Trinidad, Colorado: Simpson’s Rest

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Trinidad is a small Colorado city with a lot of character and an artistic feel. If you take a few minutes to hop off of Interstate 25, you can do some fun exploring — and you can even visit that huge sign that towers over the town.

My Visit

After spending a couple of days in Albuquerque, I took half a day to drive north on I-25, and by sunset I was in Trinidad.  It’s not a huge city by any means, but its surroundings make it feel big.  And after a good night’s sleep, I found plenty of places to explore — starting with downtown Trinidad.

My drive through downtown started at I-25, and almost immediately I saw something worth pulling over for.  The Fox Theater still has a beautiful marquee, but it’s closed — temporarily, at least, according to the sign.  The Fox was originally known as West’s Theater when it was completed in 1908.  It operated almost continuously for more than 100 years, but in 2013, it stopped showing movies.

Across the street, you’ll find another venue where kids used to hang out. Just like the Fox, it appears that Skateland has seen better days.  It looked like a gun dealer had taken up the space once used for roller skating.

Walking a few blocks further…

… I discovered that Trinidad not only honors its coal miners, but also the canaries that were sacrificed to keep them safe. This statue of a giant bird cage…

… features a canary, still alive and well, enjoying the fresh air of Trinidad.  A sign explains that canaries would be affected by carbon monoxide much more quickly than humans.  If the miners evacuated in time, they were sometimes able to revive the canary.

The Southern Colorado Coal Miners Memorial stands next to the canary.  The names of miners alive and dead are engraved on its pedestal.

Trinidad has a surprising amount of public art.  For example, this blue thing…

… and this sculpture, along Main Street.

Quite a bit of “yarn bombing” has also occurred in Trinidad.  For example, this antique box which used to hold some sort of primitive communication device…

… and this bench, which may be slightly more comfortable now.

This snake is looking less healthy than the canary.

“Trinidad Loves Company” is the slogan of the city’s tourism board.  That sheltered walkway…

… runs in front of the Jaffa Opera House, built in 1882.  Hopefully, the temporary walkway is a sign that some restoration work is happening behind the scenes.

First National Bank, on the corner of Main and Commercial Streets, still has a nice neon sign.

And, if you look closely at the front of one of Trinidad’s old buildings, you’ll see this glass advertisement for Kodak Finishing and Enlarging.  Imagine how long that’s been there!

After exploring downtown Trinidad, I was determined to seek out the huge TRINIDAD sign that loomed over the city.  The previous night, I had some luck finding a similar sign over Raton, New Mexico — the next city to the south.  So, with the help of my GPS and some good guesses…

… I made my way up to the top of Simpson’s Rest, where the sign is located.

To get here from downtown, take Linden Avenue to North Avenue, which ends at a gate that you’re allowed to open.  A dirt road takes you up the hill, to a parking area directly behind the sign.

An American flag flies here, and there is also a graffiti-covered memorial.  This is the final resting place of George S. Simpson, a pioneer on the Santa Fe Trail.  A couple of decades before arriving here permanently, Simpson took refuge in the sandstone bluff, hiding from unfriendly Indians.

Looking out from Simpson’s Rest, you can see Interstate 25 cutting through Trinidad.  Downtown is on the opposite side of the highway.  Fisher’s Peak is in the distance — its distinctive peak is shrouded by clouds.

After I came down from Simpson’s Rest…

… I found a couple more neat neon signs on the north side of town, which is mostly residential. Lee’s Barbeque looked tasty…

… while the Hollywood Bar & Cafe appeared to me more bar than cafe.

The Bottom Line

Trinidad provides more than you might expect at first glance.  It has an interesting downtown district, and the drive up to the huge sign on Simpson’s Rest is a lot of fun, too.  At the very least, you should plan on taking a break from Interstate 25 for some exploring.

Location

Trinidad is located in southern Colorado, about 14 miles north of the New Mexico border via Interstate 25. It’s approximately 125 miles south of Colorado Springs.

Trinidad is at the intersection of I-25, US-160, and Colorado Highway 12. Route 12 provides a scenic loop through the Spanish Peaks, as part of the Highway of Legends Scenic Byway.

Drivelapse Video

Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive around Trinidad:

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