Our Colorado vacation was phenomenal and very achievable, even with all the new restrictions. You need to put in your time planning for a successful visit. It’s more work, but you’ll be glad to did the extra planning.
First of all, Colorado has an all-state mask mandate. Though most of the places we visited were outdoors. We went out to eat one time which required us to wear face masks if we were not sitting at the table eating.
We had 13 people in our group. 6 kids ages 9, 5, 3, 2, 1, and 1!
We drove 2 vans. We decided to drive all night; 16 hours from Milwaukee to Denver. I drove 8 and then, my Dear Husband drove 8. My brothers and sisters joined us. It was so much fun because Tasha ( my sister) would call me when she felt tired and I would call her if I got bored. I was on the phone with her when she hit a flat tire from a semi-truck! It left a tire shaped dent in their front bumper. We were thankful they were fine and their van was driveable.
We drove straight to downtown Denver to see the “Big Blue Bear”. The 40-foot bear is peeking in the window of a museum. (Which was not open because of Covid) but we got a photo with the bear!
Coloradans I met at a park told me they stay clear of Denver because it’s not family-friendly with all the homeless people on the streets. (Although we walked around one block; we didn’t see any homeless or vandalism.)
We walked through the Garden of the gods. (No reservations needed) We saw the mysterious beautiful red rock structures in front of the mountains.
Next, we went to Cheyanne Mountain Zoo. (Reservations required) This zoo is in the top 5 zoos in the nation. The whole zoo is on the side of the mountain. The more animals you want to see the higher you climb the stairs. (They do have elevators and ramps)
We toured The Garden of the Gods, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and a playground! It was a full day. Everyone was tired and ready to nap for 3 hours in the car. Heading toward Great Sand Dunes National Park for the next day’s adventures.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park: The scenery is epic. We rented sandboards and sleds to go down the dunes. (Snowboards and snow sleds DO NOT work) you need to use the special sand sleds with wax.
Bring lots of water! We spent around 4 hours here. That’s including the time waiting in line for board rentals. (No mask no service.)
Next, we drove to Glenwood Springs, CO. 4 hour drive from Sand Dunes. We stopped at a free fish hatchery. There was a TINY hike in the forest with a beautiful lake. I recommend stopping there to stretch and let the kids out of the car.
We hiked at Saint Mary’s Glacier and boy, are we glad we did! Just make sure you take the trail IN THE WOODS instead of the rocky way all the way up like we did. We just followed everyone else. There were many people. It was almost impossible to park in the parking lots. We walked further to park on the side of the road.
The view was worth the trek. The glacier is always there. Some guys from the group hiked all the way to the tip-top.
I sent 8 from our group rafting. Roaring Upfork is a good rafting trip for kids. My daughter is 5, she enjoyed it. We went with Glenwood Rafting Company because we did the 8 person raft.
Next we went to Glenwood Caverns Amusement Park. You take a Gondola ride up the side of the mountain to get to the park. I definitely recommend the Cliffhanger Ride and the Alpine Coaster, they were worth the long wait in line! It was such a fun. Don’t forget your mask. (They enforce the mandate IF you are standing in line or in the caves.) Online Reservations required
We drove to Estes Park and stayed at an Airbnb with gorgeous views. We rented an entire house it was perfect for all the kids and adults!
We went horseback riding at Cowpoke Corner Corral. We went with them because they allowed the youngest ages to ride. We did the 2-hour ride tour for $80/person.
Let me tell you! These are mountain climbing horses! The horses we rode had 10+ years of experience! The horses were experts. Our guide was fun and down to earth as well. It was quite the adventure as the horses literally had to climb up and down boulders at times!
We tried to get into Rocky Mountain National Park, but you need reservations. They go on sale 2 days prior to the date you want to go. The tickets sell out in 3-4 mins at 8 am. I was unable to get early morning tickets ( what we preferred) but we made it work. Without reservations, you can still get into the park after 5 pm with a $25-day pass at the gate. We waiting in line for 50 mins just to get into the park.
We hiked to Dream Lake (at Bear Lake trailhead) we all agreed the wait and cost were worth the views!
Even though is started to pour rain when we reached the top. It was very windy and chilly by the lake. Bring sweaters and ponchos. Again we did this hike with 4 kids ages 3 and under!
We stopped at Stanley Park 3 times during our visit at Estes Park. It had the most gorgeous views. They had a new zipline swing that my kids loved! They had play grounds for older kids and one for younger toddlers. This park has rock structures too. Micah found a cave he didn’t want to leave. Cindee like climbing high on the rocks.
The best thing about vacations is the time spent with the people you love and care about most. We did some devotionals. Which were some of my favorite times. There’s just nothing like praying together and talking about the Lord. I’d definitely go back to Colorado someday.
I hope this helps you. Below are links to the websites we reserved online.
- Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry: https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/300013
- Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: https://www.cmzoo.org/open/
- Glenwood Springs Amusement Park: https://www.glenwoodcaverns.com/
- Cowpoke Corner Corral Horseback Riding: https://www.skhorses.com/cowpoke-corner-corral-stables
- Glenwood Springs Rafting Company: https://glenwoodadventure.com/activity/roaring-fork-half-day-rafting/
- Sand Dune Board/Sled Rentals: http://www.greatdunes.com/reservations.html