How do you feel about mornings?
Is your alarm set for tomorrow?
It’s been a loooong time since we’ve had to get up for one, but, “Oh my,” was it worth it.
From our first Boondockers Welcome campsite just West of Denver, CO, we drove a couple hours South to our next stop, Smiling Toad Brewery, a Harvest Host in Colorado Springs. We were extra grateful for this place because it was only 20 minutes down the road to our next Point of Interest, Garden of the Gods.
We got settled in the parking lot and took a quick drive around town. When we got back, we went into the brewery for a beer and to get some work done. It was a small space, but you could tell the locals kept it busy; especially by the large selection of mugs they had hanging on the wall as part of their Mug Club. Acknowledging one another by names as each person walked in, this was just the small town feel we needed after being around so many people in the city.
We went to bed early that night with our 3:45AM alarms set.
Sunrise wasn’t until 6, but we wanted to give ourselves an ample amount of time to really wake up and find a good spot to watch sunrise in the park.
Thank goodness for that extra time, because we missed a turn and somehow ended up in The North Pole…
We left camp at 4:30AM and made it to the park just after 5AM. There’s a short one-way loop that goes around the park with different trailheads and parking lots. We took a lap around to get our bearings of where we wanted to see sunrise and where we wanted to start hiking.
We chose the Mesa Road Overlook for sunrise.
As for hiking, we kiiiiiinda wanted to do it all. It’s a relatively small park with lots of different trails intertwined and we knew we had a couple hours left of cool morning temperatures. We figured we would make the most of it and do as many trails as we could.
By 6:20, we made our way back around to the Central Gardens Parking lot; noticeably fuller than the first time we had driven by, but still not too many people around.
Now, I could be wrong, but I swear as soon as we parked and started walking, we were transported to a corner of Mars.
Right off the bat, you’re greeted by one of the coolest formations, the Kissing Camels.
Can you see them?
How about now?
Let’s get just a little bit closer to this sweet scene…
We followed the Central Garden Trail, wandering by the Kissing Camels, South Gateway Rock and through to the Sentinel and Cathedral Spires.
We took a moment appreciate our surroundings and these amazing rock structures before continuing along the Palmer Trail.
Just as we went to get on the trail, we noticed a beautiful falcon sitting on the bridge.
It was as unbothered and peaceful as could be as we inched closer and closer, knowing at any moment it could take off. After 5 minutes or so, it was clear it WANTED the photoshoot.
15minutes later, we made it up the Siamese Twins Trail, providing another beautiful view some incredible rock structures with the moon and Pike’s Peak in the distance.
The warmth of the sun was already starting to kick in so we decided to take the trail towards Balanced Rock versus continuing the trail to Cabin Canyon.
We made it to Balanced Rock just before 8 AM.
It took us about an hour to get back, taking the Strausenback Trail, a small portion of the Columbia Trail, and finally the Scotsman Trail before we made it back to the Central Garden.
Unsurprisingly, as we made our way back to the car, we were passing more and more people.
The Central Garden parking lot now entirely full, we quickly gave up our parking spot to another car and headed for home.
This was Balanced Rock as we left at 9:30AM.
We only did about 3.5 miles, but that early morning wake-up call was starting to kick in and we were TIRED. Thankfully, it was only 20 minutes back to our RV and a 2 hour drive to our next stop– another Boondockers Welcome, just outside of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Before we left the Denver area, there was one last thing we needed to do.
Do you remember the Denver Biscuit Company?
There’s a location in Colorado Springs…
We treated ourselves with one final delicious meal before heading “off-the-grid”.
As always, choose your fighter, which one are you ordering?
Last time, I had the Cordon Bleu and Devon had the DBC Club. This time, I had the Ellsworth and Devon had the Nashville Hot. We can confirm, this place never disappoints.
Gotta leave you wanting more…
Come back next time to read about life off-the-grid and the absolute HARDEST hike we have 1000% ever done.
Ten-Fold, weeks later, still haven’t don’t anything harder.