Colorado Itinerary

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Jan 23rd, 2017, 07:14 PM
  #1
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Colorado Itinerary

We are a family of 3 (adults) traveling to Colorado this summer interested in scenery, easy to moderate hiking, rafting and history, within a 12-14 day timeframe. Here is our potential route: Fly into Denver - Pikes Peak - Great Sand Dunes - Durango - Million Dollar Highway - Silverton - Ouray - Telluride - Black Canyon - Crested Butte - Marble - Redstone - Carbondale - Aspen Highlands / Maroon Bells - Aspen - Hanging Lakes - Vail - Mt. Evans - Grand Lake - Estes Park - Boulder visit to Univ of Colorado. Not sure how to schedule itinerary. Help with where to stay and for how long would be appreciated.
lorirm is offline  
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Jan 23rd, 2017, 09:17 PM
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Pikes Peak on the first day is not advisable. Some folks find Denver's altitude (5200 ft) annoying, making them feel queasy and headachy etc., while others notice nothing.

More folks start feeling funny at, say, 9000 feet - but Pikes Peak at over 14,000 feet, and after a flight (from what elevation at home?) and all that, just might make you or some in your party get off to a really bad start.

Mount Evans is the other fourteener, but by then you should have gotten used to various elevations.

As to how to schedule: It requires homework. Google the road distances and suggested drive times, and add a bit for contingencies.

Be sure to know why you want to go to each of the places you name - what is there to attract you, how will you get there, how long will it take. Crested Butte for example - how much time will you want to spend there, doing what? It can provide nice hikes, but it is an in-and-back-out location, to get to Marble you have to return to Gunnison, so it's not a quick stop between A and B.

The internet can provide all the answers, and when in doubt, call a tourist info office here or there. But it takes time, so have at it and map it out, you'll soon get the hang of it.
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Jan 24th, 2017, 04:45 AM
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While you are in the Durango area, head over to Mesa Verde NP.
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Jan 24th, 2017, 04:57 AM
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Absolutely, and spend at least 2 days. Make reservations at Far Vview Lodge in the Park.
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Jan 24th, 2017, 04:23 PM
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Thank you for your input. We looked at mileage between locations and figured we would need to drive, on average, 4 hours a day. That could be a lot of driving.

We considered going clockwise so we would end up in Estes Park in mid August, hoping for fewer crowds than if we were there in early August. But then that puts us at Pikes Peak as we arrive in CO, which, as you mentioned would not be advisable.

What would be your top picks or an alternate route that would offer a nice vacation in Colorado? We are interested in input from others who know more about the area, regarding pluses and minuses for the locations mentioned. Crested Butte, Marble and Redstone were add on locations, as we had read that they are worth checking out. We definitely want to be efficient with our route.

We are not planning to go to Mesa Verde, as we have been there on a previous trip; however, thank you for the suggestion.
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Jan 25th, 2017, 07:13 AM
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A few thoughts:

You are splitting hairs with the difference between early and late August in Estes. No noticeable difference in crowd size.

More important: I think you should do either a southern Colorado trip, or a northern Colorado trip, but not try to cram in both. If you do southern CO then make Aspen / Leadville / Glenwood area the northern part of your loop. If you decide on northern CO then that becomes the southern leg of your loop.

Crested Butte is a great town and though close to Aspen on a map it's 5 hours of drive time, so only include that if you are going south.

If heading north you can add Steamboat, Grand Lake and Breckenridge as possible stops.

Pikes Peak has iconic value for sure, and maybe that is important, but the other parts of the state you mention are nicer.
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Jan 25th, 2017, 07:51 AM
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Thank you for your input. We looked at mileage between locations and figured we would need to drive, on average, 4 hours a day. That could be a lot of driving.

On its surface, this isn't a whole lot in a way. For instance, from DIA to Silverthorne (Summit County/near Breckenridge/etc.) is about 2 hours. Then to Aspen, e.g., it is another 2 hours. Not suggesting this as "the" route, but trying to say, you will find places along a 4 hour drive that you will stop and explore. The road through Leadville is a great experience. You will be sightseeing along the way.
Having been to Mesa Verde will let you loosen up the rest of your trip.
You might head for Estes Park from DIA and cross through the Park to the western entrance near Grand Lake and down to Silverthorne or up to Steamboat.
How about printing a paper map of Colorado and sticking pins in it for nudging possibilities. This is my favorite way of planning! LOL
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Jan 25th, 2017, 09:32 AM
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Driving 4 hours a day, plus an hour or more to pack up, check out, load the car.

Sounds awful.

Cut down your itinerary so you can actually enjoy Colorado.
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Jan 31st, 2017, 07:08 PM
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Agree that this is way too much driving. I'm not sure what your experience driving in Colorado is, but much of this, especially in SW CO, is on mountain roads, which is going to be more taxing doing hours a day compared to just normal highway driving.

I would cut Marble, Redstone, Carbondale, Silverton, Crested Butte, and Vail. Vail is just a resort town and I think lacking in real charm...I wouldn't go unless I was skiing.

SW CO/San Juans (Ouray/Telluride area) I personally think is the most beautiful part of CO, but a real pain to get there and around. I would potentially cut either your Pikes/Sand Dunes section or Estes/Grand Lake section to allow for less driving and more time to spend in one place.
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Jan 31st, 2017, 07:16 PM
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Of your places on that list for places to stay, I would personally pick from Durango, Ouray, Telluride, Aspen, and Grand Lake.
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Feb 1st, 2017, 04:00 AM
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I will add that my saying driving 4 hours was not "bad"--NOT every day, packing up and going a new place. ;o)
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Mar 25th, 2017, 03:01 PM
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I agree with others. That is a lot of driving for your allotted time. Keep in mind also that the roads in and out of most of your locations do not involve multi lane highways but small mountain roads. Summer time often brings a lot of motorhome traffic and road construction which will further delay your travel from point A to point B. I also agree with GemmaRose that SW CO is the most beautiful part of CO. If you decide on SW CO, I would recommend cutting out a lot of your stops in between and concentrate on SW CO (Durango, Silverton, Ouray, Telluride, Million Dollar Highway) and the area nearby to Denver/Boulder (Pikes Peak, Estes, Sand Dunes). Another thought is to fly direct between Durango and Denver and rent cars at each end.
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