GOODBYE SUMMER AND HELLO FALL

It’s always hard to say goodbye to summer. Lucky for us, the Colorado summer has been lingering into fall bringing us nothing short of perfect weather.

 

 

After exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, we headed south to Colorado Springs. This wasn’t our first visit to Colorado Springs and it won’t be our last. There is so much to do in this gorgeous city so we keep coming back.

 

 

We picked a campground just south of town that was peaceful and had gorgeous views.

 

 

There were quite a few trails of varying difficulty that began in the campground. We took an easy one that would accommodate the baby jogger.

 

 

I love it when we slow down enough to notice the flowers…and the caterpillars. 🙂

 

 

We have wanted to go to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta for years but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out. However, there are a number of smaller balloon festivals in Colorado and there was even one in Colorado Springs while we were there!

 

 

The balloon festival of Colorado Springs is a 39-year and counting tradition!

 

 

Along with the traditional balloons, there were character shaped balloons.

 

 

The crowd loved the Yoda and Darth Vader balloons! I thought the dragon was pretty cute!

 

 

 

 

It was surprising to see how close up we could get to the balloons while they were inflating.

 

 

 

There is something about hot air balloons that brings out the inner child and seeing the sky filled with them is simply magical! If you are in southeast Colorado, there is another balloon festival coming up in Rocky Ford the first week of November.

 

 

Next we headed up the mountain to Woodland Park also known as “The City Above the Clouds.” Like many mountain towns, Woodland Park is popular among outdoor enthusiasts with hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and hunting nearby.

 

 

We took advantage of one of the many recreational areas by spending an afternoon with friends at Manitou Lake located just a few miles north of our campground.

 

 

It was a lovely afternoon to grill out under the pine trees.

 

 

Thing 4 kept busy exploring. That is, when he wasn’t chillaxing in the lawn chair.

 

 

We brought the kayak and the boys took turns paddling out onto the lake.

 

 

After dinner, our friend led the boys on a geocaching adventure. We haven’t done much geocaching in the past but it’s really fun and a perfect activity for RVers. I think we are going to have to do it more often!

 

 

Overnight camping is not allowed at the park but there are plenty of campgrounds nearby.

 

 

What a fun way to enjoy those early days of fall before the cold sets in!

 

 

Another afternoon, we took a scenic drive over to Deckers.

 

 

Deckers is a don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it sized town with larger than life views of the surrounding mountains and South Platte River.

 

 

It’s a popular spot for fishing where anglers come to catch varieties of trout. We didn’t do any fishing but we did go for a lovely hike.

 

 

A short 25-mile drive from Woodland Park takes you back to prehistoric times at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Located in a peaceful valley surrounded by mountains, Florissant Fossil Beds is home to some of the largest (by diameter) petrified tree stumps in the world. The park was created in 1969 to protect the rich fossil deposits in the area.

 

 

We began at the visitor center where we watched a film, “Shadows of the Past,” about the park and looked at the exhibits. Nearly 17,000 species have been found and documented in the park.

 

 

Most of the fossils that have been unearthed are fragile, detailed impressions and compressions of bugs and plants like the ones above.

 

 

A ranger recommended we walk the Ponderosa Loop Trail to see some of the larger fossils.

 

 

The largest fossils that have been discovered are those of the petrified giant sequoia trees.

 

 

They are huge and really beautiful in their unique way.

 

 

 

We kept our eyes open for wildlife but instead saw small beautiful wildflowers enjoying the last few days of warmer weather.

 

 

If you enjoy learning about the earth’s past through examining fossils or you simply desire to take in Colorado’s gorgeous scenery, you will enjoy a visit to Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument.

 

 

We didn’t plan a prehistoric theme for our time in Woodland Park, but we also couldn’t pass up a visit to the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center. Located downtown, the center is devoted to dinosaurs and fossils.

 

 

It’s hard to miss the center with its life-sized dinosaur replicas standing out front!

 

 

Inside you’ll find hundreds of fossils, replicas and many originals. There are also educational films and a children’s discovery area.

 

 

In addition to the displays, there is a working laboratory where newly discovered specimens are being freed from their rock encasement and undergoing restoration. It’s a great stop for kids, especially those who love dinosaurs!

 

 

Another great stop for kids is the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

 

 

Located in Colorado Springs it is the only mountainside zoo in the United States.

 

 

 

The zoo is home to over 700 animals. Some of our favorites were the lion cubs, elephants, hippos, moose, orangutans, and the peacocks that were roaming free and showing off their splendid feathers.

 

 

Thing 3 loved watching the wallabies.

 

 

The highlight of our visit was the “All About Giraffes” exhibit. For a few dollars you can hand-feed the giraffes from a deck.

 

 

The giraffes stick out their tongue and wrap it around the lettuce. Thing 3 wasn’t so sure about these huge creatures (giraffes are the tallest living mammal), but the rest of us thought is was great fun and the giraffes seemed to love getting fresh lettuce.

 

 

The zoo is situated on 140 acres. The landscaping is gorgeous especially with the changing foliage, but be ready for a workout because it requires a lot of uphill walking.

 

 

In addition to looking at the animals, there are plenty of things to do like riding the vintage carousel.

 

 

There is also a special play area for the younger visitors.

 

 

Or just walk around and enjoy the magnificent views! That alone is worth the price of admission.

Speaking of views, be sure to come back next week for some amazing views of the Rocky Mountains as the leaves turn colors!

 

Have you ever been to a balloon festival? How about geocaching? How has the fall weather been where you are from?