The long highway that stretches from the Mexican border to Central Mexico could be mistaken for any four-lane stretch of road in Utah, New Mexico or Wyoming: mesas and treeless mountains in the distance, dry scrub and sagebrush closer to the road.
But step off the road into the lives of the people who live nearby, and the difference is immense.
Wages are low, if there are jobs at all. Parents struggle to feed their children.
Thousands of miles north, in Steamboat Springs, there is a labor shortage, and a person can make in a day what he or she can make in a month at home.
Seeing hope in the distance, fathers leave families for years at a time to work as dishwashers in our restaurants. Women cross the border carrying children on their way to housekeeping jobs in a mountain town they have never seen.
They keep in touch with Mexico through phone cards and the thousands of dollars they send back to their families. The nearly $15 billion they send home annually makes them Mexico's second largest source of income.
In the next six weeks, the Steamboat Pilot & Today and the Craig Daily Press will examine the causes of this wave of immigration and its effects on the economy and society of Northwest Colorado.