CSU Students: Grand Lake Staycation


Take the ultimate weekend trip to Grand Lake, Colorado.

Established in 1881, the historic Grand Lake sits at an elevation of over 8,000 feet. It has all of the beauty that Rocky Mountain National Park has, but a quieter atmosphere. If you’re looking for the dual beauty of a lake and the rolling mountainside, this is a place that you need to visit!

Picture retrieved from Visit Grand County website

Things to Do in Grand Lake

Scenic Ride:

(Provided from RockyMountainResorts.com)

Trail Ridge Road into Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Ridge Road is recognized as the highest continuous paved road in the United States. The views are arguably some of the best in the lower 48, as this road tops out at 12,183 feet and puts you on level with the surrounding peaks. For immense 360 degree panoramic views of classic Colorado landscape, all from the convenience of your car, this road is a must. From Grand Lake, simply take highway 34 north towards Estes Park.

Hiking:

Some of the most beautiful landscape in Colorado is located in and around Rocky Mountain National Park. These trails below are some recommendations we have for all skill levels, but check out AllTrails for further ideas.

Beginner: North Inlet Trailhead to Cascade Falls

7.5 mile out and back, waterfall, forest and valley views. Great simple day hike for people with limited time or experience hiking. Directions from Grand Lake: From West Portal Road, take a left on Country Road 663. Follow straight, and after crossing Tonahutu Creek, the trailhead will be on your right.

East Inlet Trail to Lone Pine Lake (AllTrails.com)

Intermediate: East Inlet Trail to Lone Pine Lake-

10 mile out and back, follows the East Inlet River up to Lone Pine Lake and offers many campsites along the way, camping permits needed, features a waterfall. Directions from Grand Lake: Follow the road that leads to the east side of the lake, past the West Portal, to the East Inlet Trailhead. 

Advanced: Never Summer Wilderness (Baker Gulch to Bowen Gulch Lake)

19 mile loop, outstanding landscape views, great trail to backpack, no camping permits needed, dogs allowed on leash. Directions from Grand Lake: Follow Trail Ridge Road north for 9 miles, take a left into the Bowen/Baker Trailhead parking lot.

Image retrieved from the Backpacker

Best Places to Stay in Grand Lake

Lone Eagle Lodge:

Image retrieved from the Lone Eagle Lodge website

This lodge is located in the heart of the historic Grand Lake Village which means it is within walking distance of the lake, many restaurants, shopping, and other outdoor activities. This lodge is described as a “clean, quiet, cozy, mountain style motel.” In the summer, they also have a deck and barbecue grill open. This motel will be one of your cheaper options when staying in Grand Lake. The prices vary with the type of room and the seasons, but usually they range from $70-$180 a night.

Winding River Resort:

Image retrieved from Winding River Resort website

This resort is one of the most popular places to stay in Grand Lake. They have a wide variety of activities, such as, visiting their animal farm, horseback riding, ATV driving, and fishing. They have the option to rent cabins or they have many RV and tent sites. Their camping facilities include showers, restrooms, and laundry, along with a cute gift shop on the resort. For a non-utility site, it is only $38 a night!

Grand Lake Lodge:

This lodge will be your ultimate Colorado mountain paradise. They have breathtaking views of both the mountains and lake. They have a delicious restaurant with seating on their mountainside deck. They have over 70 cabins to choose from. This will be a more expensive option for you, but definitely worth the price. The cabins range from $165-$265 a night depending on the cabin chosen.

Image retrieved from Grand Lake Lodge website

Best Places to Eat in Grand Lake

Image retrieved from the Stillwater Grill website

The Stillwater Grill:

The Stillwater Grill is owned by a French chef who has cooked for widely known people including Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, and Michael Jackson. His restaurant offers a delicious take-out, wood-fire cooked pizza option for a night in, happy hour specials, and various entrees including seafood and pasta options.

The O-a Bistro!: 

The O-a Bistro! is a mother-daughter restaurant that features dishes inspired from European, South American, Asian, and Mediterranean cuisine. The have a new menu each week, as well as a huge assortment of wines from around the world. This is an excellent place to stop in for breakfast, or wind down the night with a glass of wine.

Image retrieved from the O-a Bistro! website

Best Places to Go Out in Grand Lake

Grand Lake Brewing:

Image retrieved from the Grand Lake Brewing website

Grand Lake Brewing boasts an amazing quality beer since the water used is straight from the headwaters of the Colorado River. They use hops and grains from all over the globe which also adds to its uniqueness.  Stop on by for a refreshing beer after exploring Grand Lake!

The Sagebrush BBQ & Grill:

This is a great place to hang out after an exciting day in Grand Lake. They have t.v.’s around the bar showing different sports as well as tap beers, wine, and mixed drinks. Their friendly bartenders and waitresses will make sure you’re having a great night!

Sagebrush BBQ & Grill Facebook page

How to Get to Grand Lake

 

CSU Students: Telluride Staycation


Have the best weekend in Telluride, Colorado.

If you’re looking for a place with more ‘European’ flair than most, Telluride is the place for you. It’s snuggled right in the mountains, boasting a unique beauty that lasts through all four seasons. With a rich history and the isolated location, it gives off the impression that time really could stand still.

