Fall Magic in Colorado
“I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
Last week we got back from a one week trip with our pug Ari in Colorado. Mountains are magical at this time of the year. One of our most memorable trips with Ari. I have shared below some of our highlights, beautiful experiences, dog friendly places to stay and eat, and much more!
We took a morning flight from New York and landed in Denver in the afternoon. After picking up our rental car, we headed straight to Boulder, which was about an hours drive from there. Checking in at our hotel BaseCamp was smooth and plus it was super cute! Points to hubby for finding it. The little details were so fun with a touch of quirkiness. Very clean and comfortable, Ari made himself at home straight away :) After Ari had his food and rested a bit, we headed out to explore.
We started with Pearl Street, a pretty cobblestone street lined with cute cafes, restaurants, bars, and stores on both the sides. Unfortunately, on the cobblestone section of Pearl Street, dogs aren’t allowed on the patio. We walked further ahead on Pearl Street and beyond the cobblestone section we found Eureka. Dog friendly, great beer, great staff and amazing food. Since my husband and I are both vegetarians, we tried some of their veggie options. Cauliflower Bites with Garlic Aioli and Veggie Beet Burger were super delish!
After an early dinner, we checked out some of the shops on Pearl Street and stumbled upon Peace, Love & Chocolate. Lots of interesting flavors and and plus they had outdoor dog friendly seating. Overall Pearl Street had a great vibe in the evening with band playing live music, it was great to walk around or just sit on a bench and watch. We explored the neighborhood around Pearl Street. Saw some cute houses and even found a Yellow VW Camper Van. Of course, we had to get a pic ;)
Today we were leaving from Boulder and heading to Carbondale for glamping. We headed to dog friendly Woodgrain Bagels for brunch before our drive. They had a really nice patio and we stuffed ourselves with bagels, breakfast potatoes and peach tart.
Boulder DOG FRIENDLY Recommendations:
Stay: Basecamp Boulder
Glamping in Carbondale
This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. After brunch, we drove for about 3.5 hours from Boulder and arrived at Cedar Ridge Ranch in Carbondale. I found this place on Glamping Hub and it was a score!! My husband and I had done glamping a few years ago in Tanzania and kind of knew what to expect. It was Ari’s first time and we were very excited to experience this with him.
We fell in love with the ranch and our tent as soon as we arrived. We were greeted by the owners Pam and her husband Randy, who were such nice warm people and they even invited us to have dinner with them the next day. Elks who were wandering around the mountains also stopped by to say a quick hello ;) The tent was luxurious with one double and two single beds, a couch, reading nook, little fridge, heated blanket, cutlery and coffee station. The bathroom was really nice too, located in a separate tent right next to ours. We also had an outdoor area where we could barbecue, watch the horses during the day and stars at night. There were lots of farm animals such as pigs, horses, alpacas, chickens and cows on the property apart from the owner’s house, few other tents and a yurt. There was also a common hangout area, which was a cute little barn converted into a comfy social area with couches and wifi connection. There was very limited phone network and wifi connection on rest of the ranch including our tent, which was great to take a break from social media and truly enjoy nature. The ranch is spread over 100 acres so there is plenty of quiet and privacy.
Although the ranch was cut off from city life, we were just 20 mins drive away from the town of Carbondale. It was the perfect setting where we could pick up groceries and other amenities conveniently and yet be cut off from the urban chaos. After we settled in, we drove to Carbondale to pick up dinner and some groceries for breakfast. For dinner, we picked up burritos from Dos Gringos and they were definitely one of the best burritos we have ever had!! After dinner in our tent, we stepped out for a walk and were bowled over by what we saw. A clear night sky filled with stars, we could even see a faint milky way with our naked eyes. It was mesmerizing!!! Don’t remember the last time I saw these many stars! We felt truly blessed to have experienced this. Ari was very tired that night with all the exploring and new smells at the ranch, he slept like a baby!
We started the day with breakfast on our patio and walked around the farm. It had such a nice peaceful vibe in the morning, very therapeutic to be around all the animals. We asked Pam for suggestions on things to do that day. Its always good to get a locals opinion and perspective. She suggested visiting Redstone, a cute little town about 30 minutes drive away. We saw some gorgeous fall colors on the way! The mountains seemed like they were covered in an orange carpet. The road was flanked by stretches of yellow trees on both sides. Nature was literally on fire - yellows, oranges and reds all around us. On the way we stopped for photos and soaked in the stunning views. You could even go for a dip in one of the natural hot springs, which we skipped as it was quite hot that day. The temperature difference between day and night was something we had never experienced before. The highs were 85°f whereas the night temperature dropped to almost 30°f. Luckily we had carried the right mix of clothing with plenty of layers.
Redstone turned out to be a very pretty town of just ninety residents filled with the cutest little houses flanked by pine trees and surrounded by mountains. We had lunch at the restaurant at Redstone Inn. They had a dog friendly section near the pool area with a picnic bench. We shared our table with another couple and their dog. We started chatting with them and since they were locals we got some great tips from them on things to do.
