10 day itinerary in Colorado

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Oct 13th, 2018, 05:52 PM
  #1
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10 day itinerary in Colorado

Hello looking for some thoughts/comments on my 10 day itinerary for a June 2019 trip to Colorado. My wife and I and two girls, 16 and 12. My 16 year old & I are hikers but my wife and 12 year old are not, so if we hike, I need for something the others to do (i.e. shopping, walking in town, etc.). Trying to use Estes Park, Ouray, and Durango as home bases for the trip. I can also flip flop the trip by flying into New Mexico first and end in Denver. Any reasons for one or the other?

Day 1: Fly into Denver and drive to Estes Park via the Peak to Peak Highway Overnight: Estes Park

Day 2: Drive Trail Ridge Road in the AM, Overnight Estes Park

Day 3: Hike / Pearl Street Mall in Boulder Overnight Estes Park

Day 4: Drive Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake Overnight ?? Buena Vista/Salida (91, 24, 50) or Grand Junction (Route 70 )

Day 5: Ouray – Jeep Tour / Hot Springs Pool Overnight: Ouray

Day 6: Ouray / Telluride Overnight: Ouray Maybe add another day in Ouray? (see Silverton) Hike?

Day 7: Drive to Durango – Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings Overnight: Durango

Day 8: Durango - Zip Line Overnight: Durango

Day 9: Durango - ? Hike? Overnight: Durango Is it worth a drive to Great Sand Dunes (3 hr drive one way)

Day 10: Drive to Albuquerque to fly home

Last edited by tschrum1; Oct 13th, 2018 at 05:54 PM.
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Oct 13th, 2018, 07:33 PM
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Won't there be a large drop fee taking the rental car back to Albuquerque? Denver is known for having high rental car prices anyway. Fly to ABQ for another trip later.
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Oct 13th, 2018, 07:50 PM
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Have you checked the logistics of driving from your day4 overnight to Ouray and then taking a jeep tour in Ouray?

if you plan on driving to Telluride on day 6, it makes more sense to spend that night in Telluride. Your daughter and you could take the Bear Creek trail hike and your wife and other daughter could explore the town.

Rather than return to Ouray from Telluride, proceed to Mesa Verde the next day, spend the night at Far View @ MV then proceed to Durango the next day. That way, you are not spending so much of your time on the road and backtracking.

Personally, I think the hikes north of Durango are much nicer than Silverton. Examples are Engineer mt., Purgatory Flats, Little Molas, Upper Hermosa Creek or Cascade Creek.

you could take the 6 hours round trip to Great Sand Dunes or you might want to consider making the drive from Durango to Albuquerque via Chana, Taos and Santa Fe and on to Abq via the Turqoise Trail.
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Oct 14th, 2018, 03:51 AM
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There is a LOT Of driving back and forth the first couple of days--Boulder and Estes Park?
Please make reservations at Far View Lodge IN Mesa Verde Park for 2 nights instead. One day isn't enough, IMO, and the drive from Durango is time consuming.
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Oct 14th, 2018, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Gretchen View Post
There is a LOT Of driving back and forth the first couple of days--Boulder and Estes Park?.
I think the OP is talking about going hiking while his wife and one daughter go shopping - that's why it says hike/Boulder because it would be simultaneous. He mentions having to find something for them to do while he goes hiking with the other daughter.

Regardless, I agree with your thoughts on driving back and forth. Instead, I'd suggest spending the first overnight in Boulder. That will help acclimate to the elevation and allow some shopping. There are a lot of shops in Estes Park for your wife and daughter - very touristy but nonetheless, there is shopping. There are some really easy/flat hikes in RMNP that could work for the whole family. OR would work for them while you go off on a more strenuous hike. (That's assuming your wife/daughter are agreeable to easy hikes. Lily Lake, Bear Lake, Sprague Lake are all 0.5 miles and about as flat as can be).

Absolutely do NOT drive Trail Ridge Road on day 2 - you're already driving it day 4 to get to the west side. If you want to do some whitewater rafting, Buena Vista would be a good place to do that. I think there are some zip line/rafting combo trips in that area as well, although that might be a rather full day. Otherwise, Buena Vista did not strike me as a particularly interesting place to spend a night.

