By popular demand...

I LOVE my home state, and there are so many things people don't know about. If I wanted to cram as many of them into a week-long stay as I could, here's how I'd do it:

Spend a day or two eating and looking around Denver-- visit the Denver Art Museum, catch a show at DPAC, get dinner in Larimer Square, visit the 16th Street Mall, the Highlands, and some of the eateries from my earlier post.

Next, drive down to Colorado Springs through the Garden of the Gods and visit our boys in blue at the US Air Force Academy. For a grande finale to your day, treat yourself to a night at the Flying W Ranch-- with singing cowboys, dirt roads, spurs and horses, the West doesn't get much more Western than this; the show is funny, the food is good, and the place -- well -- it's just a bit of magic.  It doesn't have the best vegetarian options, but it never disappoints.

Stay at the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort (not to be confused with infamous the mental institute). Circa 1891, it was built by the extremely wealthy brother of Senator Penrose after he amassed a mining fortune in Cripple Creek Colorado. With skiing, skating, (it's where the U.S. Hockey team and figure skating teams train), Olympic sized pools, a spa, golf, shows, etc., you're sure to be entertained. When we were kids, they had a family deal around the holidays and all of us would cram into one or two rooms. We got high tea every day and a visit with Santa Clause. Considering there were 11 kids, it was an extraordinarily reasonable though squished mini vacation. Try to sucker them into letting you stay in the old hotel. But where ever you stay, it is a wonderful treat.

Within Colorado's Rocky Mountains are over a dozen different mountain ranges.  Situated in the Wet Mountain Range is Bishop's Castle, monumental deathtrap if one ever existed but one worth seeing. Next to Crazy Horse in South Dakota, it is the largest monument or structure made by a single man in the United States.  Jim Bishop is known to be quite the character, so be forewarned

For lunch, take a picnic with you to Le Veta Pass. You can pack one before or pick up fixings at the market on main street in down town Le Veta. A few days a week, there is a fantastic bakery open too, but the days change, so ask around. While you're in town, check out some of the galleries. The art is beautiful. The people are friendly. It's like Aspen, 50 years ago.

I would continue down Highway 160. It is a little treacherous, but one of the most beautiful drives in the world. Stay in Pagosa Springs that night. Oprah loves it and you will too.  They have everything from super decked out spas to low end hotels, all with access to their hot springs.  The next morning, continue to Mesa Verde State Park. You will find elaborate cliff dwellings. Very rightfully a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the most amazing things you will ever see.


Next, go skiing! Telluride, Silverton and Durango Mountain will be some of your closer options. It will take a whole day to drive to Aspen, Vail, Crested Butte, Winter Park/Mary Jane, Steamboat (the BEST snow), Arapaho Basin, Copper Mountain (one of my family's go-to spots) or some of the hills further North. But we will save skiing and other mountain adventures for Part III. For now, you have something to chew on.