Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

Two to Three Days in the Mountains

Within a two-hour drive of Denver are numerous small towns, many of them former mining towns and current ski towns. Drive through the mountains (rather than on the interstate) for some of the prettiest driving in the country. Head to Georgetown and take the Georgetown Loop, a narrow-gauge railway that runs from Georgetown to the town of Silver Plume (note that this is a one-way trip, though you can buy roundtrip tickets). The railroad can optionally include a tour of the Lebanon Silver Mine, an operation that was opened in the 1870s.

Some of Colorado’s ski resorts are quite active during the summer with concerts, mini golf, festivals, and the like. Several, notably Winter Park and Breckenridge, open alpine slides in the summer. (Have you ever wanted to go sledding in the summertime down a 3,000 foot mountain? That’s an alpine slide!)

About 90 minutes west of Greeley is Estes Park, a small mountain town and the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), home to elk, mountain lakes, marmots galore, and Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the United States. You can stay in your car, get out and hike, take the park’s shuttle around, or camp. Beware of elk-related traffic jams and major highway maintenance on the road to Bear Lake. Also note that RMNP is one of the most popular places in Colorado during Fourth of July week. If you would like to see the Trail Ridge Road with other Gathering attenders, consider the Pre-Gathering Excursion to RMNP.

There are other loops from small town to small town that can be done from Greeley with a car, such as Greeley-Estes Park-Grandby-Walden-Laramie-Ft. Collins-Denver.

Colorado has 55 “14ers,” mountains whose summits are more than 14,000 feet above sea level. You can drive to the top of two of these — Pikes Peak and Mount Evans. If you’re an experienced hiker, several of the 14ers are non-technical, including Gray’s Peak, Mount Sherman, and Mount Quandary. YOU NEED TO BE AN EXPERIENCED AND PHYSICALLY FIT HIKER TO CLIMB ANY 14ERS. THIS IS NOT SOMETHING TO BE DONE ALONE. Please talk to a Colorado F/friend about some of the Rocky Mountains’ quirks and dangers before attempting a serious climb like a 14er, or even a drive to the summit.

In south-central Colorado you can find the Great Sand Dunes National Park (did you know that Colorado has the highest sand dunes in North America?) where you can camp overnight or just visit for a day. Several small towns surrounding also have natural hot springs that are great favorites among Colorado Friends on their way home from yearly meeting sessions.

Numerous reputable companies take groups white-water rafting down Colorado’s many mountain rivers (including the Poudre River, which runs just north of Greeley, though you have to backtrack west into the mountains to get to any real rafting options). These trips can be done in a single afternoon or can be overnight trips. There are also many opportunities for guided horseback rides throughout the state.