Rachel and I love the outdoors. We both grew up in Nashville where there is plenty of hiking, biking, and walking trails. If you head east 3 hours, you run into the Great Smoky Mountains, where the is even more hiking trails. But there is nothing like the mountains of Colorado. 2013 is a big year for us – our wedding! – and in 2014, our 1 year anniversary rolled around and we knew we wanted to do something special for the occasion.
We started planning our Colorado Vacation in November of 2013, for our March 2014 vacation. We love being in the mountains, and being away from “the world.” It was the perfect way to celebrate our anniversary…her, the beautiful Colorado scenery, great weather – including a ton of snow- and lots of activities.
We arrived in Denver on Thursday morning at 8 AM, picked up our rental car, and headed west to our first location, Winter Park. We went in mid-March, so there was snow EVERYWHERE. Our first day was spent tubing and walking around the town and getting ourselves acquainted with the local establishments. The next day, we rented snowmobiles and went to “the top of the world” – the Continental Divide tour. If you have never rented snowmobiles, you need to!! After that was over, we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park and drove as far as we could, and then turned around and headed back to our hotel.
The next morning, we had planned to leave, but not as quickly as planned. It was either that or be caught in a snow storm. We got everything packed up and headed south to Colorado Springs, where we would stay for 6 days in a secluded cabin away from the world. We also washed our filthy car at a car wash in Colo. Springs. I can not stand a dirty car. We checked in our cabin and saw that there were deer throughout the area, and they were definitely not afraid of humans.
We woke up the next day to a Dust Storm & High Wind Warning in our area. Pikes Peak was on our list of things to do, but that did not happen until the next to last day, due to the weather. We visited Garden of the Gods Park, Tenderfoot Pass on the way to Victor & Cripple Creek Colorado. These small rocky mountain towns are off the beaten path, but well worth the drive through the mountains. We took a “scenic byway” through the middle of nowhere for 22 miles. Once again, it was way way way off the beaten path, but well worth it! We also visited the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, an old cemetery, Red Rock Open Space, drove through Salida, CO on the way to one of the best kept ghost towns in Colorado, St. Elmo. It was remarkable to see these buildings that were built so long ago. We also tried out the hot springs at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort in Nathrop, Colorado, which is between the towns of Buena Vista and Salida. Finally, we did Pikes Peak when it was about 4 degrees at the top with the wind blowing. The view was amazing.
The next day we headed north to Estes Park, CO for our last 2.5 days of vacation. We checked out the Stanley Hotel, where the movie, “The Shinning” was filmed. We finally saw some different wildlife, and was preparing for the next day that was expected to have about 1.5 feet of snow. And that is what came. We woke up Saturday morning to snow covering EVERYTHING. The only color outside was white and grey. Some of you may think that sounds miserable but until you actually experience it, you will understand why it was beautiful. Although we did have a bit of trouble getting the car out…since the parking lot was on a hill, and we had a front wheel drive car…but all was well after about 10-15 minutes. I am sure people were watching us, but I would like to see them come over to Tennessee during August and try to work outside! They couldn’t handle it! After our little car issue was resolved, we headed once again, to Rocky Mountain National Park, but from the east this time, and drove through the park, went snowshoeing, and had a snowball fight. The next day we headed toward Denver and visited Mile High Stadium, the capitol building, the Denver Post, the 16th street mall, and all the other touristy places. We headed to the airport that afternoon for our flight back home to Music City USA!