Estes Park, CO

Estes Park is a quaint, beautiful little town nestled at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park -- and it's easily one of my favorite places. My grandpa grew up taking his family to Estes every summer and I'm so thankful my parents followed suit and did the same. Over the past few years, I've been able to travel to Estes with close friends each fall and it's added another layer to a place that's already close to my heart.

      I love getting up early, driving up to the Bear Lake trailhead, and being on the trail by 7:45am. The morning sun is shining gently through the Aspen and Pine, it's quiet, and the trail is filled with a handful of hikers who enjoy the peace like I do.

Though I absolutely love summers in Estes, this fall trip made me appreciate Estes in all the seasons. Our last day, we woke up to snow! I'm not a cold weather person but once we were up in the mountains, the beauty made it quickly become one of my favorite traveling experiences. Not an ounce of wind, the sun was shining, air was crisp, and the stillness was a kind of peace that's impossible to describe. It was the epitome of a winter wonderland and we felt like we were the only ones experiencing the magic.

I'm not sure I can do Estes justice. It's just one of those places you have to experience to 'get it.' Whether it's waiting in line in front of the Donut Haus for fresh donuts, sitting on the river sipping Kind Coffee, or walking in and out of the shops in Downtown Estes while eating saltwater taffy, everyone is happy. Seriously, you'll never see an upset person. Estes is full of people that simply enjoy the little things in life.

Every time I drive in to Estes I roll down the windows to smell the pine and, in that instant, I know I'm home.