Rockin' Rockies: Colorado Vacation Recap
Can we talk about the fact that I haven't been on a vacation in what feels like years? Now that I'm finally back in the great state of Texas, and don't have to use all my vacation time to visit my family during the holidays, I have a little bit of freedom to wander and explore. This summer we decided we'd have an ultimate Colorado vacation for our summer trip.
Our Colorado Vacation
Yes. That's our itinerary. Yes. I'm a little OCD about trip planning. ??
Where We Ate
[Denver] Olive & Finch Eatery our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
We got breakfast at Olive & Finch before heading to Greeley for our yurt adventure! It was a great little spot with good coffee and a well-rounded menu. There's really something for everyone here!
[Greeley] Empire State Pizza our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
true story: We always pick the local pizza place if we're in a small town and don't know what to eat/there's not a restaurant I've picked beforehand. That being said – we probably wouldn't go out of our way to go to this pizza place again, but for the size of the town and as far as local pizza places go, this is a pretty good one.
[Estes Park] Claire's on the Park our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
We honestly can't say enough good things about Claire's. This was like our home away from home while on our trip. We had breakfast, lunch, and dinner here, and each time was better than the last. Our favorites were the lamb chops, bananas foster waffle, and the baked brie!
[Estes Park] Smokin' Daves BBQ and Tap House our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
If you've just hiked 13 miles, want a beer, and some BBQ, this place is perfect for you! They had a great range of BBQ, a fabulous beer selection, and the friendliest staff. Its vicinity to the park can't be beaten!
Where We Slept
What We Did
[Greeley] Platte River Fort Exploring & Platte River Floating [Estes Park] Rocky Mountain National Park ?? check out our check-ins
Coincidentally, Tyler's break from school fell around the same time as the U.S. solar eclipse. This limited our vacation options because literally all of the United States decided that the solar eclipse of 2017 was going to be the biggest event of the decade, and any and every hotel, Airbnb, and campsite within a 100-mile radius from the peak zone was booked. So we decided, why not get close enough to see a hefty partial eclipse, but far enough so we don't have to deal with the madness. Thus, we settled on Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Before we headed to RMNP, we made a pit stop in the town of Greeley, CO. Little known fact about Tyler – he's always wanted to spend the night in a yurt. What's a yurt, you ask? Basically, if camping is a spectrum with tarp-tent camping on one end and high-class RV on the other, yurts fall somewhere in the middle. It wasn't quite "glamping" but not really "roughing it" as far as traditional "roughing it" standards go. ????This is a yurt...
The yurt was a totally great experience. It's on this great piece of property, with lots of areas to explore, a river to float, and perfect campfire for the all important mallow roasting activities.
We spent one night in the yurt, and when we woke up it was ECLIPSE TIME! We watched the eclipse with our new friends that worked on the property, made our coffee, had some lunch, and then headed out for the mountains. If you're in the Colorado area and you're looking for a weekend getaway, the yurt is a perfect weekend adventure!
Estes Park, CO // Rocky Mountain National Park
After Greely, we headed to Estes Park, CO. Guys, can I just say, I think Estes is one of my favorite places. It was honestly one of the most relaxing, laid-back, and chill places I've ever been. It was ??the perfect spot for our summer-relax-and-unwind-vacation. Guys -- NURSING SCHOOL IS HARD -- on everyone involved?. Our Airbnb was 15 minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park's entrance and was walking distance from one of the best restaurants in town. ?? Confession: we ate there every day – breakfast, lunch, dinner, check!
It had been a while since Tyler and I hiked together. When we lived in Virginia, we hiked basically every weekend. Since I moved back to Texas, we haven't had the opportunity, and the trails were calling our name! We (and by "we" I mean "I") picked the trail to Ypsilon Lake via the Lawn Lake Trail.
It was a 13+ mile hike round trip with a 2,000'+ ascent or so... it wasn't the "relaxing, animal watching, smooth-sailing" trail we had in mind, but in the end, it was amazing and totally worth every step and I'd recommend it if you're looking for a full-day hike. However, if you're just wanting to "hike" RNMP, stick with the side trails. If you're wanting to see wildlife, the little picnic table trails are the best!
side-note: If you hike, you'll love this app/website we started using! It's created by red and blows all other hiking apps out of the water. There's nothing like it, it tracks you as you go so even if you don't have service. You can see where you are, how much elevation you have left to gain, etc. Bonus - it's free.
After our full day of hiking, we spent the next day or so just hanging out seeing Estes Park. We checked out some of the lakes, took in the sites, and hung out with my sweet momma!
It was simply fantastic. Also, just as an FYI, anytime I can wear flannel every day, I'm gonna be a happy person.