A Drive Through the Rocky Mountains: Breckenridge & Aspen

05 October 2013

This past weekend I was able to host not one but two couch surfers! As I mentioned in Walking in Denver, I spent last Saturday showing Alma around the city and then in the evening Romain from Bordeaux, France joined us. In the morning, Alma had to part to continue her journey to Portland which was too bad because she missed out on our mini Colorado road trip.

breckenridge, colorado

We set out early Sunday morning for Breckenridge. If you recognize this city, you probably know it for one of two reasons: snow sports and beer. As it isn't the appropriate season yet, we couldn't do any skiing or snowboarding (though I'm sure Romain was ok with that). Also Romain is only 19 years old and those pesky American laws say that he cannot drink. So here we were in the city of Breckenridge and we couldn't even do either of the things that it is most famous for!

breckenridge, colorado

Romain didn't mind, though. As he said, so far in his tour of America he had only seen metropolises so it was nice to get out of the city and see what a real American town looked like. I'm not sure that Breckenridge represents a "real American town" but it certainly is adorable. The main street is lined with shops and cafes and made for a relaxing afternoon. Romain mentioned that the town seemed very Swiss. I agreed, the town definitely had the air of a village in the Alps.

breckenridge, colorado

After we ambled up and down the main street, we grabbed the cooler I had packed and relaxed by the river. There we had lunch and enjoyed the alpine charm of the town. I think that's got to be one of my favorite things about Colorado- the boundless natural beauty. The skies are almost blue and there's usually a white mountain in the distance. A complete 180 from Ohio!

breckenridge, colorado

Also, we couldn't have timed this trip any better. I was worried that we wouldn't see any of the fall colors as the leaves had just barely started to change in Denver but it turns out things are a bit different in the mountains. Nearly all the trees had donned their autumn hues which made for a spectacular drive up (we were stopping every few minutes to take pictures!). Luckily I didn't wait a few more days or I would have been greeted by snow instead!

breckenridge, colorado

Upon finishing our packed lunch, Romain treated me to some pastries in town. It was kind of funny going to an "authentic French bakery" with an authentic French person. He looked around the shop, "Wow, it all looks very good."

And then he saw the prices, "Are you serious? Almost 4 dollars for a croissant? This is snack food in France! Who would pay 4 dollars for a croissant? And the chocolate eclairs! Just as outrageously expensive!"

Luckily this conversation was in French so no one at the authentic French bakery could understand us complaining about the prices. We eventually settled on a large brioche to split and then set off.

breckenridge, colorado

Next up was a drive across Independence Pass which is part of the Continental Divide. It's kind of cool to to think about; if precipitation falls to one side, it goes to the Atlantic Ocean and if it falls to the other it ends up in the Pacific Ocean.  Idk, maybe I'm just a nerd but I've always found that super interesting!


Up here there were no more fall colors. We had now entered a tundra. At a certain point there were no more trees, only grasses and, at this time of year, snow!

One thing I learned about being in the mountains is how deceptive the sun can be. Driving in the car up the mountains we were actually hot but the second we stepped out the car we were whipped in the faces by blustery, cold winds. I snapped my pictures then quickly ran back to the car for shelter.

independence pass, mountain, colorado, continental divide

After enjoying the views of the drive we emptied out right into our next stop; Aspen. Much like Breckenridge, we had come to the city during off season so we had to find ways to entertain ourselves. Near the base of the ski resort there was a bocce ball court which is very similar to the French game pétanque so we played that for a bit. Romain, however, got frustrated. 

"The balls are too big and heavy!"

"That's because it's bocce not pétanque!" 

belly up, aspen

We wandered around the town for a bit and I have to admit, I was surprised. Maybe I'm mistaken, but ever since I was little I had been led to believe that Aspen was a super hoity-toity ski town, made to cater to the rich. I really didn't get that vibe, though. It seemed a lot like Breckenridge; small, charming, and unpretentious.

the apache relay

We passed our evening at Belly Up to see and amazing band, The Apache Relay. Seriously, if you like folksy rock music, you will love these guys. They always put on a great show full of energy and they're just generally awesome guys!

After the show we were exhausted so went straight to sleep. The next day had a lot more driving ahead of us!

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6 comments

  1. I stayed in Keystone a LONGGGG time ago, but we made a day trip to Breckenridge. It's such a pretty town!!!

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    1. Yeah it's cute! I went to Keystone last year for Thanksgiving. It's also a lovely town with great slopes!

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  2. Awe I grew up in the Alberta Rockies(Close-ish to Jasper) and I love driving through the mountain towns like Jasper & Banff and their respective national parks. The Colorado Rockies sound amazing!

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    1. They truly are amazing! I've been out here for two months now and they still take my breath away. I'd love to see the Canadian side sometime!

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  3. This looks like a great little adventure. Such a beautiful town and setting with some fabulous scenery.

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