Casie, Olivia, Camille and Cass at Rocky Mountain National Park

Travel Journal: Breckinridge and Estes Park, Colorado

Seen through the eyes of: Casie Jefcoat

Who went: My husband Cass and I, along with our daughters Olivia (15) and Camille (11)

Hoosier Pass, elevation 11,542 feet

We went because: The last time we were in Colorado during the summer was 19 years ago.  We have been snow skiing in the Rockies with our girls, but wanted them to experience it in the summer. Cass wants to retire in Colorado … we will see. I am not sure I can handle the winter months. 

How our plans changed because of COVID:  We were thinking about going prior to COVID but were looking at other options as well. After COVID hit, the other options were no longer viable. Once we began looking at flights, it became a pretty easy choice (super cheap and direct flight into Denver!).

Special items we took in order to stay safe or isolated: Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and a variety of masks. Note: TSA will search your bag if you have Clorox wipes in a gallon Ziploc bag.  

Where we stayed: We stayed in an Airbnb in both locations. Both were condos downtown, which was perfect for exploring the towns by foot. If you are looking for more seclusion, both towns have those options as well.

Sapphire Point in Breckinridge

Where we ate: In Breckenridge, Downstairs at Eric’s was nice with a pub atmosphere. Two other favorite treats were Mountain Top Cookie Shop and Higgles Ice Cream. Downtown Breckenridge was blocked off so restaurants could put tables and chairs in the street. It was perfect weather to sit outside and relish the views.

Favorite dish on the menu: The gluten-free pizza at Downstairs at Eric’s was a surprise, you would have ever known.  

Favorite historic landmark: Rocky National Park was absolutely breathtaking.  

Attraction worth a drive-by: On our way from Estes Park to Denver, we went through Boulder and visited Boulder Falls.  

Fun experience off the beaten path: We took Trail Ridge Road, which is open to uphill traffic only. It has very steep grades, narrow lanes, and hairpin curves that challenge motorists as they ascend more than 3,000 feet to Fall River Pass.  

Cass and Camille at Old River Fall Road in Rocky Mountain National Park

Worth the splurge: I made fun of my husband for wanting to rent a Jeep and ride through the mountains. I told him that he was not 19 anymore and if it was going to be miserable, I was going to remind him the entire trip. Needless to say, I didn’t have to remind him. Our kids even learned about the “Jeep wave.”  

Not worth the splurge: We went to Vail for the day and rode the gondola up to the top of the mountain (in Breckenridge it is free, but it’s $48 per person in Vail). We didn’t pay attention to the weather or what time it was. When we got up there, it started to rain and we were not able to explore. Also, if lightning occurs, many of the attractions are closed and you must remain on the mountain. Your choices then become getting drenched on a hike or sitting in a restaurant with your mask on.  

How this vacation differed from others pre-coronavirus: I don’t think I would have ever made our children stand outside of our condo while I went in and wiped everything down with Lysol and Clorox wipes. It was very different going to a restaurant and using a QR scanner to look at our menu.  

Advice for traveling during a pandemic: Use common sense but GO!

We would suggest this trip to others because: Everyone should experience the Rocky Mountains in their lifetime. The contrast of the experience you will have between summer and winter is extraordinary, but both are equally beautiful.