Sunday, December 29, 2013

Best of Denver's Brunch Scene

Top Picks for Denver's Brunch Scene:


1) Sassafras American Eatery

Sassafras is a Southern Cajun delight! Nestled in a cozy brick house with a myriad of comfort food brunch ideas; your lips will smack and your taste buds will thank you. Oh, and did I mention they have grit sticks?! So yummy and paired with New Orleans style jumbo shrimp! Get ready for some decadent and quaint down home goodness!

2) Snooze; An AM Eatery

There's a reason this place is so popular; its got everything--ambiance, wide variety of menu choices, creative and scrumptious pancake flavors, and booze. 'Nuff said. Try 'em--you'll love Snooze...well, you'll love everything except the waiting list.

3) Jelly Cafe

The Jelly Cafe has an 80's and modern hipster vibe to it. For an artsy and unique brunch experience step inside Jelly Cafe and try their Salmon Eggs Benedict or their different array of doughnut bites! With a wholesome variety of egg scrambles, pancakes, french toast and benedicts--you are sure to find something to your liking!

4) Annie's Cafe and Bar

Annie's is a cozy cafe with a lot of neighborhood flavor. A wide ranging menu and cozy ambiance makes Annie's a comfy place to return to again and again. I personally love the lunch boxes from the 1980's that hang near the bar area. I've seen them a million times but every visit I recall them each again. So grab a cup of coffee and relax at this local favorite.

5) Racines Restaurant

Racine's is my "go to" place--for any meal--the ambiance is always cozy and satisfying and the food is always tasty. Whether it is breakfast or dinner--they have a menu guaranteed to please everyone. I like that it can be a casual or fancy affair; depending on what kind of experience you want to make it. It is a place that is like a home away from home for those who frequent this lovely local hot spot. And congratulations on being in business for 30 years this year!

6) Cake Crumbs Bakery

Some friends recently introduced me to Cake Crumbs. This little-known bakery sits back in the historic Park Hill neighborhood. They feature cake, cupcakes, fresh baked goods and warm breakfast items. This place is perfect for when you wake up on a Sunday morning and want to grab some coffee and breakfast and experience the freshness of a new day; and of being alive. Check 'em out.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Camping Along Guanella Pass

 
GUANELLA PASS AREA CAMPING
 
 
I have written previously about exploring Guanella Pass during the fall season. It is a beautiful drive to tour the aspen leaves amidst a mountainous backdrop. In addition, Guanella Pass is also home to many popular camping spots and hiking destinations. Guanella Pass runs between I-70 (at Georgetown, CO) and US-285 (at Grant, CO). During the winter months, the road is not always open all of the way through so be sure to check the road conditions online at CDOT.

There are various camping locations all along Guanella Pass (also known as HWY 62, or Guanella Pass Scenic Byway).

Along the pass there are some first come, first served "unofficial" camping spots. Also, there are several designated campsites where you are allowed to have a fire (inside the designated fire ring), pit toilets, and picnic tables. And there are dispersed camping sights (please check the rules and regulations for dispersed camping).

Also, something else to know is that camping along Guanella Pass is near Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans. So, if you want to camp and get up early to hike a 14er (what we Coloradoans refer to as mountains that surpass 14,000 feet) this area is ideal such a venture.

For designated campsites check out (click on the links below):

Guanella Pass Campground


Clear Lake Campground


Burning Bear Campground

 
For a complete list of campgrounds located along Guanella Pass check out Pike National Forest Campgrounds website.

Dispersed Camping Guidelines
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/fishlake/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5121831&width=full

National Forest Rules
https://sites.google.com/a/theshawneenationalforest.com/national-forest/home/national-forest-camping-rules


Mt. Bierstadt Info:
https://14ers.com/routemain.php?route=bier1&peak=Mt.%2520Bierstadt




















Saturday, May 4, 2013

St. Mary's Glacier



Hard to believe that barely an hour drive from Denver and you can hike up to a glacier. St. Mary's Glacier is one of the first attractions I visited when I first moved here to Colorado. It is so close town and just off of I-70 (well, just about twenty minutes from I-70). Heading west out of Denver take exit 238 which is the next exit after Idaho Springs...and is marked: St. Mary's/Alice. Follow this road (Fall River Road) passed the town of Alice just a little ways and you will see a parking lot on the left for the glacier hike. The first couple of times I went it was free to park on the side of the road....however, I recently went last weekend and found out it now costs $5.00 to park (but there is a vault toilet now).



Anyway, it is mostly an inclined hike 3/4 of a mile to the base of the glacier. I like it because it gets my heart rate up but isn't too strenuous. Then once you get to the base you can explore and even continue further up the face of the glacier. The trees are reminiscent of Lord of the Rings; as they are bent, blown, and partially barren from the wind.

