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Introducing a flatlander to the Rockies

Introducing a flatlander to the Rockies

Apr 22nd, 2003, 09:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 43
Introducing a flatlander to the Rockies

My husband grew up in Tidewater, Virginia, and has the flatlander's awe of tall, pointy
mountains. We have the unexpected opportunity this summer/fall to take a vacation in the United States (we usually head to Europe whenever we have some money), and I�d like to show him some beautiful western mountain scenery.

A few caveats: we love to hike, eat, read, swim, canoe, etc., but we don�t have much tolerance for crowds, tons of kids (think Walt Disney World-type numbers), or overtly touristy areas. As much as I�d love to visit the national parks, the prospect of crowds has always deterred me. Also, we�re not a new-city-each-day type of travelers; we generally prefer to stay somewhere for
a while and explore it at a relaxed pace.

So, what I�m looking for is an area, town, lodge, etc. that would offer beautiful mountain drives and hikes, perhaps the opportunity for a trail ride (I don�t think my husband has ever ridden before), comfortable accommodation, and some good food. A mountain lake for canoeing or swimming would be a plus, as would any historical sites (hubby is a history buff).
Good shops are nice but by no means required.

I�ve spent time in the red-rock country of Arizona and the Sawtooth Recreation Area of Idaho. Both are beautiful, but I�d prefer somewhere else. It will all be new to my husband, so I might as well see something new too.

Lastly, are there certain times of the year that would be preferable? For example, is there much time between the end of everyone�s summer vacations and when western places close for the winter (or open for ski season)? In other words, is there much of a fall tourist season?

Any and all recommendations will be gratefully accepted.
ChrisS is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2003, 09:10 AM
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How about the Canadian Rockies. Jasper and Banff National Parks are beautiful and you can find everything you are looking for there. Jasper is less crowded than Banff.

If you want to stay in the states then maybe Glacier National Park.

utahtea is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2003, 09:26 AM
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Two places spring to mind:
1) Jackson, Wyoming as a gateway to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone (I know you have reservations about national parks). Nothing cries out "cowboy" quite like this. Mountains, mountains everywhere. And wildlife. Wow. Whitewater rafting down the Snake River. Riding horses in the shadow of the Grand Tetons. And Jackson is a great little town with some wonderful restaurants and hotels/resorts. Also, there's some nice shopping for those quiet days. But don't go during the summer if you want to avoid large crowds. Late spring, or early autumn is best.
2) Monument Valley. I know you said you've been to the red-rock country, but there's something about Monument Valley that is breathtaking. Must be all the the old John Wayne movies I've seen (which were mostly filmed in Monument Valley). Though it can get busy inn the summer, this area is a lot less travelled than Yellowstone. A warning, though: there's not a lot to do there, except outdoorsy things. I also think this area is better in late spring, early fall.
Some other random thoughts: Telluride, Colorado; Durango, CO/Mesa Verde; Boulder/Rocky Mountain Natl Park.
JackOneill is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2003, 11:11 AM
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I second Glacier National Park. At the same time Banff and Jasper park are only approx. 4 hours away in Canada. All three should be fairly quiet with lots and lots of hiking. The exception will be the village of Banff which is a major shopping stop for tours out of Japan.
For more info on Glacier Park
John is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2003, 11:36 AM
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Let me chime in again. Though I find the scenery and hiking to be top-notch in Glacier, there is really not a heck of a lot to do outside of that (similar to the problem at Monument Valley in my earlier response). So, if you want more of a variety of things to occupy your time, Glacier may not be the best place.

I love Banff and Jasper, but it will be bustling with tourists in the summer time. The downtown of Banff, also, may be a little too touristy. Jasper is a cool little town, but keep in mind there's only one road between Banff and Jasper, and though it's not a twisty, mountainous road, it will be bumper-to-bumper tour buses in the summer.
JackOneill is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2003, 12:07 PM
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Speaking for SW Colorado, early fall is one of the loveliest times here. The aspen are turning, the sky is usually clear, and the days are warm enough to wear shorts. We don't usually have crowds anytime. There is enough to do, and our mountains are pretty. Mesa Verde is our only National Park, but others (also uncrowded) are nearby in Utah.

I wouldn't write off Rocky Mountain NP as a place to get what you're looking for, either. Maybe stay on the Grand Lake side for a little more peace and quiet.
travellyn is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2003, 01:07 PM
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Besdes hiking in Glacier park there are trail rides,swimming,boating,canoeing. Flathead lake is only 35 miles with great fishing and boating and water sports. If you are into Native American history Browning(on the east side of the park)has a great Native American museum.
Glacierpark is also reachable via Amtrack for a different mode of travel.
Have fun wherever you choose to go,
happy trails!!
John is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2003, 01:41 PM
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You might consider Glenwood Springs as a base or a couple day stop on a multi-stop trip - beautiful mountain scenery, not overly touristy or crowded. Close to hiking, rafting, horseback riding. No mountain lake, but there is the river.
J_Correa is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2003, 04:08 PM
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Growing up with mountains I tend to take them for granted (until I go to flat Florida and the southern states) but I was blown away with the beauty of the Tetons. I know you don't want crowds but depending on when you go you could avoid them. We love to travel in early Sept. The kids are back in school and yet the weather is still lovely. I was at Tetons/Yellowstone at this time and did not find the crowds unbearable.

Perhaps you could stay in or near the parks for a few days then move to another space outside for some other things to do, and away from the crowds.
SaraLM is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2003, 06:34 PM
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We've been to Jasper and Banff twice in the summer and the road were not crowded. The town of Banff and Lake Louise had crowds but the rest of the area wasn't crowded especially by U.S. National Park standards.

utahtea is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2003, 06:48 AM
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I'd go to Aspen, Colorado. In the fall, it will not be crowded and as long as you go in early fall (Sept/early Oct.) it won't be snowy and cold yet. The actual aspens changing colors will be a highlight, too. There are many things to do in and around Aspen involving nature as well as great restaurants and shops. Just make sure when you are booking your trip that the restaurants and shops will be open--they all close down for a few weeks each Spring and Fall between seasons.
travelisfun is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2003, 09:21 AM
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All of the previous posts have wonderful places. With your empahsis on not enjoying crowds and wanting a variety of expereinces, I'd consider Georgetown, Colorado. It's an old mining town, modern enough to have good (not great) lodging and dining, easy to get to from Denver, and has a huge variety of mountain recreation and scenic drives close at hand.
dwooddon is offline  
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