View from Rainbow Curve overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park.

2023 Colorado Vacation

I’m a bit behind in detailing our vacation exploits. Back in June we took a family vacation to Colorado, with a stop in Kansas to see family. With both kids teenagers with jobs, we had to scale things back this year and keep it simple.

We stayed at an Airbnb between Denver and Boulder and spent several days checking out the sights. We did some shopping (The Shop at Matter bookstore was a favorite), saw something like 50 deer at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal wildlife drive, and Lexi made some great restaurant choices.

Boulder Falls

One afternoon we took in Boulder Falls, pausing for the rarely allowed family selfie, and then shopped in Boulder.

El Dorado Canyon State Park

One morning we did El Dorado Canyon State Park. I did this one on a solo trip last year, and it was fun to share it with the family. I think nearly every solo trip I take I envision bringing other people along in the future, even though that rarely happens. This time it did.

Chicago Creek

That afternoon Abby and I left the kids at the Airbnb and took a drive, heading toward Mount Blue Sky (formerly Mount Evans—apparently it was renamed as of last month). That’s a ridiculously high drive (the highest paved road in America), something I did on another solo trip back in 2019. Altitude can bother Abby, so we didn’t go up very high, getting as far as Echo Lake. The picture above is Chicago Creek, which was a great little area to explore the mountain streams on both sides of the road.

Rocky Mountain National Park

It’s hard to go to Colorado without going to Rocky Mountain National Park, so we drove up to Estes Park for a day. Altitude kept us from going too high, but we did get in a hike, saw an elk in the parking lot while we had lunch, and bought more metal flowers for our yard.

Pictured above are Alberta Falls (a hike I did solo back in 2002) and the view from the Rainbow Curve overlook.

Mountain Biking

Of course I brought the mountain bike along and got up early every morning to go biking before any family adventures. And of course mountain biking in the mountains kicks my ass.

  • Post Work: A nice jump line in the foothills with a short ride next to it. Saw a coyote.
  • Erie Community Park: The Denver areas has a ton of paved pump tracks, and I couldn’t resist checking one out. Really weird. Fun. Very curious how that asphalt holds up over time.
  • Maryland Mountain: Since I was trying to bike in the early morning and not be gone all day, my biking was fairly limited. This was my one “big” ride where I drove up in the mountains a bit for a serious ride. And it kicked my ass. The uphill climb was brutal, and I got to a point where I had to reset my expectations. Probably a good plan, since some of the downhill I had planned looked beyond my skill level.
  • Valmont Bike Park: After getting my butt kicked on a mountain, I stayed in town for my last biking day and hit up a local bike park. Valmont was huge, with all kinds of things to try. Some of it looked insane. I tried the “extra-small” jump line and could just barely handle that.
  • Lake Barton: One of my favorite trails is just a few miles from my parents’ place in Kansas, so I hit it up again. You’d never expect twisty, turny forest in the middle of Kansas, but there it is. Super fun.

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