The weather in Denmark is often cloudy, windy and rainy. I’m certainly not the only one in this country who is frustrated with the lack of sunshine.
Because I was born and raised in small, flat Denmark, where it rains on average every other day, it was a huge experience to come to Denver in the United States.
The beautiful nature and lovely weather of Denver
In many ways, Denver felt like another home for me because I traveled there so much. I lived in the city for a total of six months. George was undergoing his Master’s degree in Denver while we got to know each other better, and I managed to see and experience a lot of both the city of Denver and the state of Colorado.
Although my first stay in Denver was during the chilly month of February, the sky was blue and the sun was shining every day. The weather and nature were amazing compared to Denmark. At an altitude of 1.6 km above sea level, I could feel it in my breathing, whether I was walking, running, or even ascending stairs.
Colorado offered beautiful scenery and beautiful views, which I had the privilege to experience a lot of. Therefore, I want to share my three best experiences with you, as inspiration for your next trip.
1. Mount Evans
Colorado is known for its snowy mountains; the Rocky Mountains. The highest mountain in the state is 4.4 kilometers high, which is the same as 14,440 feet. There are several mountains that exceed 14,000 feet; the so-called “fourteeners”, and Mount Evans also belongs to that group with its 14,271 feet (4.3 km).
Mount Evans is not the highest mountain in Colorado, but instead, it can brag about having the highest paved road in North America. You can almost drive all the way up to the top, but the road is only open during the summer, as the weather up there can be a little rough.
Before you begin driving the long, twisting and turning way up the mountain road, you have to pay a small fee. There is an information center where you pay before you can continue. The money goes to road maintenance, cleaning of the public toilets, and for patrolling the park areas. It costs about $15 and it is worth all the money.
The beautiful road to the top
The road up to the top is incredibly beautiful. There is beautiful nature and a rich wildlife, and I got the ultimate experience by being allowed to sit on the passenger seat and take pictures of it all. You will most likely encounter some animal – either on the road up, or down again. We were lucky to see both mountain goats, chipmunks and cute marmots, but you can actually risk meeting bears or even pumas as well.
I visited Mount Evans twice while I was in Denver. Both times were amazing experiences, but there was a difference between the weather and the view. In June 2017, there was much more snow on the top, while July 2016 offered sun and green areas.
When you drive up to the top, you notice the big difference in altitude. It will be difficult to breathe, and your ears will start to pop. I actually got a headache and had to sit down, as we got out of the car to start hiking towards the end. After a minute, however, I had gotten used to the thin air and could walk the rest of the way.
A view that makes you speechless
You park the car in a large car park or along the end of the road, after which you have to walk the rest of the way. There is a trail, but there are a lot of rocks and loose stones, so be careful. However, we saw parents with their small children, older people and dogs on a leash, and if they can hike all the way, most people can too. You must be aware, that it is very slippery and uncertain when there is snow. We experienced it once, and you can quickly fall and hurt yourself.
At the top of Mount Evans, you will probably experience the feeling of being completely speechless. The view is absolutely breathtaking, and even though you of course have to make the moment last forever through a lot of pictures; just remember to enjoy it without looking through any smartphones or cameras. The world is literally at your feet, and you are far above most clouds. I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves – but you must know that they are far from the true experience.
2. Maroon Bells and Aspen
On my birthday last year, I was in the United States, and George had planned a very special trip as a surprise. He told me we were going to stay somewhere, so I packed a bag of extra clothes and other necessities.
The trip turned out to be to Aspen; a small town in Colorado, which is a very popular ski resort in the winter. We were staying at a really cozy hotel that had both jacuzzi and a heated outdoor swimming pool.
It’s not until late in November that the ski season starts, so we were there too early to attend this. Several places didn’t even have any snow, but the city center of Aspen is incredibly sweet and cozy – no matter what season. There are several areas to go for walks and experience beautiful scenery, so it’s certainly not boring in Aspen out of season.
How Maroon Bells got its name
On the first day we were there, it was my birthday, and we spent our day eating and walking around Aspen. The next day, we checked out of the hotel and drove to Maroon Bells.
Maroon Bells are two mountain peaks. In front of them, you see a large lake (Maroon Lake) in which the mountain is reflected, and it is said to be the most photographed sight in all of North America. The mountain peaks received their name, as the shape resembles bells and the color is red-brown (maroon).
The most photographed lake in North America
We drove out there and as we approached the lake, we started to get a glimpse of the top of the mountain peaks. They became more and more visible the further we drove, until they were finally fully revealed. It was far from a disappointing sight.
We parked the car in the large parking lot and began walking towards the hiking trails. We went down to the great lake, which is right at the foot of the mountains. It was amazing to see the beautiful reflection in the water. All the visitors took turns, standing in front of the lake and the mountains to take pictures.
In addition to the beautiful view of the lake and the mountain peaks, you can actually go for long hike past the lake and towards the mountains. Just remember water, sunscreen and good shoes.
Even though we were there in November, it was actually hot when the sun was sitting high in the sky, heating us up from above. We crossed a small bridge going above clear water, where a man was fishing. We continued along the trail which began to elevate towards the mountain, with trees on both sides. It was a nice hike that led us through forests and rivers.
3. Lilly Lake in Estes Park
In third place, I have chosen the beautiful lake Lilly Lake, located east of the National Park called Rocky Mountain National Park. Both the lake and the national park are located in Estes Park, a small town in Colorado. In fact, we never went into the national park, although it is a big and beautiful park with lots to see. We will have this experience when we visit Colorado again.
A rich wildlife
Estes Park and the national park both have a rich wildlife and large areas of nature. We were lucky to see a little bit of the wildlife when we drove through Estes Park towards Lilly Lake. While driving on a small road, we had to stop when a bunch of elk or deer decided to cross. On the roadside, several of the big animals were just gazing in the sun. It was quite of a sight!
Despite the fact that most people only come to visit the national park, Lilly Lake was far from disappointing. The area has a lot to offer – especially if you are brave and want to hike upwards instead of going around the lake. There are hiking trails all around which are for everyone. Many people take their dogs for a walk or go on a little trip with their families, but we came to see the view from the nearby mountain.
An amazing hike with lunch on the mountain top
When we arrived at the lake, we took our bags with food and water and started walking. There is a trail around the entire lake, but you can simply walk outside the trail without a problem. We did not choose the easy road, but hiked and climbed the nearby mountainside instead. The idea was to reach the mountain top to see the view above the water. It is not incredibly difficult to walk upwards, but you still have to be careful, as there can be loose stones and holes up the rocks.
We walked slowly and safely up the rocky slope until we reached the top. At the top you are 2.8 km (1.7 miles) above sea level. It took nearly an hour to reach the end, but it was all worth it. When we reached the top of the mountain, we sat down and looked at the beautiful view while we ate our lunch. We really recommended this trip!