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Family Colorado Road Trip

Old Apr 27th, 2017, 04:50 AM
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Family Colorado Road Trip

Hello all! My family and I are visiting Colorado in early June. My husband and kids (ages 14,12,7) have never been "out west" before. I am finalizing my itinerary and would love help with things to add, travel tips, etc. My kids are very active- love outdoors, animals, sports, adventures, history

June 2- Flying in to Denver, arriving late at night. Renting a car and driving to Estes Park. Cabin rented Fri- Sun
While here we plan to visit RMNP and hope to see wildlife. Any other must sees in the town?

June 5- leave to Vail
I've heard Grand Lake is nice on the way? Any must see sites along the way? Thigns to do in Vail?

June 6- Staying at a hot springs.

Jun7- Staying at Buena Vista. Thought about checking out St. Elmo or Tin Cup? anything else in area?

June 8- Visiting Cripple Creek. Would like to do Mine tour there. Staying two nights and 3 days in colorado Springs. . I think we will visit the Garden of the Gods. Is it worth driving up Pikes Peak? Must see in area or Manitou Springs?

Late that night, traveling to Denver

June 9, spend day in Denver, 8:00 pm flight home. Thought about going to Denver Zoo during day?

Thank you in advance for any ideas or must-sees!

One last thought...We raise Beef cattle in the midwest and would love to see a beef cattle ranch in Colorado. We wouldn't necessarily need a tour, maybe just check a drive by? or a stock yards? Thanks!
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Old Apr 27th, 2017, 08:30 AM
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I might think of going further west to the Aspen area and seeing Maroon Bells, etc. Glenwood Springs.
I am not a fan of the CO Springs area/Garden of Gods vis a vis other parts of CO I find much more interesting.
Vail can/should be a drive by unless it is ski season!

If you do go to CO Springs (3 days!!) think about going to Woodland Park and visiting a really nice dinosaur museum and laboratory there. Your 7 year old will really like it and I think others will also since the midwest is not dino country for specimens.
Denver Zoo is nice. The botanical gardens are also. Your boys might enjoy going to the big REI store there.
Denver folk, is the aquarium gone?
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Old Apr 27th, 2017, 10:27 AM
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Nope, the aquarium is still there and functioning well. The zoo has new tiger exhibit that is a little unique. You are almost in the cage and tiger is free.

Unless you have special reasons to be in Co Spring three days is overkill. I agree with Gretchen. Second, not sure if the P Peak road would be open. The cog railroad should be running.

The upper levels of the Trail Ridge road will be covered in heavy snow pack so wildlife sightings may be very limited. The road, itself is scheduled to be opened Memorial day weekend and most of the time it is but a late snowstorm can close it in a hurry.

I am not the greatest fan of Estes Park since I think it is very tourist with t-shirt and candy shoppes and nothing else to offer other than the entrance to Trail Ridge Road.

Georgetown on the way to Vail is a well maintained Victorian mining town. The kids would love the Georgetown loop road and the silver mine tour. For the kids I think Breckenridge would be more interesting than Vail.

The drive from Vail through Glenwood Canyon to Glenwood Spring is one of the most scenic drives in Colorado. There is a terrific hot spring, outdoor swimming pool in Glenwood Springs - covers a about a city block.

Not sure why B Vista and Cripple Creek are on the list. CC is nothing but a gambling town with lots of casinos. And I would only go to B Vista if white water rafting. IMO there is little in that part of the state that is unusual. It all is pretty scenic but not special.

I would stick to Glenwood Springs, down to Aspen, over to Leadville via Independence Pass (should be open by that time). Leadville has a terrific, hard surface 12 mile look hiking trail - Mineral Belt Trail - that is often overlooked.

In Golden there is a Model Railroad and Train museum that is really very good. And you tour a gold mine in Idaho Springs. And great kids thing is Tiny Town up 285 west of Denver.

I could go on for awhile but that my first look at your question.
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Old Apr 27th, 2017, 10:40 AM
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The GG near Co Spgs is extra spectacular just before sunrise. Be there a half-hour before official sunrise time to quickly get into a position where you (and your cameras) can marvel at the first pink rays on the rocks, then when the sun comes over the horizon, everything lights up for a few minutes until the light becomes washed out.

