September 27, 2023
Chase's Greatest Hits to Experience in Colorado
BY: CHASE JANCEK
If you have 3 days in Colorado, we've got the greatest hits you can't miss. Chase goes back to Colorado again and again to find adventure in this colorful state. Take a look at the places she recommends and get ready to start planning your next trip to the Rocky Mountains.
Find Chase for more adventures at @chasejancek.
Of all the beautiful locations I’ve traveled to, Colorado has always remained top on my list of favorites! I have visited there more than any other place because there is something special about the Rocky Mountains that keeps me coming back again and again.
This latest trip will mark my 4th visit. On previous trips I’ve returned with countless stories and memories.
I’ve solo summitted a 14er, pushed my toughest friend to her physical limits on a blister infested hike of misery, and kissed a boy I just met on a cliffside in Colorado Springs. This state has offered me nothing but nonstop adventure from the very first time I stepped foot in it.
In an earlier article I wrote, I touted my love for solo-travel. While that is true, I think traveling with others is just as (if not more) special.
This most recent trip I decided to bring my mom along. My mom is amazing. She is not only my best friend, but also the ideal travel companion. While I am an extensive planner and organizer, she is perfectly content to sit back and go along with whatever itinerary I dream up. This dichotomy of personalities makes us the perfect travel duo. I always have an idea of things to do, and she is enthusiastic about it all.
In previous adventures we have snorkeled the Virgin Islands, ridden horseback through the mountains of Montana and ate our way through Puerto Rico and Miami. She had never been to Colorado before, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to show her everything I love about the place!
I served as her tour guide for this trip and now I extend the same service to you – if you have 3 days in Colorado and want to see some of its “greatest hits” this guide is for you!
Best Home Base: Boulder
I love to treat Boulder as the home base for my Colorado trips. It is about 30 minute drive from Denver and most things worth doing are about 1-1.5 hour drive from here. There are so many awesome places to eat and drink and many awesome hikes to be accessed from this location. Plus, the backdrop of the mountains on the city is magical.
Hiking: The Flatirons, Bear Peak (9.5 mi out & back)
Food/Things to Do: Shop Pearl Street, eat at the Boulder Teahouse, get coffee at the Laughing Goat, pastries from Boxcar Coffee Roasters, and check out the town of Golden if you have the chance! This is super close to Boulder and is the cutest lil town to wander in. I had one of the best meals of my life at Table Mountain Grill & Cantina there.
Best National Park: Rocky Mountain
For all my National Park lovers this one is for you. I love how quaint yet accessible the town of Estes Park is, it’s the perfect mountain town. Rocky Mountain National Park itself is one of the best maintained parks I have been to and has a wide variety of hiking trails all offering incredible views.
Note: The reason RMNP can be so well maintained is due to their timed entry system. This requires some pre-planning from your end to make sure you get a pass ahead of time to ensure you’re able to get into the park when you want to. (Visit Recreation.gov ahead of time!) I have screwed this up many times and forgotten to get a pass. Luckily there are some hikes outside the park that are still awesome that you can do if you forget to do this piece! Funny enough, this trip with my mom was the first time I’ve been able to get into the actual park because I FINALLY remembered to get a pass ahead of time!
Hikes: Sky Pond/Glacier Gorge (8-10 mi, loop or out & back), Lumpy Ridge (12ish mi loop), Chasm Lake (10 mi out & back)
Best Adventures: Colorado Springs
You have to check out Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. This has less intense hiking than the other locations I’ve mentioned, but it’s an absolute must see. After you spend some time hiking, I recommend doing some “touristing” and exploring Old Colorado City.
I’ve only ever eaten at a place called Front Range BBQ in the town. While I’m sure the food was good, my experience was soured by aforementioned “boy I kissed on a cliffside” who ended up being a tad insufferable and I was too busy carrying the weight of the conversation to focus on fully enjoying my food.
Hikes: Garden of the Gods (many diff trails here), Manitou Incline – A 15 min drive from CO Springs is the infamous 2,744 stair climb in Manitou Springs. Roughly 4.5 mi roundtrip, I have been meaning to do this hike but have yet to do so since, once again, I forgot to get a pass ahead of time. Be better than me, make reservations before you go and enjoy this 2,000+ ft of elevation gain on this hike!
If you've got three days in Colorado, Boulder, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Colorado Springs are definitely my top suggestions of what to see. But, Breckenridge, Georgetown, and Denver are also favorites, if you have more time. I didn’t include these locations on the greatest hits, but I would totally spend more time exploring these areas if you have the time.
Breckenridge is great in the winter if you’re into skiing/snowboarding, etc. and has the cutest downtown area to stroll with many places to eat/drink and shop. (Mi Casa Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, Clint’s Bakery and Coffee House, Blue Stag Saloon are some of my favorites!)
Georgetown is the coolest old mining town with trail access to a lot of 14ers (I did Mt. Bierstadt from here 7.5ish mi out & back) or check out the scenic views via the Georgetown Loop Railroad. I’ve seen videos of this all over TikTok and Instagram and I plan to check it out next time I’m there.
Denver is well, Denver. Tons of things to do. Stay in 11th Ave Hostel if you want a cool / inexpensive place to stay in the heart of the city. Also recommend flying in and out of DIA for your visit.
Oh, I also I remember having the best BBQ of my life at Lulu’s BBQ in Louisville, CO. So, if you find yourself near there with a craving for smoked meat, definitely give it a try!