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A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains
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A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (Virago Travellers)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  1,078 ratings  ·  164 reviews
In 1873, a middle-aged Englishwoman toured the Colorado Rockies on horseback — alone, for the most part. Painting an intimate portrait of the "Wild West," Bird wrote eloquently of flora and fauna, isolated settlers and assorted refugees from civilization, vigilance committees, lynchings, and the manners among the men she encountered in the wilderness.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 4th 2003 by Dover Publications (first published 1873)
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It's rare that I read Westerns due to the genre being one of the wrongest things that ever wronged in the history of United States' literature. Another one is the holiday being celebrated today by the US Federal Government, a day that my ongoing reads of Genesis and Almanac of the Dead has thrown into piercing scrutiny. This work was the odd one out in the group in the brutal sense of the word, something I knew would be the case when I started out but didn't deter me due to, frankly, the shock I ...more
This fascinating book, a series of letters written in 1873 by Isabella L. Bird to her sister, documents the amazing adventure of a resourceful and daring Victorian woman. Its lush descriptions of the natural world (sunrises and sunsets, plant life, landscapes, animals, and all varieties of weather) and of domestic life (buildings, living conditions, relationships, gardening, cooking and cleaning) are captivating and entertaining.

In the autumn and early winter of 1873, on her return to England f
Isabella Bird was very ill, so her doctor sent her to America to regain some of her strength. When she set of from England for the first time, she was already a mature woman, considered a spinster by her sister's family and boring.

Over the course of the next decades, Bird would travel the world, sending back mesmerizing accounts of her travels.

It is particularly entertaining to compare her accounts with other travelers accounts- despite her gorgeous writing voice, Bird was considered to be rathe
I LOVED it. She writes all about her travels through mainly Colorado and the people she meets. Its never just a catalog of facts and things, but an amazing account of the time period in the 'wild west' full of colors, emotions, vivid detail. Amazing woman.
OMG this is all true- the story of a 19th century woman-- so brave, adventurous and she is so matter-of-fact about it.

Isabella has traveled all over the worlds and sends detailed letters to her sister. She has lots of other books including about her time in Hawaii. After Hawaii, she travels to Colorado.

For someone who is a bit prim and proper, she knows how to handle horses, climbs Longs Peak (over 14,000 feet) in the snow, rides all day in freezing cold sometimes camping out but somehow manag
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 catt ...more
Panayoti Kelaidis
I've been meaning to read this more decades than I care to say: more's the pity that I waited so long: this is a book to re-read again and again! It is a very quick and extremely entertianing read. Isabella Bird is one of a kind, incredibly bold--a burly mountain man would have had trouble keeping up with some of her innumerable cross-country treks in a single Colorado autumnal visit. Her lyrical penned descriptions of the Colorado Front Range will never be equalled (post Victorian writers would ...more
Isabella L. Bird travelled the World during the mid to late 1800's and became a well-known travel writer. One of her adventures was through the Rocky Mountains of the early 1870's where comforts were few and dangers were plentiful. Through a series of poetically penned letters, Bird tells of an Old West which now only exists in the pages of history. Bird was an articulate and sensitive lady who moved with ease amongst desperate men, trying circumstances, and unimaginable hardships, but her journ ...more
May 2010 - A very interesting book. An English horsewoman traveling western USA in the 1870's. She rode a borrowed horse, Birdie, 500 miles in Colorado, by herself, in the winter, for pleasure. The idea I remember most is that Isabella felt safe (and was safe) traveling alone because westerners "have respect for a lady". Unless she was seeing with rose colored glasses, our civilization has deteriorated a lot. Safety and security are very valuable.

July 2012 - At the time of the review above, I ha
First of all, I thought this book was great. Bird is unflinchingly honest (to the point where she actually made me mad a couple of times), and she was not shy about sharing her opinions as well as every detail, no matter how embarrassing, of her excursions. My biggest disagreement with her was her belief that Estes Park was the most beautiful and superior place in Colorado and all other natural sites were inferior, and in some cases, “hideous”. I have a really hard time thinking of any natural a ...more
I don't know what to say about A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains. A series of letters from Englishwoman Isabella to her sister, more like a journal of three months traveling about the Rockies in the last quarter of 1873. Ms. Bird rides hundreds of miles, through blizzards and sub-zero temperatures, scaling peaks, surviving I-can't-imagine-how, apparently for the joy of seeing the beauty of the mountains as well as some supposed health benefit.

