Sipping on a cocktail in the sleek modern Latitude 105 Alehouse, my husband and I relaxed on the couch. We reflected on the week and our drive to Estes. The road hugged the mountain, snaking around the path and offering unlimited scenic views. We have always loved road trips and this drive did not disappoint.
As we talked, locals began to meander in and ordering food that looked delicious. When the group next to us had their cheese plate delivered, we decided to order food as well. All the tables were full, so we sat at the bar with some of the locals. After receiving multiple suggestions from the them, both of us built our own burger. While the Colorado beef was juicy and tasty, the bison burger Cody ordered was delectable. Flawlessly cooked and seasoned perfectly, I took a couple of nibbles to “test” it out. Even the fries were delicious and their signature Latitude 105 sauce was astounding.
To top off the great conversation with the locals, we all decided to order “adult” shakes and chat on the couches about what we should do for the rest of the weekend. A couple ordered the featured Girl Scout Cookies Shakes, Cody ordered Irish Cream and I got a Not Your Father’s Root Beer Float. Everything was so great and did I mention Sandy (one of the locals) brought her dog? I mean local advice, ice cream and a dog… our night could not have been better.
Heading back to our hotel, I was excited to look up some of the hikes, shops and restaurants the locals recommended. Our dog Beauty was in the hotel room, impatiently waiting for us to arrive, which did not take long, seeing as how the hotel and restaurant were connected. We went to bed early, knowing that tomorrow was going to be an easily morning because we were headed to Rocky Mountain National Park for a day of exploring.
The alarm came fast Saturday morning, but the excitement of the day propelled both of us out of bed. With our hiking bags already packed, it did not take us long to get out the door. On the way to the National Park, we stopped at Scratch Deli for local approved breakfast burritos. Cody absolutely loved the zesty chorizo burrito, but eating them on the road was a challenge. Arriving at the park at 8am there was already a line to get in. We would not make that mistake tomorrow.
Driving around the park, we saw moose, elk and tons of birds. The views were magnificent from the car alone but the hike to Emerald Lake was astounding. We stopped at Dream Lake to take some photos in hopes of capturing the splendor of the natural environment. While the hike to Dream Lake was crowded, most people did not continue along the steeper path to Emerald Lake, which presented us with a great opportunity to walk in silence and really appreciate the sounds of nature. I’ve always believed the it’s the journey not the destination that truly matters when traveling and this hike was no exception, while the destination was quite beautiful, the views in route to it were stunning as well.
While we had original had lofty goals of doing three hikes in one day, Alberta Falls and Gem Lake would both have to wait for another trip because we had evening plans at the Stanley Hotel that could not be missed.
Arriving at The Stanley Hotel, I was amazed by the sheer size of the grand entrance. The old worldly main building immediately took me back to movie The Shining, which we had re-watched the previous week to prepare for our trip. Checking into our 7pm tour, we mulled around the inside, looking for Room 217, where Steven King dreamed up his book The Shinning. Hurrying back to the lobby, we were informed the tour would start shortly, but a couple next to us was already talking about paranormal activity, so we listened in and got a sneak peak of what was the come.
If you believe in ghosts this tour is for you, with the guide introducing you to active phenomena, darkened spaces and the spirt folklore surrounding the 100+ year old hotel. I was disappointed that no pop culture topics were discussed, but all and all this tour was very interesting. The best part was that it ended in the eerily familiar Whiskey Bar. Their historic cocktail menu was full of concoctions I have never heard of, but the Redrum Punch and 291 Sm’oaked Old Fashion were delicious.
I absolutely loved Estes Park! It is beautiful and has tons of unique experiences to enjoy. We are already planning our return trip to Estes in early August, so stay tuned for Part 2. In the meantime, check out “8 Epic Things to Do in Estes Park” and “A Weekend Guide to Estes Park”
Have you been to Estes Park? I would love to hear your favorite things about your trip. Leave me a comment below to connect.