Beyond Denver – Part II
Several folks have been asking about more things to do and see in the area. We will branch further out for those who have time and the inclination.
In the Beyond Denver post of January 23, we got you as far west as Idaho Springs. If you are going this route on I70, take a small jog south to see what is possibly the most famous music venue in the world, Red Rocks Ampitheatre. (see the red circle on the map below Golden). During the day of no evening concert, you can enter it and also hike around it.
If you continue west on I70, you come to Georgetown (elev. 8,530 ft.). Another charming mountain town, it’s rich in gold mining history, and has museums and hiking trails, and the “famous” Georgetown Loop Railroad.
Continuing west (always west!), you will travel through the Eisenhower Tunnel, (elev. 11,158 ft.) approximately 1.6 miles long, under the Continental Divide. You quickly descend about 2,500 feet and come to the towns of Silvethorne, Frisco, and Dillon. Dillon Reservoir is a beauty, with lots of summer fun including boating, camping, biking, and picnicking.
Onward, to Vail and the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, the world’s highest botanic garden at 8,200 ft. Vail is, of course, a famous ski town, so there are lots of shops and restaurants.
Head south to visit the city with highest elevation of any incorporated city in the United States, Leadville (elev. 10,151). Need I say, rich in mining history?
Enjoy the beauty of this high mountain valley. Be sure to drink lots of water!!! If you do a little jog on Road 105, you can put a foot in the east and the other foot in the west at the same time by standing on either side of the Continental Divide at Hagerman Pass (elev. 11,925 ft.!)
Starting back at Denver you can head north (about 67 miles) to Rocky Mountain National Park, and the town of Estes Park (elev. 7,522 ft.). The quickest way is to take I25 north to Hwy 66 west, then 36 north at the town of Lyons. There are scenic routes that will take longer, but may be worth it if you have time. There is a LONG list of things to do in the park, and in the quaint town of Estes Park, but be sure to see, or even stay in, the historic Stanley Hotel.
From Denver, traveling to the east 39 miles, is the Wild Animal Sanctuary, a 10,473-acre sanctuary for more than 500 rescued animals. It is the largest carnivore sanctuary in the world, designed and built like no others in existence, to ensure the animals’ welfare remains top priority, even with the numerous modern comforts provided to visitors.
With both large acreage natural habitats for the animals to live in, it includes the World’s longest elevated footbridge so visitors can see the animals without putting pressure on them like all other zoo and sanctuary displays do.
If you are still here on June 22, head south for the Colorado Renaissance Festival (43 miles from the Hyatt; note the town of Larkspur on the map).
Take a magical tour through time and legend. As you wander down the village streets and pathways, ready thyself to revel with master revelers, watch artisans create original works of their ancient craft, and be taken in by the tantalizing aromas of roast turkey legs, steak on a stake, fresh baked goods, spinach pies, fryed pickles, and much more. Featuring a cast of hundreds of authentically-costumed merrymakers living and working throughout the village and performing, continuously, upon the Festival’s seven stages, the illusion of a rollicking 16th century festival day is created.
A bit farther south is Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center. (71 miles from the Hyatt), a registered National Natural Landmark.
Photographs cannot capture the beauty of this place; you must experience it. Hiking trails lead around 300′ towering sandstone rock formations. I must choose a place to stop here, because otherwise, I’d go on and on! Happy Spring, everybody! ~Laura