Colorado Road Trip With Toyota

What could be better than a weekend road trip with your mom?! Not too much! Toyota was kind enough to reach out to collaborate on a post. They lent me their amazing RAV4 to test drive during our road trip. The RAV4 was a perfect choice since we decided to road trip through the Rocky Mountains up to Glenwood Springs and Aspen. Colorado is such a beautiful state, with so many places to explore and discover. Each mountain town is different, has a unique feel and each has its own sites to see. We decided to head towards Glenwood Springs and Aspen because my mother-in-law lives in Glenwood and it was time for a visit. I've loved Glenwood springs since I was a kid and was excited to explore Aspen for the second time. The first time I went to Aspen it was the dead of winter, freezing and not much was open, so this was practically my first time going. Glenwood Springs to Aspen is about an hour drive, roughly 45 miles. The drive between the two towns is beautiful so I would suggest going during the day. Since we went on this road trip in October, we still caught some fall foliage, although the colors are best in mid to late September. In this post I will share some photos from our fun Rocky Mountain weekend and I will share a few things about each stop we made on our road trip. I hope you enjoy this post and I hope it inspires you to go out on an adventure, even if it's a local one. 

toyota rav 4 road trip

Glenwood Springs

Like I said before, I've loved Glenwood Springs since I was a little kid. My mom used to take us up there to visit the hot springs pools that are unique to Glenwood. The town is so quaint with a touch of wild wild west. Like most mountain towns, there are great shops and places to eat, but what makes this town extra special is the hot springs pool. It's a bit pricey for admission, but well worth it. It's relaxing for adults since it has the huge natural springs hot tubs and there is also a cold water pool for kids to play in as well. I have been to the hot springs pool during just about every season, and it's great year round. Even in the dead of winter you can throw your suit on and hop in the hot tubs (bring a few quarters for the bubbly massage chairs in them). Another thing that makes Glenwood Springs so special is the bright red canyon rock that covers some of the surrounding mountains. It is so beautiful and is unique to this town. Another favorite of mine in Glenwood Springs is the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. I have been to this several times, however we didn't make it up there this time. You can tour caves, ride rides, etc. My favorite ride they have is the Alpine Coaster, which is similar to an alpine slide and is going down the side of the mountain. It's such a thrill! The final thing I would suggest doing while in Glenwood, and of course another one of my favorites is the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue. I had no clue what a vaudeville show was before this trip. My mother-in-law got us tickets to this and I am so grateful she did because this was one of my favorite nights I've had in a long time. The show is an absolute blast, the performers are hilarious and incredibly talented. They serve dinner and drinks which is part of the fun. Gosh I just love Glenwood. There is so much to do in this town, it is an amazing place for families to visit and have a wonderful time. 

glenwood springs
glenwood springs

Aspen & The Maroon Bells

If you get the chance to go to Aspen, do. It is so stunning up there with the mountains and ski slopes surrounding the quaint town. My best friend is from Aspen, so don't believe people when they say everyone from there is snooty and rude... it's not true. The town has so many great spots to eat, drink and shop. If you're a big spender, you'll love the shopping in Aspen. They have shops like Dior, Burberry, Gucci, etc. While you are in Aspen, I suggest taking a stop at the Maroon Bells. This is a scenic spot just ten miles west of Aspen. It is a beautiful lake with two giant peaks behind it. The Maroon Bells are photographed a lot because of the way the mountains reflect on the lake. This was my first time visiting the Maroon Bells, so glad we went!

town of aspen
dior aspen.jpg

Rest Stop Off I-70

Right after Glenwood Springs as you are heading back towards Denver through Glenwood Canyon, you will see an exit for a rest stop/scenic view. This is such a great stop and I highly recommend it. I believe it is the first rest stop exit after leaving Glenwood Springs. There was a stunning river, a walking path, bathrooms and tons of views to take photos of. I am so glad we pulled off to see it. 

fall pic.jpg
glenwood canyon

I want to give a huge thank you to Toyota for lending me the RAV4. My mom and I had a blast on the road trip and the car was so great driving through the mountains. I would absolutely suggest a Toyota RAV4 to anyone. In fact, I am strongly considering it as my "parent car" one of these days, I loved the amount of room it had and also I was obsessed with a few of its safety features. Thanks again Toyota for reaching out and lending me the car, I loved collaborating! 

