Get Lost on the South Platte River in CO’s Rampart Range

Here’s the thing about Colorado: there appears to be an endless supply of outdoor gems just a short drive from the heart of Denver. Choosing a new trail to explore brings out the worst in my inability to make decisions. There are just too many options! You can literally just pick a general direction and drive until you hit a trail — and that’s exactly what I did when my college friend Marisa came to visit from Key West.

We woke up, slathered on some sunscreen, filled up our water bottles, and hopped in the car with no particular destination in mind. After a quick pitstop for bagels, we found ourselves leaving Denver city limits and heading towards Sedaila. I had visited the area once before, so I looked for the only road I knew, Rampage Range Road, and started driving towards the mountains.Rampart Range Road along the South Platte River in Colorado.

After winding along intimidating drop offs and steeply graded hills, the road turned to dirt and we had to make a decision: should we turn my little hatchback around, or should we cross our fingers that the road is navigable and go for it? In the spirit of adventure, we went for it. Spoiler alert: my little Scion is a total badass.

Eventually, we came upon a fork in the road, and followed the South Platte River upstream until we found a trailhead. At first, I had no idea exactly what trail we hiked — my only clue was the rickety old South Platte Hotel building that sat across the street from the parking lot. Eventually, I deduced that we hiked along the South Platte River to the Strontia Springs Reservoir.The old South Platte Hotel in the Rampart Range area of Colorado.Along the South Platte River in Colorado.

Marisa is a true island gal, so it was wonderful to take her out into the mountains. She loved every minute of being on the trail, even when I insisted that we scramble up random gullies filled with spiderwebs, or when I made her perch precariously on a rock over the river to feel the cold rush of air from the gushing waters.Hiking along the South Platte River with my Topo Designs pack.A little beetle we found while hiking along the South Platte River in Colorado.

Pretty blossoms found while hiking along the South Platte River in CO. Sure, we ended up wandering a bit further from home than we initially anticipated, but deciding to get lost ended up leading Marisa and I to a wonderful new adventure we would have never discovered otherwise. By taking a few risks (mostly our brazen confidence that my hatchback would be able to handle the dirt roads), we opened ourselves up to the opportunity to explore somewhere off the beaten path.

When is the last time you got lost down a dirt road?
What’s stopping you?

The #ColoradoList: One Woman’s Quest to Experience Colorado in 365 Days

In March 2014, I took a leap: With only two weeks notice, I packed up everything I owned and moved from my native state of Florida to Colorado only a few months after returning from a yearlong road trip. I’ve traveled from the grassy prairies in the south to the wild coats of the northwest – but no place captured my heart like Colorado. With endless outdoor opportunities, spirited local culture, and four full seasons for adventure, the Centennial State is the perfect place to explore.

As a new resident of Colorado, I am overwhelmed by how much there is to do – so I’m making it my mission to tick off every experience possible within just one year, from learning how to ice climb in the mountains to getting rowdy at a Nuggets game in downtown Denver. The #ColoradoList is a Colorado bucket list that challenges me to fill my calendar with activities that will push my limits as an adventurer, fill my belly with Colorado’s finest eats, bring me to the state’s most beautiful destinations, and open my eyes to everything the area has to offer.

THECOLORADOLIST

What’s on the list?

You can find the full Colorado List on the official page, broken down in categories like hikes, road trip destinations, and events – but here’s a quick peek at my adventurous to-do list:

1. Summit my first 14-er.
2. Stock up on fresh produce at the Boulder Farmers Market.
3. Visit all four National Parks in Colorado.
4. Go on a hot air balloon ride.
5. Have brunch at Snooze.
6. Stand at Four Corners.
7. Try mountain biking.
8. Backpack to a 10th Mountain Division Hut.
9. Ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad.
10. Catch a fish – and eat it.

This year is going to be one of the most transformative experiences of my life on personal and spiritual levels – and I want to make sure that adventure and new experiences are at the forefront of my journey towards becoming a more limit-testing, empowered, independent woman. Bring it on, Colorado!

Want to join me for the adventure? Keep an eye on the blog for posts after every outing, follow the #ColoradoList hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with my bucket list ticks and upcoming plans, or better yet – JOIN ME! Invite yourself along to help me complete my list, or suggest Colorado bucket list to-dos that I don’t have on my list yet (I know I must be missing a ton).

Want to help me complete my list? Can you lend me a pair of snowshoes? Want to equip me with the gear I’ll need to catch myself a fish? Interested in sponsoring a weekend trip to try ice climbing? Whether you’re an outdoor outfitter or local adventure company – I want to work with you to make my bucket list attempt a success and highlight the best brands Colorado has to offer. Please feel free to contact me for information about how to get involved!

Visit the official Colorado List bucket list page here!