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Colorado in 5

This December, myself with friends Leslie and Emma took a flight out to Denver. If you have the chance to step outside the airport walls make sure you hit up these top places.

1)    Rocky Mountain National Park:

Our 5 day trip to the Mile-High city brought us to the airport in the early morning which allowed us to journey north for a few hours to Rocky Mountain National Park. We pulled off before the entrance to a local supermarket and picked up the basics: you know, sushi, salsa, guacamole, chips and Peanut Butter. Lasting and satisfying. As we entered the park we were greeted by a herd of Elk. I practically threw down my guacamole as we jumped out of the car for some Instagram-worthy pics. We ventured to this park twice on the trip and made a pit stop in the mountains for Mexican food. 

Being that we were in Denver in the middle of December we were aware that only some roads would be open for driving, which is common all-around the state. Regardless, amazing snow-top views. Tip:  Always wear gloves, eat spicy food and travel with forgiving friends.  

2)    Vail

Save your breath for this one. We took a 3-hour drive from our Air BnB in Denver and found ourselves among mountains that deem some of the best ski resorts in the world. Vail, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain etc. Our 10 min. gondola ride brought us to 11,5000 ft. elevation. I’ve never boarded fresh powder like this before, it was a dream. Some runs were practically untouched as the snow continued to fall lightly. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience or conditions- minus that one run where we were practically engulfed by the powder. Word of the wise: when the snow reaches your knees, don’t stop. The only way down is to unbuckle from your board, and belly down sled to the base of the hill. A few on lookers asked if we were okay. It’s the powder bro, gotta do what ya gotta do.

3)    Great Sand Dunes National Park

Colorado not only boasts great mountains and snow-capped peaks but large amounts of sand! The skinny state has many opportunities to get outside even in December. Great Sand Dunes National Park is about 4 hours south of Denver and has the largest Sand Dunes in North America. Even after reading those info boards at the visitor center I really don’t know how sand ended up in the mountains, but let me tell you they were worth the sight! The sand is packed in so tightly, creating high mounds that blow the sand everywhere. This allowed sand to get in every nook and cranny, but still fun. It’s like we were at the beach, but not. Pro tip: rent sandboards in Denver before making the drive and ride the dunes right. Pro tip #2: give your car keys to friends who are reliable. Just kidding Leslie, we love you, and love you more that you found our lost car keys in the Sahara abyss.

4)    Colorado Springs

Only an hour and a half drive from Denver brings you to Colorado Springs. A smaller city, but home to many training Olympians. You can find yourself in places like Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods and maybe even some caves. A great area for scenic walks, quaint towns and meeting the locals. We took some icy morning pics at Garden of the Gods, as well as a cave tour through a mountain canyon. We intentionally got lost through some rural towns that took us through a mountain pass. There really wasn’t one road that didn’t look beautiful to our Windsor eyes. We seriously couldn’t go wrong in Colorado.   

 

5)    Denver

With much to see in the surrounding area don’t forget about the main hub. Denver is a beautiful city with arts, drama, theatre, great eats, well-groomed buildings, and that legal green stuff.  We were fortunate enough to hit up a great place called Watercourse Foods as well as Russell's Smoke House as we walked down a beautifully lighted Denver street. Thankful for a stellar Air BnB where we could come home to a warm condo after each days adventure.  

Our vacation consisted of a whole lot of Justin Bieber Christmas, ear-popping, hitch-hiking skiers and a slight 18-hour flight delay by our good friends at Spirit. Instead of a 5-day vacation, this turned into 6, and instead of paying for a high priced lift ticket there were others that preferred to use the main highways and backcountry ski down at their own leisure.

That’s what you get when your flight is cheaper than a day at the ski hill.

Cheers to Colorado, a place where you will never get bored, and if you do, it's time to create your own path. 

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Brittany Hayward