Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Few Nights in Longmont, CO

It was a short drive North of Denver to our next destination, St Vrain State Park in Longmont, CO. Longmont sits on the Western edge of the plains of Colorado, not quite bumping up against the foothills of the Rockies.

For our first outing we drove about 20 miles NW of our campground to hike at Rabbit Mountain. Once again, we were trying to avoid muddy trails because we were still getting afternoon thunderstorms and this was one of the few nearby open spaces that didn't list trails closed due to mud. We did end up with some pretty muddy conditions, but still enjoyed the views into the Rocky Mountains.

A view over a rocky escarpment from the Eagle Wind Loop.
Rabbit Mountain parking lot is visible next to the canal.

The Rockies are a sunlit line of white peaks above the foothills.

Sunday was my birthday and I was excited to spend it in nearby Boulder, CO. I just love spending my birthday in a different location each year! After a fantastic, huge breakfast made by Hans, we got an early start on the day due to anticipated Sunday crowds and temps forecasted into the 80's.

Eldorado Canyon State Park was our destination (see how much we are using our Colorado State Parks Pass...it's been well worth the $70 fee). It's a very popular park so we were very pleased to make it to the trail head by 8:15am. Our seven mile out and back hike on the Eldorado Canyon Trail included several steep up and down sections so we were happy to have cloud cover for the first hour or so. The early start also gave us an almost solitary hike out, but on our return the Sunday crowds were apparent as we passed dozens of people just starting out in the full sun and growing heat.

There's lot of switchbacks up from the canyon floor, opening up vistas into the Rockies.
The red building is a private home.

South Boulder Creek slicing through a canyon was our turn around point.

Downtown Denver could actually be seen from Eldorado Canyon.

This area is a rock climbers heaven.
On our return we could see those daring souls clinging to the rock faces...

Let's take a little closer look...see the person in the crevice below the rock spine?

Now you can see him!

Driving out we saw dozens of people on the steep rock walls,
this one was especially cute!

After our hike we had a delcious lunch of tapas and salad at The Med.
Then a stroll through the lively downtown plaza...a perfect birthday!

Yesterday we drove to Boulder once again for a short hike near the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Miles and miles of trails can be accessed all along the foothills of Boulder. NCAR was a good place to start because after our hike we strolled through their free exhibits and learned a lot about weather and climate change.

We had a bit of excitement on this hike...Hans did a little dance when he heard this guy rattling just off the trail.
He was not the least bit happy to see us, and was kind of hard to hear due to all the crickets buzzing around us too!

The dramatic Flatirons dominate the Western view from Boulder.

Great information and displays about Earth's climate at NCAR.
Lots of school groups on a Monday though.

As a former Computer Operations Manager, Hans was excited to see a Cray 1 on display.
That's the first computer system he worked with back in 1980.
Looks like something out of Star Wars, doesn't it?

We slipped back in to Denver one last time before we got too far away. The Royal Aces, a surf band, played at The Beer Depot and John and Pam met us there for one last hurrah before we part ways for many months.

Campground Review

We spent four nights at St Vrain State Park. Half of the sites are full hook ups with gravel roads and paved pads, picnic tables and BBQ pits. The other half of the sites are electric only, fully paved roads and sites, picnic tables and BBQ pits. The electric-only section has pit toilets and one central restroom facility with flush toilets and paid showers. All sites are well separated. Though the park does not have wifi, our Verizon signal was excellent. There are a couple of miles of trails in this park and fishing is allowed.

We stayed in the full hookup section in site 66 and had a pond 30 feet from our door. The good things about this park are the views of the ponds and the mountains, and there are lots of birds. But there were a couple of negatives: the freeway is only a quarter mile away so it is a constant background roar. Also, Greeley, CO is just Northwest of Longmont and when the wind blows the wrong way the stench of cattle fills the air. Lastly, the mosquitos are just beginning to come out. They weren't terrible yet, but still...

Be mindful of the speed limit throughout the park, there is a ranger that actually uses radar to make sure people are doing the 15mph speed limit. We didn't get a ticket, but we did get a talking to for going about 20 - 25mph.

If we were to stay here again we'd probably choose to stay in the electric-only section and as far from the freeway as possible. There are some really beautiful sites in that section.

Our site, #66.
The shade cover was perfectly placed to give us afternoon shade.

Another view of our site from the pond trail.

On a clear day you can see miles and miles of the Rockies to the West.
On the left you can see some of the waterfront sites in the electric-only section.

Waterfront site #30 in the electric-only section.

Western Meadowlark on our TV antenna.

We're off to our last stop in Colorado, Boyd Lake State Park.


  1. Great post Lisa. I lived in that area in the mid-70s.

    1. It sure is a beautiful area, especially in the Spring!

  2. Left Hand Brewing in Longmont was one of the best breweries we visited.

    1. I had that on my to do list but the timing was never right. Darn it!

  3. Love the hikes! Such sweeping, wide-open views. Perfect way to spend a birthday I'd say! (Oh, and happy birthday!)

    1. Thanks! Hiking in a beautiful area, walking in a cute town...that is absolutely a perfect way to spend a birhtday!

  4. Happy Birthday Lisa!

    Those are some beautiful hikes and I am definitely hooked on the Colorado state parks. I am hoping next year can be a "travel" year for us...might just follow your footprints from this year. The only draw back would be the stormy/rainy weather. Safe travels....

    1. Thank you!

      SInce this was an unusually wet spring next year could easily be less wet!

  5. Happy Happy Birthday Lisa - a bit late I know. Really enjoyed this post. Your pictures are fantastic, well except for the rattler. I'd be doing a bit of a dance too I think. Thanks for the info on the campground and advice. Does your park pass get you any sort of discount on the camping fees? As I recall, they are pretty steep with no weekly rates. I hadn't thought mosquitoes would be a problem in Colorado. Seems like it would be a nice place to spend an entire summer with so much to see in the state, but mosquitoes.....ugg.

    1. Thank you!

      Colorado State Parks charges the daily entrance fee as well as the daily camping fee. The daily entrance fee is waived if you by the annual pass. The daily entrance fee ranges from $7 - $9 per day!

  6. Happy Birthday! Looks like a great one.

  7. Happy belated birthday! I love the picture of Hans with the Cray. I remember when we got our first machine, it was so cool looking. Great hiking pictures. It's surprising to me that there are mosquitoes.

  8. Sounds like the perfect birthday. Last stop in Colorado, so soon? Safe travels.

  9. Happy Birthday Lisa! Looks like you finally got some weather to celebrate with you. We were in Site 66 too!

    1. Too funny!

      The sun is nice...but very hot! Seems we jumped right into summer!

  10. I smiled when I saw Hans pic pointing at a Cray1. Looked like Hans and Steve had the same job before!

    1. Yes, those two had quite similar career trajectories!

  11. Wishing you a wonderful birthday, Lisa, and another happy year of travel and adventures! Looks like you had a perfect day. :-) I agree, it's really fun to spend birthdays in different places on the road. Makes for very special memories.

  12. Looks like some nice hikes. It was great to finally get a clear day so the snowy Rockies could be viewed. There have been clouds hanging over them since we arrived until Tuesday. I'm kind of glad we decided to head east for the summer. The snakes are really coming out. Thank goodness none of our sightings have been rattlers. That was a great photo!!

    Safe travels! It was so nice to have some time catching up and hiking together:)