4 of my Favorite Day Hikes in Colorado

The trees are starting to leaf out, crocuses and daffodils are blooming, and the weather is alternating between freezing temperatures and 65 and sunny which can only mean that spring has arrived in Colorado. With the changing seasons comes a desire to get into the mountains and go hiking. To help me stay patient and focused on class, I’ve compiled a list of 4 awesome day hikes in Colorado that I love to do and will definitely be on my docket this summer. These hikes are spread out over Colorado and are a great way to spend a few hours.

1 Finch Lake

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Located in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National park, this is a gorgeous hike through pine forest and the occasional grove of aspens ending with beautiful views of finch lake. The trail is 4.2 miles one way and another 2 miles takes you pear lake. This hike is moderate to difficult with the hardest section being a steep hill close to the trailhead.

2 Wild Basin

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Wild Basin is a 6.3-mile one-way out and back trail punctuated by beautiful waterfalls and ending at a lake. Wild Basin is my all-time favorite area to hike. The area is interlaced with dozens of rivers and all of the moisture causes it to explode with lush greenery and wildflowers. This trail is moderate to difficult but the waterfalls are spaced out really well for hikers to take breaks

3 Pancake Rocks and Horsethief Falls

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Pancake rocks is an approximately 6 mile out and back trail that starts between Divide and Cripple Creek on Highway 67. Horsethief falls is approximately two miles. Both trails are gorgeous hikes through Pike National Forest but pancake rocks is a much more difficult trail that ends with beautiful views of Cripple Creek surrounded by the most incredible rock formations that look exactly like stacked pancakes! Horsethief falls is a gentler hike that ends at a waterfall.

4 Wheeler National Recreation Trail

 

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Quandary Peak from the Wheeler trailhead

 

The wheeler trail is a through hiking trail that starts near the Quandary Peak trailhead. The first two miles you climb to the top of a bluff, hike along it, and then climb back down. The top of the bluff burned in a wildfire at some point and has recovered enough that it has beautiful grass and wildflowers and young spruce and pine trees. The wheeler trial is also an alternate route to get to the Mohawk Lakes trail if you don’t have a vehicle that can handle the road to Mohawk Lakes.

Planning a hiking trip this summer? You might want to check out my post Five Things to Know Before You Go Hiking it’s full of useful tips to make your hiking trip safer and more enjoyable!

Have you hiked any of these trails? Tell me about it in the comments!

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

 

 

Colorado Travel Guide: Steamboat Springs

Hello and welcome back to the Colorado Travel Guide. This is a series I’ve done fairly frequently in the past but it hasn’t appeared in a while. There is no particular order to these posts, it’s just a place for me to walk you through all of the shops, restaurants, hikes, and sights that I love in my favorite state.

For spring break this year my family decided that we were finally going to make the drive up to the northwest corner of the state and visit Steamboat Springs and Dinosaur National Monument. I’m a pretty big national park fan and I realized on this trip that Dinosaur was the last major national park/monument for me to visit in Colorado. There are a couple of smaller sites left but I was pretty excited when I realized that.

The main visitor center of Dinosaur National Monument is two hours west of Steamboat Springs in Jensen, Utah. There is also an entrance in Dinosaur, Colorado. If it’s your first time visiting I recommend going to the Jensen entrance but I would like to eventually go back and get more hiking in on the Colorado side of the park. Hands down the coolest part of the park was the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall. You get to touch real fossils that are still embedded in the actual rock. My niece adores dinosaurs and wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up and I kept wishing that she was there the whole time because she would have loved it.

The most common reason for people to visit Steamboat is the skiing, the second most common reason is the hot springs. Old Town Hot Springs is right on the edge of downtown. It was so cool sitting in the warm water and watching the snow fall. The only problem was that I forgot to pack my contacts on the trip and the steam made it so I couldn’t see through my glasses.

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Steamboat Springs had a really cool art culture. There were galleries everywhere. The art museum is free to the public and had beautiful oil paintings and sculptures by artists from Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah. The Eleanor Bliss Center for the Arts looked really cool but when we got there they were packing up the most recent display. There was a really cute dog running around though.

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I didn’t get any pictures but the first night we were there we ate dinner at Vaqueros, a Mexican restaurant. The food wasn’t exceptional but the atmosphere reminded me of a Robert Louis Stevenson book. Kind of dark with lots of wood and brick, like the characters of Treasure Island were probably somewhere in the back. Aaaand that’s how you know I was homeschooled. LOL.

