The gorgeous summer sun brought back fond memories from this time last year. We set out on a happy journey with our best friends to the state of Colorado to explore our long time bucket-list destination- The Rocky Mountain National Park, home of the tall and mighty Rockies.
Before I go ahead with this blog, I'm sheepishly including an honest disclosure statement. I feel kind of guilty travelling so far to see the Rocky Mountains while ignoring the stunning Canadian landscape of Banff and Jasper National Park in Alberta. I cannot tell you how many times I've looked at heavenly images of Banff, Lake Louise, and the stunning surrounding landscape with wanderlust filled eyes. Don't ask me why, but we haven't yet made the trip to visit the Canadian Rockies. I promise that will materialize soon!
Phew- now that I have that off my chest, we can talk about the beauty of the state of Colorado, home of the stunning Rocky Mountains in the USA :)
Our travel to Colorado was brief over a long weekend. We were five couples and a toddler. So we tried to keep our itinerary relatively simple and manageable. While we wanted to explore the many local attractions and enjoy the beautiful outdoors, it was important for us to spend time with each other, catch up, play games, and not to forget munch away on junk food into the midnight hours! Yaaas!
Top Five Things To Do At
The Rocky Mountain National Park & Denver, Colorado:
1. Scenic Drives
If you enjoy a good road trip, you cannot miss the amazing Trail Ridge Road drive. Spanning a distance of 48 miles between Estes Park on the east and Grand Lake on the west, the vistas along this drive will leave your spirits feeling refreshed. Our accommodation was situated near the Estes Park entrance. During our stay, we drove along the Trail Ridge road more than once and enjoyed a different experience every time.
Tip: Begin your drive early and give yourself enough time to enjoy this drive. The round trip from one end of the park to the other end can take about an hour and a half on the mountainous road. Factor in time for multiple stops to take in the spectacular views.
Here are some spots to see along the Trail Ridge Road:
- Many Parks Curve
- Rainbow Curve
- Forest Canyon overlook
- Rock Cut
- Tundra World Nature Trail, a half-hour walk beginning near the parking area at Rock Cut
- Gore Range Overlook
- Alpine Visitor Center and Alpine Cafe
- Fairview Curve
Tip: It got pretty windy and chilly (as expected) when we reached higher altitudes during our drive. Do make sure you have a light jacket or windbreaker handy so that you can enjoy the views without freezing away!
When you get to the Grand Lake side of the Trail Ridge Road, don't forget to take a little detour to visit the Hot Sulphur Springs Resort & Spa!
I mean who can say no to this great nature retreat- such bliss when you feel the cool breezy air on your face while dipping into bubbling hot water of the hot springs. The smell of 'rotten egg sulpher' will be the least of your worries as the overall experience is so relaxing, especially after a long haul driving day.
2. White Water Rafting- An adventure ride!
You cannot go to the state of Colorado and not experience a thrilling white water rafting experience. Our pack set off on a trip with A1 Wildwater Rafting. Our guides were knowledgeable and friendly and they made all of us feel at ease. For a few in our group, this was their first time rafting and they definitely had a blast! The cold water was a nice relief on a sunny summer day.
Watch Yang and I slay the waters of the Colorado River. Taking this whole thing to a whole new level!
The state of Colorado prides itself for having spectacular landscapes and vistas. Apparently the city of Denver alone has more than 200 national parks within city limits!
When surrounded by so much beauty, you must hike for a true taste of the outdoors. Here's an idea of some popular trails that we found during our travel research:
Trails near the Estes Park Entrance (East side of the park)
- Starting at Bear Lake, the trail up to Emerald Lake, passing Nymph and Dream Lakes enroute
- Twin Sisters Peak Trail
- Gem Lake Trail
- Alberta Falls Trail from the Glacier Gorge parking area
- Flattop Mountain Trail
- Wild Basin trailhead
Trails near the Grand Lake Entrance (West side of the park)
- Cascade Falls trail near Grand Lake
- Adams Falls Trail
To be perfectly honest, our hiking plans did not work out as originally planned. My craziest (and most stressful) memory from this trip was leaving my purse at the west end of the park at a Mc Donalds' and driving back to our Airbnb on the east end of the park. All hell broke lose when I realized what I had done the next morning. So Yang and I drove all the way to get my purse and thankfully I didn't lose anything! But this took away from our hiking time. It did however give us an opportunity to drive back and forth on the Trail Ridge road (like four times...lol!) and we can't complain- the views took the stress away from the whole situation. Do let us know if you enjoyed specific hikes during your Colorado travels. This will give us a reason to go back:)
4. Stay at a Rustic Mountain Retreat
Be sure to pick your accommodation at the Rocky Mountain park wisely. Don't settle for an ordinary stay. During our trip, our accommodation was a big part of our experience. Considering that we wanted some much needed down time with our best friends, we wanted to make sure that our stay was cozy, comfortable, and convenient. We came across this amazing Airbnb property during our search and it was truly a lucky find. Click on the hyperlink to view details of our Airbnb home at Allenspark, Colorado, near the Estes park entrance: Allenspark Home
Here are a few things that made our stay enjoyable:
- The house was remotely situated at a beautiful location in the woods, surrounded by lots of nature.
- There was a humming bird feeder outside the house that kept me entertained every morning.
- The house was comfortable for our big group of 10.
- We loved the pool + table tennis table in the basement. Who doesn't love some group game time!
- We had access to a BBQ grill on the deck. This made for some delish meals and good grilling bonding times:)
- We were a short drive away from Lily lake (about 15 mins. away). Take a peek at the lovely scenery all around.
5. Visit Denver, Colorado
We've been told that Denver is one such city in the US that has its own vibe! We enjoyed our short visit to the city as we immersed ourselves in Denver's culture! We definitely need to go back to explore the ins and outs of Denver, but if a short day is all you've got, here are some ideas:
- Big Blue Bear at the Colorado Convention Center: Don't miss the opportunity to grab a picture with this gigantic blue bear peering into the window of the Denver convention center. Such a fun display!
- Larimer Square: Your Denver experience would not be complete without a leisure stroll through this hip and lively district of Denver. Larimer Square is home to many restaurants, bars, and stores. The old buildings in the neighbourhood add to the square's charm. If you're lucky, you may be able to attend a street fest or event as well.
- Union Station: We got to Union station pretty late at night. We had a blast playing in the water fountains and sprinklers outside the station, jumping around like we were 5! Best time ever!
- Red Rock Park and Amphitheatre: Located 16 Km out of Denver city lies a natural red rock amphitheatre that hosts numerous shows and concerts. If you have the time, we would highly recommend paying this unique venue a visit.
- Eats: I'm sure Denver has a lot of delish eat outs, but one place that stood out for me was Biju's curry house. To describe this place, it's like an Indian Chipotle, where you get to customize your meal based on the specials of the day. The laid back feel, funny signboards, and yummy food that favored our Indian palette made this a great pit stop during our trip.
Check out some fun and colorful clicks from Denver city below:)
Hope you are soaking in the beautiful summer sun!
And work those travelling toes will you?
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