In June, we took a 12-day trip to Colorado, prompted by a friend’s 5-day wedding celebration.
Congratulations, John and David!
Before the wedding and after, we decided to do a bit of travel around the state.
Arriving late on Friday night, we spent the night at an airport hotel. Waiting for a hotel shuttle at midnight after a long evening of travel made us a little cranky and unaware of the process by which we had to follow to get to the right shuttle. After we accidentally ended up on the wrong Holiday Inn Express shuttle that put us in Aurora, we finally landed at the right hotel. HA!
We took off Saturday morning for Rocky Mountain National Park.
Rocky Mountain NP is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Ecological diversity and wilderness abound. I loved the alpine tundra. In the Instagram photos above, you’ll see photos of tiny flowers that I had taken while we (briefly) explored the tundra on a snowy day.
Since I’ve been struggling with insomnia since the beginning of the year due to a stressful situation, we didn’t hike as much as I’d like — I spent a lot of time trying to catch up on sleep. And, it was hot. We managed to show up during a heat wave!
Despite the heat during the day, the nights were in the 40s, so it was cool enough to pitch a tent at the Estes Park KOA, which was quite close to the entrance of Rocky Mountain NP. I looked for a KOA specifically because of the convenience that KOAs offer. I like a shower at the end of the day after a long hike. I knew we’d also have to do laundry since we didn’t pack enough clothing for 12 days, so the full laundry was another great reason to pick a KOA. Plus, the customer service is always excellent — everyone is friendly and helpful, full of recommendations for what to enjoy in the region.
Thank you to @estes_park_koa for the fantastic customer service and top-notch facilities. We look forward to setting up our ⛺️ at your place on our next trip to Colorado. . . . #koa #koacamping #koacampground #estespark #estesparkcolorado #colorado #camping #hiking #nationalpark #rockymountainnationalpark
Hiking four or five miles each day for the three days we spent in Rocky Mountain NP was enough to peak my interests. I look forward to another trip very, very soon.
Our friends’ wedding was approaching, so we started to make our way south.
No trip Colorado is complete without visiting some of the many friends we have in the area. We decided to spent a night on this trip in Longmont where we had the good fortune to spend time with the 1500s, An Uncommon Dream, Coach Carson, and Mr. Money Mustache.
Carl and Mindy went above and beyond to make our short trip special. First, they offered their home to us so we could sleep in a bed for a night. Very much appreciated! Then, Mindy made tacos for dinner, which was also very much appreciated. And, Carl arranged a get together with local friends — a wonderful surprise for us! We really enjoyed hanging out with Michael, Chad, and Pete. Whenever we get the chance to spend time with like-minded people, I don’t take it for granted. I am truly grateful. Thank you both so much!
Departing Wednesday morning, we headed south to Salida to check into our hotel, unpack, and explore a bit before the festivities kicked off. During the course of the five days we spent in the Salida/Buena Vista area, we met so many fantastic new people, many of whom are like-minded. I look forward to spending even more time with some of our new friends from Colorado when we return.
Departing Salida Sunday afternoon after the celebration ended, we made our way to Great Sand Dunes National Park in the Alamosa area.
Great Sand Dunes is remote (to me, anyway). There is a restaurant and store at the entrance of the park, but that’s about it. The closest city is 25 miles away, so bring lots of water. Seriously!
Great Sand Dunes looks fake to me. As we approached the park, it looked as if though someone merged two photos together, one of a desert and another of a mountain range. It’s a weird scene.
I love this park. It’s one of my favorites of the 16 national parks we’ve visited thus far in our lives.
On this trip, I rented a sandboard and had a bit of fun…
And we hiked High Dune…
Hiking sand dunes is exhausting, especially since I’m still trying to catch up on sleep. Plus, there were wildfires in the area that made us a little nervous. We wanted to be closer to the airport than we were.
So, we decided to leave the dunes one day early and return to Buena Vista to visit one last time with our new friends before we checked into a hotel near Denver.
A fantastic trip all around, one of the best vacations we’ve ever taken.