The food I DID really enjoy was from Steamboat Smokehouse. I love barbeque and the ice cream shop on the other side of the building had amazing pomegranate sorbet.

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I always have to visit the bookstore in any new town and Off the Beaten Path Bookstore was amazing. I love bookstores in old houses; it’s so fun to find little corners and just get lost in a book. I found a practically brand-new autographed copy of Everyone Brave is Forgiven in the used books section for half-off and I’m still a little giddy.
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The bookstore was also a coffee shop and the latte names were are either book titles or literary characters and it was super adorable.

Some of the other cute shops we visited were All That, which had a cool vintage vinyl selection, and Ohana which had a surprisingly surfer vibe for a Colorado town.

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Have you visited Steamboat Springs? What were your favorite places? Tell me in the comments!

Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Five Things to Know Before You Go Hiking

Hello!

Living in Colorado, I’ve grown up hiking but I only started doing it seriously last summer. I’ve learned a lot about how to do it safely. In this post I’m sharing my top five things to know before you go hiking if you’ve never been in a place with mountains before or if you just haven’t had much experience with hiking.

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      While hiking in the bluffs behind my house I found a couch that someone had hauled up on top of a cliff.

      The first thing you’ll need when you go hiking is a good pair of shoes. You’ll need something sturdy, with good arch support and deep tread so that you won’t slip around on the trail. I love my Saucony trail running shoes and my Merrell hiking shoes. If the trail is not too rough I sometimes hike in Tevas and Chaco sandals have an almost cult following here in Colorado. If you are doing multi-day hikes (also known as backpacking) you will eventually want to invest in a pair of hiking boots to support your ankles.

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      On the beach after hiking through Redwoods Natl. Park

      Once you have your shoes you’re going to need some clothes to hike in. Weather is extremely unpredictable in the mountains so you are going to need layers. I recommend a pair of leggings or shorts, a tshirt or tank top, a warm jacket or sweatshirt and a rain jacket or emergency rain poncho. Having the proper clothing to stay warm and dry will make your hike so much more enjoyable and is extremely important for staying safe because hypothermia can occur during any season in the mountains.

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      Hiking in Rocky Mountain Natl. Park

      Hiking can be very strenuous exercise and you are going to need to stay maintain hydration and nutrition. This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised the number of people who think a bottle of soda is all they need to take on a hike. For hikes two miles or less one way you shouldn’t need to pack much with you. As long as you are properly hydrated and have eaten well beforehand all you should need to bring is a water bottle and maybe a granola bar. For longer hikes or hikes farther away from civilization you will need a combination of protein, complex carbs, and simple carbs/sugar. I like to combine almonds, coconut flakes, and dried cranberries and a few m&ms never hurt either haha. If you are sweating and working hard water is super important but not enough to keep you hydrated gatorade works but I recommend throwing something salty in with your snacks and I like to use Gu gels that I get from REI. They have 100 calories in carbs and lots of salt and potassium. For longer hikes I like to use a 2 liter resevoir in my backpack to make it easy to keep drinking.

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      Mt. Quandary

      The higher in elevation you get, the stronger the radiation from the sun so pick a sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply often.

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Grand Tetons Natl. Park

If you go to any place with mountains from any place without them you are probably going to be making a decent jump in elevation. Altitude sickness is caused by lower air pressure and the resulting lower concentration of oxygen. The most common type of altitude sickness is acute mild altitude sickness which is serious but there are much more serious types that happen at very high altitudes that can be fatal. Symptoms of altitude sickness are a throbbing headache, lack of appetite, nausea, feeling weak and tired, not sleeping well, and feeling dizzy. Staying hydrated is super important for preventing altitude sickness and if you are at high altitude and feel any of the symptoms I listed or feel like you can’t catch your breath go to lower altitude, and drink water, you can also take aspirin or ibuprofen or something similar to help with any headache you might have. If the symptoms don’t go away after you’ve rested at a lower altitude see a doctor. If you come to Colorado from a lower elevation and want to do some hiking in the mountains spend a couple of days in a place like Colorado Springs or Denver and get acclimated to that altitude before you set off into the high country.

Do you like to hike? Where are your favorite places to go hiking? Tell me in the comments!

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t truly think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or yarn, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Colorado Travel Guide: Boreas Pass + Giveaway Winners!

