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Colorado trip 5/9-5/16...Itinerary suggestions?!

Colorado trip 5/9-5/16...Itinerary suggestions?!

May 4th, 2013, 01:25 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 9
Colorado trip 5/9-5/16...Itinerary suggestions?!

Hello there!

My sister and I are planning a road trip to Colorado next week, but due to end-of-semester craziness, we have done very little planning! Here is our tentative itinerary:

5/9- Arrive in CO Springs late at night
5/10-5/11 CO Springs
5/12- Mesa Verde
5/13- Telluride (or should we do Ouray?), Montrose (& maybe Black Canyon), arriving in Glenwood Spings late at night
5/14- Glenwood Springs
5/15- Breakfast in Vail, then Rocky Mtn Park, and maybe Denver for the night
5/16- Head out (trying to stay with friends in Chicago that night)

I would LOVE some feedback on our itinerary (more days here, fewer days there), as well as suggestions of must-see attractions and thoughts on where to stay (hotel, couch surf, camping- though we have little camping experience). Thinking of splurging with one night at the Broadmoor (~$200), but otherwise <$80/night. I'm 23 and my sister is 20. We're fairly active and love outdoor activities such as hiking and whitewater rafting. If you see this post any time before May 16th and have ideas to share, that would be wonderful! Thank you SO much
sarahbeth11 is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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We used to have a house in Telluride, Ouray is very nice in the summer, but stick with Telluride....it's heavenly.
Libby_Nash is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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You do realize you'll be spending a LOT of time in the car? Really a lot.

Given your short time frame consider not heading that far west, but staying in the Summit County / Leadville / Vail area. Lots to see and do there.
Nelson is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 04:43 PM
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Do check with the weather, road conditions and closures before you take off. It has been crazy this spring.
emalloy is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 06:08 PM
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Way way to much. Your spending all of your time in a car. Mesa Verde really needs a full day and really 2 would be better.

Your going to do Vail/RMNP/and then Denver all in one day? whoa, I need 3 or 4 days just for RMNP.

I would consider hitting The Great Sand Dunes(since they aren't that far from CO Spring). The time you mention should be about Peak Time for Medano Creek to be going decently.
spirobulldog is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 06:57 PM
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Too cold to camp out; nights are still below freezing in SW Colorado.
DebitNM is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 07:27 PM
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I am going to be pretty blunt with you but remember you asked for comments. First, you don't have a clue as to distances and time necessary for travel. Get a map or spend a lot of time on a mapping site like mapquest.

Second, the schedule, because you have no concept of distances, is totally unworkable. There is no way you can do it. Since it is still winter in the mountain the probability of winter weather is good. When do you plan to do "fairly active and love outdoor activities such as hiking and whitewater rafting."? You will have to be in your car ten to twelve hours a day. Let give you a couple of examples.

1. Don't waste you money on the Broadmore. It is a grand old hotel but not worth a splurge. Save it for Aspen or Vail.

2, It is full day's drive from CS to MVerda. You have to go over Wolf Creek pass - the snowiest place in Colorado. It takes at least half a day to see M Verda and that is if you rush it. Serious consider saving it for the next trip.

3. Your 5/13 day is another all day driving and you will arrive in G Springs late at night.

4. Glenwood to Denver is another long day because you cannot drive through RMNP. Trailridge road is closed because of snow and will remain so until Memorial Day weekend. The best you could do is drive through Boulder to Estes Park and drive about half way up Trailridge road and back to Denver.

5. If you get to Estes Park don't waste your time driving back to Denver. Head straight east to I-76. Chicago is over 1100 miles from Denver so you are not going to do that in a day.

6. If you are serious about a little time in the mountains, I would head towards Glenwood Springs from C Spring. You could map a loop west of C Spring that could take you pass the Black Canyon and swing around to Glenwood and then hit Vail and onto Denver. You don't have the time for much else.

You are not catching our mountains at a good time. We call this the mud season. The ski resorts are all closed, including a lot restaurants, and everything is pretty dead because it is between winter and summer seasons. Lots of snow melt coming down and spring weather adding more snow or rain or both. Hiking trails will be very limited. But white water rafting should very good but cold. So bring winter clothing.

