Rocky Mountain National Park, established in 1915, is a living showcase of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. Located outside Estes Park, Colorado, Rocky Mountain is a great family vacation destination, offering outdoor experiences for all—from easy nature hikes around crystal clear mountain lakes to daring rock scrambles up waterfalls and mountains.
Within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park, more than 100 peaks rise above 11,000 feet in altitude, including Longs Peak at 14,259 feet. These amazing mountains cradle the Estes Valley, providing residents and guests with incredible beauty and inspiration. Many of the taller peaks make up the Continental Divide, where snowmelt runs either west to the Pacific Ocean or east to the Atlantic. The park's vistas are accessible by horseback, on foot, or by car - the most notable vehicle route being Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuously paved highway in North America. No matter your level of interest, adventure awaits you while viewing, exploring and appreciating this breathtaking collection of mountains.
Another addition to the Denver skyline is the 165-room ART Hotel, which opened early summer of 2015. Located in downtown Denver’s Cultural District, the boutique hotel is simply unique, capturing the contemporary art scene as if the hotel were its sketching pad. When my husband and I stayed there, one of our favorite things to do order a cocktail at the rooftop bar and then step out onto the FIRE Terrace, a unique Denver rooftop bar and restaurant experience with a fourth-floor patio that overlooks the bustling life of the Broadway Street below.
A famous winter destination for travelers throughout the country, Aspen’s four impressive ski mountains make up its beautiful surroundings. Nestled in the heart of the White River National Forest, this area is a mecca for winter sports, popular for skiing and snowboarding. While hitting the slopes is the area’s most beloved attraction, visitors can also explore the wealth of high-end boutiques, interesting museums and wonderful hiking trails. Those who want to experience a different kind of outdoor adventure can also try cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and fly-fishing. Boasting even more activities in the summertime, visitors can go rafting, horseback riding and soar above the city in a hot-air balloon.
The park's climate is also affected by the Continental Divide, which runs northwest to southeast through the center of the park atop the high peaks. The Continental Divide creates two distinct climate patterns - one typical of the east side near Estes Park and the other associated with the Grand Lake area on the park's west side. The west side of the park experiences more snow, less wind, and clear cold days during the winter months.