Things to do in Telluride:

 

If you’re going to Telluride in the summer, it doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy their beautiful mountains. We’ve compiled a few trails that you can tackle, no matter your skill level (and a bonus scenic drive!).

Alta Ghost Town Trail:

Alta Ghost Town: Image courtesy of TripAdvisor

This hike is a bit long, at 10.2 miles, but it is an easy hike meant for all skill levels. The trail route is out and back, so you could also shorten it if you would like. There is an exciting twist to this trail – it will lead you to a ‘ghost town’! If scary isn’t your thing, it may be less spooky when you see the view behind the shambles. There are also beautiful lake views, and if you have your furry friend with you – bring them with! They are also able to use this trail.

 

Bridal Veil Falls: Image courtesy of Frank Kovalchek at Creative Commons

Bridal Veil Falls Trail:

If you’re feeling more inclined to do a hike with a bit of a challenge involved, this might be for you. This trail is a bit shorter, at only 4.9 miles, but it boasts a 1,259 foot elevation gain. The route is also out and back, so you can cut it short – but not so fast, because the end will lead you to a beautiful waterfall, which gives this trail its name. Similarly with the Alta Ghost Town Trail, your furry friends are allowed along if they are on leash.

 

Mt. Sneffels (14er):

A moderate hike still not cutting it for you? Telluride has a hike sure to make your legs burn – and perhaps take a notch off of your bucket list. Mt. Sneffels is a 14er, reaching a whopping 14,150 feet. The hike itself is 7.6 miles from start at Yankee Boy Basin trailhead. We suggest starting here, because this is the most common route, and this trailhead is where some of the most beautiful wildflower gardens grow in the summertime. If you’ve never hiked a fourteener before, we recommend doing some research so that you can be sure you’ve packed what you need to pack, know your route, and can time your summit before thunderstorms hit.

Yankee Boy Basin: Image courtesy of Tahawus, retrieved from SummitPost

Take a scenic drive down San Juan Skyway:

Image retrieved from Pinterest

Not feeling up to a hike? We’ve got you covered. Classified as an “All-American Road,” this is one road that you do not want to miss. Notable for its archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities. Less than 4 miles outside of Telluride on Highway 145. Other than the gorgeous San Juan Mountains, you can encounter Mesa Verde National Park’s ruins, the Anasazi Heritage Center and the Ridgway Railroad Museum.

Best Places to Stay in Telluride:

Image retrieved from the Hotel Telluride website

The Hotel Telluride:

This hotel is a “boutique chalet with a European feel.” They have a variety of rooms and suites with breathtaking views of the San Juan Mountains. The offer an assortment of packages that you can add to your stay. The Hotel Telluride offers the best in service, convenience, and accommodation, but it comes at a price. The rates range from $192 to $429 a night.

The Victorian Inn:

Image retrieved from the Victorian Inn website

The Victorian Inn is a great option for many people. It is in a very convenient location, just a short walk to downtown Telluride and only a few minutes from the Telluride Gondola. They have great amenities like free continental breakfast, free WiFi, a hot tub, and sauna. This is one of the cheaper options you will find in Telluride as rooms start at $113 a night.

Lower Beaver Campground:

The Lower Beaver Campground is a great camping site located about 20 miles outside of downtown Telluride. They are 8,400 feet high and have 18 campsites that have been newly remodeled and are trailer compatible. Although the downside of this site is it is a little bit out of the way, it has many upsides.  They have tables, fireplaces, vault type toilets, centralized refuse bin and a developed drinking water system with hand pumps. The best part of this campground is it is completely free (with a 7 day limit) and does not require a reservation.

Image retrieved from the Visit Telluride website

Best Places to Eat in Telluride:

The Butcher and Baker Cafe:

Image retrieved from the Butcher and Baker Cafe website

This cafe specializes in handcrafted, fresh and local cuisine.  Their bar carries Colorado breweries on tap, locally crafted spirits, and an assortment of wines. They also serve handmade bread and pastries, local greens, and locally sourced meats. The Butcher and Baker Cafe is a cozy place to have any meal while visiting Telluride!

Tasting Telluride Food Tour:

Image retrieved from the Tasting Telluride website

Ever wondered what spending a few hours being guided around, looking at beautiful scenery, simply sampling delicious food would be like? Here you go. This is a great activity for the summer, it is a three hour walking tour during the summer in Telluride. It includes, samples, views, and stories from the locals. This tour is great for foodies who are not able to stay in Telluride for a long time but still want to get a taste for what this beautiful mountain town has to offer!

Best Places to Go Out in Telluride:

The Last Dollar Saloon:

Image retrieved from the Last Dollar Saloon website

This saloon boasts Telluride’s largest beer selection. They have over 60 beers from all over the world including local, domestic, craft, imported, and seasonal offerings. If beer isn”t really your thing, rest assured – they still have you covered. On top of the beer, they also have $5 margaritas – all the time!

 

The Telluride Brewing Company:

This brewing company is owned and operated by two best friends who love beer. Their beer is unique because the water used comes straight from the Rocky Mountain snowmelt and are made with premium malts and hops. If that isn’t enough incentive for you, they have won several awards and medals! Stop by The Telluride Brewing Company and you won’t be disappointed!

Telluride Brewing Company from Brett Schreckengost on Vimeo.

