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23 Oct 2014 15 views
 
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photoblog image Glenwood Canyon

Glenwood Canyon

It's extremely rare that I can say a road journey is an enjoyable part of a holiday but my trip back to Denver was one of those rare occasions, especially a 12 mile or so section of I-70 through the Glenwood Canyon. Here, the canyon is so narrow that there is no room for both the east and westbound carriageways to be alongside each other and so the westbound is elevated above the eastbound carriageway for the length of the canyon. The road has to share the canyon with the Colorado river (well, that has been here for 70 million years) and then hidden behind the bushes is a railway, now used mainly by huge freight trains but also by the California Zephyr which runs between Chicago and San Francisco. As part of the building of I-70, it includes a biking and hiking path for the full lengh of the canyon. Oh, there's a 1.2km tunnel, too. 

 

Glenwood Canyon is a rugged scenic 12.5 mi (20 km) canyon on the Colorado River in western Colorado in the United States. Its canyon walls climb as high as 1,300 ft (396 m) above the Colorado River. It is the largest such canyon on the Upper Colorado. The canyon, which has historically provided the routes of railroads and highways through western Colorado, currently furnishes the routes of Interstate 70 and the Central Corridor between Denver and Grand Junction. The canyon stretches from near Dotsero, where the Colorado receives the Eagle River, downstream in a west-southwest direction to just east of Glenwood Springs, on the mouth of the Roaring Fork. Most of the canyon is in Garfield County, with the upper portion near Dotsero lying in Eagle County.

 

In 1906, the canyon provided the route of the Taylor State Road, a gravel road that was the first route for automobiles through the Colorado Rockies. The canyon also provided the route for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in the late 19th century. Through acquisitions, the line is currently part of the Union Pacific system. As Glenwood Canyon was one of the iconic scenic views along the California Zephyr passenger train, a monument to the dome car design was originally installed in the canyon. In the 1990s the monument was relocated to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden to make way for the construction of Interstate 70.

 

The canyon is widely considered one of the most scenic natural features on the Interstate Highway System of the United States. Foot access to the canyon is available at four rest areas along Interstate 70 in the canyon. The Hanging Lake Rest Area (Exit 125) provides access to the canyon along a stretch where I-70 is concealed in the Hanging Lake Tunnel.

 

The canyon was formed relatively recently in Pleistocene time by the rapid cutting of the Colorado down through layers of sedimentary rock. The upper layers of the canyon are sandstone from Pennsylvanian and Mississippian. Sections of the lower canyon walls are made of Cambrian rock. The Mississippian layer that is prominent throughout much of the upper rim sections of the canyon is part of the Leadville Formation.

 

More about this stretch of I-70 here and enjoy a ride of the California Zephr here - scroll through to about 5 mins. 

 

I did pick up a leaflet about the biking possibilities. You get taken to the higher end of the path by shuttle van and then its all downhill to the finish. Hmmmm... now I have an idea forming for a future trip... 

 

 

Glenwood Canyon

It's extremely rare that I can say a road journey is an enjoyable part of a holiday but my trip back to Denver was one of those rare occasions, especially a 12 mile or so section of I-70 through the Glenwood Canyon. Here, the canyon is so narrow that there is no room for both the east and westbound carriageways to be alongside each other and so the westbound is elevated above the eastbound carriageway for the length of the canyon. The road has to share the canyon with the Colorado river (well, that has been here for 70 million years) and then hidden behind the bushes is a railway, now used mainly by huge freight trains but also by the California Zephyr which runs between Chicago and San Francisco. As part of the building of I-70, it includes a biking and hiking path for the full lengh of the canyon. Oh, there's a 1.2km tunnel, too. 