You really need to rethink what you are thinking.
fmpden is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 07:49 PM
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I definitely appreciate all the prompt replies! I apologize for coming off as ignorant. Know that I have researched driving times and weather for our destinations. Unless google maps is completely off, it's about 7h from CO Springs to Mesa Verde (leaving at 5am means we arrive around noon and have through the evening there). Then we'd leave around 6am for Telluride (supposedly a 2.5h drive), stay through dinner, and drive the 3.5h to Glenwood to arrive by midnight. I was wondering if we should cut Telluride short in favor of stopping at the Black Canyon.

The stop in Vail is really just to meet a friend there for breakfast; we planned to arrive in RMNP (west side) around 1pm and spend the day there. We weren't planning on any activities in Denver other than a hotel in the area and breakfast in the morning, so I appreciate the suggestion to just stay in Estes Park.

I realize it is not the ideal time of year to travel, but I am a nurse and this was my only opportunity to get time off. I realize the weather is not balmy but so far the forecast is high 50s-low 70s. We're from Michigan so the cold and snow are nothing--the Colorado sun will make all the difference.

I had hoped to drive the San Juan Byway as I've heard it's spectacular and one-of-a-kind. I'm not set on Mesa Verde but figured it was an easy stop if I was set on CO & Glenwood Springs and also wanted to drive part of the Byway.

Thanks again for everyone's thoughts. I haven't spent much time in Colorado and it is so hard to narrow things down because the state packed with so many incredible places!

More suggestions are welcome
sarahbeth11 is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 08:12 PM
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You basically got the same response from 5 or 6 different people. You still choose not to listen. For example, currently the road in RMNP isn't even open because of snow. I seriously doubt it will be open next week. There is so much to do right around CO Springs to do, there is also a ton to do around Mesa Verde/Durango.

Your trying to cram 4 or 5 trips into a very short 1 trip. Yeah, you can drive from one side of CO and then back to the other, but does that make sense or sound like fun? And I haven't even factored in any weather conditions. Have you seen the snow that they received the past 2 or 3 days?

It just doesn't make sense--AT ALL
spirobulldog is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 08:27 PM
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"more suggestions are welcome"

I suggest you consider the advice offered by those who are familiar with destinations, travel times and Colorado weather/driving conditions.
historytraveler is online now  
May 4th, 2013, 08:34 PM
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Of course I am considering the advice of the experts who are taking their time to share. I was just trying to clarify my plan and give more information. Like I said, I've checked out the weather and I know they've received a lot of snow, but the upcoming forecasts are all in the high 50s-low 70s, so I wasn't too concerned. Do you think that weather is unlikely? I had no idea that RMNP was going to be closed and that was not noted on the park website. I'll have to keep tabs on that.

I understand that you're saying I am packing too much in; would you mind sharing the few places you think I should try to hit? I really don't anticipate being able to make a return trip in the near future. I'm fairly set on going to Colorado Springs, Glenwood Springs, and RMNP, and would love to drive the San Juan Byway, as well. But I posted in the forum because I wanted advice. So do you think there is any way to hit these places in 7 full days? If not, which one(s) should I cut out?

If you still think I'm being senseless, don't feel obligated to respond. But I appreciate your feedback thus far.
sarahbeth11 is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 10:34 PM
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Well, here's my $0.02. You really need to drop the San Juans from this trip. That leaves Colorado Springs, Glenwood Springs, and RMNP on your list. Still nuts, but doable, maybe.

Look at a map and there are several options to get from the Colorado Springs to Glenwood Springs. For example take Highway 24 to Buena Vista, then up through Leadville to I-70. You'll see the highest mountains in Colorado on that drive.

Take I-70 out to Glenwood to see whatever it is you want to see there. Then back on I-70, past Vail to Silverthorne. Go up Highway 9 to Kremmling and over to Granby and Grand Lake. You can then tour the west side of RMNP, driving as far as the Trail Ridge Road closure. This is a highly scenic area, right below the Never Summer Range.

You then need to backtrack to Granby, take highway 40 through Winter Park, over Berthoud Pass and back to I-70, which you then follow to Denver.

See, even typing all that was exhausting!

If it were me I'd skip both Glenwood and RMNP, and spend time on the loop through Leadville, Vail and Summit County. Now there's time for activities like river rafting near Leadville (those should be running now, I think, though not my thing), hiking or renting snow shoes (depending on conditions) in Breckenridge, and shopping or dining in Vail. The Real Fun Stuff like that.

I think it's a shame to blast by Colorado beauty in a car the entire time.

