Some folks insist they can see forever. Especially those who have driven (or walked) up Skyline Drive in Cañon City, Colorado.
The upturned Dakota sandstone “hogback” supporting the scenic roadway has jutted above the floor of the Arkansas River Valley for thousands of years, geologists say.
But since the early 1900s, most people who scale its heights just say, “Wow.” Especially if they’re white-knuckling their way along the single-lane, three-mile stretch that snakes 800 feet above the valley floor. Sometimes they say other things too.
|View atop Skyline Drive in Canon City, Colorado. Photo courtesy Jeffrey Beall.|
For more than a century, people have climbed or driven the spiny ridge, beginning with inmate-labor crews who constructed the narrow roadway in 1905, according to sources from the Royal Gorge Regional Museum and History Center. An inmate could earn ten days off his sentence for every month he worked on the project.
|Photo by George L. Beam, early 1900s.|
Skyline is accessed about three miles west of Cañon City via a stone archway built in 1932, also with inmate labor. The archway was constructed using a stone from each of the forty-eight states (excluding Hawaii and Alaska, not yet states).
Walkers ascend on the eastern side of the hogback, entering at its base near Floral and 5th Street in a residential neighborhood. Exercise enthusiasts claim the trek it's one of the best workouts available. What’s another 800 feet when you’re starting out at an elevation of 5,315? The climb quickly accelerates the heartrate, they say, and the view is breath-taking.
If there’s any breath left to take.
|Dakota Ridge trailhead atop Skyline Road. Photo by author.|
A sharp-eyed paleontology student in 1999 noticed unusual patterns along the upturned lip of the Skyline protrusion which turned out to be a dinosaur trackway I mentioned in last month’s blog. The fossilized footprints are viewed as if from below ground as they protrude from the slanting rock. Signage at the site offers a fascinating historical overview.
|Convex ankylasour footprints protruding above the roadway on Skyline Drive. Photo by author.|
Author's photo from atop Skyline Drive.
A continuation of the uplifted Dakota ridgeline can be seen in the background.
Bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, Davalynn Spencer writes heart-tugging romance with a Western flair, both contemporary and historical. As the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, she’s always #lovingthecowboy. And she’s fairly certain her previous career as an award-winning rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter prepared her for life in Colorado wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Learn more about Davalynn and her books at https://www.davalynnspencer.com/.