Last Sunday, my boyfriend Hunter and I hopped on a plane to Denver, Colorado. Hunter had a voucher from Southwest so we took advantage of it and booked a whole week out West. We hiked, road tripped, danced to Phoenix, and took in a view from 14,115 feet. An adorable Airbnb in Golden, just 30 minutes from downtown, was our home base.
It was so nice to unplug and explore a new place. I split up the recap of our trip into two parts, so stay tuned next week for our final three days in Denver! I sprinkled recommendations throughout, but feel free to ask me more about anything or add your own in the comments!
Day 1: Peak to Peak Scenic Byway and Rocky Mountain National Park
Hunter and I kicked off our trip by driving three hours from Golden through Central City and Black Hawk (both old mining towns) to Rocky Mountain National Park. There’s a few places to stop and take in the mountain views along the way. Denver got a late snow in May so there were still plenty of snow-capped peaks.
As soon as we got to the park we headed for Bear Lake. It immediately started raining, but it was actually pretty over the water! When the sun came out, we hiked to Alberta Falls. This was a super fun trail with plenty of scenic views. Because of the snow melting, there was a ton of water flowing down the mountain. Alberta also had a gorgeous view from the top.
Day 2: Colorado Springs
We hopped in the car again for a road trip to Colorado Springs. We had a jeep tour planned, but our original route was closed for bug spraying. Our tour guide took us to Pike’s Peak instead, which turned out to be an incredible adventure (it reaches 14,115 feet)! We were glad we didn’t have to drive up the mountain ourselves. Our tour guide told us there is a big race up the mountain every year, where drivers will take 90 degree turns at 40 mph and the straightaways at 150 mph. What!
Charleston is at sea level, so being almost three miles above where we normally live made us feel like we were on another planet. The view is so worth it! We were literally standing in the clouds.
On our way out of Colorado Springs, we stopped by Garden of the Gods to check out the red rock formations.
Day 3: Biking Golden, My 25th Birthday, and a Phoenix concert
On Wednesday I turned 25! We rented bikes from a local shop in Golden for the morning. We started on the Clear Creek Trail, which runs along the creek that flows right through downtown (the water was freezing but the Coloradans seemed to love swimming and kayaking in it). The path eventually takes you towards the Coors brewery and goes all the way to Denver. The inclines ended up being intense for people that don’t live in a high altitude. I was DYING by the end of our ride but biking is always so much fun! After the accidental workout, we grabbed lunch at Bob’s Atomic Burgers and birthday cupcakes at Gold Mine Cupcakes (both delicious)!
When we were planning our trip, I saw that one of my favorite bands, Phoenix, was playing 15 minutes from where we were staying AND on my birthday. Hunter will never let me live down the fact that I screamed ON MY BIRTHDAY!? when I saw the schedule. Red Rocks Amphitheater is also the coolest place to see a concert. If I lived in Denver I’d be there 24/7.
I’d say ringing in a quarter century in Colorado was a birthday for the books! Stay tuned for part 2 coming next week!