Every season in Colorado is beautiful, but autumn is especially lovely. On a recent trip into the mountains to admire the changing colors my family decided to explore a new to us part of Colorado and drive through Boreas Pass. We ended up driving to the summit and then turning around instead of going the whole length of the pass but it was so pretty that I had to share it with all of you.

But first, I have some giveaway winners to announce! Emily Robberson and Sarah Subramanian I’ve sent you an email to get your prizes to you!

Boreas pass is a dirt road that goes between Fairplay and Breckenridge. My family started in Fairplay and turned towards Como where the road over the pass starts. The road is fairly rough and can be pretty narrow in places so this is not a good road if you don’t have a car that can easily navigate dirt roads or if you have a fear of mountain driving.

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The views are incredible and the aspens lining the road are gorgeous!

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That moment when you delete the wrong picture and you have a truck in the middle of your view.

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The summit of Boreas Pass intersects with the Continental Divide and is at 11,482 feet in elevation.

This is a really beautiful part of Colorado and I highly recommend visiting if you are looking for a place to admire the autumn foliage.

What are your favorite places to admire the autumn scenery? Let me know in the comments!

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

My Autumn Essentials

Happy Labor Day!

I hope you all had/are having a great day with your family and friends! To celebrate the unofficial first day of fall I’m sharing my fall essentials. Before I start, I have to give credit to Katie Leigh on YouTube (she also has a blog which I will link here) I was wracking my brain last night for a blog post that I could have up today and then I got an email notification that Katie just uploaded her fall essentials. So on that note, you can go see Katie’s essentials through the link up above and read on to find out mine.

  1. Fall candles

This is something I just got into last year but I love them so much. I’m not allowed to actually burn candles in my bedroom so I use this thing called a *candle warmer. It basically just melts the candle so that you get the scent without the flame. Some of my favorite fall candles are Pumpkin Apple from BBWAutumn from BBWCranberry Woods from BBWMandarin Cranberry from Yankee Candle, and Macintosh from Yankee Candle.

2. Long Sleeve Tshirts

This might be weird but I’ve been loving the look of a long sleeved tshirt with either shorts and my tevas or skinny jeans and my converse, depending on the weather. It’s just super cozy and effortless while still looking cute. I really love the long sleeve tshirts from Ivory Ella and I want this one from Trevor James.

3. Camis Layered with Cardigans

This is a super cute layered look but its still cool enough for the warmer autumn days.

4. Darker Lip Colors

Nothing too crazy but I love wearing berries and darker reds during the fall time. I love the Fresh Sugar Lip Balm in Berry. I also bought the Rimmel The Only One lipstick in *Under My Spell but I wore it once and it was really pigmented which made it look darker than I expected so I’m going to have to play around with it to get it to not look crazy.

5. A Trip to the Mountains (or two or three!)

The Rocky Mountains are always stunningly beautiful but during the fall the color change is really spectatular. Autumn is also a great time for hiking because its not freezing yet but it has cooled off from the summer time. There is a great state park just about an hour away from me that has the most beautiful aspen forest that turns to pure gold in the fall so I try to sneak as many hikes in up there as I can before the view fades.

6. Pumpkin Donuts

During those trips to the mountains I drive past the cutes donut shop called the Donut Mill. The donuts are tasty all of the time but in the fall they have a pumpkin donut with cinnamon and nutmeg and be still my heart it is amazing. I might occasionally get one of my way there and on my way back, don’t judge.

What are your fall essentials? Tell me in the comments!

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

 

Hiking Pikes Peak: My First Fourteener!

On Saturday, July 16, I hiked my first fourteener! A fourteener is a mountain that is between 14,000 and 15,000 feet in elevation. It was REALLY hard. The trail itself was surprisingly easy but the combination of altitude and sheer length of the trail made this a very difficult hike. This post isn’t going to be part of my Colorado Travel Guide series but I do plan to write a post for that series about the Colorado fourteeners after I have hiked a few more.