I really enjoy visiting St. Mary's in the winter as it makes for an excellent snowshoeing experience. During the other seasons, the terrain is pretty rocky on the initial ascent. Folks also ski, sled, and slide down the glacier but be careful and use caution as always.


So, if you want an easy day hike with excellent views and a great excuse to eat at Beaujo's in Idaho Springs afterwards...check out St. Mary's glacier!!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Four Mile Historic Park; Home to the Oldest House in Denver


 
Back in the old days people heading west into Denver would find several "mile" houses along the various stagecoach trails (e.g. Smoky Hill Trail, Cherokee Trail, etc.). Only one of these mile houses is still standing in Colorado today; the Four Mile House. Back in 1858 two brothers with the last name Brantner built a log house that became a popular stagecoach stop on the way into Denver. Eventually the brothers sold the house to a business savvy widow named Mary Cawker, who became the first to run the place as a sort of hotel for those traveling west. She and her teenage kids would hang out in the parlor while the men would drink and play cards in the tavern. After the Cherry Creek flooded in 1864, Cawker sold the property to an up and coming couple, Levi and Millie Booth. The Booth's added a brick addition onto the log house along with finely furnished Victorian era furniture (which is currently on display at the Four Mile House). The Four Mile House is exactly four miles away from downtown Denver, from the intersection of Colfax and Broadway. Folks would head into town to gather supplies and then head further west in search of gold!


Nowadays, the Four Mile House is a part of the Four Mile Historic Park and is open to the public for house tours, cultural history education, and Colorado heritage education. The park makes for a nice family outing, school field trip, photography session, scenic special event host, and overall fun learning experience.



So, get in touch with your pioneer spirit and come take a tour of the oldest house in Denver!



Four Mile Historic Park Hours

April-Sept. (Wed-Fri 12-4, Sat and Sun 10-4)

Oct-Mar (Wed-Sun 12-4)

Every First Friday of the month is FREE!

Call ahead to find out if wagon rides are available for the day you want to visit.

Websites:
Home Page: http://www.fourmilepark.org/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FMHP

(Sources: Information contained in this blog entry is taken from information dispersed from FMHP. Photos taken are property of this blog writer.)



Monday, February 11, 2013

Barr Lake State Park; A Bird Watcher's Paradise.


 
Colorado is home to several pairs of bald eagles that stay year round. However, the primary viewing season for bald eagles is January through April. Around mid-February the eagles start to lay their eggs and guard their nests for their eaglets.

One place that I enjoy watching bald eagles perch, nest and soar is Barr Lake State Park. Within the park is a wildlife refuge where many species of birds and wildlife are thriving. Be aware that separate rules govern the refuge area (e.g. dogs are prohibited within this part of the park, etc.). Barr Lake State Park is a bird watchers paradise! During the appropriate times of year you can expect to find eagles, hawks, great horned owls, and even osprey!

 
(Above: Two bald eagles sit atop a cottonwood tree)

From May to September the Eagle Express can carry up to 13 passengers on a naturalist guided tour of the refuge. Make your reservations today! Or plan to come and trek around on your own. Don't forget your binoculars and camera's for some spectacular wildlife viewing!

 
(Above: hawk feeding on carrion. Below: hundreds of Canadian Geese fly from one side of the lake to another.)
 
 
(Below: a creative way to display some hay.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lily Lake and Lily Mountain Trail

 
Upon a recent visit to Estes Park, a local referred me to Lily Mountain Trailhead. This mountain hike borders Rocky Mountain National Park and is right next to Lily Lake (located within the NPS borders). One of the many great things about this hike is that it is dog friendly...although your dog must remain on the leash (according to the sign). [Sidenote: I recently bought a dog and have since realized that there are not any National Parks (that I know of) where dogs are welcome due to trying to preserve the land and the safety of wildlife. So, the fact that I can hike right next to the NPS with my dog was a HUGE delight!]. Anyway, the Lily Mountain trail meanders up and around to a beautiful panoramic view of Estes Park. There are many rock outcrops and beautiful evergreen trees along the way. After you hike enjoy a picnic at Lily Lake!

 
Last year, 2012, Rocky Mountain National Park partnered with National Geographic for the annual Bioblitz. Lily Lake was one of the lakes sampled for aquatic macroinvertebrates. And of course, plenty of lively creatures thrive in this pristine lake....which makes for great fly fishing if you are interested! Apparently, the more diverse sample of aquatic species indicates the level of health of an area. Conclusion: the Lily Lake area is thriving with healthy wildlife--nature that is seen and even unseen with the naked eye.


