My recent trip to Denver did not turn out exactly as I had planned. When I arrived in Denver about two weeks ago, my primary purpose for the visit was to attend the Applied Behavior Analysis International Conference. I am currently working on my PhD and this was an opportunity to present data from one of my studies. During my time in Denver, I planned to link up with graduate school friends and past professors from Pitt. I also planned the trip so that I could stay an extra few days after the conference. This was my first time to Denver, so I wanted to have the availability to see the sites and get my hiking boots dirty!
Denver had such a unique feel to it. Luckily, I had a local to show me around to some of the best spots. The first few days before the conference consisted of lots of late evenings. What better way to catch up with friends you haven’t seen for a few years than by grabbing some brews!?!
While in Denver I stayed near Capitol Hill. For the beginning of the trip, most of our nights out involving food and drinks were located in this area. After 18 hours of traveling and running on very little sleep, what better way to start my time in Denver, but with MARGARITAS AND TACOS!!!
I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE EXCITED FOR HAPPY HOUR. THEY DON’T EXIST IN NORWAY!
Throughout the week, Sarah continued to introduce me to some unique places. A popular neighborhood in Denver is LoHi. Avanti Food & Beverage is a great spot to get a view of downtown Denver. They also had an amazing rooftop bar and food hall, which offers a variety of food vendors. Such a neat concept!
Right around the corner from Avanti is Forest Room 5. If you are into fire pits they have a couple in their outside “forest.” I wasn’t fully prepared for this experience, or else I would have brought marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers!
Who wouldn’t want s’mores with their cocktails!?
I also snuck in a quick hike to get adjusted to the altitude change. YAY for no interactions with rattlesnakes!
The Red Rocks Trading Post Trail. It was only about 30 minutes from Denver, and only took about an hour to do the 1.4 mile loop. Sadly, we were not able to view the Amphitheater since they were preparing for a concert. But still! A gorgeous area!
Eventually all my galavanting around Denver had to end, and it was time to get down to business at the conference. After an exhausting, but educational few days, I got back to being a tourist (: It was a great surprise to meet up with an Oslo friend while in Denver. Ewan and I are both originally from the East Coast of the United States, but we met in Oslo. He happened to be in the area at the same time and he had been road tripping out west with some friends. As crazy as it seems, it did take some persuading before I finally gave in to leaving Denver for a few days. I honestly didn’t have that much to do during my last few days there!
… On the road again…
Day one 1: Stuck in a car for 9.5 hours. UGH. We drove from Denver to Zion National Park in Utah.
The next day was JAM PACKED! The morning started with hiking Angels Landing.
We started at the Grotto Trailhead and we hiked the 5 miles to the top! Be sure to give yourself enough time to take it all in! Check out the view!
After snapping some photos, selfies, and making new friends, we safely AND slowly ventured back down. DUM DUM DUM!
The way down was a lot easier and less scary…at least I thought. Anyone else who has done it may think otherwise! The biggest thing to remember is to just take your time, use the chains to stay close to the wall, and THREE points of contact!
There were tons of people of all ages doing the hike as well. There was even a couple who had their baby strapped to the father! Talk about exposing her to heights at an early age! Watch out future mountain climbers!
No rest for the adventure seekers…
Directly following Angels Landing, we rented equipment for the Narrows.
We had a limited amount of time to do the Narrows since our day was jam packed with activities.
We were in the Narrows for about 3.5 hours. It would have been great to make it an all day event, but I’m glad we didn’t go too far too late. My muscles, and especially my ankles, were really feeling it the next day. At times it was definitely scary trying to get up the river against the current. I probably had the look of fright across my face, as I was struggling through some parts of the water with my hiking stick. I held on to that thing for dear life! For those who know me, despite my many years of gymnastics and diving, I am NOT the most graceful person! Good news though…I only fell once, and the rapids didn’t take me away! PHEW!
I forgot to mention that my friend, Ewan, thrives on adventures. I was much slower and needed to take my time in the Narrows, so I wasn’t too mad when he basically took off running about 20 minutes into the hike. But he also had my phone, the snacks, and my jacket in his waterproof bag. When the currents were stronger and the water was deeper, it was definitely scary for me. I do suggest staying with your group, just in case something happens. These are some pictures that Ewan took and also I got my one and only picture when we FINALLY met up again. You better believe he bought the beers that night!
Day 3. DRIVING, DRIVING, AND SOME MORE DRIVING. Our first stop was in Page, Arizona, where we toured Antelope Canyon.
Following Antelope Canyon, we drove a few miles down the road to Horseshoe Bend. Of course as soon as we arrived the wind picked up and the sky darkened. The view was worth it though! Be prepared with pants, a hooded jacket, and sunglasses, just in case it is windy!!! Being hit with rocks and sand was not too fun! I think I am still dusting sand out of my jacket and sleeping bag!
Did I mention how much we loved driving that day!?!?! We headed back to Utah, but this time towards Cedar Breaks. Unfortunately, I had to be on a train from Green River back to Denver the next morning. We were still able to check off some amazing sites on the way. On our way to Cedar Breaks, we made a pit stop at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes in Utah. Who doesn’t like a little bit of sand between their toes after having hiking boots on all day!?
From Cedar Breaks we drove to Capitol Reef National Park.
We arrived at Capitol Reef late that evening, which wasn’t ideal to see the sites. Ewan got some great night time shots in though!
The next morning, I was on the 10-hour train ride back to Denver. The view continued to be just as amazing on the way back.
It was unfortunate that on my final day of hiking and site seeing I was able to let my shoulders down. I wasn’t so caught up in what I was missing from social media, text messages, emails, etc. I was really taking everything in and enjoying the views of the west.
Although I love traveling to all the great cities in Europe, being out west in the mountains is a different kind of special. I can’t wait to venture back!
…Until I get my boots muddy again!