Pueblo and the surrounding area is one of the more storied places to visit in Colorado! The Arkansas river marked the border of several countries over the centuries and Pueblo is one of the few places in the USA that can boast being part of 5 countries or territories. Pueblo and specifically the Arkansas river has marked the borders of Spain, Mexico, France, Republic of Texas, and eventually the good old United States of America. As such you can definitely see many different cultural influences there! Depending on when you go will dictate what you want to do and when, whether you like the outdoors, seeing great museums or eating awesome food Pueblo is an excellent place to visit and bring your family year round!
The first permanent dwelling in Pueblo was Fort Pueblo a trading post established in the early 1800’s, and there is now a museum dedicated to showing the site and it’s artifacts, including a reconstruction of the fort! If you like history and museums your next stop should be the Rosemount Museum, “Colorado’s Crown Jewel” which is a 37 room mansion made in the 1800’s and has been featured on “America’s Castles” for A and E, and “Christmas Castles” for HGTV. The only catch to visiting this museum is do not come in January when it is closed the entire month. The last thing that is recommended for history lovers inside Pueblo itself is a visit to the Union Avenue Historical Commercial District which contains 69 separate properties that are on the National Historic Register of Places. A stroll down this area of town will show you a a beautiful train station that was once the hub of Pueblo and it’s commerce and guarded at one point by well known wild west lawman Bat Masterson a contemporary of Doc. Holliday and Wyatt Earp. The commercial district is also the site of President Woodrow Wilson’s last public speech held at Pueblo Memorial Hall which also hosts the U.S.A.’s third largest pipe organ as well.
In the summer and early fall Union Avenue is home to several outdoor events that are very fun! Starting in June there is a weekly street festival called the “B Street Bash” held Friday nights for the first 3 weeks of June. In October it is home to the “Chile and Frioles festival” which is like heaven on earth if you like farm fresh green chile and other produce. This is a weekend long festival that almost everyone goes to for the fresh food and live music provided by the city of Pueblo. Make sure to come with an Cappetite and be sure to have some of the green chile stew which is used to cover burritos, ate as a soup or even as a gravy to go over mashed potatoes during the holidays that is unique to southern Colorado.
Pueblo county also has several outside activity opportunities! A short drive outside Pueblo proper but within the county in between the city of Pueblo and the town of Beulah is a historical marker for the Civil War and Colorado’s own involvement in the civil war and the stop of the advance of the Confederate attempt to cut off Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada to divert the mineral wealth to their treasury as well as cut off California from the Union. Beulah is within the county of Pueblo and only about a 30 minute drive into the mountains and also contains a variety of Indian artifacts including petroglyph sites. Make sure to visit this in the summer as during winter Beulah can be very snowy but the fall makes for a wonderful time to drive through the Wet Mountains and into the San Isabel National Forest to enjoy the trees color changes.
After driving through Beulah you will be able to circle through the forest towards Rye, Colorado on your way back to Pueblo and see a real stone castle! Bishop’s Castle is one man’s project and located inside the national forest. Jim Bishop actually owns the land inside the forest and made use of the old law of Laches to wrest it from the government. It is open year round and is free to everyone to visit however donations are accepted and encouraged. There’s nothing quite like a climb up his towers, which are still a work in progress and at parts there is only metal scaffolding enclosing you but offers breathtaking views of the surrounding forests from almost 300 ft in the air. About a further 10-15 minutes down the road is the San Isabel Lake which is a man made lake that looks like anything but something man made. it offers some of the best trout fishing that can be found in the area. Across the street from the lake is an excellent opportunity for hiking with a nice payoff of some natural water slides which can be taken advantage of on a hot summer day.
A short drive to Canon City which is only about 45 minutes from Pueblo will likewise show you what is considered to be a world wonder, the Royal Gorge Canyon. This is a paleontology area with Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus and Comptosaurus fossils found there. It is also the site of the worlds highest elevation suspension bridge which goes over canyon which stands at apprx. 1000 ft tall and hosts a rail ride to the base of the canyon down by the Arkansas river where you get to see stunning canyon walls and at places the old wooden pipe remains that once feed the area with it’s drinking water. It is open year round but summer may be the best time to visit.
Now back to Pueblo city, outside activities can be just as numerous. If you enjoy fishing the Pueblo reservoir
which has almost 60 miles of shoreline boasts fishing, boating and swimming. Below the dam is the Arkansas river which is also great for fishing but also a great place to float down the river on an inner-tube, or kayak into the kayak course made there which goes down the river and along the world record longest mural on the Pueblo Levee project.
Another absolute must see is the Pueblo City park which was opened in 1904 and boasts a very beautiful and large area that has a zoo, golf course, skate park and children’s play area featuring both traditional child playground toys and a very cost conscious ride park for young children that is only open in the summer months but features an old wood carousel also on NRHP. To visit the park is free and also host one of the most difficult frisbee golf courses in the state and has several tournaments per year. The park hosts softball fields, outdoor swimming pool and an enclosed dog park which is great if you like to take your four legged friend with you wherever you go.
The last thing to mention is that this is also the home of the Colorado State fair held in August each year. This festival is a community event that holds concerts, great food and many attractions for the whole family to enjoy! So while you may not have heard of Pueblo, there is much to do there that is pocketbook friendly for the entire family and allows you to enjoy the unique culture of southern Colorado in a calm, fun and friendly manner.