Even though the grand tour of Wyoming, Nebraska, and South Dakota has come to a final destination in Colorado, that doesn’t mean I’m ready to stop looking for National Park Stamps. Although I used to live in Denver, Colorado for several years and found any opportunity I could to get more stamps, I missed out on a few in Western Colorado. So, to make up for lost time, I join my mom and dad on a boat tour of Curecanti National Recreation Area. Although I’m apprehensive about getting motion sickness along the Gunnison River, I’m determined to enjoy this trip and experience more of Colorado’s beauty and some unexpected controversy. Want to see what I mean? Then join me as I follow the Gunnison River to discover some of nature’s spectacular scenery:
Our trip begins and already I soak in the majestic mountain greenery Colorado is known for along the cliffsides of Curecanti National Recreation Area. Luckily, the river is calm and flows steadily through without too much rocking, but that’s not what’s keeping my attention. The orange desert rocks, green pine trees, and large cliffs is what has caught my eye. It seems the shift from desert to mountain is not only along the popular hiking sites of Colorado, but the rivers as well. It’s hard to think about anything but the steep hills covered with greenery and blue sky I recall seeing all over the state.
Approaching a waterfall, my mom begins to discuss the Gunnison River with a park ranger taking notes behind her. The conversation quickly turns to the waterfall as the ranger mentions that because of the dam, the water rose and now only 50 feet of a 200 foot waterfall is visible. She begins to talk with my mom about the controversy of dams as they bring up issues of conservation versus bringing necessary water to people. What exactly can be done to remedy both situations? Can an answer be reached to satisfy both conservation and development needs?
But it’s not just the environment when it comes to conservation, it’s also about cultural preservation too. A later brief visit to the Glen Canyon Dam and National Recreation Area in Arizona on our way home brings up another controversy surrounding dams. My mom recalls colleagues who studied and criticized the build of the dam because of environmentalist reasons and because it flooded Native American sacred sites. One area of concern in particular is Rainbow Bridge, a natural sandstone arc 290 feet tall and 275 feet across (CLICK HERE to read more about the pros and cons of Glen Canyon Dam). Upon learning this, another question pops into my mind. Is there a way to respect our past with modern advancements? A famous painting by Norman Rockwell of the Glen Canyon Dam hanging in the gift shop with a Native American family looking down below at the developments on the natural land leaves me with questions.
Although the last leg of my trip in National Parks leaves me with unanswered inquiries, I look to the future hoping there will be a compromise or an innovation soon. It will not be an easy path, but I never give up hope or stop pursuing possibilities. After all, if Mother Nature can agree to take me peacefully down the river without motion sickness, I and others can agree there must be a way to repay her.
Do you think we can make modern developments and advancements without harming the environment or indigenous culture? Are you in support of building dams?
This post is featured on #wednesdaywanderlust hosted by My Brown Paper Packages, Our World Tuesday, and Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Travelers Sandbox, Tanama Tales, Budget Travel Talk, and Rachel’s Ruminations.