About Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock is a former magazine, newspaper and website editor turned full-time freelance writer. She has worked on staff at the Daytona Beach News-Journal, More and Parents magazines, as well as for Learnvest, the leading women's financial website. Her work has also appeared in Newsweek, Forbes, Ladies' Home Journal, the Huffington Post, AOL Travel and more.
Cheryl was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up moving around every few years as an Army brat. The urge to travel has been with her her whole life. While she calls New York City home, Cheryl makes it a priority to travel as much as possible throughout the year. Some of her favorite places include Iceland, the Great Barrier Beef, Cabo, Rome, Calabria and Munich, although she hopes to never stop exploring. Cheryl blogs about her travel adventures (and what's happening in and around New York City) at Weary Wanderer.
Latest Posts by Cheryl Lock
Fall is a great time to visit Wyoming for a myriad of reasons. We visited Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park, all of which was amazing, breathtaking and incredible — and we probably wouldn’t have done it at all without the generous courtesy of Fireside Resorts, which invited me out to try out their Caboose Cabin rental in the town of Wilson, about 10 minutes from downtown Jackson.
Now, I’ve heard a lot about these “tiny” houses over the past few years, but to be honest I hadn’t paid a ton of attention because we have lived in cities where, for the most part, our living spaces have been what can only be described as small. Having said that, there is something altogether different about the likes of the small house that we were lucky enough to stay in through Fireside Resorts. These houses, while tiny, are not only beautiful and state-of-the-art, but the views simply couldn’t get any better.
Here’s a bit of what the inside looked like:
The master bedroom had a closed-off porch attached, which was right next to the grilling area and a babbling brook. Talk about idyllic!
The loft upstairs held two beds.
The next morning we were able to see what the view from our cabin truly was …
Ahh, tetons. I could stare at you all gosh darn day!
The brook next to our cabin.
Our first morning at the cabin was happily spent sipping coffee on the front porch, overlooking the Tetons, while planning our trip to the National Park that day.
When the keys to your rental come attached to a Swiss Army knife, you just know your stay is going to be bad-ass!
A side view of the house.
If you have ever considered renting a tiny home in lieu of a regular hotel in the past, now is the time to do it.
After settling into our amazing tiny Wyoming house earlier this month, we woke up bright and early the next morning, ready to tackle the awesome splendor that is Grand Teton National Park. Here’s how the day went:
We started with breakfast at a cute little bakery right in the downtown part of Jackson called Persephone, where we ordered coffees, breakfast sandwiches and scones to go. It was busy, but we didn’t have to wait too long, and the food was amazing, so I’d highly recommend checking this place out if you’re in town.
After grabbing breakfast, we headed across the street to an outdoor store and grabbed some bear spray.
A note about the bear spray, people — it’s expensive, but it makes all the difference in terms of comfort level when you’ll be hiking (or even just standing!) in areas where there has been heavy bear activity, like there has been this year in both the Tetons and Yellowstone. For example — we ended up seeing four bears in Yellowstone … but that’s a post for another day ;)
Anyway, after breakfast and bear spray, we started the drive out to the park. The road we originally wanted to take was actually closed down due to bear activity (see!), but no matter where you drive around the Tetons, you’re sure to see some amazing stuff.
Here’s what we got up to and saw:
^^ Jenny Lake
The views on our Hidden Falls hike.
Jenny Lake as seen from the Hidden Falls hike.
After our hike, we stopped off at Dornans to have some drinks overlooking the mountains.
It doesn’t get much more Wyoming than this.
On our way back to our tiny house, we stopped off at the grocery store to pick up some veggies and smores to grill and some wine to drink. Chris was dying to try out the outdoor grill that came with our tiny house, and I was dying to stare up at the stars all night long — so it worked out well for both of us!
We also decided to try out The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, right in downtown Jackson, which is about as cowboy/Midwest as you can possibly get. It’s definitely worth a stop-in for a drink if you’re in the area!
Grilling for dinner right next to our tiny house was a perfect way to end our day full o’ fun at the Grand Tetons!
After spending a full day with the Tetons, Chris and I packed up our belongings from our “Tiny House” in Wyoming and hopped back in the car to head over to Yellowstone National Park, where we would be spending the next couple of days.
A word first about where we slept — the Kings Inn Cody Hotel in Cody, Wyoming. While there’s a lot to love about this hotel (the eccentric decorations in the lobby and stairwell and the free continental breakfast come to mind), and the town of Cody appeared to be really adorable and quaint and quintessentially mid-western (although we didn’t really get to explore it), Cody is actually quite a distance from the park (about an hour after you make it out of the park, which can take a while depending where you are), so I’d recommend trying first to find somewhere closer, if that’s possible (which it wasn’t for us).
