Where to see UFOs and other important Colorado travel questions answered

Photo by Terri Cook. A little green man guards the Healing Garden at the UFO Watchtower in the San Luis Valley.

An Interview with Moon Colorado Author Terri Cook

Colorado’s vast, wrinkled topography is full of parks, resorts, hot springs, ranches, trails, rivers, restaurants and historic hotels. When you’re on the go, it helps to have a physical guidebook in your hands — especially since those same mountains and canyons often block cell coverage.

Admittedly, I’m a fan of printed guidebooks — so much so that I’ve even penned a few myself, including guidebooks to Nicaragua, Belize and, most recently, “Moon Camping Colorado.” So I was glad to have the chance to talk with Terri Cook, author of the ninth edition of “Moon Colorado,” which came out earlier this year, about what’s new in our state.

Cook is a travel and science writer who has spent a dozen years exploring Colorado but still feels like she’s barely scratched the surface. Here’s what she had to say (via email) about her latest adventures putting together this edition of the guide book.

9th edition of Moon Colorado.

Q: What’s new in this edition?

A: This is a completely new book. Since I’m a geologist by training and love the outdoors, I concentrate on Colorado’s amazing landscapes and outdoor recreation as well as the crucial travel logistics. The new edition devotes an entire chapter to Rocky Mountain National Park, expands coverage of all the major ski resorts and for the first time features the state’s up-and-coming wine industry. I also researched the dozens of outstanding new restaurants and shops that have opened up across the state.

Q: What’s one of the strangest places your research took you while working on this edition?

A: The strangest place was the UFO watchtower in the San Luis Valley. The owner, Judy Messoline, claims that it’s one of the best places on the planet to view flying saucers. Even if you don’t want to camp out there, it’s worth dropping by for the spectacular views of the Great Sand Dunes, as well as the Healing Garden. This is where many of the tower’s 30,000 visitors have left behind tokens from all over the world (and maybe a little bit farther!).

Q: What was your most unexpected experience?

A: The most unexpected experience occurred while I was hiking at dawn in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. As I rounded a corner, I suddenly came face to face with a 1,500-pound bull moose. Fortunately, he was busy munching on willows, so I was able to safely back away.

Q: Do you have any travel tips for the fall shoulder season?

A: It’s a great time of year to explore Western Colorado — especially the amazing slickrock scenery in McInnis Canyons (National Conservation Area) and Colorado National Monument. If the weather turns cold, you can always head to Palisade to visit some of the state’s best wineries.

Between early October and Thanksgiving is also the best time to score a great deal at one of the posh ski resort hotels. They are more than willing to waive resort fees and offer steep discounts on rooms and spa services to get some business during one of their slowest times of the year.

Guidebook author Terri Cook and her son, Logan, atop Mt. Yale, just after coming face to face with a bull moose. (Photo courtesy of Terri Cook.)

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This article first appeared in The Denver Post.

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