There is something about the mile high city. Maybe it is from the years I spend living there. Or the friends that remain their. But I carry a piece of Denver in my heart everywhere I go.
In planning a Colorado vacation, I knew we needed to schedule a few days in Denver. I needed some friend time and there were just so many things I wanted to introduce my daughter to in the Denver metro area.
In 2018 we passed through Denver and stayed at Clear Creek RV Park in Golden. It was a nice park with full hookups right next to Clear Creek allowing us to hear the water all night long. But, we really found the traffic getting in an out of Clear Creek a real challenge. So, we decided to seek lodging elsewhere.
Through social media I knew that Cherry Creek State Park in Aurora came highly recommended. However, there were no openings when we went to book. I also knew of Golden Gate Canyon State Park, due west of Golden Colorado. But in the end, we chose to stay at Chatfield State Park, on the southern end of the metro area in Littleton. We chose this location for a few reasons: 1) we could secure a full hook up site, 2) it was close to our good friends home, and 3) it was virtually in my old stomping grounds.
We found Chatfield to be under a lot of construction but that was really not a problem for us, we used it as a base camp that allowed us to tour the metro area. Chatfield has three different loops: we were in D loop. One of the loops was a group camping loop and they honestly had the best group camping I have ever seen. Four sites were combined forming a square. Each square had a community pad in the middle with picnic tables and a water spigot. I decided if I ever own a campground I am making some of these group camping “pods”.
Our site was a paved pull through. We had a gravel patio with a campfire ring and a picnic table. When we arrived, everything was prestine. The campfire ring had been cleaned (there was no evidence of previous campfires). The gravel had been raked and showed no signs of any previous trash.
What to do in Denver/Metro Area
Really, there is anything and everything to do in the Denver metro area. We had more than enough time to fill our days. Whatever we did, we knew it would be with friends.
Our first activity was heading downtown to check out the new Denver Trolley. The Trolley begins at Confluence Park, right outside REI and takes riders past some of Denver’s highlights: Mile High Stadium, Children’s Museum, Denver Aquarium, and Elitch Gardens. The track is one way, so we had to stop and switch engines for the way back. The cost to ride the Denver Trolley was $5 per adult and children up to 4 to 13 were $2.
After the trolley we went to eat at Brider on Platte Street. We were joined by several of our friends: Leslie and Mark, Jackie, and Harry. Wayne and Mark ate in a hurry and decided to pop into two local breweries while we were in the area. So, while we finished eating and packing up, they checked out Denver Beer Co and Cerveceria Colorado. It was a warm and sunny day in Denver and it was nice just sitting back and enjoying a cold beer with friends., others must have thought that too as both places were very busy! Olivia enjoyed trying a variety of Mexican candy that Cerveceria had out and I tried fried crickets. Yes, I ate a cricket! And to be truthful, I actually ate more than one.
Later, on the second evening in Denver, Leslie and Mark were so gracious and hosted a backyard bbq for us in their new home. We were so luck to have our friends join us and even luckier that my dear cousin Sarah and her son came to visit with us. Leslie treated us to a great meal, Mark kept us all warm with a fire and we all enjoyed each others company. Their company was so food for my soul!
I have been to Red Rocks Amphitheater more times than I can count. I was even lucky enough to catch a Bon Jovi concert there back in my younger years. I am sure Leslie has been there just as many times as I have but we stopped by, on our way to Boulder, to introduce Red Rocks to Olivia. As expected, the crowd was a mix of tourist as well as folks out getting their fitness on. There was also set up for an evening concert so unfortunately for Olivia she could not stand on the stage. But, she got to run the stairs and she was pretty happy with that.
Our next stop was Boulder for the Celestial Seasonings Tea Tour. My girl has grown to love tea. I can’t explain it and I don’t really try. The bottom line is, she loves herself a good cup of tea so taking her to Celestial Seasonings in Boulder seemed like a no brainer. This tour was actually a first for Leslie and I. We struggled to find it but we ended up arriving at the perfect time, the next tour was about to begin. We were treated to samples of tea before the tour which set the stage to learn all about the company that started by hand sewing their muslin bags. We learned that all Celestial Seasoning teas are actually made from herbs so they are all caffeine free. We survived the peppermint room. And we bought more than our fair share of tea from the gift shop!
You would think that our tea lover would have gone home happy but Leslie had one more surprise for her. An actual visit to a teahouse in Boulder. And not just any teahouse. Leslie took us to Dushanbe Teahouse. Dushanbe Teahouse was built in Tajikistan and shipped to Boulder one piece at a time. The finished product is similar to the many teahouses in Central Asia and stands for peace and friendship. There was really no better place for a couple of longtime friends to enjoy brunch and spoil one little girl.
As we left Dushanbe we noticed a large crowd gathered in front of the teahouse. The extra crowded teahouse or parking lot, or even gated off roads maybe escaped our attention in all of our excitement. But the crowds of people caught our attention. Ending right in front of Dushanbe Teahouse was the Boulder Ironman. So, we were able to watch the winner cross the finish line to the excitement of his family and friends.
While we girls were off chasing tea leaves, the men were wetting line at Eldorado Springs near Eldorado Canyon State Park. The river was running hard and fast with the spring run off making fishing difficult. Mark, the more experienced Colorado trout fishermen, was able to coax a couple of more adventurous and hungry trout from their rocky hideouts where they were seeking shelter from the strong currents.
During the time that I lived in Denver, I worked in Golden, so the little town is one of my favorites. We found the men folk at Mountain Toad Brewery so I took advantage of the time to antique shop in downtown Golden. Several years ago, while visiting Leslie in Leadville Colorado I found beautiful purple glass. I learned that glass use to contain manganese and when exposed to sunlight the glass would turn from clear to purple. I purchased some antique purple glass but a child visiting my home broke my purple glass. So I scoured every antique shop in Golden with no success. (so, do I maybe see a return trip to Leadville in my future?)
The only thing we did not get accomplished that Olivia really wanted to do was visit Voodoo Doughnuts on east Colfax. So after leaving Denver to spend five days in the mountains I convinced my dear husband to stop by Voodoo on our way through Denver heading home. I researched, I found a parking lot a few blocks from Voodoo. We just needed to navigate our camper through the streets of downtown Denver.
All was going so well until the traffic got so heavy. Then the road we wanted to take was blocked off by police officers. So we were diverted to another road. Then the traffic stopped. And we sat in traffic for what seemed like forever. Then I started seeing rainbows. Everywhere. Rainbow balloons. Rainbow tutu’s. Rainbow t-shirts. My mind is racing. I quickly google “gay pride parade Denver”. The result was June 15. The exact date we were trying to visit Voodoo Doughnuts. So, here we were stuck in traffic because the pride parade was staging and starting across the road we were on. Then my mom called. And I explained to her how we were stuck pulling our 35 foot camper in the pride traffic two blocks from Voodoo. Wayne looked at me as he pulled it all together. Two blocks away. He then kicked Olivia and I out of the truck and told us to walk to Voodoo. He joked that of course we would know where to find him.
So, Olivia and I got out of the truck, walked to Voodoo, which was right on the path of the parade. We waited in line, snagged ourselves some Voodoo donuts and Wayne called. Denver Police halted the parade staging to let some of the traffic pass by. Wayne was forced to move forward. He found some random spot to park the camper but not knowing Denver, he had no idea where he was in relation to where we were.
Many blocks later, we found each other. And then we found a 35 foot camper which Wayne had illegally parked along York. We took our pink box full of yummy doughnuts and headed east towards home. Laughing the entire way about how we ended our Rocky Mountain vacation by taking our 35 foot camper to the Denver Pride festival.