West of the Front Range was a rugged place in the early 1800s. Early mountain men were the first to arrive in Ute territory looking for beaver pelts. They were followed by pioneers heading west over the Wet Mountains. Spanish came for precious minerals, followed by homesteaders and ranchers. Eventually, Native Americans, the Spanish, the miners and others all sometimes peacefully, sometimes not. In 1872, the discovery of gold swelled the tiny town of Rosita to more than 1,500 residents, making $3.00 for a 10-hour day. This is the story told on the Frontier Pathways Scenic and Historic Byway. As you travel the 103-mile route, the flatlands of the first 20 miles are punctuated with buttes. From there, the vistas become more dramatic and once you reach the San Isabel National Forest, the Sangre de Cristo mountains loom overhead. Amazingly, some of the high-country ranches and untouched meadows look the same as they did when the soon to be millionaires seeking silver and gold arrived to make their fortunes. Historic buildings have been well preserved in Victorian towns, bearing witness to long-lost mining operations.