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Colorado-Denver, Boulder, Estes Park, Colorado Springs June 2015

Colorado-Denver, Boulder, Estes Park, Colorado Springs June 2015

Old Feb 19th, 2015, 02:59 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 99
Colorado-Denver, Boulder, Estes Park, Colorado Springs June 2015

Our family of four will be in Colorado from June 8 - June 16. We are flying in and out of Denver. My first thought was to sleep in Denver the whole trip and radiate out from there for our day trips, but now I am thinking it might be too much driving each day. I am struggling with the best route and how many nights we should plan on staying at each location. Any help would be great!
Here is a list of places we would like to see. I'm just not sure how long to allow in each location:

*Denver: Tour of city, shopping, restaurants, art museum
*Boulder: Flatirons, Celestial Seasoning Tea Factory, Leanin Tree Museum, Pearl Street, Teahouse
*Estes Park: Rocky Mountain National Park
*Colorado Springs: Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Cave of the Winds, Seven Falls (?), Royal Gorge (?)

Thanks again
staci1 is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2015, 07:39 AM
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Yes, best to not stay in Denver that entire time, especially in early June when the mountains should be coming into their glorious best.

The most common recommendation you'll find from Fodorites on a trip like this is to drop Colorado Springs. While it's OK it's just not as nice as the mountains at that time of year.

My $0.02 is to chose one of these two itineraries instead:

1) Drive the loop Denver -> Boulder -> Estes Park -> Grand Lake -> Breckenridge -> Denver. Depending on how often you mind changing hotels you can decide how many nights to spend in each or a couple of those towns. There are some variations on the loop that can be considered.

-or -

2) Pick one mountain towns (Estes or Breck are closest) and use that as your base for most of your time.

I think you'll be happier with either of those two options rather than staying in Denver. I've sent many visiting out-of-town coworkers on the option 1) loop, some who only had three days to do it, and there were 100% rave reviews.
Nelson is online now  
Old Feb 20th, 2015, 08:00 AM
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I like Nelson's ideas. I would do at least one night in the Estes Park area, maybe 2.
And then a night or two in Breck or even heading out to Aspen for a couple of nights.
The children's ages aren't mentioned and that could lead to other ideas, like the gold mine/train in Idaho Springs.
If the family likes the idea, it would be great to take a fly fishing day with a guide--Roaring Fork around Aspen, or any of a host of other places.
In Denver there is the Art Museum and the Natural History Museum at the least.
Boulder CAN be done as a day trip from Denver--or vice versa.
Three days Denver/Boulder==two days Estes Park--two days Aspen? Do Denver on the end of the trip and head right to the mountains from the airport would be my suggestion.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Feb 20th, 2015, 06:14 PM
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Nelson, thanks for the driving loop idea. I hadn't even considered Breckenridge before. We don't mind changing hotels, so I will scratch the idea of sleeping in Denver most of the time. How is Estes Park different from Grand Lake?
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Old Feb 20th, 2015, 06:18 PM
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Gretchen,thanks for your response. Our kids are 14 and 21 (always a kid in my eyes). I hadn't considered Aspen at all. I will have to check it out. Colorado Springs looks so beautiful and we really wanted to do Garden of the Gods and the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, so we might still go there. We are from flat South Florida and I am a little concerned with the whole altitude sickness thing. Do you think it is wise to drive straight to the mountains from the airport or would it be better for us "sea level folk" to hang out in Denver one day/night before heading up?
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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 03:25 AM
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If stay in Denver a couple nights, Estes Park a couple nights (amazing city from which to see the beauty of the Rocky Mountains), and CO Springs a couple nights.
sanderskn is offline  
Old Feb 21st, 2015, 04:34 AM
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The altitude thing can be or not--just be SURE to drink a LOT of water, all the time. When we were skiing, we just went straight on to the mountains and took it easy for the first days.
CO Springs may be worth a night and a day.
Aspen is only a couple of hours from Breckenridge, for example. The driving is very easy.
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Old Feb 21st, 2015, 09:04 AM
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staci, re Grand Lake vs. Estes: Grand Lake is much lower key, more laid back and quiet. Estes can be pretty busy, but more restaurant options and things to do.

RMNP on the Estes side (east of the continental divide) is perhaps a bit more spectacular. The mountains are rugged with huge rock faces and steep cirques. Also, if you hike then shorter trails (2-3 miles) get you into really amazing alpine settings.

On the Grand Lake side the mountains are more gentle looking, but still beautiful, especially the Never Summer Range.

Maybe a couple pictures are worth are 2,000 words. This is the Glacier Gorge area (Estes side), after hiking about 4 miles:

This is close to the town of Grand Lake, after hiking about 1 mile:

So you can't lose. If it's a normal year Trail Ridge Road will have recently been opened and there will be large snowbanks still towering above the road. You definitely want to drive that.

Garden of the God is really nice, so I won't try to talk you out of that. Note that you can extend the loop by going to Colorado Springs from Breckenridge via Highways 9 and 24. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is a really cool place to stop on that route.

Ditto, what Gretchen said about the altitude, impossible to predict how it will affect you, but staying hydrated helps a lot. Spending a night in Denver (or Boulder) upon arrival can be helpful. Boulder is only about an hour from the airport.
Nelson is online now  
Old Feb 21st, 2015, 10:45 AM
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Thanks everyone. Now to start planning! Nelson, your photographs are beautiful. My son is into photography so he is very excited.
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