Today, David and I decided to snowshoe Butler’s Gulch. It is located off 40 between Empire and Winter Park. We left at 9am without any ski traffic so it was a nice quick trip, maybe 1-1.5 hours. Many cars were already at the parking location as the area is popular for back country skiing.
We parked on the side of the road and made the short walk to the trailhead. The first three quarters of the trail through the trees was packed snow, so we only needed our microspikes to climb 1,000 feet or so over the 2 miles. We enjoyed pleasant skies until we left the forest. Once we stopped for lunch out in the open the wind picked up.
There were several ski paths from our lunch area. We weren’t sure which to take to get to the old mining equipment. I was already chilled, and knowing that this hike is a “century” hike for wildflowers (meaning there are 100 kinds), I didn’t mind turning around. In fact, for some reason, in the winter I never mind turning around. I think it is because there are only trees and snow to see. Of course, the snow covered view is lovely, but I like all the different wildflower colors better!
So turning back after a nice snowshoe will only incentivize me to return in the summer to complete the trail, as normally I don’t like doing the same trail twice. I look forward to seeing all the wildflowers and the mining equipment in the summer!
After our hike, we stopped in Empire. We’ve driven through the tiny town a dozen times, but have never stopped to investigate the five restaurants and two shops. The atmosphere at Lewis Sweet Shop looked the most eclectic from the outside. It didn’t disappoint. It offered burgers and sweets along with live music. It was fun!
So, since I have lived in Denver and have known about the Parade of Lights, I have wanted to go. The one time I planned on it, it was -9 degrees Fahrenheit. I decided frostbite wasn’t worth it.
This year the weather was magnificent. David and I decided to go downtown early for dinner and then watch the parade. We stumbled upon a Peruvian place on Champa between 15th and 17th where we found a place to park. We were surprised to find a meter, but later we realized we were between the parade route, though it wasn’t a problem.
After dinner, we wandered up to 17th and found a spot right on the corner at 6pm. We lucked out as the street was lined with spectators four people deep and we only had to stand behind one person. I suppose for a better view, getting there before the parade started would be a plus. The start of the parade was about 20 minutes from us. The floats were somewhat spread out which lengthened the parade to about an hour.
Now I can customize key chains with any photo…all you have to do is email me your favorite picture of your family, dog, or perhaps even your business logo.
Fees: Members/Free, Adults/$15, Students and Seniors/$12, Kids (3-15)/$9, Kids under 3/Free
David and I went to the Denver Botanic Gardens to check out the Deborah Butterfield: The Nature of Horses exhibit. We were prepared to pay, but it ended up being a free day at the gardens, so we were pleasantly surprised, especially given that it wasn’t crowded on a gorgeous September afternoon.
We were thoroughly impressed with the horse sculptures which were made of wood, then bronzed, and then painted to look like drift wood. I would have never guessed that the sculptures were bronzed and painted. The horses looked just like they were made of drift wood. They were quite amazing.
The gardens were nice as well. We enjoyed a light snack at the outdoor restaurant and admired a variety of beautiful flowers. What a pleasant Saturday afternoon in Denver! ETB
While the Rockies are last in their division, it is still fun to enjoy one of America’s past-times, a baseball game at Coors Field, especially when ticket prices start at only $4. While the Rockpile perhaps isn’t the most comfortable seating with bleachers, it is generally out of the direct sun, so the weather is quite pleasant.
The stadium is nice with lots of options, and if you are willing to walk 10 blocks or so, the parking is free. Better yet, ride bikes to the stadium and grab a bite to eat at the surrounding restaurants for a fun night out! ETB
PalletFest is Colorado’s first Upcycling Festival. This yearly event took place at Denver Performing Arts Complex’s Sculpture Park the last weekend of August. While VIP tickets are available for $35, the festival may also be entered for FREE which is what I would recommend unless you would like several alcoholic beverages.
Vendors displayed all their products using materials that are sometimes considered trash like bottle caps and pallets. Bands played as festival goers walked on stilts, walked through a pallet maze, played cornhole and connect four with “upcycled products”, hula-hooped and burned initials in pallets.
It was fun to stop by for a few hours to try something new. ETB
The Big Wonderful, located at 26th and Lawrence, is an outdoor market and beer garden in Denver, Colorado. It takes place every Saturday from 12:30 to 7:30 and features a variety of vendors and food trucks along with live music.
I rode my bike to the Big Wonderful and met some friends to peruse the venue. It was a warm day and toward the end of summer, so it wasn’t too crowded. In fact, it would probably be more fun on its opening day, as I don’t believe it runs all winter.