The same can be said about Red Rocks near Morrison (closer to Denver) - grandiose views to the horizon overlooking Denver. Very special.

The town of Estes Park itself is nothing special, it’s just a handy access point to the RMNP. Lots of shops and restaurants catering to visitors, but it’s the only town in the vicinity, so there isn’t much choice if you want to be “right there”.

You can drive into the park anytime, and the earlier the better. Sunrise from Many Parks Curve for example is quite something (it’s halfway up the climb to the 12,000 ft elevation of Trail Ridge Road).
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Old Apr 27th, 2017, 11:29 AM
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Thank you! The reason I shortened the trip and went from Vail to Buena Vista is because I was afraid the car ride further west would be too long for the kids. I will reconsider. The place I found in Colorado Springs required two nights and I thought we could visit GG, Pikes Peak and Woodland Park from there. My reasoning for Cripple Creek is that my 7 year old wanted to visit the Gold Mine there. My older two wanted to visit a hot springs and I had booked the one at Cottonwood. Would anyone recommend the Glenwood Springs instead? We were hoping to find one with a more natural setting vs. a big pool. Thanks again!
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Old Apr 27th, 2017, 12:09 PM
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It just seems to me you will see MUCH nicer more beautiful parts of Colorado than BV and Cripple Creek.
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Old Apr 27th, 2017, 06:02 PM
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I am not sure what you mean by further west was too long? It is about 60 miles from Vail to Glenwood Springs and almost 80 miles over mountains to B Vista. I am not familiar with the gold and silver mines all over the state. Not sure if there is much difference from a viewing stand point between gold and silver. There is a big gold mine in production at Idaho Spring, silver mine on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, gold mine at Breckenridge. There is really no point in going to C Creek just to see a gold mine. I was in CCreek a few years and IMO was sad to see an old mining town (similar to Breckenridge) converted to a min Los Vegas style casinos.

I think what several of us are trying to tell you is that a loop through B Vista, C Creek, C Springs is OK but not the greatest sights to see in CO.
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Old Apr 27th, 2017, 06:45 PM
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Forgot about your reference to a cattle ranch. Cattle ranching is fairly spotty in Colorado. There are substantial cow and calf operations in south park which is along 285 west out of Denver. It is a pretty drive takes you over Hoosier pass into the south end of Breckenridge. South park is the reference to a high plateau between the mountains. The some big feed yards around Greeley but not always in operation. Most of the cattle raising is east of the Rockies and nearer Kansas. Any type of serious cattle ranching would take you far from your intended route.
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Old Apr 28th, 2017, 09:42 AM
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Loved your reference to being "out west." I grew up in the ranching communities of the Nebraska's sandhills. My wife is from South Bend just east of Chicago. She has always objected to being called an Easterner with a slight slur by my family. In my Dad's world - everything east of Chicago was the east and everything west of Denver was the west. Nebraska, Kansas, the Dakotas - that was the Midwest.
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Old Apr 28th, 2017, 09:52 AM
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I agree your plan includes places that aren't that spectacular.

"My kids are very active- love outdoors, animals, sports, adventures, history"-- which doesn't sound like they want to sit in the car for hours on end, and move locations often.

If your drive changes, to where you will be in Grand County, I highly recommend Devil's Thumb Ranch, which raises its own cattle. They have horses to ride, ziplining, hiking, fishing, great dining, great customer service. All in a Ralph Lauren-esque Old West style of decor.
http://www.devilsthumbranch.com

Actually, I'd prefer to find one or two places, and stay put for the entire time, doing day-trips as you want.

For instance, Steamboat Springs is a day-trip from DTR, and has real hot springs to hike to.
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Old Apr 29th, 2017, 05:49 PM
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For Denver, I recommend the Denver museum of Nature & Science. Look at their website.
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Old Apr 30th, 2017, 08:43 PM
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In RMNP we love the 3 lakes (emerald, dream, nymph) hike with our kids. It is one of my favorite hikes of all time. We loved horseback riding in the park too.
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