Colorado Itinerary Help - 9 nights

Old Apr 2nd, 2021, 09:43 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 3
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Colorado Itinerary Help - 9 nights

We are flying to Denver and renting a van with 4 adults and 6 kids. We will be in Colorado for 9 nights. Our flight is supposed to arrive at 10:50 am. We are spending the last night in Denver near the airport. We definitely want to spend at least 3 nights in Estes Park/RMNP. We would like to go to either Mesa Verde National Park or Arches. I'm hesitant to go to Arches because we're going in July and I would think masks will still be required and it will be so hot. I went on the family trip as a teen to Arches in July and I remember how hot it was. Our kids range in age from 15 to 10. We have also thought about going to Colorado Springs and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Is this going to be too much driving? Also, I'm a little concerned about our group adjusting to the altitude because we're coming from New Orleans. I would rather see less and enjoy it than have grouchy kids because we're in the car too much. We enjoy easy/moderate hikes and may want to white water raft or zip line. Thanks for your help!
michellemorantez7694 is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 02:17 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,466
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Make reservations at Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde for your visit there. At least 2 nights. This will cut down on some driving to get to that site if you stayed outside the park.

It sounds like this is two families but maybe all 4 kids are yours. I wonder if you wouldn't do better by renting 2 smaller vehicles rather than careening around the mountains in a van. Also in an evening one group might want to go one place and the other another. Just a thought.

3 days in Estes park of a precious 9 might be too much.

Gretchen is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 05:42 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,053
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
Nine nights isn't nearly enough for your wish list which has you going from far north to far south. Keep in mind that RMNP will be heaving and you need to book your accommodation now. Also be aware that due to last year's fire, 9% of the park was destroyed.

https://theknow.denverpost.com/2020/...dfires/248942/

You couldn't pay me to go to RMNP, Utah or the Western Slope of CO in July.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 06:18 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,430
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You are right to be concerned about the altitude because the lowest parts of RMNP are far higher than those of other alpine national parks like Yellowstone or Glacier. Lots of people have problems when hiking several miles or driving to the top of very high Trail Ridge Road. Children seem less affected by high altitude. Are you setting up a campsite? If so it may take you a long time in the thin air to do so.

Consider Great Sand Dunes NP which is in the interior of the state and sure to be a hit with children. I'd suggest bringing snow sliding toys for going down the dunes but being from New Orleans you probably don't have them. The dunes here are really high! https://www.backpacker.com/stories/n...national-park/
tom_mn is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 07:36 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 21,625
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would choose southern Colorado over Utah. You would have Mesa Verde and also the group might enjoy the train ride from Durango to Silverton.



However, Mesa Verde is basically one large archeological site with no independent hiking. You would need to check to see if guided tours will be offered in July.
Michael is online now  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 07:40 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,053
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
Actually there are several independent hikes in Mesa Verde. I've hiked several of them and plan to hike more of them later in the month. There's plenty to see without a guided tour!

https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/hiking.htm
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 08:00 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 11,116
Likes: 0
Received 17 Likes on 4 Posts
I would encourage you to take the Amtrak California Zephyr from either Denver or SLC to Grand Junction Colorado. Rent your van there. If it is too hot to go to Arches, head east to the mountains.
This would save a lot of driving on I-70. There is a great paved hiking/bike trail going east from Glenwood Springs along the Colorado River. There is a good bus service south from Glenwood Springs to Aspen (41 miles). Glenwood Springs also has the world's largest hot spring fed swimming pool.
The view from the train of the Glenwood Canyon is a lot better than driving it on the Interstate.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 09:44 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 3
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Where would you recommend going in July? We already bought plane tickets flying into and out of Denver. This is when our families can travel. Please no negativity. We're excited about this vacation.
michellemorantez7694 is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 01:23 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 305
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We did a trip from Denver and traveled up CO 40 through Steamboat Springs to Vernal UT. There we visited DinosUr NP which might be fun for the kids.

