Colorado Rocky Mountain High

...Scuse me while I kiss the sky...
Jimi Hendricks, Purple Haze

Our first visit to Colorado was last June to attend the wedding of our niece. Being outdoors types, we just had to come back and spend some serious time in this Rocky Mountain paradise. Remember our visit to the great state of Texas last spring for 5 weeks in 6 different locations, this time around you’ll be able to follow our escapades in Colorado for 6 weeks in 5 different locations: Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Pagosa Springs. Looks like a springy September!

On August 21st we left Casper, Wyoming, drove through Cheyenne then entered Colorado. We drove around in Fort Collins – great old town area with that college town vibe as it is home to Colorado State University. Here we enjoyed lunch then stayed the night in Loveland.

The next day we took our time and drove through Rocky Mountain National Park. Having grown up in an area surrounded by the lovely Cascade and Olympic Mountains, we’ve always appreciated mountain views. We’ve been at high elevations on the Alps of Italy, France, and Germany, and we’ve seen the Rockies of British Columbia and Alberta in Canada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico. and have always been in awe of their beauty. So we were not expecting what we saw in Rocky Mountain National Park – beyond wow, and wow again! The word that came to mind was breathtaking. From the time we entered the town of Estes Park, the grand view was laid out like a painting. Since it was August, there was no snow, but we kept saying how utterly fantastic these mountains must be in the early summer when they are snowcapped. The scenic 48-mile Trail Ridge Road (TRR) tops out at 12, 183 ft. But that wasn’t high enough, so we hiked a bit higher than that. Eleven miles of the highway is above tree-line in what is considered alpine tundra - you'll see no trees because they can't survive at elevations above 11,500 feet. I kept hearing Jimmy Hendrix singing in my ear – 'scuse me while I kiss the sky over and over as we walked and drove that day. It was fascinating to see how quickly the changes from montane forests of aspen and ponderosa pine gave way to the fir and spruce of the subalpine forests then finally the alpine tundra. The TRR links Estes Park in the east to Grand Lake in the west. On the drive we saw a rather photogenic marmot, many nervous and busy pika who wanted nothing to do with us, and a number of elk who were too busy to pose for us so we only saw their backsides. And we crossed the continental divide at Milner’s Pass, but that seemed like no big deal after what we had seen.

Steamboat Springs, Colorado
After 10 nights on the road, we arrived in Steamboat Springs at our next Airbnb for a much-needed week-long stay high in the Colorado Rockies. This area is known for many year-round activities and is a popular skiing destination. The elevation in town is 6,695 feet, but we were staying at the base area on the mountain at just shy of 7,000 feet. It was a fairly low-keyed week with bike rides for D and runs for me on the many trails in this area. We ventured into town 3 miles away and enjoyed a farmer’s market and a car show. 

A little history - Steamboat is known as an international skiing destination and offers year-round activities such as river sports on the Yampa and cycling on the many trails surrounding the area. But before all that early trappers came here to soak their cares away in the many geothermal hot springs – probably their annual bath! As the town formed in the early 1900s, ranchers and miners moved in and are still present today. Originally, skiing was a means of transportation here until 1913 when the Norwegians moved in and created a ski jumping site that is currently one of three complete jumping complexes in the US.

Thanks for joining our journey.
Stay tuned.
DaM