Reading Colorado

A Literary Road Guide

by Peter Anderson


SKU: 9781917895194
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Colorado Book Award Finalist for 2024

Take a drive into the literary landscapes of Colorado. Meet Kent Haruf’s bachelor farmers in the Eastern Plains, ford the South Platte with Mark Twain, rail against nuclear weapons with Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg, hitch a ride to Denver with Jack Kerouac, climb the highest peaks with Isabella Bird and Enos Mills, explore the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde with Willa Cather. 

Reading Colorado, a high-octane road trip through the diverse literary landscapes of the Centennial State, gathers narratives of exploration, stories from the mining and agricultural frontiers, urban tales reflecting the emergence and growth of Denver and the Front Range, and a diverse range of contemporary voices, from the Plains to the Peaks, who invite readers into their home territory. 

The travel guide format is perfect for exploring Colorado in a hammock strung between some aspens, on the couch with your feet kicked up by the fire, or by hitting the road with your favorite traveling companion. This guide includes many writers not yet anthologized as well as others who have become household names and its place-based focus makes it easy to zoom in on literature that features your favorite locations. It will deepen the map, enhancing road trips for residents, visitors, and armchair travelers alike. 


FOREWORD Tom “Dr. Colorado” Noel 



Highway 160 · Colorado-Kansas line west to Trinidad 

1. Walsh: from An Owl on Every Post by Sanora Babb

2. Springfield: from The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

3. Kim: “Cowboy Days,” “Ridin’ Fence,” and “Drinkin’ Water” by Bruce Kiskaddon

Highway 50 · Colorado-Kansas line west to Pueblo 

4. Granada: from Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp by Lily Yuriko Nakai Harvey

5. Lamar, ten miles west of Lamar on Highway 50 and north on 287: “The Confession of William Dargy” by Priscilla Waggoner

6. Bent’s Fort, thirteen miles west of Las Animas, six miles east of La Junta, north of US 50: from Bent’s Fort and Its Builders by George Bird Grinnell

7. Rocky Ford: from Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey

Highway 40 · Kansas-Colorado line to Limon

8. Cheyenne Wells: from Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams

9. Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, Highway 287 south from Highway 40: Letters from Captain Silas Soule and Lieutenant Joseph Kramer

