Just a 50 minute drive from Denver, Boulder is a nice town with two sides to it: the university and the nature. CU Boulder takes up several blocks in the center of the town, and parks and canyons fill the rest of Boulder. We drove through the university for about ten minutes, then visited Chautauqua Park and the Flatirons, followed by Pearl Street, Rocky Mountain National Park, Boulder Canyon, and Eldorado Canyon.
Chautauqua Park is the place in Boulder where locals go to exercise. You can walk around, hike to the top of the Flatirons (huge sandstone formations), or climb the rocks. Boulder residents are super fit. One woman was running up the mountain, an old couple and their dog were hiking, and several young couples spent the day rock climbing. The park is a nice place to slow down, take a deep breath, and take in a scenic view. The grass is bright green and there are dandelions and flowers everywhere (no wonder people love to exercise there!). On the way up to the top, there are many places to stop and catch your breath or take photos. Be sure to bring a good pair of shoes, water, a granola bar, and high-altitude sunscreen.
For lunch, we ate on Pearl Street in Downtown Boulder. Pearl Street has its fair share of stores (Billabong, Patagonia, Steve Madden, Volcom) and restaurants, as well as a few hippies and homeless folk. In the mood for sandwiches, we sat down at Riffs Urban Fare. I had a delicious Cuban sandwich full of flavorful cubes of pork, while the guys had salmon sandwiches (which they enjoyed). I’ll never forget The Flourless Chocolate Nutella Cake. To digest, we walked up and down Pearl Street. Not surprisingly, my brother spotted a professional rock climber hanging out with friends. Before leaving, we chatted with a cashier at Patagonia and he told us about the city of Fort Collins, Colorado, which he described as “another bike-friendly city with a downtown like Boulder’s.” I looked it up on Google Images and added it to my list of future travels.
Next, we went to Rocky Mountain National Park. As a Floridian, my national parks consist of beaches and the Everglades, so I was excited to go to a different type of national park. I had planned to visit Lower Chaos Canyon, Upper Chaos Canyon, Lake Haiyaha, and Emerald Lake, but we didn’t reach any of those. RMNP is huge. Instead, we saw a big waterfall (Alluvial Falls) and lots of bighorn sheep walking through fields. The park was nice, but we didn’t have time to return. Maybe I’ll stay at the Rocky Mountains on a future trip to Colorado.
Finally, we headed towards Boulder’s canyons for some climbing. Boulder Canyon makes for a nice drive and anywhere you pull off is a great place to walk through nature. During the drive, we saw a deer and walked from boulder to boulder for about an hour. Boulder Canyon was a fun place to boulder due to the various shaded areas and the lack of crowds. Close by is Eldorado Canyon, a park I really liked. It was a sort of retreat for locals (a few families were there for picnics and fishing). A creek runs throughout the park and there is a walking bridge to access a small cave, walking trails, and plenty of rock walls. For $8 plus a nice park ranger, Eldorado was a great end to our stay in Boulder.