Horsetooth Reservoir and Horsetooth Falls-Fort Collins, CO

 

Horsetooth Reservoir

Horsetooth Reservoir is located in the foothills of Fort Collins. It was built to provide more adequate water irrigation for the Poudre Valley. There is even a Native American Legend regarding the rock from which Horsetooth got it’s name. With six and half miles of water and nearly 2,000 acres of public land, it’s perfect for boating, SUP, fishing, camping, mountain biking, hiking, or a picnic. Rock climbers and SCUBA divers are also welcome. At 5,420 feet elevation, there is no need to acclimate to the high altitude-at least for Colorado locals. Follow these directions to get there.

When you arrive you have to register your car, and there is a fee for day use as well as camping.

We camped here twice, and stayed in the cabins. There are also air streams, tent sites, and RV sites available. This one was of our first trip’s with our oldest son. The cabins were a great introduction to camping with kids since they have air conditioning and heat available. Being open year round, you can comfortably camp in the spring, summer and fall.

We fished, made meals and prepared kids for naps. With friends, we coordinated which family brought breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. This is when we started making these pancakes. Even though we cooked for a larger crowd than just our family, we only had to worry about packing for a couple meals. It’s nice to see what other people cook while camping to add a few more ideas to our usual list.

Horsetooth Falls

The big event was a hike to Horsetooth Falls.  It is about 2.5 miles round-trip on easy to moderate terrain, and at the turnaround point there is a waterfall. The kids were under two and in backpacks, but I think this would be reasonable for young kids as long as they can walk that far. Leased dogs are welcome. I will say, we loved this trail, but it is no secret. It was crowded, and a little difficult to get a picture of the waterfall. I can see why, is there really anything better than a hike with a waterfall?

Horsetooth Falls-The water wasn’t flowing too heavily yet, but I hear it picks up throughout the year.
Horsetooth Falls

Keep in mind

Something to note is that camping at Horsetooth books up really quickly. Walk-up sites are available, but I wouldn’t count on it. Reservations open up six months in advance, and even then it’s hard to book something. We figured out that people are probably booking for a date during the week and through the weekend. So when you go to book six months in advance, it will be difficult to get a Friday and Saturday spot. If you book starting on a weekday, you will have more luck.

Why camp here

I like this campsite because there is so much to do. We wanted to rent a boat but the water had receded too far and they were restricting boat access. Inlet Marnia Bay is your spot to rent boats, canoes, SUP, and kayaks. We will have to come back to take advantage of the water.

Horsetooth Reservoir

It’s also close to town if you need to abort the trip for whatever reason. This is the first time we have done this, but we left the campsite twice-once to find a playground and once to watch a football game at local restaurant. Just a ten minute drive and you are back to nature.

There are showers and flush toilets available. It’s like it’s not even camping. The views and sunsets are also pretty great.

Five Tips for Adventures with Kids

Five tips for adventures with kids

Adventures with kids could be anything from hiking a trail, biking in the neighborhood, fishing to going on a scavenger hunt. Obviously, things will be scaled back from your pre-kid days. We pick trails that are flat and easy for everyone to enjoy. Fishing at a nearby reservoir on a kiddie fishing pole is one of my son’s favorite pass-times. The main goal is to get outside as a family and have some fun. These are a few things I have learned in creating adventures with our kids:

1. Make a plan.

Tell your toddler about it. If we have a scheduled plan we are more likely to follow through. It could be as simple as, we are going to take a walk around our neighborhood lake. Then our four year old will be overcome with joy and anticipation of this event. Baring an emergency room visit, you have to go. This is not a good strategy if you are wavering. I would not recommend disappointing toddlers.

2. Realize you might have to bail on your plans.

Go with the flow. Anything could happen. Kids get sick unexpectedly. Has your kid ever just thrown up out of nowhere? Suddenly had a fever when they were fine in the morning? Yep. Snuggles and a movie are all that will do on these days.

3. Don’t mess with schedules

I still have very young children that take naps (god willing) and follow a set schedule for meals and bedtime. During our first camping trip last year, my older son missed his nap. We were sure it just wasn’t going to happen so we decided that we might as well go on a hike anyway. Bad idea. He collapsed mid-trail crying and screaming. He was tired and delirious. Obliviously no hiking or even walking was taking place. We carried him, flailing, back to the campsite. Take it from me and don’t skip naps for adventure purposes.

