I took a quick outdoor escape to the great state of Colorado for the first time this last weekend. We boarded an early morning flight from Los Angeles to Denver and picked up our rental car to start the journey to Colorado Springs for the day. Being tired from the exhausting logistics of an early flight, we stopped at Crowfoot Valley Coffee in Castle Rock for a much-needed caffeine fix. I had a vanilla chai latte with soy milk and a chocolate chip muffin at this cute little coffee-house. Nice place and successfully recharged us for the busy day ahead.
We made it to Colorado Springs in good time and started our first hike at Garden of the Gods Park. This registered National Natural Landmark has a fantastic Visitor and Nature Center with exhibits and history of the area. Admittance to the park is free and the large main parking lot makes stopping at the Visitor Center convenient. There is limited parking along the road throughout the park to pull off and take a view of the towering sandstone rock formations set against the snow-topped Pikes Peak and bright blue skies. There are fifteen miles of trails within the park area. Due to time constraints, we took a few of the shorter trails where we could see the red rock formations surrounded by the brilliant blue sky peppered with fluffy white clouds. Nature had made photography easy for me by creating the postcard perfect weather.
Our next stop was Rainbow Falls located on Fountain Creek in the West end of Manitou Springs. There is a cement walkway along the river, which was brimming with fast-moving water. After walking along the path for a short time, we came to the waterfall located under a bridge. The area is call Rainbow Falls due to the massive amounts of colorful graffiti on the rocks and trees. It was a little shocking at first because I hate to see anything defaced but the area is known for this “nature art” and that is what draws crowds making it definitely different from what you normally see at a waterfall.
With the day passing quickly, we headed to North Cheyenne Canon Park to hike to Helen Hunt Falls. We took the short walk to the top of the falls and also viewed it from the base. Helen Hunt falls is a fairly small waterfall compared to other waterfalls I have seen but glad we went to take in the beautiful views and the nice drive up in the park with many places to stop and explore along the way.
As it was starting to get dark we drove towards our hotel in Estes Park, very exhausted from our day that had started at 4:00 am. We stopped at Sweet Basilico Café and I had veggie lasagna that was vary good. After that I fell into bed and slept like a bear because of the long day of fresh air, beautiful sights, and successful great first day in Colorado.