Next we went down to Arches I know it will be hot, but, Just driving through early in the morning and/or late afternoon within a couple short hikes and then spending some down time in a pool would work for me for a day or two then head for Mesa Verde for a night or two before heading back to Denver. I second the suggestion to stay at Far View lodge a night or two in MV. Driving up and down the Mesa is time consuming and the views from there are awesome.
oldemalloy is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 01:36 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 21,625
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When I read "renting a van for four adults and 6 kids" I get the feeling that there's economy being applied, and Far View would not be in the budget (cost of hotel room(s) plus probable evening meal, plus the cost of the unused rental van. The campground is about 40 minutes from the visitor center which is the beginning of the archeological area, and that is a minus. The last time we camped there, showers were free and there were a lot of deer around, which might please the kids. If the guided tours (free) are cancelled due to the pandemic, I would prefer going to Arches and Canyonlands. Without the cliff dwellings, the canyons and the mesa of Mesa Verde is not as strikingly attractive as the arches and canyons of Arches NP and Canyonlands NP.



Michael is online now  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 01:55 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 11,116
Likes: 0
Received 17 Likes on 4 Posts
Originally Posted by michellemorantez7694 View Post
Where would you recommend going in July? We already bought plane tickets flying into and out of Denver. This is when our families can travel. Please no negativity. We're excited about this vacation.
I did not mean to sound negative. Do all 10 of you arrive on the same plane in Denver? There are several better places to rent vehicles in Colorado than the Denver airport. The trip in a van with 10 people through the Glenwood Canyon would be white knuckle for me. It's not a scenic view for the driver.
There is a light rail line from the Denver airport to the transportation center (Amtrak station) in Denver. The train pulls out right past Coors Field shortly after 8AM on the mornings that it is on time. Denver to Grand Junction is an all daylight trip so coach seating is fine.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 02:01 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 3
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The comment about not being negative was for the person who said “You couldn't pay me to go to RMNP, Utah or the Western Slope of CO in July.”

Yes, we’re all on the same plane. What is the benefit to renting a van somewhere besides the airport?
michellemorantez7694 is offline  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 05:06 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,053
Received 83 Likes on 5 Posts
Evidently, I am the ''negative one". Actually, I'm just being honest and realistic. RMNP has seen record numbers in the past few years, and 2020 was even worse than usual as everyone sought outdoor pursuits with the pandemic. The park will be implementing a temporary timed entry permit reservation system beginning on May 28, 2021. And 30,000 acres of the park were destroyed last summer due to fire. In addition to needing to book NOW, and to make your reservation for timed entry, there are closures you should know about before you go.

https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/fire-...egulations.htm

The Western Slope and Utah will be hot, potentially miserably so...that's just a fact. Being from LA the heat may not bother you, but I mention it because you mentioned that you remember how hot it was last time you visited Utah in July.

I live in CO and personally, I wouldn't visit those areas in July. Just telling it like it is.

For white water rafting take a look at Buena Vista.

Enjoy your trip whatever you decide.


Last edited by Melnq8; Apr 3rd, 2021 at 05:08 PM.
Melnq8 is online now  
Old Apr 3rd, 2021, 05:20 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 3,522
Likes: 0
Received 8 Likes on 1 Post
Agree with mel, RMNP this July, with crowds and the permit system, is going to be highly stressful. I live nearby, will probably stop going by July.

If it were me, and realizing it's not, I'd consider a Central CO loop, that could include some of Breckenridge, Aspen, Crested Butte, Glenwood Springs, Buena Vista, Salida, Leadville. Lots of scenery and activities without spending your entire trip in line or in a car.

Altitude is a minor concern but slowing down is one of the best ways to combat the symptoms.

Good luck and have a good trip.

Last edited by Nelson; Apr 3rd, 2021 at 05:30 PM.
Nelson is online now  
Old Apr 4th, 2021, 02:47 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,466
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Colorado high country is fine in July. Just remember to take it easy at first, DRINK WATER (more than you think you need) and use sunscreen.
The remarks about the crowds at RMNP are undoubtedly right on and 3 days there is too much as I suggested.
Nelson has suggested a wonderful tour and it will be beautiful and fun.
Whitewater rafting may or may not be available d.
Renting a van off site rather than the airport would involve getting those 10 people to the transportation to the offsite with their luggage, etc etec etc. OR to the train station (including a hotel for the night, etc etc.) !! NOT the way to start a vacation!!

