Colorado – Great Lakes To The Rockies

Inca to Inuit - Great Lakes to the Rockies

Driving from Chicago to the Colorado Rockies is like a terrible novel you just have to finish. It is impossibly long, extremely boring and you’re glad when you’re at the end of it.

Inca to Inuit - Making friends in Chicago

After an impromptu jaunt to Toronto and spending a week in Chicago we were behind schedule and needed to make up time. We had a deadline of greeting Lyndsay’s sister, Kayleigh, in San Francisco a number of weeks later so had to burn up some miles.

Inca to Inuit - Running for the border, CN tower

After speaking to our friends in Chicago they had advised us that the best way to Denver was to just knuckle down and do two straight days of driving, as there would be nothing other than fields and cows. They were right.

Being told by your sat nav you have 320 miles before a turn is daunting enough, but realising that the ‘turn’ is in fact just another road merging and that you have an additional 270 miles straight is quite another.

Inca to Inuit - Colorado

After two days, and twenty hours of driving we got our first glimpse of the Rockies. They did not disappoint. The jagged mountain range creating the perfect alpine backdrop to the ski towns and resorts to the West of Denver. As as we passed through Denver on the i70 we started to climb up onto the foothills of this mighty range. Up and up we climbed and colder and colder it got as we weaved and climbed our way towards some of the most legendary US skiing destinations such as Vail and Breckenridge.


It started to snow as we climbed. 7,000 feet, 8,000 feet, 9,000. The higher we got the harder the snow fell. We finally reached the top with our poor little car clearly knackered. The poor ’97 Honda CRV had probably thought it was in for a nice quiet retirement in sunny Florida before we bought it. Now, at -2 degrees at the top of the Rockies it was protesting. This obviously wasn’t how it saw its latter years panning out.
We reached a pass at 11,000 feet by the Loveland Ski Area, passed through a huge tunnel bored straight through the mountain and out the other side to an incredible view of the falling valley stretching out before us. Going down turned out to be more treacherous than the ascent, but truckers didn’t see it that way, often ignoring caution signs and hurtling down the incredibly steep hill at breakneck speed. A number of times our breaks couldn’t hold us and the car would slide a little, so we reverted to driving to suit the age of our car, at 40mph like grannies. Hanging our heads out of the windows we monitored the break’s temperatures by smelling how much they were burning.

8 miles further on and the hill finally petered out into a beautiful emerald green valley surrounded by the white peaks of the Rockies. We had finally reached our destination, The Alpine Inn in Fresco. A lovely hotel with a hot tub (a huge luxury after our months of camping and budgeting) that got a lot of use during our visit.

Inca to Inuit - Colorado

The following day we awoke to a beautiful sunny day with the fresh snow from the following day just begging to be ridden. Lyndsay decided snowboarding wasn’t for her, I’m unsure how much of that was down to the fact that there was a Whole Foods supermarket next door, or whether there wasn’t a hot tub on the ski slopes. I ventured back up the mammoth hill that had almost killed our brakes the day before towards the Loveland Ski Area, and hired a board and boots and hit the slopes for a day’s snowboarding. The snow was amazing for a very late-season April day and even having not boarded for almost 2 years I had an epic time weaving in and out of the alpine forest on my board, creating a video on our GoPro that I was sure was worthy of the Red Bull’s YouTube channel. It would only be later on that afternoon when reviewing the footage that I would discover that far from looking like an extreme sports daredevil, I looked more like Bambi on ice.

Jake snowboarding

Inca to Inuit - Colorado

Returning to the hotel that afternoon, both Lyndsay and I felt as if we hadn’t seen each other in months. We realised that this was the longest we had spent apart since landing in Lima more than 6 months before. Although liberating to spend some time apart, it made us both realise how much of a team we were.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    21st July 2016 at 8:57 am

    An epic journey and as you said boring for two days. Just imagine a team of four and a chuck wagon going west for…..weeks!! Love the Bambi on ice and am in that club too!

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