How to Get to Telluride:

CSU Students: Crested Butte Staycation


Take the ultimate weekend trip to Crested Butte, Colorado.

If you’ve been to Crested Butte, you know its appeal. If you’re from Crested Butte, you’re fiercely loyal to it. If you have never been to Crested Butte. you’re probably now wondering – wait, what’s the big deal?

This town is known as the “Last Great Colorado Ski Town”, the “Home of Mountain Biking”, and many other wonderful names. It is nestled deep in the mountains, filled with genuine friendly locals, and still holds the flair of a mountain town without succumbing to a touristy, fake feel.  This is the perfect getaway for CSU students looking to get away from the hustle and bustle in an authentic way. If you’re excited now, but have no idea how to begin planning a trip to Crested Butte, rest assured – we’ve compiled the best of the Butte right here for you to enjoy!

Things to Do in Crested Butte

Mountain Biking:

401 Trail. (Image retrieved from the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association)

Experience world class mountain biking on the trails that founded the sport itself. Mesmerizing aspen trees, wild flowers, and classic Colorado high mountain views that never seem to end.

Beginner- Wagon Trail (Great scenic trail for bikers looking for an easy going ride. Located just west of Crested Butte.)

Intermediate- Lupine Trail (Known for its gorgeous landscape views, and moderate level. Located just north of town.)

Advanced- 401 Trail (This nationally recognized trail will push you to your limits, but you’re rewarded with arguably the best views in and around Crested Butte. Located north of town.)

 

Hiking:

Crested Butte to Aspen Trail. (Image retrieved from Travel Crested Butte.)

Colorado terrain hardly looks so good as in the trails surrounding Crested Butte. These trails will guarantee to impress no matter your skill level.

Beginner- Judd Falls (This is a great trail for spring time when the falls are roaring. Located just north of Crested Butte.)

Intermediate- Red Lady via Scarp Ridge (This trail offers some of the best 360 degree views around the area, and is great for those who are looking for something more than a walk in the park.)

Advanced- Aspen to Crested Butte (This is one of the most iconic trails in Colorado, and will push you to your limits, however you’re rewarded with arguably the best views in Colorado. You can take it either way, and the Nordic Inn can help you coordinate the trip.)

Best Places to Stay in Crested Butte

Cement Creek Campground:

This campground is a beautiful location close to Crested Butte. At this campground you will have access to hiking, fishing, mountain biking, and ATV and motorcycle riding. The area is in a narrow valley with a lot of aspen trees surrounding. There are 13 campsites with no reservations required! A stay here will only cost you $14 a night per site.

Nordic Inn:

Image retrieved from Nordic Inn website

 

The Nordic Inn is the set right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains which means it is closest to some of the best sites and trails in the United States. They have a bus that runs frequently so getting into town or up on the mountains couldn’t be easier. This will definitely be your more expensive options as the rates for the room range from $259-$329. If you really feel like going all out you can get the Nordic Mountain Chalet for $500 a night.

Crested Butte Lodge and Hostel

This lodge and hostel in Crested Butte is going to be your first choice if you are looking to save some money. They offer a variety of room styles that are suitable for every type of traveler. These rooms will sleep 1-6 people and dogs are welcome for only $30 extra! Check out their awesome video – and see a little bit of Crested Butte for yourself – below:

Best Places to Eat in Crested Butte

The Last Steep Bar & Grill:

Image retrieved from The Last Steep website

The Last Steep Bar & Grill is owned by two brothers. Located right in downtown, it has been voted Best Bloody Mary by locals and the Crested Butte News. They offer an outdoor patio, as well as a Build-Your-Own Bloody Bar every Saturday and Sunday from 11am-4pm, and a typical meal will cost you less than $15!

 

Image retrieved from the Ginger Cafe Facebook page

Ginger Cafe: 

If you’re looking for a change of pace from the traditional ‘American’ meals, look no further. A surprising addition to the Crested Butte meal scene, the Ginger Cafe boasts delicious Indian and Thai cuisine that will appeal to all sorts of taste buds, from the spicy to the mild. They also offer vegetarian and gluten free options, so those with food restrictions need not worry. The average entree will cost you around $15-$20, and they also have delicious appetizers, sides, and teas if you’re looking for something on the lighter side!

The Secret Stash:

The Secret Stash has been voted the best pizza and wings every year since opening in 2002. If you’re lucky, you can even learn how to make your own pizza, from tossing the dough like a real professional until the last delicious bite. You can even enjoy a game of pool after your meal. The Secret Stash is definitely a must-visit restaurant while exploring this town!

Image retrieved from the Secret Stash Facebook page

Best Places to Go Out in Crested Butte

 

Talk of the Town:

Image retrieved from the Talk of the Town Facebook page

Talk of the Town is known for their friendly owners and staff, as well as for their quick service.  They feature karaoke, specials during sports games, and occasional fundraisers to help members of their community!

Bonez:

Bonez is a tequila bar and grill. They offer many Mexican dishes including various enchiladas, quesadillas, and empanadas. Happy hour is daily from 4-6pm, so if you like tequila, head on over to Bonez!

Image retrieved from the Bonez website

How to Get to Crested Butte

CSU Students: Frisco Staycation


Take the ultimate weekend trip to Frisco, Colorado.

