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Colorado in July-advice request

Old Apr 19th, 2006, 02:52 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 36
Colorado in July-advice request

Posting Again in Colorado page:

We are retired couple, never been to CO, have presently reserved:
July 4-6 (3 nts) Manitou Springs

July 9 & 10 (2 nts) RMNP at Estes Park

We want to see alot of the Mtn passes & scenery (Summit County area?), but also Gunnison/Black Canyon area. We will be sightseeing but not hiking (leg problem). Is there adequate time to see Gunnison with only 2 nts in between the reservations mentioned above?
I can change dates in Manitou, but am trying to avoid the bulk of the July 4th crowd there. Dates in Estes are harder to change (timeshare).
Is 1 day travel from Manitou to Gunnison on Rte 24, then thru Cottonwood Pass, doable and recommended? Is Rte 50 to the south scenic and/or quicker? We're looking for SCENERY enroute, but can give some up if it will make Gunnison happen.
How about 1 day travel between Gunnison/(Black Canyon included), and Redstone, Carbondale or Aspen for a stopping point?
I need someone who knows the time it takes to travel between, with short stops taken for enjoyment.
Should I skip Gunnison area for a future trip??
Should I rework ALL my dates??
We can vacation up to 9 nts total.
Thanks in advance!
becky is offline  
Old Apr 20th, 2006, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 268
Hi Becky,

I can give you lots of answers and suggestions, but could you let us know a bit more info. Are you flying into Denver or Co. Springs, or are you driving here from somewhere?

If I am reading this right, your dates for Colorado are July 4-July 10, just seven days. You said you could vacation for nine days-does that number include getting here from your home or can you include those two days and spend them in Colorado?

Let us have more info and you will get good help from several people.
GJLinda is offline  
Old Apr 20th, 2006, 12:53 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 16,822
I wouldn't spend more than 1 night in Manitou, there are better options.
sylvia3 is offline  
Old Apr 20th, 2006, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 64
for scenery i would do this-
1-2 nights max in manitiou springs
(hitgarden of the gods as the sun sets)
-drive route 24(prettier) then down to route 50 then to gunnison stay the night.
-leave gunnison visit black canyon(awesome and not crowded).take route 92
on north side up to hotchkiss then toward aspen via 133 and 82. stay the night in aspen.
-leave aspen take 82 toward twin lakes(on many calendars)
this day you will see independance pass
which is soooooooo beautiful) theres an old ghosttown up there
keep going after twin lakes til you hit 24 then head north to i70.
-you then could stay in any number of places between vail and estes then proceed to estes the next day though i would drive from aspen all the way to estes via hgwy 34 thru rmnp in one day myself to spend more time in estes.
getting from manitou to gunnsion is easily done in half a day or even less.
in fact i drove from c.springs up thru aspen over to gunnison then stayed the night in ouray(!!!) all in 1 day though this is a bit much for most people. colorado is GREAT!
vgronek is offline  
Old Apr 20th, 2006, 01:42 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 64
i have to agree with sylvia that more than 1 day in manitou and your giving up a chance to see prettier places such as ouray,telluride,or another night in estes park.
vgronek is offline  
Old Apr 20th, 2006, 04:50 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 36
Thanks everyone!
I could spend lots of time in the car if scenery is involved, but my husband doesn't feel the same about long stretches. We are flying into Denver only because I assumed it was cheaper than Colorado Springs (coming from Las Vegas airport---we live in St.George UT), but I really haven't checked airfare yet. We'll rent a car. Travel time to & from CO was not included in the 7-10 days mentioned---we are retired---yippee!
So, it was mentioned as not the best choice to stay in Manitou Springs, but where WOULD you recommend staying to see Garden of the Gods, Pike's Peak Cog Railway, Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Seven Falls, Miramont Castle & Royal Gorge Train? We'll be out so much, we just want a comfort spot ($100 max).

I'm glad Gunnison is doable! I like the trip plan given, thanks! I appreciate your knowledge, I'm planning blind except for AA book, maps & Fodorites (the best!).

Heck, we could stay 2 weeks but we start missing the dogs!
becky is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2006, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 621
Flying to Colorado Springs can be cheaper than flying to Denver in many instances. Check it out. Two nights in Manitou Springs is plenty. I'd prioritize your list of things to do in Manitou, and then drop the last two on your priority list.
Hwy 24 is the shortest and most scenic route from Manitou Springs to Buena Vista IMHO, especially the last 7 miles before you get to Johnson Village as the Collegiate Peaks just fill your windshield.
At that time of year Cottonwood Pass should be do-able for a passenger car, and is a much, much, much, much more scenic route than Hwy 50 over Monarch Pass. It will also take you much longer because you're moving at 25 - 40 mph rather than 55. Leave Manitou Springs early (0700), get to Buena Vista by noon, and you should be in Gunnison by dinner, depending upon how many picture-taking, and rest stops you take. To get over Cottonwood Pass take Chaffee County Hwy 306 west out of Buena Vista. It is paved for the first several miles, but then becomes graveled. On the west side of the pass, the road becomes Gunnison County Hwy 209 as it descends toward Taylor Park Reservoir and then Hwy 742 as it follows the Taylor River to the town of Almont.
vgronek's advice on the route from Gunnison to Aspen is the same as I would give. Hwy 50 to Hwy 92, with a stop to see the east side of Black Canyon (it will be much less crowded there), then up to Hotchkiss. From there, take Hwy 133 north over McClure Pass. I personally like the little town of Redstone - an artsy/craftsy village along the Crystal River, but the only lodging there, I believe, is the Redstone Inn which is very nice, but can be expensive. For a cheaper "Days Inn" type of lodging, go down to Carbondale or Glenwood Springs.
Just south of Redstone is the hamlet of Marble. Just up the mountain from the town is the marble mine from which the marble for the Lincoln Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington D.C. was mined. The mine itself is closed to visitors, but you can drive up to the gate, or roam the old mill in town (about 100 yards south of the fire station) where there are lots of unfinished marble columns.
Aspen is about a 30 minute drive from Carbondale. I would also strongly suggest taking Independence Pass from Aspen to Leadville. It's all paved highway, but in a few places the roadway from Aspen to the top of the pass can be barely wide enough for one and a half cars - so be careful going around those curves.
furledleader is offline  
Old Apr 21st, 2006, 09:27 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,778
You have received good advice. I just wanted to throw in another endorsement for Redstone and the Redstone Inn. Their website is If you can stay midweek, I don't think their rates are too expensive. The inn and town are both charming.
wtm003 is online now  
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