Small towns that are gateways to adventure are always a helpful topic to write about, since tourists need a place to stock up on supplies, find a bite to eat and a place to bed down. There are some big cities out west that are gateways to adventure too and writing about these civilized jumping off points is even better when the big city is a major attraction in its own right. Pueblo, Colorado definitely is a gateway to adventure city that has plenty of fun tourism activities going on and this town also has quite a bit of history to share. The location and proximity to some of the most picturesque wilderness areas of the Rocky Mountains makes Pueblo a favorite of all that pass through!
Pueblo is located where two major travel routes meet on the eastern side of the Rockies. Interstate Highway 25 runs from New Mexico to Denver and this road crosses paths with old U.S. Highway 50, which is also known as “America’s Loneliest Road.” Ever since Highway 50 was bypassed by a modern interstate highway, relative little traffic runs along this old scenic road. Highway 50 is one of the oldest routes through the Rocky Mountains, which rise high above the Great Plains just a few miles west of Pueblo, so it is easy to see where the great outdoor adventures can be found when visiting this city.
Highway 50 follows the Arkansas River way up into the Rockies past Salida to Monarch Peak and all the way to the western border of the state and beyond. Along this route, tourists will experience some of the most picturesque landscapes on earth, which include the Arkansas River Recreation Area, Royal Gorge, Monark Peak, Black Canyon and the vast Gunnison National Park before heading into the high desert on the western side of the Rockies. As one can imagine, there is plenty to experience along this old stretch of road and this makes Pueblo the perfect jumping off point when heading west!
Pueblo does have an interesting history that dates back to the early 1840’s, so the beginnings had nothing to do with the Colorado gold rush era, which began about a decade later. Because two waterways also meet in Pueblo, this spot on the map was a haven for mountain men and fur trappers way back when the west was still perceived as a mysterious wild place by folks back east. Eventually as the word of the trading post settlement of Pueblo spread, early pioneers were drawn to this spot and tensions between the native cultures grew. War erupted and many Pueblo settlers were massacred by overwhelming native forces. The settlement of Pueblo sat idle till about ten years later when the Colorado gold rush began and the European settlers then dominated the region. Soon Pueblo grew from a trading post settlement to a full scale industrialized town and eventually several railroad lines passed through.
The industrialization of Pueblo was a key factor in the development of this city and the industrial heritage of this city is still renowned in this modern age. The nickname of Pueblo is “Steel City” and the steel that was manufactured in this city actually built the west. Steel mill operations began during the industrial age of the 1800’s and the old mill has been operational in modern times. It is the steel mill heritage that most people focus upon when thinking of Pueblo and rightly so. This place definitely is Steel City!
I used to work in the steel industry, so it makes it easy to recognize a true steel mill town. The way the town is laid out and where the tycoons resided always seemed to be the same from one steel mill town to the next. There is a reason for this and it has to do with efficiency. In a steel mill town, everything revolves around the mill. For those who truly want to experience a heartfelt Labor Day Weekend, visiting a steel mill town like Pueblo can provide insight into what this American holiday is really all about.
As the steel industry declined in the late 1900s, Pueblo became more of a commerce center. The Steel City heritage remains, even after surviving some tough times. Pueblo has recently seen a rebirth in the old historic downtown district and focus is now placed upon establishing Pueblo as a cultural center. Many modern trends have taken hold in Pueblo, while the past has been preserved. For tourists passing through, this city is now a land of murals, museums, good restaurants and of course, Pueblo is now a modern traveler’s gateway to adventure in the central Colorado Rocky Mountains!
Interesting sights to see when visiting Pueblo include the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, the historic downtown mansion area and the old steel mill. There are cultural museums of every kind in Pueblo, so doing a complete museum tour may take a few days. There is a museum that can satisfy anybody’s personal taste in this town, so just take your pick if learning a little something sounds like a good idea while spending time in this neck of the woods. Rodeo fans will be pleased to know that the Professional Bull Riders headquarters are located in Pueblo and it is well worth doing the pilgrimage to this spot. Pueblo also has a nice recreation area with campsites nearby, so those who feel cramped up when spending a night in a motel can find some relief at Lake Pueblo State Park. As one can see, Pueblo has plenty going on for tourists to do!
Of course, legal marijuana tourism is part of the modern scene in Pueblo too. The good thing about Colorado marijuana tourism is that clean living and outdoor adventure are heavily promoted along with partaking in consumption of the almighty bud. “Get out and enjoy the great outdoors, just like Mother Nature intended” is the running theme, which promotes a healthy mind and body to boot, so criticism of the local Colorado marijuana industry is practically unheard of. Those who do partake will be happy to know that some of the best legal marijuana bargains can be found in Pueblo and this town is fondly referred to by cannabis culture tourists as “the land of the top shelf $99 ounce special,” so a little bit of pocket change goes a long way when enjoying the Rocky Mountain high while on vacation.
Depending on whether one is traveling east or west, Pueblo is either the first stop or the last hurrah when touring the Arkansas River region of the central Colorado Rockies. Pueblo is also a prime time tourist destination in its own right. For most visitors, Pueblo is the gateway to a world of outdoor adventure and this makes good old Steel City well worth checking out!