Regardless, we were able to get a snack and a drink and “window shop”. Pampaw offered tastings of their hot sauce which was quite good, and Pickett’s let us taste their ginger beer which can also be used for cooking. We only stayed a few hours as it was a quiet day, but for a $5 donation, it wasn’t a bad place to try something new. ETB
Fees: $20 for week per car, $40 for yearly pass, $80 for all national parks for year (fees changing Oct 1, 2015 Hours: Year Round
The Stanley Hotel Address: 333 Wonderview Avenue, Estes Park, CO 80517 Contact Info: Toll-Free 1-800-976-1377, 970-577-4000, firstname.lastname@example.org Website:http://www.stanleyhotel.com/
Denverites are fortunate to live about 1.5 hours away from the glorious Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park. What makes a road trip to this National Park perfect is to enjoy a little luxury at the Stanley Hotel. David and I enjoyed a few days in the area for his birthday!
I was so excited to finally stay at this iconic hotel, famous for inspiring Stephen King to write The Shining and featured in the hit film Dumb and Dumber. The hotel was built by FO Stanley (of Stanley Steamer) after he and his wife moved to Colorado for his health. The construction began in 1907 and the hotel was complete in 1909 with a hydraulic elevator, running water, and phones.
Admittedly, I was slightly disappointed with our room. It’s small size and no air conditioning didn’t bother me too much, but the mold in shower and on the curtain, the lighting on only one side of the room, and no place to place a makeup bag in the bathroom was little to be desired. Fortunately, we were not spending much time in the room, and the lobby, whisky bar with 800 choices, porch, and views certainly made up for the lacking decor in the bedroom.
We didn’t arrive to Estes Park until Monday afternoon which we spent eating lunch, savoring ice cream and strolling around town before we checked into the hotel. After checking out the grounds, we sat on the patio at Cascades Restaurant and enjoyed a nice dinner before we decided to take the ghost tour, as the Stanley is known for its hauntings, in particular room 217.
The tour took us to the pet cemetery to begin and through a variety of the wedding rooms, the music room and the haunted tunnel. We were encouraged to take pictures in black in white in order to see green orbs and other aboritions. David and I aren’t big ghost hunters, so we found the tour to be slightly hokey, though we did enjoy learning some history about FO Stanley and his hotel. Who knew he created the #2 pencil, though he made most his money changing the photography world. It was also kind of fun to go in places closed to the masses.
Tuesday we decided to tackle a 10 mile hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park. We got a late start and at 9:30 am the Glacier Gorge Trailhead Parking was already full. Park and ride was available, though there was a small parking lot about half a mile down the road, so we turned our ten mile hike into eleven miles. I suppose we were probably fortunate we picked a weekday to visit, as I doubt we would have found parking at this location otherwise.
The trail to Sky Pond was absolutely spectacular. We began following the well groomed path through a small aspen grove as it ascended to Alberta Falls. I think many visitors to the park stop here. We kept going along the well marked track to Loch Vale, a large lake where many tried their luck at fishing.
Our ascent to Loch Vale was gradual as we followed the cascading creek beneath the conifers to open, windy ridge. The dark skies dropped just a few rain drops, but spared us for most of the climb up. Soon we reached another waterfall which one group call a staircase that basically required us to boulder up the wet rocks to Lake of Glass. This lake was beautiful and any tired souls wouldn’t be missing much if they stopped here instead of continuing on to Sky Pond, as the water features were similar.
We kept going. We followed a rock path through grassy terrain, stepped across a small patch of snow and enjoyed watching the countless marmots. Some ate with no fear of visitors while others scampered into their holes. With a strong wind circling around the pond, we took cover behind some rocks for lunch, but didn’t stay too long as the skies looked ominous, and we could hear rolling thunder in the distance.
Just about as soon as we descended a light drizzle fell…enough for a raincoat, but not enough to make life rough or anything. Upon reaching a lower elevation, it stopped and we continued the rest of the way down the peaceful path. I actually expected to share the trail with more people, so the few we encountered wasn’t too bad. It is always slightly entertaining to see the hodge podge of hikers in the National Parks.
We worked up an appetite for Twin Owls Steakhouse. The pecan pie was delicious, but I had hoped David’s birthday dinner would have been as good as mine. All of it was reasonable and the service was great, but I wouldn’t say it was out of this world or anything.
Wednesday found us dragging a bit. I think we had gotten enough hiking in over the last few weeks, so we spent a leisurely morning on the porch at the Stanley drinking our coffee. We opted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park again, though this time we just took a drive across Trail Ridge Road to Lake Granby. I’ve driven this road in the past. The views and the elk never disappoint!!
Our final stop before returning to Denver was at the Holzworth Historic Site. We managed to stroll the half mile down the dirt road to find old farming equipment, wash basins, and log cabins. The ranch was established in the early 1900’s and guests used to come to fish. It was lovely and a nice way to cap off a fun birthday jaunt. ETB
What a great spring day in Denver. Being a non-skier, I’ve been enjoying this unseasonably warm weather, though I suppose there are others who wish it would snow. We took advantage of this 70 degree March day to bike ride to Golden.