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Me and the ladies I hiked with

I hiked Pike’s Peak with three other ladies from my church. The summit is 14,110 feet in elevation and the trail is 12.7 miles long. My group started at the trailhead at 5:00 in the morning in order to reach the summit by early afternoon. Storms, especially lightning storms, are very common at high elevation especially in the afternoon. We hiked for about 3.5 hours and stopped at the halfway point, Barr camp to rest a bit and refill our water bottles. There is no running water on the trail that is safe to drink so bring a filter, or bring a lot of water. I drank two 70 ounces (two liters) on the first half and 118 ounces on the second half. Drinking lots of water is more important the farther up you go because it helps with altitude sickness. There is a stream at Barr camp where you can refill (with a filter or you will get giardia) and according to one member of my group there is a runoff stream a little ways down from A frame camp and off from the trail. It was dry when I was there so I would not count on filling up there. I didn’t start to feel the altitude until we got above treeline. After treeline you climb about 5,000 feet in 3 miles. Once I got to the top the altitude kicked I started feeling a bit nauseous and I was really tired but I never got altitude sickness thankfully. After hiking Pike’s Peak  I feel a bit more serious about hiking more fourteeners because I know how hard it is but I also am excited because I’ve proven to myself that I can do it.

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Me and one of the ladies on the hike

Here are my takeaways from the hike.

  • HYDRATION IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL! I drank twice my normal amount the day before the hike as well as during the hike and I attribute how well I did with the altitude entirely to that.
  • Eat something before. I carb loaded the night before the hike and packed lots of carby and sugary snacks to make sure I had enough energy but I wish that I had remembered to eat something like toast with almond butter before I left for the hike so that I had something in my stomach before I started.
  • Wear light layers. The temperature fluctuates so make sure that you can take things off and put them on easily.
  • Every time I stopped, my body could have kept going but I had to convince my mind that I could finish the hike. Your body can do a lot more than you think you can.
  • Whoever said that the 16 golden stairs were the very end of the hike lied because there are definitely more than 16 switchbacks before you reach the summit.
  • Mt. Bierstadt, here I come!
  • Be prepared to hike all the way back down, or have someone drive to the summit to pick you up. Not all fourteeners have a road to the summit.

~Maizy

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Colorado Travel Guide: Rocky Mountain National Park

Happy Independence Day!

Rocky Mountain National Park is a stunning part of Colorado, filled with rugged mountains, dense forests, powerful rivers, and freezing tundras where summer never comes. It is the home of Long’s Peak, the highest mountain in Colorado as well as the source of the Colorado River, which makes its way through the country, eventually winding its way through the Grand Canyon. It is one of my favorite places to hike and camp, or just take a day trip to drive around and see the beautiful views. An entrance to the park is located just outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

I recently camped in the park to explore and get some higher altitude hiking in before I hike my first fourteener (also known as mountians that are at least fourteen thousand feet in elevation).  Please note that Rocky Mountain National Park is a high elevation park. Make sure to stay hydrated and watch for signs of altitude sickness, which can be life threatening. If you are from a much lower elevation than most of Colorado I would reccommend taking a few days to acclimate to the elevation in a place with access to medical assistance before attempting a hike in the park.

The first hike I did was to Fern Lake, I got caught in the rain so I didn’t make it all the way to the lake, but the views were incredible and the foliage and wildflowers were beautiful. Make sure to bring bug spray and wear long pants/sleeves, the mosquitoes were fierce.

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The second hike I did was in the Wild Basin area the trail passes a series of waterfalls and ends at a lake. Again, I got caught in the rain so I didn’t make it all of the way to the lake but I made it five miles in and saw three of the waterfalls.

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Before you leave the park, make sure to drive over Trail Ridge Road. It is the highest paved road in the United States and takes you through all of the various eocsystems in the park. The first is Montane, the thick mountian forests with a large diversity of animal and plant life. Next is Subalpine, which is located just before and after treeline, where the elevation makes it too difficult for trees to grow. The last is Alpine Tundra, summer seems to never come here and there is always snow on the ground.

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the view of the park from Trail Ridge Road

While on Trail Ridge Road we stopped near the trail head for Mt. Ida, there was a short trail above this lake that was quite lovely.

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I never realized before this trip that there is a National Scenic Trail along the Continental Divide that goes all the way from New Mexico, through Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho, to Montana. Backpacking along that trail is definitely something that I want to do in the next five years.

I hope you enjoyed this and got another idea for your next visit to Colorado!

~Maizy

Check out my Colorado Travel Guide posts about Estes Park pt. 1Estes Park pt. 2, The Celestial Seasonings Tea FactoryBishop’s Castle, and The Hanging Lake Trail.

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great. However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

Colorado Travel Guide: Hanging Lake Trail

Hello!

