- We had a different imagination of what spring (or rather May) would look like in Colorado.
- We therefore didn’t bring appropriate clothing.
- We only spent two days in Colorado.
- It was incredibly beautiful!
Mount Evans (Road)
Peak to Peak Scenic Byway
Have I mentioned that I love scenic drives?! Peak to Peak is one of those drives. It’s just so much fun! There are several lookouts on this route, just like the parking lot covered in snow as you can see on the picture above. However, you could pull over anywhere – if it’s not a sharp bend or on the brink – to take pictures or just enjoy the view. The upside is that there isn’t much traffic at all. So after we couldn’t get to the top of Mount Evans, we drove the Peak to Peak route from about “Nederland” crossing “Peaceful Valley” to “Estes Park” where we finally entered the Rocky Mountain National Park.
On our way we stopped between Meeker- and Estes Park at “Lily Lake” which, surrounded by snow, appeared gorgeous. According to all the people we met, you indeed can walk around the lake in the snow, equipped with snowshoes that is. (Check out my short video on Facebook to see what it looked like.) One lap around the lake would be about 0.8 miles (1.3 km). Unfortunately we both wore sneakers and ended up with wet feet after our short stop at the lake already. We didn’t even make it to the lake through all the slush – however we still managed to smile to some extent 😉
On our way back we briefly stopped in Boulder, a cute little town about halfway to Denver. There you can stroll up and down Pearl Street Mall, have a cup of coffee or tea or eat really well, respectively buy food ahead and take it on a picnic. After all Boulder is also called “America’s foodiest town” (and yes they have vegan/ vegetarian options). Btw the University of Boulder is the most prominent of Colorado and about a third of the inhabitants are students.
Rocky Mountain National Park
There are different ways to enter the Rocky Mountain National Park. We went through the entrance at “Estes Park”. Normally the entrance fee is 20 $/ car/ day, but we were lucky as there was no electricity at the moment we went to the attendant to pay. So he just waved us through.
Since we didn’t have too much time or too many options due to the weather, we decided to got to Bear Lake. We soon noticed that we weren’t the only ones with this idea. It seemed like everyone who was at the park this day went to the lake at the same time. (Until then we actually wondered why the National Park was so empty..) And yet it wasn’t easy to get to the lake even though it’s only about 100 m away from the parking lot. However, not only the lake, but also the trail leading up to it was frozen, so that it took a while to maneuver on it without falling all too often. I “only” slipped and fell once on the way back and ended up with my whole right arm in the snow – that’s how deep it actually was.
There’s a trail of 0.5 mi (800 m) around the lake which usually is covered with snow well into June.
The Red Rocks Park is an extension of the Rocky Mountains and encloses an amphitheater with its red sandstone rocks. The open-air theater secures 8,700 seats and excellent acoustics. Since 1947, this stage is used for public events (you can find the information for upcoming events on this website). Legendary bands like U2, The Beatles, Depeche Mode and Bruce Springsteen performed on this stage already. Meanwhile there’s a visitor center underground including a restaurant and bar. On top of that, you can go on a hike or do some yoga at the Red Rocks.
However, we haven’t been here for a concert or to go on a hike but instead came very early to watch the sunrise. In the end what’s great about the time difference in a westerly direction is that you wake up fairly early in the morning. So we left downtown around 05:40 am and got there on time for the sunrise (around 6 am).
I’ve actually been at the amphitheater the last time I was in Denver, but it was summer at that time and thus looked pretty different. Then there were a lot of sporty Americans and those who’d like to be, working out around the amphitheater right after the sun rose. In contrast, this time there was some clearing work going on, probably because of an event the night before. It didn’t really interfere with the beautiful view, though. I think these pictures paint a thousand words:
Denver – Eating Out
There are two restaurants in Denver that I can recommend. On Friday night we went to “Watercourse Foods“, where we first had a drink at the bar while waiting for an empty table. I must confess that the food they served for dinner wasn’t quite my cup of tea. Why? Just because I don’t really like authentically imitated meat dishes and all that. If that’s something you’re into, then you should definitely go there! The staff was very friendly and helpful, our drinks were good and the prices were appropriate. Also I think it’s quite difficult to rate a restaurant after just one visit. Next time I’d try breakfast at this place. The restaurant is conveniently situated in a street with plenty of pubs which looked pretty good. From the outside, that is. We were too tired!
The next day we had breakfast at City O’ City, where I ordered the “power waffle” with coconut yogurt and berry compote. Not only was that delicious but also very filling. Btw before eating here we did our small sightseeing tour through Denver (s. pictures above) because the café wasn’t open yet.
I’m not quite sure at the moment, but I think these were actually the only two times we went out to eat during the whole weekend. We did, however, stock up on food at Whole Foods Market and noshed on it on the road. We simply kept the fresh stuff (hummes, fruit etc.) in the minibar at our hotel room. Having said that, breakfast at City O’ City was pretty heavy so that I wasn’t hungry until evening anyway.
Road Trippin’ in and around Denver
While on-street parking is free on Sundays and city holidays, many of them are occupied on all the other days and off-street parking spaces throughout downtown can be expensive. However, there are parking lots which are either free over night or cheaper. We left the car on a parking lot where a night costs 5 $ for both nights (s. picture above). You just have to pay at the machine by entering your parking spot number and then place the ticket in the windshield.
To-do the next time in Denver
If you know me, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t introduce you to Denver’s roof top bars yet. Well, that’s because I don’t know any – seriously – we were so tired on both nights that we just collapsed into bed. But it’s definitely something that’s on my “to-do list” for the next time I’m there. If you have any recommendations, I’d appreciate if you leave it (or any other tips) in the comment section below – this way everyone benefits from it 🙂
- New Year’s Day (January 01)
- Memorial Day (always the last Monday in May: May 29, 2017, May 28, 2018)
- Independence Day, also called “The Fourth of July” (July 04)
- Labor Day (always the first Monday in September: September 04, 2017, September 03, 2018)
- Thanksgiving (always the last Thursday in November: November 23, 2017, November 22, 2018)
- Christmas Day (December 25)
- Paying cash, exact amounts (incl. tip!): leave on the table and leave.
- Paying cash, expecting change: wait until waiter takes money on the table/ in the money folder and brings change. Leave an appropriate amount of tip on the table and leave.
- Paying by credit card: place card in money folder/ with check and have it collected by the waiter who comes with another check you have to sign. Then you could either write down the amount of tip (and the total amount) or leave the tip on the table in cash.