivating exhibits without breaking the bank.

Buffalo Bill Museum

As we ventured into the museum, I couldn’t wait to delve into the world of Buffalo Bill. If you’re planning a visit, I highly recommend starting off by immersing yourself in the film that provides a glimpse into the life of this legendary figure.

Prepare to be captivated as you learn about Buffalo Bill’s extraordinary journey, from the trials and tribulations he faced during his challenging childhood to the diverse roles he played throughout his life, including that of a skilled hunter, daring scout, and charismatic showman.

The film not only reveals his remarkable story but also unveils the profound influence he had in shaping the perception of the American West and many of the progressive ideals he stood for.

I must admit, after watching the film, my admiration for Buffalo Bill skyrocketed, and I was ready to explore every corner of the museum.

Related: Georgetown Loop Railroad: Worth It?

Buffalo Bill Museum

After the film, you’ll have the opportunity to wander through the corridors of the museum. While it may not be sprawling in size, it more than compensates with its immersive and comprehensive exploration of all things Buffalo Bill.

The exhibits are a treasure trove of fascinating artifacts, showcasing original costumes, authentic guns, and a myriad of captivating memorabilia. Each item provides a tangible connection to the past, allowing you to step back in time and truly appreciate the legacy of this iconic figure.

Buffalo Bill Museum
Buffalo Bill Museum
Buffalo Bill Museum

Navigating the museum’s displays, you’ll come across intriguing glimpses into the circles Buffalo Bill was intertwined with during his lifetime. One notable highlight is his invitation to have tea with none other than the legendary playwright and poet, Oscar Wilde.

Buffalo Bill Museum

As you immerse yourself in the museum’s exhibits and delve into the captivating history of the Wild West shows, you’ll gain a profound understanding of the essence and allure that surrounded these spectacles.

Image it being your first time witnessing skilled horseback riders, cowboys, Native Americans, and sharpshooters performing daring feats, reenacting thrilling scenes such as buffalo hunts, stagecoach robberies, and frontier battles, all set against a backdrop of expansive landscapes and authentic Western props.

It also becomes evident how these shows were well marketed to captivate audiences not only across the country but also abroad.

You’ll discover the creative tactics used to pique the curiosity and fascination of people from all walks of life. From eye-catching posters and advertisements to newspaper articles and promotional campaigns, the marketing efforts surrounding Buffalo Bill’s shows were truly ingenious.

Moreover, the Wild West shows created an immense commercial opportunity for merchandise, toys, and various forms of memorabilia.

Buffalo Bill Museum

The evolution of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows is a captivating aspect to explore. These shows went beyond simply portraying “cowboys and indians”; they became a grand amalgamation of diverse cultures from around the world.

The shows incorporated performers from various countries and regions, such as South American gauchos, Cossacks from Eastern Europe, Arabs, English lancers, and more. This cultural fusion brought together people from vastly different backgrounds, uniting them under a common purpose and creating a harmonious collaboration.

Nevertheless, beyond the surface portrayals, the significance of Buffalo Bill’s achievement lies in his ability to successfully integrate individuals from diverse walks of life.

Despite the cultural differences and occasional conflicts that may have existed among these groups, Buffalo Bill fostered an environment of teamwork and cooperation. He created a platform where people from varied backgrounds could work together, showcasing their unique skills and cultures, thereby transcending societal divisions.

Buffalo Bill Museum
Buffalo Bill Museum

The Wild West shows orchestrated by Buffalo Bill Cody were also not confined to a single location. They captivated audiences across North America and even ventured across the Atlantic to Europe.

Some of the most iconic and noteworthy venues that hosted these shows included Madison Square Garden in New York City and Earl’s Court in London. These locations, known for their size and prominence, served as epic stages for Buffalo Bill’s larger-than-life performances.

If you’re curious about whether Buffalo Bill ever graced your hometown with his Wild West show, the museum’s record book is an invaluable resource.

It meticulously documents specific dates for each performance, allowing you to uncover the possibility that your own ancestors might have been among the fortunate spectators of Buffalo Bill’s unforgettable shows.

Buffalo Bill Museum

One of the most fascinating aspects of Buffalo Bill Cody’s legacy lies in his relationship with Native Americans, with whom he had once been in conflict. However, he embarked on a remarkable path of reconciliation and cooperation.