Oh, Yellowstone. where do I begin? There’s just so much to love. For starters, it’s important to recognize that it’s been an incredibly active animal season in Yellowstone this year, which is amazing and also a bit scary. There have been some pretty terrible bear encounters, and even a couple of bad bison encounters at some of the parks recently. So we took our bear spray with us again everywhere, tried to hike only when we were with other groups of people and made lots of noise whenever we were in bear territory … the last thing you want to do is come up on a bear and scare or surprise him. Luckily we were safe the entire time, but it’s important to be smart and stay vigilant every single time you visit a park with wildlife. These are wild animals … and no matter how tame and calm they may seem while you’re watching them from afar, things can change in an instant and you really need to stay on your toes.
There is no end to what you can see and do in Yellowstone!
^^ One of our first views upon entering the park — you see this and you just know it’s going to be awesome!
Our first animal sighting in Yellowstone — an elk!
Overlooking Old Faithful from our hike up Observation Point.
Old Faithful erupting! So cool.
Walking around all the different geysers in the Old Faithful area was amazing — they’re so gorgeous and unique.
Bison!! The first time we saw one we were like “Woah! Look at that Bison!” until we quickly realized that they are everywhere in the park!
Bear footprint! We saw this about 20 minutes before a black mama bear and her baby walked right up to our car as we were driving home. Chris and I spent about 10 seconds yelling at each other to “grab the camera! grab the flash flight!” before just sitting back and enjoying the sight. Ah, nature. Perfectly lovely, when you’re safe in your car and can watch from a distance ;)
There’s a coyote in this picture! The park was especially active with coyote and wolves around this time, too. Unfortunately we were about 5 minutes too late to catch the wolves on our last night, but we saw some amazing pictures from people who did get to see them!
See that big ole’ grizzly lumbering off to the right side of the photo? We were lucky enough to catch this sighting about 10 minutes after we got into the park.
The Mud Volcano — there are a bunch of different geysers to see around this part of the park, as well, definitely worth checking out!
The Lower Falls as seen from our ridiculously steep Uncle Tom’s Trail hike. You guys, this hike is absolutely worth it — if you’re feeling fit enough to do it. It’s definitely not a joke. Yellowstone is over 7000 ft. above sea level, which is pretty high, even for me, coming from Denver at 5280 ft. The hike itself covers a span of about 500 feet, and includes hundreds (I’m not exaggerating) of steps. If you take your time and acclimate before attempting this hike, it’s totally worth the view at the end, though. For those afraid of heights, the open metal stairs might pose a small problem, too. I’d recommend just holding onto the railing and looking straight ahead … not down!
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
Stairs … and lots of ’em!
This mother and baby big-horn sheep were grazing right next to the side of the road, totally oblivious to the cars and people.
Views on our Trout Lake hike. This hike is gorgeous (as you can see from the above photo), and it’s relatively short to get to the lake, but it is steep, and it’s deep in bear country, so do not do this hike without bear spray and lots of other people to make noise!
Not sure where this skull came from, or what kind animal it is, but let’s just say it was a bit unnerving to come across it while walking around such a serene, beautiful lake!
Dipping our toes in Lamar River, where tons of people were fly fishing, which is so fun to watch!
The prong-horn antelope in this picture practically blend right in — can you see ’em?!
While the momma and baby bear was my favorite bear sighting, this was Chris’s. There’s a big ole’ grizzly in the middle of this photo (find him!), which some kind fellow watchers were nice enough to let us borrow their telescopes to see closer. He stayed in this field for hours, eating berries, chasing bison and just generally having a grand old time. It was really something to see.
Another prong-horn antelope.
This bison and a friend of his wandered super close to our group while we were watching out for the wolves on our last night in Yellowstone. I was a tad scared, to say the least, but no one else seemed to mind, and he did end up minding his own business. Still, it was definitely a bit closer than I normally like to get to wildlife, unless I’m in my car. (Makes for good pictures, though!)
There was a fire that had been started by lightening the whole time we were in the park, but it was far enough away that it didn’t pose any real threat to the visitors just yet. The park has a “let it burn” policy, actually, as this type of thing is nature’s way of rejuvenating the land.
Final, farewell Yellowstone photo — gosh darn you’re amazing!
On a recent weekend, Chris and I hopped in the car and drove out to Rocky Mountain National Park, a 415 square mile park that encompasses some of the most beautiful landscape I’ve seen yet in Colorado — and that’s really saying something.
To start, we decided to bite the bullet and purchase an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass for $80. An individual car entrance for just one visit to Rocky Mountain National Park is $20, and there are so many great national parks to visit (Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Mount Rushmore), so it’s worth the cost and besides, you’re supporting America’s national parks.
