Road Trips

4 things to do in Colorado that aren’t hiking (or skiing)

About exactly a year ago, I went on my first summertime trip to Colorado and fell in love! I’m reminiscing now and hoping to go back in August but wanted to share the other things we did in Durango, Colorado that weren’t hiking. If you’re into hiking, click here for 4 must-see trails in Durango! 

Wine Tasting

We had a lovely time at Four Leaves Winery in downtown Durango! They have a wine tasting option on the menu which I strongly recommend. Between four people, we sipped through almost the entire list. They have a big selection of fruit wines which were delicious and so fun to taste. You also have the option to make your own blend and take it home!

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Dinner and a Show

For a fun and family friendly evening, complete with singing cowboys and food on a metal tray, go to Bar D Chuckwagon! I had never been to something like this but it was pretty fun for a relaxing night out! Click here for reservation and ticket information.

Good Coffee

Duh. Be sure to visit 81301 Coffee Roasters. Their cold brew on tap is some of the best I’ve had! We bought a bag of beans to brew while staying in Colorado and another to take home. Great coffee!

Train

We planned to ride the Durango Train for a fun rest day and some photography opportunities. However, we all opted for MORE HIKING instead! This will be part of a future itinerary of mine. However, I’m including it here because it looks like a fun way to see some gorgeous scenery without the hike. Check out the website for details, schedule, ticket pricing and more.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s a bonus picture of my dog… because he’s the best!

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Complete Packing List for Havasupai/Havasu Falls

I was SO excited for my trip to Havasupai, that even the planning and packing was fun! Anyone else get like this? Just me? I did quite a bit of research – mostly through blogs and the Facebook group – and was really happy with my packing list. I’m sharing it with you and including links to almost everything. Not getting paid… I honestly love these products!

What: Havasupai/Havasu Falls in Arizona
click here for my full itinerary | click here for planning tips
When: Late March/Early April
How Long: Two nights and three days
Pack Weight: I forgot to weigh it, but I’d assume about 20 lbs. My boyfriend and I split up some of the gear (camera, food, etc.)
Budget: I had everything except for the stove set (~$60) and watershoes ($20 on clearance). I bought backpacking food from Backcountry for about $11 per meal. My favorite retailers are REI, Backcountry and Campsaver – always look for sales, clearance and coupons!

Looking onto Havasu Falls

Taking one last look at Havasu Falls before the hike back up to the parking lot.

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Hike/Camp

  • Backpacking pack: I have an Osprey Ariel 55 liter pack that I LOVE and was a great size for this trip. When choosing a pack, nothing beats trying on different brands loaded with 20-30 lbs and walking around the store. The staff at REI is really helpful in helping you find the right size and style.
  • Day pack (OPTIONAL): I used the removable top lid of my main pack, or bring a pack-able day pack to carry on the day hike to Beaver Falls. 
  • Tent with rainfly: Even with no rain in the forecast, use the rain fly to keep dust from getting in your tent. While not necessarily a backpacking tent, I love my Optic 2.5 from Mountain Hardware.
  • Hammock and straps: I didn’t want to carry the weight and ditched these last minute. BUT… if you’re visiting in the summer, this would be a nice alternative to the tent – cooler and lighter.
  • Tent footprint (OPTIONAL): If you’re a minimalist packer, you don’t need this. But, it’s relatively light and worth protecting my tent for future trips. Your gear is an investment!
  • Sleeping pad: I love my Sea2Summit Comfort Plus
  • Sleeping bag: Women’s Heratio 32F from Mountain Hardware. Get one lightweight and rated for the weather you’re camping in.
  • Sleeping bag liner (OPTIONAL): It’s light and keeps my sleeping bag clean!
  • Trekking poles
  • Headlamp and extra batteries
  • Water bottle and 3 liter bladder: I brought both. I used the bladder while hiking in/out and for cooking at camp. I used my 32oz Hydroflask for the day hikes to the falls. There is a spring at the campsite to refill water.
  • Dry/compression sacks (OPTIONAL): I highly recommend these for saving room in your pack and keeping things dry. I use an XS for clothing and S for my sleeping bag.
  • First aid kit: mostly band-aids for blisters and ibuprofen for headache or sore muscles. Luckily, we didn’t use this at all.
  • Pocket knife
  • Paracord 

