Rocky Mountain High...Colorado November 2021 / May 2023
Updated: Jun 1
It was so great to be back in Colorado! The few times I've been previously, it has always been during the Spring or Summer, so I was excited to get a taste of late Fall in the Rocky Mountains. Joe and I went with a group of friends. Half the group were just happy to get away and relax...and myself, Joe and Rachel were itching for some outdoor activities. We were all able to experience Colorado the way we wanted to over 4 days that seemed to completely fly by. Good times have a way of doing that.
Wednesday: Joe and I arrived into Denver in the morning, and drove to Denver Central Market to meet up with my co-worker for lunch. This hip food court was great, local spots of all types and cuisines, plus a bar, great place to kick off the trip. From there we made the 30min drive to our Airbnb in Layfayette - The Train Stop Inn. This house was perfect for a large group with cars. Right along the train tracks, but we only heard maybe one train a day. Also right by a great trail that took you to main street Louisville, and a ton of other directions. We instacarted some groceries for the house and set up shop. When everyone arrived by the late afternoon we grabbed a quick bite (pizza) and beers at 12 Brewery about 5mins away in Louisville. This area was super cute, a few blocks worth of bars, restaurants and coffee shops. Later we drove into Denver for dinner at Mercantile and Provisions, right next to the train station in a beautiful old building downtown. A pricey spot with sophisticated dishes and drinks but a great way to kick off the trip.
Thursday: Went for a quick run on the trail next to the train tracks through some neighborhoods and parks, then headed in a couple cars about an hour away to Idaho Springs to check out the Indian Hot Springs. They had a large pool and some caves which were super super hot and clothing optional (most people's option was, none)- and completely wiped us all out after about a few minutes. If you are not a fan of extreme heat, definitely stick to the pool here. After we headed right down the road to Westbound and Down Brewery for lunch. I really liked this spot- super big, connected to a coffee shop on one side and a full bar on the other side. Also on a main street with other shops, bars and restaurants. After the brewery we headed back to our place, and walked about 40mins on the trail to dinner in Louisville at Por wine house. This place was awesome, super good tapas and reasonably priced, good vibes.
Friday: Off the Rocky Mountain National Park first thing with Joe and Rachel. Took us about 1hr 15mins to get to Estes Park. When we arrived at the RMNP entrance, the ranger warned us that the snow was pretty deep in parts and we should use poles and spikes to hike. We turned around and rented them from Estes Park Mountain shop (pretty cheap - like $35 total for all 3 of us) and then headed back well equipped this time. We did a 3 hr hike, starting at the Fern Lake Trailhead, all the way up to Fern Lake, which had a good foot plus of snow and crazy winds when we reached the top. This was my first time hiking in a good amount of snow, and the spikes really did help. About half the hike was fairly challenging, but the first half was pretty flat along a creek. After the hike we headed back into Estes to drop off our rental gear and grabbed some coffee/snacks, then back to Layfayette. We met back with everyone at the house, then headed later that evening to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder (20 min drive from the airbnb). We stopped at Bartaco for margaritas and then had dinner at West End Tavern in Boulder. We sat on their roofdeck which was actually heated pretty nicely and comfortable for being open air. After dinner we walked to Bitter Bar a few blocks away for some cocktails.
Saturday: Another hike day for me, Joe and Rachel. The rest of our group checked out Red Rocks Ampitheater which was only about 45mins from the Airbnb. Apparently the day of concerts you can hang at the park until 1pm. So they did a tour while we headed to Boulder and tackled the Green Mountain West Trail- which leads to one of the 5 iconic mountain peaks in Boulder. Green Mountain itself is the third highest mountain in Boulder, and we felt that! Probably because we got extra and did some additional hikes to just the original Green Mountain West trail. We started with that, then at the peak took the EM Greenman trail all the way down, then hooked back all the way up on the Ranger trail, then back out to the GMW trailhead. 6 miles, 3 hours, 1500+ elevation gain probably twice, exhausting but fun. After the epic hike we met the Red Rocks crew back in Boulder at the Pearl Street Mall area and had lunch at Bartaco, coffee at Ozo. Later back in Layfayette we had dinner at The Post Chicken and Beer, the Layfayette location was about a 5min drive from us (they have several locations around Colorado- pretty popular spot for a reason! Their chicken was so so good).
And there you have it, Layfayette, Louisville, Idaho Springs, Boulder and RMNP in 4 days. We packed in a ton, but that's how I like it.
May, Memorial Day weekend, 2023:
Back in the town that I love! Joe and I revisited Boulder now that my brother moved here. It was such a fun long weekend of perfect weather, hiking, some festivals, great food- all the things I have come to expect when visiting Colorado.
Thursday: Arrived hot off the plane and ready to hike! We hit part of the Mesa trail and did about a 1hr loop, up and down and up again. The Mesa trail is a massive trail that goes along the flatirons, just pick a parking lot and you will most likely find a trailhead for it. It's a hike you can make as long/short, easy/difficult as you like- options! After the hike, we headed to downtown Boulder for dinner and drinks at Spruce which was fantastic- looked like it was in a hotel and had a few options within that hotel for food and drinks. From there we walked up Pearl St to Centro for some margaritas (so good) and then ended at the Bohemian Biergarden by Spruce for a nightcap. Things were closing early on a Thursday in Boulder, which isn't the worst thing.
Friday: Quick run (yes Boulder does has some flat areas- usually around ponds/lakes), another hike, this time part of the South Mesa trail for about an hour. Lunch in downtown Boulder at the Mountain Sun Pub (cash only, good soup). Coffee next door at Oxo, and drove about 30mins to Nederlands to check out a property. Amazing views of the snowcaps, a little old timey town with some bars/breweries/restaurants. We checked out the Howlin Pub for some beers and then the Gold Dirt Distillery for some cocktails. Just so cool and different for a middle of nowhere stop. Back to Boulder, checked out Leaf for dinner (amazing vegan food!)
Saturday: Big hike time! We tackled the Royal Arch trail- such a stairmaster- 2 hrs, 1300ft in elevation, 4 miles. Great workout, crowded but totally doable. After that aggressive morning we hit the Boulder festival that was going on downtown all weekend. Tons of vendors, bands, we hit up the beer fest for a few hours, so much fun. From there we stumbled to Postino on Pearl St- great for wine and small plates. Gelato boy after for dessert (amazing flavors) and Bar taco for delicious tequila cocktails.
Sunday: Gotta admit, I was a little sore by Sunday. But nonetheless, we tackled Walker Ranch/Ethel Harrold Canyon Falls trail - 3.75mi, 1.5hrs. Kind of boring at the beginning, but eventually it does lead to a pretty area with some views, water, stairs, rocks, etc. It looked like you could just keep going on the trail but we did a somewhat loop on the Alltrails path. It did the job, my legs were done after this one. Saw a couple of rattlesnakes near the path too- I tried to block that out. Back in Boulder we stopped at Audrey Jones Pizza garage for some slices (they were massive, you only need one- and the thick crust slice was so so good). Did a little shopping on Pearl St- said goodbye to Boulder, and stopped for dinner in downtown Denver at Cubacuba Cafe. OMG this meal- I could not stop eating. Tostones, guac, fried yuca, seafood paella- just amazing. And then, back home we went.
Colorado I love you, see you soon.