How to spend the perfect Colorado day

As a family travel writer I am often asked by visitors, “If you were new to Denver and had just one day to see the nearby back- country, what would you do?”

Today, we did IT:

Namely, hiked to St. Mary’s Glacier and indulged in one of BeauJos Pizza’s famous mountain pies in nearby Idaho Springs, Colo.

St. Mary’s Glacier is one of the top tourist destinations in the area and for good reason: it’s located 45 minutes from Denver just 9 miles off I-70. I’ve done this hike every year since I moved to Denver.

Well, with the exception of when we arrived at the trailhead a couple of years ago and Jamie ran over Hadley’s foot with the car.

Gracious parents that we are, we let her forgo our annual adventure.

This is the second year in a row our kids have hiked to St. Mary’s Glacier by themselves. I wouldn’t call this a particularly easy hike (it’s really steep and rocky without adequate signage) but it is relatively short (just 3/4 mile to the base of the glacier).

There is also a big change this year. The lack of parking has been problematic and we were usually forced to perch on the shoulder of the road overlooking a steep cliff. Remember when Jamie ran over Haddie’s foot? That occurred whilst precariously parking. This year, they have a designated overflow lot that’ll cost you $5.

Well worth it to avoid trips to the hospital.

The steep, rocky hike:

Overlooking St. Mary’s Glacier and lake.

The 1.5-mile round-trip hike to the base of the glacier is only the start of the adventures. Every year, Hadley begs to go higher and higher. By next year, she’ll be capable enough to summit the darn thing along with the kamikaze skiers and snowboarders. This year, we held Adventure Girl back as much as we could.

It’s only a matter of time ’til she’s hauling her skis up there.

And dragging her poor mother down with her.

(Topping off a perfect day with BeauJo’s BBQ Chicken Mountain Pie in Idaho Springs)

Getting There: Take I-70 West from Denver, past Idaho Springs’ three exits. Take the next exit marked “Fall River Road.” Just past the bottom of the ramp, take a right (north) on Fall River Road. Follow this road up approximately 9 miles to one of two parking areas for the clearly marked trailhead to St. Mary’s Glacier.

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