Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

This post is long overdue but better late than never! Tyler and I rented an Airbnb in southwestern Colorado about 2 weeks before we got married as a little pre-wedding getaway! Our Airbnb was an awesome, remote cabin in Cimarron, Colorado on multiple acres in the mountains. We knew the chaos and excitement of all the wedding festivities were going to start up soon so we figured it would be good for us to have a mini vacay. We both went on our separate bachelor/bachelorette trips but we wanted to go somewhere as a family (Waldo included, of course) before we officially tied the knot! I highly suggest doing this with your spouse just to ground yourselves and relax before your big day. We made campfires and s’mores every night and just enjoyed being in nature together. Waldo had a blast running around in the woods. It’s such a beautiful and underrated area of Colorado!

One day we explored the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. This was my 5th National Park! Forewarning, if you are afraid of heights or get vertigo easily, this is not the national park for you haha. All the lookout points along the main park road were literally right on edge of the cliffs looking straight down and some of them even hanging out and over into the canyon. The canyon is deep, steep, and vast carved out by the Gunnison River. It was truly breathtaking! Our favorite spots were Chasm View and Painted Wall. This was by far the biggest, most beautiful canyon I’ve ever seen!

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Kaua’i Paradise

The last of our pictures from our honeymoon in Kauai!! I fell in love with this island. We already want to go back to do more and see more of its wonder! These are miscellaneous pictures that we took throughout the trip. Here is a little mini travel guide of things we recommend doing in paradise!

Kauai To Do: 

  • HIKE the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast to Hanakapiai Beach (4 miles roundtrip)
  • SNORKEL at Tunnels Beach, Ke’e Beach, & on the Na Pali Coast
  • BOAT with Na Pali Experience along the Na Pali Coast into the sea caves
  • SWIM at Hanalei Bay Beach (and jump off the pier!) & Queen’s Bath
  • EAT as much seafood, fresh fruit, & sushi as possible but a few of our favorites were Trucking Delicious, Sushi Girl, The Dolphin, St. Regis Makana Terrace, Wishing Well Shaved Ice, Kauai Bread Co., Shaved Ice Paradise, & Foodland (they have tons of yummy local stuff and their poke is delicious)
  • DRINK fresh coconuts from fruit stands, Kauai Juice Company, Kauai Coffee Company, Aloha Maid canned drinks, Aloha Juice Bar, & Koloa Rum
  • LUAU at Smith Family Garden in the Wailua River State Park
  • MEET locals at Ha’ena Beach Park, Hanalei Beach Pavilion, Hanalei Pier, & Hanalei Farmer’s Market
  • PACK as light as possible, only the essentials (no closed toed shoes!)
  • RENT a jeep, snorkel gear, & surf or SUP boards
The prettiest church ever in Hanalei. They have a ceremony in Hawaiian every Sunday.
In a red ginger forest fairyland. Pure bliss!

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Snorkeling at Tunnels Beach, KAUA’I

Tunnels Beach is on the north shore of Kaua’i and it quickly became one of favorite and most frequented beaches! The snorkeling is amazing and it’s an absolute must if you are visiting the island. There are literally tunnels and archways in the reef that you can snorkel through! Hence the namesake. We got some GoPro footage of one that we dove through but there were many others. We did another one that was more of a full tunnel and was deeper down in the reef. Tyler went into a few others that I was too scared to go through haha. In the parts where there is no reef, the water is literally turquoise!

There is a sweet man who sells fresh coconuts in the parking lot at Tunnels Beach/Ha’ena State Park! They’re super refreshing and hydrating after snorkeling. We made friends with some of the locals who live on the beach full time. All the locals are SO incredibly nice and welcoming! We definitely felt the warmth of the aloha spirit! The Louisiana girl in me really appreciated the hospitality and all the shaved ice 🙂

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Napali Coast Adventures

We stayed in Hanalei, Kauai for our honeymoon and it was such a dream!! The island of Kauai is magical and absolutely breathtaking everywhere you look. We explored pretty much the entire island however, we spent most of our time on the north shore. A few of our favorite things were the flowers, waterfalls, rainbows, food, marine life, mountains, beaches, seafood, and tropical fruit. Kauai is definitely called the garden island for a reason! It was seriously the best week of our lives!! We have so many pictures from our trip so our trip to Kauai will be broken down into a few blog posts.

The highlight of our trip was definitely the Napali Coast! We boated, hiked, and snorkeled the Napali Coast. We set out on an early morning boat trip on our second day with Napali Experience which was amazing! We chose this trip mostly because the type of boats they use are best for going in and out of the sea caves along the coast. The snorkel spot we went to was also pretty killer! We saw many spinner dolphins, sea turtles (Honus), flying fish, and a MONK SEAL! It was super special to admire and float around with a monk seal. They’re endangered and super rare to see. The majestic old man was just hanging out near the reef where we were snorkeling and we were just checking each other out. He actually reminded us a lot of Waldo hahaha!! Unfortunately, I didn’t get footage of this because I put the GoPro back on the boat.

