Our New Home, the Western Slope!

It has been a while since my last post.  I have no excuses.  But I will admit, I am addicted to Instagram.  That is where I have been keeping up with lovelivingincolorado social media.  Since my last post, we moved from Denver (where we lived for 5 1/2 years), which is also known as the Front Range to Grand Junction, which is known as the Western Slope.  We have always enjoyed visiting the Western Slope.  When the opportunity popped up for us to relocate to the Western Slope we jumped on the chance to relocate.  Some may read this and think, “why would you ever leave Denver?”  I had a hard time at first, thinking about moving away from the city, but then I remembered all of the reasons I truly love the Western Slope.  Below are some reasons, if you have any you think I should add, please let me know!

  1.  Affordability.  We were finally able to buy our first house.  While we loved living in a little over 800 square feet for 5 1/2 years in Denver, having a home with over 1600 square feet, more than one bathroom, a 2 car garage, a backyard for our pup, as well as absolutely NO shared walls, well, we feel spoiled!  Did I mention no more shoveling out our cars????
  2. We are about 20 minutes from wine country.  Yes, that is correct.  Colorado wine country, also known as Palisade, Colorado is a little piece of Heaven!  Visiting the wineries via bike, a must!
  3. The Colorado National Monument is literally minutes from our house and the views never tire.
  4. Many, many trails to hike.
  5. Close proximity to skiing at Powderhorn as well access to the Grand Mesa (largest flat top mountain in the world).  No more fighting the crowds on I-70 trying to get, well anywhere to ski.  We are on the other side of Vail Pass and we don’t have to travel through the Eisenhower Tunnel.
  6. We are about an hour and 45 minutes from Moab, Utah, which is home to not one but two National Parks.
  7. Telluride is about 2 1/2 hours away, Aspen 2 hours and 13 minutes, Crested Butte 3 hours, Durango 3 1/2 hours, and Glenwood Springs now only takes us 1 hour and 21 minutes.
  8. Have you heard of Palisade peaches?  Yum!
  9. Love the outdoors?  The western part of the state is for you!
  10. The landscape, Mount Garfield and the Bookcliffs are absolutely stunning!

Colorado is wonderful for many reasons.  As much as I miss Denver, it is exciting to experience another part of this wonderful state!  If you need any Western Slope recommendations, please leave a comment below.  The West Slope is the Best Slope!  Thanks for reading!

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!!

Colorado National Parks

Colorado is home to four National Parks:

1.  Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Gunnison, Colorado (http://www.nps.gov/blca/index.htm)

Tomichi Point–Credit: NPS/Lisa Lynch photo

2.  Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Mosca, Colorado

http://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm

Panorama from Star Dune–Credit: NPS photo

3.  Mesa Verde National Park in Mesa Verde, Colorado

http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm

Balcony House Courtyard–Credit:  NPS photo

4.  Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado

http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

We feel blessed to live in a state that boasts such beauty.  Got summer plans?  How about visiting one of these beautiful National Parks?

Fee Free Days in 2012
The National Park Service will offer the following Fee Free Days this year:

  • January 14-16 (Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend)
  • April 21-29 (National Park Week)
  • June 9 (Get Outdoors Day)
  • September 29 (Public Lands Day)
  • November 10-12 (Veterans Day weekend)

Fees for activities such as camping, reservations, tours, or concessions are not affected by the entrance fee waiver on Fee Free Days.

A helpful tip:  We have bought numerous America the Beautiful National Parks Pass(es) from REI (http://www.rei.com/product/837116/america-the-beautiful-national-parks-pass-2013)  If you plan on going to more than one National Park in a year this pass will end up paying for itself.

Have you been to any National Parks in Colorado?  How many National Parks have you visited in a year?  We visited the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon in a week.  That week my husband proposed at the Grand Canyon North Rim.:)

Mesa Verde National Park

I figured it was high time I dedicate a post to Mesa Verde National Park.  Even though we haven’t had the pleasure of seeing this beautiful park it has been recommended to us by quite a few people. Mesa Verde National Park has been added to our “to do” list.

Some interesting facts about Mesa Verde National Park:

  • Mesa Verde is Spanish for green table
  • From A.D. 600 to 1300 Mesa Verde was home to the Pueblo people
  • Mesa Verde National Park protects nearly 5,000 archeological sites including 600 cliff dwellings
  • Park Point is the highest elevation in the park (8,427 feet)
  • Park Point has a 360 degree panoramic view that is considered one of the grandest views in the country
  • Mesa Verde National Park is located in southwestern Colorado
  • Mesa Verde National Park occupies 81.4 square miles near Four Corners

I used the following websites to gather information and pictures about Mesa Verde National Park:

Have you been to Mesa Verde National Park?  What is your favorite National Park?  I have a hard time narrowing it down to one park because there hasn’t been a National Park I don’t like but currently my favorites are Zion National Park and the Grand Tetons National Park.