If there’s one thing I learned about Colorado, it’s that you can find all types of scenery. Especially in the transition from Winter to Spring, where the snow has melted away in the cities, but the high mountain peaks remain snow-capped.
Winter Getaway in the Rocky Mountains
Colorado is well-known for it’s scenery, and the Rocky Mountains are a huge reason why. If you have the luxury of car while in Colorado, I highly recommend driving up to the Rocky Mountains for your winter sports and relaxing days. The drive towards the mountains is breath-taking and nothing short of amazing. From a distance, it’s hard to tell if the snow covered mountains are actually mountains or just the clouds. As you approach the winding roads that actually take you up the mountains, it’s hard not to stare in awe. One second you’re on ‘flat’ highway with no vibrant colors to be seen, and the next you’re driving in between luscious mountains filled with pine trees and snow.
Winter sports are must while you’re up in the Rocky’s! These mountains are special because they can hold all this snow due to the altitude for longer than most areas in Colorado, might as well take advantage, right? I did some research on where to go skiing/snowboarding and decided on the Winter Park Resort for the following reasons: they had rentals available without a reservation, it was only approximately a 1h20m drive from Denver, and it was one of the closest (if not the closest) resorts to the Rocky Mountain National Park. I had no idea what prices to expect when I got there, but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought my total expenses were reasonable (~60USD) for a helmet, rental gear and ski lift pass. They provide both ski and snowboarding gear, so the choice is yours! Although if you’ve never done a winter sport, I recommend starting off with skiing. And if that’s still too much for you, you can go tubing for an hour at the four giant ‘slides’ the resort has set up through the snowy hills! Options… we like options, am I right?
Hot Sulphur Springs
A 3omin drive from Winter Park is the small town of Hot Sulphur Springs, home to… well, the hot sulphur springs. The hot springs are inside a small village resort, separated into small ‘pools’. The pools (there’s about 15 of them) start at the bottom of the village, where the temperature varies around 90-102 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue upwards on a slope, where the temperature gets hotter the higher you go (up to ~110 degrees Fahrenheit). Some of the pools are quite small, so I suggest getting there early to avoid crowds. Fair warning though, the hot springs smell like sulphur. However, it only took about 10 to 15 minutes for my senses to adapt to the strange odor. You can get a day pass and a storage locker for a small fee, but be sure to keep your receipt if you plan on leaving and coming back!
If I could define relaxation, it would be this place. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of experiencing it with absolutely no one around. Yep. I had the place all to myself. The universe rewarded me for waking up at 8am on a Thursday. I stripped down to my bathing suit and went about my day, going from pool to pool, enjoying no one’s company but my own. There’s a few pools that are somewhat hidden, one of which is a gem! So make sure to explore if you ever visit; there’s more than meets the eye. Had I not made plans to go hiking later that day, I could’ve happily spent the rest of my day there. Not only was the weather great, but the views from the pools were incredible. A small rabbit even made an appearance while I was taking a soak!
Another great thing about this area is, as I mentioned before, it’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains National Park. So if you decide to stay in the area like I did, I recommend staying in the cute town of Fraser. This will keep you nearby Winter Park AND Hot Sulphur Springs, so you can really check out the mountain area and do some exploring. If you’re into night life, there’s a great dive bar called Uller’s Tavern that locals and visitors go to (Wednesday night is ladies night!).
Less Snow, More Green
Boulders in Boulder
And here’re where the diversity of Colorado comes in. You’ve got places like Boulder where you have views of the Rocky Mountains, but can explore ton of other beautiful mountainous areas. I didn’t have much time in Boulder, but I got to drive up the beautiful Flagstaff Mountain, which had plenty of stopping points along the way with beautiful views of the city and/or the Rocky’s. While admiring the views, a man approached me asking if I was from the area. When I responded no, we got to talking and realized we had ton of common interests, so we decided to keep exploring the mountain together. A good way up the mountain, there is a particular stopping point that has a rock formation where you can get an incredible view of… everything. This is the ultimate ‘selfie’ destination on this mountain. But as I mentioned, it’s a rigid rock formation. Good thing I had company, because one wrong step and well… you know (seriously though, be careful).
Boulder really had this… charm to it. It really drew me in, and I wish I’d had more time to explore. But just imagine if you lived there, with a view of the Rocky’s and other mountain regions at all times. It’s the kind of city I could picture myself living in, which isn’t something that tends to happen for me very often. Boulder, I’m a fan!
The Mile-High City
Denver has the cleanest downtown area I’ve ever seen. But aside from just being clean, it’s honestly beautiful! The vibe here is so positive that it’s infectious. There’s so much to do: 16th street has the shopping areas, the convention center, tons of unique sculptures and statues, the capitol building, etc. This city has a great night life as well; I got to check out the ‘LoDo’ area, which had some fun bars with great drink specials! Outside of the bars at night, I never felt unsafe, so that’s a +1 for Denver. The people were, overall, polite too.
Denver’s well known for being the mile-high city, so I decided to check out the step on the capitol building that says “One Mile Above Sea Level”. When I got there, I got more than what I was expecting to see. Sure the steps were cool, but turn around and look out to the city, and you get one of my favorite views from this whole trip. You see the capitol’s entrance, with the city in the background, and the beautiful mountains of Colorado behind that. Being from Florida, views of the mountains amaze me, but this was something else entirely. Where else can you get a sight like that? It was in that moment that I knew I would be back one day.
You can get a slightly similar view from Cherry Creek State Park, which is only about 20 minutes outside of Denver. Except here, you get a beautiful lake view. This is where I ended my trip; I sat on a bench in this small man-made beach area around the lake and enjoyed the view. There were people fishing, a few boats, and even a jet ski. It was a calm atmosphere, the perfect kind to just sit back and relax.
Before I knew it, I was taking an uber back to the airport, leaving this incredible state. If you haven’t been to Colorado, go! Any time of the year, it doesn’t matter, just visit. There’s something for everyone.
I’ll be back CO. Expect me.