My family and I took an amazing trip to Colorado at the end of May. We started our journey in Estes Park and the mountain campgrounds outside of Boulder. As soon as the mountains came into view, I put away my e-reader and stared out the windows instead until we reached our destination.
We stopped rather suddenly at the entrance sign to Estes Park. My mom, who was driving, asked us if we wanted to pull over by the entryway for some photos. She asked very last second, and slammed on the breaks, causing us to skid across the gravel. Everyone stared out the window in shock while she hopped out of the truck, un-phased. What a wake-up!
We stayed at the most dreamy cabin during our time in Estes Park. Our accommodation was in The River Lodge at the Inn on Fall River. It had a kitchenette, fireplace, and patio overlooking the river. It was the perfect first stop on our journey. My family loved the patio beyond measure. That's where we sat to drink our coffee in the morning and where we read our books in the evening before bed.
Our river view off the patio.
Kicking back and relaxing. One of my favorite "amenities" in our lodge was a faux bear skin blanket. The mornings and evenings in the mountains were quite chilly, and this blanket was warm and large enough for three adult humans.
We spent our first full day in Estes Park exploring Rocky Mountain National Park. To help us get in the mood, my mom played John Denver as we drove into the park. After listening to so many songs, for some reason I had a tune in my head that I thought was John Denver. When I sang it out loud though, my mom was like, "what are you saying?" The tune was already stuck though, and it kept popping into my head during our trip. It went, "in the hiiiiills......of Colorado." ("Ka-lore-ah-doe") My dad and sister quickly picked up on the tune and made up their own lyrics. After a bad sunburn my sister sang, "I got buuuurned......in Colorado."
My sister's goofy celebratory dance!
Although I'm happy looking back on these photos, I know they do no justice to the in-person views. These pictures make me want to go back again!
All smiles from the family. Believe it or not, there was hardly any arguing on this entire trip despite many long hours in the car with one another. I focused on taking lots of people photos because on trips in the past I've mostly captured scenery. I want to have more photos of my family members to look back on in the future.
Up, up, up the mountain. We had to park the car and walk on foot at this point because the safety of the roads was uncertain. The road was blocked off, but the park rangers allowed us to walk around and keep going up the mountainside.
I wanted to take a cool picture that looked like I was sitting in the snow. I put some rocks down on the snowbank so I wouldn't get wet, but not enough because it happened anyway!!
After coming back down the mountain, we took a hike around the lake. My dad unfortunately threw out his back right before our trip, so we picked the shortest trail. Despite being a warm day, there were parts of the trail covered in snow! We had to scale some snow banks and walk through melted slush to finish the trail. What a surprise! The weather changed so quickly while we were in the mountains.
Some elk, just chilling out in the streets of Estes Park. I saw a sign on our trip that said "If you see an animal in your backyard, it's likely because you moved into theirs." There were a lot of restaurant menus containing elk burgers, but after seeing them in person they were just too cute to imagine eating!
We took an afternoon to visit the shopping district of Estes Park. After the first couple shops, we realized that it was one of those areas where the shops sell all the same t-shirts and other tourist merchandise. It was a little disappointing, but I wasn't too surprised. One of the shop owners compared Estes Park to the Wisconsin Dells, a popular tourist trap in Wisconsin, and I could definitely see the similarities! While there, we did pick up some yummy saltwater taffy. There were several taffy shops on the street, but between them all we picked up almost every flavor imaginable!
One good find was a coffee shop called the Raven's Roast. The coffee was amazing! I had a butterscotch latte made with macadamia nut milk. I did not know that was a thing!
We also went to a glass blowing studio up the road. It was cool to see all the interesting shapes glass can be made into. There was a viewing window by the furnaces so you can watch the artists work. The artist who was there when we went was kind enough to explain the process as she worked. My parents are signed up to take glass blowing class now and they're very excited!
After staying in Estes Park a few days, we tried going camping. The end of May was too early in the season for some campgrounds so it took us awhile to find an open one. Then, the park we picked had just sprayed their roads with an anti-dust spray that essentially turned the roads to muck. I was thankful that my dad's new truck kept us on the road where we were supposed to be. I could imagine other cars slipping in the mud and had to close my eyes and hold my sister's hand on some of the hills because there were no rails to stop if you slid off the road. We took the truck through a car wash after picking out our site. I have some good pictures of my dad's disgusted face as he tried to scrap some of the muck off with a stick. It splattered all the way up the back passenger windows! Our campsite itself was beautiful. A tree in our site had this cute crafty rock resting at its base. We admired it but left it for others to find.
I've had very little exposure to alcoholic beverages, but we picked up this Woodchuck Hard Pear Cider before going camping and it was very good!
It got waaaaaaay colder as the sun went down. We packed on all our layers and I brought my sleeping bag out of the tent to wrap around myself as we sat at the fire. During the first picture of me, my mom didn't notify me she was taking a picture and that was my facial response to the flash. She has been taking all sorts of sneaky pictures lately. She thinks I look funny when I eat so she has a bunch of ugly photos of me eating that are way too close up lol!!
Camping in the mountains was basically the coldest night of my life. I cannot recall ever sleeping in such cold conditions. It was in the 70s during the day, but dropped into the 30s at night. My sister and I ended up sharing a sleeping bag and layering the other one over the top of us we were so cold. We cooked a hot breakfast in the morning and then decided to leave for Boulder earlier than planned. I want a Colorado camping redemption, and will make sure to bring more blankets when I do!
Those were our first few days in Colorado, covering Estes Park and the mountain campgrounds outside Boulder. I very much fell in love with the mountain views and now want to move somewhere with mountains in the future.
This is part one of two featuring our trip to Colorado. Adventures from Boulder, Denver, and Colorado Springs to come!
Hi my name is Emilee and these are my adventures as a young adult living in Milwaukee. Here I will share my experiences as I navigate through college. Thanks for stopping by!