You don’t have to go far to get away from it all; the Wet Mountain Valley is a paradise for rest, relaxation and rejuvenation. Step away from technology to savor a digital detox weekend in the unspoiled wilderness of the valley. Get on the road less traveled to Westcliffe, a historic western town of less than 1,000 inhabitants that sits so close to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, you can practically touch them. This broad expanse of valley and mountains is the perfect place to unplug, breathe in the fresh scent of pine, chill in the quiet or get your heart pumping with a hike or horse trek in the mountains.
Friday/DAY 1: The trip here is part of the process of unwinding. Enjoy the majestic Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway over Hardscrabble Pass on Highway 96. Keep an eye out for the herd of longhorn sheep that graze on the side of the steep cliffs just west of Mackenzie Junction. Stop and take a photo as you round Bear Basin; it’s your first view of the Sangres and their jagged peaks that go for miles. It will take your breath away. As you descend into town, you are likely to see mule deer or antelope grazing. Already you can feel the stress of day-to-day life lifting from your shoulders.
Arrive in town and check in at Ravens’ View Airbnb property conveniently located on Main Street. Get yourself settled in and turn off technology. Stroll down to All the Range to make sure you have all the gear you need to be properly prepared for your hike Saturday into the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. While you’re walking around, enjoy the mom-and-pop shops and art galleries throughout town.
Drive up the road to Silver Cliff for dinner at Tony’s Mountain Pizza. Then wander back down the street in time to catch the one showing of a movie or play at the Historic Jones Theater. A large bag of freshly popped popcorn and water is only $5! You might feel like you’ve stepped into the twilight zone when you step out of the movie theater. The town is closed up for the night. Stroll back to your Airbnb for a solid night sleep before your mountain adventure begins tomorrow.
Saturday/DAY 2: Rise and shine with the early morning sun. It must be the mountain stillness that stirs you from a deep slumber. Walk down to Frank Sumatra’s Coffee Lounge for coffee and a breakfast burrito or a hearty waffle. Stop in at White Bird Emporium for a sandwich to go or grab some healthy snacks at Sunflower Natural Foods. Head to the Gibson Trailhead for a few miles of hiking on the Rainbow Trail or an adventurous backcountry horse trip to Lake of the Clouds you reserved with Bear Basin Ranch. If you are lucky, you will catch a couple of trout in the pristine lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains.
Come back to town from your adventure in time to clean up and take a stroll down Main Street and visit several art galleries such as 3rd Street Gallery, Arterburn Fine Art Gallery, Brookwood Gallery and Greenstone Art Works. It’s been a wonderful day, and you’ve worked up an appetite for an open-flame grilled burger or steak and cold beer at Chappy’s Bar and Grill and maybe listen to a local band.
As night falls, head to Smokey Jack Observatory on The Bluffs for a private Star Party you reserved in advance. Westcliffe/Silver Cliff is proud to be the first designated Dark Sky Community in Colorado and the highest elevation site in the world. With trained star guides and a 14-inch telescope, you will be in awe of the arc of the Milky Way and the vastness of space.
Turn in for another restful sleep at your Airbnb, enjoying the mountain stillness and fresh air from your open windows.
Sunday/DAY 3: Walk to Tumbleweed Coffee for your morning cup and a pastry. Marvel at the quaint main street with no traffic lights. Pick up a brochure at one of the many real estate offices before driving to Alpine Lodge for a hearty Sunday brunch at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. After mimosas, it is time to check out and head home with images of the Sangres and small town Westcliffe in your thoughts. You reluctantly turn your cell phone back on thinking how rejuvenating it was to be unplugged for a weekend. Time to start planning your next road trip to Westcliffe!