Weekend Getaway #1: Estes Park – Colorado

Last Monday, Steven (my other half) advised me he had not left the city in nearly three months; this was definitely an issue, as when we lived in Michigan we traveled non-stop. Honestly, I can’t believe he hadn’t mentioned it sooner, now that I think about it… So on Tuesday, we began to socur the internet for a pet-friendly place to stay in either Glenwood Springs, Devil’s Thumb, or Estes Park. After emailing and calling approximately 100 places, Skyline Cottages in Estes Park was the only place to offer availability for our Friday night – Sunday morning excursion out of the city. We really lucked out, as Skyline offered an amazing cabin in the side of the Rockies for less about $140/night including pet fee; the price was definitely right, the location perfect, and the amenities of access to Big Thompson River and trail knowledge very helpful.

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View to the right from our cabin’s deck out front. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2013

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To the left of our cabin, taken from the deck out front. Another great view of the Rockies. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2013

Friday night, we drove to Estes Park, through the mountains in the dark. Not the most fun way to start the trip, as this is the first time we’d driven through any type of mountains in the dark – definitely an exciting ride, to say the least. All in all, the drive took about an hour and a half from our apartment in Denver. Our cabin was nestled in the side of the Rocky Mountains, away from the other Skyline cottages, up in the Vallahala Resort area. We stayed in a one-bedroom with bathroom attached, full kitchen, living room, and deck w/ grill cabin – nothing too fancy, which was just what we were looking for. However, the cabin DID have cable television, even though  we weren’t too interested due to our surroundings. The views from the deck were absolutely incredible, providing insight to what lay ahead as far as hiking on Saturday.

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The stars from our cabin’s deck in Estes Park – light from the moon in the bottom right-hand of the picture. Credit: Steven Mercer, July 2013

Friday night, we unpacked the Jeep and drank a lot of Colorado’s finest craft beers – I’d picked up a variety six pack and case just for the occasion at the fabulous Argonaut’s. On the deck, Steven set up his digital SLR, and took long-exposed pictures of the stars; from this deck, I felt like we could see the entire universe. The stars were so pronounced, with the moon so bright. I had never seen the sky the way I saw it from the deck of our cabin.

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Map on display at St. Vrain Trailhead. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2013

The next morning, we took our 11 year-old cockapoo, Moguls, for a hike at the Middle St.Vrain / Buchanan Pass Trailhead. We found this trail at the end of Camp Dick, off of HWY 72, in Roosevelt National Forest. We drove through two separate campgrounds, all the way to the back parking lot where ATV’s, ORV’s, and hikers are all taking two separate trails. Finding a desginated dog-friendly trail can be difficult because National Parks don’t allow dogs on the trails, while many National Forests do. Even so, finding a defined trail or correct directions to a good trail can be a little difficult for those of us who are new to the areas, and hiking altogether. ImageThe St. Vrain / Buchanan Pass is listed as a moderate hike; it stretches for at least 16 miles (we were told by fellow hikers on the trail), and can consist of rock, mud, dirt, and narrow to wide paths. I liked the way we hit almost every type of trail terrain on this 5 mile hike; I enjoyed the challenging rocks, hopping to and from each one, as well as the uphill climbs. I was also thankful for the flat, dirt ground and breaks to catch my breath from some of the uphill battles. It was a great workout that I felt later that afternoon and the next morning for sure! The scenery on the trail is basically borderline magical – we definitely recommend visiting, and bringing your dog. Moguls did a great job keeping up, and actually led us on the way back. ImageThe hike took about 3 hours, 2 hours and 24 minutes of which we were moving (we used Strava to track what we had accomplished), and hiked 5 miles.

Some additional pictures from this hike are also pictured below.

Saturday night, we just chilled in the cabin, whooped from our first real hike in Colorado. The next morning, we packed up and ventured home to unpack, do laundry, and get ready for our favorite Sunday event: Jazz in the Park.

I definitely recommend Estes Park as a nice, weekend get-away. There’s so much to do and see – we definitely only chipped away a small surface of what Estes Park has to offer. If you don’t want to rent a cabin, there are plenty of camp sites that are reasonably priced and well-maintained. Many of which are pet-friendly, which made a huge difference for us.

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Me (Kirsten) at the top of the rocks. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2013

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Steven shooting with his SLR on the hike. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2013

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Moguls on the top of the rocks; he was a trooper the whole way! Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2013

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View from along the hike. Credit: Kirsten Ebey, July 2013

What should our next get away be? Any ideas, friends? We love traveling, and can’t wait to explore more of this awesome state. Lend us a hand in finding our next weekend get away!

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