Colorado Itinerary/Lodging

Old May 8th, 2010, 06:23 PM
  #1  
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Colorado Itinerary/Lodging

Comments appreciated on the following itinerary:

Day 1: Denver
Day 2: Great Sand Dunes Lodge
Day 3,4,5: Blue Lake Ranch (Durango Silveton Train, Mesa Verde)
Day 6,7: Hot Springs Lodge, Ouray (Wildflower Tour)
Day 8: ???
Day 9: Denver

Any recommendations for Day 8 in route to Denver would be appreciated, I'm having a difficult time figuring that out.
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Old May 8th, 2010, 07:34 PM
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When is the trip?

Take the Durango train only one way and the bus the other way [it uses up an entire day if you go round trip and the return trip is the same scenery; albeit nice scenery but still]

Driving into and out of Mesa Verde takes a long time. As nice as Blue Lake Ranch is, maybe stay 1 night in MV at Far View Lodge and have dinner [early as it gets busy and they don't take reservations] at the Far View Lodge and Metate Dining Room. Mesa Verde can take a full day or 2 just to see the ruins, more if you plan to hike. Most visitors go to the 3 most popular ruins [Spruce Tree, Balcony House and Cliff Palace] but if you drive another 45 mins. into the park, Wetherill Mesa is really nice and only 10% of visitors go there.
[If you plan to visit Cliff Palace or Balcony House, be sure to purchase your tickets at the Far View Visitor Center first and Long House tour tickets too].

I have lots of threads here on MV, Durango, Ouray. I have a home near MV and go there frequently. If you do an advanced search using my name and colorado, you can find my threads with ideas.



FWIW, 2 days in Ouray is a long time - are you going to do anything besides Wildflower Tour? Box Canyon Falls is nice.
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Old May 8th, 2010, 07:35 PM
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Try to drive the Medano Pass Road (this is dirt/sand/rock) Not really true off-road but you do need a 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle

I highly highly recommend the Train/Zipline combo. Expensive, but one of the best things we have ever done. Allow a full day or even two at Mesa Verde. We enjoyed the food at Far View Lodge there. Accomodations were just ok, but I would stay there one or two nights as you are pretty far from anything else.

You could see Black Canyon of Gunnison on the way back to Denver. If you have kids maybe stop at a ski resort and do one of the Alpine Slides.
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Old May 8th, 2010, 07:41 PM
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Here is a thread with some info and I have a post on it with links to other threads with info

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...o-colorado.cfm
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Old May 9th, 2010, 04:27 AM
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8th day suggestion: Colorado springs(Manitou) area(Pike peak).Paul
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Old May 9th, 2010, 04:28 AM
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I have no idea (now) how far the ranch in Durango is, but staying AT Mesa Verde is so much better. We enjoyed the sand dunes as a "drive by/stop" en route to Durango without spending a night there.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 04:57 AM
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Please do a trip report. I am most interested in hearing your opinion of Blue Lake Ranch. It has been on my target list for a while!
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Old May 9th, 2010, 06:16 AM
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Thanks so much for the comments. We are in our 50's, no kids and like to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature and do light hiking. DO has heart trouble, so not sure how the altitude will affect this. I was worried that 3 days at Blue Lake might be too long. We get antsy! I'll go ahead and book the night at Far View. Glad to hear Blue Lake is nice, it sounds it! Was planning 2 nights in Ouray so that we could arrive one day, do the jeep tour the next, spend the night and drive through Black Canyon the next. Unsure where to stay that night that would put us within about 4 hours of Denver. I thought straight from Denver to Durango might be too long of a day. Google Maps says it takes 7 hours. DO thought a night at Sand Dunes might be too much. Would it be a good rest stop on the way? Anything else we should see between Denver and Sand Dunes?

