Last summer, a friend and I decided to make a rather spontaneous trip to an equally unexpected location. Despite my passport being freshly printed, I opted away from the more expensive, usual enticing trips across continents that most undergrads desire to go on and traveled instead to our own countryâ€™s very own Colorado.
Â Â Ok, my friend and I didnâ€™t just decide on Colorado for no reason. We had at least one good reason and another fairly decent excuse to visit this specific state. The first was that a small town right outside of Denver was going to be hosting a spectacular 3-day concert event, sort of like Coachella but on a smaller scale, called the Monolith Festival at the Red Rocks amphitheater. The event had a large number or musicians and bands both of us enjoyed, such as Justice, Cansei De Ser Sexy, Pwrfl Power, and many others, who would be performing in an amphitheater placed directly between two geologically formed, 300 foot red sandstone monoliths, giving the venue a tremendous beauty and near perfect acoustics.
Â Â Â As it turns out, going to Colorado for the Monolith Festival was definitely reason enough to make a trip to this humble state. The acoustics were simply amazing. Even when sitting in the nosebleeds of this huge amphitheater, the sound of the music coming far down on the stage was loud enough to sound as though you were right in front of the band. Combine this with the amazing scenery, a rather astounding lack of annoying hipsters, and the crisp, clean air, and youâ€™ve got one heck of a music festival.
After our three day musical bonanza up in Red Rocks, my friend and I headed back into the Denver area to check out what else we could find to do before our weeklong visit was up. After an amazing hike up a decently sized mountain and a few asthma related issues with my friend, we decided to check out the Butterfly Pavilion, located in Westminster, which is in the northern part of the Denver city sprawl area. Though small, this place is also worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Colorado with nothing to do.
Upon entry to this little museum, youâ€™re greeted with a very kid friendly environment, with rooms showcasing the best in creepy crawlies and sea creatures, as well as some amazing giant robotic ants and other insects as big as mustangs to show you just how extinct we would be if insects were bigger than humans. But the real treasure in this museum is definitely the Tropical Conservatory, home to around 50 different species of butterflies and moths from around the world. My friend and I spent nearly 2 hours in this greenhouse looking around with our mouths open, standing as still as possible to entice possible landings on our shoulders.
The last, less rational reason I wanted to visit Colorado was a personal one. Some of my favorite childhood memories take place in a little town I moved to when I was nine called Manitou Springs. Itâ€™s located about an hour south of Denver, right next to the better known Colorado Springs. Surprisingly, this area turned out to have just as much to offer as the Denver area did, with even more amazing natural rock formations to gape at, plus other great tourist destinations like the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, which is, for train buffs, the worlds highest cog railroad, as well as the highest train in the United States. It climbs up the 14,110-foot mountain called Pikes Peak, named after the first white man to ever climb it, who also has one of the coolest names ever, Zebulon Montgomery Pike.Â
So if you ever find yourself with a hankering to get away from the tamer mountain ranges of California, and you canâ€™t or donâ€™t want to leave the United States, consider some alternatives stateside. From my experience alone I can tell that Colorado is a great choice for people with a passion for pristine natural beauty, trains, or rocks, as well as people who love rocking out in the middle of rocks.