Have you ever dreamed about living in a town at the base of the mountains, but you didn’t really know of many towns like that? Well, Westcliffe is one of those towns, as it is located at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Located in Colorado, this small town has an interesting history that would attract people to visit it. So, what is so special about Westcliffe that makes its history so unique – and what can you write a essay about if you decide to visit? Read here to find out.
The History of Westcliffe
Back in June 1878, miners discovered silver inside the cliff of the Wet Mountain Valley. Consequently, Silver Cliff (as it was named) started growing very quickly. In 1880, Silver Cliff’s population was of 5,040, the highest it’s ever been up to that point. Because of that, it became the third largest city in Colorado.
As a result, by 1881, Silver Cliff’s growth determined The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad to enlarge its growing rail lines – and pass them through some property purchased one mile west of the town. This new stimulus followed the same Grape Creek path that Zebulon Pike walked 75 years before that. Therefore, having new homes, businesses and a new storage, Westcliffe was born.
In 1881, the Westcliffe line was devastated by a flash flood. Although the line was rebuilt in 1884, it was abandoned in 1889 – after another flood. However, Westcliffe stayed there, and it prospered.
Later in 1901, The Denver & Rio Grande Railroad returned with a line from Texas Creek to Westcliffe. Despite the route being abandoned in 1938, it paralleled what is today known as Colorado Highway 69. It offers access to the markets containing the area’s prized mountain valley hay, the growing cattle operations, and many others.
What to Do in Westcliffe, Colorado?
Did the history impress you? Have you decided it was time to visit the town? That would be a great idea and a great option for a routine break. Westcliffe, although small, has some things to do to keep you entertained. It’s where you could feel at peace for a while.
The area is pretty quiet, with many hiking and biking trails, as well as alpine lakes. The fresh air and the unbeaten paths will make you want to go on a little adventure. So, here is what you could to in Westcliffe:
- Go to the San Isabel National Forest
The National Forest’s campgrounds are easily accessible. In addition, they allow you to do some fun activities. Many climbers, hikers, skiers, boaters, bird-watchers, and hunters will surely find something to do here. If you’re on the list, you most likely won’t get bored.
Moreover, the Crestone Needle is about 17 miles from Westcliffe, and it’s a great place for rock climbers. At the same time, hikers and mountain bikers will find a paradise at Sangre de Cristos.
- Stargaze from the Smokey Jack Observatory
Who wouldn’t like to watch the stars? It’s a beautiful thing that you probably don’t usually do, especially if your area is highly polluted. Thankfully, Westcliffe has a very light pollution level, allowing you to stargaze successfully.
The International Dark-Sky Association recognized the communities of Westcliffe and Silvercliff for having exemplary stargazing opportunities. So, if you are an enthusiast when it comes to this, why miss the chance? The Observatory even hosts star parties during summer.
- Go to a Restaurant
You’ll most likely want to go to a restaurant and taste some local food, just like in any trip. Thankfully, Westcliffe hosts more than 10 restaurants ready to serve you, and some lodging facilities that range from rustic to B&Bs. Catch a table at the Alpine Lodge for amazing views of the vast Wet Valley.
- Visit the Roadside Attractions
Wouldn’t you like to visit the Westcliffe Depot railroad museum? Museums always have something interesting to show you, so you wouldn’t regret it. Also, you could stop for a performance movie at the Historic Jones Theater. A performance movie is surely a way to keep you entertained, especially if you don’t usually go to such events.
Bishop’s Castle is also a place you should give a go if you’re in the area – since it’s only about 28 miles southeast of Westcliffe. An interesting fact is that Jim Bishop has built this free and visitor-ready attraction on his own, back in 1969.
Colorado hosts a beautiful town with an interesting history. Being a railroad town, it has slowly grown and become a peaceful area where you could get some fresh air. Moreover, there are many activities to keep potential tourists entertained. You can either go stargazing, hiking, climbing, or visit the roadside attractions. The restaurants, attractions, and landscapes are sure to keep you entertained.
If you’re looking for a quiet vacation where you can enjoy some amazing views, Westcliffe is waiting for you.