Last edited by Gretchen; Apr 4th, 2021 at 02:51 AM.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2021, 04:24 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,954
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm planning a trip that will include Colorado in September and my original plan was RMNP but when I really thought about it I realized that so much of Colorado is beautiful, there's really no reason to spend time in a park that is so crowded. I used to live in Ft Collins (briefly, decades ago I went to CSU for a couple years) and we'd just pop up to RMNP for a half day every so often. But honestly, I don't remember it being any better than many of the other places I visited all over the state. On the trip I'm planning for September, I'll be going from Great Sand Dunes NP (have not been but it looks fantastic) up to Ft Collins. As I said I had planned to spend a few days there and visit RMNP but now I've revised that plan to just take some scenic routes - such as 285, 24, and or 91 - those are all between Sand Dunes and Denver.

I'd think about where else in Colorado you want to go - Great Sand Dunes, Mesa Verde, over into Utah - and then look at various routes and what's on the way and maybe just skip RMNP all together.

I second the person who said make sure to find out if Mesa Verde is allowing visits into the cliff dwellings. If you can't climb up into them it's not worth going. The lodging and the dwellings are all at least an hour drive from the park entrance and it's not all that scenic. If you can do the cliff dwellings then it's definitely worth it and the area around Durango and up to Silverton is fantastic.
isabel is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2021, 06:28 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 11,116
Likes: 0
Received 17 Likes on 4 Posts
Originally Posted by michellemorantez7694 View Post
The comment about not being negative was for the person who said “You couldn't pay me to go to RMNP, Utah or the Western Slope of CO in July.”

Yes, we’re all on the same plane. What is the benefit to renting a van somewhere besides the airport?
I think you will find that a ten passenger van almost anywhere in Colorado will be more expensive than 2 full size car rentals for the same period of time (I could be wrong). The first stop going west from Denver on the California Zephyr is Winter Park/Fraser which is close to the west side of RMNP. The amount of luggage that ten people have sometimes doesn't fit in the back of the vans.
Maybe some of you could come back to Denver on the train from Grand Junction or Glenwood Springs. I have seen rafters on the Colorado River east of Glenwood Springs.
If any of the kids like dinosaurs, eastern Utah is a place to see tracks and bones. There is a prehistory museum in Price Utah.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Apr 4th, 2021, 11:57 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 3,135
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You MIGHT be able to fit 10 people into a full size van, but what about your luggage? Do you plan to have people hold it in their laps? Get two cars. Also rental cars are in short supply this year, what if you get to the car rental office and they are out of vans? They will only guarantee "or similar".
jamie99 is online now  
Old Apr 4th, 2021, 12:39 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,466
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There are 15 passenger vans.
I am also of the opinion they should rent 2 cars for the reasons I gave above--and many others.

There are good dinosaur sites around Denver and CO Sprngs also. And Denver itself is a good town for sightseeing==Denver Art Museum has a wonderful native American area. The Zoo and botanical Gardens are excellent. And the museum of natural history.
Gretchen is offline  
Old Apr 5th, 2021, 08:10 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 22
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Nelson’s mention of a central CO route is a good one.

You could drive from the airport to the Salida , Buena Vista area (via US-285, avoids I-70) – there is great white water rafting there along the Arkansas River.

The 2nd – 3rd week of July is The Wildflower Festival in Crested Butte. It is peak wildflower time and the area surrounding Crested Butte is chock full of hiking trails exploding with wildflowers. If you go right during the festival you may have trouble finding lodging however.

As a resource for hiking trails, I would recommend the AllTrails app – you can dial in the places you are planning to stop and look at all the hiking trails in the area.

A longer distance loop would involve the SW corner of Colorado. We loved Mesa Verde and the Durango and Silverton steam train roundtrip between Durango and Silverton. Ouray and Telluride are both beautiful mountain towns and the hiking in that region is also rich in wildflowers in July.

Even though July can be hot in Colorado – temperatures in the upper elevations are comfortable and cool at night, and remember that humidity is low in Colorado.
hansman is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:15 PM.