Buffalo Bill recognized the challenges faced by Native Americans, including the erosion of their cultural heritage and the constraints imposed by reservation life. In an unprecedented move, he extended an opportunity for Native Americans to leave the confines of the reservations and participate in his Wild West shows.

By joining the shows, they had a chance to earn income and simultaneously preserve and showcase their rich cultural traditions.

This collaboration between Buffalo Bill and Native Americans represented a unique alliance that defied previous animosities.

Even though the shows did perpetuate stereotypes that we have moved away from over time, they allowed Native Americans to share their stories, customs, and skills with audiences from all walks of life,

Buffalo Bill Museum
Buffalo Bill Museum

Buffalo Bill was also a notable advocate for gender equality, standing as a proponent of equal pay for equal work. This progressive stance was ahead of its time, reflecting his belief in the fundamental principles of fairness and justice.

One instance that highlights Buffalo Bill’s commitment to gender equality is his meeting with the renowned women’s suffragist, Susan B. Anthony, during his time in Chicago.

As time progressed, Buffalo Bill’s support for women’s rights became even more apparent. In interviews, he boldly expressed his belief that women should not only have the right to vote but should also be granted equal rights and equal pay. His words and actions exemplify a visionary outlook that transcended the societal norms of his era.

The Buffalo Bill grave

Upon concluding your museum exploration, I encourage you to venture outside and embark on a journey to the Buffalo Bill gravesite. While it may require a small bit of extra effort, including navigating an uphill path and ascending some steps, the experience is well worth it.

As you make your way towards the gravesite, you’ll be surrounded by a serene and picturesque setting. The tranquil atmosphere adds a sense of reverence to the visit, allowing you to reflect on the legacy of Buffalo Bill Cody.

Buffalo Bill Museum

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the gravesite, or at least there was back in the day.

According to Buffalo Bill Cody’s Last Will and Testament, he specified a burial site near Cody, Wyoming, the town he founded and held dear. However, as he neared the end of his life in 1917, while residing at his sister’s home in Denver, he made a surprising request to his wife, Louisa, asking to be buried at Lookout Mountain.

This unexpected decision caused a stir among the people of Cody, Wyoming, who felt that Buffalo Bill’s final resting place should align with his wishes as stated in his will.

The controversy sparked intense debates that lasted for decades, with differing opinions surrounding the matter, including one that accused Buffalo Bill’s wife of taking a bribe to have him buried near Denver.

The controversy even reached a point where, in 1948, the Cody American Legion Post offered a substantial $10,000 reward to anyone who would steal Buffalo Bill’s body! Concerns over potential theft led the Colorado National Guard to station troops to protect the grave site, ensuring its security.

Buffalo Bill grave

To this day, some claim that Buffalo Bill’s remains are not actually located here on Lookout Mountain.

After his wife and daughter died in the 1920s, a group of distant relatives announced their plan to move Buffalo Bill’s body to Cody, Wyoming and they rallied support which led to a lot of rumors about a clandestine “body swap.”

But the museum stands firm that Buffalo Bill’s body is in fact located at this grave, next to his wife.

Buffalo Bill grave

Before you head out, it’s worth checking out the gift shop which is quite large. You’ll find a little bit of everything inside of the gift shop including a stuffed bison over 100 years old!

Buffalo Bill museum gift shop

They also have a café where you can purchase fudge, root beer floats, or even grab a bite to eat with some great views.

Buffalo Bill museum cafe

Final word

If you harbor a fascination for the American West and the evolution of its portrayal, a visit to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave is an absolute must. However, even if you hold only a passing interest in the Wild West, this museum offers a captivating experience that is well worth your time.

What sets Buffalo Bill apart is his status as a man ahead of his time. His showmanship instincts, progressive ideals and advocacy for gender equality, along with his collaborations with diverse cultures, showcase his visionary nature.

And the museum provides a platform to delve into these aspects, allowing visitors to appreciate the depth of his character and the enduring impact he had on the American West.

Georgetown Loop Railroad: Worth It? (Honest Review)

The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a popular attraction near Denver that provides a nostalgic journey into Colorado’s mining and early tourism days.

It offers a distinctive and picturesque experience, appealing to train enthusiasts, families, and travelers from all walks of life.