So, the next time you visit the Estes Park area check out Lily Lake and Lily Mountain Trail.

Estes Park; My Home Away From Home.

 
I never get tired of visiting Estes Park. It is the first place I longed to visit when I first moved to Denver ten years ago. And it is the place where I continue to return.
 

 My fascination with Estes (the nickname used by many Coloradoans) began when my parents shared that it was a camping spot they used on their first road trip together back in the 70's. As a child of divorce, I treasure tiny nuggets of my parents lost nostalgia...and therefore believe I was drawn to Rocky Mountain National Park like a lost camper retracing their steps.

Nowadays, I come back month after month simply to be, to rest, to play. It is a familiar stomping ground of which I have grown quite fond of its beauty, wildlife, and amenities.

There are alot of other places in Colorado I still want to explore. But when I need a quick, refreshing, intimate getaway I continue to return to Estes Park.




Helpful Links:
http://estes-park.com/

http://www.nps.gov/romo/index.htm

http://www.rockymtnresorts.com/

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nature Photography

If you are interested in any local Colorado photography...check out the website below:

http://jessie-foster.fineartamerica.com




Also, the following links might be helpful for more general photography:

For nature photos:
http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/nature/all"

For wildlife photos:
http://fineartamerica.com/art/photographs/wildlife/all"

Thanks for looking!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Elk Meadow Dog Off-leash Park


I just found my new favorite dog park! I have been to Elk Meadow Park in Evergreen, Colorado before but I didn't know there is a section designated for dogs off leash!! The entrance to the dog area is off of Stagecoach Blvd. I love being able to hike in the mountains while allowing my dog to roam free (and I am not breaking any rules). There are several trails and there is also a fenced area. I really enjoyed this place.


**My only  slight concern is the traffic near the parking lot....and of course potential for wildlife encounters. But otherwise a GREAT place for both (wo)mankind and dogs to roam free!



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Crested Butte--Colorado's cutest, overlooked little town!






Crested Butte is officially my vote for cutest Colorado town!

I'm sure the locals probably don't mind if most of the tourists overlook their adorable ski
 town....but....I simply must express  regret of only just now learning about this incredibly
endearing old mining town! Situated north of Gunnison and southwest of Aspen, Crested Butte is nicely secluded away from it all....the downtown historical area is rustically charming (built in the 1800's)  with a clean, fresh coat of paint exuding an aroma fit for both modern trendsetters and those of the nostalgic pioneer spirit.

Like most Colorado mountain towns there is much to do by way of skiing, snowboarding, fishing, 4x4ing, nature watching....but once you visit....you will see that there just isn't another Colorado town quite as charming as Crested Butte.



 (But if you do find one as cute....I guarantee the people just aren't as friendly).


Nearby:

-Kebler Pass (great for viewing fall foliage)
-Gunnison (nearest supply town, Black Canyon of the Gunnison)
-Mt. Crested Butte (where the skiing happens)
-Several campgrounds nearby

Town website: http://www.visitcrestedbutte.com/

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bio Blitz 2012--Rocky Mountain National Park

National Geographic and Rocky Mountain National Park are teaming up for Bio Blitz 2012!!

 Lots of fun things to explore, discover, and learn about on August 24th and 25th. Come and help take an inventory of the various species within Rocky Mountain National Park! You can also enjoy various workshops and sights at the Biodiversity Festival! Various photography experts and scientists will be on hand for live demonstrations, live animals on site, live music and fun biology stuff!! :)

Also, take advantage of the many ranger-led opportunities going on this weekend!!

If you love nature, science, biology, Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park, and National Geographic---than this event is a must!!

For more details check out this website.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lake Appreciation Day

Cherry Creek State Park is seeking volunteers for Lake Appreciation Day, July 21, 2012.

From 8am till noon,  come and help us with shoreline cleanup and noxious weed removal. Then, from about noon till 3pm enjoy free fishing clinics, boating, archery and food!!

Help take care of this beautiful urban park! If interested please contact Karen at 303-690-1199, X6566.

Thanks!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Coyote Tidbits

So, if you have lived in Colorado for even a short amount of time you have probably seen at least a couple of coyotes. They are frequently spotted in urban areas as well as the mountainsides. Coyotes are compulsatory breeders, which means if there is stress in their environment the litters actually tend to be larger in number that season (Interesting, huh?). In the spring, females typically have 4-8 pups. Coyotes generally do not attack people but definitely keep your pets and young children out of the way. If you encounter a coyote; make yourself appear larger, clap your hands and speak loud and firm.

