Colorado/Cross country trip!

Apr 25th, 2018, 05:45 PM
  #1  
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Colorado/Cross country trip!

Hello all!
My boyfriend and I are doing our first cross country trip. We plan on driving straight to Colorado (from NY) possibly ending up at the Grand Canyon in Arizona then making our way back through Colorado before heading back to NY. We may possibly just stay in Colorado for the entire time. We are driving. The. Entire. Time. We arenít staying at hotels and air bnbs, weíve designed a camping like feature in his truck and we are ready to bring on the vehicle life!
We have from May 26th, when we leave to June 6th, when we get back to NY. So that gives us almost two weeks for adventure. Weíre looking for cool little places to stop, eat, drink (both over the ages of 21), and we are planning to do more of the outdoors than anything else. Weíre bringing our kayaks (mrelaxed waters no white water rafting) so we really want to find some nice places to yak around in and we have an annual National parks pass. We arenít too nervous about our budget. We also plan on going zipling across the seven falls. We are interested in Glenwood Springs and Colorado Springs, not too much Denver. And of course the Grand Canyon if we have enough time for that.
Please give us some ideas and recommendations. Weíre hoping to make some lifetime memories, and Colorado sure seems like the place to do it! Thank you!

ps. Anyone ever been to hanging lake or co sand dunes? And if you have can you shed some light in detail on your experiences please?

Last edited by maddie1070; Apr 25th, 2018 at 06:08 PM.
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Apr 25th, 2018, 07:56 PM
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Apr 25th, 2018, 09:10 PM
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Is this trip from NYC? It is 1600 miles from Pittsburgh PA to Glenwood Springs so plan on 4 full days to get there from anyplace in New York State. Plan on 3.5 days in Colorado and 8 days on the road across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas.
You do not have the time to drive to either side of the Grand Canyon and back in 12 days.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 26th, 2018, 02:42 AM
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With two very young drivers, the driving part of thetrip cross country could be about 2 days, I have regularly driven the 1600 miles to Denver from my home even at age 80 in 2 days myself, and kids going to college do it in 23 total hours Just sayin'. LOL No Amtrak but lots of books on tape but for young folks, I suspect it is music!!

At the same time,, you may still not have time to go to the Grand Canyon.
As many here know, I always recommend getting a paper map and sticking pins in it for places you want to visit and then plan your route.
You can do a loop around Colorado--stick a pin in Limon Colorado, then Great Sand Dunes, Durango, Mesa Verde, Glenwood springs, Keystone/Frisco area, Rocky Mountain National Park, Denver.

The Dunes are worth a couple of hours. Then hit it for Durango about 6-7 hours. From that point your driving times are more manageable.

You'll find some places to kayak along that route I think.
If you really want to do the Grand Canyon, then do the pin trick and see how it works with the rest of the trip.
Your Park pass will get you into the parks but may or may not get you a camping spot so investigate whether you want to make reservations ahead which will tie you go a more rigid itinerary. You may want to print out some KOA/commercial camping places along the way also.
Have a GREAT time!! There is nothing like the American west!!
Gretchen is offline  
Apr 26th, 2018, 03:04 AM
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Do your homework and always have a plan B. Some of the places you want to visit might still have snow in late May, so have a warm sleeping bag for those nights.

Go to the Bureau of Land Management and Forrest Service sights for places to camp for free. Places along the road like some Wallmarts, Crackerbarrels will let you park overnight if you shop there, but do ask before you do that, typically the overnighters will group together at the edge of the parking lot.

If you are as energetic as Gretchen, the route suggested will give you a good beginning. The places I would not want to miss are Mesa Verde NP and Rocky Mountain NP. Check with the nps site to be sure that Trail Ridge Road through RMNP is open when you want to go.

Have a fantastic trip and keep your gas tank filled once you are off the interstates where stations are far apart.
emalloy is offline  
Apr 26th, 2018, 08:13 AM
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New York City to Grand Canyon is 2400 miles, Google maps shows it as 35 hours of driving. Realistically you could get there in 3 days, spend a day then you'd have 8 days to drive home with the majority of that time spent in Colorado.

