A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains

3.6 48
by Isabella Bird

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The American West of the late nineteenth century had seen its share of foreign travelers but none could compare to Isabella Bird, the archetypal Victorian Lady Traveler. The daughter of an English clergyman, Bird was on her way back from Hawaii, which she had spent nearly a year exploring on horseback, when she decided to stop off to investigate the Wild West.

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The American West of the late nineteenth century had seen its share of foreign travelers but none could compare to Isabella Bird, the archetypal Victorian Lady Traveler. The daughter of an English clergyman, Bird was on her way back from Hawaii, which she had spent nearly a year exploring on horseback, when she decided to stop off to investigate the Wild West.

Having suffered from ill health as a child, Bird therefore threw herself into a life of open air and exercise as a means of recovery. "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" is told through letters the intrepid author wrote to her sister in the winter of 1873 regarding this equestrian sojourn during which she explored the magnificent unspoiled wilderness of Colorado, ascended the highest mountains, observed the abundant wildlife, and observed life on the remote frontier in all its phases.

Bird's quest for equestrian adventure was to turn her into a compulsive traveller and eventually take her on other equestrian journeys to equally inaccessible places including Persia, Tibet, Japan, Korea and Morocco. Plus she was also the first woman ever to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of England.

Yet this remains the most popular book the prolific author, and indefatigable traveler, ever penned. Enormously entertaining and amply illustrated, "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" remains a vivid account of an astounding equestrian journey.

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Product Details

John Beaufoy Publishing
Publication date:
Stanfords Travel Classics
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