Interstate 70 · Colorado-Kansas line to Denver 

10. Burlington: from “Flight Pattern” by Joanne Greenberg

11. Flagler: from Country Editor’s Boy by Hal Borland

12. Limon: from Limon, Colorado by Lyle Miller

Highway 24 · Limon to Colorado Springs 

13. Simla: from Tenderfoot Bride by Clarice E. Richards

Highway 36 · Colorado-Kansas line to Byers / Interstate 70 

14. Idalia: from The Diary of Mattie Spencer by Sandra Dallas

15. Joes: from East of Denver by Gregory Hill

16. Lindon/Last Chance: “Last Chance, Colorado Tornado” by William T. Reid

Highway 34 · Colorado-Kansas line to US 76 in Brush 

17. Wray: from “Colorado Romance” by Sureva Towler

18. Yuma: from Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Highway 76 · from Julesburg to Denver 

19. Julesburg: from Roughing It by Mark Twain

20. Proctor: from Roughing It by Mark Twain and Colorado Without Mountains by Harold Hamil

21. Brush/Fort Morgan: from Stygo by Laura Hendrie


Interstate 25 · New Mexico to Denver 

22. Trinidad: from Autobiography of Mother Jones by Mary G. Harris “Mother” Jones

23. El Moro, just north of Trinidad: from Essays of an American Peasant by Tomas Mariano

24. El Moro, just north of Trinidad: from Drop City by John Curl

25. Near El Moro: from “Road to the Purgatoire” by Doug Holdread

26. Ludlow: from Ludlow by David Mason

27. Walsenburg: from King Coal by Upton Sinclair

28. Pueblo: from The World of Damon Runyon by Tom Clark and A Gentleman of Broadway by Edwin P. Hoyt

29. Colorado Springs: from Westward to a High Mountain by Helen Hunt Jackson

30. Colorado Springs: from Of Time and Change by Frank Waters

31. Colorado Springs: from Everybody Welcome by Fannie Mae Duncan with Kathleen F. Esmiol

32. Denver: from the poetry of Corky Gonzales and Lalo Delgado

33. Denver: from The First Third by Neil Cassady

34. Denver: from On the Road by Jack Kerouac and The Ringer by Jenny Shank

35. Denver: from “Here is a Land Where Life is Written in Water” by Thomas Hornsby Ferrill

36. Denver: from The Thunder Tree by Robert Michael Pyle

Highway 93 · Golden to Boulder 

37. Golden: from Red Fenwick’s West by Robert W. “Red” Fenwick 117

38. Rocky Flats: from “Rocky Flats: Warring God Charnel Ground” by Anne Waldman

39. Eldorado Canyon: from Everything that Matters by Pat Ament

40. Boulder: from Dreams from Bunker Hill by John Fante

41. Boulder / Boulder Creek Canyon: from Wandering Time by Luis Alberto Urrea

42. Boulder / Foothills: from The Four-Cornered Falcon by Reg Saner

Interstate 25 · Longmont to Wellington 

43. Longmont: from On the Road by Jack Kerouac

44. Greeley: from An Overland Journey by Horace Greeley

45. Greeley: James Michener on writing Centennial 

46. Keota: James Michener on Keota

47. Wellington: from “Wellington’s Trial by Blizzard” by Bill Hosokawa


Highway 160 · Walsenberg / La Veta 

48. Walsenberg / La Veta: from Spanish Peaks by Conger Beasley Jr.

Highway 69 · Walsenberg to Westcliffe 

49. Gardner: from Huerfano by Roberta Price

50. Westcliffe: from Westcliffe, Colorado by W.O. Mieir

51. Wet Mountains: from “Snake in the Grass” by Hal Walter

Highway 24 · West from Colorado Springs 

52. Manitou Springs / Pike Peak: from Early Ascents of Pikes Peak by Woody Smith

53. Woodland Park: from Beyond the Aspen Grove by Ann Zwinger

54. Divide / Cripple Creek – Victor: from Good Evening Everybody by Lowell Thomas

55. Florissant: from Saved In Time by Estella B. Leopold and Herbert W. Meyer

Interstate 70 · Denver Foothills to Loveland Pass 

56. Idledale: from Dwellings by Linda Hogan

57. Georgetown: from My Rocky Mountain Valley by James Grafton Rogers

58. Graymont/Bakerville: from Halfway to Heaven by Mark Obmascik

59. Loveland Pass: from Long Haul by Finn Murphy

Highway 34 · Loveland to Rocky Mountain National Park 

60. Lyons: from Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers by John Gierach

61. Estes Park: Stephen King and the Stanley Hotel

62. Rocky Mountain National Park, Many Parks Curve: from A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella Bird

63. Rocky Mountain National Park, near Alpine Visitor Center: from Even Mountains Vanish by SueEllen Campbell

64. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado River Trailhead: from The Spell of the Rockies by Enos Mills

