When we told friends that we were spending our wedding anniversary camping at Dinosaur National Monument in Northwest Colorado, most of them looked at us in confusion. After all, a monument is just a rock in the ground erected in memory of a person or historical event, right? Yes, but a National Monument is so much more.
A National Monument is a federally protected area that is similar to a National Park. Colorado has eight National Monuments and so far we’ve visited five.
Located in both Utah and Colorado and best known for its dinosaur bones and petroglyphs, we did not visit Dinosaur National Monument to see dinos, although we did hope to catch site of a pterodactyl flying over our campsite. Kidding, of course, although Echo Park did have a sort of Jurassic Park type of feel.
This camping trip was inspired by two books that Ryan and I listened to on Audible earlier this year: Beyond the 100th Meridian by Wallace Stegner (1954) and The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko (2014). While different, these two books both highlight the exploration of the Colorado River by John Wesley Powell, an expedition that brought him through the area that is now Dinosaur National Monument.
We hadn’t camped in years, but decided that because of the remoteness of this park, we’d dust off the camping gear and reacquaint our old dog (Xena) with tent living. Dogs are allowed in National Monument campgrounds, but not on all trails – please follow the rules.
We arrived at the Canyon Visitors Center, on the Colorado side of the park, around 4 PM. After chatting with the friendly ranger, we headed over to the Loaf & Jug in Dinosaur (about 3 minutes from the Visitors Center) for firewood. Echo Park Campground doesn’t always have campfire wood available so it’s best to bring your own.
The drive into Echo Park Campground from Canyon Visitors Center is about an hour, although GoogleMaps had put it at two; it’s 30 minutes to the turn off and 30 minutes down a rutted road that winds through some spectacular scenery constantly switching between scenic overlooks and lush grottos. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended by the park service and please note that a severe rain storm will cause this road to become impassable.
Echo Park is a riverside meadow filled with cottonwoods and surrounded by soaring rock walls. To say that it is awe-inspiring would be an understatement – anyone who has visited will tell you that it’s enchanted.
This site is at the confluence of the Yampa River and Green River and it’s where John Wesley Powell’s Expedition stopped for a few days during June in 1869.
The campground has 17 tent sites and when we arrived early Thursday evening, all the treed sites where taken so we settled for a site with little wind protection, but an incredible view.
There are vault toilet facilities at the campground and water, although I’d still advise packing your own water. The sites are $10 per night and all but the four walk-in sites have fire pits. Group sites are also available, but must be reserved in advance.
We enjoyed a peaceful, albeit windy camping trip at Echo Park. The wind came up around noon on our second day and we escape it by heading out on a short canyon walk where we were protected from the tempest that nearly broke our tent poles.
We were happy to learn that we had retained our camping skills and whipped up some delicious meals including a sausage tin foil dinner and hot roast beef and provolone sandwiches. Tin foil is a camp chef’s best friend.
The dog was in her element. She has always wished that we permanently lived in a tent.
I’ll share more about this trip in upcoming posts, including a post about hiking in Dinosaur National Monument and exploring the Utah side of the park – that’s where they keep the dinosaurs.
Visit Dinosaur National Monument online: www.nps.gov/dino/index.htm
Loveland, Colorado is a great place for a car show. After all, downtown is a bit of a throwback, which works perfectly as a setting for retro cars (pre-1976), terrific tunes, cold beer and pin-up girls.
We made it to the first annual Hot Cars Cool Nights last year and had lots of fun checking out the cars. Eventually we parked ourselves on the patio at Mo’Betta Gumbo, ate po’boys and watched the crowds go by.
That’s what’s great about Hot Cars Cool Nights, you can simply take your time and enjoy the experience of being in downtown Loveland.
The main event at this festival is the car show. I’m not sure how many cars were shown last year, but this year they’ve capped the amount of cars allowed at 300.
