Hanging Lake

20170619_184836-01_resizedWe have been in Colorado since 2010 and we had never hiked Hanging Lake until just recently.  We decided that we should probably hike the iconic and quintessential trail sooner rather than later because recent reports of vandalism to the trail had sparked conversations about possibly closing the trail.  (FYI, today is June 21, 2017 and I have read and heard the trail will probably implement a permit system instead of closing down).

20170529_163400-01_resizedCurrently, there is no fee to hike the trail.  The exit to the rest area which will lead you to the trail head is well marked off of I-70.  Keep in mind that this is a VERY popular trail, especially in the summertime and the parking lot gets full very quickly.  Keep this in mind while planning your trip.  Please keep in mind that the park staff works very hard to make sure that the flow of traffic and the parking spots are monitored.  Please don’t get angry with park staff because of parking or traffic, plan wisely to avoid frustration.  Another tip, hike on a weekday if you can and arrive early or later in the afternoon when the crowds have cleared.

20170529_163850-01_resizedThis hike is absolutely beautiful.  The lake is stunning and majestic.  When you make it to the top and round the bend and your eyes first catch a glimpse of the infamous lake, you immediately forget the strenuous hike and realize the best views do require some hard work.  “Hanging Lake is a rare example of a lake formed by travertine deposition where the natural geologic and hydrologic processes continue to operate as they have done for thousands of years. The site is also noteworthy for its thriving hanging garden plant community.” – See more at: http://www.visitglenwood.com/things-to-do/hanging-lake#sthash.CX2kv7QD.dpuf

After hiking the trail twice, reading the multitude of signs posted around the rest area and trail, talking with visitors, and observation I decided to compile a list of helpful tips.

  1.  Unfortunately, you can’t drive to the lake.  You have to park and hike up to it.
  2. Proper footwear is a must for this hike.  This hike is steep and rocky, and the rocks can be very slick.  I do not recommend this hike in flip flops, dressy sandals, etc…
  3. In my opinion, this hike is a steep climb.  Be aware of this before you embark on the hike, if you are with someone with health issues, this may not be the hike for them.  I personally would rate the hike as strenuous.
  4. Hydrate.  Bring H2O.  Don’t let the small mileage fool you, especially in the summer and especially if you aren’t used to the elevation.
  5. Take your time going up.  In my mind, hiking is similar to yoga, everyone goes at a pace that is personally comfortable.  The hike is beautiful all the way to the top.  Stop, catch your breath, and enjoy the scenery.  (There are places to sit along the hike).
  6. Parking is very limited at the trail head/rest area.  Expect crowds, especially during the summer.  Plan ahead, start early or go a little later in the afternoon.
  7. If you show up at the trail head at 7:45 pm in the summer, keep in mind that the chances of coming back down the trail in the dark is highly likely.  Plan accordingly.
  8. Leave no trace.  Pack out what you brought in.  There are no trash cans along the trail or at the top by the lake.
  9. Please respect all of the signs and barriers.  There are signs everywhere letting visitors know what to expect and the rules of the trail.
  10. This is not a dog friendly hike.  Pups will have to stay at home for this hike.

Enjoy your hike and visit to the Glenwood Springs area.  If you hike or have hiked to Hanging Lake, please share your comments, I would love to hear about your adventure.

For more information on Hanging Lake and visiting Glenwood Springs, please visit http://www.visitglenwood.com/things-to-do/hanging-lake

 

 

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Summer Activities in Colorado

It is summertime in Colorado!  A beautiful season to explore Colorado’s endless bounty.  There are a plethora of activities to keep you busy for many weekends.  We have now lived here for almost 4 years and I have to say the pressure can be somewhat insurmountable to get out and go every weekend!  With that being said we try to be very strategic with our weekend planning.  The following recommendations are what we have actually experienced.  With that being said, make the most of your weekend and see some fabulous sites and take some breath takings pictures.  Have fun!  (By the way, the recommendations are in no particular order).

1.  Manitou Incline—So, I saw this glorious incline on Instagram.  I told my husband we must experience this immediately!  Well, we did and it was quite the up hill battle no pun intended.  Very strenuous.  However, worth every ounce of sweat and strain.  The views from the top are phenomenal.  According to http://www.manitouincline.com/

The Manitou Incline was built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak. After the pipelines were finished, it was turned into a tourist attraction.