Campsite near Havasu Creek

Clothing

  • Hiking pants: These Mountain Hardware pants are all I’ll wear! Get something comfortable that dries quickly.
  • Shorts
  • Wool T-shirt: I like wool in both summer and winter because it helps wick sweat away from your body and doesn’t get smelly ever after wearing for several days.
  • 2-3 pairs of wool hiking socks: I only wear DarnTough! I always pack extra in case a pair gets wet.
  • Hiking boots: I wore Lowa Renegades on this trip because that’s what I have. You could get away with a lighter hiking shoe or trail running shoe.
  • Water shoes: I liked having these for swimming and the day hikes. I found a great clearance deal on Chacos at REI – here’s something similar.
  • Sports bra
  • Underwear: ExOffico are the ultimate travel underwear – they dry quickly for easy washing on the go. Look at the sale section online.
  • Swimsuit: duh!
  • Thermal underwear: I didn’t want to sleep in my dirty hiking pants and wore these when I got up at 3 a.m. to shoot Havasu Falls in the dark!
  • Down jacket: I went in the early Spring and it could get chilly just sitting at camp. I’m obsessed with my Arc’teryx Cerium SL Jacket. These can get pricey, looks for outlets/sales.
  • Baseball hat
  • Hair ties
  • Buff headware: I wore mine as a hat when the evenings got chilly. In warmer weather, it’d be nice to keep wet and wear around your neck.

Crossing Havasu Creek at campsite

Food/Cooking

  • Storage: There are rodents that will get into your food and trash if not put away properly. We used buckets that were available from the ranger station and they worked perfectly (read more tips here!). I’ve heard of other hikers using a mesh metal bag or hanging a dry sack with rope from a tree. Don’t keep food in your pack or tent unattended. During day hikes, I kept my food sealed in plastic bags and didn’t have issues.
  • Backpacking stove: I wanted one under $100 and that included everything I need to prepare a dehydrated meal and instant coffee. I was really happy with the GSI Outdoors Halulite Minimalist Complete Stove and Cookset.
  • Camp utensil (fork, spoon and knife in one)
  • Fuel canister (can’t fly with this): We used some left behind by other campers. You can also pick one up at REI or Walmart on your way to the trail.
  • Lighter (can’t fly with this) 
  • Instant coffee
  • Mountain House Dehydrated Meals: brought three-four for each person each day. Every flavor was pretty tasty! With snacks, we ended up bringing the perfect amount of food (my boyfriend and I eat a lot – especially when hiking)!
  • Extra zip lock bags: Use these to carry snacks and protect items from getting wet. I used a gallon size to store all of our trash and carry it out of the canyon.
  • Snacks: beef jerky, trail mix, protein bars, tuna packets, freeze dried ice cream to celebrate Byron’s birthday
  • NOTE: There is a cafe/store in the village and fry bread huts at the campsite if you need more sustenance! The fry bread is totally worth it.

 

Other (but very important!)

  • Reservation print out: they ask for it at the tourism office
  • ID/Credit Card/Cash: bring cash for fry bread or if you need to take the helicopter
  • Toiletries: deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, contact solution, contact case and glasses case, baby wipes, etc. Decide what’s worth it to you.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen/moisturizer combo: I love Paula’s Choice  – great, safe product in a travel size
  • Chapstick
  • Lightweight towel: Packtowl in X-Large is my go-to travel item!
  • Ear plugs: we fell asleep to the sound of the creek, but nice to have in case you have noisy neighbors or can’t sleep
  • Cell phone: There’s no service, but used it for the camera. I also used the app that connects to my digital camera so I could use my phone as a shutter remote

Luxuries

Items you don’t necessarily need but were important/worth it for me!

  • Camera with wide angel lens, two charged batteries and SD cards
  • Tripod: This is my first tripod – I picked it because it was relatively affordable and lighter than others.
  • Portable charger and cords for phones
  • WISH I HAD: a pack-able camping pillow! Thought I didn’t need this, but it would have been nice. Any recommendations?
  • WISH I HAD: sunglasses strap: they keep them around your neck if they fall and some of them float in water. Again, any recommendations?

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Mooney Falls

The tripod enabled me to capture long exposures such as this!

Any questions about gear? Is there something I missed? Let me know in the comments below! Also, check out my other posts about Havasupai before you go!

Three Days Among the Waterfalls of Havasupai

“Water is the driving force of all nature.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Havasu Falls turqoise water

Taking a dip in one of the many aqua colored pools under Havasu Falls

I’ve always been drawn to the element of water. A small stream or quiet pond will draw my eyes and make me pause for a second to admire its beauty. The weeping rock at Zion National Park really had me mesmerized. So can you imagine three days surrounded by the most turquoise water and multiple gorgeous waterfalls? The Havasupai Reservation was a dream. Below is a full itinerary of our trip (three days) so you can learn what to expect. Or, click here for tips on planning your own trip!

Day 0: On the road and Hualapai Lodge
My boyfriend and I flew into Las Vegas after work so it was late when we landed. We spared no time jumping in our car, grabbing a coffee at Grouchy John’s and hitting the road. After a 2.5 hour drive, we checked into Hualapai Lodge for a last night in a soft bed. I originally planned to stay at the trail head, but I am SO glad we didn’t sleep in the car. Staying at the lodge allowed us to get a good night’s sleep and spread out to pack our camping gear. I would highly recommend this – worth the $99.