Highway 14 · Fort Collins through Poudre Canyon 

65. Laporte: from “Door to the Beyond” by Laura Pritchett

66. Bellvue: from “Sailing Through the Night” by John Calderazzo

67. Colorado-Wyoming border, north on Highway 287: from The Meadow by James Galvin

68. Poudre Canyon, west on Highway 14: from Hunting for Hope by Scott Russell Sanders



Highway 159 · New Mexico to Highway 160 

69. San Luis: from “Little Bethlehem” by Fred Baca

Highway 160 · La Veta Pass to Wolf Creek Pass 

70. La Veta Pass to Fort Garland: from Tramp Across the Continent by Charles Fletcher Lummis

71. Alamosa: from “Esperanza” by Kathy Park

72. Del Norte: “Fremont’s Fourth Expedition” by Micah McGehee

73. Wolf Creek Pass: from Instant Karma by Wayne Sheldrake

Highway 17 · Alamosa to Highway 285 

74. Mosca: from “Hurriedly” by Trudi Kretsinger

75. Crestone: from Heading Home: Field Notes by Peter Anderson

76. Moffat: from “Antelope and Jackrabbit” by Peggy Godfrey

77. Between Moffat and Highway 285: from Life with Pickle by John Mattingly

Highway 285 · Cumbres Pass to Poncha Pass 

78. Cumbres Pass: from “Meditación en Dos Ojos” by Reyes Garcia

79. Antonito: from Letters from the Headwaters by Aaron Abeyta

80. Romeo/Manassa: from Alex and the Hobo by Jose Inéz Taylor and James M. Taggart

81. Saguache: from The Last Ranch by Sam Bingham

82. Villa Grove: from The Life of an Ordinary Woman by Anne Ellis

Highway 149 · South Fork to Slumgullion Pass 

83. Creede: from “Creede” by Cy Warman an early Creede dispatch to the New York Times 

84. Upper Rio Grande: from Deep Creek by Pam Houston


Highway 50 · Royal Gorge to Monarch Pass 

85. Royal Gorge / Parkdale: from “River Driver” by Hank Myers

86. Cotopaxi: from Nothing Here But Stones by Nancy Oswald

87. Cottonwood Rapids, Three Miles west of Cotopaxi: from “The Bull of Whitewater Rapids” by S.C. Dubick

88. Salida: from Deep in the Heart of the Rockies by Ed Quillen

89. Salida / Hutchison Ranch: from Under the Angel of Shavano by George G. Everett and Wendell F. Hutchinson

90. Monarch Pass: from “Ghost Highway of the Rockies” by F. E. Gimlett

Highway 285 · Poncha Springs to Johnson Village 

91. Nathrop: from “Mountain Mamas Tales” by Kizzen Laki

Highway 24 · Buena Vista to Minturn 257

92. Buena Vista: from Rocky Mountain Letters by William H. Brewer

93. Leadville: from Olden Times in Colorado by Carlyle Channing Davis

94. Leadville: from A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West by Mary Hallock Foote

95. Leadville / Climax: from The Making of a Hardrock Miner by Stephen M. Voynick

96. Camp Hale, between Leadville and Minturn: from Climb to Conquer by Peter Shelton


Highway 9 · Parkdale to Hartsel 

97. Guffey: from Between Urban and Wild by Andrea Jones

98. Hartsel: from “The Incompleat Angler” by John J. Lipsey

Highway 285 · Trout Creek Pass to Kenosha Pass 

99. Between Antero Junction and Fairplay: from Spring’s Edge by Laurie Wagner Buyer

100. Fairplay: from Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

101. Kenosha Pass / Platte Canyon: “Spirit that Form’d This Scene” by Walt Whitman


Highway 14 · Gould to Walden 

102. Gould: from Timber Times and Tales by Earlene Belew Bradley

103. Walden: from The View from the Folding Chairs by Michala Miller



Highway 160 · Pagosa Springs to Bayfield 

104. Pagosa Springs: from Ghost Grizzlies by David Petersen

105. Chimney Rock: from House of Rain by Craig Childs

106. Bayfield: from When the Legends Die by Hal Borland

Highway 550 · Durango to Silverton 

107. Durango: from A Land Alone by Duane Vandenbusche and Duane Smith

108. Silverton: from “Across the Great Divide” by Steven J. Meyers

Highway 160 · Durango to Towoac 

109. Hesperus: from The Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour

110. Mancos Hill: from “The Hush” by Grace Katherine Anderson

