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Visiting Central Colorado

When I first visited Colorado, I honestly had no idea what to expect. Landing in Denver, I didn’t expect this area of CO to be so abundant in wildlife and adventure. To anyone who plans to visit, even for a small time such as an overnight layover, there is much to see in this area of the state. None of which have any park fees (that as a Washingtonian, I was very used to.)

Here are the ones that I experienced and that I highly recommend. Though I shall caution you to not overdo yourself, as you can get easily winded due to the high elevation gain in the mile high city.

1. Red Rock Park + Amphitheater

This park is a short 30 minutes from Denver and an easy, yet beautiful exploration for a long layover that will not disappoint. There are a few different ways to explore this park, you can head up to the amphitheater and get a view of the whole park or you can use the loop trail that is about 1.5 miles roundtrip and mostly flat.

I recommend you try both to get the best experience, as it is not very difficult. Through the loop, you are walking through all the rock formations and also get some history along the way.

I was fortunate enough to see mule deer, plenty of birds in the brush and also a bobcat!

2. Garden of the Gods

This beautiful park is highly popular, so expect large crowds… but it’s for good reason that you must see for yourself. This park is located in west Colorado Springs, about an hour and 20 minutes from Denver. Simply driving into this park is nothing short of magnificent.

There are several parking areas here, so don’t feel pressured to wait around for parking at the first entrance, as this is the busiest. All parking areas allow access to all the trails. Take your time to soak in all the enormous rock formations and I recommend strolling down every trail, as they all have different things to see and other angles. Once you part from the beginning of the trail, you’ll find much less people on the back trails.

If you here during any season besides winter, beware of rattle snakes (at any park in Colorado). You can also spot prairie hawks at the tops of the rocks here. The hike itself is very easy, almost the entire loop is a wide paved walkway, although I recommend climbing up towards the tops as well.

Don’t forget to drive around the entire park! On the opposite side of the main lot is a beautiful view of all the rock formations and allows you to see them all at a new angle.

3. Rock Rock Canyon Open Space

I didn’t expect much from this place, but it over delivered by far! This area is way less touristy and truly is open wilderness. You can choose to stay on the path or crawl up into the rocks in a way that allows you to experience the rocks of Colorado in the best way you can.

This is located in west Colorado Springs as well and can be easily missed if you don’t pay attention.

There is a loop trail that allows you to see a lake in the middle that unfortunately I didn’t get to do but I highly recommend. I was able to see mule deer here as well as owls and a tremendous view of the Garden of the Gods from afar.

4. Palmer Park

My friend showed me this place to watch the sunrise and I highly recommend you do the same, as this area can have crowds during the day and it supplies the best views without the direct sunlight. Palmer Park is in Colorado Springs as well.

There are many ways to explore this area, you can go straight to the top and wander around or find a trail somewhere and experience as much of the area as you’d like.

This area has a variety of rock formations that are mostly grey with some red as well and has a great view of the city of Colorado Springs. Great place for bird watching, morning meditations and of course… watching the sun rise.

5. Pikes Peak

Now, I did not get to experience this hike, as it is for the advanced locals that are already acclimated to the high altitude. But you can see the peak of this mountain everywhere in Colorado Springs, there is apparently many ways to experience it, but the elevation gain is about 7400 feet! Depending on how you decide to hike this trail, it’s about 5 miles each way. You can also drive it or take a railway!

6. Devil’s Head Lookout

Unfortunately it was far too snowy for us to hike this area, but Devil’s Head is a Colorado staple. About an hour from Denver, this hike goes through tree lines on a simple 3 mile round trip hike. At the end, you climb up some stairs to the lookout house, where you can see amazing views of Denver and rock formations.

This hike does close on account of snow sometimes in the winter, so be sure to check if it’s open.

I now can see why so many love Colorado. There is such beauty to experience all around you while also being within a big city that has it all. All these trails were remarkably clean and the city reminded me of the PNW in it’s design and it’s people. I hope you visit soon and give these trails a try. 🙂

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Wandering Yellowstone

You know when you hear so much about a place that it loses your interest? Well, that’s what I thought about Yellowstone… until I step foot there and let me tell you… it is other worldly!

Yellowstone is America’s First National Park, sitting on top of the world’s most active volcanic platform! As soon as you enter this massive park, it’s not uncommon to have slow traffic due to herds of elk, bison on the road or other wildlife surprises. When the park opens up, you immediately see steam seeping from the ground and it’s hard to make the decision as to which direction to head first.

What I love about this park is that it is very spacious and spread out. There isn’t much of an issue finding parking or hitting any form of traffic like you may in some other National Parks and you can get around very easily. So, don’t stress that you wont have enough time to see the whole park, as you could easily do so in about 3-4 days.

Keep your eyes out and ears open for wildlife at all times. We were fortunate enough to see a National Geographic status bull amongst 100+ elk during the rut season! As well as a bull chasing a female that was something that no one else got to catch, because we stopped and heard the bull’s call.

We also a heard of bison (not uncommon if you look ) and spotted a mountain goat and her two babies, which started a massive crowd of people to come in and observe as well!

On top of wildlife and volcanic action, there are several GORGEOUS waterfalls in this park as well, so if you have the chance to do a short hike to one, don’t hesitate.

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Something I wish we would have paid attention to is what eruptions may happen each day, as some geysers will go off every week, every month, once a year, once every ten years… whatever it is, it’s good to know and try to catch! Old Faithful is popular for it’s consistency, but their are plenty of other AMAZING geysers in the park.

Everywhere you visit in this park is mind boggling, so although you may want to rush towards the most popular Old Faithful and Mammoth Springs, I honestly think these are not the most beautiful in this park. Just take every turn you can to see something and it will not disappoint!


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Blessed To Live In The Pacific Northwest

Every state we’ve explored has been so different from the last, and each one is beautiful in it’s own unique way. But traveling further south through the hot, empty and beautiful roads of Nevada and to Idaho, I can proudly say that I am happy to live in the Pacific Northwest.

Once we entered southern California, towards Nevada, it was like a fight against the heat. The water really didn’t taste the same and the water crisis was even more severe.

We begged for a river, a beach, lake, anything to cool ourselves down, but all around us were dried up creeks and salt flats.

I am grateful to have experienced these areas, especially to drive all the way up Nevada on 93N with absolutely nothing but rocks, wildlife and mountains around us. It was our most peaceful drive yet.

The central Nevada area is hot during the day, but rains and storms with rapid lighting and thunder all night, it’s really quiet beautiful.

The heat may have caused us to flee from entering Arizona, but we shall be back in the future.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from these travels, it’s that nothing goes as planned no matter how much you plan it. But that’s what makes it exciting, that’s what allows you learn.

It’s not about reaching a destination, because there will never be one. It’s about realizing the beauty of the moment with you now. We could have turned off the road every five miles and explored something amazing because this Earth is truly magic wherever you turn.

But for once, I’m grateful for the rain. I’m thankful to lay on cold, green grass and be surrounded by evergreen trees and mountains. I now know for myself that I am so blessed to live in the Pacific Northwest.

We are coming back to you Washington. We can’t wait to swim in your lakes, be in your mountains and cool breezes.

Yet there is no end to our travels, they’ve only just begun. I cannot wait to plan our next adventure and to continue to explore the beauty around me every single day. I’ve realized that I thrive off of it, the journey and the beauty, to discover something wondrous. And letting go of one single destination has allowed me to appreciate every beautiful moment.