Through our Lens:

A Rocky Mountain Road Trip


From the western metropolis of Denver to the surrounding Rocky Mountains, there’s something for everyone in the heart of Colorado. With this handy-dandy guide, we hope you’ll be unabashedly singing “Rocky Mountain high!” throughout your trip. Just make sure you’re on key for the locals.

Huddled together like three tourists with a fear of heights, these gondolas run parallel to what was once the highest bridge in the world. Spanning across a deep canyon, the Royal Gorge Bridge was an engineering marvel upon its construction, completed in only 7 months – and primarily made of wood . While it may be an awe-inspiring view, it’s a 955 ft drop to the Arkansas River below. *Gulp*

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4218 Co Rd 3A, Cañon City, CO 81212

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

One of the two last cog rails in the United States, this railway has been taking curious visitors to the top of Pikes Peak since 1891. Originally run by steam-powered locomotives, self-propelled trams now make the slow (but picturesque) journey up this famous mountain top for the highest cog-rail journey in the country. 

515 Ruxton Ave, Manitou Springs, CO 80829

Colorado State Capitol

Not many capitol buildings can claim to be a mile above ground, but there has been some trouble distinguishing where the exact mile marker should live at the Colorado State Capitol. In its initial construction, the 15th step on the building’s staircase was labeled at “one mile high,” however, this was changed in 1969 to the 18th step when officials re-measured the height. The marker would be moved again in 2003 for an even more accurate measurement on the 13th step  Hopefully, the third time’s the charm.

200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203

The Byers–Evans House Museum

Built for Victorian-era publisher William Byers, the preserved home is host to The Center for Colorado Women’s History. The center artfully displays exhibits and tours on the history of women in Colorado, and also serves as a place of research and lectures on feminist studies.

1310 Bannock St, Denver, CO 80204

Denver Firefighters Museum

Located within the former Station No. 1 of the Denver Fire Department, this museum allows visitors a peek inside the history of the department as well as the life of a firefighter. Constructed in 1909, the building’s namesake is a bit misconceiving as it is actually the second Station No. 1–and yes, there are reports of ghosts.

1326 Tremont Pl, Denver, CO 80204

Molly Brown House Museum

While she may have gained the nickname “Unsinkable” due to surviving the Titanic tragedy, Molly Brown lived up to that name in more ways than one, by also fighting for women’s rights in a time where women could still not vote on a federal level. Along with the suffrage movement, Molly Brown founded the first juvenile court system in Denver, was a patron of the arts, and fought to preserve the home of poet Eugene Fields. It would be her own home that would be saved by Denver preservationists in 1970, remaining as a museum to the Victorian era and a monument to the woman who brought life to its many corridors.

1340 Pennsylvania St, Denver, CO 80203

Denver Mint

Ever looked on a quarter and found the faint marking of a “D” next to George Washington? While small, it signifies that the coin was produced here, at the Denver Mint, where over 300 billion coins have been minted. Established exclusively for production of coins, the Denver Mint opened in 1906 and has never stopped churning out the loose change one finds in their pocket.

Serving as the governor of Colorado’s residence since the 1960s, this luxurious abode was first built for rail magnate Walter Cheesman. Originally from Chicago, Walter traveled to Denver via ox cart, which may have been his motivation to help bring railway service to the Mile High City.

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400 E 8th Ave, Denver, CO 80203

Denver Botanic Gardens

Home to North America’s largest collection of plants from cold-temperate climates around the world, the Denver Botanic Gardens have served as an oasis for locals since 1951. The current gardens rest on top of an old cemetery, and rumor has it spirits still roam the grounds.

1007 York St, Denver, CO 80206

The Mullen Building

Designed by architect Temple Buell, this structure is a unique design of Art Deco mixed in with Aztec/Mayan Revival, almost giving off the impression of a crown topping its facade. Built for patients suffering from tuberculosis, Temple Buell was a transplant to Colorado as a TB patient himself. Judging from this amazing work, the Colorado air did wonders for him.

1895 Franklin St, Denver, CO 80218

Catbird Hotel

Every guest’s room key is nestled in a paper sleeve labeled with the words: “Just remember: These are the good ol’ days.” This retro-funky hotel lives up to that mantra, providing guests with a swanky lounge, plentiful outdoor space, and modifiable rooms that provide a perfect rest stop amongst the lively shops of Denver’s Arts District.

