The last week in June, we flew to Denver to start our summer adventure exploring the great outdoors of Colorado and South Dakota. This vacation was extra special too because Uncle Chris joined us for the fun!
We met Chris at the Denver airport on Sunday morning, and then we picked up the rental car and drove 70 miles south to Colorado Springs.
After we checked in to our hotel, we drove to the U.S. Olympic Training Center and toured some of the buildings where our athletes train for boxing, cycling, gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, and more. Pretty cool!
Another noteworthy part of our first day was that we encountered two hailstorms. We drove through hail on the way to Colorado Springs (the hail was pea-sized), and then Colorado Springs was hit with hail while we were at the Olympic Training Center—and that hail was the size of ping pong balls. Hailstorms are rare in Virginia, so Noah was very interested. And don’t worry, the rental car was A-OK. Whew!
Monday morning we headed to Pikes Peak, which is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The drive to the top is 19 miles and takes about an hour (you can’t go too fast because of all the narrow twists and turns). Ryan drove most of the way, and then we parked and rode a shuttle the last few miles. Here are a few photos from our drive up the mountain.
The top of Pikes Peak is 14,115 feet above sea level and 8,000 feet above Colorado Springs. Yeah, we had some amazing views!
You probably noticed that we were wearing t-shirts when we started the drive, and we were in winter gear when we were at the top. The temperature was around 40 degrees cooler at the top—it was cold! (Fun fact from Ryan: The temperature drops an average of three to five degrees for every 1,000 feet increase in altitude.)
Here is a fun time-lapse video of our drive back down the mountain. As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.
And here we are at the bottom!
Next we had a quick lunch and then headed to the Garden of the Gods to see the red sandstone monoliths (large pillar-shaped rock formations). Ryan visited here years ago while on a church mission trip, and he was really excited to visit again with Noah. Yeah, we had great views here too! You can see Pikes Peak in the background in the last few pictures.
That night we started the drive to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We drove part of the way and spent the night in Cheyenne, WY—and then we drove the rest of the way the next morning. Stay tuned to read more about our summer vacation! We have lots to share about our adventures in the Black Hills with Grandma Debbie, Grandpa Rod, Aunt Jenny, and Abby.