Experience Glenwood Canyon in a new way through the Wild I-70 audio tour

Cheryl O'Brien rides through Glenwood Canyon in this Glenwood Springs Post Independent file photo.
Post Independent file photo |


Hear Mays’ poem and the rest of the Wild I-70 audio tour by downloading the izi.TRAVEL app and searching for Wild I-70.

Hey There

Did you feel that?

Probably pretty hard to know

But just a minute ago

You drove through Colorado’s youngest volcano

Those words spill out of Jovan Mays as he launches into “Something New.” He continues at a thoughtful, measured pace, as he describes the geological and historic significance of Glenwood Canyon.

Aurora emeritus poet laureate Mays wrote the poem at the behest of Rocky Mountain Wild. The Denver-based organization works to protect and restore wildlife in the region, and its latest efforts use a perhaps unexpected tactic. The Wild I-70 audio tour draws listeners into wildlife conservation through a combination of music, poetry and science.

Producer and Writer Erica Prather saw the project as an opportunity to meld two of the worlds she often operates in: art and science.

“If they talk to each other and elevate each other, I think they both have audiences who are kind of similar: curious people who want to explore the world and express that,” she said.

The series is triggered by GPS as listeners travel along the I-70 corridor, with segments that entertain and educate listeners as they travel from Golden to Glenwood. Each segment is accompanied by music from a Colorado artist; Carbondale’s Let Them Roar play on a piece to be released this week. Prather and cohost Stephen Brackett of hip-hop band The Flobots discuss wilderness and science, and they have fun as they do. They break down sometimes-complicated concepts, like migration, and help listeners understand how human development affects wildlife.

“It’s an educational tool to remind people that when they’re driving on I-70, they’re driving through habitat,” Prather said. “It’s not just a boring trip from A to B. Both people who live in this state and tourists need to be reminded of that. You’re entering another being’s home.

The Glenwood Canyon segment is the most obviously emotional of the 13 released thus far. And while Mays’ passion for poetry is a driving force, he also pored research and analysis into the work.

Observe its spires and steeples

This hallowed homage

Excavated eminence

Striated tenement

The genetics of geology

Mays examined the canyon’s geological creation and uses the Colorado River as a metaphor for the Utes who once populated the land. “Something New” is imbued with appreciation for those Native Americans, and it’s also quick to acknowledge the spiritual awe the canyon creates.

“It’s clear that this is kissed by something very special that has created its environment,” Mays said. But he cautions that the canyon’s beauty doesn’t belong to any single religious point of view. “There are several different people with great ideologies who loves this place and see it differently.”

Prather said “Schoolhouse Rock” and its ability to teach via catchy jingles inspire her. As the organization continues to add segments, it will learn from the reaction to those that came before. If people take away a nugget or two about the world beyond their windshields, Prather said, that will be a success.

In this land admiration is the only currency

So leave everything intact

And leave nothing behind

The italicized breaks within the story are lines from “Something New” by Jovan Mays.

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