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.
Observing wildlife is one of the most popular activities in the Rockies. A drive through the park at dusk during the summer is sure to guarantee viewing of herds of elk and mule deer. And throughout the rest of the year, moose, bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, cougars, eagles, hawks and scores of smaller animals like pikas and marmots delight wildlife-watchers of all ages.
Ouray is one of the many historic Colorado mining towns that have re-invented themselves as outdoor playgrounds for adventure sport fanatics. The town is steeped in history, which you can explore at the Ouray County Historical Museum, the Ouray Alchemist Pharmaceutical Museum or on a tour of the Old Hundred Mine, before visiting one of the natural thermal pools that have been attracting visitors for over 100 years.
The weather in RMNP is extreme—and unpredictable. Ranging from snowstorms in the winter to hot, clear days in the summer, Rocky Mountain’s got it all. Summer is quick—just July and August—but beautiful, as temperature ranges from 40s at night and up to the 80s during the day. The rest of the year, expect snow at most elevations, and definitely up on Trail Ridge Road.
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.
I am convinced Chautauqua is Colorado’s best-kept secret and I’m amazed how few locals know about its charms. Located at the base of the Flatirons in Boulder, this National Historic Landmark has rental cottages that are surrounded on three sides with open space that includes 48 miles of hiking trails and thousands of acres of natural lands begging to be explored. On weekends in June, Theatre-Hikes Colorado will take audience members on a moderate hike amidst the scenic backdrop of Boulder Open Space while scenes from “Snow White” are performed along the way. On June 29, don’t miss the Colorado Music Festival’s Young People’s Concert, which is a is a narrated work about a cartoon score being performed at a symphony concert (tickets are $8). The historic Chautauqua Dining Hall (a tradition since 1898) has recently undergone a huge overhaul and the wraparound porch offers some of the best patio dining in Colorado. If you visit on a Saturday, be sure to also visit the Boulder’s Farmer’s Market (the largest in Colorado). Not to be forgotten are Pearl Street Mall’s restaurants, shops, people-watching and Pop Jet Fountain–they never fail to entertain.
The park may be accessed through Estes Park or via the western entrance at Grand Lake. Trail Ridge Road, also known as U.S. Route 34, connects the eastern and western sides of the park. The park has a total of five visitor centers. The Alpine Visitor Center is located in the tundra environment along Trail Ridge Road, while Beaver Meadows and Fall River are both near Estes Park, with Kawuneeche in the Grand Lake area, and the Moraine Park Discovery Center near the Beaver Meadows entrance and visitor center.
Isle Royale National Park is situated on an island on Lake Superior near the Canadian border. This beautiful island spans 432 square miles and was shaped into its present form by Ice Age glaciers. Today it is home to a wide range of wildlife including herring gulls, wolves, otters, foxes, falcons, and ospreys. When you want to explore unspoiled wilderness this park is the perfect destination.
It’s hard to beat the majestic setting at The Peaks Resort & Spa in Telluride. This property is surrounded by the dramatic peaks of the Rockies in the southwestern region of the state, and is particularly renowned for its spa. Here you can indulge in a variety of rejuvenating treatments like hot stone therapy, soak in the eucalyptus-filled Jacuzzis or take advantage of personal training sessions. Enjoy your days taking part in outdoor adventures like mountain biking or hiking the spectacular trails and then come back to enjoy a
Explore the nearby great outdoors at the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space or get your adrenaline pumping by rafting on Cache La Poudre River with the Mountain Whitewater Descents Company. Visit Global Village Museum of Arts and Cultures to learn about folk art from all over the world. Take the kids to the Farm at Lee Martinez Park to learn about the farm life and play with baby farm animals.
During the winter most of Trail Ridge Road is closed due to heavy snow, limiting motorized access to the edges of the park. Winter activities include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing which are possible from either the Estes Park or Grand Lake entrances. On the east side near Estes Park, skiing and snowshoeing trails are available off Bear Lake Road, such as the Bear Lake, Bierstadt Lake, and Sprague Lake trails and at Hidden Valley. Slopes for sledding are also available at Hidden Valley. The west side of the park near Grand Lake also has viable snowshoeing trails. Backcountry skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed after climbing up one of the higher slopes, especially late in the snow season after avalanche danger has subsided, and technical climbing remains also a possibility, although typically differing in style from the summer months.
The outdoor adventurer remains busy throughout the year in Rocky Mountain National Park. Open 365 days a year, there are activities and sports throughout the summer/fall and winter/spring seasons. Whether looking for a new route to an adrenaline rush, or simply enjoying a favorite pastime, Rocky Mountain National Park's unique and varied landscapes offer something fun.
In the shadow of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the quirky town of Hooper sits atop a natural artesian hot spring, with water flowing year-round into the family-friendly Sand Dunes Pool. On the same property, The Greenhouse is an all-indoor, all-adult oasis with three small soaking tubs and a 10-by-75-foot zero-entry pool. The Greenhouse also has a 10-person sauna, indoor gardens and an onsite bar to help you stay even toastier.
The best part of a staycation is you can completely tailor it to your needs. Whether you’re looking to stay in and relax or seize the night life, experiencing your city free from the distractions of home is priceless. Hotel Tonight caters to late bookers looking for the best deals and Airbnb is a great option if you’re looking for more space. Don’t forget to switch your phone to airplane mode. You’re on vacation after all!
At Brynwood on the River we are notorious for our cozy and relaxing cabins nestled on the charming Big Thompson River. But did you know we also offer delightful motel rooms and spacious vacation homes? Whether you are enjoying a weekend getaway or a family vacation, Brynwood on the River will make it special. Book online today! Brynwood on the River Details