This book has four parts. The first part concerns the physical environment and includes a description of landform evolution, geologic history, economic geology, and weather. The second edition describes the various ecosystems encountered, primarily with reference to vegetation zones because they remain relatively fixed and are easy to identify. The third part focuses on the human history of the area, beginning with the earliest known inhabitants, followed by the incursion of the Spanish and, later miners, searching for the 'mother lode'. The fourth section is a 'points of interest' guide around the Skyway, the Alpine Loop and the railroad between Durango and Silverton.