From August 7 through August 12, just prior to the 1999 North American Saab Owners Convention, 50 Saab enthusiasts toured the Colorado Rockies together. We started in Estes Park and finished up at the Keystone Resort, where the convention took place. Day One: August 7. Estes Park to Glenwood Springs. The town of Estes Park is just outside Rocky Mountain National Park. Our tour took us through the park and across Trail Ridge Road, the highest paved road in the United States; elevation 12,183 ft.. A lightning storm moved across the ridge and prevented many of us from getting out to see the tundra. It cleared up quickly.
Coming into Glenwood Springs, we drove through the spectacular Glenwood Canyon on Interstate 70, a monument to man's engineering skill. Interstate 70 is a 4-lane highway here, carefully built to preserve the beauty of the canyon. During its construction, the construction crews and the environmentalists were able to see one another's point of view, such that the construction crews were saying, "How can we preserve this rock outcropping? How can we preserve this tree?" and the environmentalists were saying, "How can we do this on time and on budget?" The result: a highway that is truly a work of art.
In Glenwood Springs are such attractions as the largest outdoor spring-heated pool in the U.S, and Yampa Spa and Vapor Caves with natural hot mineral waters flowing throughout the cave at 125°F.
Day Two: Glenwood Springs to Montrose. A spectacular day, with many optional side trips. Some of us drove into Aspen, or to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, or to Marble, where there is old marble mine that provided marble for many of our national monuments. The valley there is filled with massive blocks of marble, either rejects or blocks that fell during transport. It was a spectacular sight.
Day Three: Montrose to Cortez. We passed through Telluride today, where we rode the gondola over the ski area. Today's side trip was to Four Corners, so named because it's where the corners of four states come together. There is not a thing there but a monument in the middle of flat scrub land, but it is interesting nonetheless. (Quiz: which states? Answer below)
Day Four: Cortez to Durango. This was a short trip day, which left plenty of time to visit Mesa Verde National Park, where the ancient Anasazi Indians built adobe castles in the cliffs. In Durango resides the Grand Motor Car Collection, with classics from Packard, Studebaker, Desoto, Nash, Hudson and others.
Day Five: Durango to Crested Butte. The Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is along this leg. Why narrow gauge? Because it corners better around mountain outcroppings. We traveled over the spectacular "Million Dollar Highway. What incredible views! And what an incredible drop off on one side! Don't look down! There are several cute stories about why it's called "The Million Dollar Highway." One is because the first guy over it said he wouldn't drive that again for a million dollars.
We gathered at the Marriot Hotel in Crested Butte for a celebration barbeque, speeches and awards. It was a great road trip. Tomorrow: Keystone and the Saab Convention!
Day Six: Crested Butte to Keystone. We passed through Leadville, once a booming mining town. The Matchless Mine is located here. It's closed now, of course, but once it was the richest silver mine in Colorado.
We lunched in Vail and explored the alpine architecture, restaurants and shops, then drove to Dillon Lake, where we gathered together to caravan into Keystone. A photo opportunity awaited us is Keystone: Eric Carlson greeted each and every one of us personally as we arrived.
Answer: Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.