Located right in the heart of ski town Colorado lies the quaint town of Frisco, Colorado. Iconic ski towns such as Vail, Breckenridge, and Leadville are just a short drive away; however, you’ll find that Frisco is a hidden gem in Colorado worth a couple days of exploration. Classic Colorado terrain is at Frisco’s doorstep, with a 12,800 ft. peak trailhead accessible right from downtown. Continue reading for our best recommendations when choosing Frisco as your staycation destination.      

Things to Do in Frisco

Take a Day at the Frisco Bay Marina:

One of the best things about Frisco is how it brings lake life to the mountains, a combination that is both rare and beautiful. The lake in question here is Dillon Reservoir, which spans 3,300 acres and boasts 27 miles of shoreline. The fun things to do at this lake may be more weather dependent than normal lakes at a lesser elevation, but ‘lake season’ here typically runs from early June to early or mid September.

Since the reservoir is normally very flat, and has a lot of scenery to enjoy, three of the most fun things that you can do here are stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP):

Image retrieved from the Frisco Town website

You can reserve your SUP board online if it’s more than 24 hours in advance, which is recommended. They use Glide paddleboards, which are great, stable boards. They are even stable enough to do yoga on! The cost is $35 for two hours (two hours is the minimum rental time), and $10 per hour every hour after that. Life jackets and paddles are included in that price. You need to call ahead to reserve additional hours, or call from the lake to make sure your board isn’t reserved for someone else.

Canoeing:

Image retrieved from the Frisco Town website

The Frisco Bay Marina uses Old Town Guide 160 canoes, which are perfect for taking out a small group with gear or lunch; 2 or 3 passengers can easily fit. The cost for their two person canoes are $40 for two hours, and the cost for their three person canoes are $45 for two hours (two hours is the minimum rental time), and $10 per hour every hour after that. Similarly with the paddleboards, life jackets and paddles are included in that price, and you need to call ahead to reserve additional hours.

Kayaking:

If you want a little more independence and a cheaper option, a kayak might be right for you. The cost for a single-person kayak is $30 for two hours, and cost for their tandem (two-person) kayaks is $40 for two hours (two hours is the minimum rental time), and $10 per hour every hour after that. and $10 per hour every hour after that.

Mountain and Park Biking:

There’s nothing quite like the rush of tearing through the mountains on a bike, and there are no shortage of trails in Frisco. It takes the locals years to go through all of the local trails, but we’ve got two classics here for you:

Peaks Trail:

Peaks Trail is about a 17 mile trek out to Breckenridge and back, with an average 4% grade (2°), and a max grade of 14% (or 8°). According to the Frisco town website, this trail “has enough climbs and technical bits to make you feel hero-like, but it won’t destroy you so you can go on to do more exploring on your bike the next day.” Comments from those who have tackled this trail say that it has several wonderful streams to bike alongside.

Frisco Peninsula Lakeshore Loop:

If you’re wanting more of a waterside ride to enjoy Dillon Lake, this is the ride for you. It’s about six miles long, and is a big fan favorite. It’s rated easy to intermediate. The average grade is 1% (or 1°) and a max grade of 14% (or 8°). Dogs are allowed on a leash, and you’ll probably see quite a few locals doing this loop over the lunch hour!

Photo retrieved from the MTB Project website

Frisco Bike Park:

This Frisco Adventure Park is open from dawn to dusk in the summer, and boasts four different park amenities for riders of all sizes and abilities: pump track, slopestyle course, dirt jumps and a dual slalom course. 

The pump track is a loop that has bumbs and berms for riders of all ages and levels. The slopestyle course has dirt jumps and mountain biking rides in all styles, which allows you to choose the terrain for your ability. The dirt jumps are big and small, and you can pick one to work on or bike a whole course. Lastly, the dual slalom course is perfect for friends with a need for speed, with bumps, jumps, and s-curves.

Image retrieved from the town of Frisco website

Take a Hike:

If you’d rather use your feet than a bike, again, there is no shortage of trails for you here. Frisco is surrounded on 3 sides by National Forest (75% of Summit County is public land), but here are two of the best hikes around Frisco.

Rainbow Lake:

USNFS Difficulty Rating: EASY
Mileage: 1.5 out and back, and you can add more as you’d like.

Short and sweet, this locals’ favorite trail is part of the Peaks Trail that we previously mentioned above. Therefore, this trail can go all the way to Breckenridge if you are so inclined. You can either drive or walk to this trailhead from downtown Frisco. This trail winds through wetlands on a boardwalk, through several beautiful types of trees and ends up at Rainbow Lake. This trail also connects to the more difficult, longer Masontown/Mount Royal trail, if you decide you are up for more of a challenge!

Image retrieved from Ranger Dillon District

North Ten Mile:

USNFS Difficulty Rating: MODERATE to MORE DIFFICULT
Mileage: 2 miles one-way to Wilderness Boundary, 3.4 miles one-way to Gore Trail intersection

Image retrieved from the town of Frisco website

Like the other trail, you can easily walk to the trailhead from main street in downtown Frisco. This trail is a locals’ favorite because of its accessibility and closeness to Ten Mile Creek. It is initially very steep, but it evens out after the first mile and then you  will see Chief Mountain to the right and Wichita Mountain to the left. There are several ponds along the trail, and it’s a great trail for dogs (on leash) because of all of the water access.

