So we spent some time in Colorado recently. As a wonderful perk, my parents drove out from Indiana to meet us and explore for a week. Apparently we were not the only ones who thought of Colorado as a great summer destination, it was a bit more crowded than I remembered. We have visited this beautiful state three times now, once in the winter, to ski with family and friends, once in mid-August and this last time it was in the middle of July. I was very surprised to see the difference in crowd size from July to August!
As a traveling homeschool familiy we have fully taken advantage of the perks of visiting places in the off season. I should have planned out this trip a little better, and booked some campsites in advance, it was very difficult to find a last minute campsite for two RV’s and Colorado is not a dry-camping friendly state.
In spite of my poor forsight, we had a lovely time in Colorado. There is a reason it is so crowded, it is beautiful!
We started our visit with my parents at the Cheyenne welcome center in Wyoming. It was a great spot to meet and plan the week ahead. Wyoming is super relaxed about boondocking, we drycamped with my parents in this parking lot and picked up some supplies at the Walmart in town.
We knew that we wanted my parents to experience Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park so we were able to find a campground somewhat close to that area. We stayed at Eagle Campground at Carter Lake. We found the sites to be spacious with just enough shade to help keep us cool.
As soon as we got checked into our sites we made the trek to Estes Park. Going down Hwy 34 proved to be much more scenic and curvy than we thought it would be. Big Thompson River winds through the rocky canyon right along the highway. There were lots of people fly fishing and lots of things to see along the way We were happy to get out and stretch our legs in the scenic and somewhat touristy town of Estes Park.
Back in 2016, we had made the trek to The Rocky Mountain National Park, once there we drove on Old Fall River Road through the park. It is a crazy, hairpin, unpaved road that leads to the Alpine Visitor Center. My parents have been hearing about this exciting road ever since. My dad was so excited to drive it for himself, I think my mom was second-guessing her decision to come out and visit the mountains with us!
Unfortunately (or fortunately if you ask my mom), the Old Fall River Road was still closed for the season. We took the still-scary-but-paved Trail Ridge Road to the top. We found out that altitude changes are no joke, some of us were feeling bad up there at 11,000+ feet. Matt and my dad took two of our kids up the 120+ steps to the peak.
We drove around a bit more, enjoying the scenery and anticipating to see wildlife when the sun began to set. We were not dissappointed. On our way back down Trail Ridge Road, we saw a herd of over 100 elk! They were pretty used to tourists, people were approaching them and everyone was taking pictures. It was a magical moment with these beautiful creatures at the top of the mountains.
We got back to our campsite pretty late, and we decided it would be nice to spend the next day at the camp with no driving. We spent a few hours on a rented pontoon boat on Carter Lake, it seemed to be a perfect solution to the extreme heat.
The next few days we stayed in Loveland at the fairgrounds. We explored a few places by car from that location, including a nice church on Sunday; Focus on the Family, Garden of the Gods, and Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs.
We decided to head even further south in Colorado and stayed at Lake Pueblo State Park. Special shout out to my mom for persevering and calling many campsites and finding one that had available space! Thanks mom for letting me revert to my childhood and rely on you to do all the grown up stuff. Did I mention that Colorado Springs is exceptionally crowded in July and it was impossible to find a campsite there?
Lake Pueblo State Park is very nice. Most of the sites have lake views and all of them are spacious and have lovely views. We were sad to hear from the camphost that someone had drowned in the lake the same day we arrived and were warned not to swim in the lake. This information along with the 100 degree weather helped us to decide to do indoor, air conditioned activities.
Matt found some interesting things to do nearby so the next morning we set out for the Royal Gorge. We stopped at some antique shops along the way in the cute town of Florence. The Royal Gorge is a pretty spectacular sight! There is a fantastic suspension bridge over the gorge, apparently the Empire State building could be placed in the gorge and there would still be 10 feet between it and the bottom of the bridge! We drove up to see the gorge, and walked along some of the trails at the top, but we didn’t actually go out on the bridge. Several in our group are a bit terrified of heights, and that, coupled with the fact that they were charging $28 a person, made it easy for us to say no thanks.
On our way back to the campground we decided to take Skyline Drive. It is a short drive with steep dropoffs on both sides. There are some cool dinosaur fossils along one portion of the road.
We had such a great visit with my parents, we have been driving so much this summer, so it was nice to be in one state and to take the time to explore, and to be with family.
Thanks for stopping by and reading along about our adventures in Colorado!
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