But with a somewhat steep price of $34 per adult passenger, you might be wondering whether or not the experience is worth it.

In this article, I will provide you with everything you need to know about the Georgetown Loop Railroad so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not the experience is for you.

What is the Georgetown Loop Railroad?

The Georgetown Loop Railroad is a historic narrow-gauge railroad located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

It offers scenic rides through breathtaking mountain landscapes along a three mile route that allows travelers to relive the same picturesque experience cherished by tourists a century ago.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

The Georgetown Loop Railroad has a rich history that dates back to the late 19th century.

Completed in 1884, it was originally constructed as a part of the Colorado Central Railroad network.

Financier Jay Gould who controlled the Union Pacific (UP) wanted the Colorado Central to be the first rail line to reach Leadville but the terrain past Georgetown would prove very difficult to build upon.

That’s because at this junction the Clear Creek Valley rises almost 640 feet in under two miles. This incline created a grade of over six percent, which was simply too steep for most locomotives.

So engineers got creative and designed a way to reduce the grade to around three percent. They designed the track to form two hairpin turns, looping over itself above Clear Creek, which you will be able to experience firsthand when you make your way over the High Bridge.

The engineers also had the train cross the creek a couple of times and climb through a 30 degree horseshoe curve called the “Big Fill.”

The Georgetown line never made it to Leadville because the Denver & Rio Grande (D&RG) arrived there first and sort of killed the movement but the railroad still flourished for decades to come.

It gained significant prominence during the silver rush of the 1880s when it played a vital role in transporting silver ore from the mines in Silver Plume. Over time, its appeal expanded to include railroad excursions, further cementing its tourism legacy.

With seven trains a day running out of Denver at the height of its popularity in the early 1900s, the Georgetown Loop was Colorado’s scenic “must see” attraction.

However, with the rise of the automobile and with changes to the mining industry coming at the outset of World War II, the railroad faced financial challenges and ceased operations in 1939.

In the 1980s, efforts were made to restore and preserve the historic railroad.

The Georgetown Loop Historic Mining and Railroad Park was established, and the railroad tracks were rebuilt to offer scenic rides to visitors once again.

The reconstructed line replicates the original route, including the loop section, providing tourists with the opportunity to relive the sights and sounds that the tourists of the early 1900s enjoyed.

Related: Argo Mill And Tunnel Tour Review: A Fascinating Look at the History of Gold Mining in Colorado

Georgetown Loop Railroad

How to book a ticket to the Georgetown Loop Railroad

You can purchase a ticket for the Georgetown Loop Railroad online which I would recommend. For adults (16+), the price is $34.00 each, and for children (3-15), the price is $28.00 each.

Some of these rides will sell out so it’s a good idea to purchase your ticket as far in advance as you can.

During the holidays, they do offer certain types of special rides like the Santa’s Rocky Mountain Adventure, including the lighted forest experience.

Other special rides to look out for include the Sasquatch Adventure Train and Old West Days, so always look for these special themed rides.

How to get to the Georgetown Loop Railroad

You can find the Georgetown Loop Railroad at 646 Loop Dr, Georgetown, CO 80444.

Make sure that after you book your ticket you are 100% clear on which depot you will be departing from. Most likely it will be the Georgetown Devil’s Gate Station, which is found just west of Downtown Georgetown about 50 minutes west of Denver.

But some trips do depart from Silver Plume.

Our experience at the Georgetown Loop Railroad

It’s recommended to show up at least 20 minutes before your departure but we showed up about 45 minutes before departure in order to secure our spot.

The parking lot was pretty full but we were able to find a few open spots without too much trouble.

As soon as we arrived at the depot we headed over to the gift shop and checked in and received our tickets, which make for a good souvenir.

Georgetown Loop Railroad tickets

There’s a gift shop, bathroom, and a couple of odd things to check out but not a whole lot to do while you’re waiting around. You have a pretty awesome view of the creek to keep you occupied though.

About 40 minutes prior to departure, a line started to form and we jumped to the front. It only took about ten minutes until they started letting us lineup at the actual boarding station but not before they insisted on taking our photo, which of course you will be able to purchase for a good fee. We simply opted for our own commemorative free photo with a quick snap of a selfie.

Then, about eight minutes until the scheduled departing time, we were able to board.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

We chose to sit in the very back of the train and on the right side so that we could have a great vantage point of the “money shot.”