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A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I was taking a trip to Lake Tahoe and happened upon this. The first chapters tell how she came to Truckee and went to see Lake Tahoe. Then she moved on to the Rockies. What an experience to travel alone, as a women, in the 1870's in such a rural and un-explored place. It made me want to go there, though my experience will be vastly different. It took her days and days to get up to Long's Peak in Colorado, whereas now it's a short trip on an interstate. She wrote about spending the winter with some miner's at the base of Long's Peak. You must understand, the writing style of that time was somewhat archaic by today's standards, but it was still very enjoyable indeed....
www.LindaBallouAuthor.com More than 1 year ago
Why did this truly remarkable woman ride 800 miles in 1873 through the Rocky Mountains in the dead of winter alone? She like many in England suffering from a damp climate came for the "camp cure" of the thin dry air of Colorado. But, beyond that she was mesmerized by the sublimity and ethereal beauty of the place. She stayed with families leading hard lives of subsistence, living in un-chinked log cabins where snow settled on her bed over the night. She lent a hand in all endeavors; herding cattle, baking bread, washing dishes and clothes. Observations made to her sister in a series of letters are telling. A hard working lack luster lifestyle spiced with tales of adventure from hunters, trappers around the fire in the evening become her routine. A desperado named Mountain Jim became her guide and companion on many of her rides through country she describes with the passion of the devout. In her lifetime Ms. Bird traveled extensively writing letters from the Sandwich Islands, China, India and other exotic realms before she passed at 73. I truly admire this plucky lady's zest for life and true Brit grit.
legacyshooter More than 1 year ago
Ms Bird took could have stayed in England, burdened by some sort of sickness and most likely died a lonely, unhappy British subject. Instead she got out of the sickbed and travelled the world. After more than twenty years of roaming the world she happened onto North America. San Francisco, to be exact, and this is where this story starts. She makes her way to Truckee and takes a horseback tour you can actually see via her ability to paint pictures with words. From there she travels over the Rocky Mountains to the plains just east of the Front Range. The meat of this story takes place along the Front Range from Estes Park south to South Park and the frontier town of Colorado Springs. Her best companion is her well-loved Indian bronco, Birdie. A tough and smart little horse that got her through adventures most of us today would never consider. She engages we readers with her word painting that leave you breathless. The trip up Long's Peak in what is now a prominent feature of the Rocky Mountain National Park is a piece of descriptive literature readers will remember. I found myself not wanting the story to end. I did not want Ms Bird to leave the Rockies and most of all, I did not want her to leave that faithful little Birdie. I am glad I found this book. I am glad I found Ms Bird and if you enjoy well written literature this will be a page turner you won't want to end either.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent reading. Bird captures a vivid slice of life (circa 1873) among a diverse community of settlers throughout the Rocky Moutains. She's a refined young British woman who matter of factly documents her experiences via letters to her sister. The descriptions of her 'ordinary' days are incomprehesible to men and women alive today. Even better, her use of the English language is exquisite - it's worth reading the book just to savor this.
emvlovely More than 1 year ago
Unlike many epistolary novels, "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" never once becomes dull, overly familiar, or self-indulgent. Isabella L. Bird recounts her travels across America, paricularly across the Colorado Rockies, with a deft, witty hand. She exposes phony cowboys and uppity housewives alike; never cruelly, just cleverly, with an educated observer's eye. For anyone who loves history, and the history of interesting Brits traveling alone in America, this book is a must read. I could go and on about her resilience and dedication to writing letters home (despite failing winter light, frozen ink and blizzards cutting off the mail), but I'll just say, if you want to learn about the mining and mountain towns of early Colorado territory, and enjoy one of the most interesting ladies of the 19th century, look no further.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quit trying at page 12, of which ten were chapters, etc
Hardegree More than 1 year ago
tbis would have been much more interesting to me if the formatting had not been horrendous. multiple errors and spelling problems, not attributed to the author, I'm sure. BN could have done a better job with this.
Linda R Mendietta More than 1 year ago
I found the beginning very distracting. I couldnt get past the first few pages. I dont recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because it was selected by my book club. It has so many typos in it that it is quite difficult to read. You constantly have to reread sentences to make sure you have figured out the meaning. Good luck - maybe it will be corrected by the time you wish to read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't download this to your Nook! It's a poorly transcribed copy of the 1886 original. Numerous word errors to the point of it not making sense. Now I know why it was free.
Dp59810 More than 1 year ago
HI to all - ILBird's book is one of those marvellous looks at the places we live in, know, and love; during a long-past time and in a long-gone condition we'll never get to see. It ranks with Brewer's 'Up and Down California...' for vivid description of life in those times. If you've ever been to a place which preserves a slice of life in the pioneering times of our country, here is a fascinating sense of what that life was really like.
kokokitty123 More than 1 year ago
I learned so much about the 1800's American West while enjoying a great story. I was inspired by the author's determination and humility.
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Isabella is a woman ahead of her time. What an adventure! Fascinating reading written by a fascinating woman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reveals much of a woman's inner strength perservance and survival in an unearthly cold frontier environment
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I lovedthis book. It was welled thought out and well prosuced. Also i loved the details Birdie incorperated in this well published nonfiction book. So this is all i am going to say because i dont want to give out any detail out. And just saying no one likes a spoil alerter. Well i just hope you enjoyed this book better than i did. Marta Bayan
kitty36LD More than 1 year ago
The main character in this story traveled some of the most beautiful trails in the mountains. She tried to use some of the words the way they spoke them back then making it hard to read. I did not get the excitement that I thought I should. Also I found it to be a very slow read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was a great and very detailed book. It was detailed when she wrote about Lake Thoa. The only problem is i bought the sample and then bought the whole book it had the same about of pages of the sample.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No way
CB-NM More than 1 year ago
Isabella Bird's indomitable spirit and fortitude in realizing her dream of visiting Estes Park astonish me. Though life was hard and comforts few, it was also safer in many ways, as shown in her relationship with the desperado she meets on finally entering Estes Park . I can't imagine bearing the cold, ice, snow, etc.  Bird's descriptions of sunrises and vistas tell me she studied art, knew pigments, and appreciated all she experienced. Bird did not fit in with Victorian England's restrictions on women, so traveled to Japan, Hawaii, New Zealand, and acquired many useful skills. That she remained long after the weather turned, after all other women had moved to the plains, is remarkable. Her 800 miles of travel on unmarked trails, on a sturdy horse she named after herself, to Colorado Springs, makes a suspenseful story.  I was just in Colorado, in January, and the climate is so different. There's only 50% of the normal snowpack, and none at all on the plains; temperatures have been abnormally high. And there's smog above Denver.
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