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Colorado Mtn Towns in Summer - Telluride or Durango? Salida or Buena Vista?

Colorado Mtn Towns in Summer - Telluride or Durango? Salida or Buena Vista?

Old Mar 16th, 2010, 08:28 AM
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chc
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Colorado Mtn Towns in Summer - Telluride or Durango? Salida or Buena Vista?

My family and I (two adults and four kids ranging in age from 15 - 10) are roadtripping through Colorado this summer. I want to build in a couple of multi-night stays in activity rich areas along the way. I am looking at either Telluride or Durango for one of these multi-night stays (for the train, general hiking/biking, horseback riding, exploring) and either Salida or Buena Vista for the other multi-night stay (for rafting, Great Sand Dunes NP, hiking, Leadville visit). Are their any opinions on which of these pairs of mountain towns might be best for an active family. Any lodging or activity ideas are also welcome. Thank you.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 09:25 AM
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I have a home midpoint between Durango and Telluride. I would suggest that Durango be the spot for your stay in SW CO.

Telluride is lovely, but the town itself is very small and very expensive. The main street takes under 30 minutes to walk, the shops are nice but wouldn't really interest your kids. Most, if not all of the outdoor activities that Telluride has, Durango has too.

It has festivals almost every summer weekend, which bring 1000's of people and up the prices of accomodation and make the waits at restaurants [also very expensive] long.

You could drive to Telluride for a day trip from Durango, if you really wanted to see it.

Durango is much more family oriented, has a nice downtown area, lots of activities, a varied amount of accomodations and restaurants [Telluride has no fast food or chain places] that would work for a family like yours.

Their are jeep tours, rafting and float trips on the river, and perhaps THE best reason to stay in Durango, is it's proximity to Mesa Verde National Park - a must see. I would plan on at least a full day at the park, a day and a half would be better; there are great hikes besides the wonderful cliff dwellings, that most folks don't ever do.

I have lots of threads on here about Durango and MVNP, including restaurant suggestions. I would suggest a vrbo rental for 6 people, or you could do 2 motel rooms.

Try doing a google search [the one here isn't great] type in DebitNM Durango Fodors and see what comes up.

Deb
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 09:34 AM
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http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...e-mountain.cfm
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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May I suggest you make your way north from Durango to Silverton and Ouray. These are our favorite towns in the area. You can do that as a day trip. The train is great and will take you to Silverton. A lot of people take the train up and the bus back because two way makes for a really long day.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 10:50 AM
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DebitNM, how does one get from San Francisco to Durango (what's the closest airport)?
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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Durango has an airport (The Durango-La Plata County Airport).
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 11:24 AM
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Flying into Durango is expensive, whether it's worth it to you, can't say. United and Frontier fly into DRO from DEN.

US Airways used to fly from Phoenix, but I don't see flights listed at airport.

For the least expensive way, I would fly
OAK to ABQ and then rent a car and drive, it is about a 3 hour drive from ABQ to Durango.
http://www.flydurango.com/airlines.html

I agree about taking the train one way, either way and take the bus back. It's a long trip to do roundtrip and kids most likely won't enjoy the return trip [same old, same old].

The San Juan Skyway is a great way to drive the loop from Durango, to Silverton to Ouray to Telluride to Dolores to Cortez and back to Durango. It can be done in a very long day, with some stops along the way.

Your kids would like Box Canyon Fall in Ouray.

Deb
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 12:07 PM
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From someone who has gotten drenched on the Box Canyon Falls boardwalk, I agree your kids would enjoy that. Ouray also has a large swimming pool size hot tub.

One of the favorite things to do out of Ouray is Jeep tours up in the mountains down the old mining trails. Unless you are fairly experienced in 4WDing, it would probably be more enjoyable having a guide drive you. We've done it twice on our own and it is a lot of work for the driver.

There are a couple of companies but we used Switzerland of America and found them very professional with good equipment.
http://www.soajeep.com/
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 12:13 PM
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The Ophir Pass/Imogene Pass route will take you over the mountains to Telluride and back--gets you off the highway and into the mountains plus you see several old mine sites--spectacular!
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 01:07 PM
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DO NOT attempt to drive Imogene on your own! Seriously; this is a 4 WD route for those with lots of experience on mountain passes. There are many really REALLY narrow spots, one car width only and it is foolish to do either of these on your own. I would also warn that Ophir is not a lot better for novice.

Assuming you are renting a 4wd, I believe taking it over either of these passes would void the rental agreement, as this is "off-roading" at it's very description.

Imogene often isn't open until July, Ophir may be open a bit earlier. We have had lots of snow this year.

Please, do a tour if you want to do the passes.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 01:35 PM
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I have been to the Salida Buena Vista area a couple of times, camping at the Chalk Creek Campground. The Arkansas white water rafting experience was superb. Both times we did the all day trip through Brown's Canyon which inclues some class IV's. I recommend Independent Whitewater near Salida. Both times we had experienced guides that made the trip enjoyable. Downtown Salida is a bit more picturesque than Buena Vista and Salida has a number of good restaurants.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 02:44 PM
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We have done Ophir/Imogene twice on our own at the recommendation of SOA--using their Jeeps. We are flatlanders from Texas so we are not used to mountain driving but my husband has a lot of experience driving 4WD's. After asking him lots of questions, this is the route they recommended to us--twice.

As I said earlier, if you aren't comfortable with that, you would have a better time letting them be your guides. This is just one of their choices that I would recommend. It takes you to the highest point with great views plus it gets you to Telluride.
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Old Mar 16th, 2010, 03:18 PM
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Ophir and Imogene are 2 different passes. Did you do both?
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Old Mar 17th, 2010, 05:50 AM
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For a multi-night stay, I would pick Salida over Buena Vista. Much more interesting downtown area--nice restaurants and shops.

You might want to visit the pools at Mt. Princeton while you're in the area--http://www.mtprinceton.com/

We've always gone rafting with River Runners, though there are many other good rafting companies in the area. http://riverrunnersltd.com/

And we love Amica's in Salida http://amicassalida.typepad.com/
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Old Mar 17th, 2010, 06:49 PM
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In addition to rafting, you can rent ATVs in Salida. They drop you off at the start of some fun but easy trails and pick you up a few hours later. Downtown Salida has some cute shops. You could also spend a day over at the Royal Gorge.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 12:03 PM
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DebitNM -- Just want to thank you for your ongoing generosity. Have seen your posts numerous times on the forum, unusually on food-related topics, and have used some of your tips & recipes in the past. Now I came to do research on a possible summer trip, and you've popped up again. Many thanks.
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Old Mar 18th, 2010, 12:32 PM
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Thank YOU, travel_gato! I am glad that you have found my posts helpful [both food and non-food ones!]
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