While the masses head west to the slopes, embrace your local Manifest Destiny by escaping north and east. Follow this route for a perfect day on the Palmer Divide.
The Speedtrap Bistro
Cruise Highway 105 into Palmer Lake and fuel up at the Speedtrap Bistro. Self-dubbed a “cozy place for nice people,” the Speedtrap is a hub for conversation or comfortable silence—whatever’s your cup of tea, coffee or something from the bar. The unique eatery began when Caroline Bilodeau took a road trip from Montreal, bought a building and started the Speedtrap in 2011. She sold last year, but the bistro still offers French Canadian-inspired flavors, including a buffalo bratwurst rolled in a crepe with sharp cheddar cheese, baked and served with lime-infused sour cream. Mark the route and head back on Friday or Saturday night for music and a lively bar scene. Pulling over never tasted so good.
84 State Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake, 719-488-2007
Castlewood Canyon State Park
Next, head north on Highway 83 for 30 minutes of back-road scenery. One left turn later, you’ll arrive at Castlewood Canyon State Park where you can explore rocky canyon geography cut into the plains, as well as a waterfall and the remains of a breached dam that sent a 15-foot wall of water into Denver in 1933. Paved hiking trails offer magnificent views of the canyon to explorers of all ages, while more difficult routes wind down to Cherry Creek and the canyon floor. Combine the Lake Gulch and Inner Canyon trails for a 2-mile loop. Or add the short Dam Trail to link the additional 4-mile Creek Bottom-Rimrock loop. Rock climbers of all abilities can choose from hundreds of routes and bouldering problems, including some that scale 60-foot walls. Beware the abundant rattlesnake population, especially in warm weather.
Know Before You Go: A Castlewood Canyon day pass is $7. Park hours vary by season. No biking on trails. Keep pets on leash.
2989 S. State Hwy. 83, Franktown, 303-688-5242
Colorado Mountain Brewery
Toast your day with a classy taste of Colorado at Colorado Mountain Brewery’s north and original location, where the atmosphere is reminiscent of a comfy mountain lodge. Dive into bison poppers and venison egg rolls to fill your carnivorous craving. Wash them down with an Ole 59er Amber Ale or choose another hue from their five signature beers that range from light and crisp to dark and bold. Of course, there’s always a seasonal to pair with your mood or the weather.
1110 Interquest Pkwy., 719-434-5750