Into the tourist attraction
Six weeks ago, I used this space to write about the weather and the need for “a deluge” to compensate for the dry winter. Anyone who is still upset about the wetter-than-average May can send his or her hate mail to the email address at the bottom of this column.
The weather is reappearing here once again, though, because it was finally nice enough this past weekend for many of us to get out and enjoy the outdoors without fear of getting soaked or finding ourselves in the middle of a hailstorm. While there have been several other opportunities during my two months in Rifle, this past weekend was the first when weather and work aligned perfectly to allow me to escape for a day. Well, almost a day — minus a mid-morning interview Saturday.
Being caught slightly off-guard, I decided to go to the first place that came to mind, which happened to be Rifle Falls State Park. I’m not sure why the falls came to mind first, but it did, and so I went.
Apparently a few other people also had this brilliant idea. The park was packed. Motorists, including me, had to park on the side of the road. Every campsite along the main entrance off Highway 325 appeared occupied. Having never visited a state park — ever — I probably should have asked around before heading out; or at least visited the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website, which states: “Keep in mind that Rifle Falls is a VERY busy place during the summer months! Many people want to see the beauty that the park has to offer, however, parking is very limited and we do turn people away when the parking area is full.”
Again, having never visited a state park, I’m not sure what I expected, but it certainly was not what I found Saturday. People, lots of people, walked to the edge of the pavement at the bottom of the falls to take a selfie, before joining their family for a loud and conversational hike on one of the developed trails in the park. The view of the falls was unquestionably a spectacular sight, but this was not exactly what comes to mind when I think “outdoors.”
Before rambling on, I have to confess that my critique of the selfie-snapping tourists is somewhat hypocritical considering I was walking around with a camera around my neck. Regardless, I couldn’t take it. Luckily about 30 minutes after cutting off the Bobcat Trail, which connects the falls with Rifle Fish Hatchery, the voices faded away, and I found myself alone. Solitude, I have found, in the expansive grandeur of this state is what draws me outside. It was the reason I was excited, to the point of ignorance, to finally get out and explore on Saturday. And after a rocky start, it turned out to be one of the best days I’ve had during my short time in Rifle. However, I would like to be a little more prepared next time I venture out — hopefully this weekend. So if you have any great hiking suggestions that you’re willing to share, send them to the email address below. I promise not to be too bothersome.
Ryan Hoffman is editor of The Citizen Telegram. He can be reached at 970-685-2103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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