Recently, I watched a couple of coyote pups play near my house. So adorable! (Yes, I kept an appropriate and safe distance).

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Roxborough State Park




Lately, I have been exploring several of Colorado's State Parks. I am still miffed that I have lived in Colorado since 2003 and only just recently set foot inside Roxborough State Park! As a friend of mine stated, "It's like Garden of the Gods but without the crowds." This park sits among giant red sandstone formations with several trails leading in and around these gorgeous rocks. There is also an old cabin and stone house from the late 1800's on the property. The park also features a plethora of gamble oak bushes, wildflowers, and lots of wildlife.

In order to preserve the natural setting of the park there are prohibitions on pets, mountain bikes, and camping....which is a bit of a bummer...but don't let it deter you from visiting this hidden gem in Denver's backyard!







Friday, June 8, 2012

Great Horned Owls

I was driving through Rocky Mountain National Park recently and came upon this beautiful sight!! Gotta love Colorado wildlife!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Wildlife Experience

The Wildlife Experience is a great way to learn more about nature and wildlife! It is a museum, classroom, and adventure all rolled into one! They feature various workshops for flyfishing and other outdoor activities for you and your kids. They also offer "cocktail and movie" nights for adults. If you would like to learn more about various habitats, animals, and outdoorsy stuff then head on over to the Wildlife Experience for a fun, fresh, educational adventure!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Winter Excursion: Silverthorne Ice Castles

Are you looking for something beautifully artistic and unique to view this winter? Check out the Ice Castles at Silverthorne! It is like being in an outdoor art museum surrounded by larger than life castles, illuminated before your eyes--almost like glass.

Entrance fees apply.

*Note: these castles are for viewing...not climbing. :)

The town of Silverthorne also is home to many various outlet stores. There are also sledding hills and ice skating areas for more fun in the snow.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A new adventure company; Denver Adventures!

Stefan, the owner of Denver Adventures, recently spoke in my Outdoor Leadership class regarding his exciting new adventure company!

I must admit I have always wondered why there is not an all-in-one outdoor outfitter in the area...well...it has finally arrived! Welcome Denver Adventures! They offer guided zipline tours (the longest course in Colorado, with perhaps the fastest speeds..according to Stefan), guided hiking, snowshoeing, trailrunning, rafting, brewery tours and also teambuilding exercises.

I'm excited and eager to check them out! For the out-of-towner, they provide roundtrip transportation to/from your adventure.

They do not have a central office so you will need to get in touch with them via email or phone from their webiste.

See you on the zipline!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

South Platte Park and Carson Nature Center



I am a frequent visitor to various parks and nature centers in the area. Lately, I have really been impressed with Carson Nature Center at South Platte Park. The park and nature center are a part of South Suburban Parks and Recreation of Littleton.

Carson Nature Center offers various educational programs for schools and the public. Such programs include ranger-led wildlife tours, guided hikes, and other opportunities to learn about Colorado plants, animals, and habitats.




The facility sits on the edge of South Platte Park and offers fantastic open space trails and views of the mountains. The park is home to various species of plants and animals. Near Eaglewatch Lake an eagle or two have been known to make their home (hence, the name).

So, if you are looking for a new place to explore nature, jog, bike, or walk your dog (on leash, of course)...this is the place!

**Also, if you want to make a day of it:

Grab breakfast at local hot spot: Toast (scrumptious, yummy pancakes!) or cruise through the tiny yet quaint downtown Littleton and grab some other local treat.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Best Milkshake in Denver!!

So, I have mentioned "H Burger" restaurant in a previous post about the best burgers around Denver. (check out the post here). Well, I am back to say that not only do they have one of the top burgers in Denver but they have the BEST. MILKSHAKE. EVER.!!

Check out their Nutella Marshmallow shake, topped with toasted marshmallows!!! Seriously, the best shake ever!!

Best Burgers Around Town, 2nd edition

In a past blog I listed my top three favorite burger joints around Denver. Well...I believe it is time for an update--a much needed one due to the fact that my previous list is now definitely obsolete after trying some new places!

1) Park Burger is my new favorite burger joint in Denver! In my opinion, these burgers are what the Cherry Cricket burger use to be like....the texture, size, feel, and most importantly the taste is perfect! I ordered a 1/3 lb. cheddar park burger and was really impressed. I also tried a bite of my friend's bbq burger (ask for real bacon bits...mmm!) and was so in heaven! Seriously, great burgers! They also have sweet potato fries that you can order with the works (scallions, ranch and bacon bits!!).

2) H Burger Co. was recently voted in the top three burger joints by three separate area chefs, as you can read about here. And aside from great burgers they have THE BEST milkshake in all of Denver!!--the Nutella Marshmallow shake!! MMMM!!!

