Fall Day Trip September 2017
There is nothing this California girl loves more than seasons, because I grew up with hot, hotter, a little chilly, and hot again. Colorado on the other hand actually experiences all four season and it's magical. Fall in particular is my absolute favorite. The Aspen trees turn to a bright golden yellow and then fade into fiery oranges and reds. Our favorite way to experience the season is driving the Peak to Peak Byway starting in Estes Park, CO and heading south to Golden.
The best way to go about this day trip is to make no plans at all and don't rush! Stop as much as possible and take so many pictures you have to delete old photos to make room. Our first stop was Lily Lake, just a short 15-20 minute drive from Estes Park via CO Route 7. You can park one of the two parking lots and walk to the serene lake and explore little trails canopied by flourishing Aspens. We spent a good twenty minutes exploring and taking in the beauty, exchanging glances and had our jaws dropped pretty much the whole time.
We kept heading south on Route 7 until we hit Allenspark. After Allenspark you merge onto Route 72 toward Nederland and Golden. There are "Scenic Byway" signs along the way to keep you on course, but would it really be a problem if you didn't? The sky was grey and misty with a looming snowstorm moving in the next day. It may have deterred some venturers but we found the haze enhancing our surroundings. You'd see the fog roll over a hilltop and then out with peak pockets of gold and red trees like the prettiest Where's Waldo?.
We planned to stop in Nederland, the cutest little hippie mountain town, for lunch and about ten minutes before we arrived we came around a bend to the most stellar view I have ever seen.
We sat at this spot for at least thirty minutes just staring at it. It perfectly showed how the fog added in the scenery. The trees just flowed out of the mist like a sea of gold. We wished had brought Dixie along for the ride because it was the ideal "Christmas Card" spot. It seemed like everyone else thought so too because it was a popular place to stop. There was a Ranger on duty and we wished so badly to trade places with him, I mean he got PAID to look at this!
Eventually we decided to leave and let other people take our prime foliage spot and headed to Nederland. Pizza was calling our names and Crosscut Pizzeria and Taphouse had a line out the door, so clearly it was the place to be. We both got our own pizzas, because sharing is for losers, and sipped on Cokes and hard cider. Colorado has the most breweries per capita in the nation, so if you are a beer or cider lover make your way here ASAP.
I indulged in a Hawaiian style pizza and Brett opted for whatever pie had the most meat. I swear he believes man can live off meat alone, particularly red. I try to tell him the merit of vegetables and the numerous studies about the effects of too much red meat on the heart, but my pleas just fall on idle ears, probably because he's eaten so much meat that sausage is now growing in his brain.
The pizza was insane and they make it right in house in their wood-fire oven. While it may take a while to get your meal (they only make one pizza at a time in the oven), it is well worth the wait! The dough was the perfect blend of crunchy and chewy and has those delicious burnt spots sprinkled throughout from the oven. I've already put wood-fire oven on my dream house wish list so I can recreate this exact pizza at least three times a week. Also, at my dream house, calories don't matter and pizza has the same nutritional benefits of kale.
There aren't many more little towns between Nederland and Golden so we started on our final stretch of our day trip. The last portion of the byway is the red and gold tree jackpot! I think we stopped at least seven more times by my insistence and Brett obliged even when it meant I had to run across the highway to get a picture (more like an hundred). At one point I even made him turn around because I was convinced the view was better facing the other direction (Brett, if you're reading this, which you probably are because this is very new and you're most likely my only reader, I love you.) If Brett's not the only reader, comment below and say hi!
This day trip has been one of the best memories of 2017 and our three years in Colorado! I'm so jealous of people who grew up in states where there are season changes. I think I'm going to miss the fall in Colorado the most when we move back to hot Southern California, where it doesn't stay steady in the 60's until December, sometimes even January. But I'm glad that Denver is only a quick 2 hour plane ride from Burbank and Southwest tickets are cheap, because I would definitely make this trip a tradition.