June 23rd marked the beginning of our adventures around Denver. We started by exploring the surroundings with a trip to the very well-known Garden of the Gods. To be very blunt with you, I did not love it as much as I thought I would. I think it was absolutely beautiful but we had already been visiting places so wild and off-the-beaten-path, that this manicured and very ON-the-beaten-path spot was a little underwhelming. I think many might disagree with me and I recognize that it might also be a complete other type of experience if you do it in the dead of winter and not in the middle of summer with a big crowd. But anyway, we hiked with Nola for a bit there and definitely enjoyed the views.
We took the van for a 1-hour trip towards Paint Mines. Located east of Colorado Springs, Paint Mines are named for their colourful clays that were collected by American Indians to make paint. Brightly coloured bands, caused by oxidized iron compounds, are found in varying amounts throughout the many different layers of clay. The site has evidence of human life as far back as 9,000 years ago and features fantastic geological formations including spires and hoodoos that form through erosive action that creates incised gullies and exposed layers of selenite clay and jasper. We really enjoyed spending some time there while Nola was taking a nap in the bed ;).
The following day we visited Denver. The city itself is lovely and full of life. Capitol Hill had been quite struck by the BLM protests, which was definitely interesting to witness for us. We had a great time hitting up a Mexican brewery, eating doughnuts from Voodoo Donuts and sitting in the shade at Washington and City Park while Nola was smelling all the smells. I definitely appreciated Denver, even if I was a bit overwhelmed by the homeless community.
That night we slept at a place called Switzerland trailhead, up in the mountains and right outside of Boulder. The camp spot felt secluded even if a couple other vans pulled in for the night. When we woke up the next morning, we went for a short walk on the other side of the mountain to see the sunrise. Great views to start the day!
After that, we had an oil change appointment at Meineke in Boulder. It was gonna be a couple hours so we took advantage and walked all around Boulder, grabbed a coffee in the cute historic downtown and visited University of Colorado. Boulder really seems to be a great student town and I’d love to be back once everything is back to normal.
Our visit of Boulder was followed by a late afternoon hike to St Mary’s Glacier. Just 1h15 from Boulder, this hike is dog and kid friendly! It’s steep but so so short you won’t even be bothered by it. It’s probably the shortest hike we’ve done that rewarded us so much. After only 0.75 mile you’ll reach the beautiful lake right under the glacier. And if you push a little further (max 10 extra minutes), you’ll be able to walk on the glacier itself. We saw a guy try to ski there. It wasn’t the most successful as the snow was iced. And Nola ate some of the white powder and did not enjoy it haha. We had a great time, dipping our feet in the water and taking in the silence and the view over the mountain.
We didn’t want to leave St Mary’s glacier but we didn’t regret doing so. We rejoined our camp spot for the night : a quiet area near Shrine Pass. The drive through Dillon was tremendously scenic and i couldn’t stop taking pictures through the back window. Even under the rain, those mountains are just so eerie. At an elevation of 11,000 feet, Shrine Pass was a peace sanctuary for us.
And on this serene note & view, I’ll finish this article. I’ll talk to you soon about the end of our tour of Colorado : in Vail, Frisco and Rocky Mountains National Park.
Coco, Bobby, Nola & Vanito!