Geology: Skyline Drive is remarkable for geology in a number of ways all of which would require substantially more detail. Did you know that the entry to Skyline Drive features an archway with stones from all 50 states.
Just before you reach for the first major overlook at the top of the ridge, there is a dinosaur track way you will see just below the top. Because of the uplift of the Rocky Mountains millions of years ago, the ridge was tilted upward enabling you to look at the tracks but instead of looking at the top of them, you are looking up at the bottom side of the tracks! This track way represents dinosaurs called Ankylosaurus. These dinosaurs lived here 107 million years ago near the edge of a great sea. This is a remarkable find. Look at it and see if you can figure out which way the dinosaurs were walking!
The top of the ridge has two overlook stops. These are wonderful stops to take a look around in all directions. Not much of a better place to see the geology anywhere except up in a plane! Canon City is below you to the east and between you and Canon City are some smaller ridges all deposited when a great sea occupied this part of the world millions of years ago.
You will descend through these rocks when you drop down into Canon City. To the west and south you are looking at much older rocks representing the roots of the Rocky Mountains. It is a great place to see a sequence of rocks from very old to very recent! There has also been and continues to be a number of large rock quarries to the west.
Location Skyline Drive is accessed off of US highway 50 3.1 miles west and north of the intersection of US Highway 50 and 1st in Canon City. History
From the Canon City History Center:
In 1905 Skyline Drive was completed through the use of inmate labor. At the height of construction, the Skyline Drive project employed sixty prisoners. It was Senator Lewis of Florence who sponsored the legislation bill that allowed prisoners to work on this public road. Prisoners working on Skyline Drive received a reduction of ten days on their sentence for every thirty days they worked on the road.
According to articles in the Cañon City Record, a contest to name the road was held following its completion. S.A. Van Buskskirk recommended Skyline Boulevard and the name was incorporated into the deed, although, it is now referred to as Skyline Drive. The drive was originally built for biking, horses, and walking. Cars were prohibited because they scared the horses. However, popular demand to allow cars provided for their use on the drive after February 1907.
During the Best administration, the penitentiary repaired the road and built an arch at the entrance of Skyline Drive using a stone from every state in the union. When F.B. Rice, the gentleman in charge of procuring stones from individual states, contacted New York on April 12, 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the governor. Roosevelt wrote back asking Rice to ask for information regarding the nature of the project, inquiring whether or not it was a public or private enterprise. Rice informed him that it was public, and Franklin agreed to send the stone.
Site Description: This is a one way road. It starts on highway 50, travels up to the top of the ridge and then along the ridge before heading down via two switchbacks below into Canon City. Future Options: There is some potential for additional interpretive signage at the top of the ridge at one or both overlooks. Primarily though there is great potential to do some site reclamation below and develop a series of walking trails in the hogbacks area. There are some proposals on the books any one of which could be enhanced with some explanation of the geology. There is also a number of areas with fossils and some effort would need to be made to both share these discoveries and limit damage from removal or vandalism. Methodologies to support “take home a picture of a fossil and leave it for the next person to discover” are critical to this public area if interpretation is going to be provided.