Bits & Pieces of The Rocky Mountains

Visiting the Rocky Mountains, Boulder and Lilly Lake

Our last full day in Colorado was spent sightseeing and driving through the Rocky Mountains. We mapped out our route the night before to figure out which places we wanted to see on the way to the mountain. Our first stop was Boulder as a few of our friends had suggested seeing it.

Boulder
Before we took off to Boulder we rented a car since it made more sense if we planned in stopping at multiple places throughout the day. We arrived in Boulder at noon and found the town to be much quieter in compare to Denver. We walked around a bit, had breakfast at a local restaurant and then decided to hit up Pearl Street, a four-block pedestrian mall that stretched between 11th St. to 15th St. We realized within a few minutes driving through the streets that this is probably the first thing we should’ve seen in Boulder. The mall reminded me a lot like 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica except it was twice as big and with a picturesque view of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. It was quite a scene I tell yeah.

Boulder Waterfall
After 2 hours of roaming around Pearl Street, we decided it was time to go. As we drove up towards the Rocky Mountains, we drove past this waterfall that drew a huge crowd and seeing the waterfall from a distance we knew we needed to stop and check it out for ourselves. The 70ft. Boulder Waterfall was surreal to see in person. We walked through a proper trail from the highway that led you towards the viewpoint area. It was crowded at the time we went but, totally worth seeing.

Lilly Lake
After stopping by the waterfall we drove another hour up north towards the Rocky Mountain. It didn’t take long until we made another stop along the way at Lilly Lake. Lilly Lake was beautiful. You can actually hike the 0.8 mile loop with an awesome view of the lake. Of course, we didn’t do a hike on this trip as we were short on time but, it is definitely worth checking out.

The Rocky Mountain
At last, we finally entered the Rocky Mountain. Before coming here I suggest gassing up in the last town before entering the mountain because once you’re inside there are no gas stations nearby. Also, prepare for the unexpected climates. When we drove in the change in the weather was very drastic from rain one minute and then sunny the next. I am glad I had change of clothes with me and switched my shorts and t-shirts in the car to my winter leggings, long sleeve and a fleece jacket. At some point, we actually saw thick layers of snow and I was really glad I brought my fleece sweater with me.

Navigating the Rocky Mountain
Our plan for the Rocky Mountain was to drive through it from one side to the other and make stops along the way. We wanted to see both sides of the mountain but, depending on what you want to do you can also take one or two of the several trails they have. We didn’t hike on this trip because of time but, we saw plenty. The landscapes we saw were unbelievable. It probably took us about 5 hours long including stopping at a few sites to make it all the way around the mountain but, definitely worth seeing!

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Sunrise On the Rocks

Red Rocks Amphiteatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is a one of a kind experience with an open air amphitheatre built into a rock structure. This was one of the sights that we wanted to see and definitely not to be missed. Pre-covid, the place was known to hold music and/or concert venues. However, there was more to the amphitheatre than we imagined which included several hiking trails nearby as well as high inclines that one can do within the theatre.

We came early in the morning via Uber to avoid the afternoon crowd. The sun was already hot beating down at 80 F degrees but, we were prepared and brought plenty of water and snacks. The weather was probably the biggest challenge when visiting here in the summer as it made it difficult to hike and get moving. Luckily, our Uber driver dropped us at the parking lot near the entrance of the amphitheatre and it only took us a few steps to enter the ground.

Approaching the amphitheatre for the first time was a sight for sore eyes. Seeing the scenery of the rock formations was simply breathtaking and was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. There were already a few people working out with some running or walking. Passing by them I could already feel how challenging it must’ve been to take each steps going up the theatre. We, on the other hand, enjoyed the views from the benches.

After we looked around the theatre we decided to hike a few trails nearby. The area is well marked with sign posts and it was fairly easy to get around. Moreover, there’s also restrooms at the top of the theatre that was quite convenient to use. Other than that, it took us about 4 hours to explore the entire area and was well worth it.

Visiting Colorado for the First Time.

This trip started out rocky. Our travel plans for 4th of July weekend changed multiple times due to COVID. Initially, Texas was our first choice then, we heard that the number of virus cases increased. Right away, we decided not to go to Texas and thought of postponing our trip altogether. However, a few weeks later between working long hours and preparing to move to a new place (more on that later) we both decided it was time for a break.

Colorado is a state that I’ve never been to except that one time I had a layover in Denver. Truthfully, I didn’t know much about Colorado except they were known for their mountains and being outdoors which ultimately was the deciding factor for us.

My first impression upon arriving in Colorado was the quietness. Coming from California where I’m used to being around crowds of people 24/7, Colorado was empty (in a good way). I’m assuming the state recently lifted their restrictions which contributed to the probability of seeing less people around town but, in any case we found it quite soothing and relaxing.

Transportation


We took advantage of renting scooters to get around town. I really enjoyed seeing the city this way especially since we did not have to dodge around people like we would in California. The scooters were quite popular and we found them in almost every corner. Also, I had no idea that Uber allows you to rent one on their app. It was easy to use and very convenient!

Food


Upon arriving in Denver at the Union Station (a.k.a. RTD), we made our way inside to eat at Ultrea restaurant in their outdoor seating. We were really hungry at this point and ordered a few plates off of their happy hour menu. We had tapas, octopus (made 2 orders of those), bread with tomatoes, sausage and a few cheeses that I paired with red wine while Christian had a beer. Highly recommended! By the way, theUnion Station alone is worth exploring. It is a historic building with a railway system that takes you straight from the airport to downtown for $10 each way. There are a few restaurants and bars inside that are also worth checking out.

Stay


After our lunch we walked to our hotel and finally checked in. Our room was downright adorable. We had a very comfortable bed and fluffy pillows with a city view that fulfilled our R&R needs. Once we settled, we decided to check out each floors of our “theme based” hotel. My favorite was the 13th floor that had a “Horror” theme. I think it was the best one out of all of the floors to be honest.

See or Do


Lastly, we ended our night down 16th street, an outdoor street mall lined with chain stores, restaurants, bars and much more. Somewhere around the corner from 16th street was Larimer Square, a historic block with high end boutiques, galleries, bars and restaurants that is definitely worth seeing. The square is now pedestrian only zone (post COVID) where restaurants opened up their outdoor dining to spread out on the sidewalk. We walked around here for a few minutes and decided to return to our comfy bed for a good night’s rest. To be continued…

Colorado Trip