Sunday, February 3, 2008

Finally, Some VR Panoramas of Colorado

New - Virtual Guidebook to the Colorado Rockies

I am based in Berkeley, California, and there are practical limits to how well I can cover the huge region encompassed by the Virtual Guidebooks. Colorado is right out on the edge of my area, an 18 hour drive from the Bay Area to Denver. Also, being mountainous, many areas are best visited only in the summer (unless I start doing ski resorts and snowshoe routes). So I have been a bit slow in building my coverage of this beautiful state.

My first effort was in May 2006 when I drove across the San Juan Mountains, through Ouray and Silverton. Great scenery and interesting towns - but too early in the year for the high altitudes - I will have to go back in mid-summer.

In the summer of 2007 I made another effort to photograph the Colorado Rockies. My initial itinerary, to include Wyoming, the Dakotas, and the high plains, was just too much driving for the time available. So I decided to concentrate on the central Rockies, plus two days in Denver. Even that didn't work out - bad weather and forest fires - so I never made it to Rocky Mountain National Park, or to Denver.

I really had only one day in the central Rockies, so I made a loop over Loveland Pass to Leadville, then across the headwaters of the Arkansas River to Independence Pass. Then I had to start home. Maybe next summer...

(NOTE: a future blog will tell the whole story of "On My Way to Leadville", but first I need to finish all the panoramas used to illustrate it.)

Greatly Expanded - Virtual Guidebook to Western Colorado

Many people are unaware of how much of Colorado is desert, some of it the sort of red rock country we associate with Utah. It is closer to my home base than the Rockies, and the weather is better, so I now have pretty good coverage.

Some of my earliest digital photography was done at Mesa Verde National Park in May 2000. It is a fabulous place to do VR panoramas, but problematic. There are crowds of people, and most of the ruins can only be toured as part of a group. Doing VR with a crowd of 70 people is just about impossible, the panos end up being about the people, not the ruins. The only way to do it right is to hire an off-duty ranger to give you a personal tour - I may try it out some day.

In 2006 I spent a day down in the Four Corners area investigating the scattered sites of Hovenweep National Monument (Hovenweep's main site and the monument headquarters are across the state line in Utah).

On my trip in summer 2007 I added a lot to this guidebook: the Harpers Corner Road in the eastern part of Dinosaur National Monument, the upper Yampa River, Colorado National Monument, the high country of Grand Mesa, the Land O'Lakes on the south side of the mesa, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

I plan to return to Colorado in summer of 2008, and hope to visit Aspen, Rocky Mountain National Park, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Great Sand Dunes National Monument.

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