If you’re like me and the rest of the metro Denver area, this time of year is perfect for flooring your car around windy mountain roads with some intermittent slamming on the brakes when you see that perfect panorama of mountains and aspen groves in all their fiery glory. A multi-car pileup is a worthy price to pay for amateur iPhone pix.
So to figure out where I could find some views, I read a nice little article from The Outbound, “The Top 10 Places for Fall Leaves in Colorado.” I saw the picture for #4’s Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway and was sold. Here’s a description from the same article:
The ~55-mile long Peak to Peak byway provides wonderful views of the continental divide from Estes Park in the north to Blackhawk and I-70 to the south. The Peak to Peak is a wonderful drive any time of the year but comes alive in the fall when aspen light up all along the route.
Here’s a map depicting the highway as a yellow brick road:
I packed a lunch and brought along three large containers filled with tea in case the apocalypse occurred while I was away and there was no potable water. I then set off into the midday sun.
As you drive along there are many pull-offs for picture-taking and gratitude-experiencing for being alive.
As you can see, at the very end of September I was a bit past peak:
As I made my way back I stopped in Nederland for some coffee at the New Moon Bakery and Cafe. I got a Mocha and it was incredible.
Here are some fun facts about Nederland:
- As described by the New York Times, “State records show that by some coincidence, the concentration of medical marijuana patients and dispensaries selling medicinal cannabis is higher here in Colorado’s old hippie heartland than in any other corner of the state. In Gilpin County, for example, which begins at Nederland’s doorstep, almost one in 20 residents qualify for cannabis treatment — the highest level in Colorado and more than three times the statewide average.”
- “’When people think of Nederland as this stoner town, if you will, that is not accurate,’ Mayor Abu-Haidar said”. Persuasive!
- Nederland is home to a frozen dead guy in a garden shed. Does reading that help you appreciate fact #1? I guess you can put your mind to anything with enough drugs! No, don’t do drugs. Grandpa Bredo Morstoel was brought to the US from Norway (as a corpse) and then packed on ice in a homemade box. Bodies in cryogenic storage should be kept at -320 degrees, but Grandpa is at a steamy -109.
- Once a month the custodian of the frozen dead guy and two other workers take 3/4 of a ton of dry ice up from Denver, open the homemade freezer box, fill it with ice, “check his status” (meaning checking that he’s that he’s still dead? not rotting?), then seal it back up.
- The town celebrates all of this with Frozen Dead Guy Days in late winter, complete with a parade, coffin races, a polar plunge, etc.
- The grandson of the Grandpa set a world record for ice bathing in 1994. He immersed himself in a 1500 gallon tank of ice water for one hour and four minutes. He believes that bathing in ice water will prolong his life. Hey, you never know. He could be the next 110 year old smoking 2 packs a day.
So aside from the copious drug use and frozen corpses, Nederland is a great jumping off point for hiking and camping (Indian Peaks Wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park), skiing (Eldora), and fishing. Enjoy!