This was a family friendly adventure
Eleven Mile State Park
On July 2nd, we arrived at Eleven Mile State Park, CO in Rocky Ridge Loop E site 135. There are sites at this park with electricity but the views are not so good. We opted for no hooks and a great views of Lake George and the mountains. With a big rig, getting to the park can be a challenge taking County Road 92 from Lake George as the GPS says to take. It is very curvy and full of potholes. We discovered an easier way to enter the park. From HWY 24 turn onto HWY 23 then take county road 92. It is mostly straight and the road is in slightly improved condition.
On July 4th, Mike’s sister, Mindy, and her son, Brett, flew into Denver from Ohio. With no time to waste we drove into Denver for a 2 hour pedicab tour through the city. Our 8-year-old nephew was bouncing with joy. He had never seen such a large city before. The tour included photos which captured us in all the great places around the city. Our guide, Rick, dropped us off at LoDo's Bar and Grill where we enjoyed the rooftop view of Coors Stadium and the city. The service was slow but the food was excellent.
On day 2 and before we headed down the river for our rafting trip we made a quick stop at the Royal Gorge Bridge. The 1929 suspension bridge spans about .5 miles and 1200 ft. above the gorge. The ticket included a gondola ride across but the line was too long and our young nephew felt it was too dangerous. It’s not for the faint of heart. One could even zipline across but even Mike and I couldn’t do that.
Mike and I love to whitewater but our guests had never been so we found family friendly run down the Arkansas river through Big Horn Canyon. It has a couple of Class 3 rapids but mostly Class 1 and 2. The Rock-N-Row guides made the 2.5-hour trip fun for all of us with water splashing fights and entertaining stories of the canyon. We actually saw Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep! The highlight of the trip was getting to jump off a rock into the river. Our brave nephew had his hand up first to make the leap. Out of all the experiences we had on this vacation, this is the one he will remember for a life time. We ended the day with dinner at the Whitewater Bar and Grill. The food is fresh and everything is made in house.
Horseback Riding and Cave
By day 3 we were up early heading to the M Lazy C ranch just outside Lake George, CO. for an hour ride. The ride was perfect for children. Brett rode little Popeye. I rode Jim which I renamed Big Jim because he was their tallest “horse.” I think he was more mule but being the most experienced rider in our group I could handle the “wee beasty.” Mindy rode a black and white horse that was so beautiful. (I was slightly envious of her.) The trail wound us through the mountain forest. We were able to see Pike’s Peak. I could have ridden all day. As we returned to the stables, the wranglers were asking about my ride on Big Jim. They totally renamed my “horse.” LOL! The short lived reality show ‘Cowboy U’ was filmed at the ranch. If you wanted to stay there, they have a lot of cabins and an RV park with paddocks so you can bring your own horse.
With our bellies grumbling we drove to Old Colorado City for lunch and craft beer at Front Ridge BBQ. The historic area of Colorado Springs is full of shops and restaurants. A favorite place is the original Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory. Right next door was a honey store. I couldn’t resist. It’s not very often one finds a honey store and I have a “Pooh Bear Belly” for honey.
The day’s adventures continued at the Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs. We went spelunking on the Lantern Tour of the cave. The only light is from the lanterns that everyone must carry. Since our group was at the head of the line we led the way into the cave. Immediately I knew this was going to be AWEsome! The cave ceilings were low and tight as we made our way into the first opening. Our guide told silly ghost stories blended with facts about the cave so it was even more exciting for our nephew. At one point to enter a large cavern opening, we had to do deep low lunges for about 200 ft. I felt the burn in my thighs. I’d say one would have to be in moderate shape to do this tour. There were a few in on our tour that were really struggling with the physical excursion especially at 8000 ft. elevation. There were a few who didn’t dress appropriately. When entering any cave, always wear long pants and proper shoes. Most caves are damp cold places with jagged walls of rock. We highly recommend the Lantern Tour especially if you have been on cave tours before. If not, their Discovery tour will give you a similar experience but with less physical stress with lit paths and hand rails. Either tour is worth the stop.
The fun continued on Day 4. The climax of our vacation was Pike’s Peak Mountain. There are several ways to get to the top of this 14er. The winding road with hairpin turns, the hiking trail, or the Cog Railway. We opted for the Cog Railway. The train ascends the mountain at a 25% grade with breathtaking views of the mountains and cities below. Our conductor alerted us to upcoming must see views so we had time to ready the cameras. Even in July there were patches of snow past the tree line. Marmots rule the peak. Scurrying everywhere. With only 50 minutes at the top there wasn’t any time to linger. I hustled to get their world famous donuts while the rest rushed to buy souvenirs. This is the only place to buy donuts made at 14,000 ft. With only a few minutes left, we took in the endless views of 5 states. When the train whistle blew, we hurried back to our train which was the last one of the day.
Bronco Stadium Denver
July 8th, our final day with our family was spent in Denver. We had to make a visit to the Broncos stadium but we didn’t have time for the tour. Mindy and Brett had a plane to catch back to Ohio. The last meal with our family in Denver was lunch at Linger which used to be a mortuary but we couldn’t tell except for the big neon sign on the roof. The food would satisfy any foodie.
What do you do when you have just spent 5 days of nonstop adventure? You go to Pagosa Springs and soak in the hot springs. This hot spring is the deepest in the World. Guinness World book of records proved it. We rolled into Wolf Creek Run Class A Resort which in the RV world is like staying at the Ritz. We couldn’t wait to slide into the private adult only hot spring pools at The Springs Resort and Spa. Ahhh! This is the life!
Mike & Kat
Kat left teaching after 18 years to travel throughout the USA with her husband, Mike, who is an engineer for a Power generation company.