Whirlwind Weekend – Colorado – Rocky Mountain National Park
Whirlwind Weekend Wackiness (“WWW”) continues with our recent trip to Denver, Colorado. Newly acquired national park pass (and photo ID) in hand, Mr. Travelbypoints and I traveled to the Mile High State with the expectation of spending two days basking in the glorious outdoor beauty of the Colorado Rockies. Little did we know that the weatherman in the sky had other plans.
Colorado is known for extreme weather changes and we witnessed this firsthand during our weekend trip. Our arrival coincided with the first snowfall of the season, two weeks ahead of schedule and even colder than usual (below freezing temps). Fortunately we checked the weather forecast before heading to the airport and came prepared with winter jackets and weatherproof boots (sadly our trusty Vibrams stayed at home). The winter gear came in handy as we braved the rain and snow flurries on Saturday, determined to see at least some of our outdoor plans to fruition. Fortunately Sunday saw a change in weather and the return of sunshine and warmer temps to accompany our full day excursion from Denver to the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Rain or shine, we managed to see enough of Colorado’s natural playground to soothe our spirits and pique our curiosity for a return trip in the future (in the spring, perhaps).
Highlights from our whirlwind wacky weather weekend include:
- Discovering an unexpected acoustic gem at Red Rocks Park, a world-famous venue for outdoor concerts since 1941. Although concert season has officially ended for the year, Mr. Travelbypoints and I trudged up and down the many, many steps of the amphitheater and tried to imagine what it would be like to take in an open-air concert at this spectacular natural venue. The vision was enough to solidify Mr. Travelbypoint’s determination to schedule a return trip for next year (and we are not even true audiophiles!).
- Taking a delightfully high-energy tour at Celestial Seasonings, a leading organic tea company based in Boulder, Colorado. We got a behind-the-scenes look at how tea is stored, processed and packaged during an hour-long tour at the corporate headquarters. This was complemented with a pre- and post-tour tasting of any of the company’s traditional tea and herbal blends. As a huge fan of all things tea (it’s my daily beverage of choice), it was a fascinating way to spend a rainy afternoon. All tours and tastings are complementary.
- Braving the mud and light rain at Chautauqua Park in Boulder, CO to hike an easy trail at the foothills of the famous Green Mountain Flatirons. We managed to make it three-quarters of the way to the base of the mountain before the combination of sloshing mud and freezing cold induced Mr. Travelbypoints to suggest we call it a day. I was happy to oblige.
- Spending a day driving the iconic Trail Ridge Road at Rocky Mountain National Park, a 48-mile stretch of scenic byway that boasts the reputation of being the highest continuous paved road in the United States. The highest point in the road sits at 12,183 ft, an altitude that rivals Lake Titicaca in Peru. Throughout the winding drive we were rewarded with sweeping views of the surrounding Rockies and the rare opportunity to experience drastically different ecosystems from sub-alpine forest to tundra (freezing cold, arctic-like clime above tree line).
- “This is crazy! This is the most extreme, ridiculous hike we’ve ever been on. What a disaster!” – During a relatively easy, moderately inclined 0.5 mile hike in the Tundra Communities to a viewpoint near the high point of the Trail Ridge Road. Sub-freezing temperature and bristling wind-aside, I still thought he was being a bit melodramatic.
- “He lied! I can’t believe he lied! And he was probably the guy who cut in front of me at the line to the bathroom.” – After reaching the end of the 0.5 mile tundra hike. When we were half-way there, we stopped a guy who was on his way back to the trailhead to ask if it was worth hiking to the end of the trail. He told us the view was spectacular. For what it’s worth, I thought the view was nice.
- “That was a really amazing hike. Probably one of the most interesting ones we’ve been on.” – In reference to aforementioned tundra hike, several hours AFTER the fact.
- “What a cool tour. Even though I am not that interested in tea, this makes me want to drink some when we get back home.” – After a better than expected tour at Celestial Seasonings.
And last, but not least, some Picture Postcards from our Wacky Weekend:
For more pictures of our Colorado Weekend, click here.
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