For Chez Perot, no trip to Colorado is complete without a day or more in Estes Park. A long time favorite for us in both summertime and winter, I have lost count of the number of visits I have under my belt but I do know that it’s not enough.
Over Spring Break this year, we drove to Colorado. While Littleton was our “home base,” we daytripped up into the Rockies. Like homing pigeons come to nest, upon arrival we headed to the Estes Park brewery to recharge from the 2 hour drive and sample their local craft beer.
It had been roughly 13 years since we last visited, and when I tell you it was as if it had been frozen in time, I mean it. I think even the carpet was the same! The beer was still tasty and our meal was just as humongous as I remember.
Shopping wasn’t the agenda for this trip, but we kicked off a little fun by taking the Cupcake to another Estes Park institution, Dick’s Rock Shop and Museum. She talked her Daddy into a bag of polished rocks and a chunk of natural rose quartz that she proudly discussed the merits of throughout the remainder of the day.
Next up, we grabbed some flowers from the local market, some coffee from my favorite bakery (Notch Top – thank goodness it’s still there) and drove out to the cemetery to lay them on my mom’s grave. We always laugh that the flowers last roughly 5 minutes before the elk come out of the woods to devour their “snack.” Even though it was a balmy 48 degrees, the snow put a kink in our plans and we never could find her gravesite.
The cemetery doesn’t allow headstones so we aimed for the best, but my memory was too rusty. Never-the-less, we left the elk snack amongst the evergreens. I really don’t think Mom would mind.
The rest of the day was spent revisiting our favorite spots, St Mary’s Lake, our favorite lodges (including haunted Stanley Hotel) and the Rocky Mountain National Park. The Park is a must-do. It’s open year-round, although depending on the snowfall, you may not get to drive to the top. Entrance fee is $20 and it’s good for a week. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll feel elk when you’re in the park. If you go during winter, check out the sledding hill for the kids. There is a lodge at the very top of the mountain, but only open when there isn’t 30 feet of snow on top of it. And trust me, with those winding mountain roads, you don’t want to try and go up there until everything has melted off! Some of my favorite memories of the area is visiting in the summer and driving along Trail Ridge Road. A few times, we saw bears in the trees, and my favorite yellow-bellied marmots lounging on the rocks.
There’s just something about the mountains restores my soul. We couldn’t get enough of the peaceful silence, the wind, the wildlife, the immenseness of it all. Our phones didn’t work and we didn’t care. And this was the worst traffic we encountered all day.
Spending the day elevated was just what we needed to reset our city clocks.
I didn’t even mind that the off-season schedule meant the stores were closed by the time we came back down after 6 p.m.. Well, maybe a little. I do love the main street shopping!