Like I say, my $0.02, but I hope you have a great trip.
Nelson is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 10:56 PM
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Thanks, that's quite helpful! Perusing all the other CO forum posts, it looks like it might make sense to pass on RMNP, as it doesn't have anything I can't see at my other destinations. Plus, it sounds like that is the biggest gamble in terms of weather and road closings.

Would there be any sense in skipping Glenwood and RMNP in favor of doing CO Springs-->MV-->Telluride-->Black Canyon? Or would I have a better experience doing CO Springs-->Black Canyon-->Glenwood?

Thanks again!!
sarahbeth11 is offline  
May 5th, 2013, 04:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You say you can skip RMNP because you will have already seen that scenery elsewhere. No, not really.
It is really useless, IMO, to go to Mesa Verde for less than 2 days.
Glenwood Springs and Aspen have some really special things about them.
The comment not to leave Colorado to a "drive by" is really cogent, IMO. It is a beautiful place, and many of its beauties can be accessed and enjoyed in your length of time. Really stop and see them.
Gretchen is offline  
May 5th, 2013, 04:52 AM
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RMNP might be similar to other parts, but there is a reason that is a National Park. The other NP's in CO are totally different. They are Sand, Indian Dwellings, and a small version of the Grand Canyon. RMNP is very pretty, teaming with wildlife, glaciers, etc. You are far more likely to encounter an elk, moose, and bear in RMNP than anywhere else. Our last trip we saw all 3. Now we were there for 3 or 4 days. Had we just driven thru it, I doubt we would have seen any.

http://estes-park.com/trail-ridge-road I don't know why the park service doesn't have any postings of the road. That seems odd to me. Here is a link though to Estes Park though.

If it were me, I would either stick with the area around CO Springs(Pikes Peak, Maybe Sunday Brunch at the Broadmoor, Florisant Fossil National Monument, Great Sand Dunes

Or Head to Mesa Verde right from the start and spend a couple of days there, then spend a day or two at Durango(train or better yet the zipline-but very expensive www.soaringcolorado.com), if you don't do the Train drive Million Dollar HWY north to Ouray (you probably could include a short trip to Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Then wind your way up thru Glenwood Springs.
spirobulldog is offline  
May 5th, 2013, 04:58 AM
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You just are trying to do to much. Like I said in my earlier post. I have been to Colorado several times(usually spending 4 or 5 days each trip) to see a specific spot. All the places you mention deserve more than a full day. Most of them you were going to get there like at Noon and then try to do them. It would be like going to Disneyworld and trying to hit Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Park, MGM all in 1 day). Just trying to make you see that if you have 1 day then choose 1 park. If you have 6 days in CO, choose just CO Springs area or just Mesa Verde area. I think RMNP would be a pretty big risk to plan at this point, unless you want to be very flexible in your schedule. The road could open, but that would be iffy.
spirobulldog is offline  
May 5th, 2013, 05:14 AM
Join Date: Jul 2007
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That was really bothering me. I did find it on the parks website. It says that the road will reopen on May 24(weather permitting)
spirobulldog is offline  
May 5th, 2013, 05:35 AM
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Very, very helpful. Thank you all so much!! I appreciate the research you did on RMNP but am disappointed by the confirmation of the closing..I looked into RMNP further and agree that it is unique (not sure about the members in other posts who suggested the contrary). With Trail Ridge Rd closed, is there any way to see more of the greenery and glacial beauty of the Rockies while I'm in CO? I would much prefer that to Mesa Verde (MV seems to be a bigger/better version of Bandelier NP, and we visited it on a past trip to NM...while awesome, we'd both prefer the "greener" (?) mountains). The animals aren't a huge draw, but looking through more tour books and photos, it seems that the RMNP type of natural beauty is more up our ally. Is Glenwood a spot for that, at all?

I realize I'm quite a novice to CO and so am very grateful for the help!

On another note, I have a 2010 Ford Fusion; should I have any concerns about how it will do in the different areas of Co terrain?
sarahbeth11 is offline  
May 5th, 2013, 05:43 AM
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P.S. We do love the red rock hiking, as well (Arches, Bryce, etc. in UT).
sarahbeth11 is offline  
May 5th, 2013, 05:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Are you really driving from Denver to Chicago in a day?
Where are you arriving in CO Springs from--why there?
I much prefer most of "other Colorado" to the Springs/Manitou/Pikes Peak area--just my opinion.
Mesa Verde is a world treasure. If you go, give it some time to learn about it.
The Denver area is no slouch for things to do and see.
Gretchen is offline  

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