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Rediscover Colorado's History During National Preservation Month


Contact: Carly Grimes / 720-289-9366, [email protected]
Roland Alonzi / 646-442-6765, [email protected]

Rediscover Colorado’s History During National Preservation Month

DENVER (April 2011) – Colorado became a state on August 1, 1876, but the history of the land extends back far before it entered the union.  Filled with the days when the Ancient Puebloans and Native Americans  inhabited the land, as well as European Settlement and the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, the human history of Colorado goes back more than 13,000 years. Remnants of Colorado’s colorful past can still be found today through museums, historic sites and distinct landmarks.  In honor of National Preservation Month, below is a sampling of some of the many ways Colorado celebrates and preserves its unique history in May and beyond.

Celebrate Colorado’s Past:

■ Pagosa Springs celebrates National Preservation Month (May 1-31) with evenings of cowboy stories and poetry around a campfire along the San Juan River.  The Historic Liberty Theatre, the original movie theatre in Pagosa, will feature Red Ryder and Pagosa-themed old movies in historic downtown Pagosa Springs.

■ The 11th Annual Mesa Verde Country® Indian Arts and Culture Festival (May 27-June 5) showcases the cultural and archaeological gems of southwestern Colorado.  Activities include a juried Indian art market, Navajo rug auction, Pueblo dances, Native American concert and festival-only archaeological hours.

■ Kingdom Days (June 18-19) celebrates the history of Breckenridge with a variety of free activities, including the famed outhouse races, a wildly popular event that combines a glimpse of the past in the spirit of today. Add to that gold panning, blacksmithing demos, gun fights and free entry at all town historic sites, and there’s a festival full of learning and family fun.

■ The Colorado Railroad Museum is bringing back Buffalo Bill Wild West Days (July 30-31), 1895’s largest show on rails with 52 railways cars. Guests will enjoy rides and live re-enactments, highlighting the Wild West and Buffalo Bill’s legacy on the rails.

■ Gold Rush Days (August 13-14) celebrates the mining era of Buena Vista complete with activities for the whole family, including burro races, gem panning for the kids, a mountain man encampment, storytelling and western music.

Experience History Firsthand:

■ Canyon Journeys offers tours to historical and heritage sites in Southeast Colorado. The Everett Ranch is located within a short drive of at least 20 heritage or nature based sites including the Santa Fe Trail and several canyons showcasing petroglyphs and pictographs.

■ Denver Story Trek can be experienced by car, bus or bicycle and is designed to draw out the special stories of the places that matter to Denver. Look for the Denver Story Trek Connect stops where you call your cell phone or download a podcast to hear stories about the city’s historic personalities including Molly Brown and Jack Kerouac.

■ Our Journey is an interactive and educational journey to some of Colorado’s Central Plains most historically significant, but less well-known places. Take part in a scavenger hunt or geocache your way to all the sites where you can collect real treasures to remember your trip by. Destinations include ghost towns, CCC camps and historic railways.

Explore Distinct Landmarks:

■ The Colorado National Monument is celebrating its centennial this year.  With towering monoliths, a vast plateau-and-canyon panorama, sheer-walled red rock canyons filled with bighorn sheep and soaring eagles, this treasure preserves one of the great landscapes of the American West.

■ Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site features a reconstructed 1840’s fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail where traders, trappers, travelers, and Plains Indian tribes came together in peaceful terms for trade. Today, living historians recreate the sights, sounds and smells of the past with guided tours, demonstrations and special events. 

■ Mesa Verde National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to one of the largest concentrations of ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in the world. With more than 4,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings, the park offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for more than 700 years.

■ The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site is one of Colorado’s most controversial historic sites.  The site honors the Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians who lost their lives on November 29, 1864, when John Chivington along with 650 Colorado volunteers attacked while they slept.

■ Dinosaur National Monument provides one of the best snapshots of Jurassic dinosaurs found anywhere in the world. Visitors can view fossils exposed on the cliff face of Douglass Quarry and explore displays of classic fossil dinosaur bones including those from the Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus and Archaeopteryx.
Visit Heritage and History Museums:

■ The Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum is set to open this June in Ignacio. After more than 20 years of planning, the new 52,000-square-foot facility will give visitors firsthand insight into the Ute culture and tradition through a variety of interactive exhibitions and rare artifacts.

■ Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and Museum captures the history of the area and its historic steam train with an 800-square-foot scale model of the Denver ans Rio Grande Railroad as it would operate in the 1950s.

■ The Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum is home to more than 60,000 objects in its collection including a nationally significant collection of quilts, Van Briggle art pottery and the finest regional art collection in the state of Colorado. Admission is free to the public.

■ The Trinidad History Museum offers an opportunity to explore Trinidad’s past and place in the Old West through several attractions, including the Sante Fe Trail Museum and the Heritage Garden and Bloom Mansion.

■ Fort Vasquez Museum invites visitors to explore the site of an 1835 fur-trading fort and follow the paths of founders Louis Vasquez and Andrew Sublette while learning about the remarkable history, reconstruction and preservation of Fort Vasquez.

■ The National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in Leadville celebrates the memory of the men and women who pioneered the discovery, development and processing of our nation's natural resources. The museum showcases the past and present of mining through a variety of entertaining and informative exhibits ranging from the “Anatomy of a Miner” to the “Gold Rush Room.”


Colorado is a four-season destination offering unparalleled adventure and recreational pursuits, a thriving arts scene, a rich cultural heritage, flavorful cuisine, and 26 renowned ski areas and resorts. The state's breathtaking scenic landscape boasts natural hot springs, the headwaters of seven major rivers, many peaceful lakes and reservoirs, 54 mountain peaks that top 14,000 feet and 12 national parks, monuments and historic sites. For more information or a copy of the 2011 Colorado Official State Vacation Guide, visit or call 1-800-COLORADO. Media are invited to visit the Colorado Media Room at  Visitors can also follow Colorado's social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Foursquare, on the Colorado Connect page at