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!

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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!!

Breckenridge, Colorado

 

My husband surprised me on my birthday with a trip to beautiful Breckenridge, Colorado.  We had never been to Breckenridge and to be totally honest, I wasn’t 100% sure where Breckenridge was located.  We have some very generous and caring friends that let us stay at their condo for the weekend.  We stayed two nights in lovely Breckenridge and even though there are 101 things to do in Breckenridge we did a whole lot of nothing and it was absolutely wonderful.  We ate, walked around Breckenridge, took our dog to the dog park, took our Christmas picture, took naps, and drank some wine.  I managed to take some pictures while we were in Breckenridge.  I can’t wait to go back and enjoy all of Breckenridge‘s splendid glory!  Thank you G.P., S.M., and B.L.P. for our amazing weekend.When we pulled up to the condo on Friday this fox was sitting below the balcony.  I put my longer lens on my camera to get a clear picture of the fox.  It didn’t even flinch when I was taking its picture.  It is almost as if the fox is greeting us.  Welcome to Breckenridge!  Enjoy your stay.This is the view walking into town.  Majestic beauty!This picture gives a nice view of the mountain range.This coffee shop is wonderful.  We got coffee here on Saturday and Sunday morning.A boulder in the Blue River with an intriguing past.The sky was so beautiful and blue and the Colorado flag was flowing perfectly in the wind.Breckenridge is a glorious town.  I forgot to mention that we did stop by the Breckenridge Distillery Tasting Room .  It is located at 137 Main Street in downtown Breckenridge.  We tried complimentary tastings of Bourbon Whiskey and Vodka.  It was so good we ended up buying a bottle of Breckenridge Vodka.

Happy Traveling!

Did you know that in 1898 “The Big Snow” comes to Breckenridge? Snow falls everyday from November through February, forcing residents to dig tunnels to travel through town and stopping all trains from visiting Breckenridge for months.

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.

Manitou Cliff Dwellings in Colorado

http://www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com/

It was another H.O.T day in Denver and we decided to head to Pikes Peak to get some relief from the mid 90’s temperatures.  Please keep in mind we don’t have central air conditioning so the little house we live in can get pretty toasty.  We got sidetracked on our way to Pikes Peak.  I saw the sign for the Manitou Cliff Dwellings off of Highway 24 and we decided to make a detour.  I am glad we did!  We haven’t been able to make it to Mesa Verde National Park to see cliff dwellings so Manitou Cliff Dwellings will have to suffice for now (and it did!).

This Old Hopi Proverb greets visitors as they enter the cliff dwellings.There is a fee to enter the cliff dwellings.  We paid $9.50 plus tax for two adults.  The fees for 2012 can be found here–http://www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com/plan-your-visit/faq

I really enjoyed our visit to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings.  They encourage you to explore the dwellings, room by room, using the self-guided tour.  Each room/dwelling had a very detailed description of how the specific space was used.This is a sacred Kiva used by the tribal men as a ceremonial chamber.

When you visit the Manitou Cliff Dwellings you enter into the world of the Anasazi also known as the Ancient Ones or the Ancestral Puebloans.  The people of this advanced culture existed in the Four Corners area from 1100 A.D. to 1300 A.D.

While visiting the Manitou Cliff Dwellings don’t forget to visit the Pueblo, museum, and the gift shop.  The view from the Manitou Cliff Dwellings is beautiful.  The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are a short drive from Denver.  The Manitou Cliff Dwellings are one of the most accessible examples of cliff dwellings architecture anywhere.Plan your next adventure by visiting–http://www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com/

Mt. Evans, Scenic Drive in Colorado

It was another hot day in  Denver, Colorado on July 14, 2012.  The temperature gauge in our car registered temperatures ranging from 98 degrees to 101 degrees.  We decided that a hot day in Denver is a perfect time to take a drive so that we could get some relief from the heat.  I posted about scenic drives in Colorado on April 2, 2012–https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/colorado-scenic-drives/  We decided to take the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway drive.  From Denver, we took I-70 going west and took the exit for Mt. Evans.  We didn’t need a map because the signs for the drive are clearly marked.  The drive is absolutely beautiful and we immediately saw the temperature gauge in the car start to drop.

I had no idea that the drive up to Mt. Evans is North America’s highest auto road.  Right after this sign is the National Forest booth.  There is a fee of $10.00 (unless you have an America the Beautiful National Park Passhttp://www.rei.com/product/837116/america-the-beautiful-national-parks-pass-2013) to drive up to the top of Mt. Evans.  This drive literally makes you feel like you are driving up to Heaven.  We felt like we were on top of the world.  It was amazing.  I took so many pictures but it was so hard to capture what I was seeing through the lens of my camera.This is a picture of Denver.  I couldn’t believe we could see Denver from the Mt. Evans scenic drive.  My camera had a hard time zooming in on the city.This is a marmot.  This furry creature almost acted like the ambassador for Mt. Evans.  We saw lots of marmots but they move fast so you definitely have to have your camera ready.The view is spectacular.  You can see for miles and miles.  Being this high makes the Rocky Mountains look small :).Lots of wildlife.  This picture was taken right outside the car.  I guess we can say we have officially been to the top a fourteener!  https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/colorados-fourteeners/

According to the sign the picture below is the actual top of Mt. Evans.

Castle in the Sky–The Crest HouseA view of the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway road.

By far one of the highlights of the drive…the temperature gauge in the car at the top of Mt. Evans registered 46 degrees!  Granted we had to reach an elevation of 14,130 feet to get relief from the heat but it was worth it!

Black Hawk, Colorado

Black Hawk, Colorado is home to some 18 casinos and is the largest gambling town in Colorado.  We headed to the Ameristar Casino Resort Spa this weekend to get some relief from the hot temperatures in Denver.

The drive to Black Hawk is really pretty.  The casinos in Black Hawk seem to appear out of nowhere as you drive through beautiful Colorado terrain.

We did a little penny slot gambling but we really went to indulge in the Centennial Buffethttp://www.ameristar.com/Black_Hawk_Dining_Centennial_Buffet.aspx

The Centennial Buffet offered crab legs on Saturday night for $21.99.  Because this was a buffet it was ALL YOU CAN EAT CRAB LEGS!  To be honest, this was not our first trip to Centennial Buffet.  We actually have been to the buffet every Thanksgiving since we have lived in Colorado.  I am not a huge buffet fan but I do make an exception for Centennial Buffet because it is always clean.

Of course there’s a plethora of choices at the buffet.  I tend to graze at a buffet.  A little bit of this and little bit of that.  However, these were not all my plates of food.  I promise!  I took pictures of everyone’s food at our table.

Black Hawk is not only for gambling.  The drive to Black Hawk is beautiful and there are restaurants galore.  Black Hawk is a historic mining settlement founded in 1859 and is one of Colorado’s oldest cities.  For more Black Hawk, Colorado information please visit:

http://www.cityofblackhawk.org/

http://www.blackhawkcolorado.com/