2010 September – Colorado Trip

Day 1 – Denver

We had flown from San Antonio to Denver, a flight of about 3 hours. For some reason I had a different impression of Denver from last time – perhaps I had come here in another season or another mindset. This time it seemed very city-line as opposed to the image I had in my head with it being surrounded by lush green mountains. Not an ugly sight by any stretch of imagination, but not the Denver I had in my head…

Day 2 – Boulder and Estes Park:

Just 45 minutes North of Denver is the beautiful University town of Boulder. We made that out first stop in that region. The downtown area was a very happening place with all kinds of street performers in colorful outfits matching with the lively fall colors. Our favorite turned out to be the one where this person randomly picked about 20 people from the audience, asked them to recite where they were from, gave the area code of their city pronto and then remembered where each and every person was in terms of their area codes and last 4 digits of their phone numbers. Amazing memory!!!

As we headed to Estes Park from there, we were not sure quite what to expect. The reviews on the internet were mixed. But this was truly one of the highlights of our trip. With no agenda in our heads, we just roamed around the park. Wild Elks are a very common sight here as they wander by so close to the human population (in the fenced area). We even got to witness a ‘fight’ between two grown male elks – not that we had any intention of breaking it up!

The majority of the day was spent driving up and down to both the places but the sights were very well worth it. We were so close to the Rocky Mountain National Forest but it was already getting dark and the roaming around in that National Park could itself be a day.

Day 3 – Colorado Springs:

2 hours south of Denver is another beautiful city, Colorado Springs…. how can Colorado pack so much beauty in one state? Since there was nothing much to do in the city itself and we were running out of time, we drove straight through to the Royal Gorge area. Set alongside the Pike National Forest, it offers some awesome views of the valley and the surroundings. We bought tickets to get into the area, and actually got to walk over the bridge than spans over the valley. They also offer a cable car ride there, which we took to get to the other side of the valley. Way down there was a train that takes you along the bottom of the valley, next to the Colorado River. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to do it but it sure looked awesome from up there. As we walked up around in that area, it was extremely cold and windy!! Do not forget your jackets!
One ur way back from there, just 20 minutes away, we stopped at the ‘Garden of the Gods’. It was donated to the city of the Colorado Springs by Charles Elliott Perkins in fulfillment of his wish that it remain free to the public. The walk around all the red rock formation is not strenuous at all, but extremely pretty! The best time to walk around there is around sunset time as the red rays of the sun enhances the redness and the awesomeness of the area. Very picturesque area .. you can stop anywhere to take pictures in two colors primarily – the red/orange rocks and the evergreen trees against them!
Again, because of lack of time, the one thing that we could not do was the Pike’s Peak Cog railway – apparently the last ride closes at 4 PM in the evening, otherwise it would have been might nice to ride in at train up to the Pike’s Peak – the highest spot in the US where a train can take you!!

Day 4 – Glenwood Springs:

The drive from Denver to Glenwood Springs is only about 3 hours but there are so many places on the way to stop and enjoy the beauty that it took us about 6 hours to get there. As you drive through the White River National Forest, you can enjoy fall in it’s glory. West of Denver is where the true fall beauty lay!

Just 45 minutes before reaching Glenwood Springs on I-70 West is a hiking spot for all hike lovers. Set in the town of Garfield is the “Hanging Lakes” area. I have to say this is one of the most beautiful spots I have been to. The hike is PRETTY strenuous – it takes about 2 hours to get there and it can be pretty steep at spots. But one your get up there, nothing like it! Summer may be a better time to visit this area … the pictures will come out better with the lush greenery.
Even before we stopped at our destination, we took another detour to Aspen, CO – about 45 minutes further south of Glenwood Springs. Primarily a ski resort, the small town has a charm of it’s own. There are several things to do in the area, but in the interest of time, and as it was getting dark, we stuck to walking around in the town itself. The only minor trip we took was to the Twin lakes area to check out the fall colors. Unfortunately, fall had come and gone from there by then but the dry snow capped peaks were still a sight!
Glenwood Springs is famous for it’s hot water springs and natural Saunas. Our whole evening (until 10:30 at night) was spent frolicking in the awesome hot water pools. The water slides are not open in the fall/winters – but their “big” pool (405 x 100 feet wide) contains 1,071,000 gallons of water, and is kept at about 90° F / 32° C and features a diving area and exercise lap lanes. The therapy pool, the “small” pool is 100 feet long and contains 91,000 gallons of water. It is kept at a temperature of about 104° F.

Day 5– Back to Denver:

Before we left Glenwood Springs that afternoon, we decided to try the natural saunas there. These are underground in the rock areas and function just like a regular sauna at the gym. Very therapeutic!!

On the way back to Denver, we stopped at Vail, CO – another ski resort. The town is absolutely gorgeous, our favorite spot on the trip. The beautiful fall colors just added to the beauty. We spent a good 2 hours there doing nothing! Further along, there is the town of Idaho Springs that is famous for its pizza – remember to stop and take a bite there.

5 Favorite things about the trip:

  1. Vail
  2. Glenwood Springs
  3. Royal Gorge
  4. The drive all over the state
  5. Estes Park

Some Don’ts or recommendations:

  • Take a jacket – it can get really cold and windy on the Gorge
  • Fall time is highly recommended but remember that that is also the time that you won’t get to do any skiing there, and some of the regular ‘rides’ (e.g. water-slides in Glenwood Springs) will be closed
  • Reach early for Pike’s Cogs Railway – we missed it because it closed at 3 PM

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