You will also cross by Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.  Once you come to the intersection of the Gore Range Trail, you can turn right or left. Going right (north) will lead you to Meadow Creek drainage, and turning left (South) will eventually take you up and over Uneva Pass to Copper Mountain Resort.

Best Places to Stay in Frisco

Hotel Frisco:

Image retrieved from the Hotel Frisco website

Hotel Frisco will be one of the cheaper options for you in Frisco. It is one of the most popular hotels in the area as they have a selection of rooms, suites, and apartments. This hotel is a great little hideaway within walking distance to many restaurants and bars. They have fireplace in their cozy lobby which makes it feel like a home away from home. Their rates range widely from $109/night for a one bedroom to $215/night for an apartment that will accommodate four.

Frisco Lodge Bed & Breakfast:

Image retrieved from the Frisco Lodge website

This lodge is currently rated number one in bed and breakfast locations in Frisco by Tripadvisor. This would be a more expensive option, but it is definitely worth it! Their rates start at $159 but they have great service with very nice rooms. You can even add on luxuries like breakfast in bed, chocolates, roses, or wine delivered to your room. They also have an outdoor hot tub and a cozy fireplace!

Peak One Campground:

This campground is right on the lake and perfect for people looking for a variety of recreational activities! They have picnic tables, campfire rings, flush toilets, and drinking water, but an important thing to note is electrical hook-ups are not available. This campground will only cost you $23 per night!

Image retrieved from the Peak One Campground website

Best Places to Eat in Frisco

Butterhorn Bakery and Cafe:

Image retrieved from the Butterhorn website

Voted #1 on Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Urbanspoon for 4 years in a row for its friendly service, reasonable prices, and great food! Come in and enjoy their homemade Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas, and try their delicious selection of breakfast and lunch items (they even have gluten free options available)!

Jersey Boys Pizza and Deli:

Image retrieved from the Jersey Boys website

If you’ve worked up an appetite biking, hiking, other otherwise doing the outdoor things Frisco has to offer, this might be the food for you. Jersey Boys has giant portions of Italian favorites, from pizza to pasta to subs. Better yet, they offer Happy Hour Mon-Fri from 3:30-6 where slices of pizza and PBR pints are only $1.75. For food deals, there’s always something going on during the week, so check their website for additional coupons.

Chimayo Mexican Grill: 

This restaurant not only has amazing Mexican-style food, they have an incredible history. Tied back to the town of Chimayó, New Mexico, they stick to their heritage and are definitely worth the visit. History aside, they are known for their Epic Fish Tacos, Shrimp Tacos, and Epic Chili Rellenos that are handmade in-house daily. If that doesn’t draw you in, they also offer round the clock $4 margaritas – no happy hour necessary!

Image retrieved from Chimayo Mexican Grill’s Facebook page

Best Places to Go Out in Frisco

The Island Grill at Frisco Bay:

Image retrieved from the Island Grill website

The Island Grill will add a unique element to your Frisco visit! They offer only outdoor seating, and have free live music every Friday along with Happy Hour specials.  This fun restaurant is open Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Pug Ryan’s Tiki Bar:

Image retrieved from the Pug Ryan’s Tiki Bar website

 

This Tiki Bar has been ranked as “One of the Top 5 Beach Bars” in Colorado by the Denver Post.  Enjoy the view of Lake Dillon while sipping on a nice cocktail while you relax. It is open from mid-May to mid-September.

 

 

How to Get to Frisco

CSU Students: Estes Park Staycation


In Northern Colorado, there are a few select locations that provide world class entertainment. One of the first locations that comes to a locals mind would have to be Estes Park, Colorado. Estes Park lies at the entrance of the most visited National Park in the U.S., and that is no coincidence. One can find breathtaking scenery, outstanding hiking and mountaineering, quaint mountain town social life, and first class hotel service unique to Colorado. When thinking of heading west from FoCo, we would highly recommend the hour drive to Estes Park, and here is why…  

Outdoor Activities:

In and around Estes Park, there are three outdoor activities that we would recommend. Each one can be enjoyed either in Rocky Mountain National Park, RMNP, or outside the park as well. Here is a link to an interactive map of RMMP.

  1. Hiking, Backpacking, Climbing-
Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park
Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park (Photo: Michael Berg)

In RMNP: During the shoulder seasons, spring and fall, we would recommend visiting some of the more popular destinations such as Bear Lake, Emerald Lake, and Sprague Lake. These locations offer some of the parks best views and will not be as crowded in the shoulder seasons. In the summer, we would recommend visiting some of the more popular areas early in the morning, or less crowded areas throughout the day. When backpacking, check availability here a few weeks in advance.     

Outside RMNP: Throughout the summer, trails surrounding the park can be some of the best options for hiking. While everyone crams into RMNP, the pristine beauty surrounding the park often gets overlooked. We would recommend trying the Twin Owl or Knoll trail systems, and finding out more trails at the Estes Park Visitor Center.

  1. Fishing-

Cutthroat TroutFishing within RMNP can be some of the most scenic fishing you will find in your life. We recommend checking out the local fishing shops in Estes for current recommendations in order to make your trip is a successful one. The following is taken from the National Park Service website:

“A Colorado fishing license is required for all persons 16 years of age or older to fish in Rocky Mountain National Park. No other permit is necessary; however, special regulations exist. It is your responsibility to know and obey them. To obtain current Colorado fishing license fees visit the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife website.”

