Grand Genealogy Journey: En Route to the Centennial State

The California Zephyr pulls out of Salt Lake City at 4:10 a.m. on its 15 hour eastbound trip to Denver.  The trip between Salt Lake City and Denver is, like everything else on this trip, extremely interesting.  Here’s a brief description of some of the sights we’ll see:

  • Provo, Utah: 45 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, this growing town of over 100, 000, is home to Brigham Young University, which as might be expected, has several excellent genealogical resources.  These include the Center for Family History and Genealogy (find online at and the family history collections of the Harold B. Lee Library (online at ).  Provo is also the home of, and several other commercial genealogy companies.

    BYU Campus

    The campus of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah

  • Green River, Utah: 100 miles from Provo, this is one of the gateway communities to Canyonlands National Park, about which the National Park Service says:

“Canyonlands preserves a colorful landscape eroded into countless canyons, mesas and buttes by  the Colorado River and its tributaries. The rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the  Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. While these areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration.”

Canyonlands National Park Home page at

Canyonlands NP

A trail along the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Soon we cross the Colorado state line and at about 11 a.m. we come to to the town of Grand Junction.  This is the largest city on Colorado’s Western slope.  The town of 60,000 is the anchor to a metropolitan region of more than 150,000.  The city is a transportation hub for traffic moving between Colorado and Utah.

Grand Junction

City of Grand Junction, Colorado

Two hours later, the train arrives in the popular town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado.  The main attraction in this town is the Glenwood Hot Springs Lodge and the  Glenwood Caverns.  The town sits atop natural hot springs, to which thousands of tourists flock every year.  The town is at the end of Glenwood Canyon, where in the 1970s a famous fight between certain local interests and environmentalists, led by, among others, the singer John Denver was waged over whether the route of Interstate 70 would go through the Canyon.  (Denver and the environmentalists  won).


The California Zephyr at Glenwood Springs, Colorado

The Zephyr then finds its way through Glenwood Canyon and upslope to Granby, Colorado, elevation 7945 feet.  Granby, a village of 1500, is adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park. Like Glenwood Springs, Granby exists because of the Denver & Río Grande Western Railroad.  At Granby, the train continues its ascent up the slope.  In about half an hour we are at Fraser, Colorado, elevation 8,574 feet, which shares its Amtrak station with the nearby village of Winter Park, elevation 9, 052 feet.  People come here to sunbathe.  (Just joking–but if you’re lucky, you’ll find a sunny day to ski at Winter Park ski resort.).

Downtown Winter Park

Winter Park, Colorado on a sunny day; Continental Divide is in background.

It’s nearly a three-hour ride down the side of the mountains into our destination city of Denver!

Photo Credits: All courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, except photo of Canyonlands  National Park.  Photo of Canyonlands National Park, courtesy of U.S. Dept of Interior, National Park Service


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July 2010
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