On Thursday, I posted the first half recap of our Denver trip! Here’s the second half…
We took a drive into the mountains to Estes Park. Both Jason and I had recommendations to head up there but really didn’t know what to expect. It’s a cute little town at one of the entrances to Rocky Mountain National Park. After having a little picnic lunch in the center of town, we decided to find Bear Lake, located in the Park (elevation 9,475). We paid $20 for the day and drove through the gorgeous mountain roads to get to the entrance of the trail that lead us to the lake. When we got up higher into the mountains we saw some snow but had no idea what we’d be getting into. After climbing 4 feet of snow to get onto the trail, we found a frozen over lake.
Jason decided he wanted to see more so we headed south for a mile on the snow-covered trail in search of a waterfall. We fell through the snow a few times in spots but when we found Alberta Falls it was all worth it! The weather was deceivingly warm with so much snow, which made it much more bearable. On the way back to Denver, we stopped in Boulder for dinner and beer at Avery Brewing Company, home of one of my favorite beers: White Rascal.
We decided to spend a day in Breckenridge to visit the cute little mountain town we heard would make us never want to leave. Unfortunately, we went during “mud season”, the time of year when all the snow’s melting between the winter ski season and the summer hiking and biking season. (This also happens again in Fall) Many shops were closed but we had an awesome meal and local beer at Kenosha Steakhouse before heading to Breckenridge Brewery‘s original restaurant and the site where the brewery started. We also stopped by Breckenridge Distillery‘s tasting room for some vodka and whiskey samples.
On the way back, we stopped in a town called Idaho Springs (above) to check out the Tommyknocker Brewery. It’s not too far from Denver but after seeing where it’s located, I am shocked we’ve heard of Tommyknocker at all! But the beer speaks for itself. It’s pretty great and we tried every one they had.
Another day trip outside of Denver lead us to Fort Collins and the New Belgium Brewery on Thursday. It was a cold, rainy day so we were more than happy to spend it inside with some awesome beer to keep us warm. I wasn’t able to sign up for a tour online like they recommend because they were all completely booked so we went there assuming we’d just get flights in the brewery and hang out. When we got here, I put our names on the list for the next tour just in case. A few minutes later we got called up and got our tickets! I’m so glad we were able to get on the tour because the background and history of the brewery was really interesting. Plus, we got to taste a lot of beer right off the line and a beer that’s not sold anywhere. We’re really excited to take a trip down to Asheville to their new brewery going in!
Friday morning we decided to head south to Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak. We knew we weren’t prepared for the weather at the top of one of Colorado’s “14ers” but knew we had to suffer through it for the experience. We called and made reservations for the 1:40p train and headed out, stopping first at Voodoo Doughnuts!
The Pikes Peak Cog Railway is the highest railway system in the world, taking us up to 14,110 feet. The trip was just shy of 9 miles and about an hour and a half each way. At the top, the wind was about 40mph and the temperature was -14 with the wind chill. Saying we were underdressed is a serious understatement. I was also worried about how I’d feel at such a high altitude because I definitely felt the difference at only 5,280 feet in Denver. I think if the weather wasn’t so bad, I would have been a bit better but it was a serious struggle for me to be up at that altitude. I could never be a mountain climber! The town at the base of the mountain is called Manitou Springs and, had I known more about it, we would have planned to explore it more. It’s definitely touristy but super cute with a lot of great shops and restaurants. If you go to Pikes Peak, plan to check out the town!
Since this was our last night in Denver, we decided to spend it downtown. We headed over to the actual Breckenridge Brewery down the street from Coors Field. We had a few beers and dinner, then headed over to Great Divide Brewing before they closed. We got in a few tasters then walked back to Breckenridge for another beer to close out the night.
On Saturday, after packing our bags and cleaning up the condo, we headed over to a craft market in a nearby neighborhood. I’m not sure how I originally heard about Horseshoe Market but I thought checking out a bunch of local Colorado makers would be an awesome way to spend the last few hours we had before heading to the airport. It was a beautiful day and picked up some business cards from a few really cool booths. I can’t wait to check them out and purchase some things!
So there you have it! That was our Denver trip in a nutshell. If you plan to travel out that way, I hope I’ve given you some great ideas to add to your itinerary. If you have other suggestions for our next trip, please share! — Annie