By the time I arrived in Colorado I had been hopping from city to city for a couple of months and it was time to take break and spend time somewhere a bit more chilled out. Flights from Texas to Colorado are really cheap, and everyone I’d spoken to had recommended going there so I booked myself on the next flight to Denver so see what all the fuss was about. I arrived not really having a plan for the stay, but I knew I’d be hiring a car to take a drive up into the mountains and visit a friend in Boulder.
When I arrived in Denver there are two things that I noticed right away; the place is so much cleaner than anywhere I could remember in the states and immediately the mood was so much more relaxed (420 friendly, yo!) I wouldn’t say that there is a bunch of touristy things to do in Denver but it’s definitely a great place to spend a couple of days to recharge the batteries and get used to the altitude before heading off into the Rocky Mountains. I made a few great friends and managed to spend a night partying with them at my first warehouse rave before my friend Nina came to pick me up to spend a couple of nights in Boulder. The guys I met in the hostel also suggested that I head out to Breckenridge which is one of the better places to ski and après ski.
I’m not going to get into an argument over whether Denver or Boulder is better, I like them both, but I loved Boulder. The scenery is amazing, the air is clear and the locals are so chilled its almost rediculous. Nina was nice enough to drive me around for the day and show me some of the best local sights and do a bit of a hike up the Flat Irons which are a mountain range behind the city. I’d also recommend a visit to the Red Rocks Amphitheater and Coors Brewery which are pretty close by.
Doing a quick tour back to Denver I picked up my car and started the drive up into the Rockies. I should probably mention that this is the first time I’d driven on the right side of the road and the first 20 minutes were probably the most concentrated driving I’ve done since my driving exam. Luckily after this time it became second nature and I could just relax and enjoy the view. From Denver the I70 climbs gradually until around an hour west the highway is at around 3000m. This is where I started to get a bit messed up by the altitude and my sense of balance/depth perception stopped working properly. By the time the elevation hit around 3500m I couldn’t tell if the slope of the road in front of me was rising or falling, everything else was fine, it was a really weird sensation. I reached Silverthorne admired the scenery and settled in for the night in a pretty cool bunkhouse. Overnight I had my first experience of extreme cold when the mercury fell to minus 20 degrees Celsius, which is cold enough to freeze your beer in minutes if you’re dumb enough to leave it outside.
I spent the next couple of days skiing at Copper Mountain and doing a really easy day trip around the ranges closest to Breckenridge and Copper Mountain. The quality and distance of the runs in all the Colorado resorts are just so many times better than anything I’ve done in Australia and the prices are way cheaper. This combined with the scenery around all the villages, mountains all in the mid 4000 meters, makes for some great après ski vibes. Breckenridge is the quintessential mountain ski village with the main street lined by log cabin shops and bars. At the end of every day the ski slopes empty and everyone seems to head for the bars which usually have a couple of wood fires and plenty of mulled wine. The atmosphere is pretty impossible to beat. I’ll definitely be going back to Breckenridge in the future when I have the time to do a couple of weeks in the town.
All-in-all Colorado is somewhere I wish I’d given more time to go exploring by road but I guess that means I have an excuse to go back now.