7. McKenzie Junction

Mile marker 16.8, Highway 96

 This important junction has seen many travelers over the centuries. Ute Indians, the Espinosa Gang, explorers, trappers and mountain men, such as Kit Carson, all passed through this small, high country meadow. In the late 1800s, Angus McKenzie ranched here; now the Hardscrabble Ranch stands in its place.

All of these people had to adapt to the sometimes harsh environment. The Utes adapted by moving with the sea sons. People from the eastern U.S. had to adapt their form of agriculture. On the plains, they needed to irrigate their crops due to a lack of rain. In the mountains, hail often destroyed crops. Immigrants from Europe adapted their form of architecture. Instead of houses made of bricks or milled lumber, they built log cabins from the nearby pines. Imagine what it must have been like for these brave homesteaders. Some of the settlers moved from cities where they could buy anything they needed from stores. Out here, they had to be self-sufficient. They obtained meat hunting or raising cattle. The settlers grew their own vegetables. They got their water from springs and from hand-dug wells. Men chopped down trees for firewood. Do you think you could have made such a daring move from the city to a wilderness?

Directions: From here, you may choose to follow the byway east on Highway 96 to Pueblo (36 miles), we to Westcliffe (16 miles) or south to Rye and Colorado City (35 miles) on Highway 165.