The book inspired me to google some of the places
I liked this book. This woman's courage was amazing. When she wanted to do something ,travel somewhere ,she did it by herself.When she found herself in difficult situations ,she never complained she just got her self out of them.Her discription of what she saw around her,was amazing.She described Estes Park in Colorado, so vividly,that it brought back my own memories of the trip I took there. This book opened my eyes to the way some people had to ,or preferred to live,when this country was still ...more
Isabella Bird was a proper lady who was somehow brave enough to travel the world all by herself, living for years at a time in some of the "roughest" and most "uncivilized" areas in the world at the time.

This book is a collection of letters Isabella wrote to her sister Henrietta, relating her travels through the Colorado Rockies and the fierce winter she spent stranded with ranchers and miners in Estes Park. The prose is beautiful and the description is lush - but a bit purple. I occasionally fo
Janet Miller
Isabella Bird, a well to do English woman, shares her experiences as a single woman traveling into the Rocky Mountains and specifically Estes Park in the late 19th century. She lives and loves every bit of the beauty of the mountains through the letters she writes to her sister. As her letters follow her travels on horseback from Longmont through the difficult canyon to Estes Park, it is mind boggling to recognize the landmarks and try to relate to the difficult travel of that period of time. He ...more
I know it shows my own subcultural bias, but...

I wish this woman's life were a video game.
Laura C.
I have a new hero. I learned about her by chance, after exhausting my supply of library books while in New York recently. I was in the basement of my son and in daughter in law's apartment building, doing laundry, and came across this book between the rinse and spin cycles. Fortunately, people leave books there for other souls like me, who come unprepared to entertain themselves while waiting for the dryer.

Isabelle Bird was a real woman, and the book is a compilation of her real letters of her
Isabella Bird has done it again. I'm awfully fond of her Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, and this time she chronicles her adventures in exploring the mountains of Colorado in the 1870's. Not only does she ride horseback nearly a thousand miles, she does it in the late part of the year (October to December), she rides through snowstorms (getting frostbitten hands while picking at the ice that tries to seal her eyes shut), she climbs Long's Peak (elevation 14,359 feet), she gives advice to desperadoes, ...more
A lady's life in the Rocky Mountains is perhaps not the most exciting of Isabella L. Bird's books, although it is both interesting and enjoyable.

The book talks about Isabella's travels across Colorado, where she spent a few months after having visited Hawaii. The picture was that of the settlements and early towns in Colorado at the beginning of the mining spree. The location, thanks to its climate and incontaminated nature, had become a convalescence resort, and received a number of tourists w
Thom Swennes
The old and almost forgotten art of letter writing that once flourished from the pens men and women before the twentieth Century is presented in A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella L. Bird. In almost poetic verse her letters are much more than just readable and interesting but a glimpse of the west that will never be seen again. Isabella Lucy Bird (October 15, 1831-October 7, 1904) was born in Boroughbridge, England and spent a large part of her life traveling. In 1872 she left Engl ...more
Isabella Bird was an extraordinary woman.

In 1873, at the age of 42, Bird set out on her own to explore the west. In the end she rode over 800 miles on horseback in the Rocky Mountains--much of that alone and in the late season (Sept -November). She climbed Long's Peak (14,000 ft) and rounded up cattle; she was thrown from (and abandoned by) her horse when a Grizzly Bear came upon them. She lived for a time deep in the Rockies, the only woman amongst a group of hunters and a storied outlaw, with
This sounds like the kind of book that should be dull, but I was actually quite enthralled by it. There's something deeply fascinating about reading the personal letters of an an independent woman traveling alone though the rockies in the 1870s.

Isabella Bird is a bit uppity at times, but there's no denying she's also a badass. I know I wouldn't have to guts to travel alone, unarmed, in the mountains in the dead of winter. Some of her descriptions were so harrowing, I could hardly believe she CH
This was my Fall non-fiction book, and it was totally charming. Isabella Bird traveled in the Colorado rockies in the Fall of 1873.