In 2015, I saw lots of different types of vehicles including traditional hot rods and some interesting custom rides.I’m a sucker for the old cars like the 1955 Chevy Bel Air, which make me think of road trips and drive-ins.
In addition to the car show there’s a Pin-Up Contest, because a car show just isn’t complete without a few pretty girls strutting their stuff. Contestants are encouraged to dress up in vintage clothes and wear retro hairstyles.
And of course there’s live, rockabilly music, food and a beer garden featuring local craft beers.
New this year is the Rockin’ Downtown Beer Tour. It’s just $5 to participate in this walking tour of local breweries from 6 to 9 p.m. on the evening of the festival.
This event is family-friendly and there will be activities for the kids. In fact, they will even be allowed to vote for their favorite car in the Children’s People’s Choice Award. Grown ups get to vote for the People’s Choice Award.
Whether you come for the cars, the girls or the beer, it’s sure to be a good time at Hot Cars Cool Nights in Loveland, Colorado.
This event is produced by The Forge, a longstanding and nationally recognized Loveland custom restoration shop.
Hot Cars Cool Nights
June 4, 2016
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
West 4th Street & N. Railroad Avenue
To learn more, register your car or sign up for the pin-up contest visit:
Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? EmailTheMayor@HeidiTown.com.
I get asked year round for advice on where to go on a girlfriend getaway in Colorado and I usually respond with, “It depends.” It depends on the type of women in your party; is your group filled with outdoor enthusiasts or would they rather shop till they drop? Or perhaps they want to do a bit of both?
Here are some of my suggestions for a Colorado girls getaway this summer that will make everyone happy and provide beautiful backdrops for adorable selfies.
Shopping girls trip
Steamboat Springs is one of my favorite mountain shopping towns. With a variety of shops and galleries and F.M. Light & Sons, one of the West’s most famous western wear boutiques, shopping in Steamboat is a real Colorado kind of affair.
Coloradans have lots of choices when it comes to beer festivals. On any given summer weekend there are three or more beer festivals taking place across the state. So how do you make a choice about which beer festival deserves your hard earned money? That’s where I come in. I attend a lot of beer festivals and while some are struggling to remain relevant, other are thriving.
Front Range Rally is thriving
Front Range Rally is not just another beer festival. The FRR team works tirelessly to make sure attendees have a great experience each and every year. I’ve sat in on FRR committee meetings and this team really does care. Plus, the festival raises money for a worthy cause and that helps keep this festival at the top of its game.
Front Range Rally is a craft beer and food truck festival that takes place annually on the last Saturday in May in Loveland, Colorado. More than sixty breweries will be represented at the festival this year and ten food trucks have already signed up. In addition to breweries, several cideries and distilleries will be at the fest.
Front Range Rally features a large variety of craft brews. Melvin Brewing from Jackson, Wyoming will be there, as will Perrin Brewing Company from Michigan. While Colorado’s craft breweries are awesome, I love having the opportunity to taste a few out-of-state beer at a festival.
Splurge on VIP
I don’t always promote purchasing VIP tickets to a beer event unless VIPs get treated well and FRR does a bang up job. VIP tickets include the usual – one hour early entry to the fest – but this VIP package also includes access to exclusive beers, a buffet of ribs and coleslaw, seating in the shade and best of all, a private restroom. No waiting in lines for VIPs.
Drink for a good cause
Front Range Rally benefits the Food Bank for Larimer County. One hundred percent of the net proceeds from the festival go directly to this nonprofit that distributed 8.9 million pounds of food to low-income residents throughout Larimer County in 2015.
I hope that you will join me in Loveland this May!
Front Range Rally
May 28, 2016
2600 N. Lincoln Avenue, Loveland, CO
General Admission 2:30 to 7 p.m. ($40)
VIP entry at 1:30 ($60)
Purchase tickets at FrontRangeRally.com
Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.