3770 Walnut St, Denver, CO 80205

“I’m going to San Francisco for a job; will you marry me when I come for you?” Spoiler alert: She said yes! And so began the adventure of John and Mary Elitch, leading the pair down a path that began with young love on the edge of the San Francisco Bay, and ended with Mary making history, somehow winding her way to becoming the first woman in the world to own and operate a theater.

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4600 W 37th Pl, Denver, CO 80212

Denver Union Station

With recent renovations in 2014 receiving nationwide coverage, Denverites are “all aboard” on this revitalized downtown landmark. Originally constructed in 1881, this grand terminal is full of floral fare—Columbine flower rosettes decorate the sconces throughout the Great Hall, an homage to Colorado’s state flower. Home to the Crawford Hotel and various restaurants and shops, the once-central transportation hub of Denver is once again buzzing with activity.

1701 Wynkoop St, Denver, CO 80202

Tivoli Brewing Building

Prior to Prohibition in the United States, this structure was home to one of the largest breweries in the country. Named after Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Tivoli Brewing Company was conceived by Sigi Mortiz, a German immigrant who achieved massive success early on selling his “Buck Beer” to gold miners in Denver’s early days. Fittingly, the building now is a part of a college campus—allowing its beer tradition to live on.

900 Auraria Pkwy Suite 240, Denver, CO 80204

Buckhorn Exchange

Established in 1893 by Henry “Shorty Scout” Zietz, The Buckhorn Exchange is Denver’s oldest restaurant and holder of its Liquor License no. 1. A watering hole for miners, roustabouts, railroad workers, and early businessmen, this steakhouse is a trip back in time to when the city was a metropolis of the frontier. So important was the Buckhorn to the city’s early days, that even Theodore Roosevelt stopped by the establishment on his Presidential Express tour, and we have to wonder if he was brave enough to try “rocky mountain oysters”.

1000 Osage St, Denver, CO 80204

Davies' Chuck Wagon Diner

This classic diner was shipped piece by piece all the way from New Jersey in 1957–and it has stood on this spot ever since. Serving diner classics and jukebox tunes, the iconic neon sign featuring a “cooking cowboy” has become a roadside landmark on the U.S. 40 Highway. Citing accidents and distracted drivers, the city of Lakewood almost had the neon sign removed in the 1990s. After a long court battle and popular opposition, the sign stayed put, and was even landmarked in 1997.

9495 W Colfax Ave, Lakewood, CO 80215

The main repository of ice cores in the United States, the lab holds over 17,000 m of ice cores from Antarctica and Greenland for scientific research. The main freezer stays at -36 degrees celsius–so you better bring gloves!

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Federal Center Building 810, Lakewood, CO 80226

Buffalo Bill Museum

Perched on the top of Lookout Mountain, check out the museum and gravesite of America’s legendary cowboy celebrity. While laid to rest in a quiet spot today, Buffalo Bill Cody lived an action-packed life on the Western frontier, eventually forming a famous wild west show that toured all over the U.S. and abroad– even performing for Queen Victoria herself.

987 1/2 Lookout Mountain Rd, Golden, CO 80401

When author Stephen King spent a night at The Stanley Hotel with his wife Tabitha in 1974, they realized they were the only guests in the entire place. The Hotel was getting ready to close for the winter. During his stay, King was working on a new novel but was unhappy with it; so, he roamed the Hotel’s long, empty corridors and grabbed a drink by himself at the hotel bar.

Sound like an eerily familiar scenario? That’s because King’s night at The Stanley Hotel sparked the inspiration for The Shining, King’s popular novel later made into the horror film by the same name. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, The Stanley Hotel is the basis for the story’s setting, the isolated and imposing Overlook Hotel.

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333 E Wonderview Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517

Seven Keys Lodge

Originally known as the Baldplate Inn, the new iteration of this old-school lodge takes its name from a murder mystery novel, Seven Keys to Baldplate. While the hotel used to giveaway keys as souvenirs to guests, it also amassed a collection of its own, with over 20,000 keys on display in the hotel’s aptly named “Key Room.”