After a rock slide damaged a section of track in 1990, the Manitou Incline was closed down and the rails removed. Some locals started hiking up the remaining ties for a tough workout even though it was illegal because of crossing private property. As of February 1st, 2013, it is legal to hike.

This is what Manitou Incline looked like before:

Photo_of_a_Manitou_Incline_Railway_box_car,_1908This is what Manitou Incline looks like now:

20130602_173826This incline is only 1 mile BUT climbs 2,00o vertical feet.  Please refer to http://www.manitouincline.com/ before setting out to hike Manitou Incline.

2.  Any Alpine Slide or Gondola.  We are on a mission to ride as many gondolas and alpine slides at the ski resorts this summer.  During the summer the resorts reopen and offer summer activities.  A few of the activities that we like to partake in are the alpine slide and riding the gondolas.  Why?  The views at the top of both of these attractions are unbelievable.  The alpine slide and gondola in Winter Park and Breckenridge are fantastic.  We did ride the gondola in Vail as well as Glenwood Springs (https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/glenwood-springs-gondola-7/).  Another plus, a lot of the gondolas are dog friendly.20130616_16165120130616_17254920130817_16292020130817_1355433.  Independence Pass.  This is a must….period.  One of the most spectacular drives in Colorado.  Words can’t always express the abundance of beauty that you will experience on this drive.  We took 70 to the Copper Mountain exit and followed signage.  We looped around into Aspen and I must say that this drive alone could easily sum up why we absolutely love living in Colorado.  Just remember to bring a coat and to fill up the gas tank before committing to the pass.  There are not a lot of gas stations along the way.  Also, bring a camera…any camera, but you must take pictures!  http://www.independencepass.org/20130630_17011120130630_16551920130630_164753I will try and post some more summer activities but in the meantime you can find me on Instagram under @lovelivingincolorado or Twitter @lovelivinginco.  I update these accounts regularly.  Happy summer!

Estes Park Recommendations

20140824_153730I recently asked our friend Erika to fill us in on all things Estes Park.  I looked to her for Estes Park recommendations because she grew up in Estes Park.  I therefore consider her an Estes Park authority!  She did not disappoint.  She sent me a wonderful list of Estes Park recommendations and I thought I would share the wealth (thank you Erika!).  Estes Park, Colorado is considered the “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.”

