Our original plan was to travel from Durango, CO straight to New Mexico but Colorado offered too many pros for us to leave early so… our next stops included CO Springs, Loveland (about an hour N of Denver) and Golden, CO (right outside of Denver).
If you are traveling north from Durango, stop at the Great Sand Dunes NP (technically NE of Durango). Camp at the NP in Piñon Flats Campground which has three loops, only one is first come first serve.
The Dunes are the tallest in North America, they rise more than 750 feet. One afternoon, we checked out Zapata Falls which was about 30-40 min from our campsite (about 20 min up a dirt road). The hike was ok, pretty busy… if we were tent camping we might have stayed at their campground which offered great views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
From Great Sand Dunes, we spent a few days in Colorado Springs… stayed at Garden of The Gods RV Park (typical RV Park with full hookups, close to neighbors, best part = bike-able to CO Springs). The RV Park was actually closer to the small CO Springs suburb of Manitou Springs which is worth checking out. “Manitou,” a Native American word for “great spirit,” explains the wacky town well. Check out The Incline, Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak. If you are staying in the area, a local mentioned Trinity Brewing which serves up great beers and tasty/fresh vegetarian grub. CO Springs inspired Dylan to try Yoga (Pranava Yoga is a must do since it is FREE for the first week whether you are a local or visiting) and attend Yom Kippur services (YAY)! If you have time go to the Olympic Training Center… tours are hourly. Fun fact: The U.S. has the ONLY Olympic training center in the world that is privately funded… naturally I noticed their corporate partners.
From CO Springs, we traveled the 120 miles North to Loveland, CO. This was one of our favorite cities thus far! We loved Loveland :)…suburbia-ish but had a dense downtown and great proximity to spectacular outdoor activities, big city airport (Denver is one hour south), not crowded, bike-able and also close to Fort Collins which some think is the best city on earth. We had our first visitors in Loveland! My sis in law, Ally and her fiance Gavin came to visit for a weekend…supposedly the dining room table is a comfy bed for those of you interested in planning your trip to hang with us in The Lance. A few of our Loveland favs:
- Yoga – Loveland Yoga +Core Fitness – small studio, the owner Christi is also a CHEK practitioner, expect her to connect typical yoga/mind+body with strength training/movement/physiology
- Bfast – Doug’s Day Diner
- Grocery – they just opened a brand new Sprouts!
- Lunch/Dinner – Henry’s Pub + Asian Cafe and Grill – the latter is little farther from town but was the PERFECT place for us to break-the-fast from Yom Kippur. Looking for something else – list of top spots here
- Breweries – they have eight in town, list here… we enjoyed
- Verboten – Their tagline is,”Beer For All.” Everyone will find at least one brew they enjoy here. The brewers focus on things that were “Verboten” (Forbidden) in 16th century German brewing…play shuffleboard
- Grimm Brothers Brewery – Loveland’s first brewery, super friendly staff, download their app for a free pint
- Crow Hop Brewery – our favorite beers! Get hungry… order from Henry’s Pub next door and they will deliver within 15 minutes
We stayed at Boyd Lake State Park (electric only hookups with water/dump onsite). Spaces can be reserved ahead of time and will fill up on weekends.
Best part of Loveland was the proximity to beautiful and accessible hiking trails. List of great Front Range hikes here!
Hikes near Loveland
Hike to Horsetooth Rock – add few miles to check out Horsetooth Falls
Hike in Estes Park – Gem Lake – you will hike into Rocky Mountain National Park
Exploring Golden, CO
We camped at Jefferson County Fairgrounds – water + electric hookups for $30 and biking distance to Golden and outskirts of Denver
Hike in Matthews/Winster Park to Morrison Slide