3) "Five Guys Burgers and Fries"has excellent burgers! Thick, juicy and delicious! I also love their natural potato fries...I like to add malt vinegar to their fries for an even better taste!

4) The Cherry Cricket. This place used to be my all time favorite but I think they got too popular that they weren't as consistent at serving up perfect burgers EVERY time...BUT they still have great burgers! Juicy, cheesy, 1/3 pound("little cricket") burgers and terrific fries!

5) Hops Grill and Brewery (Littleton, CO) serves consistently great burgers and their excellent beer selection is sure to enhance your experience! They also have a nice outdoor patio overlooking a lake for a fun summer outing.

6) Ruby Tuesday's Prime Burger (8 oz., 100% prime USDA beef). I know this is a big chain restaurant but seriously their Prime Burger is so juicy and tender that I have to rank it in my top five!

7) City Grille. I've mentioned this place before; it is a unique take on the classic burger. Great taste and creative twist! Check 'em out!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Colorado Fall Foliage




This post is coming too late in the season but I am posting now for future reference (for myself and others). Below are a few links that list popular and scenic drives for viewing Colorado Fall foliage. So, for next year, I will be sure to check out these websites again!

This year I went to Kenosha Pass during the 3rd weekend in September and Maroon Bells area the 4th weekend. I was able to see all kinds of colors on the aspens...greens, yellows, oranges, and a few reddish hues. Beautiful!

I would definitely recommend these sites for the future:

1) My Colorado--this is an amazing blog of information and pictures dedicated to the wonderful State of Colorado!

2) Channel 9 News annual foliage list.

3) Colorado.com

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge



When I first visited Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, I wondered why they called it an arsenal. Come to find out that during World War 2 the arsenal was a chemical weapons manufacturing plant for the United States government. Later, the site was used for agricultural chemical development by Shell Chemical Co. In the 1980's, a cleanup of the area was initiated. Now, Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and used as a wildlife refuge. The refuge boasts as home to bald eagles (seasonal), burrowing owls (seasonal), bison, coyotes, prairie dogs, and many other species of fauna and flora. There is a lake for catch-and-release fishing (fee required) and several trails for hiking. There is a newly built visitor center with a mini museum of the site's history and wildlife. There are guided naturalist tours and programs to take advantage of also. Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a close, urban escape into nature.

* I recently found out that the best time to see bald eagles at this site is from Dec. to March. Also, the best time to see burrowing owls is from May to August.



Monday, August 22, 2011

Bear Creek Lake Park

Bear Creek Lake Park has been my favorite stomping ground this summer. Located in Lakewood, just minutes from Morrison, this park has something for everyone! There are 15 miles of hiking trails, 3 lakes for boating, boat rentals (kayaks, paddle boats, etc.), an area for swimming, campground, horse stables, archery area, picnic spots, and nature programs. So, for a nice family fun day near the water or for a solo nature excursion; check out Bear Creek Lake Park.

*Note: There is an entry fee of $5/vehicle (cash only).

Afterwards, grab a drink or some grub in the cute town of Morrison. Or meander through red rock formations at Red Rocks Ampitheatre.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beso de arte Bistro Latino

(photo from metromix.com)




Enjoy a "kiss" of culinary art at Beso, located in Morrison, Colorado. The ambiance alone is enough to make you forget the stress of the daily grind. Stone-built walls and soothing waterfalls help clear your mind and prepare your palet for some delicious and exquisite food! Whether you want to grab a bite to eat before catching a concert at Redrocks Ampitheatre (literally just around the corner), or you want to share a meal with a date or drinks with friends; this place is so adorable! You just gotta try it! Come on, you know you want to!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Avenue Hotel B & B



I recently enjoyed a visit to Manitou Springs, just west of Colorado Springs. My Mom was in town and I wanted to splurge on a nice bed and breakfast for the two of us. I came across Avenue Hotel Bed and Breakfast. We stayed for one night in the upper part of the Carriage House. The innkeepers were very friendly and have done a great job tending to the place. I was impressed with the fresh paint and trim work, cleanliness, and the fancy wallpaper inside the main house among other things. There is also a cool fireplace in the living room of the main house made of Manitou greenstone; a unique stone of the area.The Carriage House was furnished with everything that we needed and more. Very cute and quaint! I especially loved that the Avenue Hotel sits right on the main street so you can literally step out the door and explore Manitou's stores and restaurants. So, if you are looking for a cute place to stay while exploring Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods, Pike's Peak, Cog Railroad, Cave of the Winds or any of the other dozens of sites in the Colorado Springs area here's the place for you!