4900 CO-7, Estes Park, CO 80517

With its grand spiraling staircase and “movie-palace” interior moldings, the Elizabeth hotel opened to great fanfare in the heart of Fort Collins in 2017. With ample metal screens located on the exterior and interior of the new building, there’s an undoubted elegance about the first four-star hotel in Colorado’s Craft Beer Capital. Today’s visitors will notice swirls of detail that percolate through the hotel’s lobby, few may know about the inspiring history behind the Hotel’s name—-it all starts with a decidedly less elegant hotel.

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111 Chestnut St, Fort Collins, CO 80524

Old Firehouse Books

A third iteration of a book store started by Bill Hawk in 1980, this home for booklovers resides within a landmarked firehouse in Old Town. The staff claims to be “friendly and well-read,”making for a perfect environment for browsing its collections of new, used, and local books.

232 Walnut St, Fort Collins, CO 80524

The dust had barely settled in the golden state of California, by the time prospector George A. Jackson stepped foot into the gold-flushed mountains of Colorado. Tipped off by a few non-substantial, “teaser finds” outside present-day Denver, that enticed to the area in 1858. but onto a mysterious  blue mist rising from the ground just beyond the frozen Vazquez Fork.  waist-deep in snow, to find that the mysterious “smoke” was steam rising from piping hot springs. Within the next few days, Jackson found he had literally “struck gold”.

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2350 Riverside Dr, Idaho Springs, CO 80452

Originally built in the 1890s, the Bread Bar’s building once housed a grain and feed shop before later becoming a bakery. For nearly a century, the massive letter signage did actually advertise baked goods to the residents of the former mining camp. Now described as a living ghost town, Silver Plume has remained a tiny community tucked in the Continental Divide – counting a population of under 200 residents.

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1010 Main St, Silver Plume, CO 80476

Vicco’s Charcoal Burger Drive In

Serving ⅓ pound burgers and crispy onion rings since 1953, this retro drive-in has more to it than fast-dining fare. Swing by during the Hot Summer Nights Cruise Series from May to August to catch a peak at classic cars, trucks, and some sweet kicks. Just be careful to not drop your frosted chocolate malt on any of the autos.

51659 Hwy 6, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

Hotel Colorado

One of the oldest hotels in the state of Colorado, this Italianate structure has been hosts to presidents, celebrities—-and ghosts. Modeled after the Villa di Medici in Florence, the “Little White House of the West” was supposedly where Theodore Roosevelt was presented with the very first teddy bear.

526 Pine St, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

From pitstop to playbills. This is a classic story of transformation in the American West — with a bit of a twist and plenty of pizzazz. Grand Junction was once little more than a small, sleepy pit stop between Denver and Salt Lake City. That is, until a group of entertainers and artists applied their vision of a much bigger stage for the town, making it known as much for its thoroughfare as it was for its theater.

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645 Main St, Grand Junction, CO 81501

The Neon Factory

It’s a staple in any old time diner, theater, or joint that has stood the test of time. The glow of neon in a nighttime cityscape can introduce a landmark to a first time visitor or serve as a reminder to past memories for a local. It’s here in Grand Junction that neon artisan Paul Cruz masterfully creates neon signage for a nation hungry for that retro neon shimmer.

1040 Pitkin Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501

The mystery of the missing courthouse painting dates back to 1940 when Louise Emerson Ronnebeck hoped to reflect the strength and complexity of the region with her mural at the Grand Junction federal building. But when the painting was eventually removed for a cleaning … it disappeared for decades.

Enacted in the 1930s, the Federal Arts Project funded many popular artistic initiatives like the National Park Service posters, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and Ronnebeck’s missing mural, “The Harvest”. Like many painters during the Great Depression, work was scarce for Ronnebeck. And there were other obstacles in her way. As a woman, she was not taken as seriously as her male counterparts having been described as a mere “gifted socialite” or “clever with brushes.”

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The carved canyons and cliffs that make up this protected land date from over 1.7 Billion years ago. When most people didn’t notice that kind of detail, conservationist John Otto dedicated his life to protecting this area in the early 20th Century. The first to carve trails into the red bedrock and promote the natural beauty of the area, Otto, “The Hermit of Monument Park,” became the park’s first custodian in 1911.

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Grand Junction, CO 81507

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