Road trip (part one) has begun! Over the past week we have travelled through upstate Denver and beyond. Stopping at Estes Park (Colorado), Guernsey (Wyoming) and Rapid City (South Dakota) before heading back to Denver (via Nebraska) again. Our road trip allowed us to explore not only Colorado but three other states, all within one week!
After a good night sleep, we were up bright and early to head to the mountains! Loveland ski area is only 50 miles west of Denver so we thought it was the perfect opportunity for us to hit the slopes. We bought our day pass and headed for the rental shop to collect our skis and board! Being at quite a high altitude (4000 metres) meant it was a bit tougher than usual, but considering neither of us had been on the slopes for over 5 years, we didn’t do too badly! The area was beautiful and it was a perfect day to be in the mountains.
An adventurous first day kicked off the start of what would be a very exciting few days. We decided to explore a bit of the west side of Denver, including the Red Rock Amphitheatre where musicians including The Beatles have played. The amphitheatre is renowned for its amazing acoustics and the views that come along with it are equally as beautiful! This was the start of our road trip, so we headed north, past Boulder, to Estes Park, the east entrance to to the Rocky Mountain National Park. The drive was incredible, up and down windy roads that took us through the mountain range. We arrived at Estes Park, a small mountainous town located around a rather large lake. The views from our wooden lodge / motel were amazing, especially considering what we paid for the room!! We were situated right on the edge of the lake overlooking most of Estes Park and the mountains surrounding it. That afternoon we went for a wander round the lake, which was still beautiful despite the poor visibility and snowfall.
The following morning we headed off to our next destination, Guernsey (Wyoming), not before a quick stop off at Bear Lake, a beautiful lake and forest area situated slightly south east of Estes Park. The lake was frozen but the views were breathtaking – such a beautiful and untouched part of the world. We had a short walk around and took some pictures of us standing on the frozen lake, before continuing our journey. The long drive to Guernsey was pretty but quite mundane. The roads are very long and unfortunately Wyoming isn’t overly scenic… nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the first big stint of our road trip, and were grateful that the speed limits had finally increased to 70, sometimes 80 miles an hour (speed limits on the whole in America are painfully painfully slow). Arriving in Guernsey late afternoon (with very little to do) we spent the evening planning the latter parts of our trip.
Up bright and early the next morning to drive to South Dakota – we’re off to Mount Rushmore. This drive was much more beautiful than the previous day, we drove through the plains of Wyoming to South Dakota and when we say the traffic was minimal, we maybe saw 3 or 4 cars across a 100 mile stretch! We got to South Dakota in good time so headed to have a quick look at Crazy Horse – a Native American sculpture that is in the process of being carved into the rock, and has been for many years! Not a huge amount to see as it wasn’t even close to being finished but still worth visiting. We then continued the drive to Mount Rushmore. Upon arrival you can’t really see the faces but after parking and walking closer they become very apparent. 60ft carved rock for each of the four presidents faces – quite spectacular. Due to the time of year there was hardly anyone around which was an added bonus! We stayed at Mount Rushmore for about an hour, looking round the museum and admiring the craftsmanship of the carvings before getting into the car to head back to Denver. We decided last minute to stop off at the Mammouth site in Hot Springs. It was amazing, over 61 preserved woolly mammoth remains and many other animals skeletons that were discovered and displayed in what was a sink hole. We did a short self-guided tour of the area and the exhibition – it was easy to picture these woolly mammoths many years ago roaming free through the icy plains of South Dakota. When we got back on our way we had a mere 6 hours to go before we got back to Denver, the drive was mostly amazing despite the snow that had fallen since our earlier drive. When we stopped off for fuel we noticed we were very close to the boarder of Nebraska and decided it’d be silly not to pop in quickly! Once we finally arrived back in Denver, we had our first Taco Bell for tea before heading to the hotel. What a day and boy were we exhausted!
Our last couple of days were spent in Denver itself so we familiarised ourselves with the local shopping scene of course. We visited Colorado Mills and Denver Pavilions, where we stumbled across a bowling alley and an arcade! We also spent some time at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Park, where we saw lots of deer, prairie dogs and even a herd of Bison crossing the road – in fact they decided to cross right by our car which was incredible! After exploring Denver and feeling like we’d seen most of what the city had to offer we headed for the airport to fly to our next destination, Fort Worth, Texas. Updates to follow… 🤠🐂