One hundred years ago a vacation to the Rocky Mountains was the doctor’s tonic of choice when it came to treating everything from tuberculosis to fatigue and depression. Perhaps today’s practitioners should learn a lesson from their predecessors, and start writing prescriptions for ‘Going West’ rather than Zoloft.
Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho are so gorgeous, so packed with adventures, so bright and sunny and blue it’s impossible to stay bummed inside their borders. The region is fat with wildlife and towering mountains (think black bear in suburban swimming pools, an elk traffic jam heading into Rocky Mountain National Park. And there are enough adrenalin sports to satiate the most hard-core fanatic (think rafting Idaho’s untamed Salmon River or driving cattle on horseback and sleeping under star-studded Montana skies).
The local population’s eccentricities alone are enough to leave a sociologist salivating: Evangelical Christians, patriotic militiamen, ranchers, new-age hippies, movie stars, ski-bums, pot-heads and even aliens (so swear the hard-core UFO recorders), all share the same high, alpine air. Throw in a couple good ghost stories (Mesa Verde’s sun bleached ruins are a good place to start); add a few history lessons (ride the cog railroad to Pike’s Peak’s summit, the inspiration behind ‘America the Beautiful’); and you’ll quickly discover why these mountain states, where the brews, bear and bike trails are as big as the snowcapped peaks and raging rivers, are so all-around irresistible.