111. Mancos / Mesa Verde: from The Professor’s House by Willa Cather

112. Cortez: from The Sorrow of Archaeology by Russell Martin

113. Dolores: from “The Trailers of Montezuma County” by David Feela

114. Dove Creek: from Unforgettable Characters of Western Colorado by Al Look

115. Towaoc: from “Whispers from the Past” by Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk

116. Towaoc: from West of the Divide by Jim Carrier


Highway 145 / 90 · Lizard Head Pass to Paradox 

117. Ophir: from Fool’s Gold by Rob Shultheis

118. Telluride: from Tomboy Bride by Harriett Fish Backus

119. Norwood: from “Almost Animal” by Amy Irvine

120. Nucla: from “Dr. Don” by Peter Hessler

121. Paradox: from One Man’s West by David Lavender

Highway 550 · Red Mountain Pass to Ridgway 

122. Red Mountain Pass: “Red Mountain” by Robinson Jeffers

123. Ouray: from “Toward the Sun” by Kent Nelson

124. Ridgway: from Old Fences and New Neighbors by Peter Decker

Highway 50 · Gunnison to Delta

125. Gunnison: from “Hiking with Hobbes” by George Sibley

126. Black Canyon National Park: from City of Illusions by Ursula LeGuin

127. Montrose / Uncompahgre Plateau: from “Our New Life in the Forest” by Mary Anne Rawlings Ott

128. Delta: from Chronicles of the Forbidden by John Nizalowski

129. Cedaredge: from Island in the Sky by Muriel Marshall

130. Paonia: “A Newcomer’s Old Story” by Paul Larmer

Interstate 70 West · Frisco to Glenwood Springs 

131. Frisco/Breckenridge: from “Goldboat” by Belle Turnbull

132. Vail: from Triumph of a Dream by Peter W. Seibert

133. Vail: from In the Shining Mountains by David Thomson

134. Glenwood Springs: from Fire on the Mountain by John N. Maclean

Highway 82 · Glenwood Springs to Aspen 

135. Woody Creek: from “Tentative Platform, Thompson for Sheriff” by Hunter S. Thompson

136. Aspen: from Notes of a Half-Aspenite by Bruce Berger

Interstate 70 · Parachute to Fruita 

137. Parachute: from Where the Water Goes by David Owen

138. Grand Junction: from Eclipse by Dalton Trumbo

139. Fruita: from a letter by John Otto

Highway 40 · Empire to Kremmling 

140. Empire / Berthoud Pass: Notes on Charlie Utter

141. Granby / Hot Sulphur Springs: from Colorado by Bayard Taylor

142. Kremmling: from “Mountain Medicine Man” by Evan Edwards


Flat Tops Scenic Byway / Highway 64 · Yampa to Rangely 

143. Yampa / Flat Tops Wilderness: from Tales of Lonely Trails by Zane Gray

144. Meeker: from A Wet Ass and a Hungry Gut by Danny W. Campbell

145. Between Meeker and Rangely: from “Dinosaur” by Steve Rasnic Tem

146. Rangely: from “A Water Tank Turned Music Venue” by Alex Ross

Highway 40 · Steamboat Springs to Dinosaur National Monument 

147. Steamboat Springs: from Headfirst in the Pickle Barrel and I Never Look Back by John Rolfe Burroughs

148. Hayden: from “The Betrayal of Jack” by Charles Wilkinson

149. Craig: from A Seasoned Life in Small Towns by Janet B. Sheridan

150. Browns Park: from Riding the Edge of an Era by Diana Allen Kouris

151. Cross Mountain Canyon: from Colorado’s Yampa River by Patrick Tierney and John Fielder

152. Dinosaur National Monument: from “The Marks of Human Passage” by Wallace Stegner




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A Literary Road Guide

The Author

Peter Anderson

Peter Anderson

Peter Anderson's most recent book is Reading Colorado: A Literary Road Guide. Other books include Heading Home: Field Notes, a collection of flash prose and prose poems exploring rural life and the modern day eccentricities of the American West and First Church of the Higher Elevations, a collection of essays on wildness, mountains, and the life of the spirit. He lives with his family on the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Colorado where he launched the Crestone Poetry Festival, an annual gathering of southwestern poets.