Timber Creek Campground, Rocky Mountain National Park
Timber Creek Campground, RMNP (Photo: NPS)
  1.  Camping-

Planning a multi day trip in Estes Park or RMNP is our best recommendation in order to get the full experience of the area, and camping assures that you get the closest experience with nature. If you plan on car camping, make sure to check availability a few weeks ahead of time here. When backpacking, check availability here a few weeks in advance.

Accommodations:

Brynwood on the River

This lodging location has 6 acres of beautiful wildlife and landscape. There are various places to stay on the river including, a motel, river and theme cabins, and vacation homes. It is located midway between downtown Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Great for a weekend break of camping, fishing, and hot tubbing! Their peak season is from June 16th- August 12th with slightly higher rates for the cabins. In the peak season the rates vary from $169 to $315, with cabins right on the river in the higher price range.

Image received from website

Stanley Hotel

What would a write-up about Estes Park be without mentioning the Stanley Hotel? If you want to take your American Horror Story nights to the next level, this is the place for you to stay.

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park Colorado

First opened in 1909, this hotel is actually extremely beautiful and charming. It is a popular wedding venue, and has options for you to sleep with peace of mind if you would prefer a ‘non-spirited’ room. If you book far enough out, you can get a classic queen room for about $309 – still pricey, but much less than the short-notice $600+. Make sure to check around for coupon codes!

If you’d prefer a room with a little more spirit (pun intended), make sure to look for their paranormal activity rooms such as the famous Stephen King Suite (217), the Ghost Hunters’ favorite room (401), and rooms 407, 428, and 1302. These would need to be booked very far out, as they are understandably their most popular rooms.

If you don’t manage to get a haunted room, don’t fret! There are also Stanley Hotel tours and Night Spirit tours for $25 per hotel guest.

Estes Park Campground at East Portal

This beautiful campground is located just west of the town at an elevation of 8,300 feet. There are amazing views of the Rocky Mountain National Park and easy access to the East Portal Reservoir with great opportunities for fishing and hiking. It is a double-loop campground with tree-covered sites for campers with tents or they also have sites for small RV’s and trailers that are less than 24ft long. There is a two-night minimum stay on all weekends.

Rates per night are as follows:

Standard Tent/RV Site- $35

Water/Electric Site- $45

Back-in Full Hookup Site- $50

Pull-Through Full Hookup Site- $55

Double Tent/RV Site- $60

Food:

Rock Inn Mountain Tavern

If you are looking for great service and delicious food, look no further. The Rock Inn Mountain Tavern has All-Natural Colorado chicken, fresh salads, whole grains, organic teas and coffees, local beers, sustainable produced wines, and a full bar. They were established in 1937 as a dance hall for the Big Band Era. They continue to live up to this tradition with live music every Friday.

Baba’s Burgers & Gyros

Baba’s is the perfect place to head after a long hike in the Rocky Mountains. They have high-quality food and great service. They offer a large variety of burgers (cow, buffalo, or elk), gyros, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and more! The gyros, elk burgers, and fried pickles are what we recommend!

Social Activities:

Mountain Munchies and Tiki Bar

Want to experience the island life in the Rocky Mountains? Then come visit Mountain Munchies and Tiki Bar! Their boat drinks are made from real fruit juice and they pride themselves on having the largest rum selection in Northern Colorado. On top of that, they have happy hour all day, everyday! They serve a wide selection of food including elk brats, fish dishes, sweet potato fries, and their famous deep fried, bacon-wrapped Mountain Dog. Enjoy some social time on the back patio situated right next to the Big Thompson River.

Wapiti Pub

One of our favorite places to hang out after a day of exploring Estes is the Wapiti Pub. It has a very “mountain” feel and was voted Best Restaurant, Best Lunch, Best Dinner, and Best Burger in Estes Park! They strive to use as many local and fresh ingredients as possible and are known for having the largest all-Colorado beer list in the state!

Elkins Distillery

Although folks have been distilling whiskey in Estes for years, the Elkins Distillery is the first legal distillery in Estes! They feature high-proof Colorado whiskey that is both distilled and bottled in Colorado. They sell corn whiskey, Colorado whiskey, Elkins Apple whiskey, as well as whiskey paraphernalia like sweatshirts, glasses, and copper mugs. Stop on by the Elkins Distillery to get your whiskey fix!

 

 

Not sure how to get there? Look no further!

*Map adjusted for the fact that Big Thompson Road is currently closed for construction*

CSU Students: Steamboat Springs Staycation


Pack your bags and get ready for the ultimate weekend trip.

When people around Fort Collins normally talk about heading to the mountains, they talk about heading towards Denver or Boulder. Today, however, we will be turning our attention in a different direction: Towards Steamboat Springs!

Ahhh, the Springs. The Boat. Once you’ve been there, you’ll surely join the group of die-hards that have nothing but good things to say about it. Whether you visit in the winter or in the summer, there is always something for everyone – and here at ColoRADo Bound, we will do our best to make sure you leave feeling the same!

Things to Do in Steamboat Springs:

There are two shining gems that usually stand out when you think of Steamboat Springs, and those are: Skiing and snowboarding, and then relaxing in the Strawberry Hot Springs (and the lesser talked about Old Town Hot Springs).