Yes, it's doable. Denver to New York City is about 26 hours of driving so that's a long 2 days on the road without stopping for sightseeing.

You'll want to figure out the bathroom/shower situation if you're camping/sleeping in the back of a truck and not using established campgrounds. If you visit Rocky Mountain, there is a laundromat in Estes Park that has a pay shower but you'll want to make a camping reservation if you're staying inside the park. National parks tend to frown on people sleeping in vehicles outside of campgrounds, and it wouldn't be unusual to have a ranger check your vehicle if they see it sitting on the side of the road or at a trailhead overnight.

Curecanti National Recreation Area is Colorado would be an option for kayaking. Not sure if any of the national parks are realistic for kayaking, possibly Grand Lake on the west side of RMNP (but that's outside the park boundaries. I would think in late May/early June most of the rivers will have a good amount of water in them so I'm not sure how realistic the calm/relaxing kayaking would be. That's more of a whitewater rafting time of year but of course, depending on the river you could find some quieter stretches. Overall the mountain lakes are fairly small so you'd probably be looking for manmade reservoirs instead of lakes. My personal opinion is you will find enough to do and see without taking your kayaks.
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Apr 26th, 2018, 12:33 PM
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Thank you for the replies thus far, they are helpful! Figured I would add a few things here instead of editing. As for my background (not as much for my boyfriend) I grew up on the road. My parents (who have also contributed ideas toward this trip) raised me as a planner for these things, so I have back up plans B, C, D all in my pocket ready to go in case our initial plans don't fall accordingly. I'm experienced when it comes to the drives, how long they will take (we are planning no longer than 48 hours to arrive in Colorado), where and when we need to stop, and for as young as I may be, I'm pretty realistic. We actually do have a map and some pins just haven't set it up yet because we know we are still adding places on to visit! We are traveling from upstate NY, Rochester area. We have backups to stay at motels along the way just in case we get too sick and tired of living in the truck, but we do have memberships at a gym with locations along our routes and in CO, which provides showers and what not.

Also is anyone familiar with any issues people run into when trying to get into the Rocky Mountains? I've heard a few mishap stories here and there but considering we have the pass I' hoping we're good. Would just hate to get there to find out we can't enter?

Thank you, everyone, for such great input! Feel free to add some more if you'd like We are so excited!
maddie1070 is offline  
Apr 26th, 2018, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by maddie1070 View Post
Also is anyone familiar with any issues people run into when trying to get into the Rocky Mountains? I've heard a few mishap stories here and there but considering we have the pass I' hoping we're good. Would just hate to get there to find out we can't enter?
What stories have you heard? I'm assuming you're talking about Rocky Mountain National Park. Other than entrances being busy and waiting in line, I've not heard of any mishaps re: not being able to enter.
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Apr 26th, 2018, 01:47 PM
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People might have gone to RMNP when Trail Ridge Road was closed because of snow, which it is all winter, so you can't go through it. We were there one October and there had been one snowstorm, but not enough to close it. Go to the park service site and ask how likely it is to be closed when you want to go.
emalloy is offline  
Apr 26th, 2018, 09:35 PM
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Iíve been to Hanging Lake and the sand dunes, both are worth a stop. Hanging Lake is a short hike but uphill the whole time, but it really is beautiful. If stopping in Glenwood Springs, I would recommend Juicy Lucyís or The Lost Cajun for restaurants. Near the sand dunes is Zapata Falls you could see if you are already planning to stop. Another hike I would highly recommend near Silverton is Ice Lakes Basin. Itís one of my all time favorite hikes, tough but absolutely beautiful. Itís also at the South Mineral campground if you are going to be looking for somewhere to stay. Mesa Verde is another canít miss, and I think Black Canyon of the Gunnison is worth checking out. I think you will have plenty to do in Colorado without making the drive on to the Grand Canyon; I would save that for another trip.
Virginia1990 is offline  
Apr 27th, 2018, 04:06 AM
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I think the "not being able to get into" is, as others say, Trail Ridge Road THROUGH the high pass in Rocky Mountain National Park because of snow closure. Getting through "the Rocky Mountains" is on an interstate (70) and really doesn't have anything to do with a Park pass. ;o)
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Apr 27th, 2018, 06:13 AM
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Couple things to keep in mind. The target for opening Trail Ridge road is Memorial Day weekend - 27th, 28th. We have had less snow this year so that should be a good date. Although at that time it can easily be closed with a snowstorm. Camping the mountains at that time of year can be pretty cold and snowy. Independence Pass between Leadville and Aspen may or may not be open at that time. Do be prepared for snow on the high passes. We had snow two days ago in Denver.

