Thursday, November 2, 2023

2023 Road Trip - The Cooler Weather Tour - Park City, UT -- upper Colorado -- back home

Continued from Central Idaho (Salmon River, Stanley, Sawtooth National Forest, Ketchum/Sun Valley) 

(or, you can start at the beginning here as it includes links to all the segments)

We continued on our way to Park City, Utah and got a last minute spot at Jordanelle State Park. It was one of the few RV/van overnight options in the area as Park City has their overnight parking on lockdown. The state park is really nice, right on a big lake, has a community sailing and paddle center, boat ramp and beaches. 

I did a good bit of mountain biking including the the Mid-Mountain IMBA Epic route and another big Park City Mountain loop…classic mountain single track with great views, tech, flow, challenging climbs and fun downhill finishes. The rides gave me a good view of how much ski terrain is at this mountain. It’s a lot!

We drove up above Deer Valley and hiked the Bloods Lake/Lake Lackawaxen trail. Got caught in a surprise thunderstorm and hail on the way back to the van. Got drenched and lucky we didn’t get a lightning strike too close to us although it was scary for a while. Moose did great, he didn’t seem scared at all and seemed to enjoy the drenching. 

The drive up and down the mountain from the trailhead was super steep. Amazing how they have paved roads up & over Park City & Deer Valley mountains. It was our first time in Park City and I was a bit surprised how developed it was…and a bit surprised in the continued development across the many hills and mountains. There weren’t many untouched spots. Deer Valley is in the middle of doubling their available ski mountain terrain along with more lodging, condos, etc. 

Most of the ski resort towns we ventured through had road reconstruction efforts, new building construction, renovations and new lift construction occurring. I guess summer is the time to do it before winter kicks in.

aspens in summer on the Park City Mountain trails

Park City Mountain Biking

a rocky portion of the trail to Lackawaxen Lake

Lackawaxen Lake



more Moose spotting

the great views from our friends, the Coles, house in Steamboat Springs, CO

We’ve been singing the praises of Idaho but Colorado is like an old friend. Pulling into the state just felt so good and so right. Like your favorite pair of worn jeans. 

Great mountain towns have a river running through it. Steamboat and Lyons are no exception. People having fun swimming and tubing in the rivers. What a great way to cool off in the summer. Grand Lake was new to us and really nice. They seem to still be recovering from their big October 2020 wildfire. Got in some mountain biking there before being chased off the trail by a thunderstorm, but we were treated to a double rainbow later from our dispersed camping site above town. Touring Rocky Mountain National Park was of course a major wow factor.

It was particularly nice to be visiting great friends. The Coles in Steamboat, then the Sullivans in Lyons. Kris and I (& Moose) are so grateful for their hospitality and generosity. Aside from the fun of visiting with friends, it was very satisfying to see how they’ve made their lives in their respective towns. The Coles with an amazing view from their property and making friends all over town. 

The Sullivans started making their lives in Lyons 15 yrs ago and are the owners of two popular businesses there. If you’re in the Rocky Mountain National Park or Boulder area, spend time in Lyons and check out both St Vrain Market (groceries, fresh baked goods & fresh made food to go) and Spirit Hound Distillers (major award winning whiskey, gin & more) in Lyons. You’ll be glad you did.

visiting our friends, the Coles

mountain biking in Grand Lake, CO

The Colorado River outside Grand Lake, CO

dispersed overnight camping spot above Grand Lake, CO

double rainbow after a thunderstorm 

Rocky Mountain National Park

Neil & I in Lyons, CO

at Spirit Hound Distillery in Lyons, CO with the Sullivans & friends

St Vrain Market in Lyons, CO

The Cooler Weather Tour was renamed Hell’s Front Porch Tour as we drove from Colorado to SC. It started to get hot while we were in Lyons, CO but we had the nice river to cool off in…and just standing in the shade out west is relief. But now the central and southern US was gripped by another heat wave and we were driving right through it. Temps in the low 100s with the heat index much higher. 

But thanks to great friends & their hospitality, we survived and had a lot of fun on the final stretch home. A fun dinner out with the Coens in Kansas City and got to stay at Katie’s place that night. An amazing stay over in Franklin, TN with the Kelsos & visiting with them and the Surratts. A great lunch with the Mathiesons in Birmingham AL on our way to our final stop…visiting with our youngest in Auburn AL. War Eagle!

We’re so grateful for family and friends and very appreciative of their hospitality & friendship.

Katie in Kansas City

visiting with our friends, the Kelso's & Surratt's, in Franklin, TN


It's August 28th. We’re now home. The van has been returned to its owners in great shape and we’re reflecting on the trip. Still digesting it. I think Moose misses the van and our adventures. He looks super bored waiting out the days inside now because of the heat and humidity. 

Moose’s Road Trip Adventure from WaterTurtle Media on Vimeo.

The Cooler Weather Tour - By the Numbers:

9550 miles driven 
60 days
59 nights
8 nights with friends in their homes
7 nights with family at an AirBnB rental
41 nights in a row in the van (44 nights total)
21 states driven through 
13 states we stayed & played in
7 National Parks
8 National Forests
2 National Lakeshores
1 National Monument
5 State Parks
6 Scenic Byways 
338 biking miles
1 oil change 
2 new rear tires
>1 local craft beer consumed in each state 
1 errant hail & thunderstorm while hiking
21 books read (via audio) by Kris
2 books read by Mac
Lost count of lakes/rivers Moose swam in
Lost count of new friends for Moose