Colorado Road Trip (3): Wheeler Geologic Area, Sermons in Stones

August 7, 2011

“Sermons in stones, books in the running brooks, and good in everything . . .”
— Louisa May Alcott, Little Men

” . . . there is faithfulness in rocks.”
— Adam Nicholson, Sea Room

Dramatic stone forms of volcanic tuff in the Wheeler Geologic Area

I like “off-the-beaten-path” experiences when I travel, so when my sister-in-law and I were discussing itineraries for this road trip through Colorado, her suggestion to visit the Wheeler Geologic Area intrigued me.  I had never heard of this place.  It is so remote that the only access is via hiking trail or a bone-jarring drive along 14 miles of unimproved road.

The adage about the destination being only a part of the journey applied in this case.  The journey to Wheeler was certainly an adventure.  We rented a sturdy 4-wheel-drive jeep for creeping along at speeds of 5-miles-per-hour or less over a rocky, bumpy track with hairpin curves and dips and hills.  There were only a couple of worrisome, hair-raising spots, but the road was manageable.  We were relieved, though, to finally arrive and begin exploring the Wheeler formations.

The Wheeler Geologic Area reminded me of a little Bryce Canyon, with weird-shaped spires and forms carved out of volcanic rock.  It’s definitely a place to come to if you are seeking solitude.  We were the only people camping on the night we spent there.

Here are some photos:

Journeying down the unimproved road in our rented 4-wheel-drive jeep

Testing the water depth at a low spot in the road

The road to Wheeler Geologic Area

Our campsite at the Wheeler Geologic Area

First look at the weird rock formations

Wheeler Geologic Area

Natural amphitheater at Wheeler

Approaching early evening rain storm, Wheeler Geologic Area

Road near our campsite after the rain

Nearing sunset, Wheeler Geologic Area


by Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Robert Bly

Slowly the west reaches for clothes of new colors
which it passes to a row of ancient trees.
You look, and soon these two worlds both leave you,
one part climbs toward heaven, one sinks to earth,

leaving you, not really belonging to either,
not so hopelessly dark as that house that is silent,
not so unswervingly given to the eternal as that thing
that turns to a star each night and climbs —

leaving you (it is impossible to untangle the threads)
your own life, timid and standing high and growing,
so that, sometimes blocked in, sometimes reaching out,
one moment your life is a stone in you, and the next a star.

Morning: First light hitting the spires




7 Responses to “Colorado Road Trip (3): Wheeler Geologic Area, Sermons in Stones”

  1. Hallysann Says:

    Simply stunning !

  2. what an incredible place and you have captured the beauty and soul of this magnificent place…I can feel the spirit and life of it!!

  3. garden2day Says:


  4. Renee Says:

    Wow, what a beautiful place and as was stated the journey looks like it was quite an experience and well worth it. I can only imagine the quality of the air with all the pine trees. You have been blessed by being able to visit such a place

  5. Dawan Says:

    Gorgeous! More reason for us to go back to USA! And I love that we can free camp there!

  6. […] Colorado Road Trip (3): Wheeler Geologic Area, Sermons in Stones, August 7, 2011 […]

  7. Elisa Says:

    did you get to touch it?!?! i missed this post before! i am very excited about it!

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