As you get closer to Rocky Mountain National Park on your drive west, consider stopping in Brighton, Colo., a town which lies just 25 minutes east of Denver, the state’s capital.
In Brighton, you’ll find bald eagles, a nationally recognized barbeque competition and a brewery housed in a refurbished Tibetan temple. It’s a stop worth making.
Start your stay in Brighton with an infamous cinnamon roll from Main Street Café, 161 N Main St. Get ready to enjoy Colorado’s 300+ days of sunshine as you head to Barr Lake State Park. A bird watcher’s paradise, Barr Lake has been home to a pair of nesting bald eagles since 1986. They’ve fledged 58 eaglets from their nest on the shores of the lake. If you want to learn more about the birds native to Colorado, stop by Bird Conservancy of the Rockies’ banding station at the park August through October. You can watch as researchers catch, measure and band bird species like golden orioles, house wrens and black-capped chickadees.
The lake is also home to numerous recreation opportunities. Rent a stand-up paddleboard or kayak and explore the lake by paddle or walk or bike the 8.8-mile path around the water.
On your way back to town, stop in at Lulu’s Farm, 13201 E 144 Ave, for fresh produce, local honey and fresh salsa. If you’re a foodie, plan your trip to Lulu’s around the Brighton Chile Fest (Sept. 7, 2019) so you can taste roasted hatch green chilies and judge recipes made with them, or Lulu’s Brew & Que Fest (April 26– 27, 2019), which is a Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned state competition – if you’re into barbeque, you already know that’s a big deal. If not, picture the best barbeque of your life, live music and vendors all under the beautiful Colorado sun.
End your day in Brighton at Big Choice Brewing, 21 S 1 Ave. Once home to a Tibetan temple, the building now serves craft brews and artisan pizzas. If you stop by in December, try Greater Brighton Chamber of Commerce President, Naomi Colwell’s, favorite beer: the Chill Out Peppermint Stout, which is served with a crushed candy cane rim and a peppermint patty. If you visit in the summer, she suggests the 10,000 Summers Saison, a Belgian Farmhouse Ale with local honey, or the Gen X, a Mexican Lager.
Learn more about Brighton at www.brightonchamber.com.