modern moose


Whether you visit in Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter – Colorado has no shortage of activities for people of all ages and skillsets.

You already know about the most common things to do, so this page is all about the uncommon, or off-the-beaten-path options we’ve enjoyed over the years.

Our favorite drive

This can easily be an all-day trip or you can shorten it to about 6 hours…

Warning: We strongly recommend you start out very early, like 5am, to complete this trip in the winter as it gets dark early and the mountain roads are not fun at night. This route takes you over several mountain pass summits; do not attempt when snow and ice are present or possible.

Head over to Breckenridge and then south on 9 towards Fairplay.

(Fun fact: Fairplay is the actual town that the TV show “Southpark” is based on. Some of the people in the town were caricaturized in the show).

Grab some coffee and breakfast at the Java Moose, Open 7am to 2pm Thursday thru Monday (closed Tues/Wed)

Java Moose

 . . . Free WiFi
      . . . Open year-round
         . . . Good for groups
            . . . Walk-ins welcome
               . . . Take-out available
                  . . . Outdoor seating available
                     . . . Parking lot and on-street parking

From there you can go South to Hartsel or East to Pine Junction
We suggest you go South to Hartsel; it’s a great drive at that time of the day and you want to end up in Pine later in the day for a special experience.
Then head towards Woodland Park, stopping at the many scenic lookouts on the way.
When you get to Woodland Park – if you took your time, it might be about lunchtime. Many options there, but if you want something more special, jaunt down south on 24 to Manitou Springs.

Manitou Springs

Known for its mineral springs and mountain landscapes, dominated by soaring Pikes Peak.

You won’t find any chain restaurants in Manitou Springs; here’s a link to check for options:
You could easily spend the better part of a day just in this wonderful little town.

You could tangent even more at this point and run up Pikes Peak – either by car or from Manitou Springs you can take the Cog Railway:

Or go off-script altogether and head into Garden of the Gods – there’s an entrance to it right from Manitou Springs!

Garden of the Gods

With 1,300 acres of sandstone formations, this park offers a visitor center & hiking trails. Open year-round, it’s an amazing place to go for so many reasons.

OK, get back on track!
From Woodland Park, head north on 67 to Deckers.

Stop at Deckers Corner for some ice cream and coffee ( and then check out the fly fishing in the stream across the street. If you’re into fly fishing, this spot is one of the best in the entire state!

Then, you want to head up towards Pine where more adventure awaits…

You want to try and find the Bucksnort Saloon ( It can be tricky to find the correct road to turn off 67, but it’s well worth the effort. The address is 15921 S Elk Creek Rd, Pine, CO 80470
Have a beer, buy a T-shirt, enjoy this unique restaurant and bar in Sphinx Park, a place mostly only the locals go to. The boulders along the road to the Bucksnort will blow your mind, it’s like you’re transported to another place another time.

If it’s dinner time, the burgers are good, but if you’re looking for something else or it’s early yet, carry on to Pine Junction.
At Pine Junction, you’re turning left onto 285. At this intersection, there’s a fly fishing shop, general store, gas station, and back behind all that is Crossroads Pub and Grill ( Great place for dinner.

Still too early? OK, head south on 285 back towards Fairplay. You’ll come to a little town called Bailey. This is where we used to live.

If you want local fare local style, stop in at the Cutthroat cafe. The experience is much better than the food, but still, we would go there often enough…

Looking for upscale, high quality? Try the Knotty Pine.

Seating is limited in both although the cafe has a deck around back if you want to eat outside.

Want something truly unique? Right outside Bailey is the Coney Island Boardwalk; a 1950s diner shaped like a giant hot dog, with toppings.

At this point you might be done for the day, head back to Fairplay, up route 9 to Frisco and back over the Wildernest. Along the way, though, there will be so many other sights to see, places to pull off and view Colorado’s splendor.

If you want to take an alternate route back, instead of through Fairplay and Breckenridge, from 285 past Bailey, in the town of Grant, take the Guanella Pass Rd (just past the Shaggy Sheep). This road is closed in winter.

Guanella Pass

Closed in winter, this not very well maintained road will take you through the mountains and above the treeline for some of the most incredible terrain and views you’ve ever seen. At the end of it, you climb down the switchbacks into historic Georgetown – and from there you’re basically at I70, go west to exit 205 for Silverthorne.

If you stay on 285 to Fairplay, one of the views that always gets us is; right after cresting Kenosha Pass (a summit of 10,000 feet), as you come around the mountain, the left side opens up to one of the most awe-inspiring views, we still love it everytime we take this drive.

Kenosha Pass

If you have time, there’s plenty of parking at the summit. Several hiking trails to choose from. You don’t have to commit to a long trek, sometimes we just wander around for 30 minutes in a random direction, especially in the fall when the aspen leaves are changing colors.

Hoosier Pass

After Fairplay and then Alma, you come to Hoosier Pass at 11,539 feet and this is also a Continental Divide. Fun fact: there are many continental divides, what it means is that on one side water flows east to the Atlantic and on the other water flows west to the Pacific. Anyway, you passed over this one earlier in the day as well.

After cresting this summit, you’re soon back in Breck, Frisco, and then the Modern Moose!


So, the basic loop is above, but maybe you have a specific interest – just route yourself there the best way possible with Google, Waze, or other. We recommend these destinations that can easily fill an entire day:

Pikes Peak – MUST get to the top. Cog Railway is really cool. Driving can be really scary. If driving, take the downhill seriously, do NOT overheat your brakes. If in doubt, take the railway. PS if you park at the cog railway and you don’t go on the railway, they will tow you guaranteed. They don’t fool around with that.

Manitou Springs and Garden of the Gods. Shopping, eating, you have to try the mineral springs water – there’s a fountain in town. Garden of the Gods – driving through and stopping at places like “Balancing Rock” or hiking the many trails, going to the gift shop, it can be several hours of the best sights you’ve ever seen.

Fly Fishing in Deckers. While you can literally drive down the hill to the Silverthorne Outlet Mall, park, walk across into the river and start casting (and many people do), you will find true world-class fly fishing in Deckers.

And There’s More!

We love Idaho Springs

  • You can go into the hot springs at Indian Hot Springs; there’s a pool heated by the springs and you can also get spa treatments.
  • If you like pizza, you have to try Beau Jo’s mountain pies. Everything about this place is an experience!
  • Just stroll down the sidewalks of this historic mountain town, plenty of shops and sights
  • You can access White Water Rafting
  • Loveland Skiing

We try to always eat at the Fort!

The Fort in Morrison

The Fort is a full scale adobe replica of a famous 19th century fur trading fort. The menu is inspired by the Trappers, traders and American Indian recipes of that era, and they’re known as “New Foods of the Old West”. The Fort sells more buffalo entrees than any other independent restaurant, and is known for game meats, seafood, vegetarian options, and home made desserts.

The Fort is in Morrison, right next door to the Red Rocks Amphitheater – go to both if you can – concert or no concert!

So that’s our list, although it may be constantly expanding as we venture out into the great state of Colorado!

We hope you take advantage of everything Colorado has in terms of great outdoor experiences!


Susan and Jim