Dec 9 2019 to Dec 9 2019
Day 1: Drive from Albuquerque to Montrose. We took San Juan Skyway (Scenic Byway) - Beautiful drive. We drove here in the evening, and weather was changing quite dramatically.. first the hails, then sun shining through some black clouds giving rise to a rainbow.. quite and experience.
Dolores is a good place to get a coffee break!
Another view along the San Juan Skyway.
Stayed here for 2 nights, since cheaper to stay here compared to Telluride. Had a nice meal at Chang Thai Cuisine after a long drive.
Day 2: Strenuous, but highly rewarding hike... amazing trail with spectacular views. After 3.2 miles or so, you reach the lower blue lake. Keep walking close to the lake since the views from up close are way better than your first impression. Clean (emerald, rather than blue, from close distance) alpine lake. Even this hike itself is kind of hard, don't be tempted to turn back. Absolutely divine views await as you keep going further. First, you get aerial view of the lower lake (the photo above), now actually looking blue. And then you come across two more equally beautiful, but yet different-looking, lakes. We hiked about 9.5 miles (out and back) to cover all three lakes in 7.5 hours, taking breaks to catch breath and enjoy the views.
Get early to cover all three lakes
Day 2: Blue Lakes Trail, near Ridgway/Telluride.
Above is the photo of the middle blue lake.
Photo from the shore of the Lower Blue lake.
Upper blue lake. Nice place to sit and enjoy your snack/lunch.
Enjoyed coffee (hot mocha and a blended coconut mocha) after a tiresome hike to the blue lakes. Stayed at Montrose that night.
Day 3: packed our bags and started driving from Montrose to Crested Butte -- on the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway. Stopped at Gunnison to get some coffee.
Day 3: Being tired from yesterday's hike, we kept today's activities rather easy. From Montrose, we directly drove to the Judd Falls Trailhead and did a short hike (2 miles out and back) to see the Judd Falls. It was easy hike, moderately trafficked.
Take hat and sunscreen. The trail did not have that much shade.
Pretty views while driving from Mt. Crested Butte town towards the Judd Falls trailhead.
We stayed at Elevation Spa & Hotel, absolutely loved the room. Down side was expensive parking. But still highly recommended.
Day 3: We drove down to the Crested Butte town in the evening. This was a lovely little town to take an evening stroll, enjoy a cup of coffee and then some delicious food at a local pizzeria.
Loved donuts from this place. Fresh, made to you order. They have interesting combinations of glazes, and you could mix and match the way you like.
Day 4: Packed our bags and started driving on the Kebler Pass. Took a small detour to the Three Lakes Trailhead to do that hike. This was moderate/easy hike, around three lakes: Lost Lake Slough, Lost Lake and Dollar Lake. Each of them have a unique identity. There were lot of people camping around in that area, but the trail itself wasn't that crowded.
Lost Lake Slough seen at a distant while hiking toward the Dollar lake.
This is the Lost Lake. It was a stunning sight with emerald colored clear water.
This is the Dollar Lake.
Day 4: After the Three Lakes trail, continued driving on the Kebler Pass and then on the CO-133 N to get to Glenwood Springs. We had enough daylight and energy remaining. So decided to do the Hanging Lake Hike the same day.
Day 4: Short (about 2.5 miles out and back) but rather difficult hike. By difficult, I mean steep. But we came across people with varying hiking experience, and everyone made it.
Carry plenty of water with you.
Day 5: Started driving from Montrose to Estes Park. But we chose to take a longer, scenic route to be able to visit Vail and also drive along the Trail Ridge Road.
We found Vail to be clean, beautiful and upscale town. I am sure it would be lovely, and surely expensive, to visit there in ski season.
Nice coffee -- we got salted caramel mocha.
Day 5: We stopped at Grand Lake for lunch and an ice-cream. The lake itself was big, but not as interesting to me.
Day 5: Absolute must at the Rocky Mountain National Park. Unfortunately, the views were not that clear due to smoke that came to the area from fires in Northwest US. But still very scenic drive. We stopped at a couple of points and saw pikas and marmots.
Day 5: Nice visitor center with short hike to see views of the Rocky. Purchased a souvenir too.
Just before hitting the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (driving from Grand Lake to Estes Park via Trail Ridge Road), we saw lots of elks in the Elk viewing area.
Day 6: This was an interesting mall, which looked like a small store from the outside. Ended up enjoying a nice mocha at Raven's Roast inside this mall.
Day 6: Very popular and crowded trail. Less than a mile trail along the Bear Lake shore.
Go early morning to get parking, or use a shuttle.
Easy hike from Bear lake trailhead, quite popular and crowded trail. Unique lake with lots of lotus leaves.
Continue hiking on the trail, and you would arrive at the Dream Lake. Such a peaceful place. Loved it. Because we had some commitment, we had to head bck at this point and couldn't make it to the Emerald Lake.
Day 6: Easy hike, small waterfall. Parking lot of the Glacier Gorge Junction Trailhead was full (at 1:30 pm), so had to park at Bear Lake Trailhead, and hike an extra mile. It is quite popular, but I wasn't that impressed with the waterfall itself.
Get early for parking
Day 6: Got to see a number of elks in the lake, late in the afternoon.
Delicious coffee and pastries. And more importantly their outdoor sitting was by this calming stream. Very pleasant experience.
Expensive, so go only if you like polish food.
Day 7: Started driving from Estes Park towards Denver. Stopped at Boulder for this interesting tour of the Celestial Seasoning factory-- understanding how do they mix and make different teas, and checking out cool packaging machinery. Got to sample some of their teas, and bought some gifts.
45 min tour of the factory
Lively street to stroll around and shop and eat.
Day 8: Delicious brunch, popular place.
Day 8: Drive back to Albuquerque. Stopped for a coffee and a cupcake at this place. I loved their quote "Full Stomach Happy Heart" -- couldn't agree more.
Liked by Pankaj Bhambhani, Abhishek Shiwalkar, and 3 others
Dec 9 2019
Charuta, this is pure gold! I loved that most of your experience was hiking that too a mix of easy and difficult trails. Photos are stunning. And your descriptions make me want to go there now. :-)
Thanks Satyajeet :) Even I want to go back there now..