THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE
South of the Canadian Rockies, the states of the Rocky Mountains, the range that ripples into the corners of Utah and New Mexico, are endowed with several national parks. While expansive mountains east of the Rockies
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Denver (state capital), Boulder, Aspen, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Junction, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes
Cheyenne (state capital), Jackson, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons, Devils Tower
Helena (state capital), Billings, Bozeman, Glacier National Park
Boise (state capital), Coeur d’Alene, Sun Valley, Snake River, Craters of the Moon, Nez Perce natives
Cheesman Park, Denver
Photo by Ali Giaudrone
Denver sits one mile above sea level on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains as the capital city of the Centennial State. Within the lively “Mile-High City” are many little neighborhood pockets and its airport is the central continental hub for international air travel. To its west, college towns Boulder and Fort Collins nestle into the foothills with the Rockies as their backdrop. Continue into the nearby Rocky Mountains to reach ski resort towns Aspen and Colorado Springs.
Historically, ancient Pueblo Anasazi once inhabited prehistoric dwellings that can be seen at Mesa Verde in Colorado’s southwestern corner. More recent indigenous tribes included the mountain-dwelling Ute Nation in the west, the Apache and Comanche tribes of the south and southeast, and the Arapaho and Cheyenne natives whose lands reached into Colorado’s eastern plains.
France and Spain claimed the land in the 17th and 18th centuries. Then in the 19th century, the United States acquired the Eastern plains from France through the Louisiana Purchase, but the disputed-over western mountainous region, once claimed by the Spanish Empire, was ultimately won in the Mexican-American War.
Today the rail connects travelers between the airport and the historic Beaux-Arts style Union Station.
See the official Colorado Tourism pages.
Photo by Ali Giaudrone
The state capital of Cheyenne feels like a sleepy old western movie town. The streets were eerily deserted. We didn’t stay long. When we finally saw people downtown, we observed a certain skepticism and paranoia over the use of cameras causing me to wonder if artists were welcome. Traveling into Wyoming caused me to feel as if I’d crossed over a force field into a different realm, a place caught in time.
The US acquired most of the land as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and today Wyoming remains the least populous state. The northern state is home to noteworthy natural wonders. Yellowstone National Park, known for geothermal pools and the Old Faithful geyser, extends into neighboring Idaho and Montana; Grand Teton National Park with its soaring pinnacles is home to the resort town Jackson Hole; a rock column butte called Devils Tower was the first national monument established by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906.
See the official Wyoming Tourism pages.
Montana State Capitol, Helena
Photo by Steven Cordes on Unsplash
Also acquired through the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Helena is the state capital of Montana, while Billings is its largest city. Bordered by Canada to the north, while expansive mountainous spread across the far western state bordered by Idaho, low-lying plains make up the eastern state. Hike 700 miles of trails in Glacier National Park where scenic waterways fill the recesses carved between its mountain peaks.
See the official Montana Tourism pages.
Payette National Forest, McCall
Photo by Porter Raab on Unsplash
Boise is the state capital and most populous city in Idaho. The Boise River runs through the city toward the Oregon border where it feeds into the Snake River which runs through the southern state near Craters of the Moon. Resort towns include Sun Valley, popular for skiing east of Boise, and McCall, a popular lake resort north of Boise. The northern panhandle is home to the city of Coeur d’Alene at the base of the national forest with the same name, near its name-sake natives and the Nez Perce reservation.
See the official Idaho Tourism pages.