Located near the towns of Cortez and Mancos, Mesa Verde is reached by a long road that leads high up above the surrounding landscape. The drive from the highway up to the site takes about 45 minutes. Near the highway is one of the visitor centers, where you can get information on the park and road conditions before driving up. You can book a ranger-led tour of Cliff Palace when you arrive so you know what time to show up for the one-hour tour.
Grand Lake is arguably the biggest attraction in the town of Grand Lake, offering boating, sailing, fishing, swimming, kayaking and yachting – it even hosts a Regatta Week in early August. This is also where you’ll find the biggest Fourth of July fireworks display in all of Colorado, as well as a wealth of popular tourist spots like candy shops, old time photo galleries and saloons, an array of gift shops and even mini-golf courses. Plus, as it sits near the western entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll be steps away from one of the country’s most spectacular wildlife-filled parks too.
Owners Wendye Sykes and Shelley Powers came to Estes Park from San Francisco looking for an escape from the grind of everyday city life — and that’s exactly what they’ve created at River Spruce. Offering nine different cabins, you’ll find lodgings suitable for couples and families all nestled amidst the scenic Rocky Mountain wilderness and along the Big Thompson River.
The suites have private balconies with a sunken living room. If you want to splurge, the most luxurious suite, the Centennial Suite, has a full kitchen, living area, dining area, private balcony, separate bedroom and an oversized Jacuzzi tub. Choose from five restaurants and lounges. The Swan offers fine dining in an elegant bistro setting, while the Garden Terrace is more casual. The Pub is the place to go to watch televised sporting events and the Golf Grille is conveniently located at the golf course. Take the complimentary shuttle to the Park Meadows Retail Resort for a day of shopping, or drive to Downtown Denver, 20 minutes away. Fly to Denver International Airport which a 30-minute drive away. Weekday rates start at $99 per night.
Brian and I descended back to ~7,000 feet for dinner in a small-town Indian restaurant in Nederland, Colorado, west of Boulder. By then, both our heads ached like a bad hangover, and my lungs literally burned when I tried to inhale anything but shallow breaths. Add generalized joint pain, and I had a full-blown case of altitude sickness. Given that I am a noted hypochondriac, I expected the worst.