I recently found out that one of my friends from middle school lives in Colorado Springs—a short 1 ½ hour drive from Boulder—so I was eager to arrange a trip to see her and check out what southern Colorado has to offer.
Given the nice fall temperatures, we decided a hike in the famous Garden of the Gods had in store. My fiancé, Grant, and I left early Saturday morning so that I could meet my friend to catch up for a couple of hours and see the park while he got in some much needed studying at a local coffee shop (I sure don’t miss midterm season!).
After dropping Grant off and pulling into the park, I was already awe-struck at the incredible rock formations towering in the sky. The rocks are uniquely red in color, and the sandstone texture is a stark contrast to the snow-covered caps of Pikes Peak, which serves as the backdrop. My friend Emily and I took a fairly simple trail right into the heart of the park, where we saw amazing views of the surrounding area and snapped a few pictures. We even saw a few climbers making their way up one of the moderately-sized cliff faces. It was so wonderful to catch up with my friend after many years apart, and I’m thankful to her for taking the time to show me the magnificent views her city had to offer.
After a few hours of hiking, I picked up Grant from his study spot, and we drove to the campground we had chosen for the night. We had a cozy spot to ourselves complete with a picnic table and fire ring—perfect for an evening around the fire! Before getting settled, though, we drove through the town to find a spot for dinner. We settled on Colorado Mountain Brewery, a local place boasting a large menu. We were both pretty famished by the time we sat down. I ordered the barbecue bison pizza (absolutely delicious—the bison in Colorado is really good!), while Grant had the chicken penne with garlic cream sauce.
After dinner, we went back to our campsite and explored everything it had to offer. It was a lot less primitive than places we have camped before—it was equipped with wi-fi, bathrooms, and even a laundry facility! While all the amenities were nice, we don’t mind being right in nature and probably would have chosen a more secluded campground had we known the area a little better. This place would be perfect for families, though! In fact, there were plenty of kids roaming around with s’mores having a grand time.
We spent a couple hours in front of the campfire chatting, roasting our own s’mores, and reading the books we had brought along before turning in early.
On Sunday, we got up early to do a sunrise hike. Thankfully, with the changing seasons, sunrise is getting later and later. We packed up our tent and stashed some snacks in our bags for the trek. Our spot for the day was Red Rock Canyon, a great hiking destination full of rocky ridges and canyons.
I was surprised to find we had the place mostly to ourselves for the duration of the morning. We had a really pleasant time observing the rocky structures and having deep conversations. About halfway through our hike, we got hungry and climbed up a rocky ledge to eat the gourmet breakfast we had packed—chocolate fudge Pop Tarts—as the sun rose overhead.
By the time we got back to the car, Grant was in need of pick-me-up, so we drove to Old Colorado City, a historic spot that my friend suggested I check out. The shop-lined streets were quaint and nicely maintained. It’s a pretty cool area with some cute stores!
We shared a mocha at Carnelian Coffee, which was really, really good—and that’s coming from a non-coffee drinker. They make all of their syrups in-house. It was a perfect morning treat to enjoy while walking around and popping in and out of some of the boutiques. I even treated myself to a new sweatshirt—I love the Colorado flag logo and have been saving up to get some Colorado gear ever since moving here!
On the way back to Boulder, we stopped at True Food Kitchen in Denver for a late lunch. It was a last minute decision to go there, as we were pretty hungry and didn’t want to wait another 40 minutes to get home, and I’m glad we did! I highly recommend the spot—they had a great assortment of local, healthily prepared dishes. Grant’s dish—the mediterranean chicken pita—was especially yummy. We made it home around 3 p.m. in time to catch up on some household chores before crashing early again.
Colorado Springs was definitely worth the trip! I didn’t get to see everything on my bucket list, so a future trip is likely in store. I definitely want to check out the U.S. Olympic Training Center, where the U.S men’s gymnastics team trains, and also summit Pikes Peak. I’m not sure how much longer the good camping weather will hold out, but we have a trip planned to see the fall colors in Nederland next weekend which I hope to recap as well, so stay tuned!