 

Glenwood Canyon is a rugged scenic 12.5 mi (20 km) canyon on the Colorado River in western Colorado in the United States. Its canyon walls climb as high as 1,300 ft (396 m) above the Colorado River. It is the largest such canyon on the Upper Colorado. The canyon, which has historically provided the routes of railroads and highways through western Colorado, currently furnishes the routes of Interstate 70 and the Central Corridor between Denver and Grand Junction. The canyon stretches from near Dotsero, where the Colorado receives the Eagle River, downstream in a west-southwest direction to just east of Glenwood Springs, on the mouth of the Roaring Fork. Most of the canyon is in Garfield County, with the upper portion near Dotsero lying in Eagle County.

 

In 1906, the canyon provided the route of the Taylor State Road, a gravel road that was the first route for automobiles through the Colorado Rockies. The canyon also provided the route for the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad in the late 19th century. Through acquisitions, the line is currently part of the Union Pacific system. As Glenwood Canyon was one of the iconic scenic views along the California Zephyr passenger train, a monument to the dome car design was originally installed in the canyon. In the 1990s the monument was relocated to the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden to make way for the construction of Interstate 70.

 

The canyon is widely considered one of the most scenic natural features on the Interstate Highway System of the United States. Foot access to the canyon is available at four rest areas along Interstate 70 in the canyon. The Hanging Lake Rest Area (Exit 125) provides access to the canyon along a stretch where I-70 is concealed in the Hanging Lake Tunnel.

 

The canyon was formed relatively recently in Pleistocene time by the rapid cutting of the Colorado down through layers of sedimentary rock. The upper layers of the canyon are sandstone from Pennsylvanian and Mississippian. Sections of the lower canyon walls are made of Cambrian rock. The Mississippian layer that is prominent throughout much of the upper rim sections of the canyon is part of the Leadville Formation.

 

More about this stretch of I-70 here and enjoy a ride of the California Zephr here - scroll through to about 5 mins. 

 

I did pick up a leaflet about the biking possibilities. You get taken to the higher end of the path by shuttle van and then its all downhill to the finish. Hmmmm... now I have an idea forming for a future trip... 

 

 

comments (7)

  • Ray
  • Yangon, Myanmar
  • 23 Oct 2014, 01:08
Buggered up a perfectly lovely canyon by plonking roads and stuff right through it!



smile
Alan: A vital part of the road network wink
  • ....peter:)
  • Moonbeam, Ontario, Canada
  • 23 Oct 2014, 04:29
it took that river a few million years to cut the path for the I-70 Alan... great image taken through the windshield....petersmile
Alan: Thanks, Peter. Luckliy there was not much traffic to worry about when I was trying to balance the iPhone on top of the steering wheel.
bit like the M5 at Bristol....but not much
Alan: I think the similarity is that it is a road for cars and trucks; nothing else is the same smile
  • Chris
  • England
  • 23 Oct 2014, 06:37
Wonderful bold engineering isn't it. Love the video too..
Alan: It has achieved varuious awards for its engineering and for not mucking up the canyon too much.
That is quite something
Alan: Thanks, James. I found it very impressive.
  • Richard Trim
  • Suffolk: where the sun rises first in England
  • 23 Oct 2014, 06:57
Sounds, having read your last sentence, Alan, ... that you would like the rest of you life to be all downhill.
Alan: I've been going downhill for about the past twenty years, I think. Long may it continue - but on a gentler slope wink
  • Philine
  • Germany
  • 23 Oct 2014, 07:13
What a grandious rockscape, a Canyon and a river - and then the different man-made engineering masterworks, cutting through the landscape, the carriageways -one elevated above the other - , the railway, the hiking and biking path, a shuttle van - the human being as creator - there are some ways for the tourists and for your future trips! Although I have been never in the States, I'm sure that it is the California Zeph(y)r you did enjoy!
Alan: Thanks, Philine. I found it most impressive how they have fitted it all in yet still managed to retain the grandeur of the canyon. I would have loved to have done the bike trip but I had already driven 250 miles that day and there was another 150 to go. No time for the train ride, either; it is someone else's video.

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