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|−|Although there are some famous mountain attractions along the eastern side of the region, most of the area is dominated by high canyon /mesa country rather than by towering summits. A geological formation characteristic of, and widespread in, the region is the ''' Book Cliffs''' that are shown to good advantage around Grand Junction. A side effect of this geology is that the region is famous for its fossils. [[Dinosaur National Monument]], along the Utah state line and extending into that state, was formed to preserve the enormous fossil beds found there, which are still yielding remarkable paleontological discoveries. There is also an interesting paleontological museum in Grand Junction. |+|
some of the , of the canyon mesa country
A geological formation characteristic of, and widespread in, the region the '''''' that are shown to good advantage around Grand Junction. A of this geology is that the region is famous for its fossils. [[Dinosaur National Monument]], along the Utahstate line and extending into that state, was formed to preserve the enormous fossil beds found there, which are still yielding remarkable paleontological discoveries.
There is also in .
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|−|Northwestern Colorado is also home to [[Colorado's Wine Country]], the state's answer to [[Napa]] and [[Sonoma]] in [[California]]. | |
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Revision as of 00:32, 1 February 2009
Gore Range from Vail
Northwestern Colorado is a region of the state of Colorado in the United States of America. It is a diverse area of both red rock mesas and snow capped mountain peaks, as well as the headwaters of the Colorado River. This Rocky Mountains region includes a majority of the state's most popular ski resorts, places like Breckenridge, Aspen and Vail. It is also home to the Western Slope's biggest city, Grand Junction.
Broadly, this region is bounded on the:
- North, by the Wyoming state line;
- East, by the western ranges of the Rocky Mountains; This contours along the Continental Divide, an imaginary line that marks the flow of precipitation. Rain falling on the west of the Divide makes its way to the Pacific Ocean. Rain on the east makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.
- South, The southern borders of Mesa, Pitkin and Summit Counties. This is an arbitrary line 50 to 100 miles south of the east-west running Interstate 70, stretching roughly from the western portal of the Eisenhower Tunnel in the east to the Utah state line in the west.
- West, by the Utah state line.
Region boundaries in Colorado tend to be somewhat controversial (even in day-to-day life in the state) and are done in an ad-hoc way here. If you're expecting to read about some destination in this article and can't find it, check in the neighboring Front Range, Southwestern Colorado, and even South Central Colorado sections to see if it's covered there.
For a quick list of all Colorado's ski resorts, take a look at Skiing in Colorado.
- Aspen - trendy ski town known for its celebrities and liberal politics.
- Breckenridge - most popular ski resort in the U.S.
- Frisco - home of Lake Dillon and convenient base for a half dozen ski resorts.
- Glenwood Springs - town offers massive geothermal pool and touristy charm.
- Grand Junction - the only city in the region and the largest regional airport.
- Palisade - a small orchard and grape growing town, home to many vineyards.
- Rifle - small town a growing base for state's gas fields. Home of Rifle Gape falls.
- Steamboat Springs - laid back Western ski town famous for its champagne snow.
- Vail - largest single mountain ski slopes in North America.
Normally, this section is reserved for places of scenic natural wonder, as well as geologic interest. Here are a few of the region's highlights:
- Colorado National Monument  - Near Fruita. High cliffs, winding roads, great views of red rock pinnacles, arches and other geologic features.
- Dinosaur National Monument  Near Craig. Massive bones of Jurassic era sauropods and allosauruses abound throughout this fossil-rich area. Also a great place for whitewater rafting.
- Flattops Wilderness Area  - Near Rifle. Nearly 12,000 ft at its highest, Colorado's second largest wilderness area offers hiking, fishing, camping and a variety of recreational activities.
- Grand Mesa National Forest  - Near Palisade. The largest flattop mountain in the world, home to a ski resort, scenic byway and plenty of outdoor activities.
- Hunter Frying Pan Wilderness  - Near Carbondale. Holding the headwaters of Hunter Creek and the Fryingpan River, as well as the unnamed peaks of the Williams Mountains.
- Little Bookcliff Wild Horse Area  About 10 mi (16 km) east of Grand Junction. This is an area known for its wild mustang herd. See a wild remnant of the "Old West"
- Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness  - Near Snowmass Village. Jagged, purple colored mountain range mirrored in a still, high alpine lake. One of the most photographed peaks in the Rocky Mountains.
- McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area  - Near Grand Junction. Rugged canyon country and location for Kokopelli's Trail, a slick rock trail much loved by fat tire enthusiasts.
- Routt National Forest  - Home to the ski slopes of Steamboat Springs.