Let’s talk a little bit about the Trail Ridge Road, which was the first thing we tackled on our visit! From their site:
Covering the 48 miles between Estes Park on the park’s east side and Grand Lake on the west, Trail Ridge Road more than lives up to its advanced billing. Eleven miles of this high highway travel above treeline, the elevation near 11,500 feet where the park’s evergreen forests come to a halt. As it winds across the tundra’s vastness to its high point at 12,183 feet elevation, Trail Ridge Road (U.S. 34) offers visitors thrilling views, wildlife sightings and spectacular alpine wildflower exhibitions, all from the comfort of their car.
The drive up to the visitor’s center is absolutely stunning, with plenty of places to pull off along the side of the road and gawk. If you’re lucky — like we were — you might even see tons of animals, like deer, marmot, groundhogs, squirrels and chipmunks and, our all-time favorite, the bighorn sheep.
Bighorn sheep! And if you look very closely, you can see a little groundhog trailing him …
While the views are unlike any you’ll find anywhere else, you will need to pay attention to signs of altitude sickness. At over 12,000 feet in spots, I definitely wouldn’t recommend taking visitors here on their first day in Colorado. You’ll need to give yourself time to acclimate to the higher altitude, drink plenty of water and take things slowwwww. There’s no shame in taking your time on hikes around here — no one wants to have to deal with the effects of altitude sickness … blech!
Oh and one other word of wise — wear pants and bring a coat! Chris and I were total rookies and didn’t even think about the fact that high altitude brings chilly weather (we’re talking 50s and low 60s here, people), so we were forced to buy sweaters from the visitors center just to be able to make it through the rest of the day!
We took a couple of hours to see everything we wanted along the ride (I would recommend driving all the way up to the visitor’s center first, checking that out and doing the short little hike near the center, then driving back down to make your stops), and we even pulled over at one particularly gorgeous spot to stop and have some lunch we had packed. After we headed over to the super simple Bear Lake hike, which is only a .6 mile loops with no incline.
We were going to attempt the Alberta Falls 1.2 mile hike, as well, but at that point we were getting a bit tired and felt like we had jam packed a lot into our first ever trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.
But don’t worry, Alberta Falls — now that we’ve got our annual pass, we’ll be back for ya!
Last weekend, Chris and I made good on a promise to each other to try out at least one new bar/restaurant in Denver each month by checking out Euclid Hall, right off Larimer Square. It’s been on my to-do list, and I’m really glad we got a chance to check it out, because we both agree it’s a great spot to bring visitors. Not only do you get to walk through the adorable Larimer Square (which it seems I’m destined to take pictures of every single time I’m in that area, so please don’t judge me), but they have tons of beer choices as well as a speciality Seinfeld-themed cocktail menu.
We ordered a couple different beers and cocktails and appetizers, and the atmosphere was really fun and festive. It’s a great place to hang with some friends or have a pre-dinner drink.
The beer list goes on and on …
Seinfeld-themed drinks … yesssssss!
You just know we had to try the pickle sampler plate, right?
Fried cheddar curds with buffalo ranch dipping sauce and white cheddar spaetzle rounded out our appetizer samples. The only other times I’ve had spaetzle were in Salzburg and Munich, so of course you know nothing can compare to eating amazing food in foreign countries — but friends, please believe me when I tell you that this spaetzle seriously gives all other spaetzles a run for their money. De. Lish.
I tried the “They’re Real And They’re Spectacular” drink from the Seinfeld-themed menu (it was pretty awesome — a very mellow drink, if that’s what you’re after), while Chris got the Hipster Dufus.
And, because I promise to always be predictable, the quintessential photo of Larimer Square in all of its quaint cuteness.
It’s the twinkle lights that does it, really. I mean, come on? Throw some twinkle lights up on anything and it looks better immediately, am I not right?!
On a recent summer weekend, we headed up on an adventure to Glenwood Springs Colorado after checking out Aspen and the Maroon Bells. We were planning to hike the Hanging Lake Trail early Sunday morning, so we stayed in town that night.
A little bit about Glenwood Springs — First off, it’s adorable. The downtown area is incredibly cute, and we had a lot of fun meandering about Saturday night. We ended up having dinner at Grind, where Chris said he had the best burger of his life, and my falafel sandwich was pretty spectacular, as well. There are also a ton of hot springs in and around Glenwood Springs (hence the name), including the new Iron Mountain Hot Springs, which Chris and I plan to visit when we make it back to the area and have more time.
About this hike….Truth be told, I had read a ton of reviews on TripAdvisor about it, all of which say that the hike was incredibly beautiful … but incredibly difficult. Every review says how prepared you need to be and how rocky and hard it is, so needless to say, I was a little nervous. Having now completed said trail, however, I can tell you — yes, it’s difficult … but doable. Yes it’s steep and yes there are lots of rocks to climb, but there’s plenty of room to take breaks, and there are plenty of flat bits to catch your breathe, as well. Below, is a stunning shot of Hanging Lake Trail.
