Picture this, senior year of college spring break, the entire senior class going to Punta Cana, and I end up in Colorado. Let me be clear, this was one hundred percent by choice. You probably think I’m crazy choosing snow over sand, but I’m not, I just love the snow.
So my friend and I decided to divert from the norm and head to the Southwest for an adventure, and what an adventure it was. I had never been to Colorado before, or any midwest state for that matter, so I was beyond thrilled to go. We split up our trip into two, Denver for the first half, and Crested Butte for the second.
READ: Best Small Towns to Visit on a Road Trip Across America
Never heard of Crested Butte? Neither had I, but I’d found a great hotel on Groupon (we were poor college students) and there you have it.
I’ve never been to a more unique city than Denver.
First of all, it was early March and we were walking around in shorts and tee shirts. I was pretty bummed about that because I thought Colorado was supposed to be cold and I wanted cold, again not crazy, just love Winter. However, it did make for great roaming weather. With no agenda, we were free to wander wherever we wanted. Usually, when I go on vacation, I go with my family, and we always have a plan, there are activities, reservations that are made way in advance, and early wake-up calls. All of that is great in its own way, but heading someplace with no real plan and winging it provided its own unique experience, and I recommend everyone try it.
Why is Denver unique?
Right now the city is going through many phases of gentrification, buildings are emerging, companies are growing, and people are coming. It is home to an increasing homeless population. The good and bad parts of the city are one in the same. And of course, weed is legal.
As we walked, I marveled in the city’s architecture, the people’s friendliness, and the unrushed pace of life. Entirely different than the east coast cities, especially New York City. Despite it being the opposite of the cities I know, I couldn’t help but embrace the differences, wishing some of its qualities would transfer over to the east.
As we idled at a stoplight on our way out of the city, the outline of the mountains emerged. It truly blew my mind that while we were in such an urban environment, the open wilderness was so close.
The main reason I wanted to go to Colorado was for the mountains. These mountain towns are totally different from where I grew up and I will never get tired of discovering different ways of life. We drove the four hours from Denver to Crested Butte and the scenery completely blew me away. Snow began appearing, mountains kept emerging, and the temperatures started plummeting. About halfway, we stopped, literally on the side of the road, and decided to explore. We hiked on untouched snow, inhaled beautifully clean air, and truly embraced the Rocky Mountains.
I was completely in awe as we wandered. Everything was perfect, the snow of the ground, the towering trees, the unbelievable views, everything. Standing on top of this mountain the view overwhelmed me. I had never seen such an unbelievable sight. The sheer vastness of the sight reminded me of how big the world is and how much I have yet to see.
Continuing on the journey I was able to see people, places, and things I had never before. I was truly experiencing everything for the first time, and it was amazing. We drove for miles and miles with nothing in sight, it was just us and the open road, much different than I-80, and in my opinion much better. Finally, a little town emerged at the bottom of a glorious mountain.
Crested Butte is a quintessential ski town. Little restaurants with great food, tiny shops, and a lot of snow. What makes this town so desirable, is the mountain. Unbeknownst to me and my friend we ended up skiing during a wind advisory. It was like skiing in a snowglobe. The snow was so thick I couldn’t even see my skies as they sliced through the powder. Powder!!!! I’ve only ever skied in the east so usually, I’m skiing on ice or artificial snow, so let’s just say that first run down the mountain was a game changer.
I think I could have skied for days. It never got old, it never got boring, and it never lost its excitement. Trading in our skies for snowshoes we explored trails and once again found marvelous sights. Remember our Groupon hotel? It was unbelievable. The people were friendly and the accommodations were marvelous…I highly recommend the Elevation Hotel & Spa. I was genuinely sad to leave this little ski town. I was going to miss the mountains, the views, and the way of life.
We drove through the night to make our flight at seven the next morning (I know not the smartest thing). As I drove through the pitch black I decided on one word that described my adventures: incredible.
Thanks for the memories Colorado, and don’t worry I’ll be back!
About the Author: Amanda Alcamo
“I’m a twenty-two-year-old Boston College graduate, who is currently living in New York, and trying to Stay Swell while I figure it out!”
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