For this week, instead of living like a tourist, I experienced local life by doing what Coloradans like to do on the weekends: go camping. I went with the boyfriend as we were celebrating our official one year of being together. He surprised me on the location and campground – all I knew was we were going camping and I was going to need bug spray. I have never ventured into the Colorado mountains for this type of undertaking before and I was excited to see just how adventurous and rugged I could get. We brought along my Labrador, Owen, because I was told he is looking “pudgy” so I thought lake swimming and hiking would do him some good.
After driving for 2 hours and ending up at a location you can only get to by using latitude and longitude coordinates, we arrived at a charming campground west of Leadville called May Queen Campground. It was right on Turquoise Lake and had really pretty scenic views. Our campsite was walk-in, so we parked in the parking lot and then hiked up the hill to our spot.
The idea for today’s adventure came from a friend who mentioned the Sports Authority Field at Mile High stadium gives tours to the public. I thought that is something different! Football is America’s favorite sport and there is always so much excitement here in Denver when the Broncos are playing. Having never been able to afford to go to a Broncos game, I figured the next best way to see this 14 year old stadium is through a guided tour. The Sports Authority stadium caters to other sporting events as well, such as the lacrosse team, occasional college football games, and most recently the Guinness International Champions Cup (soccer). I learned all sorts of interesting things about this stadium; some I think a devoted fan may not even know about.
Image courtesy of Sportsauthorityfieldatmilehigh.com
The first one: have you ever noticed the stadium is in the shape of a horseshoe? I didn’t! If you look at this picture, you can also see the older Mile High stadium before they tore it down in 2001. The new stadium allows for more space, but oddly enough there are the same amount of seats (about 76,000). They included more restaurants, bathrooms, and club level suites and they also wanted the seats to be as close to the field as possible.
The tour starts out in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. There were a lot of interesting things in here, but I didn’t get much time to look around because the tour was starting. The tour started out with a chock-full of information about the history of the stadium. I learned it cost $400 million to build, which $300 million of it was paid for by the metro Denver area taxpayers. You’re welcome, Broncos!
Inside the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame
Lately I have been feeling in need of some cultural inspiration so I asked Ok Google, “What is the most popular museum in Denver?” Google told me it is the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, rightfully so, but I have already been there twice this year so I decided to go with the second most popular choice: The Denver Art Museum. Yikes. Art. Sounds like a snoozefest! But I figured it has to be the second most popular museum for a reason, so to Downtown Denver I went.
The building outside alone had my curiosity sparked. There were interesting sculptures, a bridge that connected two large buildings, and the architecture was unique as it was designed to resemble “geometric rock crystals”.
It is widely known that Colorado is a mecca for breweries, and I admit that some of the best beers I’ve ever tasted are within the Rocky Mountain region. But what about wineries? We don’t hear much about them. Well winos are in luck because believe it or not, there are some great wineries here in Colorado. The grapes get shipped over to the Denver metro area on a refrigerated truck from Palisades (also the “Peach Capital of Colorado”), which is on the west side of the state neighboring Utah and grows 85 – 95% of Colorado’s grapes.
After failed attempts to try and get my boyfriend to come with me to a museum, he suggested something more fun and involving alcohol. We’ve heard of Colorado wineries nearby so we decided to give them a try. Boulder itself is such a charismatic town; I could write a whole post on it’s uniqueness alone. If you’ve never spent a day there, I highly suggest you immerse yourself in what what I’ll just call the “Boulder culture”.
I grew up in Northern California where there are more grapevines than trees so wine comes second to water for us. I tried not to hold my snobby taste for sophisticated California wine against the Colorado wineries, but let’s be honest, they really don’t compare. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the simplicity of wines I tasted today and they were still delightful. I also tried something I’ve never had before called mulled wine; it was delicious! But more on that later.
First stop on our list was at a wine tasting room for Boulder Creek Winery.
I was excited for this weekend because I had a friend visiting me from out of town and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to take a scenic hike and see some wonderful parts of Colorado. I decided on Lily Pad Lake because someone recommended it and said it was an easy hike with beautiful views. It is located in the city of Silverthorne and took about an hour and 15 minutes to get there. Silverthorne itself is a popular destination for outlet mall shopping so I hope to go back there one day and check all that out. When we got to the trailhead, I was surprised to see that even for a weekend day, it wasn’t that crowded. I also saw a lot of families, so that gave me the confidence that if a little kid could do it, I could do it too! We also brought my Lab, Owen, because what is a hiking adventure without his entertaining antics?
I was thrilled last weekend to finally venture for the first time to a couple of the most popular mountain towns in Colorado; Frisco and Breckenridge. They are located about 70-80 miles west of Denver and it took about an hour and 15 mins to get out there. I went on this trip with my main squeeze, Dylan, and we met with his family later and stayed in their condo for the night. The drive of course was scenic as cascades of water from the snowmelt poured down off the bedrock along the highway. I wish I was able to get a picture of the waterfalls, but they are those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of moments.
Our first stop was in Frisco. Frisco is a charming town located next to Lake Dillion and it offers a lot of things to do nearby for the outdoor enthusiast both in the summer and the winter. There is a Main Street with bars, restaurants, and shops and things so we headed towards that area. When we got there, the streets were jam-packed with people and we could smell the aroma of smoked meat. As it turned out, there was a BBQ challenge taking place in which over 70 BBQers were competing to win the coveted title of “Grand Champion”. By the time we got there around 2:30pm, most of the popular meats had already been sold out. And no, they weren’t handing out free samples, unfortunately. They did, however, have a very entertaining New Orleans funky jazz band performing, called Rebirth Brass Band, whom I just discovered are 2012 Grammy winners.
It is officially summer and that means Denverites are finally able to abandon their dwellings they’ve spent their first half year avoiding bipolar climate conditions. Today was pleasantly warm so I decided to pack a lunch and bring Owen the Labrador with me on a hike that I’ve heard is beautiful and only about 45 minutes from Denver. If you have never been to Maxwell Falls, you need to! It is located in Conifer, a cute little ranch town, off of highway 285. The drive up was beautiful as you pass through the Red Rocks and other scenic forestry. I decided to go with the Upper Trailhead because I wanted to do the Cliff Trail Loop which is 3 miles round trip so I figured that would give me an adequate workout for the day and also hit all the major sites. The trailhead was not hard to find at all, as there is great signage and a very obvious parking lot.
The hike starts out beautifully with much lush greenery and you can hear the flow of the creek alongside as you walk along.