The other note I’d have to make is about the parking lot — it’s tiny. Chris and I arrived just a little after 7 a.m. to start our hike and probably got one of the last 10 or so spots to park. When we finished (around 9:20) there was a line of cars waiting to get in, which probably would have been at least an hour or so wait, if not longer. So my advice would be to get there very, very early, so you can avoid having to wait.
And when you finally do make it to your hike, you’ll be rewarded with some pretty amazing stuff!
There was something tantalizingly pretty about this moth … even though if I look at it too long it’s a bit much….
After a mile of uphill hiking, we reached the beautiful Hanging Lake as also shown above. Quite serene, isn’t it?
The water was so crystal clear and beautiful, and see the fish?!
There’s a short little extra hike that runs up above Hanging Lake that brings you to this pretty waterfall. Definitely worth the extra one minute it takes to get there.
I would highly recommend every single piece of this rural Colorado weekend getaway. From Aspen to the Maroon Bells to Glenwood Springs to the Hanging Lake trail … it’s all absolutely wonderful.
On a recent summer weekend, Chris and I decided to stop off in Aspen on our way to Glenwood Springs to hike the Hanging Lake trail. Aspen is roughly four hours away from Denver, and neither one of us had been before, but it’s only about an hour from Glenwood Springs, so we figured it would make for a perfect weekend jaunt.
At first we weren’t sure what to check out since we would have limited time, but after a little research, we assessed that seeing the Maroon Bells was an absolute must do. According to some sources, these mountain ranges are the most photographed mountains in all of North American — and now we know why.
During the summer the trail into the Maroon Bells site is closed to individual cars from 8 to 5 p.m. (unless you have a child under 2, or a few other contingencies), but you can catch a bus for $6 per person from Aspen Highlands, and they have free parking for Maroon Bell visitors as well. The parking lot does fill up quickly though, so you kind of need to test your luck. We did get lucky, though, because we arrived around 2 and were able to find a spot right away.
It was meant to be.
Here’s a bit of the (spectacular) views …
This lake on the way into Aspen was too pretty not to pull off to the side of the road and photograph.
The Aspen Highlands, where we parked and caught the bus into Maroon Bells.
Gorgeous mountain views.
The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains — Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak — separated by about a third of a mile. You can hike them (they’re considered ’14ers’ — aka the name that Coloradans have given to certain mountains in the state that are above 14,000 feet), but the terrain is very difficult, so you should definitely do your research and train beforehand.
There is another little hike, about 3 miles, running away from the mountains, that Chris and I will definitely be back to do at some point in the near future.
We loved these wildflowers!
Recently, Chris and I decided to make the short drive out to Golden, Colorado. First on that list had to be a Coors Brewery Tour. These tours are free, and if you’re lucky you’ll get a fun driver like ours who takes you for a quick loop around Golden and gives you a bit of historical info about the area before heading over the factory. My friend Lisa and I had wanted to take the tour on an earlier trip, but the line was over an hour to wait.
A shuttle bus picks you up from the (free) parking lot and drives you over to the factory, which is humongous. The tour is unguided, and you just pick up a headset and press corresponding numbers to display cases as you walk through yourself. I think I probably would have paid more attention had the tour actually been guided, but as it was, the tour was free and it comes with three free beers per person at the end, so really it’s worth doing if you’re trying to kill some time in Golden. (Or if you happen to love Coors beer, of course.)
Everywhere you look in Golden you’ll see gorgeous mountains and blue skies. It’s pretty breathtaking.
Barrels during the tour.
Delicious beer ingredients.
The beers available each day are on display as you get down to the cafeteria area. Chris and I collectively tried the staple Coors Banquet, Batch 19 and the Colorado Native. Batch 19 was my favorite, while Chris was partial to the Native.
The reservoir surrounding the factory is used to cool the machines used by the plant.
After the tour (which took us about an hour and a half), we drove over to the adorable Golden City Brewery. This brewery is essentially in a back yard, with picnic tables and wrought iron benches, flags and soft white lights hanging everywhere. The vibe here is so laid back and casual, it’s impossible to not feel like you’re just drinking some beer in your own backyard with friends. I’ve heard there’s usually a food truck parked outside, but there wasn’t one the day we were there. The brewery sells a small assortment of food (hotdogs, pretzels, a meat & cheese plate), but I would definitely recommend eating before you come if you’re hungry.
Nothing but blue skies, friends.
After the brewery we took the 15-20 drive up the Lariat Loop National Scenic Byway, past Buffalo Bill’s Museum & Grave, to take in some of the breathtaking vistas.
We drove up the loop for quite a while, and you can see different things from different stops. That’s the city of Golden down there, and in other spots you could even see Denver in the distance.
The Coors factory, a brewery and a scenic walk/drive? I’d say a weekend doesn’t get too much more Colorado than that!