Best of Colorado: Fall Hikes & Drives

15622686855_ca4477663f_zThe joys of fall are simple, crisp weather and leaves crunching underfoot, boots and jackets, scarves and hot tea, pumpkins and delightful costumes. Best of all, however, are the spectacular colors of fall. Here in Colorado we’re especially lucky, as the brilliant yellows of the Aspens are framed by mountain scenery.

Here at Madison we love the changing seasons and all the new experiences they bring. Hiking and driving through the fall foliage is a favorite, so here are a few of the best places to see the colors – both on foot and from the car.

Colorado has 26 Scenic and Historic Byways, perfect for those fall drives.

Top of the Rockies takes you from Copper Mountain to Leadville and towards Aspen, crossing the Continential Divide and seeing the spectacular Mt. Elbert (tallest 14er in Colorado). Highlights and places to stop: Independence Ghost Town Site, Twin Lakes and Indepenence Pass.

West Elk Loop hits three national forests, journeying through Paonia, Gunnison, Crested Butte and Carbondale. McClure Pass is the perfect photo opp, but don’t forget to pause at Black Canyon o fthe Gunnison National Park where Morrow Point, Blue Mesa and Crystal Lake meet for the perfect view.

Peak to Peak takes you through Aspen-filled valleys and the Continential Divide, starting in Black Hawk and ending in Estes Park. This scenic byway is Colorado’s oldest.

San Juan Scenic Byway meanders through Telluride, Durango and Ouray, a perfect taste of classic Colorado. The views of San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests are unbelievable, and Mesa Verde National Park is also the perfect place to pause and see the views.

Mt. Evans Scenic Byway is the highest paved road in North America. It’s one of Colorado’s 54 14ers, so you can drive or hike to the top to see the spectacular view. Be sure to visit Echo Lake, the perfect spot for a picnic.

Trail Ridge Road is an 8-mile road, perfect for photographers and fall-color finders. It’s embedded in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, a glorious place to hangout post-hike, for a perfect fall getaway day. Rocky Mountain National Park is full of trails and scenic hikes, for those itching to get out of the car and adventure.

sunrisemaroonbellsKebler Pass in Gunnison is a favorite for photographers, famously shot by the renowed photographer John Fielder. Gunnison is home to some of North America’s largest Aspen trees. This pass is typically hiked, but the Gunnison Aspens can still be seen from the road!

The famous Maroon Bells are another spectacular hike. About 3 hours from Denver, this iconic view is well worth the drive. It makes an easy day hike, or for more experienced and dedicated outdoorsy folks, there are a few backpacking loops.

Mt. Bierstadt, Colorado’s “easiest” 14er offers gorgeous views as well. Guanella Pass is the way to go. The lake view is stunning, even if hikers perfer to hike for a shorter time and not summit the mountain. Historic Georgetown is the perfect place to grab coffee and lunch.

Golden Gate Canyon Park boasts of over 12,000 acres of land for exploring, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and more. The park is a mere 30 miles from Denver, making it easily accessible for busy Denverites. Filled with Aspen views and mountain peaks, this park is just begging to be visited.

A classic Colorado view, the Boulder Flatirons never grow old. Chautauqua Park is the entry to a variety of trails and rock-climbing available. The towering Flatirons are always impressive, and give way to simply glorious views.

These are only a few of hundreds of places in Colorado to hike, drive, mountain bike, run and explore. The views are always impressive, the colors only seem to grow brighter and the sunrises and sunsets always steal your breath. We are so excited for this Colorado fall!




Denver Love and Advocating Mothers

Dana Crawford loves Denver neighborhoods. Her journey began in the 1960s when she began an initiative to save a historic area, which we now know as Larimer Square, from demolition by the city. Her work in revitalizing and renewing a city by preserving its history and buildin

4986594234_fe3a2b1dfd_og upon what is already there has continued. In the 1980s she renovated the Oxford Hotel, and introduced Denver to New York City’s loft lifestyle, opening the first lofts in Edbrooke Building in 1990. Crawford’s continued partnership and development include 16th Street Mall, Skyline Park, Coors Field, the Auraria Campus and recently re-opened Union Station.

Crawford’s love for the city and the neighborhoods within are evidenced by her long history of developing Denver, and her work is far from over.

Susan Powers is another woman who has long been involved in urban development. Powers formed Urban Ventures, LLC in 1988, and still serves as president of the real estate development company. Her focus with Urban Ventures is on urban development, including student housing, affordable housing and historic renovations. A few of Powers’ projects have included the development of RhiNo and the Highlands, and bringing student housing to the Auraria campus that served students from all three schools.

Powers has a strong passion for the health and wellness of the residents in the neighborhoods and areas of Denver she develops.

With such common interest and passion, Powers and Crawford are longtime friends. Concern over the lack of affordable housing in Denver has been a continued conversation for them.

DanaAudience1966“Susan and I kept running into each other and we found we kept worrying about the lack of affordable housing,” Crawford said.

As first reported by the Denver Real Estate Watch, Dana Crawford and Susan Powers, president of Urban Ventures, have teamed up to create a new organization, Mothers Advocating for Affordable Housing (MAAH), centered on addressing Denver’s affordable housing crisis.

“There are way too many working people and lower-income people, or people without jobs that are homeless or are living in substandard housing,” Crawford said.

Mayor Michael B. Hancock has made affordable housing a priority for his second term, creating a $10 million Affordable Housing Revolving Loan Fund.

