Winter Road Trip Ideas: Colorado | Day Drunk: Winter Road Trip Ideas: Colorado

December 17, 2014

Winter Road Trip Ideas: Colorado

While everyone around me is hot with Christmas fever, I seem to have come down with a different sort of distemper: high plains disorder.

 No, it's probably not what you are thinking - it's just that I am obsessed with planning the route for our road trip in January. A you know, I have already been scheming on destinations while we are in Kansas, now I find myself wading through the endless wonder of Colorado, trying to determine the best, January-friendliest adventures I can have on a reasonable budget.

No kidding that I love National Parks. I actually have all 58 on my "by age 35" bucket list (I have been to nearly half with 8 years to go!). I am forever drawn to destinations focused on a particularly amazing ecological wonder and Colorado is full of jut those kinds of things. Here are my favorites so far:
(Click on the pictures for more information and credit)
Hanging Lake State Park: Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Although it seems like it might not be a directionally viable option for this particular trip, Hanging Lake remains at the top of my list. The lake is most notable for being perched at the edge of a cliff, fed by delicate waterfalls and abundant with hanging plants. Visiting it in the winter would also be perfect, as it is an incredibly popular destination throughout the summer and I much prefer to beat the crowds. And with all the waterfalls frozen, I'm sure it would make for an awesome bag, especially considering the trail up to the valley where the lake sits is notoriously treacherous.

Great Sand Dunes National Park: San Luis Valley, Colorado
It is heart-crashingly exciting to plan a trip to a National Park that I have never been to before. These particular dunes, which can get up to 750 feet tall, spread for 30 miles against the foothills of the towering Sangre de Cristo Mountains. They were formed from the sand and gravel on dry stream and creek beds, which dry up during drought periods and get blown away by the wind to form the dunes. Hiking and frolicking are highly recommended, and you can even rent sleds and boards to use to ride down the dune faces!! I am definitely looking forward to that.

Orient Land Trust and the Valley View Hot Springs: Moffat, Colorado
The Orient Land Trust protects the hot springs and the surrounding area, providing pristine wildlife habitat and rustic camping. There are several natural warm springs to bathe in along wilderness trails as well as a facility with geothermally warmed saunas and hot tubs. That sounds freaking awesome to me. Bonus points for the Orient Land Trust also protecting Colorado's largest bat colony. Although in the winter, the bats will still be in South America. 

Mesa Verde National Park: Montezuma County, Colorado
I'll never forget my decision to not visit Mesa Verde during the winter of 2008. Me and my friend, Katie, sat right on the Four Corners and gazed wistfully northeast towards Mesa Verde - and the threatening clouds that clung to mountains with gray, snowy unease. We headed southeast instead, and I have always wondered what we missed that day. I am still very interested in checking out what is considered the largest cliff dwelling and most well preserved archeological site in the world. The ancient Pueblo people occupied the sandstone cliffs of Mesa Verde for 700 years.

Root Down: Denver, Colorado
With items like roasted parsnip soup, poblano-pistachio pesto, and sweet potato falafel on the menu, it would be hard to try and keep me away from this restaurant once I get to Denver. It also follows my favorite kind of restaurant fad - seasonal farm to table. That means that the ingredients are fresh, in season, and sourced locally. We have a fantastic one in our neighborhood in Vermont, SoLo, and I am always eager get a fresh, funky taste on classic ingredients. Okay, the secret's out - I read the menus just for fun!

Red Rocks Natural Park and Amphitheater: Golden, Colorado 

I'll admit that for once, my desire to visit a place finally has less to do with geological majesty than it does cultural reasons. Because dudes: STEVIE NICKS PLAYED HERE. What we will find here other than the specters of rock 'n' roll history is ancient history, as the gigantic sandstone rocks that form the conspicuously red amphitheater are around 295 million years old. There's more to do here than hear naturally amplified concerts - Red Rocks is a great place to hike and check out the unique rock formations. Although I would be tempted to just it in the bleachers and visualize being there for this:

Getting pumped to visit Colorado with me?

No comments:

Post a Comment