I’ve only completed this ride once along the road from REI. This time we met across from Linger as one of our friends lived nearby. Once we all congregated, Brian and Erin on their tandem led the way. They cycle frequently, so they know several trails.
This time we took the Clear Creek Trail to Golden as opposed to the 26th and 32nd. Due to some damage to the trail, we took Tennyson north to the trail in order to skip the problematic area. Little did we know a Cesar Chavez parade would be going down Tennyson when we started our ride!
Once on the trail, we followed the creek while stopping occasionally to fix Moria’s bike. I think she is all set for next time. We crossed a few bridges, rode through several hatches, climbed a few hills and skipped a few others when we jumped off the trail and took 32nd into town. Originally, we planned to tour the Coors Brewery, but most of us were hungry so we stopped at Bob’s Atomic Burger. In order to deliver our orders, they call out names they gave us like Yogi Bear and Farrah Fawcett. We got the last table on the patio outside and savored some tasty burgers and sweet potato fries.
Mario met us at the burger joint to pick up Moria and Michelle. The rest of us decided to skip the Coors Brewery Tour. Everyone had done it except for me. I didn’t realize there would be a 20 minute line or so just to be shuttled to the brewery, so I’ll plan another ride out to Golden some other time.
After lunch, we followed the roads home. This way is almost all downhill, and we easily reached speeds of 35 mph. Brian, Erin, and Harlow stopped at Hogshead Brewery on our way back into town. I carried on for the next two miles back to the car so I could make it to my niece’s soccer game.
The round-trip on the road from REI is about 30 miles. We added about four extra by traveling north to the trail. It doesn’t feel like a hard ride as the uphill is mostly gradual and stopping for lunch breaks up the length of time on the bike. What a great day to be outside with great company. ETB
Fees: Adults-$12, Seniors and Students-$10, Child (6-12)-$8, Child (5 and under)-Free Hours: Open daily from 10am-5pm
Today Tanya, Diana and I visited the History Colorado Center. It was a bit different than I expected, but fun none-the-less. We arrived around 11:30 and there were several school field trip groups congregated on the floor map at the first floor entry. The map included brass discs in different parts of Colorado. Visitors may roll a time machine over each disc, pull a lever to select a year, and find out what happened at that time in history in a particular place in Colorado.
We decided to wait on the time machine activity just because the lobby area was busy. Instead we climbed to the fourth floor to see the traveling exhibits. One room featured the Chicano Movement in Colorado. Chicano lettuce workers protested for more pay.
The other room featured events that took place in 1968. There sure was a lot going on in 1968…Martin Luther King, Vietnam, Chicano Protests, 911 started, Women’s rights movement…just to name a few. It was fun to see old clothes, tv’s, and lunch boxes similar to what we once owned. I think our favorite thing was the voting machine. How archaic it appeared!
After lunch at the cafe which was reasonably good for a museum, we visited the second floor. The third floor was meeting rooms. I really enjoyed the mining exhibit. The staples of the museum were extremely interactive for children, so in the mining section, kids could place plastic dynamite sticks in the wall, press a pump, and see if they blew themselves up or found a silver vein!
Denver from A-Z was a fun exhibit too which helped visitors learn about different things special to Denver. It was a nice half-day inside while the weather switched between snow and rain. ETB
Silver Dollar Lake Location: Approximately 10 miles South of Georgetown on Guanella Pass Road Round-trip: 3.2 miles Elevation: 10,512-12,145 Fees: None
Well, I’m 0-2 in trying to reach alpine lakes in the winter time, but for some reason it doesn’t bother me when I have to turn around and not make my final destination in the snow.
We drove to Georgetown and up Guanella Pass road to the parking lot for Silver Dollar Lakes Trailhead. We were fortunate to snag the last parking spot at 10:30am.
We started out on the snow packed trail that we followed through the green forest. We gradually climbed the path until we reached a fork. We guess left and few steps later we found a trail sign poking through the heavy base of snow. It pointed to the left so we continued through a few trees to an open area with three paths leading to the right. Should we take the lower, middle, or upper path?
We started climbing steeply and upon looking down, we thought maybe the middle path was the best to take. We found ourselves sliding quite a bit so we turned back to the high path again. We followed it to a rock outcropping where the snow had melted. After enjoying the view of Naylor Lake we scanned the area for the best path to take.
We could only find one path where a snowshoer had broken trail. We followed it for a while until we began post-holing. We knew it would only be worse in the afternoon sun upon our return, so we backtracked to the rock outcropping for lunch.
After brief stop, we followed the trail to the fork where we decided to go right this time since there were several tracks. We figured we may as well explore since we didn’t make it to the lake and had some extra time. It didn’t take long before we were post-holing above our knees, so we finally accepted defeat and returned to the car.
The good news is we were outside on a crystal clear sixty degree day enjoying the beauty of the mountains. It was a fantastic day with Dan and Bryan. ETB