It’s easy to lose your breath in Colorado. Maybe the altitude hit as you were hiking a trail. Maybe you walked to the nearby craft beer bar when you typically drive. Or maybe you’re constantly forgetting to breathe due to the sheer beauty that Denver, Durango, and everything in between holds all around you.
All of these things happened to me while I visited Denver and beyond and to be honest, I’d lose my breath again in a heartbeat to go back. Here’s a little bit about what we did during our 10-day trip.
We left for Denver immediately after work on Friday the 3rd, making one important pit stop in Kansas City for true barbecue. Oklahoma Joe’s is consistently voted one of the best (both by official publications and my Twitter followers), so we built the average one-hour wait into our schedule.
Barbecue is never something I’m craving, but this barbecue did the trick for dinner that night. I tasted what all the fuss was about – that tangy, rich barbecue sauce atop such succulent pork. Fries, buttered toast, coleslaw, pickles, and iced tea on the side.
From Oklahoma Joe’s, we drove to Salina, Kansas, where we stayed the night, only to wake up shortly after dawn to keep on truckin’. We were so excited to arrive – not only did we want to see everything Colorado had to offer, but we had a concert that night at the one and only Red Rocks Amphitheater!
We checked into our hotel in Denver and after dinner, went straight to Red Rocks. What a beautiful venue! I cannot imagine this being your regular venue – people were tailgating in the Red Rocks parking lot like it was no big deal that these beautiful mountains were directly behind them! Everything about Red Rocks was gorgeous.
Oh, and who did we see? My Morning Jacket! Red Rocks is known to push performances over the edge and MMJ was no exception. Fabulous show, especially with those city lights in the distance! They were great at The Pageant, but they were outstanding at Red Rocks.
After the show, we spent a couple more days in Denver, exploring the city and drinking all their craft beer We had two outstanding meals, one at Root Down and the other at Snooze. Root Down is similar to STL’s Farmhaus in that they use local ingredients to make creative cuisine. We had the Sunday night tasting menu and while it certainly didn’t disappoint, I think I prefer Farmhaus
All I have to say about Snooze is that they serve out-of-this-world breakfast food with classic 90’s rap music playing in the background. Loved it! I ordered eggs with goat cheese, red pepper, and caramelized onion. Aren’t they beautiful?
We also visited a few breweries in Ft. Collins (a suburb North of Denver) for more excellent Colorado craft beer. Equinox Brewing was by far my favorite, though I did have an incredible seasonal salad at Coopersmith’s Brewing: watermelon, heirloom tomato, and feta with a vinaigrette and a watermelon beer on the side!
After we explored Denver (and let all that craft beer digest), we drove six hours southwest to Durango and Mesa Verde. I could post about 10,000 horizon and mountain pictures (when you visit a place as beautiful as this, it’s hard to take a bad photo!) but I’ll refrain and stick with the food, drink, and company
We started our visit to Durango by driving to Mesa Verde to explore cliffdwellings and mountain tops. We spent another day and a half in Durango after that, visiting Ska Brewing and Carver Brewing (loved Carver!). That hotel in the top left corner up there? That’s the Strater, where we stayed downtown.
The above view was directly outside the back door of our cabin. We literally didn’t go anywhere for three days and I couldn’t have asked for more. Next time, I want to stay there a week! No major wildlife sitings (though I did see a young elk). Maybe next year we’ll see a black bear, plodding through that very river.
We drove back from Denver, Durango, Mesa Verde, and Lake Vallecito in two long days. It was exhausting and wonderful and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Life has an entirely new meaning out West and though I love St. Louis, I would be perfectly happy among the trees and under the sun.
Have you ever been to Colorado? What did you think?