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Tucked among the rolling San Isobel Foothills on the banks of Greenhorn Creek, it’s hard to deny that Rye, CO is in a seriously scenic spot. The tiny town is surrounded by forest and waterways, including one that’s home to the last school of Arkansas River greenback cutthroat trout (try saying that one three times fast).
Rye does have another claim to fame -- it’s home to Bishop’s Castle, one of America’s most beautiful roadside attractions. The castle began its life as a one-room cabin, but over several decades local man Jim Bishop added to the structure, and the building now boasts Gaudi-esque turrets, stained glass windows, and spiral staircases, as well as some more whimsical constructions such as a dragon made entirely from steel bedpans. Your pooch is welcome to explore with you as long as they're leashed, but it’s best to call ahead first.
With a population of two hundred or so, Rye is a little too small to sustain its own dog park, but you and your doggo are still sure to sniff out something to do! There’s a community park in town that’s just pawfect for leashed walks, and given that Rye is bordered by so much natural wonder, it should come as no surprise that the town is close by some fantastically Fido-friendly hiking trails. You might need to drive a little to get the best for your buddy, but don’t worry -- you’ll find plenty of off-leash adventure options a bit fur-ther afield!
With a gem like Rye Mountain Park sitting right on the edge of town, you and your pooch would be barking mad not to check it out! The park is an excellent spot for a day hike -- you’ll find a number of short, tree-lined trails to investigate here, including a couple running by the rushing Greenhorn Creek. The area is a favorite of local pups and their owners, so your doggo might even make some new friends! Not only that, but Rye Mountain Park is on the Colorado Birding Trail -- you could catch sight of some fly-catchers or warblers. Remember to bring bags and water!
Outdoorsy pooches and their people will be glad to know that the Greenhorn Wilderness area is just a bone’s throw away from Rye! In fact, the main Greenhorn Trail has a trailhead just outside town. The 11-mile out-and-back route is ideal for those looking for a longer walk, but be careful -- after the first half-mile, there are a couple of moderate elevation gains, so older furry friends or those with health issues might want to give it a miss. Because the wilderness area doesn’t contain any big peaks or waterways, it doesn’t attract much in the way of visitors -- hiking through the majestic pines and along gently burbling streams, it’s easy to feel like you and your pup are the only living souls for miles around.
Athletic animals looking for a challenge will certainly find one on the Millset Trail. Located in the area of the San Isabel National Forest closest to Rye, the route features inclines that vary from the steep to the truly punishing. Make no bones about it: this path is not for the unsure of foot or unfit of heart! If you can manage it though, you two will be well-rewarded -- the climb up features some gorgeous wildflower meadows and attending butterflies, and the views from the top are nothing short of spectacular. The trail is also shaded by dense woodland, so there’s no need to worry about your buddy overheating on the climb.
About a thirty-minute drive from Rye, Pueblo has a history that goes all the way back to before the Gold Rush. The town’s heritage is preserved in its charming downtown, home to many architecturally interesting buildings -- you can see the brass dome on the courthouse from miles away! More importantly, though, Downtown Pueblo is chock full of pawesome places for you and your pup to eat. For an Old West experience, perch on the covered porch at the Gold Dust Saloon -- they do a mean hamburger, and they’ll even bring water for your pooch on a hot day. Or if you fancy pizza, check out Angelos, which caters to canines outside. Be sure to try the Pueblo Chilli! Afterward, you two can burn it all off with a leashed stroll on the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk.
Pueblo’s residential Aberdeen neighborhood is home to City Park Dog Park, a real mutts-visit for you and your furry friend! There’s plenty of room for your little tearaway to tire themselves out, as well as some doggy agility equipment for that extra bit of canine cardio. The dog run has a separate small dog area, so your pooch can play and socialize no matter their size, and tired owners are sure to appreciate the ample seating. Bags and water are provided, so all you have to do is BYOB (Bring Your Own Beast)! It’s well worth taking a wander through the people side of the park, too, as non-furry family members might enjoy the playground, disc golf course, and zoo.
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