Colorado is a fantastic place to go for Spring Break. Trust me. I went there for a week in 2013, rented a car and started exploring the highest state in the lower 48 states. I have to admit that before going there, I didn’t really know what to expect. I got blown away completely. The Colorado Rockies are probably one of the greatest places on earth to go for outdoor activities, which I happen to love. Additionally there’s Denver, the state’s capital city with microbreweries on practically every street corner; a great way to kick back after a couple of days in the mountains. I happen to love beer as well.
I started off in Denver, spent a day walking around, visiting the Capitol and the ‘mile high sign’ and the Denver Art Museum. A full day of exploring the city is more than enough, I feel. It does have some fascinating buildings and the streets are open and wide, but it lacks the history to make it worth spending more time. I did end up staying in Denver though, because it is a great base to explore the state and there are several great day trips that can be started from there.
The first spot I drove my rental car to was the summit of Lookout Mountain, which offers spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains to the west and the Great Plains to the east. At the summit there’s a great souvenir store, but what made me decide to go there was the fact that Buffalo Bill is buried on Lookout Mountain.
Next up was a visit to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, an open-air concert arena that can host no less than 9,000 people at a time. It is carved out of the surrounding red sandstone mountainside. The visitor center is pretty great and free and there’s an interesting Hall of Fame. It must be totally amazing to see a sunset concert of a world-class band while enjoying a local beer and a view of Denver in the distance.
Not too far from Red Rocks is the location that fascinated me most – and still does. I have been intrigued by dinosaurs since I was a little kid and right there was a place called Dinosaur Ridge. Here you can actually see dinosaur bones from the Jurassic, dinosaur footprints, traces left behind by other creatures,… It was a wonderful place to be for a nerd like me. Dinosaur Ridge and the surrounding area was the very location of the infamous 19th-century Bone Wars. It’s free to walk around!
A while later I was on my way north, towards the college and hippie town of Boulder. It’s about a twenty-minute drive from Denver. I spent some time walking around at Chautauqua Park, where the views of Boulder and the plains are quite nice, and strolling on the main shopping street Pearl Street Mall.
Those above-described places and activities are all a really short distance from Denver and visiting each of them shouldn’t take longer than half a day.
I decided it was time for some more action and headed into the Rocky Mountains on a day-long road trip. You could easily spend more than a week in the Rockies and go on hikes, bicycle rides, white water rafting, skiing,… but I didn’t have enough time for that, unfortunately. I drove through Estes Park and explored a corner of the brilliant Rocky Mountains National Park.
These were my activities during the first three days of my week in Colorado. In the next post I will be talking about Colorado Springs and Cañon City!