We got back from our Colorado trip a few days ago and I want to thank you all for your great advice. Babalax, CBrand, fv1989 you all contributed to making this trip special so thank you!
The purpose of this trip was to tour Univ. Denver and CU Boulder with my 17 y/o son. It was a quick 5 night trip to check things out. Things changed since my initial planning and my daughter and other son ended up joining us. We opted to stay 4 nights in Boulder and then the last night in Denver.
Day 1 - arrived DEN, got our car rental and drove to Bacon Social House for breakfast. Kids loved the bacon flight! It was a great place to hang out and relax after our flight. Headed over to Univ. Denver for our 1pm tour. School was a big hit all around. Had a nice drive to Boulder and checked into Basecamp Boulder for one night. I didn't tell the kids but I booked the special camp themed room. There are 4 beds inset into the floor to look like sleeping bags. Carpet is astro turf. I booked the room as a joke but we had a blast and everyone loved it. Made me miss having little kids again.
It was a Wednesday night so we walked over to Pearl Street to check out Band on the Bricks. What a beautiful night. We all loved walking around. We had dinner at Sun Mountain Brewery. I enjoyed sampling the craft beer. Burgers and atmosphere were great.
We walked back to the hotel where they had fire pits with smores and a nice social atmosphere. Lots of couples and families were hanging around outside, everyone was so friendly. I would give the day 5 stars.
Day 2 - Slept in a bit and then walked to the Buf for breakfast. We lucked out and got the last table before a line formed. By the time we left there were about 20 people waiting for a table. Another hit all around. Coffee was good and I needed it. Back to Basecamp Boulder to check out and the we all headed over the CU Boulder for our tour. Gosh, I wish I could go back to college!
After the tour we transferred over to the Marriott. I could only get 3 nights here because the hotel was fully booked but in retrospect it worked out great that we got to have one night of "camping". We had Marriott points so we stay there frequently and the hotels are always nice but I miss having the character of an independent hotel. The Marriott also has a fire pit on an outside deck and a bar so there were always people hanging out there in the evenings but everyone stayed to themselves. At Basecamp it was more communal.
Forecast for the next day was 100-degrees so we decided to head up to RMNP. We did some research and decided on Mills Lake, which is 5-6 miles r-t. We set our alarms for 6:30am (that's as early as I could get my teens to get out of bed on "vacation".) We walked over to Sprout grocery store and got plenty of water and snacks and called it an early night.
Day 3 - Everyone got up!!!! Quick breakfast at the Marriott and we were on the road by 7:15am. Not as early as I would have liked but still not bad. We had a nice drive the RMNP. I have a fear of falling off a cliff so we took Rt 36, which is not as scenic as other roads but not scary either! We got to Bear Lake Trailhead by 8:30am and were lucky to get a spot at the shuttle stop. There was a huge line to board the bus but the busses came quickly and the wait was short. We got off the bus at the Glacier Gorge stop, which I think was the 2nd stop? Wow! What a great hike! We all loved it and stopped frequently for pictures. There were a lot of people on the trail up to the Alberta Falls but after the falls the crowd thinned out. Even when the trail was crowded people were great about stepping aside to let others pass. There were several stretches with no other hikers where we were able to get some nice family shots.
We decided to hike a ways past Mills Lake but didn't want to do the additional 1.2 miles to Black Lake. I'm not sure how far we got past Mills, maybe 0.5 miles? If I was there on my own I would have gone all the way, it was so pretty. In all the hike was probably a little over 6 miles round trip. It took us about 4.5 hours with lots of stops. I'm so glad we did this!
To be continued.