In the heart of Cherry Creek, you’ll find a hotel where they celebrate the finer things in life on a daily basis. Whether you’re looking for a weekend spa escape or a girls shopping weekend extraordinaire, JW Marriott Denver has got you covered.
This past weekend, Ryan and I needed a place to stay in Denver after Bru Frou, an amazing culinary and craft beer pairing event held annually at Wings over The Rockies Air & Space Museum. JW Marriott Denver, just 4.5 miles from the venue, graciously offered to host us.
This Denver hotel is the very definition of posh, but you don’t have to take my word for it. In 2014, it made Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice list as one of the “Best Hotels in the West.” Continue reading
This is a great year to visit one of our state’s National Parks. After all, the National Parks Service is celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25, so why not celebrate by visiting one of Colorado’s four National Parks this summer?
Great Sand Dunes National Park
I’ve been to Great Sand Dunes National Park several times and early in the summer is the best time to go because Medano Creek will still be running rapidly through the dunes. Later in the year it becomes just a trickle.
This place is surreal. On our first camping trip there, as we arrived in the dark, a meteoroid fell to earth, lighting up the world around us for a few seconds. Therefore my first glimpse of this park was by the light of a meteor.
We also had a bear visit our campsite on one occasion and I saw my first Great Horned Owl at Great Sand Dunes National Park, so we have lots of great memories of this park. Continue reading
Over the years in Colorado, I’ve watched festivals thrive and I’ve watched festivals die and I know what works and what doesn’t. I even helped create a festival and that experience gave me valuable insight into what it takes to produce an event.
Today, I’d like to share with you some free advice. If you are taking part in the organization of a fest this summer, take heed.
Successful festivals do three things really well, but above all, they pick a theme and stick to it. The biggest mistake a festival can make is not sticking to their theme.
The right location can go a long way in setting the overall mood for your festival. If your event takes place in mid-summer, holding it in a parking lot with minimal shade is a bad idea. Parks are almost always preferable; they provide shade overhead and grass underfoot. Continue reading
Last week I was a speaker at a tourism conference in Pagosa Springs, and it was a good reminder of the total awesomeness of this Southwest Colorado town.
Pagosa Springs should be on your must-visit list this summer and here are five things you need to do once you get there.
1. Float the river in Pagosa Springs
The best way to take advantage of a river that runs directly through a town is to float it. The San Juan River is the source of all good stuff in Pagosa Springs and is a big summertime attraction.
The best time to float the river is in July and August when the water levels are lower. Bring your own tube or check out this Pagosa Springs’ website for how to go about floating the San Juan River. Continue reading
While on magazine assignment in Steamboat Springs earlier this spring, we got a taste of Steamboat’s growing beer scene and we liked it – a lot.
It had been several years since we’d spent time in Steamboat and lots have changes have taken place in that short period of time. The town is now home to two breweries with a third on the way (Mountain Tap Brewery). And Yampa Valley Brewing Co. is now open in Hayden, just a short drive away.
There’s also a brand new beer bar that’s outstanding, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Continue reading
My Facebook wall has been full of tropical vacation photos for several weeks. I even have a friend on a private yacht in the Caribbean. If this is the case for you too, it’s rather depressing, right? I mean, who doesn’t want to be on a yacht in the Caribbean?
If you’ve got cabin fever, I’ve got a solution and no, it’s not robbing a bank. It’s called a mini-vacation, and while I’m not promising that this outing will be as exciting as snorkeling in Grand Cayman or zip lining in Costa Rica, it will brighten your day.
1. Take a Walking Tour
Not every town has a guided walking tour, but you’d be surprised at how many towns have a printed version of a walking tour. They are usually available at your local visitor center, museum or at the chamber of commerce.
I once took a walking tour of Fort Collins, a town with which I am very familiar. It was a night walking tour, but it wasn’t about ghosts, but rather the town’s history. Despite having walked Fort Collins’ streets many times (even at night), during the tour I felt like I was in a brand new town. Continue reading