March 20, 2014

Destination: Denver, CO

Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Commerce City, CO - November 2013
(c) Thrifty Gypsy

Ah, Denver.  The Mile High City.  For an East Coast dweller like myself, there's just something about the West that beckons you to visit and dares you not to fall in love.  Last November I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Denver for a weekend, which provided a wonderful opportunity to get a basic orientation to the general metro area and the sights and activities which set Denver apart.

I arrived in Denver International at noon on a Friday and was picked up by an Advantage Rent A Car bus.  The car rental process was smooth, relatively inexpensive, and very swift.  I'd made a reservation through Orbitz for the cheapest option available for the weekend and was presented with a 2012 Chevy Malibu.  Smooth ride.  

From the airport I proceeded to my first stop: Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge just east of Denver itself in Commerce City.  The refuge is a unique oasis of wildlife, boasting over 15,000 acres of prairie, wetland, and forest and providing a home to over 330 species of animals, including bison!  You can spend a very pleasant hour or two driving slowly throughout the preserve, stopping occasionally to watch the prairie dogs playing or the bison stoically munching away on the prairie grass.

Why, hello there, Mr. Bison!
(c) Thrifty Gypsy

Suburban Oasis
(c) Thrifty Gypsy

Prairie Dog Kisses
(c) Thrifty Gypsy

"Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play..."
(c) Thrifty Gypsy

It was so peaceful.
(c) Thrifty Gypsy

Can I live here?!
(c) Thrifty Gypsy

Harsh beauty.
(c) Thrifty Gypsy

Mule deer
(c) Thrifty Gypsy

After getting my fill of the prairie wind, tumbleweed, and mule deer, I proceeded to Westminster, CO., to my friend's place for the evening.

On Saturday we walked through various parks in the area before heading out to a tour of the Coors Brewing Company in Golden, CO.  This place is a mecca for any beer connoisseur - even if you're not a fan of the particular beer brand itself!  The tour itself is free, but be prepared for long lines on weekends and beautiful days.  Parking is offsite, and Coors will bus you in to their actual brewery location just a few blocks away, giving you a brief history of the company's founding by German immigrant Adolph Coors in 1873.

The copper vats were pretty cool.  And the smell?
It was... interesting.

(c) Thrifty Gypsy

Once on-site, you're stopped to pose for a cheesy, cardboard-Coors hat photo, handed an audio guide, and released into the self-guided brewery tour.  I'm no beer snob, so I tended to flit rather quickly through the various stages of the tour until I reached the ultimate goal: the free beer tasting at the end!

That's right.  At the end of the tour, you're allowed three FREE 8 oz tastings of several beers offered on tap.  Be forewarned - three beers may not be enough!

If your thirst isn't quenched, you can walk into "downtown" Golden, Colorado, where there are many different restaurants and bars along the main roadway.  We chose to eat at the Golden Hotel, which is situated beside Clear Creek.  Our waitress was personable, friendly, but not overly intrusive - she provided excellent service. The meal was also great, and I just loved the ambiance of the restaurant and the beautiful decor of the hotel lobby. I wish I could come back to visit in the summer and eat outside; it appeared as if they had outdoor seating for the warmer months. A wedding was in progress in another part of the hotel, and it was a beautiful location for a reception.

The rest of my time in Denver was spent socializing with my good friend, whom I hadn't seen in over a year.  The weekend merely whet my appetite for Denver and Colorado in general, and I hope to return to spend more time in the outdoors, preferably in the summer!

~ Just a Thrifty Gypsy

I'll be back, Colorado.
(c) Thrifty Gypsy


Rough Costs:
$367   Plane Ticket, Richmond to Denver (booked only 2 weeks prior, so not the best price)
$60     Rental Car for three days
$25     Food for the weekend


  1. What a backdrop, Katrina! And prairie dogs kissing- has to be a first :)

    1. I couldn't get enough of those prairie dogs! It was all I could do not to take one home with me and make it into a pet.


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