Colorado Family Road Trip 2018

What an adventure! We spent a week down in Westcliffe Colorado on a dude ranch. We started out on the road after work and made a few stops along the way. We also had a great time on multiple excursions such as white water rafting, horseback riding, and other exciting things around colorado.

Thursday July 19th we took off from St. Cloud Minnesota and our first stop was at Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa.We had stopped here once before and really had a great time. The hotel connected to the casino was very nice and as you took the path to walk to the casino it was staged like a little town inside with different shops and restaurants to eat at. This casino was unique as it was actually on a boat! Taking the path down to the water was different then the first time were were there as the water was low so we had to walk a longer path instead of going straight on the boat. The casino had two floors and was long and narrow. We woke up bright and early and ate the continental breakfast so we did not try out any of the restaurants between the hotel and the casino.

We were then in route to Sterling colorado where we were meeting up with the rest of our group that had left later than us. On our way there we were looking for a fun place to eat! We pulled off on the Ogallala exit in Nebraska. As we exited we saw this fun old saloon with a museum and a place to eat. The restaurant was called Front Street Steakhouse & Crystal Palace Saloon. It had a classic saloon feel and the menu was right on point. I did a little research as I LOVE food and rocky mountain oysters were a must try in Nebraska and Colorado. If you might ask, yes we knew what they were, but we had to try them! THe food was great, we took a few fun pictures, and were on our way! Sterling was a small town in the middle of nowhere. WHen you look at Colorado, the upper right is mostly farmland. If taking a road trip through Colorado, I would suggest driving down highway 25 and more of the western part of the state as there are far more things to do.

We woke up the next morning and traveled right to Colorado Springs. We were really looking forward to to spending time here as there were so many wonderful things to see. Our first stop was Garden of the Gods. Pulling up you could see the beautiful rock formations. We had grabbed a map from our hotel but there was a visitors center you could also get one at before you entered the garden. There were so many of us so it was hard to stay together. With limited parking and multiple windy roads our large group split apart right away. It was fun driving and hiking through the red rocks and seeing all of the unique paths. You could spend days at the gardens as it was so large! There was a huge gift shop with a small walk up restaurant that you could order burgers, shakes, and much more! We spent some time walking around and looking at the unique gifts. We then headed off into Colorado Springs to eat at The Skirted Heifer. I had researched places to go on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and heard it was a great burger place. This place is always packed but worth the wait! We watched them bring in fresh hamburger to be pattied and as they were finished making our burgers they top the burger with a bunch of cheese that creates a “skirt”. With our stomachs full we headed to check into our hotel. After checking in and relaxing for a quick second, we were eager to find a new adventure. We quickly headed off to Helen Hunt Falls for an evening hike. What was nice about these falls was that the main waterfall was at the beginning of the hike so if you were unable to make a large hike it was beautiful right from the start. Our group hiked to the top where we found an amazing view tucked in between a bunch of mountains. We took a few pictures and headed down. It was not quite dark yet and the road we took to the falls had over ten pull offs spots to park and look around and check out the views. One of the pull offs we stopped at we all decided to climb as far up the rocks as we could as fast as we could. Sounds so small and undetailed but it was one of my favorite moments on the trip. It was so unexpected and I remember standing on the tallest part of the mountain I could reach and thinking how blessed I was to be in Colorado. Hiking down was just as fun as going up. Around five of us found a fun and we laughed all the way down. That night some went out to a few breweries. I chose to stay in and play around with the newest member of our family we get to see three to four times a year, Kenadi. We woke up the next day we woke up and headed to Pikes Peak. We got to the entrance pretty early and there was already a line out onto the road. After paying and starting the drive up the mountain the views were nothing short of amazing right away. What was unique about this excursion was there were different pull off points all the way up so if you wanted to stop and take in the views you could. At 13,000 feet was a gift shop and a cool look out point. This is also where you could either take your car up (depending on if there was room) or take the bus up. I decided to stay back and take the ride back down with my grandma. Spending time with her was pretty special and we had so much fun. We bought fudge before we left the top and ate it all the way down. As we waited for the rest of the group to come down we found a really cool restaurant called Mildred’s Cafe. They had classic shakes and hand cut french fries. There were also a few shops next to the cafe that we checked out. One that included an oxygen bar! Later that afternoon we scheduled a fun game of laser tag at Battlefield Colorado. You can have a few people and play with others or fill the whole laser tag battlefield. The setting was so unique. It was an old lumber yard that had partially burned down. It also had different army carts and pallets to hide behind. The game lasted a long time and every round there was a different objective. After leaving it was nice to relax back at the hotel.

We were able to get into our home monday at 3:00 PM so we took off in the morning and stopped at this really cool hike to a rock you could jump off of. One of our family member read about it in an app they were using so we had to check it out. It was about a mile walk in and once you got out there it was pretty incredible but seriously dangerous. As some decided to jump off the rock I stayed back to take picture. Most said they touched bottom and to me that was a little freaky. We headed back and wanted to check out the Royal Gorge. I remember going here as a kid and it was all open the only thing you had to pay for was to go across the gorge on a tram. When we arrived it was all parking lot and fenced off. You had to pay $27 dollars a person just to even see the gorge. Honestly that was a major turn off to me. In my opinion you should be able to enjoy a bit of a view and not have to pay. There were around thirty of us so we decided to go out onto a lookout point where you couldn’t see the river running through but it was good enough for us. We then headed to the house to check in. Red Rock Ranch was located in Westcliffe Colorado. The beautiful ranch had three homes that could be rented separately or all together. We filled all three homes. They were beautiful and authentic! Exactly what we were looking for. We spent the rest of the day enjoying our ranch home and checking out the cool things it had to offer.

We took a day and headed out to go white water rafting with Arkansas River Tours. This was the first time I had ever been white water rafting. What was cool about these tours is that they could accommodate to our large group. We paired up with seven others and hopped on a raft. It was so much fun and the guides were so amazing. We wish we would have signed up for the longer raft option as you got to head right into the gorge to hit level five rapids! When we got back we got to see a bunch of unexpected pictures photographers took on our ride down.

On our third day at the house we reached out to a local ranch and we were able to go on a horse ride. Other family members had been on horse rides and were not as impressed with. This was definitely a ride to remember. The team paired us up with the horse that fit our riding style and weight the best. We were also able to bring our 80 year old grandpa along. We were brought all the way through the mountains and the trails were amazing. It was the real deal that is for sure!

The next few days were spent enjoying our ranch, swimming in the pool, relaxing, and playing cards. We headed back and made a quick pit stop through Denver to drop off one of our fellow travelers. We then drove all the way home, not stopping anywhere. This trip was definitely one for the books! I would absolutely go back to Colorado.



  1. Yes same!!!

  2. This was so much fun! Wish we could go back!

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