Sometimes the greatest adventures lie the closest to home, where all you have to do is hop in your and drive a couple hours to feel like you are really far away.
This was the case for our last adventure in Grand Lake, Colorado. We both worked that Saturday morning and decided to basically have the car packed and ready to leave Golden at 4:30 sharp. When are ready for vacation, we are REALLY ready for it.
We decided to start our vacation at a little place called Bread Bar in the tiny, tiny town of Silver Plume. Seriously, this town is so tiny that if you blink while driving on I70 you might just miss it. I’m pretty sure this might be the only thing in Silver Plume and it’s totally worth checking out if you love a good craft cocktail! The decor is also to die for with a very eclectic, trendy, mountain home feel on the inside and a really awesome back patio with incredible views. It was a great way to start our trip!
After a couple drinks at Bread, we were on our way to Grand Lake. The drive itself was very pretty and there were great views all the way there. It took us about two hours to get there and we were starving as we pulled into town. We opted for the town favorite, Sagebrush BBQ and Grill for a bite to eat before we retired to our house rental for the night. They have a great variety of food and a full bar. This is definitely a local hang-out as the bar was full of townies. We didn’t stay long, but we did end up coming back here a couple days later to eat again.
Our house rental was a personal friend’s rental and he was kind enough to let us rent it for the weekend and the views were immaculate. It was a little ways out of the town itself, but it was the perfect spot. It was quiet, we saw a ton of wildlife(including a young moose that hung out in the neighborhood) and we didn’t have internet. It was actually quite lovely not having to rely on streaming video in the evenings. We hung out on the patio and took in the views of the lake, stars, and just enjoying the quiet of it all. We called it a night pretty early and woke up pretty early the next day ready to adventure…
The next morning we woke up early to grab some breakfast in town before the crowds started to rush in. We opted for the cutest little place called the Fat Cat Cafe which is an adorable little spot right in the middle of downtown that is a breakfast buffet! They had so many options including eggs, meats, quiche, and a whole table of just desserts that I did not even make it to because everything else filled me up. I highly recommend this place! Now that we had eaten, we were ready for the kayak adventure we were about to embark on. We decided to rent a tandem kayak for three hours. One hour didn’t seem like enough, so we opted for the three hour option for the better deal. It ended up being $100 and it was money well spent. As we cruised around Grand Lake, we looked at all the lake houses and decided to go through to Shadow Lake and check out that area. I’m really glad we did because we saw two moose hanging out on the shore. I have never seen them up that close before which was really fun, but also a kind of scary experience. Keep in mind that moose are mean, very mean, sometimes. If you put their babies in the equation, they might just kill you. You think I’m joking, but DO NOT MESS WITH THEM or get too close. We admired them from a distance as we paddled around.
After our arms were so tired we felt they were going to fall off(and the incoming rainstorm) we decided to paddle back to the shore and head home to change out of our wet clothes and get ready to explore the Grand Lake Cemetery. I realize that it’s not everyone’s top choice of vacation activities, but as a photographer I find that sometimes this is one of the most interesting places to take photos. The amount of history here is absolutely amazing and there are some very eerie grave stones. Some of them don’t even have names on them, and some are marked unknown. It was a fun hour to walk around and explore something new.
After the cemetery we drove to the tip of Rocky Mountain National Park where we didnt actually drive into the park itself, but we caught some great views and a whole bunch of elk and some more moose!
The next day we decided to do a nearby hike called the Colorado River Trail that was only a couple miles long. It had some very pretty views and was just challenging enough, but they were also doing a ton of work in the area and a lot of the trees were cut down to help prevent fire danger. The benefit was we only saw a couple other people on the trail and it was lovely and quiet. There were some great photo opportunities and we saw another moose! The trail takes you down by the river where there are benches to just relax and listen to the water, or you can even take a little picnic down there if you wanted.
We arrived to our last day in Grand Lake and decided to grab a quick coffee and breakfast at The Hub before we ventured to Adam’s Falls for a quick hike. It’s a quick half mile up and you can choose to continue to hike beyond the falls if you want. We just went up and came back down because we were about to head to Rocky Mountain National Park for the rest of the day.
Rocky Mountain National Park is worth the trip in itself, but keep in mind that it gets pretty busy in the summer months. People are not always very smart either. They will stop dead in the middle of the road if they see an animal so be sure to drive carefully!
We decided to drive to Estes Park which is on the other side of RMNP. The drive was gorgeous and had many moments to photograph. There are many overlooks with historical signage to learn more about the park itself and it’s history.
After the drive(and many stops in between to take photos) we decided to hike to a waterfall. We decided to do Alberta Falls since it was a pretty short one at 1.6 miles round-trip. It’s a great chance to see Bear Lake as well since it’s right there. There are many to choose from, but we just opted for one that wasn’t going to take as long since we already went on a hike that morning!
After the hike, we decided to go into Estes Park and go to one of our favorite spots, The Stanley Hotel!
Some other facts about The Stanley…
- It was the INSPIRATION for the book/movie The Shining. Stephen King stayed here for awhile and was inspired when he stayed in one of the most haunted rooms. A lot of people believe that the movie was filmed here. BUT…
- Dumb and Dumber was definitely filmed here. The famous staircase is where they are handing out money to all the people who work at the hotel. The hotel bar was where Jim Carey sat and waited for his date that would never come. Jim Carey also stayed in one of the most haunted rooms but did not make it through the night, he still wont talk about why or what happened!
- F.O Stanley(Stanley Steamer fame) arrived in Estes Park in 1903 and opened the Stanley Hotel in 1940.
- The hotel is known to be very haunted, but specifically Room 217. The hotel offers ghost tours and the Ghost Hunters tv show even filmed here once.
If we are in the area, we will always try to stop and order an Old Fashioned at their bar. The Stanley Hotel is known for their whiskey, they literally have walls of it!
If whiskey isn’t your thing, they have many other choices! One of my personal favorite is the Redrum Cocktail based on The Shining of course! 😉
We walked around the property a little bit before calling it a day and making the trek back to Golden. It was a great trip with great company! Till the next one!