Denver, Colorado: Mile High City and the Rockies

It’s been a while since I had a 3-day off (without requesting). Combine this with an itch for the mountains, I booked a less than $100 roundtrip ticket to Denver. It was such a great deal I couldn’t pass it up. And I’ve always wanted to go to Colorado. With just a backpack (which is a first), I made my way to the Mile High City.

After getting lunch in downtown, I went to the State Capitol. I’m glad there are free bus rides along the 16th Street Mall, it cut down my budget for transportation. Plus, it was a very hot day to be walking under the sun (yes, I’m lazy). The Capitol offers free guided tour, but opted to go around by myself.

The Capitol was built in 1894 and is listed in National Register of Historic Places. I’ve seen two other capitols, and they all looked similar to be honest. But nonetheless, it’s a grandeur building.

I always enjoy looking up the dome of the Capitols. It’s intricate, beautiful, and aesthetically balanced.

Using the light rail service was very easy and convenient. I only had to buy a $9 regional pass to get me from the airport to downtown and around. Then there were the free buses that go around town that saved me time and energy.

I love the facade of the Union Station. It has been renovated since being opened in 1881. The Great Hall is now a place for bars and restaurants, where passengers can wait for their trains.

I also stopped by Larimer Square for a quick frappe. It’s the oldest commercial block lined up with restaurants, bars, and shops. I would have loved to see the string lights on at night, but sunset’s not until 8 o’clock-ish. (Darn, daylight saving).

The next morning, I joined a group tour offered by Aspire Tours to see the Rockies. We meet in front of the Union Station. I was surprised that we were 10 in the group. I was only expecting half after seeing the availability on their calendar a day before. But the seats were still plenty enough as we made our way to the mountains. We stopped by Lyons, which is a quaint town of Boulder, to pick up our sandwiches.

Another stopover was the Chapel on the Rock along Allenspark. It was built by a monsignor that was inspired by the biblical phrase: “upon this rock I will build my church.” The chapel and the retreat is not open for public tours, though.

A few more miles, we started driving up the mountains. The scenery was gorgeous. The evergreen trees and patches of ice took away the stress of the city life. We were supposed to eat lunch near a waterfall, but it started raining hard. So we drove a little further to another beautiful stop. It was a little cooler, which was nice.

After a quick lunch, we were on the road again just enjoying the view while listening to Rocky Mountain High by John Denver. There’s no other song more perfect than that.

We finally reached the scenic overlook that’s on a 10,000 feet elevation. Our tour guide said not to walk on the tundra as they are very unstable. There are also signs everywhere. But other visitors will do anything for the perfect instagram post.

We can’t get enough of the 360 degree view of the mountains. I climbed the rocks near the viewpoint and looked down. It’s really steep! You just won’t notice as much because of the trees. The breath of fresh air, the view of the mountains, the evergreen trees, and the ice caps were enough to rejuvenate my tired body and mind (the power of nature!).

Next stop was the Sprague Lake. We did a short hike around it. Another beauty to behold. It may not be as sunny as I wanted it to be, but it’s still spectacular.

I was able to complete a round trip before it started raining again. I had to stop halfway to absorb this view. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that reflection? Sometimes I wish I live by the mountains.

For the last stop, we drove to the Stanley Hotel. A Colonial Revival hotel that was opened in 1909. It’s also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It’s still an active hotel up to this date.

Did you know that it was the inspiration of Stephen King for his Overlook Hotel in the novel The Shining (as well as the film adaptation and mini series)? It was also the shooting location of other movies like Dumb and Dumber.

The hotel offers paranormal tours after getting reports of ghost activities. It was featured in Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. Our tour guide spent her honeymoon here a long time ago, and said she didn’t feel or see anything. I guess it depends on what you believe in, right?

I may have ticked off Colorado on my US list, but I would love to be back and hike the trails instead. The scenic road trip was just enough to get a feel, but makes you want more. Til next time, Rockies!

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