Winter time in Virginia is usually down season for wedding photographers which honestly is so nice! It’s hard to go at the pace we go during the rest of the year without a break so while winter can be hard because of the cold, it’s a gift to have a little time off!! I have spent the last couple months editing all my personal photos from this last year and I am getting through them slowly but surely. I just finished editing photos from my trip with Sam out to Colorado this past fall and I am so excited to share them because it has been a while since I’ve done a travel blog post!
Because of Covid, this year looked a lot different than I thought it would. We got married back in November 2019 (thankfully just before Covid) and I had big plans of traveling all over the world this first year with Sam. Because we didn’t live together before we got married, we didn’t really travel together much so we spent so much of our dating days dreaming of our trips once we were married. We mainly wanted to see a few countries in Europe but I’m sure if Covid hadn’t been a thing we probably would have hit another continent as well.
But…. things changed quickly when Covid hit. I never would have thought our first year of marriage we wouldn’t have even been able to travel. It was really hard for us because we both adore seeing the world and knew it would be amazing to finally do it together. As you can expect, Europe didn’t happen. Other countries didn’t happen. BUT, once we started going stir crazy from not traveling, we decided we might as well see as much of the U.S. as possible. The U.S. has so much variety in its scenery and landscapes so we are super thankful to have gone to Florida and Colorado during this wild time. That definitely helped our travel bug a bit and this trip to Aspen/Denver was especially fun for me because I had been a couple times before but Sam hadn’t so I got to show him around. I visited Aspen at the peak of fall a couple years before Sam and I started dating and I was truly blown away. It was one of the spots I knew I had to take him! Since he had never been to Colorado before, he kept asking me to describe it and I didn’t even know what to say besides that there were amazing mountains because it really is one of those places that you just have to experience in person.
So that’s just what we did! We flew into Denver and drove to Aspen through Independence Pass the first day and it was just as insane as I remembered. The peak of fall ended up being a little bit later this year than it was when I went last time so we didn’t time it perfectly but I was SO glad we still got to see some yellow Aspen trees! That was really what I went for. Haha! There were also a lot of wildfires in CA and CO when we went and landing in Denver, we couldn’t see ANYTHING but smoke so I was terrified we weren’t going to see anything in Aspen but thankfully, the wind wasn’t blowing the smoke in that direction and it was clear! Driving to Aspen is such a crazy thing because you go from being at 5,000 feet above sea level to being at 14,000 in about two hours! I remembered the last time I drove there I was sick with a cold so I felt a little out of it but I didn’t realize a big reason for that was because of the altitude. Sam and I quickly started giggling because we felt super dizzy and just weird! I knew being hydrated was really important so we just kept stopping for all the water. Haha!
When we finally made it, we checked into our ADORABLE little hotel called Hotel Durant which I would HIGHLY recommend. It was really small so there weren’t a ton of rooms but it was a lot cheaper than most of the other places in Aspen. Aspen is ridiculously bougie and everything is really pricey so finding this was a goldmine, especially with there being a bit of an extra discount during Covid. The next two days we spent in Aspen and my top favorite things were seeing Maroon Bells (we took a shuttle up there which was super nice!), riding the Aspen Snowmass gondola up to the very top, just strolling the pristine downtown of Aspen, and while this was technically on the drive TO Aspen, the Independence Pass overlook!
After a couple of days in Aspen, we went back to Denver for another two days! The city of Denver is a lot different than Aspen and definitely not as much my style but there are a lot of really great things within a two (to four) hour drive that we did! We did the easy hike at Grottos Ice Caves one day, visited Garden of the Gods of course, we went to Maritou Cliff Dwellings, and we drove all the way out to the sand dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park, which ended up being a four hour drive there and four hour drive home ALL IN THE SAME DAY. We are crazzzzzyyyy but we didn’t know what else do to and we really wanted to see it sooo… YOLO?? It was fun and we just barely made it before sunset so we are REALLY glad we got to see that!
Overall, Aspen was my favorite and I would definitely encourage anyone to go! It’s such a great place to visit in the summer or fall and obviously if you’re a winter sports person, you couldn’t really be in a more perfect place! So I hope this inspires you to get out there and see all these amazing spots that are right in our country if you’re not able to do much traveling right now! Let me know if you have any questions about anything we did. You can also see my Colorado Instagram story here!