Don't know the current status of Hanging Lake. Changes are in the works to move to an advance reservation system for hiking that area. So access could be limited. You could do a good loop in Colorado for your time frame. If head to the G Canyon then I would skip the southern portion of the state - sand dunes, M Verde. Same it for another trip.
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Apr 27th, 2018, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Virginia1990 View Post
Iíve been to Hanging Lake and the sand dunes, both are worth a stop. Hanging Lake is a short hike but uphill the whole time, but it really is beautiful. If stopping in Glenwood Springs, I would recommend Juicy Lucyís or The Lost Cajun for restaurants. Near the sand dunes is Zapata Falls you could see if you are already planning to stop. Another hike I would highly recommend near Silverton is Ice Lakes Basin. Itís one of my all time favorite hikes, tough but absolutely beautiful. Itís also at the South Mineral campground if you are going to be looking for somewhere to stay. Mesa Verde is another canít miss, and I think Black Canyon of the Gunnison is worth checking out. I think you will have plenty to do in Colorado without making the drive on to the Grand Canyon; I would save that for another trip.
I will for sure check out these restaurants, thank you!!! The Sand Dunes actually fit perfectly into our plans because we are planning on walking the planks and ziplining over Zapata I think we will most likely be turning this into a CO only trip and saving GC for another adventure.
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Apr 27th, 2018, 02:10 PM
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A quick caveat regarding Hanging Lake. It gets close to 200,000 visitors a year and had to be closed this past year in order for park rangers to clean up the mess left by tourists along with graffiti on rocks. Plans are currently to limit visitors to 625 a day, close the parking lot and use a shuttle from Glenwood Springs. I haven't heard of any updates yet, but you will certainly need to check before planning a stop. I walked up to Hanging Lake years ago. It's more of a walk than hike and although there were quite a few walkers nothing like the most recent numbers which would be a bit like being a lemming in a line. I really can't imagine it being much fun. Yes, Hanging Lake is pretty, but there are hundreds of pretty hikes in Colorado. My advice is to get out of the typical tourist box and hike where you don't feel as if you're being herded like a pack of animals.
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Apr 28th, 2018, 05:23 AM
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<< National parks tend to frown on people sleeping in vehicles outside of campgrounds, and it wouldn't be unusual to have a ranger check your vehicle if they see it sitting on the side of the road or at a trailhead overnight. >>
My husband and I recently rented a camper van for a week and toured Joshua Tree, the Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley areas. You may already know this, but there is lots of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land where you can do what is called "dispersed camping" (also known as "boondocking")
Here is a website describing this option as sanctioned by the Forest Service in Colorado
https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r2/re...telprdb5322548
If you google dispersed camping or boondocking you will see lots more information.

I was pretty skeptical when my husband and some friends described this option, but it worked out well and we stayed in some beautiful dispersed camping locations 5 out of our 7 nights.
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Apr 28th, 2018, 06:49 AM
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The Glenwood Springs Hostel is at 1021 Grand Avenue if you want a place to take a shower and cook breakfast on a real stove. They have a huge collection of records and a working record player.
DW and I hiked up to the top of the hill to see the cemetery where Doc Holliday is buried.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 28th, 2018, 07:09 AM
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Oh, just remembered a nice campground just north of Silverthorne on Route 7--right beside the Blue River.
Good idea about those campgrounds.
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