August trip

Old Apr 30th, 2021, 08:36 AM
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August trip

My husband and I will be going to Colorado in mid-late August. Likely, we will likely fly into Denver. We will probably have about 10 days. We will rent a car. We do not like to hurry too much, so we do not want to stay in seven places in 10 days. Nor do we want to lived in the car. We were thinking of hitting three places more or less, perhaps one of them being Colorado Springs but are not wedded to that. We are older and love the outdoors but not in condition to do things like mountain climbing or hour long hikes on craggy cliffs. We also need to consider where to fly back out of, back to NYC. Any ideas for the best itinerary?
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Old Apr 30th, 2021, 11:11 AM
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Welcome to Fodors! First check about the availability and price of rental cars for your time frame in the Denver area (airport or downtown). Depending on where you are coming from, another way to arrive in Colorado is on the Amtrak California Zephyr. If you do go to Colorado Springs, try to visit the Great Sand Dunes NP.
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Old May 1st, 2021, 03:43 AM
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There are 3 active threads about Colorado right now. Maybe take a look at these and see if you get an idea of what you'd like to do. Everyone is saying don't go to Rocky Mountain National Park because it will be so crowded but maybe put up with it to see a wonderful place. Also if you are going to be in the latter part of August you may miss the crunch of the last school vacations with kids back in school.
You could make a loop of RMNP the go to Aspen and back to Denver. For a start on thinking.
I am not a huge fan of Garden of the Gods and the Sand Dunes might require a different loop heading to the southwest of Colorado. They ARE interesting to see but there is a lot of Colorado to see!!
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 08:05 AM
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I would fly into Denver.
My three places would be 1) some location on the front range (Colorado Springs would be fine), 2) Durango and 3) a ski resort like Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge, Crested Butte). Ski resorts/ towns are wonderful in summer with lots of activities in beautiful locations.
Circle back to Denver to fly out.
You'll need timed entry to get into RMNP this year. I'd probably skip the crowds there and enjoy mountain scenery elsewhere.

If you make a big loop like that, you can stop and see things along the way (Great Sand Dunes NP) and use the base to see things nearby (Mesa Verde NP at Durango).
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Old May 2nd, 2021, 12:40 PM
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As a Colorado resident, I'm one of those who thinks visiting RMNP is going to be an exercise in frustration and disappointment, due to high visitor numbers, timed entry permits and fire damage/closures caused by the The East Troublesome Fire which burned 30,000 acres within the park last year. Many visitors also seem to overlook the fact that much of the forest in RMNP has been destroyed by pine beetle leaving dead sticks where trees used to thrive.

If you do want to visit RMNP, just be prepared so you're not disappointed - take a look here for details on closures and park entry permits:

IMO you can't go wrong with visiting Durango, Ouray, Telluride, Gunnison, Crested Butte, and Buena Vista.

Consider flying into and out of Colorado Springs to avoid DIA and Denver traffic.

Last edited by Melnq8; May 2nd, 2021 at 12:42 PM.
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 10:49 AM
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I visit Colorado almost every year to do some mountain hiking and always fly in to and out of Denver. If you rent your car from the airport it will cost at least $50 more, and maybe much more, than if you pick it up downtown. If you have a sense of adventure -- There's a great local train that takes you from the airport to Union Station for around $5 each. Then you can walk or take the free 16th Street shuttle bus about one mile to the southeast where a lot of rental car companies have offices. (Reserve ahead and know where the office is.) This all takes time and schedule coordination. These car rental offices are open mostly during business hours.

As starrs says, there's a lot to do in the ski towns during the summer. I hike (I'm 73 yo), but you can find rafting, zip lines, off road tours, and shopping (outlets at Silverthorne). You say you don't want to climb mountains or take long hikes; be aware that there are a number of fairly level walks that are beautiful and not too strenuous. That said, pay attention to the altitude, especially if you don't have previous experience. These ski towns are generally between 8,000 and 10,000 feet elevation and you'll feel it coming from NY.

As for an itinerary, I would also advise skipping RMNP. I took a foreign visitor there in 2017 and it was so crowded we couldn't wait to get out. Is this your first vacation in Colorado? My advice:

1. Spend a few days in Summit County, just west of Denver. Easy access to Breckenridge, Keystone, Frisco, Silverthorne, Copper Mountain, and Vail. Lots of walking available, both easy and hard, some small local museums, shopping, tennis in Breck, golf in Vail.

2.a. Take a drive day (around 7 hours) and drive from Summit County to Durango. Take I-70 west to Grand Junction for some great scenery and plan to hit Ouray and Silverton on the way to Durango. The road from Ouray to Silverton is beautiful but not for the faint of heart. I haven't been to Durango in quite a while but you can spend two or three days there easily.

2.b. If 2.a. involves too much driving for you go to Gunnison instead. Gunnison and Crested Butte are worth a couple of days.

3. With a few days left I would spend them in Aspen or Colorado Springs. You seem to know C.S. I do not. Aspen is special but quirky. It's expensive and hiking is limited. The Maroon Bells trail is beautiful but as crowded as RMNP. Great atmosphere, great restaurants, and just fun to hang out. Some good festivals too but you have to check ahead.

4. You can also fly out of Aspen (and might be able to drop a rental car). If you fly out of Denver you should spend the night before in Denver or Summit County. A day in Denver is fun. There's a transportation museum, the 16th St. pedestrian area, and more. I've tried to get to the mint twice but could never get in. If you spend the night before in Summit County, allow at least two hours to get to the airport. It can take over an hour to cross Denver during rush hour.

Have fun!
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 12:16 PM
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I'll just ask the question about RMNP. If there are limited reservations maybe it won't be crowded. And I will say again, if the OP is visiting aftr mid-August the school vacationers may be gone.
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 07:19 PM
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I wish that were the case Gretchen, but these days Colorado's parks seem busy everywhere all the time.

To the OP - do be aware of major road construction and potential closures between Gunnison and Montrose, should you decide to head that way.
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Old May 4th, 2021, 07:59 AM
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Just a bit more info on the RMNP permit system should you wish to pursue a visit to the park. This was borrowed from a post on Trip Advisor by the DE for RMNP, GalxeFortCollins. Should you need more information on specifics, I suggest you take a look at the many active threads over there, lots of good information from locals.

The biggest thing you need to know is that there are two different types of reservations: 1) the
Bear Lake Corridor plus the "rest of the park" and 2) the "rest of the park" excluding the Bear Lake Corridor. You an book multiple days. You can enter any time during or after your two hour time slot (and come and go after) but you can't enter before. You can also enter the "rest of the park" without a reservation prior to 9:00 am or after 3:00 pm. (Because of that, I think the "rest of the park" will be super busy!) Again, the "rest of the park" is everything except the Bear Lake Corridor.
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Old May 4th, 2021, 09:13 AM
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Rental cars do seem to be at a premium now, but maybe the crunch will have eased by August. If you look for rental agencies that are not at the airport, there are some on Quebec Rd we've used and like, and are much closer to the airport than going southeast or even downtown. I think one is at the Doubletree and another is an Enterprise location near there. Sometimes hotels will allow you to use their airport shuttle. Check on for prices and locations. Search under Denver, rather than the Denver Airport.

Last edited by MoBro; May 4th, 2021 at 09:15 AM.
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