Join us, won’t you, as we partake of a splendid 3-day Colorado road trip.
I guess she can’t help it. She does it all the time.
When others smile, she frowns. When others are serious, she’s quite the opposite. When others are front-facing, she proffers a backend view.
If you’ve perused some of my other posts, you may have seen the evidence. This trip added to the already burgeoning photographic antics of Calie. 😯
Hopefully, you read the 5 fun posts about our San Diego Escapades in August 2017.
Calie flew us out so we could watch her compete in the Marine Corps High-Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) championship.
It proved to be a trip chuck full of beautiful ocean vistas, new adventures, and nail-biting events! Click here to enjoy day 1.
We returned home, and 10 days later Calie and her friend, Kayla, came for a visit. Arrival was late on a Saturday night.
A couple of days before, Calie had sprung the news that she would like to take a road trip to Colorado while she was home.
That was too tempting to pass up, so…
Sunday morning at 6:30, we were “on the road again!”
Our son, Luke, lives in Loveland, CO, which is the portal to the Big Thompson Canyon, which, of course, leads to Estes Park, which is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), our customary destination!
We made good time and got to Luke’s place about 2 pm, added him to the group, and made a beeline for Estes.
Have you been to the park? Two roads get you to the top.
Trail Ridge Road is the highest continuously paved road in the United States. It climbs to 12,183 feet and connects the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake.
Or, you can ascend to the top via Old Fall River Road, the original thoroughfare, built in 1920.
Don’t get too close to the edge…
We choose OFRR whenever possible. It’s 9 miles of a narrow, one-way, 5-mph winding road with up-close
and personal views of all the splendor you can take in. Waterfalls, wildlife, wildflowers, and more.
Since Kayla had never been there before we made sure to show her our favorite spots, even though the day was cool and muddy.
After acquiring several awesome shots of elk, our stomachs beckoned us on to lower elevations in search of dinner.
Along the way, the trees on Trail Ridge Road presented their spectacular fall wardrobe, and
we were almost out of the park when we spotted a mule (?) deer crossing the road.
Once in Estes, The Rock Inn won the dinner vote. Surrounded by majestic peaks, we laughed and feasted in the mountain air .
Night had darkened the walls of the Big Thompson Canyon
as we wound our way to Loveland to drop Luke off and to get some sleep in preparation for day 2.
This time, halfway through the canyon, we took a less-used route to reach Estes… choosing to go through Glen Haven, a SMALL town, and Devil’s Gulch.
These names make them even more fun, don’t they?!
Glen Haven: elevation 7200 ft, population 100 people. The town features about 3 buildings, including a “library.”
A fun, winding, hairpin-curved paved road leads through Devil’s Gulch and into the Lumpy Ridge area outside of Estes.
Upon arriving in Estes, we showed Kayla a couple of items of interest and headed out of town on highway 7, which is part of a scenic drive.
The road shared countless interesting sites and scenes. For example:
1. An almost-ghost town
2. A giant steam shovel
3. Further down, a town living at over 10,000 in elevation
We took a wrong turn and ended up in Ferncliff, a dying, eerie little town tucked away in the trees. We had to backtrack to get out because the road dead-ended. 😯
Once free from Ferncliff’s winding dead-end road…
We found lunch in Nederland, at NED’S, housed in a yellow building trimmed in pink! (It offered unique and monstrously-portioned meals.) 😮
Nederland, established in 1874, began its history as the site of the mill for silver ore from the silver-rich mines at Caribou,
now a ghost town five miles away. Many mountain villages begin as mining camps,
which means (to me) they reek with exciting, and sometimes mysterious, history.
On display in Nederland is a big, ol’ 1923 steam shovel, the largest operating steam shovel in the United States.
Also, it has the distinction of being the last remaining steam shovel of the equipment used to create the Panama Canal.
Pretty cool what you can find in small mountain towns, huh?
We changed highways a few times, driving in and out of dreary skies intermixed with sunny patches,
reveled in the autumn colors,
and came to Leadville~our destination for the day.
Leadville, the highest U.S. city at 10,200 elevation, is completely surrounded by high mountain peaks!
(A couple of “statutory towns” boast higher elevations.)
We checked into the Columbine Inn, a nice homey place, and hit the road again.
During our afternoon excursion, we found an exhilarating road.
From Leadville, we drove south on 25 and then west on 82 toward Aspen.
I described this road in my travel journal as cool, crazy, and narrow (about 1 & 1/2 lanes)!
Vannie (our van) clung to the mountainside as she navigated tight turns and threatening drop-offs (they weren’t that bad!)
on this guardrail-less byway as our eyes feasted on the views of Mt. Elbert (the tallest peak in CO),
Twin Lakes, and the pristine, undisturbed nature.
One exceptional point was Independence Pass, which Rick and I had visited in 2013.
I snapped the same views on both trips, and the vista hasn’t changed a bit!
It’s hard not to share all the pics, but I held myself back.
⇓ ⇓ ⇓ ⇓
A TINY library, an eerie little town, and spectacular mountain views
A plethora of memorable sights was added to our memory banks this day. What a blessing to spend time with loved ones out in God’s creation,
forming fun memories to last a lifetime!
Back in Leadville, we had some interesting pizza for dinner. 😮 Kayla was NOT a fan!
On to the final day of our jam-packed road trip…
Our last day in Colorado! 🙁
An enthralling lake, golden aspens, and an unforgettable bridge
We hit the road in search of golden Quaking Aspens and found so much more!
Yesterday, 24 South yielded the exhilarating drive; today, 24 North led us to the most captivating lake scene.
The mirror-like lake was found just south of Red Cliff, a picturesque area.
The region around Red Cliff has a green bridge not soon forgotten, a mining ghost town (Gilman), and Minturn, a cute, colorful little village.
Glad you’re here!