John Fiedler’s Best of Colorado
I originally wrote this review of the book “John Fielder’s Best of Colorado” for the now-debunked E-pinions website, so if it’s a little different style than what I usually publish, you’ll know why.
Pros: Great information for the whole state; information about attractions for everyone; good index; outstanding photography
Cons: Doesn’t include admission price info; there aren’t pictures of everything
Climbing Fitzpatrick Peak was a last-minute decision when we read about it in the book.
I originally got this book out of the library when I was planning a family vacation to Colorado. We even went clear across the county to get the book, because it was new and they wouldn’t do an interlibrary loan for us. Well, I can tell you that the book was worth every mile we drove to get it, and worth the price to buy it. I’d recommend it to anyone going to Colorado, no matter where they were going and what they are interested in doing, because this book has information for the entire state, both east and west (although it focuses on the mountain areas), and has helpful information about just about every activity available, from gaming, hotels, and restaurants to hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. And, oh, did I mention that the photography is excellent?
North Clear Creek Falls on a misty morning
John Fielder has written many, many books about Colorado. He is also an excellent photographer, and in the book he often will give tips on how to take the best shots. For example, about photographing Black Canyon of the Gunnison he says, “In order to create a sense of depth, employ perspective by including foreground in your scene when composing views into the canyon. Foreground objects could include a pinion pine, juniper tree, interesting rocks, or a friend standing on the edge of the abyss! If you wish to photograph in direct light, find vantages that allow you to see up or down the canyon. Although the canyon runs on a northwest/southeast axis, find places where the rising and setting sun shines into, not across, the canyon, thus reducing the amount of shadow that can ruin the image. Visit in winter when fresh snow creates highlights on the rock walls.”
Attop Hallet Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park. This hike wasn’t mentioned in the book, but the trail to get up here (Flattop Mountain) was.
The way that the book is laid out also just makes a lot of sense: John Fielder takes each section of the state, and then divides it up into town areas (for example, Vail is one town area, and Georgetown is another) with information about activities in and near the town. I found this very helpful as I was looking in specific areas of the state for activities, and having all of the information in one place was great. Activities include main attractions, hiking, cycling, rock climbing, mountain biking, gaming, museums, restaurants, and even rock hounding (the activities listed depend on what is in the area). This is great; I can skip all the gaming and go straight to the hiking descriptions! There are also special icons that indicate when he is talking about 4-wheel-driving and activities that are good to do with children. Occasionally, there will also be information boxes with Colorado lore. An added bonus is the “Scenic Location”s where the author talks about some of his favorite places to go (usually scenic drives, but all of which have great photo opportunities). That’s another con: way too often he say this specific view is the absolute best scenery in Colorado!
Although from his description I wasn’t sure if I’d like Creede, Colorado, it turned out to be a highlight of the trip.
If you’re looking for a specific attraction, but can’t remember where it is in the book (very easy to do—there’s so much information!), the index is also excellent. Just about every city and attraction that is mentioned in the book is in the index. This is a very big pro for me!
Chihuahua Lake. This book inspired me to climb my first 14er – Grays Peak!
As I said in the cons, the one drawback with the book is that he doesn’t tell if there is a fee for the activities (except hotels and restaurants, where he gives general pricing information; for example, $-$$$). Because I was planning for a large group, this information would have been helpful, especially if the fee was per person (per vehicle isn’t so bad since we all drive in one vehicle). Another drawback is that there is so much information that he can’t possibly give a lot of information on anything, so you may want to research some of the attractions on the internet (like I did) before you go. Still, his directions to the attractions tend to be very good, especially if you have a good map to follow as well.
I don’t think the Long Draw Route to the bottom of Black Canyon of the Gunnison was included in the book, but there was enough info about Black Canyon to get me interested in researching it on the internet.
To sum it up, this book is incredible, and gives enough information that you could probably plan a vacation anywhere in the mountainous part of the state using this book alone. (OK, I did look up the attractions on the internet, but you wouldn’t necessarily have to do that. Also, it might be better to find hotels and such in other travel guides as he doesn’t list each and every hotel or restaurant in a given town or city.) The librarian at the library we got the book from said she loved it because she felt like she could travel to Colorado in the pictures, and she had a hard time returning it to the library. So, that’s another use for the book: the photography is so good you can take a trip without leaving the comfort of your armchair!
What’s your favorite travel book about Colorado?
Climbing St. Mary’s Glacier – another highlight discovered in the book.
Imagine what it would be like to take a trip through Colorado with John Fielder as your tour guide, or to be on location at a Fielder photo shoot. Now is your chance to do both! The celebrated photographer who has traveled the state for more than 20 years in search of its most beautiful vistas shares his love for Colorado's rugged beauty, as well as his knowledge of Colorado's historical, recreational, and cultural richness, in this extraordinary guidebook. Through lively text and spectacular images, John reveals more than 160 of his most treasured Colorado locations to photograph so you can work magic with your own camera. You can enjoy some of the state's prime offerings while you travel, as John profiles his favorite restaurants, hotels, hiking and biking trails, and area attractions. Local lore and cameos of influential Coloradans through the ages highlight the state's fascinating heritage. Whether you're a longtime local, a new resident, or an out-of-state visitor, John Fielder's Best of Colorado guarantees the ultimate insider experience!
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