Colorado Road Trip Recap

April 26, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Devan and I try to take a road trip somewhere once a year; usually on her Spring Break. I always look forward to these trips because not only do they provide me with plenty of opportunities to stock up on "photo-of-the-days," but they're also a great way to break up the monotony of every day life. I also love our road trips because they're one of the few chances we get to take a break from work and spend time with each other (and Malin).


Last year, we wanted to go to Colorado, but we weren't sure if we'd be able to make it work financially. We eventually "settled" on South Dakota, which surprised us and turned to be an absolutely amazing trip. We had been to South Dakota a couple of years ago when we went to Wyoming for our honeymoon, but we didn't really spend any time there. Besides Badlands National park, it felt like we were visiting South Dakota for the very first time. 


This year, we decided we'd be able to make Colorado happen. Last year, we made the South Dakota trip official a month or so before Devan's Spring Break, so there wasn't too much waiting. This time, we made up our minds about Colorado four or five months in advance, and the wait was pretty brutal. At first, Devan wanted our trip to be three days, but I managed to convince her that we should extend it to four. 


Fast forward to March 28th. This was our first day in Colorado. I was afraid the drive was going to be too long to do in one day, but it actually went by really fast. We left Wisconsin around 7 a.m. and got to our hotel in Denver around 10 p.m. their time on the 27th. 


We woke up around 6:30 a.m. on the 28th and made our way to the Genesee Mountain Trail, which a friend of ours had recommended. The trail was pretty awesome, and had some great views. Devan and I had thought we were just going to be looking at trees the entire time we hiked, so we were pretty excited when we found out we'd be able to see mountains for most of the hike. After the hike, we spent the rest of the day driving around the Rockies and eventually ended up in Golden, Colorado. 


The next day, our plan was to head to Rocky Mountain National Park. It was raining in Denver and snowing up in the mountains, but we decided to head up anyway. The roads weren't that bad, and it was cool seeing the park while snow was falling, even if it impacted the visibility quite a bit.


After spending a few hours in the park, we drove to Boulder to get some lunch. It was way too early to head back to the hotel, so I opened Google Maps, found a road that went into the mountains, and we decided to drive on that until we got bored. While on our drive, we spotted our first herd of elk. Getting a photo of elk was pretty high on my wishlist, since I kind of missed the opportunity when we were in Wyoming a few years ago. We pulled off in a few different spots, and I was able to get a couple of photos. The photos weren't anything spectacular, but they were better than nothing.


The plan for the our third day in Colorado was to head back to Rocky Mountain National Park for a few hours, and then drive three hours south to Buena Vista, Colorado to visit our friend Kelsey. This time, the sun was out, and the park looked completely different. We saw another herd of elk, and I got a photo of them way off in the distance. We hopped in the car and drove to get closer, but they were gone by the time we got there. 


We left the park around 2 p.m. to make our way to Kelsey's. The drive was beautiful, but we ended up being about an hour and a half late. Kelsey showed us around her parents' bed and breakfast, and then we went to a restaurant close by for dinner. We were only able to stay for about an hour since we had to drive three hours to get back to Denver, but it was great seeing Kelsey and definitely worth the drive. 


On our last day, we went hiking on a trail in Peaceful Valley Campground. The trail head was pretty tricky to find and we were driving in circles for a little bit. When we finally found the trail, we were greeted with a sign warning us about bears, and that if a moose saw our dog, it would try to stop her. We were on pretty high-alert the entire hike.


This trail was basically the exact opposite of the first trail we hiked on. This trail was covered in snow, and the only views we really had were of pine trees. We didn't make it very far before we turned around because Devan and Malin kept falling through the knee-high snow. After hiking, we went into Boulder, Colorado for some lunch, and then headed back to Rocky Mountain National Park. 


When Devan and I went to Yellowstone/Grand Teton National Park, every night we would sit in this one spot while the sun went down and watched the animals go to wherever they slept. Our plan was to try to find a similar spot on our last night with the hope of seeing, at the very least, elk. 


As soon as we drove through the entrance, we saw a heard of elk right by the side of the road. I jumped out with my camera and 300mm attached and began snapping away. After shooting the elk for about 10 minutes, we were off to try to find our spot. 


Since we had already spent two days in the park, we had a pretty good idea of where we were going to sit. We had about two or three hours until sunset, so we decided to drive down on some roads that we hadn't been down yet. We drove around for maybe an hour, and then we stopped at an overlook to take in Rocky Mountain National Park at sunset. After sitting there for 30 minutes or so, we headed to our spot.


We probably spent around an hour in our spot, scanning the open field, anxiously hoping that we'd see anything. We eventually moved to a different spot, and sat there for another 30 minutes. By this time, the sun had pretty much set, and there were probably only about 15 minutes of sunlight left. Just as we were about to give up, an elk came out of the forest, headed to the pond to take a drink, and then headed back.


Devan and I drove to the tree line where we had watched the elk disappear. When we got there, we were ecstatic to see that the lone elk had gone back to a small herd of elk that were grazing pretty close to the side of the road. Seeing elk up as close as we did and getting to watch them until we lost interest was probably the best way to end our trip. 


I really wasn't looking forward to the drive back. I thought the drive to Colorado went by so fast because I was excited for our vacation. I figured since we were just going home and not somewhere exciting, the drive would feel like it took forever. Surprisingly, the drive home felt like it didn't take any time at all (excluding the portion after the Wisconsin boarder, which felt like it took years to finish). 


We had so much fun on our trip and it went by so fast, it almost doesn't feel like we went at all. The idea that we considered only spending three days there at first is ridiculous to me now, since four days didn't seem like nearly enough time. If you haven't been out to Rocky Mountain National Park, I would highly recommend it! 


Devan and i have already begun planning our trip for next year. I thought five months of waiting was bad, we'll see how 12 goes...


Here's a link to all of the photos from our trip: Link


Here's a link to a condensed version of the link from above: Link


Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip:


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Dan Pomykalski (PAWM-I-KALS-kee) is a portrait photographer based in Madison, WI. Dan works with both individual clients and larger organizations, such as the Wisconsin Alumni Foundation, the Janesville Jets, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Wisconsin-Rock County. Dan was also the photo editor for the student-run newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the Royal Purple, for the 2013 Spring and 2013 Fall semesters. Although Dan's clients are mostly from the Dane County area, he is more than happy to travel wherever necessary. 

Dan's photographs have been described as impressive, dramatic, and beautiful. Dan doesn't offer the cheapest prices, and his work reflects that. The client can expect a stress-free experience and high-quality photos to be delivered in a timely fashion. 

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Although Dan is primarily a portrait photographer, he has ample amounts of experience in other types of photography such as weddings, events, product photography, real estate, and sport photography.


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