  1. Aerial Tramway (literally a red box that goes up and down Prospect Mountain).  At the top there are amazing views and hungry chipmunks (they sell peanuts at the top which you can feed them). There’s picnic tables and rock croppings to explore so it’s a great place for a snack and to take in some nature.   http://www.estestram.com/
  2. The View Restaurant at Crag’s Lodge.  It was built in 1914 and maintains its mountainous charm, and yes, the chairs are handmade from when the hotel was built.  Make a reservation for one of the balcony tables.  The views are absolutely stunning and you are basically eating in the trees.  The walnut crusted trout, brie chicken, and steaks are amazing. And who doesn’t love warm brie with berry couli as an appetizer with some wine or beer?  Also, they have live music some nights.  http://www.cragslodge.com/gallery.html
  3. Mary’s Lake Lodge.  This hotel/restaurant/venue is rustic and charming and is open late.  Which is hard to find in Estes.  They usually have live music and a popular bar/grill.  This is a wonderful late night spot with fun people in what seems like the middle of the wilderness.  Definitely worth checking out.  http://www.maryslakelodge.com/dining.htm
  4. Downtown strip (Elkhorn Ave) Now, if you want to do something fun go take an old time photo at one of the shops downtown.  It’s a blast and 100 percent worth the keepsake if you haven’t done it before.  There is a plethora of shops to wonder around and check out.  I always love getting a caramel apple at the ice cream/fudge shops. There’s also a glassblowing place that is fun to check out on the far west side of the downtown strip.  Also, check out the Stanley Hotel.  (the hotel in which Stephen King based his book “the Shining“) http://www.stanleyhotel.com/
  5. If you feel like succumbing to your inner child definitely buy a $1.00 ticket to slide down the Rainbow slides at Fun City.  Down the road a bit there is “Tiny Town Mini Golf” and it is by far the best mini golf course you will ever play.  http://www.funcityofestes.com/
  6. Definitely stop by the Estes Park Brewery and do some beer tasting. http://www.epbrewery.com/
  7. Also in town it’s worth going to the Marina and renting a boat for an hour or two. Delightful!  Or rent a few bikes and take an easy ride around Lake Estes, the entire loop will actually take you behind the dam and you can see the water being held and being released from the dam to the Big Thompson River.  The dog park is right off Lake Estes and you can let your dog go swimming and socialize with the other pups.  http://evrpd.com/marina/marina-info
  8. Other places to eat I would recommend would be “Nepal’s Cafe“, (on backside of downtown strip) they have the best lunch buffet with Naan, noodles, curry, potatoes, Masala, and Chai tea!
  9. Sweet Basilico, this is a little Italian restaurant that has an amazing dinner salad, pizza, and pasta for a very reasonable price.  Tasty! (located by Fun City and the Tramway)
  10. If BBQ is what you’re looking for Dave’s BBQ has some delicious pulled pork and burgers. (by Tiny Town Mini Golf)
  11. If it’s a steakhouse you are looking for, Hunter’s Steakhouse is right by the Marina and has great game.
  12. Also, the best breakfast place is “The Sundeck” which is near Mini Golf.  Their Chorizo, french toast, and strawberries and cream are delicious!
  13. As for the National Park you definitely want to check out, Sprague Lake, Bear Lake, Alberta Falls, and the Alluvial Fan.  All are not challenging hikes and are gorgeous.  Also, you definitely want to drive up Trail Ridge Road.  It’s an exhilarating, scenic drive with many pull offs along the way for photos and a gift shop at the top.  Bring a jacket! Even in the summer it can get chilly.  You can look these up on any RMNP map.
  14. If you want an easy hike off the beaten path check out Lily Lake and St. Malo’s Church (they are not in the same place). http://www.scenicusa.net/090210.html. Both are on the same road passing Mary’s Lake Lodge.  If you go to Lily Lake there is a wonderful picnic location.  http://www.rmnp.com/RMNP-Areas-LilyLake.HTML (on this map there is a trail on the south side of the lake that bubbles out, take this trail instead of the one that runs right along the lake and you will find a picnic table tucked in the woods that’s quiet and peaceful)
  15. There are many hotels that are dog friendly and that have private hot tubs.  Many of which are on Fall River Road.

Guess what we will be doing when the weather warms up–yes, finally taking a trip to discover, explore, and relish in the beauty of Estes Park, “Gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.”  Thank you so much Erika for the AWESOME recommendations!!

Royal Gorge Bridge and Park in Canon City

Back in March I posted about a Colorado “to do” list–https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/colorado-to-do-list/

The first place that I mentioned on my list was the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park in Canon City.  We finally made it to the gorgeous, awe-inspiring, breathtaking suspension bridge.  The Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the world’s highest suspension bridges.  It hangs 956 feet above the canyon and spans a quarter mile across the canyon.

Important facts that intrigue me about the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park:

The Gorge was created some three million years ago when a trickle of water first began to slowly carve a canyon out of the solid granite bedrock. Today that trickle is the raging Arkansas, one of America’s longest rivers. And the masterpiece that it continues to carve at a rate of one foot every 2,500 years is the Royal Gorge in Cañon City, Colorado. The Royal Gorge is considered a world wonder, and is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River. Yet it’s unlike any other canyon. The width at the canyon bottom is no more than 40 to 50 feet, while the top measures only a few hundred feet wide.

The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park is unlike any destination you’ll ever experience. A journey of epic proportions with more than 360 acres and 21 rides, shows and attractions to explore.You can walk across the bridge and drive.  We did both.  It was a little unnerving.  But we did it!  There was a slight separation between some of the wooden planks.  The picture below shows what you can see between the slight separation of the planks.  I thought this sign was funny.  What kind of fishing pole would you have to own to reach the water below?Flags from all 50 states line the bridge.  Of course, I took a picture of the Colorado flag.  I highly (no pun intended) recommend a trip to the Royal Gorge and Park in Canon City.  The park is a great place to relish in the beautiful Colorado landscape.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

