The best Colorado Road Trip
Colorado is one of my favorite states in the USA. With endless amounts of hiking trails and beauty you are sure to never be bored! Colorado being a short flight from Houston it's a easy long weekend trip! I recently did two different road trips and I'm going to combine the best of the two too make the perfect Colorado road trip. I went in the fall and winter so you will see both the trees starting to change colors and snow.
Day 1- Denver to Colorado Springs
Fly into Denver. Colorado (DEN)
Pick up your rental car and head on your way.
This day will be just a easy day with Colorado Springs being only 1.5 hours from the Denver airport it will be a quick drive. Check into the Cheyenne Mountain. The views out our room were beautiful as we checked in right as the sun was setting.
This resort is beautiful and the perfect place to chill with a glass of wine outside the lobby area by the fire. They have a large lobby/bar area so you could stay inside as well. It really was a beautiful resort and I would definitely stay here again.
Where we ate dinner-Phantom Canyon Brewing Company
I got the Spicy Pork Mole Tacos and they were delicious! They have lots of items to choose from so it was a great place to go with a little something for everyone! After dinner we headed back to the resort and had a glass of wine then rested up for the next day.
Day 2- Explore Colorado Springs
Head to Garden of the Gods
This usually opens around 9 and you are free to explore and take pictures as you please. It's absolutely beautiful with lots of great views! There is also trails throughout this area as well that you could take for a little morning hike. We did the Garden of the Gods Loop Trail. It was about 4 miles and the perfect hike to get going that morning.
Next up Paint Mines Interpretive Park
This is about a hour drive from Garden of the Gods. The drive was pretty getting there and back. It was a very interesting place but keep in mind you will not be staying here that long. Not a whole lot to see but pretty cool. It's a short walk to get to them but a pretty cool place to take some pictures. Also if it is snowy or has rained a lot wear some good shoes that you don't care to get muddy while at the paint mines.
If you want to do more of a hike and still have some time I recommend Mays Peak from Bear Creek.
It's a 6 mile hike but it looks beautiful and it's only 15 mins from Garden of the God's.
We didn't do this but I would if I was back in the area.
Drive time- 2.5 hours
Where to stay- Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs
Day 3- Drive to Avon Colorado
One the way to break up the trip stop at Eleven Mile Hike Overlook Trail.
It's a short 0.8 mile hike but so beautiful! This is about a 1 hour drive from the resort in Colorado Springs.
After another 2 hour drive you will arrive at your place for the night. We stayed at the cutest little VRBO that was in the perfect location for what we were going to do. Get settled in and dressed for a nice dinner at Elways. We had the best dinner here. It is more on the pricey side but so worth it. I got a steak and a salad and it was sooooooo good!
I also recommend going to a grocery store around Colorado Springs for snacks and things you may want for the road and the hikes.
Total Drive time - 3.5 hours
Where to eat dinner- Elways Vail
Day 4- Hanging Lake Trail
I can't recommend Hanging Lake Trail enough! This is one of the top hikes I have ever done! The end is STUNNING! It's a 3 mile hike with a elevation gain of 1,135ft. It's a short but steep hike and is best hiked from May to October. I did this hike at the end of September and it was perfect. It will take you around 2-4 hours to complete. I would recommend wearing hiking boots, taking water, snacks and a camera. I promise this hike will not disappoint.
The view right before you get to the top. After this hike I recommend going to a hot springs and relaxing for the afternoon. We went to Iron Mountain Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
It was GORGEOUS and just what we needed! They have food a drinks as well for purchase. We got us some wine and relaxed in the pools. We also had the perfect weather. These hot springs would be great during the winter when it's cold as they do get HOT.
There is showers and changing rooms available. That made it nice when we were done we could change into some dry warm clothes. Honestly you could spend the rest of the afternoon here and throughly enjoy it!
