Colorado "Circle"

Old Dec 14th, 2016, 01:38 PM
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Colorado "Circle"

Flying into Denver (early flight) at the end of June. Heading straight to Estes Park/RMNP. Down to Grand Lake....Breckingridge...Hartsel....Garden of the Gods....Boulder. Not stopping at every town mentioned....some just passing through. Not into long hikes...just driving and photography. Will be at Estes Park easily by 10-12 noon on first day. Four days if needed....need some suggestions on where/towns to stay. Four days too long for this trip? Thanks in advance. Always fly Southwest (2 bags fly free) and they don't put June on sale till early next month.
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Old Dec 15th, 2016, 02:39 AM
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Four days?

Your schedule leaves me breathless, even without the effects of altitude.

Sorry. I can't help.
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Old Dec 15th, 2016, 11:04 AM
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After those 4 days....I head up to Rapid City, SD. for Badlands/Black Hills/Mt. Rushmore for 4 days.
This past summer I flew into Las Vegas...rented a car....went to Grand Canyon/Horseshoe Canyon/Monument Valley and then went on a "loop" to all 5 National Parks in Utah. Ended up back in Las Vegas.
I still get around pretty good for 68....but the "hikes" have to be short. Southwest does not put June flights on sale till early next month...trying to find out how many days to plan.
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Old Dec 15th, 2016, 05:26 PM
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Well, you seem pretty much tied to a drive by so have at it. "Four days, if needed" pretty much says it all.
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Old Dec 15th, 2016, 06:24 PM
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https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Este...39.8474721!3e0
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Old Dec 15th, 2016, 06:37 PM
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Above is one way to do it. Drive time is not too bad....387 miles is not bad for 4-5 days!? I do plan on going to Estes Park to start though. I have looked into places to stay for the 4-5 days....many are already sold out already.
My trip from Vegas this year was 23 hour drive (1313 miles) but took 14 days. Next year 4 days in Colorado and 4 in SD. Maybe one more day at the end. My trip from Denver to Rapid City will start about 1-2-3 AM so I can be "ready to go" by sunrise.
In 2014 I started at Niagra Falls (Canada side) at midnight....and drove straight through to Chicago.
What I need is places to stay at night.
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Old Dec 16th, 2016, 08:04 PM
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I will arrive in Denver at 7:35 am. Be "ready to rock" at least by 10 am. Will get to Estes park by early afternoon so I wont be staying there the first night. Maybe Grand Lake?
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 02:20 AM
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Grand Lake is just on the other side of the park. We don't have too much idea what you are doing each place. I'd probably move on. You have your places listed--look for places there.
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 02:40 AM
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Okay, I sort of get it now.

I would make some changes in your route, though.

You don't have enough time to do anything in Boulder, so I would bag it.

Drive west to Central City-Black Hawk, then north to Estes Park through Nederland.

Cross the mountain to Grand Lake, drive to Breckenridge.

Leave Breckenridge for Leadville, then Buena Vista before heading east to Pike's Peak and Colorado Springs.

It's sort of boring from Colorado Springs back to DIA, but the rest of the trip isn't.

Where to stay? Golly. Do you prefer Motel 6 or a ski condo? It probably doesn't matter on a trip like this. Both are out there.
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 04:34 AM
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Towns mentioned are just towns to pass through/stay the night. Not interested in exploring any town including Denver/Boulder or Breckenridge.
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 11:43 AM
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Hmmmm. If you don't want to "explore" those towns, why go out of your way to get to them? Makes no sense. This trip sounds like a nightmare.
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 11:53 AM
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If you can come up with a better route....I'm open. It must take me down to Garden of the Gods and back up north for part #2 of trip (Badlands/Black Hills/Sturgis and Custer St. Park.
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 12:10 PM
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Once you get south of Breckenridge the roads get pretty scares! Eight hour drive in 5 days does not seem like a lot! About 75 miles a day. Last trip was 1,313 in 12 days or 109 a day avg. Flight from Chicago to Las Vegas....rent a car and off for the Grand Canyon and beyond.
2013 was a trip back from Niagra Falls (Canada side) starting at 12 midnight and straight on through. 539 miles or 8:23 hours. When I leave the Denver area to head north I will leave at 12 midnight or 1 am. When the sun comes up....I will be well on my way. Go all day and check in hotel at 5-6 pm.
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 12:56 PM
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Okay, I get most of it now. I've done stuff like this.

Try this: DIA, Colorado Springs etc, Buena Vista, Leadville, Breckenridge, Grand Lake, Estes Park, Boulder, interstate to Black Hills.

The part I can't figure out is the horrible boring 7 hour drive back to Denver to leave the car UNLESS you bite the bullet, pay the drop off fee and fly home from Rapid City. I hate backtracking on the same route, and this one seems like it would be soul-deadening to drive twice.

Have you thought of an alternative?
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 01:52 PM
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If you get your rental car by 8:30 you’ll be in Estes Park by 10AM (unless you stop in Boulder).

From DIA I would drive on the 70 West to the 270 to the 36.

Anything in Boulder you’d like to see as a drive-by?

The 36 ceases to be a freeway, runs through the town of Boulder and becomes a regular country highway that heads north to Lyons (observe the 25 mph limit in town!) and - still the 36 - goes up to Estes Park.

In Estes Park you come to the first big intersection of 36 (now also 7) and 34. Drive straight through the lights and on your right is a Safeways - stock up on whatever you need, pull out, turn right and up and around a slight bend, on your right is the iconic Stanley hotel. Maybe a cup of coffee and a “selfie”?

Keep going west on Wonderview and it merges with Elkhorn Ave and soon you’ll enter the RMNP.

If you drive straight up (highway 34) to the top at 12,000 ft along Trail Ridge Road and down the other side, you’ll be in Grand Lake in about 90 minutes.
That’s a bit extreme, I would suggest spending more time in the park - there’s plenty of info available for you to figure out what you might want to do, if anything.

To get to Breckenridge you have two options, either go via highway 40 through Kremling or - in Granby hang a left towards Winter Park and Berthoud Falls; both about two hours, the latter might be a tad longer.

So if you kept your foot down that first day, you could easily get to Breck long before nightfall.

Add however time you think you might be spending stopping, eating, and taking pictures, and you’ll get a handle on things.
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 02:14 PM
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Askis: I go through Costco to rent my car. For the same 10 day trip from Denver it is $400....to rent from Rapid City it is $517 and to pick up in Denver and drop off at Rapid City it would be $2957 for the same car. Southwest does not go to Rapid City anyway. Thanks for your advice.
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Old Dec 17th, 2016, 03:08 PM
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Askis: You think the trip in reverse is better then? Your way is 8 hours-36 minutes and 427 miles. It's fine with me.
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Old Dec 18th, 2016, 08:34 AM
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I'd skip Breckenridge and add Leadville and Buena Vista. Spend the night in BV before heading to Colorado Springs.

I know you aren't into long (not sure what long means) hikes, but you'd get some great photo ops at Mayflower Gulch on the way to Leadville.

http://www.summitdaily.com/news/spor...yflower-gulch/

I'd shift your route slightly to the west.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Este...39.8474721!3e0
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Old Dec 18th, 2016, 01:41 PM
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Thanks WTM for Mayflower Gulch. It's right up my alley. My hobby is photography and I've already looked up pictures on the web. Thanks again
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Old Dec 19th, 2016, 07:17 AM
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I may have run out of replies...but one more question: How is 5 days for this trip. Getting in at 7:30 am....ready to roll by 10.
Is 5 days about right?
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