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Colorado Vacation & Sunrise Guide 2017: Be an Early Riser

Colorado Vacation & Sunrise Guide 2017: Be an Early Riser

Are you an early morning riser? If you're vacationing in the beautiful state of Colorado you may want to make this your motto because often times there are many perks to being an early riser. For starters, the Colorado sunrise is majestic. If you are an artist looking for that perfect picture featuring multiple color palettes, or just want to make a snapshot memory for a lifetime, waking up at the crack of dawn is the way to go. This "Colorado To Do List for 2017" will mention some of our go-to sunrise spots. You can almost pop down anywhere in the state and enjoy the sunrise, but we're going to let you know of our "secret" sunrise spots. 

1. Go to Sprague Lake at Sunrise in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP)

This easy access lake is the second to last lake on Bear Lake Road as you drive up to Bear Lake on the east side of the park. Remember, we mentioned that you should be an early riser? There's a few perks to this. First, you'll be sure to run in to wildlife from elk, deer, eagles, hawks, coyote, bear, and mountain lions. Now, the latter animals on the list are very rare to see, but if you're going to see them your chances are best at dawn or dusk. Second, you want to beat the traffic. If you're visiting RMNP between Memorial Day and Labor Day you're playing with fire trying to find a parking spot after 08:00 AM. Remember, more than 4.5 million visitors enter RMNP every year. Sprague Lake is one of the more popular attractions with it's flat walking trail around the lake that totals 0.9 miles. Did we mention the parking lot is a stones throw away from the lake? That's a great perk if you ask me. Anyways, this is the lake to be at when the sun rises. Find the bench on the east side of the lake where a little stream exits. The orange glow moves swiftly up the mountain face while the darkness hovers beneath the tree line. You'll only have less than a minute to enjoy the true beauty, but it's a minute that will last a lifetime.

 

(The orange glow of the Colorado sunrise hitting the east face of Rocky Mountains!)
Sprague Lake Sunrise Rocky Mountain National Park | The Cabin Shack


2. Gem Lake in Estes Park/Rock Mountain National Park

This beautiful lake starts at the Twin Owls Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, which is just a few minute drive from the middle of town in Estes Park, CO. While it's not a difficult hike by any means, it's a 3.5 mile round trip with a 1000 feet elevation gain. We advise to leave at 04:30 AM as it will take you an hour at the most if you are in decent shape. This lake is tucked in away in the rocks once you get to the top of the mountain, but there's a little secret if you want a breathtaking view of the Estes Park and the mountain range of Rocky Mountain National Park. Once, you get to the lake you can hike along the "beach" area to the left side of the rocky cliff that overlooks the lake. You can scale this, but you have to be VERY careful. Once you get to the top, wait for the sun to rise of the Big Thompson Canyon to the east and watch the orange glow take of the mountain range in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

(Looking east on top of the rock cliff toward the Big Thompson Canyon)

Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park | The Cabin Shack

 

(Looking west at the Rocky Mountains with Gem Lake below)

Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park | The Cabin Shack

 

(Looking west from a lower location over Gem Lake - Longs Peak in the distance)

Longs Peak View From Gem Lake | The Cabin Shack


(Looking back east with Lake Estes below - We are just west of Gem Lake)
Lake Estes view from Gem Lake | The Cabin Shack

(Just west of Gem Lake looking out into Estes Park, CO and Rocky Mountain National Park)

Rocky Mountain National Park from Gem Lake | The Cabin Shack

 

3. Go to Buffalo Bill's Museum and Grave for the Denver Sunrise

As is Sprague Lake, this sunrise destination is easy access. Buffalo Bill's Museum and Grave is located just outside of Denver. Take Interstate 70 west to Exit 256 and in a short few minutes you'll be at your destination. This is a perfect early bird special for anyone staying in the Denver or surrounding areas because of it's easy access and surrounding entertainment. Of course, you will have to wait for the museum and gift shop to open if you want to explore them, but there's no time frame for watching the sunrise peak her beautiful face over the eastern horizon. Not only does it light up Denver, but look down and you'll see the beautiful city of Golden, CO. This isn't even the best part. When you're done watching the sunrise, you have many options from breakfast to hiking. My suggestion would be to get in the car and drive down Lookout Mountain Road into Golden, CO. Enjoy a twenty minute winding drive down the face of the mountain and enjoy the views of Golden and Denver. FYI, get someone else to drive so you don't have to take your eyes off of the beauty below!

(Look close and you can see the Denver Skyline)

Denver Sunrise | The Cabin Shack

(Google Maps - Lookout Mountain Road driving down from Buffalo Bill's Museum & Grave)

Lookout Mountain Road in Golden, Colorado


4. Go to Coffee on The Rocks in Estes Park

Maybe you're not in the mood for an adventure. Sometimes a newspaper, laptop, and hot coffee sound amazing. There's no better mountain coffee getaway than Coffee on the Rocks in Estes Park, CO. Daily coffee specials, morning treats, and local coffee goers give way to one the most picturesque coffee settings you'll find in the whole state of Colorado. As expected, the inside has a rustic charm and true Colorado coffee house feel. What you don't see at any other coffee houses is their own lake! Well, it may be defined as a pond, but either way it's breathtaking. The morning sun between Memorial Day and Labor Day teases you with it's warmth, but if there's a slight breeze it makes you realize you're in the state of Colorado. Drink your coffee, play with the geese, bring your dog, and enjoy this easy access coffee house.

 

Coffee on the Rocks in Estes Park, Colorado

Coffee on the Rocks Inside Estes Park, CO

 

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