Our first glimpse of Colorado gold – Breckenridge

Last spring when my good friend Ingrid learned we would be back in Colorado this fall, she quickly whipped up a list of “must see and do” mountain towns along our proposed route.  As a welcome reminder, she recently posted her favorite mountain towns and added even more places that piqued our interest.

Thankfully we listened to this Colorado gal, for the two stops we made along I-70 in the Rocky Mountains offered our first glimpse of the aspen’s golden shimmering leaves. Those of you who have driven RV’s on I-70 know it’s a scenic drive for the passenger, but not so much for the busy driver, who is trying to avoid frying the brakes and/or transmission on those major grades.

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It should read “Truckers and drivers of motorhomes and vehicles pulling other RV’s!”

Steve had to focus on the road as we traversed the Rockies and several construction zones, while I was busy snapping away at the gorgeous scenery.  Our first mountain town stop was at Breckenridge, located at the base of the Tenmile Range at an elevation of 9,600 ft.

Breckenridge Ski Resort

The peaks around Breckenridge are nestled among a host of Colorado’s famous “14ers.”

Nothing says “autumn” in Colorado quite like the side of a mountain covered in the stunning leafy gold of aspen trees, and at this elevation they were changing colors daily right outside our door.

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Enjoying the fabulous leaf peeping, we just happened to be in town at the right time to check out their annual Oktoberfest celebration.  It was a fun event, and several revelers donned German outfits and brought their own steins for frequent refills.

Octoberfest 2015 Breckenridge

A beer, a pretzel and perhaps some German folks?  We had a great time at this big party!

Colorado’s famous high country aspen reliably turn gold beginning the second week of September through the first week of October.  And the quaking aspens were aglow as we drove along the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway toward Leadville and then made a detour to Lake County airport.  Steve had heard about the highest-elevation airport in the U.S. at over 9,900 ft., and he was pleasantly surprised to discover we were close enough that he could stop by to check it out.

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Leadville Airport

With a spring in his step, he was on top of the world!

As one might imagine, Colorado has countless top-notch hiking trails surrounded by natural beauty, and while at Breckenridge we hiked two of the three we were hoping to complete.

We started with an easy hike at Hoosier Pass Loop, but it was miserably cold and started raining so we aborted that one early and left after getting a photo at the Continental Divide.  But we did complete the other two hikes – a “must do” at McCullough Gulch Trail and a section of the extensive Colorado Trail that we were able to access right out of our campground, Tiger Run RV Resort (Steve’s review here).

Continental Divide at Hoosier Pass

Those dark clouds behind me conspired to thwart this hike, and no time for a re-attempt

Colorado Trail –

Just a short walk from Betsy was an access point to the 500-mile Colorado Trail (we didn’t do all of it 😉 ).  We followed switchbacks up the hill behind the RV park and enjoyed beautiful views of the area below.  This trail took us through several miles of forests and meadows while providing great views of Tenmile Range and Mt. Quandary, one of the 14ers.

Tiger Run RV Resort

Those switchbacks are the access to the Colorado Trail, right out of our RV park

Quandary Peak

Viewed from the trail, Quandary Peak, the highest summit of the Tenmile Range at 14,271′

Tiger Run RV Resort

Looking back at our campground – Tiger Run RV Resort

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One mile done, 499 to go!

Aspen Gold

Aspen gold at our feet

McCullough Gulch Trail –

On another day we followed the McCullough Gulch Trail, considered a hike with elements of quintessential Colorado landscape.  This trail meandered through evergreen forests and meadows, and past waterfalls to finally end at an alpine lake at the base of Quandary Peak.  There were some challenging sections in this 5+ mile roundtrip trek with an 800-foot elevation gain.  The scenery was so gorgeous I don’t think you could take a bad picture here, and my camera was in overdrive.  So much beauty to capture and take in, it was definitely one of our top hikes of the year!

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Blue Reservoir

Blue Reservoir framed by 14,265′ Quandary Peak

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Here’s where we had lunch

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Steve was repeatedly awestruck on this hike

And there’s more gold at our next stop!

 

Next up:  Colorado’s Top Gems