While it is possible to travel through Rocky Mountain National Park and not catch sight of any wildlife, we venture to say that is an unlikely experience. From everyday sightings of chipmunks and mule deer to the moving experience of viewing elk in rut (the mating season), the animals in the park let you know that you are part of something truly wild. Some of these critters are harder to spot than others - they might camouflage themselves in the trees or hide in the underbrush - but look closely and you may have an encounter unlike any other.
Nestled just one mile from the south entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and two miles from downtown Estes Park, Rockmount Cottages is a 20 cabin resort covering 15 acres of wilderness. On the grounds, you’ll have access to a half mile of the Big Thompson River available for fishing and riverside picnics. To fit the lodge lifestyle, each cabin is constructed of knotty pine and most include cozy, stone fireplaces as well as furnished kitchens, a 40-inch flatscreen and DirecTV, wireless internet, and outdoor charcoal grills and picnic areas.
Classic Estes Park cabins are a popular choice for visitors to this Front Range mountain town. From cozy and rustic to something a little more luxurious, FlipKey has something to suit every style and budget. Many cabin rentals in Estes Park are equipped with full kitchens and fireplaces, and some have luxury touches such as hot tubs and underfloor heating. Condos in Estes Park are a good alternative to a hotel, offering many of the same amenities but with a more personal touch.
There's more to Michigan than its natural legacies. Ann Arbor's University of Michigan is a must-visit for its Law Quadrangle, the Power Center for the Performing Arts, Natural History Museum, and a series of Gothic structures. One of the longest suspension bridges in the world is the Mackinac Bridge, which joins the Lower Peninsula at Mackinaw City to the Upper Peninsula at St. Ignace. Frankenmuth in mid-Michigan is an interesting replica of a German town, where visitors make a customary stop at Zehnder's or The Bavarian Inn, known for their luscious fried chicken.
Aspen has developed a reputation as one of Colorado’s most glamorous getaways, making this former mining town one of the best weekend trips in Colorado for an upscale escape. Though you can easily spend the day skiing Aspen’s legendary slopes, you can also take advantage of the city’s highly regarded arts and cultural scene—the Wheeler Opera House is a must. And when you hit the town for dinner and drinks, keep your eyes peeled for celebrity sightings, which are just part of the fun of an Aspen vacation.
The Western Slope has plenty of charms, including being a dinosaur mecca with plenty of hands-on science, and is the heart of Colorado’s agricultural region. At the Museum of Western Colorado’s Dinosaur Journey, visitors can get up close and personal with dinosaur skeletons, a working paleontology lab and realistic robotic dinosaurs. Dedicated to “putting science in the hands of kids,” the Western Colorado Math and Science Center features interactive exhibits in biology, physics, earth and space science, and electronics. From June through October, orchards are laden with some of the sweetest harvests around: cherries, grapes, apples, plums, pears, apricots and peaches. Take an orchard tour or check out the myriad of roadside stands selling fresh produce, jams and ciders. For great biking or strolling, the Colorado Riverfront Trail winds for more than 18 miles through the city of Grand Junction’s picnic grounds, botanical garden, protected wetlands and fishing pier. Buy one/get one free passes are available for six major attractions from the Grand Junction Visitors Center. This “Map to Adventure” includes Dinosaur Journey, Museum of the West, Cross Orchards, the John McConnell Math & Science Center, The Art Center and the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens.
The Royal Gorge Bridge & Park – Just a few minutes away from Echo Canyon River Expeditions office, you’ll find Colorado’s Natural Wonder – the Royal Gorge. In 1929, the Royal Gorge Bridge was built across the gorge and still stands as one of the world’s greatest engineering feats. Buy tickets online or as a rafting package to save a few dollars. The newly rebuilt attractions and visitor’s center enhance your experience of this amazing chasm and expansive view of the Wet Mountain range. There are also trails, located just before the gates of the park at the rest area, that allow visitors to walk or bike a few miles along the rim of the Gorge.
Above tree line, at approximately 11,000 ft (3,400 m), trees disappear and the vast alpine tundra takes over. Over one third of the park resides above the tree line, an area which limits plant growth due to the cold climate and strong winds. The few plants that can survive under such extreme conditions are mostly perennials. Many alpine plants are dwarfed at high elevations, though their occasional blossoms may be full-sized.