The Hanging Lake Trail is a beautiful hike of a little more than one mile, located just off of eastbound I-70 about 15 minutes east of Glenwood Springs, CO. The hike is strenuous but doable for most abilities. The trail never gets hot, there is a thick cover of trees the length of the canyon, and there are benches spaced fequently throughout the length of the trail for the tired hiker.

The parking lot can only be reached from eastbound I-70 and fills up very quickly. I reccomend arriving before 7:00 if you want to avoid waiting in line. You can also park in Glenwood Springs, or any of three rest areas near the trail take the bike trail that runs along the Colorado River and connects all of those stops and simply lock your bike up before hiking the trail, if you decide to do this, however, you will need to be sure that you won’t be too tired to bike back to your car, and during the spring run off, parts of the trail are closed due to the Colorado River flooding the trail. Once you’ve parked, or bike to the Hanging Lake rest area there is a short walk along the same bike path that I mentioned to get to the trail head. The path is lined with wild rose bushes and other wild flowers and has breath taking views of the river and the Glenwood Canyon.

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The sun rise hits the canyon later than it does the rest of the world so you can leave Glenwood when the sun is up and still see the sun rise in the canyon (It’s stunning).

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As I said before the trail is strenuous. This is what the most difficult parts of the trail look like up until the final strech. The last bit of the trail is in stair steps. The steps can be quite tall but there are not many of them and there are two places to step aside and take a rest, with more beautiful views of the canyon.

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Once you get to the top of the stairs follow the walkway to your right and just around the corner you will see the most beautiful crystal clear lake that makes the whole hike all of the hiking and climbing worth it. There is a walkway around half of the lake with benches to rest on and places to take pictures and admire the lake and the waterfall that is its source.

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Later in the summer there will be yellow columbines growing along the lake!

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You may think that coming down will be easier than going up but while you won’t get as winded the steepness will be jarring to your joints so take it slowly and you’ll see things like this waterfall that you might have missed on the way up. The view is different in every season so the surroundings never get boring.

Be sure to also check out By Quiet Waters’ post about Hanging Lake, to find out about the short walk from the lake to Spouting Rock.

~Maizy

If you would like to read more from my Colorado Travel Guide series, check out my posts one Estes Park, CO pt. 1 and pt. 2, the Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory, and Bishop’s Castle.

Unless I let you know otherwise, my posts aren’t sponsored by any of the companies whose products I mention. I won’t accept sponsorships from companies whose products I don’t use all the time and think are really great; you know I’m classier than that;). However, links marked with an * are affiliate links. Should you click on the links and make a purchase, I’ll go add to my growing stash of tea, or pay the fines on that library book that I couldn’t put down for a month.

 

Colorado Travel Guide: Bishop’s Castle

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Hello!

I have another travel guide post for you all! Bishop’s Castle is a beautiful stone castle that was hand built by a man named Jim Bishop. You can explore and wander through the entire castle. It’s really amazing, and slightly terrifying. Don’t worry, noone has died on it….yet.

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After Memorial Day, the dragon breathes fire!

 

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These stained glass windows were all throughout the castle.
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My mom, in one of the towers of the castle.
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An almost exact model of the castle.

If you live in Colorado, or are visiting, this is definitely something you have to see! It is free to visit but the current builder accepts donations. The donations are split between continuining work on the castle and a fund for infant heart surgery.

Have a great day!

~Maizy

Colorado Travel Guide: The Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory

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Hello!

The Celestial Seasonings factory is one of my favorite places and definitely a must see if you are visiting the Denver or Boulder area of Colorado. Celestial Seasonings has been around since 1969, they  source top-quality ingredients from all over the world and sell their teas in many different countries. They have a huge variety of flavors and many of their teas are organic and fair-trade certified. Some of my favorite teas are Sleepytime, Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland and Fast Lane. Their factory in Boulder is the only one in the world.

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The tour takes about 30 minutes and unfortunately, photos are not allowed. After the tour I highly reccomend spending some time in the tea shop and the sampling room. You can try out teas in the sampling room, and then buy them in the tea shop perfect, right? The tea shop has one of the best selections of their tea I have seen (surprise, surprise, I know) so whenever I visit I stock up on all of the teas that I can’t find anywhere else.

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The Sleepytime Bear

Have you visited the Celestial Seasonings factory? What did you think?

Have a great day!

~Maizy