In addition to this, $8 million have been allotted to add to the fund as part of the 2016 budget. Hancock is proposing an annual $15 million or more to be added to the fund each year, starting in 2017.

“This fund will provide a financial boost to development projects, helping Denver deliver greater access to safe, decent, affordable housing in Denver,” Mayor Hancock said at Bridging the Gap, a forum hosted among Denver’s top housing leaders to discuss and inspire change around the need for affordable housing in metro areas.

“Financing of affordable housing units is a challenging landscape for nonprofit and private developers, and these funds will work with the many other funding tools necessary to increase the city’s inventory of affordable housing and keep Denver a city for all.”

Powers and Crawford are in favor of this fund. When the funds are already available to meet affordable housing needs, the road to progress is just a little bit smoother.

shutterstock_122409742“It would be great to have a consistent funding source for affordable housing, so you didn’t have to go back to council every year to find ways to come up with the dollars,” Powers said.

MAAH is yet a new organization, and Crawford and Powers are excited about the opportunities it holds.

Crawford said she imagines MAAH growing to several thousand in the next few years, and “doing whatever it takes” to advocate for affordable housing.



Back-To-School & New Lunchbox Recipes

pencils-458033_1280Summer just flew by, and with the cool, crisp weather this Wednesday morning, it feels like Fall is already here.

The end of Summer’s sweet freedom can feel hard, but heading back to school (or beginning a new school altogether) brings with it an invitation to new beginnings, new school supplies, new friends and much to learn.

We found a few back-to-school shopping tips (courtesy of 7News) to share with you.

1. Shop off-peak hours and leave the little ones at home

The best time to shop for school supplies is first thing in the morning or after 8 pm when store traffic is light. Avoid shopping during the rush times of 4:00 – 7:00 pm. and on the weekends when the stores are especially busy.

2. Check out store brands

While some school supply lists are very specific about brands of markers or pencils, you’ll likely be scratching your head at the store when you see the difference in the store brand vs. the premium brand pricing.

3. Use technology to compare prices, price match and get coupons before you shop

It pays to compare prices before you shop. Use the retailer websites to compare prices, browse the weekly ads and if you plan to shop around, create a shopping list for each store before you go to the stores.

4. Shop online for a quick and easy school supply buying experience

If you are pressed for time or if want to avoid the crazy back to school section of the big box stores, you can always place your order online. Many of the retailers are offering free shipping with a min purchase order.

New school supplies aren’t the only exciting part about heading back to school. School lunch, while often having a stigma of leaving something to be desired, can actually be a fun way to learn new recipes and revamp some old, like this BLT Pasta.


16 ounces rigatoni or penne, 12 slices bacon, 1 7-ounce package arugula leaves, 1 pint diced grape or cherry tomatoes, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


-Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain & rinse under cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.

-Fry bacon over medium heat in a large skillet until crisp.

-Transfer bacon to a paper towel–lined plate. Spoon all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings into a small bowl; set aside.

-Add arugula to skillet & stir until it wilts, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer to pasta bowl.

-Add tomatoes & ½ tablespoon of reserved drippings to skillet, cook for 2 minutes.

-Transfer tomatoes to pasta bowl & toss.

-If pasta seems dry, add up to 1 ½ tablespoons more of drippings.

-Crumble bacon over the top, season with salt & pepper, toss & enjoy!


A, B, G, R … What’s That Spell?

Denver_University_Station“Awesome, unbelievable, ginormous new trains…”

Denver 5280‘s August edition sports an eye-catching ad for the newest RTD light rail lines. A, B, G, and R are scheduled to open in 2016. These lines are part of an expansion started in 2014, increasing the light rail’s coverage and making the city more accessible.

“We’re building more rail, improved bus service, more parking, and improved roadways and bridges for people on the go. Now that’s progress,” says the RTD website.

Line A, set to open spring of 2016, will run from downtown to DIA. Residents of Westminster will be able to light rail downtown on Line B by summer 2016. Fall 2016 promises a Line G, riding from Wheat Ridge to downtown. Finally, Line R will open in winter 2016, running from Aurora to Lone Tree.

As the RTD ad states, “2016 is gonna be huge.”


A New Name

It’s always been “Five Points” to residents and locals, but only in the last month did it officially become Five Points Historic Cultural District.

Five Point’s former legal name was Welton Street Commercial Corridor Cultural District, a name with a rough flow and even less cultural significance.

The last three years have been a battle for community members and activists lobbying for the name change, fearing the cultural significance and historical heritage of Five Points would be lost with such an ill-fitting name.Jazz Festival in Five Points // photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

“It’s a change that symbolizes a lot to the people of this community,” said executive director of the Denver Community Planning and Development Department, Brad Buchanan. “A historic cultural district helps to tell the story of our city’s development, so it’s important that its name reflects the district’s true identity.”

New signs in Five Points reflect the name change, and the city intends to follow with the restoration and revitalization of numerous historic buildings, including the Rossonian Hotel, which once housed a jazz club that hosted Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dinah Washington.

“Residents in my community have long awaited this name change,” Albus Brooks, city councilman for District 9, said. “Five Points is an iconic historic area that will now forever be preserved in the city of Denver.”

These changes are intended to expand on the historical significance of Five Points, which served as a converging point for Denver’s African American culture and businesses during segregation-era in the 1920s through 1960s.The Rossonian Hotel \\ Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images


“They all converged in the Five Points area because that was the only place that they could be, because of discrimination,” said Tracy Winchester, who leads the Five Points Business District. “It’s important that we preserve the culture of the area.”


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