The Brighter Writer


Mountains and Ghosties and Cookies... Oh My! (Estes Park, CO)

I sat on my couch a few days ago, drinking my coffee, and reading some of my old posts about traveling. It made me miss the days when I just picked up whenever I wanted and took off. Which I did. A lot. I can't necessarily pack a small bag and take a 10 hour road trip anymore, but who's to say I can't pack up my daughter, some spare diapers, toys, sippies, and snacks and take some day trips?

I was feeling antsy pantsy for an adventure, just on a smaller scale and within an hour or so from home. So... Estes Park was the place to be! The drive up the mountains, with all its twists and turns along the Big Thompson River, is one of the most beautiful drives I've ever taken in my life. I say that very confidently. There is absolutely nothing like driving up a mountain.

Highway 34 to Estes Park, Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

And of course I made a playlist:

Heartless Bastards - The Mountain
Semisonic - Across The Great Divide
The Butthole Surfers - Pepper
Jane's Addiction - Mountain Song
Ozzy Osbourne - Rocky Mountain Way
Led Zeppelin - Misty Mountain Hop
Yonder Mountain String Band - 40 Miles From Denver
John Denver - Rocky Mountain High
Johnny Cash - Your Wild Colorado
Townes Van Zandt - Colorado Girl
Chevy Chase - Colorado

There is a break in the mountain tops right as you pull into the 7,500 foot high valley of Estes Park and the view coming around the corner is enough to knock you off your feet.

Aerial Tramway view in Estes Park, Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

Our first stop was the Aerial Tramway. This was my view stepping off the bottom platform into our little red hanging bucket which was about to send me up Prospect Mountain by these 2 tiny wires. I was a bit nervous and just wanted to be at the top already.

Aerial Tramway view in Estes Park, Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

And once you got up there!... The View!!!

Aerial Tramway view in Estes Park, Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

The View!!

Aerial Tramway view in Estes Park, Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado


Aerial Tramway view in Estes Park, Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

You could even see glimpses of the Olympus Dam.

Aerial Tramway view of Olympus Dam on Lake Estes in Estes Park, Colorado #Colorado #ColorfulColorado

If you bribed them with peanuts, the chipmunks would walk up to you and take their lunch right from your hand!

This made Kalynn wild with excitement, "Chip and Dale, Mommy!! I see 'em!!"

Coming back down the mountain was just as shady as going up, honestly. An experience to remember for sure.

Estes Park Aerial Tramway view of The Stanley Hotel #Colorado

This is Kalynn's "Red Rum" finger...

And speaking of red rum... Of course we had to make a stop at the historic Stanley Hotel.

The Haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

The Stanley was built in 1909 by Freelan Oscar Stanley (of Stanley Steamers) and catered to all the rich and famous Hollywood personalities from way back when. But it's mainly best known for the inspiration behind the fictional Overlook Hotel in Steven King's novel The Shining. The Stanley Hotel is supposedly one of Colorado's most haunted places and has been on multiple television shows promoting its unexplainable Ballroom phenomenon. I've never taken any of the "ghost tours" nor have I stayed there overnight, but it's on my Colorado Bucket List and I plan on it someday soon!

The Haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

The Haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

This is the view of the waterfall and restaurant out the back window.

The Haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

Of course I had to sneak upstairs and get a picture of room 217!

Room 217 at the haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

I packed a picnic lunch for us right before we left the house, so we sat on the front lawns, ate our sandwiches and enjoyed a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains. Our yogurt was mysteriously missing from the cooler, so I'm assuming one of the ghosties must be a fan of Yoplait.

When I was a kid visiting The Stanley, I remember walking off the grounds and down the dirt road a ways to see the fictional pet cemetery which was made after Steven King's novel Pet Cemetery became a movie. I was please to see that it was still there after all these years! It was a bit more run down than I remember, and it's not something most people probably know about, so it was kind of cool to sneak around the side, down the "staff only" driveway and go check it out.

Pet cemetery at the haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

After our time at The Stanley, we headed downtown to the local shops and ran into a playground which sat directly on the ledge of the Big Thompson River!

Clearly, you can't go to Estes without stopping at the homemade fudge shop.

Our last stop before heading home was a little picnic table at the end of Elkhorn Ave perfect for eating cookies.

The red rock mountains with the sunset's orange color beaming off of them was the perfect view for our ride home.

Highway 34 from Estes Park to Loveland #ColorfulColorado #Colorado

Kalynn and I had such a fun day, I think we have many more mini trips to plan in our future!