Detour to Scenic Terrain

Planning to head back toward Missouri today, we learned that Interstate 70 was closed east of Denver due to dense fog and multiple accidents.  We thus took an alternate and far more scenic route.

Colorado 86 runs west to east between Castle Rock, on I-25, and Interstate 70, a few miles north of Limon.  From Castle Rock, the road climbs eastward through the mesa dominated topography south of Metro Denver before dropping through the broad valley of Cherry Creek; the latter stream rises along the Palmer Divide and flows NNW to join the South Platte in downtown Denver.  East of that valley, Colorado 86 undulates across a scenic landscape of pine covered escarpments and short-grass prairie on the northern flank of the Divide, passing through Elizabeth and Kiowa en route; nearing Interstate 70, the route drops across the south side of the Palmer Divide. leaving the higher, pine studded terrain.

The rustic farms, hilly topography and ponderosa pine parklands were a welcome change from the broad, relatively flat grasslands along I-70 east of Denver.  A thick coat of snow, shimmering beneath a bright blue sky, intensified the beauty of the spectacular landscape; though wildlife was relatively sparse at mid-day, I did spot a few small herds of pronghorn, a flock of mountain bluebirds and the first Swainson's hawks of the season, back from their winter in Argentina.