Total drive time- 2.5 hours
Day 5- White water rafting and St Mary's Glacier
We picked Defiance Rafting. Keep in mind rafting season in Colorado is from late April through Mid September. We were there mid September so we just made the cut. I will say the water was FREEZING. I would think the best time for rafting would be around earlier August. It was still a blast but definitely cold. I'm very cold natured though so I get cold easily! After we changed into some dry clothes and were on our way.
St Mary's Glacier
St Mary's Glacier is a 1.9 mile hike. It is ranked moderate but compared to hanging lake which is also ranked moderate this one is much easier. By the time we got here we didn't have a whole lot of time since the sun starting to go down. We made it to the lake which was stunning. I would love to go back here and go up higher to the top of that mountain but what we saw was still so worth it!
Such a gorgeous spot for some photos. I also would recommend hiking boots for this one as there were lots of rocks going up.
The perfect ending to such a fun day. After this hike we were headed to Boulder to stay for the night.
Total drive time - 5 hours
Where to stay - Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel
Day 6 - Explore Boulder
Boulder has some beautiful scenery we decided to hike the Flatirons Vista Trail. This is a 3.5 mile easy hike with some stunning views. You can also bike this trail if you wanted to. I would think that would be more difficult but several people passed us and it looked fun.
Just a gorgeous trail all around! After we got done we were ready for some lunch. I recommend heading to downtown Boulder for lunch! There is lots of different places to eat and choose from. It's a really cute area with lots of shops as well. We decided to eat at Bartaco. What's better than a margarita and tacos after hiking? This place also had a really great atmosphere and we really enjoyed it!
After a great lunch we headed to Estes Park for the night. I would recommend walking around downtown Estes park and exploring that evening. You could also just drive around and see what wildlife you can find! It's a beautiful place with so much beautiful scenery along the way.
Total drive time - 1.5 hours
Where to stay - The Ridgeland Hotel Estes Park, Colorado
Day 7 - Hike all day
First things first breakfast! We had the best breakfast at Mountain Home Cafe.
I got the Huevos Rancheros and OMG it was amazing! One of the top breakfast meals I have had while traveling. I don't share a lot of food but when I do you better believe it's good! It was a very cold snowy morning but sooooo beautiful! We were now off to hike!
It was incredible seeing the snowy trails while the snow was coming down! Definitely have your snow boots ready or waterproof hiking boots. There is a endless amount of hikes in Estes Park to choose from. We did the Emerald Lake Trail. It's a 4.1 mile trail with beautiful views. You will pass Dream lake and Nymph lake on the way to Emerald Lake.
It was soooo cold the day we were there. Thank goodness I had plenty of layers on. We only did this trail because we were driving back to Denver and the snow kept coming down. We didn't want to get stuck in Estes park. If you have time and the weather permits there is sooo much beauty around here and you could definitely spend all day there.
Total drive time - 2.5 hours
Where to stay - Hotel Teatro
Day 8 - Explore Denver
First I would recommend getting breakfast at Snooze an AM Eatery inside the Union Station. I always get the breakfast burrito and it never disappoints. After breakfast head to the Red Rock Park and Amphitheatre. It's a beautiful place close to Denver.
Do the Red Rocks Trading Post Trail. It's a short 1.5 mile hike with beautiful views. There also are many other hikes around Denver that you could do if you have time. Remember these photos are from two different seasons.
Now time to head to happy hour at Union Station. There is bar right inside it's a perfect place to chill and have some drinks before dinner time. We decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner on the last night at Rioja. This dinner is the top dinner I have ever had. We both ate every single bite. It was my first time trying lamb but it basically melting in your mouth. If you go to one place this restaurant is a MUST! It was the perfect dinner after a wonderful trip.
Total drive time - 45 mins
Where to eat
Breakfast - Snooze an AM Eatery
Dinner - Rioja
Where to stay - Hotel Teatro
If you have never been to Colorado of course I recommend it. If you get to go I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions feel free to dm me at any time.