We returned back to our ranch in the evening, rested a bit and headed to the common area to have dinner with Pam, Randy and their daughter Meryl. Some of their friends as well as other ranch guests like us were also there. We played a fun game of ‘Two Truths & a Lie’, chatted quite a bit, ate some great food, and hung out till late! Ari got a lot of attention, petting and treats from everyone.
We started the day with a farm tour hosted by Pam. We learnt quite a bit about the different animals and what goes into taking care of them. After the tour we drove to Glenwood Springs for lunch. We grabbed a quick bite and were not very impressed with the town, so we chose to spend the rest of the day at the ranch since it was our last day there. Spent the afternoon drinking beer on the patio and watching the animals, I can’t even explain how peaceful this was. I already want to go back! We headed to Carbondale for dinner, Pam had suggested White House Pizza. Although they allowed dogs in the garden, we decided to get a take out and eat at the ranch. Pizza turned out to be amazing, highly recommend it!
GLAMPING & CARBONDALE DOG FRIENDLY RECOMMENDATIONS:
Stay: Cedar Ridge Ranch
After breakfast, we headed to Aspen, which was just a 30 minutes drive from the ranch. Once again the drive was scenic and filled with gorgeous fall colors. We arrived at our hotel but were quite early for check in, so we decided to explore and get lunch. We walked around the city which was filled with cute houses and fall colors, gorgeous views of the mountains from everywhere and plenty of IG photo ops ;) As a dog mom, there was something else that stood out to me. There were biodegradable dog poop bag stations all around the town, so if you forgot to carry a bag, you can just pick up one for free, isn’t it perfect!
It was Sunday afternoon and the vibe was amazing. Cool crisp fall weather with leaves falling from the trees and people sitting outdoors having brunch. We ate at Red Onion where they had a pretty big dog friendly outdoor section and the Black Bean Burger was delish! After lunch we checked into our hotel Mountain Chalet Aspen . Our room was clean and comfortable with a balcony and gorgeous views of the mountains. The hotel turned out to be great value for money as it was centrally located (right next to St. Regis Aspen) and breakfast was also included.
We later headed to Independence Pass, where we got the best views of the mountains and fall colors on our entire trip. This drive is famous in fall for the beautiful scenic views. We stopped quite a bit to soak in the views and to take photos. After the drive we headed straight back to the hotel, ordered in and called it an early night as we had a very early start next morning.
We woke up at 5:00 am and got ready to watch the sunrise at Maroon Bells. They are one of the most photographed peaks in the whole of North America and are especially beautiful in fall. The best part, dogs are allowed! There was a lot of different information available on how to get there from Aspen. Some people suggested public shuttle bus whereas some suggested driving on your own as there can be a long wait for buses during peak fall season. After speaking to a few people and researching online, we decided to drive. Some things to note are that private cars are only allowed to enter Maroon Bells before 8:00 am and after 5:00pm during fall season. Also, if you arrive before 8:00 am and all the parking lots are full, then you would have to go to nearby Aspen Highlands to park and then wait for the public bus from there to Maroon Bells or turn back. To be safe, we arrived at 7:00am, it was still quite dark, but there were at least ten cars behind us on that small road all headed to catch the sunrise. Another thing to note is that there is no staff in the morning. So, to pay your entry fee, you must have cash on you, which you simply drop in an envelope available there, write your car details, and place in a dropbox. Remember to carry a pen ;)
As we arrived, we realized that Maroon Bells totally lived up to the hype, it was breathtakingly beautiful. Recently, the rules at Maroon Bells have changed and people are no longer allowed to get close to the lake. So there is a rope placed around it and you can view and take photos from outside. The entire stretch was already filled with tripods and enthusiastic photographers even at 7:00 am in the morning. It was not easy to get photos of Ari, but we still managed to get a few. After we took enough photos and soaked in the views, we took the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail, a short one mile dog friendly hike. There are a couple of dog friendly hiking options there, but dogs must be on leash at all times. Crater Lake Hike is another slightly longer dog friendly hike, but you are required to carry bear spray with you, which we didn’t know, so we had to skip it.
We went back to the hotel to rest a bit. It pretty much rained all afternoon, so we didn’t end up doing much. We had lunch at C.P. Burger, their truffle fries were awesome. Later in the evening it stopped raining, so we explored the little streets some more, took some shots for IG. It was our last evening , we were driving to Denver next morning and flying out from there.
Aspen Dog Friendly Recommendations:
Stay: Mountain Chalet Aspen
We left for Denver airport after breakfast. The drive once again was beautiful and filled with fall magic. We spotted a yellow VW camper van parked right next to a beautiful yellow tree. It screamed Instagram Op!! ;) Of course, we had to stop and get a photo. The flight back was good and Ari as always slept through most of it.
Overall, I would highly recommend visiting Colorado in fall. Its quite dog friendly and you can have great time with your dog. Although its famous for its winter season and skiing, fall is an equally magical time to visit the mountains. We would love to go back some day!