She went riding around through snowstorms, and bear encounters, all by herself and in the company of desperadoes, settlers, prospectors, and fellow travelers (she found many of the latter completely pretentious and obnoxious).

The following incident and quote is a good illusration of Bird's character. Traveling to Estes Park with people she'd been staying with; the
In fall 1873 Bird travelled by train, apparently alone, from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, where she rented horses and looked around up in the mountains. Then the train through Wyoming to Ft. Collins, Colorado. Then rented a horse again, staying with various settlers living in remote parts of the foothills of the Rockies., mostly struggling for a miserable existence. Then she gets lucky and finds a Welsh couple's farm in Estes Park, 'park' being a local term to refer to a large mountain valley wh ...more
Sarah Sammis
One hundred thirty-two years before Linda Moore set out for the BookCrossing convention in Texas on her bike "Beastie", Isabella Bell set out by ship, train and finally beastie (in this case, horse) for Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains. Like Linda, Isabella wrote about her entire journey in a series of seven letters which were later published in book form, A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains. Linda blogged about the experience and later published her experience as A Little Twist of Texas.

Isabella Bird was an English gentlewoman who first came to Colorado on her way back from Hawaii in 1873. In this collection of letters Bird wrote to her sister back home, she details her experiences as she rode over 700 miles, usually alone, though the mountains that fall.

This is a spectacular gem of a book. Bird is an astonishingly brave person to undertake such a journey through an untamed landscape as winter was rapidly bearing down, but that she did so as a woman at that time is truly inspir
The book is a fascinating account of Bird's travels mostly through Colorado. She was a tough old bird (pun intended), and she attempted something that most others would not have. I do respect her for that. I found reading about her trials pretty interesting.

That said, I think she was an average writer at best. Perhaps I have been spoiled by the likes of Jon Krakauer. Independent of the quality of her writing, Bird strikes me as very self-centered and judgmental. This is significant to me as it w
Holly Lindquist
Isabella Bird was an extraordinary woman, an adventurer who traveled through Asia, the Hawaiian Islands, and all over the United States in the 1800s. This particular book covers her 1873 trip to the Colorado Rockies, in which she encounters bears, blizzards, and grizzled desperadoes. She scales mountain peaks, sleeps in ice-cold cabins, and sallies forth into lumber camps and wilderness strongholds with daring intrepidity.
One of the most interesting aspects of this adventure is the intriguing ch
I fully expected to be bored by this book. Was I surprised!

Isabel Lucy Bird's prose was sparkling in an idiosyncratic way. But what was more amazing was her travels. She rode (by her own account) about 800 miles through the Colorado Rockies in 1873, mostly alone. This in spite of the fact that she was not in the best of health. And her travels in Colorado were only one adventure of many. Truly an enjoyable read, both as a description of her exploits and as a vivid description of Denver and the
Ms Bird is incredibly detailed in her loving descriptions of the Rocky mt wilderness. She is not only brave, but I think, a bit crazy, because she rides a horse (alone) up to the continental divide in November. She crosses the vast plains in pitch black night or in blinding, freezing snowstorms, sometimes having only eaten raisins for the day. She is pretty lucky she made it through alive, and doesn't seem to recognize any danger. In this book, you get to travel back in time and see what Golden, ...more
Becky Jenson Straub
A series of letters written by Isabella to her sister while traveling in Colorado. She paints and interesting picture of a woman alone and adventuring in the late 1800's. The writing got a bit long winded while describing the scenery, but overall it held my interest. She did reinforce the importance of keeping a good written record while traveling.
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Isabella Lucy Bird (October 15, 1831 – October 7, 1904) was a nineteenth-century English traveller, writer, and a natural historian.

* The Englishwoman in America (1856)
* Pen and Pencil Sketches Among The Outer Hebrides (published in The Leisure Hour) (1866)
* The Hawaiian Archipelago (1875)
* The Two Atlantics (published in The Leisure Hour) (1876)
* Australia Felix: Impressions of Victori
More about Isabella L. Bird...
Unbeaten Tracks in Japan Six Months in the Sandwich Islands: Among Hawaii's Palm Groves, Coral Reefs and Volcanoes Adventures in the Rocky Mountains Among the Tibetans Englishwoman in America

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