What a weekend. What a wonderful weekend.
I returned home last night after spending four days in Colorado with my mom. I knew I needed a change of scenery, but to say I hit the jackpot with said scenery change is an understatement. I was simply in awe of the mountains/views. I lost track of the number of times I said “I can’t believe this real!”
My mom is my favorite travel companion (most of the time…she sometimes wants to stay out later than me) and I feel so lucky to have had this special getaway together. This is the first of two posts about my trip, the next will be random thoughts and behind-the-scenes tidbits.
If you are in the Denver area, step 1 is to rent a car. Step 2 is to complete the following day-trips and activities. We spent one day around the actual city of Denver, which I’ll talk about on Thursday!
What to Do in the Denver Area
About 30 minutes north of Denver, Boulder is both a college-town and a mecca of outdoor activities.
We started our day with a hike along the Mt. Sanitas trail. It’s about a 3 mile loop with perfect views of the city from the top. We went on a Thursday so the trail wasn’t too crowded (it seemed like mostly locals with their dogs) but I can imagine it gets packed on the weekends.
Tip: Before we left I read a suggestion to hike it counter-clockwise. Smart move. If you go clockwise, it starts off with very steep steps while counter-clockwise is a gradual incline. I haven’t hiked in years (?!) so I needed the gradual incline to warm-up.
After hiking we drove downtown to Pearl Street Mall to shop and eat. There are so many restaurants and boutiques that I think we walked another three miles around the area (not really, but we there for a while).
We ate lunch at Zeal, got smoothies at Wonder and ate dinner at Shine. I can’t even express how happy it made me to have options for gluten-free dining. Not just gluten-free friendly, but 100% gluten-free kitchens. To add to that, it seemed like so many of the restaurants in Boulder care about the quality and sourcing of their food (local, organic, non-GMO, no canola oil). I was very impressed!
Boulder is on my must-return list!
Rocky Mountain National Park
Just under two hours north of Denver is Estes Park, the “entrance” to Rocky Mountain National Park. We got to the park-n-ride around 9 a.m. and had no problem finding parking (later in the day it got really crowded). We went to the Bear Lake trailhead and walked around the lake (0.8 miles) before hiking the Flattop Mountain trail.
There are so many trails in the park that it’s kind of overwhelming. Thankfully, people in Colorado are so friendly and helpful that they pointed us in a good direction. It would have been an 9 mile hike but half-way up it started thundering and drizzling. It kind of set
us me into a panic thinking we would be wet and stranded (I’m obviously not a very tough hiker). Plus I only had enough food for one meal! Kidding…but since we really were unfamiliar with the weather/area, we turned around. We think we made it up to about 11,000 feet.
After our picnic (in the car because of weather) we drove some of Trail Ridge Road before walking around Estes Park. Everyone is just so happy in these small towns! You can tell they love where they live.
Garden of the Gods
On our last day in Colorado we drove south to Colorado Springs area to see Garden of the Gods. The name of the park describes it perfectly…all natural-made wonders. I felt like we were in an amusement park because the red rocks looked like Thunder Mountain at Disney World. It was just too beautiful for words and pictures don’t do it justice!
There are a few different trail options, some dirt some paved, along with front-range rock climbing. We mainly walked around the rocks on the paved path (maybe 2 miles total?) and played around with a few feet of climbing.
Red Rocks Amphitheater
I don’t care who is playing, if there is a concert at Red Rocks when you visit Denver, go see it. I would have loved to do yoga on the rocks (the group classes ended for summer) but seeing a concert was just as special.
We bought tickets for Gregory Alan Isakov. Who?! You’ll know his songs from this commercial. His music was actually incredible and fit the relaxed vibe of the venue. We brought food for a tailgate before, although there is food for purchase inside. The seats are wooden benches and people bring seat cushions/blankets (we brought hotel shower towels).
From your seats you have a view of the city, mountains, stars, red rocks and a concert performance. It’s bucket-list worthy.
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Now I’m back in the land of 99% humidity with a refreshed mentality and a renewed sense of motivation. We missed the hurricane that hit Florida so that’s a bonus! I’m slowly getting back to social media/blogging so I will be responding to comments soon. I hope you had an equally great Labor Day Weekend :)