Trip experienced August 18, 2017 – August 22, 2017
I’m not sure how I made it 28 years without visiting Colorado. In August 2017 I finally made the trip and I had the best time!
To make your life simple I put together a three-day travel guide. It’s a mix of city (Denver & Boulder) and nature. Everything is within a two hour drive from Denver, Colorado.
Travel Day: Our little crew came from all over the country: San Diego, CA, Austin, TX, Cincinnati, OH, and Washington D.C. We all worked a partial day and landed in Denver at 9:30 PM on a Friday night.
Day One (Daytime): Whitewater Rafting on Clear Creek in Idaho Springs, CO with Colorado Adventure Center
We left the house at 9:00 AM, stopped at Starbucks for a quick breakfast and some much needed coffee, and got to the rafting place just in time for our 10:30 AM trip. Okay, okay, we may have been a little late. They recommend arriving fifteen minutes before so you can sign the waiver and get into the wet suits, which are provided by the company. We got there at 10:35 AM and scrambled to get ready. Thankfully, they waited for us! Save yourself the hassle and just get there earlier.
My friend told the lovely people at Colorado Adventure Center, “we have zero experience but we also don’t want to be bored”. They suggested the intermediate route and we jumped on it with a touch of hesitation. According to their website, the intermediate route is suggested for “aggressive first timers and teens”. Not at all surprised that we fall into the aggressive first timer bucket!
According to our guide, June is the best time to go whitewater rafting in Colorado because the snow has melted and filled the rivers with water. By the time August rolls around, the water levels have dropped quite a bit. We got stuck a couple times on rocks where the water was too low. It wasn’t too bad but I would like to give it another try in June!
Each raft has a guide. Before you head out on the water the guide teaches you the proper way to paddle and what his cues mean. You practice for a couple minutes on land and then they plop you in the water and let you figure it out.
(My rafting lingo is non existent so bear with me.)
The intermediate course moseys along the river for seven miles. There are no major drops until the end where there are two drops. These two drops are where they begin the advanced course. No one in our raft fell out, although we had some close calls. Honestly, I would have loved even more action! I asked our guide if he thought we could handle the advanced course and he said, “you girls could, those guys not so much” (pointing to the two random guys in our raft). His biggest point was that with the advanced route you can’t miss a paddle, everyone needs to be in sync or things could go wrong. I feel 100% confident that our crew could handle it. Although, it’s probably good to start with intermediate and work your way up!
We splurged on one picture (they were pricey!). The expression on everyone’s faces, including the guide, cracks me up every time I look at it.
The trip took about two hours and cost $67 per person.
After the rafting trip we grabbed food in Idaho Springs, CO and headed back to Denver where we hung out at my friend’s apartment and decompressed a bit.
Day One (Dinner & Drinks): Avanti
Around 8:00 PM we walked to Avanti for dinner and drinks. Their website refers to it as a Collective Eatery, which is a fancy, hipster term for public market. There were about 7 places you could eat, options included, but were not limited to, Thai, Sushi, Italian, and Argentine. You can eat and drink anywhere in the building or on their deck. This worked really well with a large group. It completely removed the hassle of deciding on a type of food to eat and then finding a place that could accommodate all of us.
Day One (Drinks): Denver Booze Cruise (Bike Bar)
At 11:00 PM we had a reservation for a bike bar. For those of you who aren’t familiar with bike bars, it’s a rolling bar that takes you bar hopping through the city. Each bar you stop at has some sort of deal. In this case it was $3 you-call-its. I haven’t seen alcohol this cheap since I was 21 years old going out on South Street in Glens Falls, NY (take my word for it if you have no idea what I’m talking about).
Fair warning, bike bars do not have a motor. If you don’t peddle, it won’t move. Denver is pretty flat so it wasn’t too challenging!
They do, however, have an emergency brake that is controlled by the guide. This brake saved us from crashing into at least 15 cars.
The bike bar hopping extravaganza stopped at four bars and ended at 1:00 AM, which worked well since bars in Denver close at 2:00 AM.
The cost for the bike bar was $25 per person.
Day Two: Nederland, CO and Boulder, CO
We allowed ourselves some beauty rest after our booze cruise, bike bar extravaganza . We woke up around 10:00 AM and left the house around 11:00 AM.
We drove from Denver to Nederland, CO where we hiked Hessie Trail. Getting to the trailhead involved an hour or so of winding mountain roads. We had trouble finding a parking spot so keep that in mind when you are heading up that way.
We were under a bit of a time constraint given that we also wanted to see Boulder, CO and a couple people were flying out that night. So we hiked up to the waterfall, hung out there for an hour and headed back down, forgoing the chance to hike to Lost Lake.
The hike itself is 2.7 miles round trip and is fairly easy. Although, we were having trouble adjusting to the elevation so it felt a tad more difficult.
After the hike we drove down to Boulder, which took about 45 minutes. I LOVED Boulder. I really liked Denver as well but Boulder really stole my heart. We had just enough time to grab a quick lunch and walk around for a little bit before we had to head back so people could catch their flights. On a future trip I’d love to spend more time here.
Day Three: Estes Park, CO
I have family that lives in Loveland, CO and Fort Collins, CO. After the weekend in Denver was over, I headed that way. I actually spent five days in CO. My day three was traveling to Wyoming to see the eclipse in the path of totality. What an experience that was! My day four was doing absolutely nothing and loving it. My day five is what I am documenting as day three in this travel guide.
My aunt and uncle took me to Estes Park and it was one of the most astounding experiences of my life.
We drove from Loveland, through Estes Park, and back down to Denver. The drive took a couple hours including the stops we made along the way. At the peak of the drive we were at 12,000 feet elevation.
We have all heard about how spectacular, breathtaking (literally at some elevations), and wildly enormous the Rocky Mountains are.
While this was all true, the Rocky Mountains were SO much more than that and I cannot even begin to put it into words. The pictures do an okay job at illustrating the unique and vast beauty of Rocky Mountains but nothing compares to what you see and how you feel when you are actually immersed in them.
This type of beauty transcends words.
So I will leave you with a handful of pictures.
I strongly encourage you to go see it for yourself!
The epic views I was referring to…
The hotel that inspired The Shining
Stopped to hang with a herd of elk! (Not the easiest to photograph with an iPhone)
Okay my loves, that’s a wrap! Enjoy your trip! As always I am here for any questions you may have.
Love & light,