…And while we also think those are great, that’s not what we’re here to tell you about. We want to tell you about unique outdoor activities! With spring closing in upon us, we’ve chosen to highlight some activities that might appeal to you as it warms up:

Yoga in the Yampa River Botanic Park

The Yampa River Botanic Park is a beautiful park that sits at the foot of Mt. Werner (the Steamboat Ski Mountain). It is a free park with many beautiful, differing sections to walk through and enjoy. Boasting water, trees, gardens, and sculptures, it is a popular destination for weddings and public events.

Starting May 1st, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., there are yoga classes hosted in the middle of the park. All levels are welcome, and it is completely donation based ($10 is the suggested donation).

If yoga isn’t your thing, they also do “Music on the Green” at 12:15 p.m. every Thursday from late June to the middle of August!

Saddleback Ranch Horseback Rides

Saddleback Ranch is a fourth-generation owned ranch nestled on beautiful land near Steamboat Springs. If you packed a pair of long pants, this is an opportunity you don’t want to miss out on. For $55 per horse (no matter the experience of the rider!) you can go for a one hour scenic ranch ride – a perfect way to kill a beautiful sunny afternoon and to work on your cowboy or cowgirl skills. They offer other options as well, but they do climb in price – such as a horseback dinner ride for $95, and a full-blown cattle drive for $140.

If you’d rather watch all the action from the outside, make sure you check out their Pro Rodeo events, which take place every Friday in the summer.

Fly Fishing

The Yampa River. It starts at 12,000 ft in the Flattop mountains, and eventually runs, over one hundred miles later, into Colorado. Steamboat Springs is one of the places this beautiful river cuts through, and what better place could there be to fly fish?

This sport is enjoyed year-round by locals, and some of the best areas to go fly fishing near Steamboat Springs are the local state parks: Stagecoach State Park, Pearl Lake State Park, and Steamboat Lake State Park. If you aren’t sure where to begin, there are several local shops in town where you can rent equipment, or if you would like to take a fishing excursion with a knowledgeable local guide. Prices will vary, but local shops can be viewed here.

Image retrieved from Steamboat Chamber’s website

Best Places to Stay in Steamboat Springs:

Rabbit Ears Motel:

Although it may not have the most attractive exterior, Rabbit Ears Motel is a silent gem in the middle of Steamboat springs. Its location is right in the center of all of the action; within 5 minutes drive of the trails, a quick jaunt on foot from local bars and eateries, and across the street from Old Town Hot Springs (to which you get discounted tickets if you ask at the front desk). They offer continental breakfast, and room prices are fairly cheap. One queen bed costs roughly $99 for a night, but prices go down as you add more people to more beds (for example, a room with two queen beds costs only $119), so call all your friends to join you!

The Nordic Lodge of Steamboat Springs:

The Nordic Lodge is a modern motel with a distinctly rustic feel, and it is located near downtown Steamboat Springs. It has a wide range of budget-friendly room options.  There’s a free shuttle to Steamboat Ski Resort every 10 minutes, and the property claims to be within five blocks of 20 restaurants. Other amenities include the secluded backyard lounge area, indoor hot tup, and heated outdoor pool. Prices are similar to that of the Rabbit Ears Motel – a room with a double bed costs roughly $99, and then only goes up to $109 for a room with two double beds, and so on. You really can’t go wrong here!

Steamboat Lake State Park:

If you’d prefer staying outdoors for the entirety of the trip, this place is for you. This campground is a large, popular state park near famed Hahns Peak. At an elevation of 8,100, it offers amazing views of the surrounding peaks and valleys, plus easy access to the teeming lakes and streams above Steamboat Springs. Campsites are first come, first served all other times of year. It’s facilities include vault toilets, trash service, electric and RV hookups, and potable water and laundry service. Reservations are accepted during the summer high season – roughly Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Camping rates are as follows:

  • Electrical sites:  $26 / night May 1st through September 30th
    • $24 / night the rest of the year
  • Basic sites:  $20 / night May 1st through September 30th
    • $18 / night the rest of the year
  • Aspen Leaf pass holders receive a $3 discount on all Sunday-Thursday evenings other than holidays
Image retrieved from Nordic Lodge’s website

Best Places to Eat in Steamboat Springs

Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill:

Voted “the best hang out” in Steamboat Springs, the food and the drinks at Mahogany Ridge are drool-worthy, but pricey. However, here’s our little tip for you: Skip the meal and fill yourself up on their apps. They have incredible appetizers that still have all of the flair of their main dishes, but without the main dish price tag (pair together the tuna ceviche with a glass of wine and see how fancy you feel). From 4-5:30, they have half price drinks and discounted appetizers, so while it may be a bit busy, it’s worth the wait – and then you can come back for their exact same late-night happy hour if you need something to top you off!

Skull Greek Creek

Image retrieved from Skull Creek Greek’s Facebook Page

Voted the “Best of the Boat”, if you’re feeling something a little more exotic than your typical pizza or burritos, this is the place for you. Located right in downtown Steamboat, tucked under some great shopping, lies Skull Creek Greek. Touted for their fantastic Gyros, Greek Salads, Baklava, and more, this place is great for folks on the go. More than that, it’s incredibly affordable, with the most expensive item on the menu topping out at $10.50! It’ll keep you going back for more, without breaking your bank.