This area is dominated by its geology. It is fairly evenly divided between some of the highest, snow-covered peaks in the Rockies and the beginning of the sandstone canyon and mesa country that dominates the Colorado Plateau. The two biggest geologic features in Northwestern Colorado are the Western Slope of the Continental Divide and the mighty Colorado River, fed by the high mountain snow of the Rockies and eventually carving out the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
The mountains are still growing, thrust upwards by a subducting tectonic plate that scientists hypothesize is situated at an odd angle. It explains why Northwestern Colorado is curiously free of any volcanoes similar to the Cascades in Washington and Orgeon. (Although there has been volcanic activity in the past, and Northwestern Colorado is dotted with geothermal pools in places like Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs). Northwestern Colorado boasts Mount Elbert near Aspen.
A geological formation characteristic of, and widespread in, the mesa portion of the region are the Bookcliffs that are shown to good advantage around Grand Junction. A legacy of this geology is that the region is famous for its Jurassic-era fossils, found throughout the Morrison Formation. Dinosaur National Monument, along the Utah state line and extending into that state, was formed to preserve the enormous fossil beds found there, which are still yielding remarkable paleontological discoveries. Delta, just south of the region in Southwestern Colorado, as well as Grand Junction have large fossil quarries.
There is an economic divide, as well. Northwestern Colorado is a region of both small, struggling towns and high-end ski resorts (some of the richest and most expensive in the world). The ski resorts are a playground for jet-setting millionaires and billionaires, with multimillion dollar mansions and high costs of living. Outside of these pockets of excess are large rural areas, home to ranches and orchards. Northwestern Colorado is also where Colorado's Wine Country is located, the state's answer to Napa and Sonoma in California.
To visit Northwestern Colorado, travelers are going to have fly and/or drive.
There are major airports in Denver and Grand Junction, and regional airports in Aspen and Vail.
- Denver International Airport , (IATA: DEN, ICAO: KDEN). Commonly referred to as DIA. It is located about 20 miles to the east of downtown Denver. Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines all maintain hubs at the airport in Concourses A, B, and C respectively. Most other major domestic carriers also have service here.
- Grand Junction Regional Airport , (IATA: GJT, ICAO: KGJT), otherwise known as Walker Field, is served by six airlines with nonstop service to Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Some service is seasonal. For private pilots, it is also possible to fly your small plane into the airport and leave it while you tour the area. Taxi service is also available at the airport.
- Sunshine Taxi, ☎ +1-970-245-8294.
- Rental car agencies at Walker Field include:
Taxi service is also available at the airport.
- Advantage Rent-A-Car, 2828 Walker Field Dr Grand Junction, ☎ +1-970-243-4469, .
- Alamo, ☎ +1-970- 243-6626, . Daily 07AM-11:15PM.
- Avis, ☎ +1-970-244-9170, . Su-F 8AM-10:30PM,Sa 8AM-8:30PM.
- Hertz, ☎ +1-970-243-0747, . Daily 7:30AM-11PM.
- Vail/Eagle County Airport (IATA: EGE, ICAO: KEGE). Phone: +1-800-225-6136, Located 20 minutes west of Vail in Eagle.
- Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, (also known as Sardy Field) (IATA: ASE) (ICAO: KASE)), . Major carriers to Aspen include United, US Airways, Delta Airlines, and Frontier Airlines. ASE is a small airport for small planes only, and traffic tends to stop in any inclement weather.
- Aspen - About 4 hours from Denver on Interstate 70.. There are two major routes from Denver - through Glenwood Springs or through Independence Pass. Independence Pass is only open in the summer months, but provides spectacular views and can be a bit faster than the longer route through Glenwood. To take this route, travel south from Copper Mountain and exit off I-70 to Leadville.
- Grand Junction, Clifton and Palisade - Palisade and Grand Junction are on Interstate 70, about 40 minutes east of the Utah border and 4 hours west of Denver. From the South, (Telluride, Delta and Montrose), drivers can travel US 50 north.
- Vail- 100 miles west of Denver on Interstate 70, and about 130 miles from Denver International Airport.
Amtrak  serves Grand Junction and Glenwood Springs with the California Zephyr , which runs daily between Emeryville (in the San Francisco Bay Area) and Chicago. Amtrak and AAA partner to run several Wine Trains between Denver and Grand Junction each spring. 
- Grand Junction, Clifton and Palisade
- Greyhound Bus Lines, 230 S 5th St, Grand Junction, ☎ +1-970-242-6012, . But if you're without a car, you'll still need to hail a cab to the vineyards.
- Colorado Mountain Express, Toll Free: 800-525-6363 or Phone: +1 970 926-9800.
- Rocky Mountain Limousine, "+1 970" 343-0000. www.rockieslimo.com
- High Mountain Taxi/Limousine, Toll Free: 800-528-8294 or Phone: +1 970 925-8294. www.hmtaxi.com
- Lightning Limousine Service, Toll Free: 888-925-7505 or Phone: +1 970 925-7505.
- Ute City Limousine Limited, Toll Free: 800-754-5466 or Phone: +1 970 925-2674.