Brown’s Canyon National Monument

Brown’s Canyon National Monument is another one of Colorado’s hidden gems… almost too well hidden! I’ve been wanting to visit this place for years, ever since I missed the day of hiking with the Sierra Club. Well I finally did it 🙂 I was in the area photographing rafters on the Arkansas until finally I found myself in Salida. What the heck, the park is just on the other side of Salida so I consulted my phone for directions and headed up 291 in search of the entrance… piece of cake 🙂

Arkansas River in Brown's Canyon National Monument

Not a piece of cake. You would think that being a national monument there would be huge signs everywhere. But no… no signs anywhere 😦 Totally passed it by, drove all the way up 291 until I finally hit Johnson Village and had to turn back around. At that point I decided to let my GPS guide me in and managed to find the place, County Road 191 to the east from 291 will take you right in… after a couple of miles on a curvy dirt road over a ridge. When you finally do get there you will be greeted by a big sign with some of those fee envelopes and a $8.00 per day use fee. So I paid my fee, dropped the envelope in the box and went on in.

There is a large parking area and a campground along the Arkansas River where the

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rafting companies were all ready to pick up rafters. I grabbed my camera and trusty trekking pole and headed down a trail along the river towards the south. The original plan was to mountain bike back in but it didn’t take long to ascertain that the trail was above my meager riding skill level so I just hoofed it in a ways. The trail and the river are amazing and the area is vast. I imagine you could easily hike for days and not see it all.

 

By this time it was really hot and dry and I was not at all prepared for a long hike so I just turned around and vowed to hike up the other direction for a while but quickly abandoned that idea too and chalked the whole visit up to a successful scouting mission for a longer visit on another more prepared day.

On my way back through Salida the Soulcraft Brewery looked like the perfect answer to my parched throat and worthy of a stop 🙂 Tried the Dopple Bock brew and it was delicious. Being short of time I didn’t try any food, and didn’t really see anyone else eating either. I assume they have food there, but would have to be something for another day as well.

Cute Doe Mule DeerWas hoping to photograph some more rafters along the Arkansas on my return trip, but by the time I was passing by again the rafting was all over for the day. Nothing but the long drive home to look forward to at this point.

If you are a fly fisherman the trail along the river is an awesome place to visit! For hiking though, I’m not so sure. There are no high peaks to scale and except for along the river it appears that there are a lot of miles of parched land to explore. It appears to me that the Continental Divide Trail passes through there on it’s way to the Collegiate Peaks near Buena Vista and there are miles of fun to be had for moderately skilled mountain bikers and a lot of rocky cliffs for rock climbers to hone their skills on! And I didn’t see many in the heat of the day, but I imagine there would be a ton of wildlife to photograph early in the morning.

 

 

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Sun Drenched Spring Morning

Deer on a Warm Colorado Spring Morning

It’s amazing how fast we go from spring to summer in Colorado… I guess I should say we go from winter to summer, there is no spring here. In fact some say we only have two seasons in the high country, winter and the 4th of July! Never the less.. today it was a glorious spring morning and I’m glad I went out to enjoy it!

By the time I finally got going we were burning daylight and I was worried the animals

Deer on a Warm Colorado Spring Morning

had all gone deep into the woods to rest in the cool shade, but as we cleared the ridge I thought I saw a deer’s ears going on alert as we made our way towards them. Closer inspection revealed that there were three deer peering out from the shade of the tall pines on top of the mountain. Two were in the shade but the third had a bit of light on his face, enough I hoped to get a nice picture! Since it was a bit shady I chose ISO 400 for my speed and exposed for the animal that was in partial sunlight. The other two deer I hoped would make a nice backdrop for the big handsome deer in the light.

Deer on a Warm Colorado Spring Morning

I captured a few more of that group and then made my way down the other side and around the south side of the summit where I thought I might get another view. Unfortunately I didn’t get the closeup I was hoping for but I did get a nice shot of them on the mountain top making their way towards the cool shade of the wilderness.

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