4. Come prepared

Parents of toddlers are generally not light packers. We are no exception. Bring snacks, water, a camera, a change of clothes, diapers, wipes, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses-you get the picture. If you forget one item out of 100, you will be ok. Life goes on and chances are you aren’t too far from home or a grocery store.

5. Be present

You made it. The adventure is happening. No one is crying or at least not too much. Take it in. Make memories.

We hope our kids will remember our time together, unplugged, over the latest toy of 2018. As a couple, we appreciate spending time in nature and being active. We would like to instill that concept with our children. We aren’t perfect at this or even close to being experts. Of course, doing anything with kids can be a little challenging. But we try to make an effort, and I hope these tips will help you too.

This post is linked up to the Pin Junkie Pin Party!

Family Getaway: Colorado Springs, CO

Cheyenne Mountain Resort

We celebrated a new job and Mother’s Day with a little getaway to Colorado Springs. It’s only 1.5 hours away, but we tend to forget about this area usually choosing Winter Park or Breckenridge. With it being so early in the season, we decided to stay in a hotel rather than the camper. When you talk about Colorado Springs, everyone talks about the Broadmoor, but we stayed at the more wallet-friendly, Cheyenne Mountain Resort.

Cheyenne Mountain Resort

Our view

This place really is beautiful. Out our balcony, we overlooked Cheyenne Mountain and Pikes Peak. After checking in, the kids were restless from the drive so we headed straight to the pool. There is something about a hotel pool that really gets you into vacation-mode. Anders loved swimming around, while Wyatt mainly wanted to be held in the water. His new favorite word is no. Wyatt do you want to go in this floaty boat we brought just for you, “no”.

Cheyenne Mountain Resort

We did most of our meals at the hotel since we just had to walk out from our room. The best was the breakfast buffet. We opted out of the official Mother’s Day Buffet, because it didn’t start until 10 a.m. Given that our kids wake up at 5:30 a.m. and nap by noon, we needed to get in and out and on with our day. The kids’ breakfasts were free. I’m sure other tiny kids don’t eat that much, but my kids really gave them a run for their money. What was there favorite thing? Fruit Loops. Not the waffle made on the spot or other gourmet offerings. I’m sure the lack of sugary cereal in our house will be something they talk about in therapy one day.

My boys even spoiled me with a spa treatment on Mother’s Day. I think I will keep them around. The spa is top-notch with fancy bathrobes, a steam room, and a hot tub. The massage therapist consulted with me beforehand on pressure and problem areas. She incorporated essential oils throughout my 50 minutes of indulgence. This being a mom thing has its perks.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was at the top of our list of things to do here. It did not disappoint. We all agreed, we like it better than the Denver Zoo. The kids got to feed the Giraffes. Anders is still imitating the giraffe slurping up the lettuce at dinner.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, CO
Hungry Giraffe

This gorilla was really checking everyone out.

Gorilla

We petted goats and rode the carousel. A good time was had by all.

Garden of the Gods

Before going to the Garden of the Gods, we stopped at the visitors Center. Anders loves dinosaurs, and I think we oversold the idea of the visitors center having dinosaur replicas. There was one. Then on the hike, he was so excited that dinosaurs once walked there.

Garden of the Gods: Colorado Springs, CO

There are so many paths and routes to take. We took this paved one and were able to push a stroller through. It was more of a walk than a hike, but certainly family-friendly with great views.

Rudy’s BBQ

On our way out of town, we stopped at Rudy’s BBQ. There are a few around Colorado, but this was our first visit. The food was good. It was messy and loud. Perfect for two messy toddlers.

Ice cream face

Things we didn’t get to

We only stayed two nights, and didn’t make it to everything we’d like to see. On our next trip we’d like to check out:

Cave of the Winds

Manitou Springs Penny Arcade

Great Wolf Lodge

Broadmoor Seven Falls

Hooray! We survived a family vacation with kids. Traveling with two toddlers is hard work. There is wining, crying, and tantrums. We are TIRED. One night, I fell asleep at 8:30 p.m. holding Anders’ hand. This is real life. One day we will go out to eat and no one will cry and nothing be spilled. Until then, we keep trying. We made memories as a family, and I think that is worth it.