Some of my friends from school live scattered across the United States. We make an effort to meet up for at least one long weekend a year, and we usually pick a new place to travel to.
Here’s a trip we took to Colorado in 2013. We flew into Denver and rented cars there to driver around. If there was one word to describe Colorado, it would be, BREATHTAKING!
The scenery is beyond gorgeous, you can just drive around for hours on the long, winding roads, taking in the snow-capped peaks, breathing the clean mountain air.
Insider tip: Directions in CO are given as towards the mountains and away from the mountains.
Thursday: Some of my friends flew in on Thursday, and drove to the Sand Dunes the same night (~4 hour drive). This depends on the kind of experience you prefer, you could alternatively hang out at Denver. It is a fun city, tons of pubs, restaurants, events and places to hang out.
Friday: Morning: My friends did ATV biking at the Sand Dunes, the pics looked super fun, and they all had a grand time!!
Afternoon/Evening: Everyone drove from the Sand Dunes to a hotel to stay at, near Pike’s Peak. (~4 hour drive again). Me and S flew in on Friday evening, and joined the rest of the gang at the hotel.
Saturday: This was going to be a long day of sightseeing and travelling, so we had planned to head out early
Morning: We started the morning early with the Cog Railway to Pikes Peak. This historical winding cog railroad takes you on a guided tour to the top of Pikes Peak. We also got to spot some deer on the way 🙂 The mechanics and history of this railroad is fascinating!
The view from the top is brilliant, sweeping hilltop of the gorgeous scenery all around. There is a small souvenir shop and cafe on the top too.
It is also freezing cold at all times, don’t forget your warm clothes 🙂
Cog railway is a fun learning experience, but if you’re pressed for time, you could alternatively drive up, spending a bit more time on top, and driving back..
Afternoon: Next stop was the Royal Gorge, the highest suspension bridge in the US of A! I can easily say that this is one of the most spectacular bridges I have ever seen! We walked on the bridge to get to the other side, marveling this beautiful piece of engineering on our way. If you look down, you can see tiny specks of people river rafting in the Colorado River wayyyyy below.
The amusement park has quite a bit of activities for the old and young ones alike.
We did the Royal Rush SkyCoaster, a free fall swing at the edge of the gorge. It was a thrilling and unique experience, the initial free fall is SUPER scary! After that, we just enjoyed the swing and took in the amazing bird’s eye view from the top! Gorgeous views all around if you’re into photography.
If time permits, try doing the river rafting, it is supposed to be one of the best places for it.
We then drove to Glenwood Springs, that was our starting point for the next day.
Sunday: Sunday morning began with a hike at the Hanging Lake. Not a long hike, although it is uphill, which might be tough for some. The reward for finishing this strenuous hike is totally worth it! A clear picturesque lake, with water the color of emeralds, nestled between the mountains, so pristine that it’s a sight I can never forget 🙂
Be sure to carry lots of water for this one!
Afternoon/Evening: After the hike, we headed to Aspen and checked into the hotel. It was a pretty one, set right beneath the mountains. We relaxed for some time and hit the hot tub. It had a SUPERB view of pretty snow-capped peaks of the mountains.
We went biking here along a beautiful path with the streams on one side and the mountains on the other. You have the option of dropping your bikes at the turnaround point and take a cab back, or ride your bikes back. The roundtrip is about 13 miles. There’s a little cafe at the turnaround point that serves local beer. We stopped over for a drink and rode our bikes back. We then had a nice dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, and it was the end of another day well spent 🙂
We were told that Maroon Bells is a must visit that we missed out on.
Monday: This was our day to head to back Denver, as we were a solid 4 hours away, keeping in mind the long weekend traffic, different flight times etc.. Since we were in Aspen, we drove through the Independence Pass.
it is absolutely stunning, like most places in CO. 🙂
I realize that I’ve written gorgeous, stunning, beautiful, etc. probably about a million times in this post, but there are simply no words to describe this place! The mountains, the roads, the crisp air, and reunited with old friends after a long time, all of this lead to a truly unforgettable experience 🙂 I’d definitely like to go back someday, visit the Rocky mountains and the few other spots we missed out on.
This is one of the places to visit where you cannot go wrong, you will be surrounded by beauty wherever you look!
PS: Big shout out to MV for his superb itinerary and planning tips for this trip!