Day 1: Havasu Village, Falls and Campground
After researching Havasupai for months before the trip, I knew I wanted to make the most of our time there. So we were up before the sun to make the 1.5 hour drive to the hilltop and start on the trail early. I typed “Havasupai Trailhead” into Google Maps and got there with no trouble. Watch out for animals in the road! We ended up getting there a little later than I wanted, about 7 a.m.

The trek down is 10 miles, mostly downhill and flat. Eager to jump in the bright blue waters, we booked it down the trail in about 4 hours only taking two breaks. One was at the tourist office where you check in, show your reservation print out and get your wrist band. From the office, it’s another two miles to the campground. The first sight of Havasu Falls will be from above and is such a magical moment seeing it for the first time. So close… keep going toward the campground!

Looking onto Havasu Falls

Taking one last look at Havasu Falls before the hike back up to the parking lot.

The campsites are first come, first serve. Keep exploring past the fern spring for campsites. We were so happy with our site across the creek! After setting up our tent, we made lunch and headed over to Havasu Falls. It was around noon and the falls were in the shade, but some of the pools still had great sun. We spent a few hours enjoying the chilly water and views.

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After a long day, we made a quick dinner, settled into our tent, fell fast asleep and were up at 3 a.m. to practice with some night photography. I brought a tripod just to practice these shots. They turned out OK and it was worth the extra weight .

Day 2: Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls
If you make the trip, I urge you to take the time and effort to hike to Mooney and Beaver Falls! We were up at 6 a.m. to start our eight mile (each way) trip to Beaver Falls.

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To Mooney Falls, continue to the end of the campground and keep following the trail. You’ll see the waterfall from above and it’s quite the sight! Now follow the trail down to the waterfall. You’ll see a sign that says “Descend at Your Own Risk.” This is where we lost the trail and wandered around a bit. I finally noticed a white arrow painted on the rock and pointing down into a tunnel. Look for the arrow pictured below… this is where the fun begins! Now you start the exciting descent to Mooney with metal chains and wooden ladders as your aides. If you’re new to hiking or afraid of heights, it can be intimidating, but I promise it was SO fun! Just take your time and remember that the climb up is easier than the climb down. I am so thankful that the reservation has maintained the way down so visitors can experience the falls.

The descent to Mooney Falls

The descent to Mooney Falls

Once down, you’ll admire the beauty of Mooney Falls and feel so accomplished you made it down alive. Get ready to get soaked in mist from the sheer power of this falls! The falls was in the shade allowing us to have fun with the tripod and long exposures here too.

 

We continued to the trail to Beaver Falls. The trail splits several times, but as long as you’re on the clearly marked trail, it will take you to the right place. Then you’ll come to your first creek crossing. I changed from my hiking boots to my water shoes and rolled up my pants. Keep your water shoes on after the first creek crossing, because there’s another shortly after that. After the second one, you can put your hiking shoes back on because you’ll hike for a while before the next creek crossing. Or, you can just wear your water shoes the entire time. I saw many hikers doing this, but I didn’t want to risk getting blisters.

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This hike was so fun! You’ll run into a palm tree at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. How cool is that? This is when you know you’re getting close. There’s a few ladders up and then you’ll have a view of Beaver Falls! Continue down to have access to the water and enjoy the hard earned dip in the cool water. We arrived around noon and had plenty of sun for swimming and a snack. This was the best falls to swim in!

When we made it back to camp, we enjoyed fry bread at the hut near the ranger’s station – this was just our appetizer before a meal at camp! Bring cash on your trip, because this was SO good after a 16+ mile day.

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Day 3: The trek up and a night in Las Vegas
I didn’t want to leave, but we made breakfast and packed up camp early.  Then we carried all our crap on our backs UP the canyon for 10 miles. Honestly, it was harder than I thought it would be. It’s flat for most of the way, until you get to the switchbacks that we had just bolted down 48 hours earlier. The switchbacks were in the sun by the time we got there which made for a tiring trek. We took several breaks. This was 70 degrees in the beginning of April. How do people do this in the summer? We made it up in about 5 hours and were exhausted and dirty. Again, worth it.

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We found our car, switched to flip flops and started the drive back to Vegas. We stopped for Taco Bell on the way and of course, Grouchy John’s coffee again. We stayed at the Westgate Hotel off the strip (it was just meh..). Bonus tip… after taking a much needed shower, we walked to Lotus of Siam (thanks to Anthony Bourdain) for AMAZING Thai food.

Then we were up at 4 a.m. to make a 6 a.m. flight home. The trip flew by but I LOVED every single second. I would love to go back to the Havasupai Reservation one day!

Plan your own trip to Havasupai – check out 13 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Havasu Falls! 

Click here for my complete packing list!

New to backpacking? Check out my training guide!