You might want to reconsider the whole SW Colorado part of your trip. Mesa Verde is the only thing you're doing there that you can't do elsewhere and it's adding a lot of driving. Have you thought about just doing Aspen/Vail/Breckenridge (or whichever town fits best)? You'd still have great scenery/hiking, shopping, ziplining, jeep tours, etc. Just no Mesa Verde. Ski resorts have adventure parks in the summer so you'd find a lot of activities to keep everyone busy. That plan would cut way back on your driving and allow you to return the car in Denver, which would eliminate any one-way dropoff charge.
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Oct 14th, 2018, 05:30 PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Honestly this is our first vacation like this. We own a travel trailer and have traveled up and down the east coast (Maine to Florida from PA). I was using the 3 or 4 hotel stays as hubs instead of constantly packing up and moving to the next hotel. So I guess I'm willing to travel a bit more.

I will look into not driving Trail Ridge Road on Day 2. I was thinking we could hit all the pull off the road parking areas to check out the scenery on DAy 2 and Day 4 we would drive straight through to the western side and Grand Lake in hope we would see some moose (loved seeing the moose in New Hampshire).

We really want to see Mesa Verde and Durango as we also have an extensive zip lining excursion planned. Plus it looks beautiful in that area.

Maybe we make a trip through Poncho Springs and back to Denver instead of driving to Albuquerque.
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Oct 14th, 2018, 07:44 PM
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Mesa Verde is definitely doable out of Durango. You will still get to see a great deal at MV without staying overnight in the park. You can also enjoy Telluride as a day trip from Ouray. Following your original plan for SW CO, you will be driving right past Silverton so you might as well stop and check it out. Your plan involves a great deal more driving but if your priority is having only two "home bases", it will be fine.

Are you doing Soaring Tree Tops with the train? If so, good choice. You can't duplicate that trip or the quality of that zipline anywhere else.

i assume you meant Pagosa Springs. In which event, you might as well go to Great Sand Dunes on your way back to Denver
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Oct 15th, 2018, 03:58 AM
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Yes, planning Soaring Treetop Adventures.

I was trying to get further along than Pagosa Springs, maybe Salida on my way back to Denver.

Thanks again.
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Oct 15th, 2018, 08:37 AM
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Since you'll be pulling a travel trailer on day 4, you may want to drive Trail Ridge Road on day 2 afterall. Not sure how difficult it will be to find parking and navigate the parking areas with a trailer as I've never done that or paid much attention to it since I'm always in a car.
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Oct 15th, 2018, 09:18 PM
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For day 5, why not see if you can find a full day Jeep tour out of Ouray that goes to Telluride and back? Then you would get your Jeep tour and visit Telluride. Iíve personally done Ophir Pass before and really enjoyed it. Then you could check out the town of Ouray on day 6 before heading on down to Durango in the afternoon. I would get to Durango the night before you visit Mesa Verde unless you plan to change your itinerary to stay in the park because itís about 1-1.5 hrs from Durango to the top of the Mesa where your tours will be. For guided tours, check and see if there is one of the smaller specialty tours available the day you are going. Iíve done the big group tours before which are great, but this past summer went back and toured Square Tower on Chapin Mesa and Long House on the Wetherill Mesa and enjoyed those tours so much because of the smaller groups and less rushed pace.

Also, if you and your daughter are up for a tough hiking challenge, I recommend Ice Lakes in the South Mineral Campground just north of Silverton. It is absolutely beautiful and worth every bit of the challenge. For an easy hike for all of you to do, check out Box Canyon Falls in Ouray.
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Oct 16th, 2018, 04:00 AM
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Where are we, I con't think this is a trailer trip--using hotels

I will still say to spend more than one day in MV. It is one of the wonders of the world, IMO.
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Oct 16th, 2018, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Gretchen View Post
Where are we, I con't think this is a trailer trip--using hotels.
You're right. I got sidetracked by the travel trailer comment and ignored the obvious part that they are flying in so not using the travel trailer this time.

Back to my original advice - don't drive Trail Ridge Road on day 2. Save it for day 4 as you're heading over to the west side of the park. Driving straight through would take probably an hour from Estes to Grand Lake. With stops, add several hours. I'm just not a fan of doing that drive twice with such a limited amount of time.
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Oct 16th, 2018, 08:46 PM
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Virginia's recommendation to hike Ice Lakes would be great if you were going later in the summer and had the time to do it. There is no question it is a gorgeous hike but it takes almost a whole day to go to upper basin and back. Also, we are expecting an el Nino year and if the last month is any indication, it will be a snowy one so the Ice Lakes trail could be snow covered in June since it is a high elevation hike. I've had to turn back in some years when attempting in June.

Based upon your day 4th night stop, you would not be able to take a full day Ophir jeep tour on day 5 and see Telluride unless you left Salida around sunrise.

On your return from Durango to Denver, instead of going through Salida again, since you had mentioned Great Sand Dunes in a previous post, why not go through Alamosa instead? The two routes are about the same time wise.
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