Things to Do in Colorado

The Malawi Mission Network meeting will be held in Allenspark, Colorado in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and within easy reach of many activities. Here is a small listing to get you started. If you have specific questions about activities in the area, feel free to contact Carol or Jim Nussbaumer at (970) 586-2437    [carol@nussbaumers.net or jim@nussbaumers.net ]

Rocky Mountain National Park is, quite literally, within walking distance of Highlands Camp and Retreat Center. However, you will probably prefer to drive to one of the Park entrances for access to hiking trails, horseback riding, fishing and the drive over Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous automobile road in the United States which tops out at over 12,000' elevation. The Park also offers Ranger-led programs for adults and children, museums, evening campfire programs and interpretive services. Wildlife viewing includes deer, elk, coyote, moose and many smaller "critters". A very lucky viewer might see a black bear; even more rare is a sighting of a mountain lion. If you like to backpack, contact the Backcountry Office for an overnight backcountry permit. A Colorado fishing license is required for anyone over age 16. Entrance fee to the Park is $20 per car, valid for 7 days.

Anyone age 62 or over can purchase a Senior Pass for $10, which is valid at any National Park or Monument in the U.S. for life.

            ---- See the Rocky Mountain National Park Web Site at www.nps.gov/romo/ for more information.

Local folks at the conference can help you decide on specific hikes and other activities in the Park.

Estes Park is the small town on the eastern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park, about a half-hour's drive from Highlands. For some Web sites with lots of details about the town, check out:

www.estes.on-line.com
www.estes-park.com
www.estesnet.com

Estes Park has lodging, dining and a main street full of shops eager to sell you whatever you need, especially t-shirts. Should the need arise, there is a small but complete medical center,  Estes Park Medical Center (www.epmedcenter.com)

Some activities in or near town include

3 mini golf courses, a 9-hole golf course, an 18-hole golf course (look out for the elk on the greens),
several stables for horseback riding,
nice walking paths along the river and Lake Estes,
the aerial tramway and several art galleries.
For the younger set, there is a go-cart track, a giant slide, a skateboard park and a movie theatre.
A dog park is located near Lake Estes for the pup in the family.

Several museums are available, including :

Estes Park Museum( www.estesnet.com/museum) Displays of early Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Main display building plus 2 outdoor buildings moved to the site from their original locations
MacGregor Ranch museum (www.macgregorranch.org) Located just north of Estes on the Devil's Gulch road, this was originally a ranch homesteaded in 1873. The home and outbuildings are open for self-guided tours. This is still a working cattle ranch, raising Black Angus cattle.
Stanley Museum (www.stanleymuseum.org) tells the story of the 1909 Stanley Steamer and Mr. F.O. Stanley's impact on Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. His Stanley Hotel is still in operation --- and hard to miss as you drive into Estes Park! Look for the big white building just north of the Highway 34 bypass.


Nice Drives...
There is no shortage of scenery in the area and even a short drive will take you into some beautiful country! Some favorites include

The Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway runs right past Highlands Camp. As State Highway 7, it runs north to Estes Park, passing on the way views of Twin Sisters Mountain, Mount Meeker and Long's Peak (14,256') as well as Lily Lake which is a part of Rocky Mountain National Park and a nice spot for a stroll. Heading south, the Peak-to-Peak turns onto Highway 72 and continues until it meets Interstate 70 south of the old mining town (now known for its casinos) of Central City.
   
Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park is the world's highest continuous paved highway, reaching an elevation of over 12,000'. It follows highway 34 from Deer Ridge Junction to the town of Grand Lake. Allow about 2 hours drive time if you plan to go as far as Grand Lake. There are many spots along the way where you can pull off and take a short stroll to see magnificent views and the unusual alpine tundra flowers. At the "top" is the Alpine Visitor Center, a national park museum, along with a privately run gift shop and snack bar. A nice optional trip is to drive up the Old Fall River Road to the Alpine Visitor Center and return to Estes Park on Trail Ridge. Old Fall River Road is the original road across the Park. It is gravel and one-way traffic only.
   
Big Thompson Canyon is highway 34 running east from Estes Park to Loveland, about an hour's drive away. The road follows the Big Thompson River past the hamlet of Drake and emerges from "The Narrows" a few miles west of Loveland. Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep!
   
Devil's Gulch branches from the Big Thompson Canyon Road at Drake and ascends to the small village of Glen Haven and on to Estes Park. The road is narrow and winding, forcing a slow pace that allows appreciation of the river and mountains.

Ever Been on Top of a 14,000' Mountain? There are three popular ways to do it in this part of Colorado!

Near Allenspark you will see Long's Peak which is a popular "fourteener" to climb. It requires no mountaineering skills or special equipment, but climbers should be in good physical shape and prepared for a 12-to-14 hour day climbing and descending the mountain. Hikers are encouraged to begin the climb by 3 or 4 a.m. in order to avoid lightning storms on the top of the peak.
Sounds a bit much? How about driving to the top of a fourteener? There are two opportunities to do that in the region. Just west of Denver is Mount Evans with a good paved highway to the top. Watch for the mountain goats!
West of Colorado Springs is Pikes Peak, another 14,000' peak and the goal of many gold-rush era prospectors. If driving the peak doesn't appeal to you, there is a cog railway running to the top as well.


Other Things of Interest in the State

Denver is the state capital and as such has all the "big city" amenities. Museums abound, ranging from the Children's Museum to the Art Museum to the Museum of Nature and Science and the new History Colorado Museum. There is a zoo, of course, as well as an aquarium and Elitch Gardens amusement park and the US Mint. The Colorado Rockies baseball team plays at Coors Field. (www.coloradorockies.com)   Lots of shopping, fine (and not-so-fine) dining and parks make Denver a complete city experience.
Colorado Springs is about a 2-hour drive from Highlands Camp. Not as large as Denver, "The Springs" has several places of interest. The Air Force Academy sits on the northern edge of town just off I-25. West of town is Pike's Peak (see above), the Garden of the Gods park, Cave of the Winds and many other tourist destinations.
National Parks and Monuments
Colorado is home to 4 National Parks, 5 National Monuments and almost unlimited National Forest and BLM land. State Parks also abound, as do assorted Historic Sites. It is impossible to list them all, but here are the National Parks and Monuments. All are within a day or day-and-a-half drive of Allenspark and most are in the western half of the state.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park
Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat'l Park
Dinosaur National Monument
Colorado National Monument
Canyons of the Ancients Nat'lMonument http://www.co.blm.gov/canm/
Yucca House Nat't Monument
Florissant Fossil Beds Nat'l Monument

See the full details for most of these sites at the National Park Service WEB site at: http://www.nps.gov/applications/parksearch/geosearch.cfm
   
Bring your walking shoes, water bottle and camera and spend some time enjoying the lands you own!

If this is not enough to keep you busy or if you want even more things to do - check out the Colorado State Info Web site at: http://www.colorado.gov/play/visiting-colorado/index.html