Rocky Mountain High – Pike’s Peak Cog Railway

In the final hours of our sibling bachelor party weekend for my younger brother we found ourselves in the Manitou Springs area of Colorado after driving through Garden of the Gods National Park.  We attempted to drive up Pike’s Peak and were stopped at the main gate due to snow.  We decided to see if the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway was running and by golly it was.

Pike’s Peak boasts one of the oldest and highest “cog railways” in the United States.  (They are, it seems, jealous of New Hampshire’s cog train.) Riders can buy a relatively expensive ticket ($37) at the depot whilst enjoying some delicious roasted nuts and hot chocolate.  (I say hot chocolate because the coffee was terrible and cold. Boo.)

Big Horn Sheep, Yellow Bellied Marmots, Deer, Elk, and Bears live on Pike’s Peak and can be seen on the ride unless it is snowing!  As an alternative riders can relax and watch the beautiful rocky scenery go by as they are climbing/chugging/cogging up to 14,115 feet above sea level.  One will see gorgeous pine trees, waterfalls, aspen trees, and eventually a blank wild land too high to sustain much vegetation.  (I was slightly worried when I read the sign that said not to ride the train if you were pregnant, prone to heart disease, had difficulty breathing, etc etc etc.  I was worried I might not do well in the altitude but I felt great the entire time.)

The ride was about three hours with a thirty minute stop along the way.  Bring your jacket, gloves, and hat because the train is not heated and many of the passengers choose to open the windows for better photo taking.  Please remember to be a kind human and shut said window if your seat mates are getting hammered by the snow coming in through your window.  (Thank you!)

Have you ever taken an interesting train ride anywhere?  Have you ever ridden a cog train?


Pike’s Peak Cog Train Depot


Map in the depot


“All aboard!”


Tickets, hot chocolate, and a window seat!


Ever wondered what a cog looks like in the snow?


We are climbing!


A view from hanging out the window in the snow.



Just your friendly snow plow at aprox 9,000 feet elevation.  PacMan is going to eat that snow for dinner.


Still climbing


Snowing and cold but we were able to de-train (is that a word?) and walk around before heading back down the mountain.


Cold Feet

To read more about my Rocky Mountain adventures click here…

Rocky Mountain High – Garden of the Gods National Park

On our last day in Denver we attempted to head to Vail.  I have always had grand visions of Vail being the Cannes or the Paris of Colorado.  Since it hadn’t rained in recent memory here in California we thought it would be fun to visit the snow.  We managed to get about fifteen minutes outside of Denver before it started to snow pretty hard.  We knew we would never make it to Vail and back, in the snow, by the time we needed to catch our flight.  Alas, Vail will remain a mystery to me still.  We re-routed our drive south to the Garden of the Gods National Park near Colorado Springs.

The park was lovely.  It is reasonably small and reasonably free.  😉  One can start their visit at a wonderful little visitor’s center with a lovely gift shop and café.  The rain was coming down in buckets which made photography difficult.  But, my brothers were good sports stopping the car at every pullout and helping me keep my camera dry.  My socks were wet but my excitement was high.

Since it is still the off season there were very few tourists in the park which made it even better.  Better to take photos and view the sites.  better to make erratic movements to pull the vehicle over because your sister is pointing and yelling “Stop!”

Have you been to any great National Parks in Colorado?  What about Utah?  (I see a lot of resemblances here between the rock/geology in Utah and Colorado…)

For more about Garden of the Gods


One of the first views when entering the park on Juniper loop from the visitor’s center.


After a soggy walk I viewed some beautiful “fins”.


Balanced rock.  Interesting how our country allows for a road right through the middle of a natural wonder.


I wasn’t kidding about the rain.

To read about my other Rocky Mountain Adventures click here…

Rocky Mountain High – Fort Collins, Colorado – New Belgium, Odell, and Cooper Smiths Breweries

After Visiting Rocky Mountain National Park for the day my brothers and I decided to get refreshed in Fort Collins.  As previously mentioned you can’t walk five feet without stumbling upon a Pub, Tap Room, or some beer related establishment.  So, we took a quick tour of New Belgium and Odell Brewery before they closed and wound up at Cooper Smiths for dinner.  New Belgium and Odell’s were packed, I mean, packed with people who love beer or people who were just out enjoying the nice weather with their families.  These breweries are family and pet friendly and do everything they can to encourage visitors to stick around a while.

New Belgium has a self guided tour that takes you through their philosophy and beer making mantra.  Its an enjoyable walk while you enjoy your beer.  I love that they provide beer coasters as postcards you can send to all of your friends and family free of charge.  They even pay the postage.  The environment is electric.  Pick up a hula hoop, pet people’s dogs who are allowed inside the facility, sit a while in the New Belgium camper, or people watch the new age folks doing yoga on the lawn.  Oh, and drink some beer.

Odell’s didn’t have as much pomp and circumstance as New Belgium.  Well, maybe it did.  They had food trucks and a band.  It was just a different more festival vibe. But still, I was amazed at how many people were at this brewery and how many of them brought their young children.

