Colorado Road trip Help

Old Aug 13th, 2020, 04:43 AM
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Colorado Road trip Help

Hi all - We are planning a road trip through Colorado. We have four kids (12,10, 8, and 5)

Here is our itinerary so far. Please make suggestions!! What are we missing? What can we skip?? Looking for the best activities and unique accommodations in Ouray, and where to stop along HWY 70 on our way to the RMNP (Glenwood Springs, Avon, Vail, or Breckenridge) and where to stay in Estes Park.14 Fly into Denver at 10:57 am

Drive 1 hr 19 minutes to Colorado Springs See Garden of the gods

Check in at Cheyenne Mountain Resort

15 Check out

Drive 2 hr 44 minutes to Great Sand Dunes, Swim at Medano creek

Drive 19 miles Glamp at Rustic Rook Resort

16 Check out

Drive 2 hr 4 minutes to Pagosa Springs

Enjoy the hot springs at The Springs Resort and Spa

17 Check out

Drive to 1 hr 47 minutes to Mesa Verde

Spend 1-2 hours

Drive 40 minutes to enjoy lunch in Durango

Drive Million Dollar Highway

Arrive in Ouray by evening

Check in at _________ ??

18 Enjoy Ouray

Box Canyon Falls and Hiking. [Yankee Boy and Engineer].

19 9am Check out,

Stop to see Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Stop to see Colorado Ntl Monument

Check in at ?? (Glenwood Springs, Avon, Vail, or Breckenridge)

20 Enjoy the area with possibly:

Rafting or Fly fishing

21 Drive to Estes Park

Check in at _____ ??

22 Explore Rocky Mountains

23 Explore Rocky Mountains

24 7am Check out

Drive to Denver, Fly out at 11:45 am
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Old Aug 13th, 2020, 05:59 AM
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I may have missed when are travelling, but on our trip out there with our 11-year old, had a great day at the Glenwood Springs Adventure Park (https://www.glenwoodcaverns.com/). Breckenridge was nice, but not a highlight of our trip.
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Old Aug 13th, 2020, 06:10 AM
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We like the Box Canyon Lodge in Ouray, but with six of you, an air BNB might work better.

You'll probably want to allow more time for Mesa Verde; there are some nice hikes there.

You'll be hard pressed to see Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Colorado National Monument on the same day.

This is a pretty full on itinerary.
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Old Aug 13th, 2020, 06:32 AM
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What a great driveby itinerary. I particularly like the 1-2 hours at Mesa Verde. I ma not sure if your Boogled time of 1.45 hour drive from Pagosa Springs includes any time it takes to drive INto MV.
Near CO Springs in Woodland is a wonderful dinosaur museum that your younger children migh especially enjoy and which I thouroughly enjoyed as an adult.
Fly fishing on the Roaring Fork near Aspen is wonderful. There are also a lot of other things to do. Rafting will definitely depend on when this week occurs--I don't think I have seen the month or year.
I would never have that short a time to get from the mountains to DIA for a flight to return a rental car, etc. Leave earlier.
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Old Aug 13th, 2020, 07:07 AM
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The Mesa Verde day does not compute. From the entrance of the park it takes almost an hour to get to the area with the cliff dwellings. Visiting Cliff Palace, the only one where a guided tour is not obligatory, will take another hour, and I think that it is closed for maintenance.


The other cliff dwellings require reservations for a guided tour, and some are another 45 minute one-way drive from the main area, such as this one:


Gretchen must be sarcastic about her comments.