This is going to occur towards the very beginning of the train ride when the train heads over the High Bridge. If you’re seated on the right side and in the rear you’ll be able to get a great shot of the train making its way over the bridge.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

It’s worth noting that when you’re sitting in the back (the “caboose”) at the beginning of the ride, you’ll later be in the front of the train on the way back.

If you have a baby or small child keep in mind that the horn could be really loud for them so you may not want to sit at either end of the train.

You also have different types of train cars to choose from.

A few of them are open cars that may or may not have a top covering.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

Others are enclosed although the windows are removed throughout most of the car.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

The enclosed cars offer a little bit more protection from all of the steam/smoke that comes from the train’s engine so if you want to limit your exposure to the fumes consider getting in one of those. In our case, Steam Locomotive #40 released an impressive amount of exhaust!

Georgetown Loop Railroad

As far as what to wear, I recommend layers. It was quite cool on our trip in the middle of the summer but it could be a bit cold depending on the clouds, the weather that day, etc.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

The scenic train journey will lead you along the picturesque Clear Creek Canyon, meandering through dense forests adorned with majestic pine, fir, and stunning aspen trees. This idyllic setting creates an ideal autumn getaway.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

You’ll also catch some great views of Clear Creek below you and its lively white water rapids cascading through the picturesque landscape.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

If you’re not accustomed to spending time in the mountains, the forest scenery is likely to really impress. However, for seasoned hikers or outdoor enthusiasts who frequently immerse themselves in nature, the scenery (with close proximity to the highway) may not elicit the same level of breathtaking amazement.

Scattered throughout the path are a variety of things to look for. From elusive Sasquatch sightings that ignite the imagination to the echoes of a bygone era through remnants of ancient rail lines, the path reveals its secrets to those with keen eyes.

Tip: If you want to see some really beautiful mountain scenery, I would suggest going on the Guanella Pass Scenic Byway.

Georgetown Loop Railroad
Georgetown Loop Railroad

Despite sitting directly beneath a speaker, we found ourselves struggling to discern 95% of the narrative being shared as we journeyed aboard the train.

Perhaps the speakers were better in other cars but that was a major loss to the tour, as I was very interested in learning more about all of the history.

Georgetown Loop Railroad silver plume

Eventually, you make your way to the Silver Plume Station, which is the turnaround station.

Georgetown Loop Railroad silver plume

It’s here that the train will stop and you’ll have a chance to get out and wander around but only for a short while. You basically have 10 minutes to get off the train and check out the gift shop or the small train museum. It’s definitely a pretty rushed experience and it seemed like a lot of people were not entirely comfortable stepping off the train.

Georgetown Loop Railroad silver plume gift shop

On the way back, the train will make a stop where you can step off if you signed up for one of the mine tours.

For those of you looking for a true adventure, I’d recommend signing up for the mining tour because the train ride by itself may leave you yearning for something more.

This walking tour takes you 500 feet into the once-operational Lebanon silver mine tunnel where your guide will point rich veins of silver and tell you about the history of early day mining in Georgetown. You can also opt to pan for gold like a real prospector (and keep what you find)!

Georgetown Loop Railroad

There are even haunted mine tours you can go on if that’s your thing.

The mine tour extends the duration of your trip by 1 hour and 15 minutes, making it a 2 hour and 30 minute excursion when combined with the train ride. Please note that children under 5 years old are not permitted to enter the mine in accordance with state safety regulations.

Georgetown Loop Railroad

After dropping people off for the mine tours, we continued our journey through the mountainside forest and eventually we made our way back to the original point of departure about 35 minutes after we departed.

Final word

So is the Georgetown Loop Railroad worth it?

For people with the fascination of trains, I think they will really enjoy the experience. This is also a very popular attraction for families, especially those with young kids.

As for myself, I thought the ride was a little underwhelming.

Maybe because we do so many outdoors activities, the views weren’t quite as mind blowing as I would have preferred. And although I’m a huge fan of history, it was difficult to hear anything said over the speaker system so I wasn’t able to learn much.

For people like me, I think it’s worth doing the mining tour because it gives you a chance to break up the experience with something uniquely hands-on and is sure to enlighten you on more of the history of the site. So that would be my recommendation to make the experience well worth it!

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