Rocky Mountain High: With a Chevrolet Silverado through the Wild West

Rocky Mountain High: With a Chevrolet Silverado through the Wild West

SPX/Denver. Nowhere is America more American than in its heart. If you want to explore the nature of this country, you must go where the west is still wild and definitely visit Colorado. And what better vehicle to go with that than the big box truck, which Americans rightly consider the rightful successor to the wagons that graced these parts here in the 19th century.

The choice today falls on the Chevrolet Silverado, which in the top version “High Country” is something like the S-Class of the Wild West. Because not only that the 5.90 meter long colossus for at least 65,000 dollars offers a lot of space for children and the console and the storage room under the armrest only holds more drinks and snacks than you can hit on the first 1,000 miles through the Rocky Mountains. There is also a lot of lacquer and leather, Google navigation that also turns tourists into locals, and seats so comfortable that you take off this big road movie and don’t want to get out. Most importantly, the High Country has an engine perfectly suited to the car and the terrain it’s driving: a 6.2-liter V8, 420 hp and 623 Nm, mated to a 10-speed automatic that can be surprisingly arranged either in reverse. axle or all four wheels.

You might think that’s excessive luxury, just like the eight-cylinder in the S-Class or the V12 in the Maybach. But the engine is worth it. First, because it gives the giant an authority that turns the bull into a buffalo that strides proudly and gracefully across the plains instead of rushing across the field. And secondly, because the first attempt is already waiting a few kilometers west of Denver, when the Rocky Mountains rise from the ground at the end of the Great Plains like a wall about to fail. In the footsteps of the settlers, it passes through the land of cowboys and Indians or, to be politically correct, through the land of immigrants from the old world and native peoples, up to the Continental Divide, the dividing mountain ridge. America in length and which geographers separate east and west.

As if all the lower mountain ranges had just been cut and led from Lüneburg Heath straight into the Alps, the four lanes of I-70 wind higher and higher in the mountains. While many other places are as sprawling as chewing gum and as exciting as the 214th stretch of Denver’s lineage, this highway is almost charming in some places: As if you’re playing a road movie in technicolor, you’re driving the distance. Narrow valleys and canyons and on the horizon there are always a few mountains out of more than 50 in Colorado, which are in the glorious club of 14,000m – only on foot, but more than 4,200 meters is not bad either.

When the thermometer falls and falls and a fine film of ice forms on the panel in the morning, even in the middle of summer, the altimeter only counts in one direction: up. It’s 1,600 meters in Denver, at Vail Pass it’s 3,250 meters at the control. And that’s not even the highest part of the route. You can reach it a few miles earlier, completely unknown, behind the Eisenhower Tunnel, which is almost three kilometers long and, at 3,400 meters high, was considered the largest tunnel in the world for many years.

But the height alone is not the only attraction on the western tour. The view changes again and again: sometimes the panorama is so wide that there are endless hills stretching in front of the windshield, and sometimes the road narrows so much that you almost want to curl up in the mirrors. Glenwood Canyon is very impressive – 16 miles long and so narrow that the railroad, the Colorado River, which is still surprisingly narrow here, and four highways did not fit together and therefore were placed on top of each other.

It is true that the great journeys to the west were a long time ago, but the “west” is still alive here. Villages like Frisco still look like a bunch of bandits coming in at noon. Above Denver, the Lariat Loop leads past the grave of the pistol hero Buffalo Bill, in Glenwood Springs the drunken Doc Holliday ended his life in sulfur springs, which were still sinful at that time, in Telluride the building where Butch Cassidy still lived. while standing he pulled off his first bank robbery, and places like the True Grit Saloon in Ridgeway seem to be commonplace. After all, Western is already recorded here in every second bar. The age and aura of the gold miners is missing: the mines cling to the slopes, tourists can dig along every second stream in the summer and in towns like Idaho Springs or Leadville they keep the mining culture alive with museum tunnels.

But as interesting as I-70 is on the 250 miles between Denver and Grand Junction, it’s just the beginning of the adventure. Finally, at the end, a panoramic road through the Colorado National Monument awaits, which is not inferior to national parks such as Bryce Canyon. Two hours further south, while the deep valleys of the Black Canyon of the Gunnisson stretch out before a large mirror as if on a screen, the hopelessly crowded Grand Canyon loses much of its beauty. What they can do in Arizona, they have been able to do in Colorado for a long time – especially since it was the Colorado River that carved this canyon. And when you finally reach Telluride in the evening after climbing the seemingly endless mountain from Montrose through Ridgeway and Placerville and suddenly find yourself in front of a wall several thousand meters high at the end of the valley, even the largest alpine valleys seem gentle in some way. and depth.

And unlike at home, you have more options here: either you fight your way with a pick-up, despite all the glitz and glory, on one of the many off-road slopes that legally attract you to play off-road sports. and learn in the process that all the trucks and luxuries are also what they can afford. Or you can enjoy the adventure with muscle power and be happy that you can carry any sports equipment to the Highlands on the big platform. Or that there’s no better place to relax after a long drive than sunbathing in the bed of a truck while Colorado’s John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” plays perfectly through the open back window.

For the return trip, we recommend Highway 24, which is not called “Over the Rocks” for free. After all, it rarely drops below 9,000 feet and includes spectacular passes like Freemont Pass. Best of all, it follows the summit of more than half a dozen 14,000m peaks – including Mount Elbert, which at 14,440 feet or 4,401 meters is the highlight of any Colorado tour – because you can’t go higher anywhere in the Rocky Mountains.

Down in the valley and in the high canyons of Denver, the Silverado looks like a relic of another era, even if it’s not alone. Here, as almost everywhere in the states of the USA, pick-ups make up a large part of the car fleet. But the feeling is deceptive. Because the best seller has been updated – not only because it offers a bigger screen than other living rooms and it will also be fully electric next year. Also because at least the flagship now also has Supercruise equipment. This is Detroit’s answer to the supposed Tesla driver and allows the driver to put their hands on their laps and even turn around for a while or take off their sweater. Unlike the so-called DrivePilot from Mercedes, the driver is always in charge, which is why the camera always monitors his attention. And on top of that, the system only works on special digital roads, the length of which GM now puts at 400,000 miles. But it offers great relief on city highways in frequent traffic jams or tiring tours on bumpy highways — and Colorado has plenty to offer, too. Because as soon as you descend from the Rockies, the grass starts and the roads go straight to the horizon.