I spent Memorial Day weekend out in Colorado– Boulder, and nearby Estes Park, to be exact. This was my first time “out west” so to speak (Vegas is a pseudo-fictionalized adult playground and does not count), and I was impressed. I don’t think we went anywhere that wasn’t gorgeous; everything looked fake, in the best way. I enjoyed the scenery, I enjoyed the over abundance of breweries, and I enjoyed how active everyone is (despite the fact that it made me feel bad about myself on several occasions). I left Colorado already planning a return trip, and while I’m currently working on two posts detailing my trip (Boulder, and Estes Park respectively), I’m going to start with 10 things I’d like to do when I visit Colorado next.
1) Drive Trail Ridge Road–
I’m going to start with the things we were supposed to actually do, but weren’t able to on account of the fact that there was too much snow. You read that correctly-it was Memorial Day weekend, and our plans were cancelled for too much snow. Trail Ride Road is a stretch of highway that goes through one of the highest points in Rocky Mountain National Park, much of it well above the treeline. It’s the highest continuously paved road in the US and reaches a max elevation of 12,183 ft. My friend also said it was the most terrifying drive he’d ever done. Trail Ridge Road is only open during the summer. When we asked about driving up in the Este’s Park visitor’s center, they showed us pictures of the gift shop on top. Correction: they showed us snow drifts burying said gift shop. I was bummed we weren’t able to do this, but when it snows enough to bury a building, there’s not much you can do.
2) Visit Wyoming–
One of my travel resolutions this year is to visit 3 new states this year. I’ve got two to go, since prior to this I’ve never been to Colorado, but could’ve knocked off two, had we taken the drive up to Wyoming. Truthfully, I’m not 100% sure what we would’ve done there, as many of the big Wyoming attractions (Yellowstone, Jackson Hole) were 5-6 hour drives from Boulder, but I think we could’ve found a brewery or two in Cheyenne, or at least taken a picture with the “Welcome to Wyoming” sign.
I enjoy brewery tours and tasting different craft beers, but if you’ve been following my blog for even a short amount of time, you realize that Coors Light will always be my first and one true beer love. The Coors Light Brewery is essentially my holy land and I messed up big time by not tapping the Rockies, in the Rockies (I mean, I did drink plenty of it). We visited plenty of breweries in CO, but unfortunately, not the silver bullet’s.
4) Stanley Hotel Tour-
The Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, is famous for being the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write The Shining (it is not where the movie was filmed). The hotel is also famous for being one of the most haunted places in Colorado. When we were walking around the hotel (which is super creepy), we ran into a few tours being run. I’d definitely take part in their night-time ghost tour if I go back (but then find somewhere else to stay).
This is another place we thought about maybe going, but then didn’t have time. Great Sand Dunes National Park is about four hours south of Boulder, and the only place in the US with a certified sand dune desert (some of them get up to 750 feet high). What makes this even more unique is that the dunes sit under the shadows of the Rocky Mountains. You can hike the dunes, sled or board them (there are rentals in the nearby towns if you’re one of those weirdos who doesn’t carry a sand board in your car), camp there, or do a full moon hike (how cool would that be?). I hadn’t heard of this park, but it’s shot high up on my bucket-list.
6) Hot Spring Hop-
Colorado is home to 27 different hot springs, and ever since going to Iceland, I like to consider myself something of a hot springs enthusiast. Unfortunately, most of them are located in resorts, which to me just ends up resembling large Jacuzzis. After doing some research, I was able to find two “wild” (ie: free) hot springs, both located near the famed town of Aspen. The first is the Penny Hot Springs, not far from the Colorado town of Carbondale (which in itself, would have been funny to visit). This spring is actually built right on the side of the Crystal River, and in fact, you could maneuver rocks to let in the river water, if the spring gets too hot. The other free spring is Conundrum Hot Springs located in Aspen. This springs supposedly have a breath taking view of the mountains. They also come with a few hazards-namely an 8 mile hike to get to them, and many nude locals.
On a topical note does anyone else have mixed feelings on the new Jurassic Park movie? The first one is a classic. I love everything about it (I heard someone mutter “clever girl” in the dollar store the other day and my first instinct was to look for a raptor). Despite my strong nostalgic love for everything Jurassic Park, as well as my affection for Andy Dwyer, and despite the fact that I will be seeing it in theaters, I just feel like it’s a little too Godzilla. I also don’t like trained raptors. They aren’t our friends! Anyway, topical has became off topic-my other park in Colorado to visit would be Dinosaur National Monument, where hundreds of fossils are displayed, and can be found on various hikes. My dinosaur obsessive days (1st-7th grade) are over, but I still think this would be awesome to see in person.
8) Cross Country Ski-
I was in Colorado at the wrong time for XC skiing, and despite being known for downhill skiing, the state has an abundance of XC ski resorts, parks with groomed trails, and ranches that allows skiers on the premises. I’m sure the scenery doesn’t suck.
9) Hike a 14er–
I thought I was badass when I did my first 49er this past winter up Lake Placid. Colaradians (Coloradites? COers? I don’t know) would scoff at a mere 4900 feet. The cool thing to do in Colorado, is brag about how many 14ers (14,000 ft) you’ve climbed (and believe me, they brag). Colorado has 53 of these mountains, and I’d like to be able to brag about doing just one. If I got to chose, I believe I’d do Long’s Peak-it’s one of the higher, but more novice friendly 14ers, and sat right above the cabin we stayed at in Estes Park.
10) See a Concert at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre–
Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a famous concert venue, located outside of Denver. The amphitheater is partially carved out of the titular “red rocks.” It’s big with jam bands, but I think this would be a great place to see a country concert (Zac Brown Band and Kenny Chesney have both shot videos here). If I were out there this summer (which I’m not) I think Florence and the Machine would be awesome there, although I don’t know who I’m trying to kid-I’d be at the Hall & Oates show.
Honorable mention goes to visiting Denver. We kicked around going there for a night, but never ended up doing it.
Have you ever been to CO? What’s on your bucketlist there? I’ll hopefully be posting my actual activities in the next few weeks.
6) other mt we were going to drive up
7) XC Ski
8) Dinosaur National Monument
9) STanley Hotel Tour
10) hike more in national park