Another day we hiked the Kalalau Trail  to Hanakapiai Beach which is a 4 mile roundtrip hike. It was cool to explore the Napali Coast on foot and to hike through the jungle. The views were spectacular the entire trail! We relaxed and wandered in the caves at Hanakapiai Beach. It’s crazy to think that all the sea caves completely fill up with water in the winter months. Tyler was brave enough to crawled through a cave into another which was pretty cool. Hawaii changes the game with hiking to beaches. It’s the best! One day we will definitely backpack the entire Kalalau Trail (22 miles roundtrip)! After our hike we snorkeled at Ke’e Beach (which is at the trailhead) to cool off 🙂

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Clark Creek Natural Area

A little late posting these pictures but better late than never! Tyler and I had so much fun hiking to the waterfalls at Clark Creek Natural Area with my dad when we were down in Louisiana. This is technically in Mississippi but it’s super close to Louisiana. The weather was absolutely beautiful and spring was in full swing. Everything was bright green. The water was so clear and you could literally walk in the creek bed. Waldo had a blast to say the least! We were all impressed by the waterfalls.

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Exploring the Grottos

Tyler and I recently arrived to Aspen for our family vacation/my dad’s wedding (which is today at The Little Nell up on the mountain- another post on that to come). The first full day here we hiked and explored the Grottos!! It was so freaking cool!! It’s up Independence Pass (probably the world’s most beautiful pass) a few miles from Aspen. When I was researching it, it honestly didn’t look that awesome but let me tell you, it’s underrated! It’s not a long trail but there’s a lot to see and do. The Roaring Fork River runs along the trail so there are tons of beautiful river spots to hang out at and foot bridges to cross and cascades that were literally roaring! Tons of wildflowers which are my favorite. The best part by far were the ice caves! You have to climb down in between some sketchy crevices to get to them but it’s so worth it! There are these huge glaciers down there. Highly recommend this hike for anyone in the Aspen area. Check out our pictures below! We have a bunch more adventures planned for while we are here so stay tuned!

us on top of Independence Pass!
us on top of Independence Pass!
when the cave drips on you haha
when the cave drips on you haha

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Crater Lakes in James Peak Wilderness

Our first high country summer hike this season was to Crater Lakes in James Peak Wilderness! It was exceptionally cool and sunny which made for perfect hiking weather. This was my first real hike where I brought my new camera and it was so much fun taking pictures along the way. Tyler even enjoyed it too! The wildflowers were blooming and there were tons of creeks babbling everywhere from all the snow melt. Truly peaceful. I spotted a few wild columbines and some sweet hydroponic alpine flowers. We crossed over probably 10 foot bridges which are always fun and make me feel like a kid again. We started at the East Portal Trailhead near Rollinsville and it was a 6 mile roundtrip hike with about 1,400 ft elevation gain. The trail was heavily forested but still had great mountain views. We chilled at lower Crater Lake for a while and let Waldo swim/run around. We also climbed some rocks and played on the snow fields. It was really fun sliding down the snow! After a while, I noticed that Waldo’s paw was bleeding and realized that he cut it open somehow so we had to bust out the first aid kit. It was my first backcountry first aid experience and I managed to clean it off and bandage him up pretty nicely! We decided to head back down after that and thankfully he wasn’t limping or in pain. He’s such a tough and sweet boy! He never lets us see him sweat, that’s for sure. We had a great time and plan on backpacking/camping in James Peak Wilderness sometime soon! All the pictures below were taken with my canon rebel camera. None of them are edited due to my lack of expertise in that area. IMG_0354

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Boulder Falls

Over the weekend Tyler and I went to Boulder Falls for the first time ever!! We made the choice not to bring Waldo since we were unsure of the trail conditions and since it’s technically closed. I like to follow the rules (sometimes) but in my opinion, you can’t close nature. C’mon Boulder! The weather forecast wasn’t looking promising to do much else outdoors so we decided to say screw it and adventure anyway!!! I’ve been dying to see Boulder Falls but it has been closed for almost the entire 5 years I’ve lived here. I came to the realization that people safely visit all the time and just go around the closed off rope sign. It was a great day to visit because 1) we were the only ones there so that was really nice and 2) it has been raining recently + snow melt so the falls were raging. The canyon was all foggy and mystical, it was so romantic and relaxing. Pics below 🙂 IMG_2273

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