Best Places to Go Out in Steamboat Springs

Schmiggity’s Live Music Dance Bar

Just a four minute drive down the road from the Mahogany Grill is Schmiggity’s Live Music Dance Bar.  Schmiggity’s was the first music establishment in Steamboat built exclusively for live music. They pride themselves on their high sound quality as well as their friendly and fun atmosphere.  They offer free acoustic music every Friday and Saturday from 7:30-9pm and have happy hour everyday from 7-9pm! Schmiggity’s is a great end to an adventure-filled day!

The BARley

Looking for more of a low-key night? Check out The BARley! They offer over 30 beers from local breweries throughout Colorado along with “hoppetizers” and cocktails. The chill vibe and great people make for a relaxing night!

Image retrieved from BARley’s Facebook Page

 

Not sure how to get there? Look no further:

A Perfect Day in February


Welcome to Fort Collins! Whether you are a prospective student, recent retiree, or a wide eyed tourist… Our City has something for everyone! This blog will give you detailed schedules so you can make the most out of your time in Fort Collins! If you are here with the kids and need a family friendly time we’ve got the schedule for you. If you have heard about our coveted breweries and looking to get drunk by one in the afternoon we’ve also got that! Explore our blog so that you can get the most out of the beautiful city of Fort Collins! This post outlines a perfect day in February! 

 

A Perfect day in February

If you’re visiting Fort Collins in February, the weather is bound to be unpredictable. Say you were banking on warm weather, and of course it ends up being cold. You aren’t out of luck! There’s plenty to do here, even on a chilly day! If you aren’t sure of what to do, don’t worry because we are here to give you a perfect itinerary that will allow you to make the most out of your time in Fort Collins! Here is a schedule we have planned out to for you… Enjoy!

6:00 AM: Start out your day by heading over to our favorite local coffee shop to grab a bite and some coffee before heading to Horsetooth for the sunrise. Bindle Coffee isn’t just a coffee shop! Bindles Coffee aims to provide their customers with a space to “breathe, to dream, and to enjoy beautiful food and coffee”. It has a wide array of pastries made in house by their beloved pastry chef Jen. Bindles values social sustainability, and exhibit this by sourcing their coffee through Direct Trade Relationships. They truly care about everyone involved in the production process and this really sets Bindle apart from other coffee shop! Bindles Coffee is not just a plain old coffee shop…  It is an experience authentic to Fort Collins that you will not want to miss out on!
*Pro-Tip: Get the Breakfast Burrito. You won’t regret it.

Address: 1933 Jessup Dr, Fort Collins, CO 80525

6:30 AM: It’s almost dawn at Horsetooth Reservoir, so drive on up to the top to see a beautiful view of the mountains and reservoir while the sun rises. Horsetooth Reservoir is beloved by CSU students and community members alike. During the summer you can expect to see boats, cliff divers, and groups of people cracking open a cold one on the shore. Since it is February these activities are not ideal, but not to worry…  You don’t even have to get out of your car to enjoy the beauty of Horsetooth. Just sit, enjoy the warmth of your car while you sip on that delicious Bindle latte (we recommend adding a splash of Irish Cream), and enjoy the view. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can explore around Horsetooth for a while and take in its beauty. If you need any assistance in finding your way around the area, there’s a map pictured below. Most of the parking lots cost $7  to park in, but if you stay in the car you can cruise away before receiving your ticket! 

Here is a google maps screenshot of what one of the parking lots look like! They are easy to find when driving around the reservoir! 

10:30 AM: Now that you got your early morning adventure in, you probably built up an appetite. Head over to the Silver Grill Cafe for brunch. Depending on what day you go, the wait time can get somewhat long, so it’s recommended to get there a little early. Be sure to try out their famous giant cinnamon rolls! Silver Grill Cafe also has some mouthwatering mimosas if you are looking to get your buzz on early in the day. 

2:00 PM: Once your tummy is full, you probably want to do something that doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. Bizarre Bazaar Bookstore is a cozy place that has a rich selection of books through the community buying, selling, and trading. However, this quaint little store has much more than than just books. This is the perfect place to browse through vinyl records, cassette tapes, posters, DVD’s, and so much more. http://fortcollinsbazaar.com/

6:00 PM: Now it’s close to dusk and if you want a charming place to see the sunset, CSU’s oval is the place for you. The oval is one of the oldest and untouched places on CSU’s beautiful campus, and it’s a great place to pass the time. Not to mention, It’s stunning during any season of the year. Keep an eye out for our eye catching squirrels who love to frequent the oval and accept snacks from welcoming visitors! 

8:00 PM: You just took a stroll through the Oval and now it’s time to grab a bite. What better way than to take a Carriage Ride through Historic Old Town Fort Collins to The Still Whiskey Steaks? It’s a fun and enjoyable way to get to dinner, and it allows you to see the most exciting and beautiful parts of our city! Once you arrive to The Still Whiskey Steaks, head in for a mouth-watering steak dinner. The Still Whiskey Steaks is a superb restaurant, whether it’s their outstanding food or the old timey ambiance, this is the perfect place to end the night.

via GIPHY

For carriage ride bookings, click the link below!

http://www.coloradocarriage.com/