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!

Pagosa Springs, Colorado

I am addicted to Instagram.  This is one of the main reasons that my blogging days are few and far between.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to write about Colorado but Instagram is well, so instantaneous (no pun intended)!  This is a nice segue into my post about Pagosa Springs.  I found some great pictures of Pagosa Springs on Instagram.  We made a trip to Pagosa Springs in May to celebrate our anniversary.  The drive alone was unbelievable!  We had never taken that particular route so we were in awe at every turn!  Image

The drive takes you through San Isabel National Forest.  Image

The Collegiate Peaks are a wonderful surprise along this very picturesque drive.  The Collegiate Peaks is a name given to a section of the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains located in central ColoradoImage

Wolf Creek Pass is the other beautiful feature on this lovely Colorado drive.  Wolf Creek Pass is a high mountain pass on the Continental Divide, in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

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Treasure Falls is the other “treasure” along the route.  Treasure Falls is a waterfall located off Hwy 160 about 15 miles northeast of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The falls are named after a local legend of a treasure of gold on the mountain the falls plunges from.Image

While staying in Pagosa Springs we stayed at The Fireside Inn Cabins which are on the banks of the San Juan River and are probably the quietest accommodations that I have ever experienced.  Image

The Fireside Inn Cabins are also pet friendly!  This is the pet bag we got upon our arrival.  Isn’t is adorable!  Image

What did we do in Pagosa Springs?  We ate and soaked in the Pagosa Hot Springs.  The Pagosa Hot Springs can best be described as many pools of varying temperatures.  We were advised to start with lower temperature pools and then work ourselves up to the hotter temperatures.  We had a great time!  We celebrated our anniversary by enjoying a fabulous meal at the Alley House Grille.ImageImage

Interested in visiting Pagosa Springs?  Here are my recommendations:

1.  If driving from Denver, take the US-285 route.

2.  Definitely, stop at all of the scenic turnouts and take lots of pictures. 

3.  Book a cabin at The Fireside Inn Cabins and enjoy the grounds.

4.  Soak in the Pagosa Hot Springs during the day.

5.  Alley House Grille is a great dining experience.  It is a Holy Good food experience!

6.  Check out the Liberty Movie Theatre.  Fun little historic theatre in downtown Pagosa Springs.

7.  Soak in the Pagosa Hot Springs at night. 

8.  Check out the history of The Great Springs before visiting. 

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!!

Spirit Hound Distillers in Lyons, Colorado

I was traveling through wonderful, colorful Colorado when I came across this sign:IMG_20130124_183332Naturally, I had to stop and take a picture.  However, I didn’t stop inside because I was on the clock!  So, I showed my husband the picture and told him that we had to stop by this place.  The place is Spirit Hound Distillers and it is located in Lyons, Colorado.IMG_20130124_183846It is fairly new but has lots of spirit!!!!  All kidding aside we got to sample Gin, infused Vodka, and Richardo’s Decaf Coffee Liquor.  I don’t drink Gin too often but I have to say this Gin was very smooth and flavorful.  The Gin is made with fresh Juniper berries (see picture below) from around the area.  The Gin also has a wonderful lemon lime undertone.IMG_20130124_184416My second favorite sample was the Pepper Infused Vodka.  Nice and spicy.  We ended up ordering a specialty drink.  I ordered the Hot Ricky (Spirit Hound Vodka, Richardo’s Coffee Liqueur, hot chocolate, and whipped cream–see picture below).  IMG_20130124_184339(1)My husband ordered a Hot n Dirty (Spirit Hound Chili Pepper Infused Vodka with Dirty Dog Mix).  We went on a snowy day and had a great time seeing Lyons, Colorado.  The folks at Spirit Hound Distillers were extremely kind and very eager to share samples of their wonderful spirits.  If you are out and about stop by Spirit Hound Distillers.  **I recommend trying a sample of their Gin first.  I didn’t know Gin could taste so smooth!**IMG_20130124_184256Please check out Spirit Hound Distillers:  4196 Ute Highway, Lyons, Colorado 80540, 303-823-5696

Colorado Fall Foliage

It is that time of year again, FALL.  My favorite season!  We took the Guanella Pass scenic drive today.  We discovered a surprise along this beautiful scenic byway.  I truly didn’t realize that AUTUMN was here.  It is hard to tell in the city.  But, tucked away along the windy road that leads up to the Guanella Pass Summit is a hidden treasure.  Aspen trees line the winding road.  Bright yellow pops appear out of nowhere.  So many Aspen trees gleaming with yellow dance along the road.  If you are lucky you can catch a glimpse of Aspens that actually look orange.  Along the green mountainsides, tucked quietly and almost secretively are the quintessential Aspens that truly define a Colorado AutumnFall in Colorado is a little bit different than let’s say Fall in the Northeast.  The Rocky Mountains display an unimaginable beauty during the Fall.  The sweet golden yellow that subtly protrudes through the massive green forests is breathtaking.  Beautiful Aspens line pathways and lead visitors to tranquility.  The air is crisp and quiet.Even the sky seems happier peering down on the beautiful Aspen trees.Tall, thin, and statuesque, Apsen trees stand with authority.

Winter will come quickly in Colorado.  Now is the time to load the car and take a road trip to see the beautiful Aspen trees in all of their glory.  I suggest taking the Guanella Pass scenic byway.  There are lots of places to pull the car over and take breathtaking pictures.Past posts about Guanella Pass and Colorado Fall foliage:

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/colorado-scenic-drives/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/guanella-pass-road/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/guanella-pass-scenic-drive-in-colorado/

https://lovelivingincolorado.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/aspen-fall-foliage/

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!

Pikes Peak and the Road to Heaven

I know that lately I incessantly talk about the heat here in Colorado.  I am sorry.  However, in my defense (which I have a good one) we don’t have central air conditioning and I just heard on our local news that July was a record breaker as far as heat is concerned.  See, there is my justification for whining about the heat:)  On to the positive….we try to be as proactive as we can on the weekends to beat the heat so we headed to Pikes Peak.  In Colorado, the higher the elevation the cooler the temperatures.  There is no better way to cool off naturally than to drive to an elevation of 14,110 feet.  I feel blissful when I see the temperature gauge in the car drop.  It is the most exciting feeling to see 95 degrees drop to 58 degrees.  Amazing!  The pictures in this post are of the drive up to Pikes Peak.  I will post more pictures of the view up at the top of Pikes Peak in a different post.  FYI–I had to wear my fleece at the top of Pikes Peak–:)The picture above shows the beginning of the drive.  There is a fee to drive to the top of Pikes Peak.  We paid $12.00 per person.When driving to a higher elevation in Colorado you never know what kind of weather to expect.  The pictures show clouds and then sun.  You can also expect rain, thunder, lightning, hail, and even snow.The road that leads you to the top of Pikes Peak is very windy.  But, the views are phenomenal.  I like this picture.  I am not sure what I was trying to capture but I love the way the sun has reflected itself on the mountain.  There is also a faint rainbow image just below the clouds.

Do you like the heat?  I prefer the fall and the winter.  I feel like it is easier to get warm than to cool off.