This trip began with a great airfare to Denver, only $214 roundtrip from Chicago on Southwest AIrlines. My husband and I weren't really sure where to go from Denver, but we came up with a few places that we wanted to visit, and made a circular route through Colorado from Denver to Estes Park and then on to Aspen, Ouray, and Glenwood Springs before returning to Denver. We drove over one thousand miles in seven days, which is more driving than I like. The problem is that there is just too much to see in this beautiful state!
In order to get that great airfare, we had to catch a 6 a.m. flight on Saturday, so a very long first day. We took the scenic route to Estes Park, driving via Boulder Canyon (Highway 119) through Nederland and up the Peak to Peak Highway. We stretched our legs at Boulder Falls, which is a beautiful spot, then stopped in Nederland for an early lunch. There were a lot of people stopped at New Moon Bakery, where we ate the most delicious roast beef and pesto sandwich along with some cookies on the patio outside - highly recommend. We had planned to hike at WIld Basin, but the parking lot was full so we were turned away. It was just as well since we were tired from getting up so early and a long hike may have been too much. Instead, we stopped a little further up the road at Lily Lake. It was very crowded with lots of cars parked on the roadway. Somehow we managed to get the only open space in the parking lot. The hike around the lake is easy, flat, and only about a mile long, so we added the Lily Ridge trail, hiking a short distance above the lake for some nice views. There were lots of people at Lily Lake, including a wedding party.
Onward to our hotel for the next two nights, the Estes Park Comfort Inn. This is an older motel east of town, but the room was fine and we enjoyed the breakfast, especially the cinnamon waffles. The cost was $192 per night, including taxes.
Our room wasn't ready and it had started to rain, so we decided to take the History and Ghost Tour at the Stanley Hotel. It was interesting to see the hotel and learn about the man who built it. I'm not a believer in the supernatural, but it was fun to hear the stories about ghosts and about how the hotel inspired Stephen King to write The Shining. Our guide was very kind to the kids on the tour and made sure that they weren't bored. The cost is $15 per person, plus $5 for parking. There were about 20 people on our tour, and tours begin every twenty minutes, so I'm guessing that the Stanley makes a good income allowing tourists to walk the hallways. We were shown one room - considering the price, I was happy to be staying at the Comfort Inn.
Dinner was at Mama Rose's in Estes Park; we both agreed that this was the worst meal of the trip. We walked around downtown Estes Park and stopped to listen to a live band playing at Bond Park. There was an arts fair going on, and we chatted with a local photographer selling some gorgeous pictures.