Also, thank you to John Swanson for taking the photos of the car and the maroon bells! I appreciate your help! 


Estes Park & The Peak to Peak Highway

Fall in Colorado is absolutely stunning. It is even more amazing if you take a little drive up to the mountains and explore while the leaves are turning. If you missed my post last year on fall foliage in Colorado, check it out! The best time to go is in September, mid September is usually best to catch the colorful trees in the Rocky Mountains. This season we went up to Estes Park, Colorado and then drove on the Peak to Peak Highway home for a scenic ride. 

Estes park in my opinion is known for two things, Elk and the famous Stanley Hotel where the horror film The Shining was filmed at. Estes is stunning so if you are looking for a quick day trip from Denver, this spot might be perfect. Right when you pull into town there will be a lake on the right side of town. Often this is where the Elk will be gathered, and the day we went that was just the case. We pulled in, parked the car and got up close with the elk of Estes. Make sure to be careful and keep a safe distance, but at the same time the elk are very used to tourists stopping for pictures. The female elk (without antlers) are far less aggressive than the males. They are all so beautiful and it was such a blast watching them in nature. We did have an incident that occurred while we were there. Two of the males were fighting and they were running right towards us! We all hid behind a car, thank God, and it was all fine, but wow talk about exciting! Like I said, keep a safe distance because you never know when they will start bickering and chasing one another, and they surely don't care if you are in their way, they will come for you too. 

estes park
elk in estes park co
estes park elk
elk in colorado
baby elk in estes park

If you visit Estes Park make sure to stop in at the Stanley Hotel! If you have ever seen The Shining starring Jack Nicholson then you are familiar with this hotel. The hotel was built in the early 1900's. Today it is a hot spot to get married, vacation or even take a ghost tour. We stopped in for lunch. We ate at the restaurant near the bar. Yes, the bar in the movie where the ghost serves his drinks! Today the bar looks quite different, but it is still exciting to see it. The food there is amazing, I would absolutely recommend eating there. We then walked around the hotel property admiring the antiques and beauty the hotel has to offer. The hotel sits on a hill overlooking Estes Park, the views of the mountains are beautiful. 

the stanley hotel
Stanley hotel
the stanley
inside stanley hotel

After lunch we headed into town to grab coffee and wander. The town is a very quaint mountain town with lots to look at. There are tons of great shops, restaurants and candy stores. There is a beautiful river on one side of the town and a few restaurants looking over the river. If we had not eaten at the Stanley Hotel, I think this would have been the next best option. If you are lucky you will see elk wandering around "their" town. We did not see any that day, but my mom has seen that before. 

estes park
estes park
estes park

We left Estes just in time to catch the Peak to Peak Highway before the sun went down. The Peak to Peak highway is a designated scenic byway that goes from Estes Park to Nederland, then towards I-70 to make your way back to Denver. This time of year this is such a great highway to take if you are driving back to the Denver area because it has amazing fall foliage. There is also a stunning church on the highway that you can stop at and look around. It's a stunning stone church nestled in nature. My suggestion would be to allow yourself enough time driving on this highway to be able to stop and enjoy every bit of it. 

fall in colorado
peak to peak highway church
peak to peak highway colorado

I hope you enjoyed this post on my adventure through Estes Park Colorado, the Stanley Hotel and the Peak to Peak Highway. If you have any questions, simply comment below. To stay updated on my newest adventures and most current blog posts, enter your email address below. Thanks for reading!