Thanks for your comments, really helped me formulate my questions!
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Old May 9th, 2010, 06:19 AM
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We arrive in Denver on July 17. Daughter graduates AmeriCorp there on the 26.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 06:19 AM
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Second the advice to stay at Mesa Verde if possible. There is road work on the way in right now, it may be done when you go, but the road in is long and curvy with beautiful views but I would not want to take it after dark. If you go after Memorial Day, Wetherill mesa will be open so you might need more than a day if you go to that part of the park. You will need to sign up for ranger led tours if you want to go into Cliff Palace or Balcony House and must be early to get on the list for them. You can look from afar at the ruins from the mesa top loop if you do not go on the tour. Sounds like a great trip.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 06:35 AM
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If I adjust the itinerary to leave out Sand Dunes I get:

Denver 7/17
Durango 7/18 & 19
Mesa Verde 7/20
Ouray 7/22 & 7/23
7/24, 7/25

We could drive through Black Canyon, on towards RMNP and spend the 24 and 25th near the park and then arrive back in Denver on the 26. Had left our RMNP because I was afraid I was trying to do too much! We live in The San Francisco Bay Area, and wilt at temperatures above the 80's.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 07:39 AM
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Day 8 suggestion:

Redstone Inn, Redstone, Colorado

http://redstoneinn.thegilmorecollection.com/

Redstone, Colorado is a quaint little town along the banks of the Crystal River about 130 miles from Ouray. It's in the direction back to Denver, so it's not out of your way. It's about 30 minutes south of Glenwood Springs where you pick up I-70 to get back to Denver in about 3 1/2 hours. Since the drive to Redstone isn't that long, you can take your time at Black Canyon on that day. You WILL have to backtrack to Montrose from Black Canyon, but it's not that far of a backtrack (maybe 15 miles?). To get from Montrose to Redstone you will have to go over McClure Pass, but it's a very easy pass and as you crest the pass in the direction you'd be heading, the view of the mountains in the Maroon Bells & Raggeds Wilderness Areas is very pretty.

The town of Redstone was developed by John Cleveland Osgood, a late 19th century industrial baron whose coal empire extended up the Crystal River valley. It is said that his wife, Alma (a Swedish countess, no less) was appalled at the conditions the miners lived in and demanded that her husband upgrade their housing, so Osgood built over 80 cottages for his married miners, and a 40 room inn for the single ones – all with indoor plumbing and electricity (an extravagance for that time). Just up the road, Osgood built his wife an opulent 42-room mansion known as the Redstone Castle. Today, Redstone has been transformed into a little arts & crafts community. Most of the cottages still stand as homes or stores along the main street. The inn now offers public lodging with quaint rooms and a nice restaurant. And the Castle is open at times for tours.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 09:53 AM
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My suggestion for Day 8 would Breckenridge. You'll only be 2 hours from Denver. There is a nice town there.

Or maybe Glenwood Springs? (Not sure if that's on the way back). Soaking in the hot springs pool is nice. I think Glenwood Springs is about 3.5 hours from Denver.
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Old May 9th, 2010, 02:11 PM
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Looks like Redstone might be a good place to spend the last 2 nights if we skip the night at the Sand Dunes and make a day trip to Vail, or Aspen or Hanging Lake?
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Old May 10th, 2010, 05:53 AM
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If you stay in Redstone, good day trips would be Aspen, Glenwood Springs or Marble. All are reasonably close to Redstone which is a lovely little town. You might consider a tour to the Yule marble quarry or Crystal http://crystalriverjeeptour.smithfamilycolorado.com/

Unless you return to Denver over Independence Pass (east of Aspen-gorgeous scenery, narrow paved road with drop-offs), you will take I-70 from Glenwood Springs and will go right by the Hanging Lake Trail in Glenwood Canyon if you want to do the hike http://hikingincolorado.org/hang.html and Vail about an hour further east if you want to stop at either place.
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Old May 10th, 2010, 04:50 PM
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Marble, Colorado is a cute little town. Maybe 100 people actually live there, but it's in a picturesque little valley.

http://www.marbletourismassociation.org/

Marble from the nearby quarry was used to build the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Recently they had been excavating another block to replace the present tomb, but I don't know how that has been going.

Unfortunately, tours of the quarry are no longer allowed by the Mining Safety Health Administration, and even a trail to an overlook of the quarry has been closed.

The above website is the only one I've run across that mentions the Penny Hot Springs.
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