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Old Aug 14th, 2020, 08:24 PM
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You need a minimum of one full day to see Mesa Verde, it's even better with 2. If you search my user name you will see my trip report for Mesa Verde/Cortez area with teens.
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Old Aug 15th, 2020, 03:29 AM
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Mesa Verda Cliff Dwellings are Closed and Tours are Canceled

Hey everyone,

Thanks for your feedback. In reply to those who had said we need more time at Mesa Verde, how much time should we plan considering that the cliff dwellings and tours are closed. We were under the impression that all we would be able to do it view it from the top, which is why we didn't plan more time there. Please advise. Thanks
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Old Aug 15th, 2020, 03:51 AM
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I think the point is also that it is a long drive INto the Park. With closings maybe 1 night there would be enough but try to stay at the Far View Lodge that is within the park. MV is a wonder of the world IMO and is such a teaching moment for children ==again IMO. Stay at Far View and do as much exploring and looking as is possible.
There is a lot of learning about the dwellings, the kivas, who the Anasazi were. YOur kids are a good age for it.

Last edited by Gretchen; Aug 15th, 2020 at 03:56 AM.
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Old Aug 15th, 2020, 06:11 AM
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We were in Mesa Verde in June. Despite no tours and closed cliff dwellings, we spent a full day in the park. We hiked, viewed the cliff dwellings from the overlooks, visited all the displays and drove throughout the entire park.

We visited from our base in Durango.

Last edited by Melnq8; Aug 15th, 2020 at 06:14 AM.
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Old Aug 15th, 2020, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by wellsfamilytravels View Post
Hey everyone,

Thanks for your feedback. In reply to those who had said we need more time at Mesa Verde, how much time should we plan considering that the cliff dwellings and tours are closed. We were under the impression that all we would be able to do it view it from the top, which is why we didn't plan more time there. Please advise. Thanks
Things are not all clustered together in one location at the top. Once you get to the top of the mesa, roads branch out. Most of the ruins aren't visible until you are right up on them. It's a wonderful area, even with access closed on the trails directly to the ruins, but it will be time-consuming. We also stayed in Durango for the last two visits to MV, and spent 2 days (returning each day). Far View Lodge didn't have availability, and that would have been a great option that saved us that long drive from the entrance up to the mesa top and back.

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Old Aug 15th, 2020, 11:07 AM
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If you are coming Friday, 14th, you need to be aware of various road closures. Right now I-70 is closed because of forest fires -- that is plural. In Glenwood canyon the fire has been burning around and under I-70. I would not count on I-70 being open in the near future. For the most part your drive times are way off. I would increase your driving plan by at least 50%. There is no top to MV. As others are saying it is at least half day once you are in the park. And it is roughly three hours drive round trip into the park.

There is no clean detour around the I-70 closure. Cars can use Independence Pass between Aspen and Leadville. It is a beautiful but hairpin curves and min guard rails is slow going. US 40 through Steamboat adds about six hours and trafic is bad, The locals are being encouraged not to drive into the mountains.

From the Black Canyon I would continue on the Esta Park via Leadville, Breckenridge. You could spend some time in Georgetown, Georgetown Loop Railroad, even Idaho Springs.

It is messy right now so you do need strong plan B and C.

Last edited by fmpden; Aug 15th, 2020 at 12:00 PM.
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Old Aug 17th, 2020, 07:47 PM
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Adjusting our plans

Thanks for your valuable advice. We'll be elongating our trip in order to allow an adequate amount of time to fully explore the rich history of the Mesa Verde historic site. Because of the wildfires, we are considering altering our route to avoid this area as a plan B. Our trip is Sept. 14-24, so we're only 4 weeks away. Not sure how the conditions will be by then.

Any additional thoughts on how much time to spend in either Telluride or Ouray after Mesa Verde. Would it be okay to skip the Colorado National Monument and head to Aspen, as previously suggested, then on the RMNP? By the time we leave Mesa Verde, will will have 6 full days left before flying out from Denver. How should we split up the rest of the days? Hoping to get in either white water rafting or fly fishing somewhere, and, of course, lots of great hiking and/or biking. Thanks in advance.
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Old Aug 18th, 2020, 02:17 AM
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I have heard (here) that the Colorado monument is not a lot to see. Head for Aspen and the Park where there will be.
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Old Aug 18th, 2020, 05:00 AM
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Colorado Monument has over 40 miles of hiking trails and Rim Drive is well worth the visit IMO, but only if you have sufficient time. Keep in mind it gets very hot over there on the Western Slope.

