My first visit to Colorado was full of sand, sore legs, and beautiful scenery. The trip was an opportunity for Mike to take pictures and a chance for me to figure out where I’d like to live in the near future. Our agenda was jam-packed and started the moment we got off the plane.
We arrived in Denver early on Tuesday morning. After grabbing our bags and picking up the rental car, we made our way to the first destination the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Even though the drive was four hours long, I had plenty of scenery to me occupied.
We stayed at the Great Sand Dunes Lodge for the night, mostly because of how close it was to the dunes and because it was the only hotel in the area. The place was small and quiet, but had the basic amenities. That and we had a perfect view of the sand dunes from our back porch.
Getting to the top of the dunes was far more challenging than I had anticipated. It was like walking up a slippery escalator going in the wrong direction. Running sort of helped, but it was pointless the higher you tried to climb. Even Mike, who is far more fit than I am, had some difficulty. To top that all off, we found out there was an even taller sand dune hiding behind the one we had just killed ourselves to climb. So that sucked.
Luckily, there were other dunes that were much easier to hike.
We spent the next day along the Ohio Creek scenic route. We were supposed to take Kebler Pass from Crested Butte, but the road was closed due to construction. So we turned back around and headed back toward Gunnison.
The change of plans actually worked out in our favor, because we ran into a herd of cows AND a rancher.
When we thought the cows had moo-ved on we stopped along County Road 730 and ran into some stragglers from the herd.
Before heading to our second hotel in Castle Rock, we made several stops along County Road 12 until finally reaching Garden of the Gods.
The next day consisted of stops in Black Hawk, Ward, and Estes Park before arriving in the Rockies. Not a disappointing view in sight.
For lunch, we snagged a picnic table at Sprague Lake. Definitely a family friendly area. The loop around the lake was manageable for most people, but also had places to sit and take in the view. At just a mile long, it was a nice walk.
It got colder as we drove up to the Bear Lake Trailhead.
The area was definitely a tourist favorite. Even though the parking lot was full, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by a swarm of people. The hiking paths were also large enough for people pass without accidentally knocking someone off a cliff.
On our last day in Colorado, we visited Boulder. We walked around the Pearl St Mall and made a quick (and somewhat regrettable) stop at the Two Ponds Wildlife Refuge. Pearl Street was really cool and had great restaurants and shopping. It was also very dog friendly, which is always a plus in my book. The refuge, on the other hand, was pretty disappointing. I think we’ll try the Wild Animal Sanctuary next time.
Since the refuge was a bust, we decided to check out the Castle Rock Outlets for redemption. Yet another magical shopping experience.
In just four days, we were able to get a good idea of what Colorado has to offer. Between the national parks and dog population, it might be the perfect place to live.