Manitou Springs happened to be a side stop on the route to Pike's Peak. Pike's Peak was a 19 mile drive from the entry gate at Pike's National Park to the summit. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to complete the 38 mile round trip and was just awesome. There was about 4 feet of snow still left near the top of the mountain and the temperature dropped from 79 degrees in Manitou Springs to 43 degrees at the top of the mountain. It was a spetacular afternoon.
On Tuesday, I visited the Garden of the Gods, which was a 5 mile car drive (approximately) through park grounds containing unique, huge rock formations with a stupendous view of Pike's Peak along the way. I started my visit with a 15 minute film explaining how the rocks were formed over thousands of years and then started my drive. There were various places to stop along the way for photo shots which were perfectly situated. I ended my tour by eating lunch on an outdoor patio overlooking the Garden.
Balanced Rock, Garden of the Gods Park
After lunch I tackled the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. The Cliff Dwellings were preserved by a protective red sandstone overhang and were built more than 700 years ago by Anasazi cliff dwellers. The structure is so well preserved it is possible to venture inside and catch a glimpse of an American Indian culture that roamed the Four Corners area of the Southwest from 1200 BC. to A.D. 1300.
We then continued our northern trek into Golden, Colorado which is just west of Denver where I got to spend some time with a dear friend and neighbor from where we lived in Plano. It was wonderful being in a new location with my own personal guide. Karen and I explored the Arapaho National Forest are which was beautiful.
We also tried to drive up to Mt. Evans which has an elevation of 14,260 feet.
However, just as we approached the entry gate, we found out they had just closed the mountain, due to snow flurries with high winds which makes the snow plow they were running hard to see. Our timing was either good or bad, depending on your viewpoint, since the car in front of us got to go through. I guess it was just not meant to happen for us on that particular day.
We continued on to Idaho Springs and stopped for lunch at Beau Joe's, a pizza chain specializing in Colorado style pizza which was very good.
Karen, Gerry and I also spent a day exploring Boulder, Colorado which is a very unique area, reminding us a lot of Austin, Texas in the artsy feel of the city. The views of the mountains certainly confirmed that we were not in Austin as well as the cooler temperatures. It may have reached the low 70's during our visit which was the perfect temp to spend the day exploring. Boulder has done a wonderful job of creating a unique area on Pearl Street which is only open to pedestrian traffic for many blocks running through the center of the city. We had a lovely lunch at West Flanders Brewing Company before continuing our exploration. Boulder is a very unique city and well worth exploring.
We ended our time in Colorado with a dinner at the RV park with our friends in Golden which made me realize how lucky we are to be able to travel on new adventures and connect with old friends.
We left Colorado on Sunday and continued north to Casper, Wyoming.