When we went up to Pikes Peak we decided to drive.  The cost to ride the Cog Railway is $35.00 per person.  I didn’t really budget for that expense.  Riding on the railway is on our “to do” list-https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/colorado-to-do-list/ but it will have to wait for now.  So, I lived vicariously through the folks that did ride the railway to the top of Pikes Peak.  I was able to take some great photos of the railway.  One of the conductors (not sure if this is the correct term for the driver of the Cog Railway) allowed me inside the Cog Railway to get some stellar pictures.  If these pictures entice you to take the Cog Railway up to Pikes Peak then I did my job!:)  For more information about riding the Cog Railway please visit the following websites:

General information:  http://cograilway.com/

Rates, times, coupons:  http://cograilway.com/ratestimes.htm

History:  http://cograilway.com/history.htm

A view of the tracks.The front of the railway.  The views in the distance are priceless. A look inside the railway.  Very clean and tidy.  A million dollar view from the window.Round trip on the railway is 3 hours and 10 minutes.  At the top of the peak they give you a chance to look at the views, shop at the highest gift shop in America, use the restroom, and grab a bite to eat.  They let you know it is time to board and leave the peak by letting off a really loud whistle type noise.  For more information on the railway route please visit–http://cograilway.com/alongroute.htm

How did I do?  Did this post entice you to travel the Cog Railway?  If so, “All Aboard!”  Have a good weekend!

Colorado’s Fourteeners

When we moved to Colorado we knew Colorado was home to the Rocky Mountains.  However, we didn’t realize that Colorado is home to over 50 cloud scrapers or peaks that are above 14,000 feet.  This website (http://www.14ers.com/) gives a lot of information about the 14ers.

Mt. Elbert is the highest mountain in Colorado at 14,433 feet.

Sunshine Peak has the lowest elevation of the 14ers at 14,001 feet.

Pikes Peak has an elevation of 14,110 feet.  Pikes Peak serves as a glorious backdrop for the Garden of the Gods.

Hiking the 14ers is very popular in Colorado.  There are lots of websites that help prepare you for the climb.  Before hiking one of the 14ers it is best to do your homework (http://www.14ers.com/safety.php).  The elevation of the 14ers is no joking matter and it is better to be prepared.

Does anyone know exactly how many 14ers are in Colorado?  I know it sounds strange to ask this but as I was gathering information for this post I read varying numbers.

Can someone please help clear up my confusion?

Colorado’s National Monuments

There are 5 National Monuments in Colorado

(if I am missing any please let me know)

1.  Colorado National Monument in Fruita, Colorado

The website states:  Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles.

(http://www.nps.gov/colm/index.htm)

Monument Canyon  Photo credit:  Sally Bellacqua

Dinosaur National Monument in Dinosaur, Colorado

As the website states:  Dinosaurs once roamed here. Their fantastic remains are still visible embedded in the rocks. Today, the mountains, desert and untamed rivers flowing in deep canyons, support an array of life. Petroglyphs hint at earlier cultures. Later, homesteaders and outlaws found refuge here. Whether your passion is science, adventure, history or scenery, Dinosaur offers much to explore.

(http://www.nps.gov/dino/index.htm)

Steamboat Rock  Photo credit:  NPS

3.  Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in Florissant, Colorado

As the website states:  Beneath a grassy mountain valley in central Colorado lies one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world. Petrified redwood stumps up to 14 feet wide and thousands of detailed fossils of insects and plants reveal the story of a very different, prehistoric Colorado.

(http://www.nps.gov/flfo/index.htm)

Above the Big Stump  Photo credit:  Cliff and Jean Dickey

4.  Hovenweep National Monument in Cortez, Colorado

As the website states:  Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. The construction and attention to detail will leave you marveling at the skill and motivation of the builders.

(http://www.nps.gov/hove/index.htm)

Hovenweep Castle  Photo credit:  Neal Herbert

5.  Yucca House National Monument in Mesa Verde, Colorado

As the website states:  Through a continuing tradition of public and private cooperation, Yucca House National Monument preserves one of the largest archeological sites in SW Colorado. The unexcavated nature of the site preserves its integrity and beauty for future generations of scientists and visitors. Experience a sense of discovery by visiting a site that has remained largely untouched for the past 800 years!

(http://www.nps.gov/yuho/index.htm)

Have you ever visited a National Monument?  We visited Craters of the Moon National Monument in Arco, Idaho and it was absolutely amazing.  They say it is the closet experience you will have to walking on the moon.