Bent’s Old Fort had an important secondary role as the only permanent settlement on the Santa Fe Trail, and it was a godsend for travelers and soldiers who could stop for repairs, replenish their supplies, and enjoy good food, water, and company. Disaster and disease closed the fort in 1849; reconstruction began in 1876, and guided tours of the fort are a must for families and history buffs.
The Mile High City boasts the Great American Beer Festival, one of the country’s largest gathering of brewers and beer tastings. It’s held over three days in late September / early October. Palisade is Colorado’s wine capital, so it’s only fitting that one attend the Colorado Mountain Winefest there in September. Distillers have grown so rapidly that there are now festivals dedicated to liquor, including the Breckenridge Craft Spirits Festival in October.
Cliff Palace and Balcony House are ancient cliff dwellings that the ancestral Pueblo Indians inhabited in the 12th and 13th centuries. Located in Mesa Verde National Park, both are World Heritage Sites and National Monuments. Balcony House had forty-five rooms and two kivas (ovens), and it can only be accessed on ranger-guided tours. Tour participants must climb a thirty-two foot ladder and then crawl through a twelve-foot tunnel to access Balcony House.