Next we went in to town and enjoyed dinner at Cooper Smiths after walking around for probably thirty minutes trying to decide upon the perfect place.  Finally, worn down to the point the three of us didn’t care any more we figured we would stick with the theme and go to another brewery with food.

Have you been on any interesting brewery tours?  What’s your favorite beer or brewery?


New Belgium


New Belgium Tap Room


New Belgium Outside Patio


Self Powered Beer tour.  Sign me up!


Sit and relax a while in the New Belgium trailer with your glass of beer.


Campy little “Snap Shot” display.




Odell’s Storefront


Odell’s Tap Room


Cooper Smith


A little pie and Apple sauce to go with your beer

For other Rocky Mountain posts please click here…

Rocky Mountain National Park



As previously mentioned my brothers and I visited Denver to spend the weekend together celebrating one of their impending weddings this summer.  We enjoyed a baseball game at the Rockies stadium and a short sidestep to the Mork and Mindy house.  Our next stop was Rocky Mountain National Park.

The park is approximately an hour and a half outside of Denver.  The elevation is “Rocky Mountain high” which means fewer trees but no shortage of lovely views.  It also means one gets out of breath practically climbing out of their car.  But perhaps I just need to exercise more…The weather was cool and snowy in parts.

We viewed Big Horn Sheep, Elk, Coyotes/Wolf, and Deer.  The wildlife was ample and the number of visitors was low.  It seems the high season is in the warmer weather months which was lucky for us.  We encountered a number of intrepid visitors at Bear Lake where a short walk provided the visitor with a lovely frozen lake view.  People were skiing, snowboarding, and snow shoeing.  We managed to slip and slide our way there just in tennis shoes.

A highlight for me, rather randomly, was the Rocky Mountain National Park visitors center.  It boasted lovely lines and architecture that seemed peculiar to me for being a government building.  While wandering around reading plaques I realized the interesting architecture was because a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright created the building.

What’s your favorite National Park in Colorado or anywhere for that matter?  Has anyone visited any lovely Frank Lloyd Wright properties they particularly enjoyed?  I hope to see many more in my lifetime!



Stanley House on the way to the park



It’s still winter in Colorado for sure.  Not a spring flower to be seen anywhere.


The animals do not seem to be too afraid of the visitors.


Bear Lake.


Frank Lloyd Wright inspired visitor’s center

If you enjoyed this post you might enjoy my other Rocky Mountain Posts…

Rocky Mountain High – Mork and Mindy House

As previously mentioned in my prior post my brothers and I recently traveled to Denver in celebration of one of their upcoming weddings.  All of us have fond childhood memories of watching Mork and Mindy on television.  As we traveled through Boulder, Colorado we thought it sounded like a good idea to look up the house.   The house appears to be privately owned and no evidence shows it did or has anything to do with the television show.  However, thanks to a google search we found it and got a kick out of driving by and taking a photo and stretching our legs.

Has anyone else made any quirky stops like this when they were en route somewhere else?  I love looking places like this up along your planned route.  Sometimes, it winds up being more interesting than the place you intended on visiting all along.  I would love to hear your stories…


See my other Rocky Mountain Posts if you are interested…

Rocky Mountain High And Ball Park Hot Dogs

In honor of my youngest brother’s impending summer nuptials both my brothers and I embarked on a “sibling bachelor party” weekend trip.   Much negotiation commenced on location of said trip.  We ultimately decided upon Denver.  Two of us had never been there for more than a layover and tickets were cheap!  With John Denver songs running through my mind it sounded like a brilliant idea.

Upon arriving to Denver we set out for a pub downtown.  (When you mention Denver to anyone they will regale you of stories of awesome tap rooms.)  We set out for a tap room called the Great Divide and immediately noticed a cultural shift between Colorado and California.  No food in Tap Rooms…and we were hungry.  We wound up next door at The Lobby where we had some fun food and great beer.

We next checked in to our hotel and began to explore the downtown.  We set out walking and saw any number of attractive buildings and interesting architecture.  We walked by The Mint and the Federal Reserve.  The Capitol.  The large art museum/slash Monty Python looking castle.  Ton of government buildings…

And finally Coors Park.  One of the two reasons we came.  The brothers and I took in a Colorado Rockies versus San Francisco Giants game.  Thank you Colorado for being good sports whilst we walked through your town bundled up in Giants gear.  Thank you for startling me anytime the Giants made a bad play.  (I have never been to a Baseball Park where the home team was not the one I was rooting for.)  Every time I clapped they booed and every time they stood up and clapped and high fived I was confused.

Cool town.  Cool beer.  Cool stadium.  Cool time with my brothers.

Stay Tuned for the second reason we came to the Denver area and a few fun extras because we had more time than we anticipated…


Tater Tot lunch at The Lobby in Denver



Random art throughout the city.


The Mint provides tours if you have a reservation


More interesting public art




Siblings downtown


Federal Reserve has a free small museum


Federal Reserve gives away free money.  You can test your hand at making your own money.


Coors Park Rock Pile



Lovely murals at Coors Park


Sunset at Coors Park



One must try the hot dogs at every major league park one visits