This tour is the perfect example of Nike’s famous saying of ‘Just Do It’. I just didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to stay in the city and do nothing but I had a tour booked to see the Boulder Foothills about six weeks previous and knew it was too late to cancel. I don’t know why I wasn’t eager on going seeing as how I had booked the tour for myself without any shotgun to my head but when I got an email the evening before it was due to run that it was cancelled, I was more relieved than disappointed
You see, I was loving Denver and felt that I hadn’t explored enough of my own area yet let alone take a tour (with other people I didn’t know) outside of it. I still get quite nervous before unknown social situations that I have no real control over (I mean, who doesn’t?) but I knew that this tour would be my only real chance to get out into the real Colorado “wilderness”. The RTD trams weren’t going to get me anywhere near the Red Rocks or Lookout Mountain and I knew when I was offered a replacement tour around the Denver Foothills, I would regret saying no.
And I can wholeheartedly say to all the lazy ones like me out there who weigh up the pros and cons of doing something they’ve always dreamed of because “ugh effort”, just DO IT.
I booked the original tour through Viator – the only thing that made me weary was that Viator don’t tell you the name of the company running the tour until after you confirm. But in reality, Aspire Tours were the perfect choice for my trip around the Denver Foothills.
Alyce, our tour guide, met us outside Union Station, which was already quite busy for an early Sunday morning. She piled all 12 of us into the back of a black minivan, provided us with bottles of ice cold water and blasted John Denver. This was going to be fine.
Now, I’m nervous about making small talk with people I don’t know and I could have opted to sit in the front beside Alyce but instead I sat in the last remaining seat beside a mother and a daughter who couldn’t have been lovelier (and Courtney and Beverly, if you ever stumble upon my humble blog, please let me know if you do make that trip to Ireland and I’d love to show you around).
Alyce first took us to Red Rocks Amphitheatre, one of the most incredible entertainment venues in. the. world. For a Sunday morning, it was packed with gym enthusiasts and athletes taking advantage of the high altitude and steep steps up and down the side of the bleachers. The view stretched as far as Denver to Englewood to Littleton. Simply put, it was breathtaking.
The amphitheatre is carved into the sandstone giving the place unrivaled acoustics (or so I am told, I didn’t get a chance to see anything there). Some of us attempted to reach the bottom and run the way back up but I can honestly say, NOT RECOMMENDED.
The view from Denver from Red Rocks
Alyce then took us to the idyllic little mountain town of Evergreen about fifty minutes west of Denver through a scenic route called Bear Creek which winds itself around the mountains from Morrison CO to Evergreen. Bear Creek isn’t too different to what you’d find if you’ve travelled the roads around the Pyrenees in the South of France (notions) but what did make it so special was how quickly the road went from a suburban/highway landscape to rural Colorado.
Evergreen is just like something you’d see out of a coffee table book on the old Wild West of the U.S.
The town had its own boardwalk hosting many bars, small cafes and ski shops. It might have been full of tourists but it hadn’t lost that rural Colorado charm.
It even had its own (albeit updated) Wild West Saloon complete with… controversial signs that they swear are just for “historical authenticity”.
Not far from it is Evergreen Lake which was reminiscent of all your favourite 1990s summer camp movies where they have to host a talent show to save the clubhouse.
Our last stop on the trip was Lookout Mountain where the famous Buffalo Bill is buried (it seemed that the Americans on the tour got more excited about this than the non-Americans) but not without stopping on the flyover of a highway (I’m telling you, Alyce was pretty badass at taking risks!) to see THIS glimpse of the Rocky Mountains (still with a lil snow in the height of summer)
Lookout Mountain is very true to its name in that, the views are stunning:
You can only just make out Denver in the middle ground. The ordinary haziness of a sunny morning plus the wildfires in California (yes, that far away) were causing a lot of fog.
Lookout Mountain also gives views as far as Golden, CO (where the famous Coors is brewed) and Boulder, CO.
After we bought a ton (at least half my baggage allowance) in souvenirs, Alyce brought us back to Denver where we tearfully said our goodbyes.
Aspire Tours couldn’t have been kinder, more fun or more accommodating (my name wasn’t even on Alyce’s list but she didn’t mind). I’m already eyeing up their sunrise hike and Rocky Mountain day tour. It certainly gave me a different perspective of Colorado that I wouldn’t have got if I hadn’t left the Denver City limits. If you are ever in Denver, hire a car or take a tour and get out there, there is so much more to see than you think!