Colorado is a skip and a hop (over Nevada and Utah) from the Bay Area where you enter the world of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. We had a free weekend in October and had always heard great things about the area and wanted to make a trip to experience it for ourselves. There was way too many parks, historical sites, and other interesting things to see and do during our days there but here’s a breakdown of our schedule!
Day 1: Denver
Flying direct from any of the big Bay Area airports is easy and quick with the flight being around 2 1/2 hours. Grabbed a rental car and drove into town. We suggest getting a 4 wheel drive or a car that has enough power if you decide to drive out of the city. We had decided to take a late flight out after work so headed straight to the hotel upon our arrival for some relaxing and rest.
We stayed at the Halcyon Hotel Cherry Creek located in Denver’s Cherry Creek North Neighborhood right in the heart of downtown. This newly opened hotel has everything you can think of for a great stay: dog friendly, a 24/7 Kitchen Counter that provides complimentary coffee and espresso drinks and complimentary beverages during happy hour, and complimentary gear rentals of bikes, scooters, and long boards along with anything else you might need for your adventure. If that’s not enough, be sure to check out their rooftop pool and bar with great views of the mountains and downtown. To top off this hotel’s awesome amenities, we were also in love with our room. Refillable filtered water available on every floor along with our own in room espresso machine and retro upright disc player had us feeling relaxed at feeling at home in no time!
Day 2: Rocky Mountains National Park
We woke up to a beautiful fall day in Denver. Had a quick fill up on some morning bakeries and coffee at the Kitchen Counter and headed North to Rocky Mountain National Park. We passed through Boulder, CO for some snacks and drinks and enjoyed seeing the looming mountains get closer and closer. The Rocky Mountains are famous for be a big inspiration to many from artists, country singers, sports players, and adventurers. The park features the Trail Ridge Road which is the highest continuous paved road in the country at 12,183 feet (2 miles above sea level) as well as many meadows where you can frequently see herds of Elk. The park also contains many trails, lakes, and waterfalls that are open year round and 24/7!
After a day exploring the park, we headed to our very cozy Bed and Breakfast: Romantic Riversong in Estes Park, CO which is located just a few miles outside the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. The original building was built back in the 1920s and has been kept up to date every since but with some of the old charm still very transparent throughout the property. Each of their rooms have unique designs and themes and a delicious warm breakfast is served in the common dining area every morning. Coffees, teas, and cookies are available throughout the day and true to their name, a lovely river runs along their property with plenty of walking trails and benches located outside to enjoy their quiet and peaceful location.
Day 3: Ski and Snowboarder’s Heaven: Aspen, CO and Snowmass Village, CO
If you’re ever in Colorado in the winter, you’re most likely heading to this area as your final destination. Driving through the mountains to get to these locations, you can already see why this area is considered one of the top ski destinations in the US! The mountains and valley are beautiful and when dusted in snow, it definitely looks like a winter wonderland! We were a bit early for ski season but there was plenty of things to see and do around town.
Our first stop was to check into Limelight Hotel Aspen. This hotel is located across the street from a park and with a great view of the mountains and within walking distance to anywhere in downtown. They have a heated pool and hot tubs for you to warm up in before or after a ski day and they provide a buffet breakfast every morning. We loved our room with a view of the park and our very own fireplace that just makes the whole place feel cozy and relaxing!
After stretching out our legs, we headed to the famed Maroon Bells located at Maroon Lake which is about 20 minutes drive from Aspen downtown. This beautiful lake sits at the foot of very distinct and majestic bell shaped peaks that tower in the backdrop. You could spend hours wandering around the area or just sitting and admiring the view. The road does close in Mid November and there is a Park Fee you need to pay to reach this area so plan accordingly.
A couple of us also opted to stay with Wyndham Vacation Rentals in Snowmass Village just a few miles from Aspen. We decided to have an easy night and bought some groceries to cook for ourselves at our vacation rental. This ended up being a great choice since it started raining and then snowing! The rental was the perfect place for anyone visiting the area for skiing or snowboarding- with lifts basically outside your door, the convenience and location is hard to beat! Come back to a warm and well stocked rental unit after a day on the slopes and warm up by your fireplace while catching up on your favorite shows. Our unit was able to fit 6 people but each unit is different so be sure to take a look at all their different housing options!
Day 4: Colorado Countryside and Salida, CO
Our next stop was to head South to get a feel of warmer weather and some countryside living. Before heading out of the mountains we did a quick visit to Ashcroft Ghost Town which is just outside Aspen and Snowmass Village. As mentioned, we had some snow fall the night before and waking up to everything covered in white was beautiful to see! The drive through the mountains was peaceful with amazing sights around every turn. When we reached the town of Ashcroft, you can only see one building from the roadside so don’t be alarmed! Park and walk along the pathway behind some trees where you can let your imagination run free about what it use to be like living in the harsh conditions of the mountains. At one time the population of the town use to be around 2,000 and was larger than Aspen!
Driving South, the temperatures became warmer and the horizon opened up to more plains and farmland. We had decided to spend the night at Creekside Chalets in Salida, CO. Upon arriving at Creekside Chalets, we were greeted by the sounds of the running creek and the wind rustling through the trees. Each of their Chalets is stand alone and has their own kitchen, bathroom, hot tub, and porch. They are the perfect getaway from all things hustle and bustle and is located only 10 minutes from Monarch Mountain if you’re looking for a winter getaway. Their accommodations are dog friendly and they are located 15 minutes from downtown Salida if you prefer going to dinner in town or want to pick up any other last minute items.
After check in we decided to go into town to walk around. This lesser known area of Colorado certainly holds its own charm and qualities! Salida, CO is voted one of the best places in the US to retire. The town itself feel like a combination of sleepy country town but with all the shops and stops you would find in any larger town. The Arkansas River runs through town and the whole area has recently been updated with paved walkways and playground running alongside the creek. We really enjoyed a river side stroll which was colored with some late Fall Foliage- the perfect way to end our Colorado visit!