I’ve been unpacked for a couple of weeks, but I’m still thinking about Colorado.
For my 40th birthday in May, Greg planned a trip for us to go to Colorado. We postponed the original June plan a couple of months because the beginning of summer was hard for me. But we flew out three days exactly after I turned 40 on what was also our 17th anniversary to see some friends and some mountains. I’m grateful for the way Greg knows me and knew I needed this trip at this time.
While I love planning trips, part of the joy of this gift is Greg mapped out our route and planned the general itinerary. We sat down together one night to book flights, hotels, and some activities for our four days in Colorado. I’d never been and was happy to go this way!
Monument / Colorado Springs
After breakfast at Snooze in Denver, we headed to Monument, just north of Colorado Springs, where my high school friend Dustin & Shelley (well, Dustin and I have been friends since middle school …) live. They fed us at a delicious, local Mexican restaurant called La Casa Fiesta, where I learned about calabacitas, before giving us a tour of Garden of the Gods.
Greg drove up to the summit at Pikes Peak, which is 14,115 feet high. The drive between mile markers 13 and 16 was particularly tense, but we parked at the last shuttle lot at mile marker 16 and took a shuttle to the top, where there was construction happening for a new visitors center. Even so, the views were amazing. We were at the top around noon and it was 50 degrees, compared to 80 degrees at the same time in Colorado Springs.
The drive from Pikes Peak to Breckenridge might have been my favorite stretch of highway. The meadows and little towns between the mountains were lovely. I kept taking pictures of this drive (and all the others) and the images just don’t do the reality justice.
We stayed at the River Mountain Lodge in downtown Breckenridge and really loved the hotel. The location was perfect and the room was spacious yet cozy. We didn’t get to explore downtown Breck as much as we had hoped because it was raining by the time we got there. We did eat a delicious meal at Blue River Bistro.
The next morning we had breakfast at Columbine Cafe and then rode the gondola up a mountain to where there were summer activities on what would otherwise be a ski slope. We took a chairlift up farther and an alpine slide down.
We didn’t get much time in Breckenridge because we had an early afternoon whitewater rafting reservation with Colorado Adventure Center in Idaho Springs. We did the beginner trip and really enjoyed the trip in the creek that’s fed by snow runoff and was still 38 degrees.
After rafting, we headed toward Estes Park, mostly on the Peak to Peak Highway, which was a gorgeous drive through and around and up and down mountains. We got there in time for dinner at The Grubsteak and dessert on the strip of downtown shops. Greg had ice cream in a homemade chocolate chip cone from the Danish Cone Factory and I had the best taffy I’ve ever tasted from Purple Mountain Taffy.
We stayed at a quaint hotel called Nicky’s Resort at which I wish we’d had more time to eat and relax. In the morning, we ate cinnamon rolls at a Cinnamon’s Bakery and then headed into Rocky National Park. Greg drove us along Trail Ridge Road, which is the highest continuously paved road. The highest point of this road that meanders right through mountain tundra is 12,183 feet. Once again, the temperatures on top of the mountain were about 30 degrees colder and prompted us to put on sweatshirts.
We spent some more time walking around downtown Estes Park. We lunched at Bob and Tony’s Pizza before I discovered Cliffhanger Used Books, where I could have spent even more time than I did. We drove around Estes Park taking in some more lovely views before we headed back to Denver, where we visited with our college friend Sarah before heading to the airport to fly home.
The road trip really worked for us, giving us time to take in views, listen to music, and talk about whatever came to mind. I really loved Colorado and already hope to take my kids back someday, perhaps even spending more time in each location.
I’m a details person, but the great big mountains and views of all these different places in just four days were good for my soul. I felt like I could breathe easier (figuratively, hello, altitude) and remember my place in this great big world while enjoying the adventure with my husband.