09/1998 - United States of America – 2nd part – from Gran Teton to Colorado Springs

20-day trip to the USA (United States of America) with an itinerary that included a visit to Denver , Cheyenne, Hot Springs, Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, Custer State Park , Rapid City, Mount Rushmore National Park , Crazy Horse Memorial , Keystone, Badlands National Park , Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Devils Tower National Monument , Billings, Yellowstone National Park , Grand Teton National Park , Jackson, Bear Lake , Salt Lake City , Bryce National Park Canyon, Indian village of Anasasi , Capitol Reef National Park , Lake Powell, Natural Bridges National Park , Canyonlands National Park , Moab, Archs National Park , Mesa Verde , Durango , Silverstron , Great Sand Dunes National Park , Colorado Springs, Royal Gorge Bridge

We left the Yellowstone Park and entered the Grand Teton National Park considered the ” youngest ” of the Rocky Mountains’ being “only” 10 million years old .

The landscapes were wider and wider while we went on crossing forests and passing near beautiful lakes.

On the horizon, we could admire the Grand Teton mountain the stands out, large and majestic, among the snow-capped steep and jagged peaks.

We crossed the Jackson Hole valley once famous for being an immense and unmeasured horse and cattle farm thanks to the Snake River that runs through it .

We admired numerous natural panorama and visited the interesting western town of Jackson with its wooden sidewalks , triumphal arches of shed elk antlers, wooden houses and the typical Cowboy Bar whose chairs are horse saddles .

We left those lovely places with 5 degrees below zero and went, entering and exiting from one state to the other, to the capital of Idaho: Salt Lake City.

At first we passed through a beautiful valley with gentle slopes full of forests and with beautiful trees whose colours ranged from yellow to deep red .

Then we drove alongside the beautiful Bear Lake and entered the Cache Valley surrounded by multiple-colours vegetation.

Salt Lake City, the Mormon capital, on one side is characterized  by the salt lake depression and, on the other, is dominated by the mountain range where , in 2002 winter, the Winter Olympic Games will take place.

The Mormons arrived there in 1847, coming from east, along the narrow gorge of the “Pioneer Trail”.

Once the gorge finished, they  arrived in that great plain and decided that it was ” the right place ” to stop.

During the 1990 journey, we had been fascinated by the Bryce Canyon National Park, so we decided to make a second and more thorough visit which included: the Yovimpa Point , Rainbow Point, Ponderosa Canyon, Agua Canyon, Natural Bridge, the Swamp Canyon, the Inspiration Point and finally Sunset Point from where we went down into the heart of Bryce Canyon along the Navajo Loop.

Everything is documented even in the trip made in September 1990.

I invite my readers to go and see that journey.

We left the Bryce Canyon and took a beautiful scenic road with luxurious landscapes.

We met small squirrels and visited the Ananazi Indian Village State Park before arriving at the Capitol Reef National Park which is of an extraordinary beauty .

Some rocks are carved with wonderful Indian petroglyphs .

We drove for hundreds of kilometres through a sunny and arid desert , then, suddenly , the ground seemed to sink . Below us, we saw the calm and deep water of Lake Powell.

It was sunset when we got to the Natural Bridges National Monument .

Even admiring the ” natural bridges ” from a considerable distance, we had the clear perception of their enormous size .

The next day, we visited the Canyonlands National Park .

The visit to the Arches National Park took almost the whole day because, in addition to the car transfers, we had to walk paths that led to the observation points of the various arches. The protected area preserves more than two thousand natural arches which are made in sandstone and so are subject to collapse due to erosion.

The most famous arch, represented on the car number plates of the state of Utah, is the Delicate Arch.

The Landscape Arch is the longest natural arch in the world.

We went up to the 2.700 meters of Mesa Verde National Park .

The Indians began to inhabit this plateau around 1600 and built their houses inside the caves carved into the sides of the cliffs.

Those houses are still well preserved and can be visited; each house has a name such as: Sun Temple , Cliff Palace , Balcony House.

We only visited the ” Spruce Tree House “, wonderfully preserved.

We continued our trip up to Durango that welcomed us under a heavy snowfall.

By a puffing steam train of the late nineteenth century, we covered the route that separates Durango from Silverton. Silverton is a town located at more than 3.000 meters height and  welcomed us with 20 cm of fresh snow fallen in the night.

Silverston was famous for being surrounded by numerous gold deposits so that the road that connects it to Durango is called “Million Dollar HWY .”

The rail trail is quite spectacular because the railroad was built at the mid-slope of the mountain and passes close to fearful precipices. Later on it goes inland and runs near a stream in the middle of stretches of pines, firs and birch trees whose colours fascinated us together with a blue sky and the snow-capped mountains .

We left those magnificent highlands to went down to the plains of Colorado Springs and Denver, even if , behind them the mighty peaks of the Rocky Mountains overlook everything.

We made a short detour to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

Their view is spectacular with, on the background, the imposing peak: the Sangre de Cristo Mountains .

Colorado Springs struck us for the dimensions of its shopping centers located in the suburbs, in a district named ” The Citadel”.

We took advantage of our last day in America to go and visit the highest bridge in the world, the Royal Gorge Bridge. The Arkansas River flows 320-meter below it!