I didn't expect to like Colorado Monument, but I was pleasantly surprised.

https://www.nps.gov/colm/planyourvisit/things2do.htm

As for how long to spend in Ouray and Telluride - depends on what you want to do. We visit Ouray often and usually stay for 2-3 nights, which gives us 1-2 full days. Ouray is tiny, but has a fair number of trails, most of them UP since Ouray is in a deep valley.

You could easily fill two days with hiking, soaking the the mineral pools and perhaps taking a jeep tour, but if you're pressed for time, two nights (one full day) will give you a good taste of the area too.

https://www.ouraycolorado.com/things-to-do/hiking

I've never spent more than a day in Telluride personally, but it's a beautiful area with plenty of hiking opportunities and wildlife viewing.

https://www.telluride.com/activities/hikingrunning
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Old Aug 18th, 2020, 08:59 AM
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We were also pleasantly surprised by Colorado National Monument. We only had half a day so did the short hike to Devils Kitchen and took the rim drive.
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Old Aug 19th, 2020, 02:20 PM
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Right now Colorado Nat M is in the wrong place for your trip. While it is four weeks and things will change, unless I-70 is open CNM will put you in an awkward location to get back to Denver. I-70 is still closed, the forest fire in that area has no containment so there is no time line for opening I-70 or controlling the fire. Since I-70 through Glenwood canyon is really just a big, long bridge there needs to be extensively structural evaluation prior to it re-open. Aspen could be difficult also if I-70 is closed. While you can access Aspen from the west via Glenwood Springs, you will need to use Independence Pass to get to RMNP and Denver. It is a slow, lots of hairpin curves, switchbacks that makes for very slow driving especially if traffic is heavy. Right now the detour is through Aspen for passenger cars. I would consider taking Aspen off the list and continuing directly to RMNP if you only have six days left when you leave MVerde. Or hang out in Breckenridge. There are a lot of options around Breckenridge and it is only 2.5 hours to the Denver airport -- except on Sunday PM.

White water raft will not be available. Low or almost no water. Too late in the season.

Last edited by fmpden; Aug 19th, 2020 at 02:24 PM.
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Old Aug 20th, 2020, 05:00 AM
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Thanks! This is hugely helpful. Looking at the map, I completely understand what you are suggesting and will follow your guidance. Appreciate it so much!!
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Old Aug 20th, 2020, 06:16 AM
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If you want to visit western Colorado it might be better to fly to SLC and take the train (California Zephyr) east to Grand Junction or Glenwood Springs. The Zephyr is still operating through the Glenwood Canyon even if I-70 is closed due to the fire. There is a good bus service running from Glenwood Springs up to Aspen daily.
The eastbound train leaves SLC very early in the morning. The trip through the Ruby Canyon next to the Colorado River is beautiful before you get into Grand Junction. The westbound train leaves Denver at 8:05AM MT when on time (most of the time).
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Old Aug 20th, 2020, 06:55 AM
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here is the premise of the trip and number of people going. I imagine budget is somewhat important--and protection from Covid in enclosed places like trains where people get on and off, etc.
"We are planning a road trip through Colorado. We have four kids (12,10, 8, and 5)"

It's not impossible to get from west ot east in Colorado--just will require planning and knowledge of the situations. Such a wonderful state to enjoy at leisure on a road trip!! Enjoy!!

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Old Aug 21st, 2020, 06:47 AM
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I am sorry Tom but only water is getting through the canyon. The is a fair amount of track damage so it will be awhile before any train services runs through the canyon. Your suggestion is not a good option.


Last edited by fmpden; Aug 21st, 2020 at 06:50 AM.
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