Colorado trip - help

Old Jun 26th, 2006, 06:11 AM
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Colorado trip - help

I am going to Colorado in August with wife and three kids ages, 12, 15, and 19. We will be staying in Summit county from Tues. Aug. 8 thru Sunday August 13. On Sunday, Aug 13th, we will drive to Moab, Ut. We will drive back from Moab to Denver on Wed., Aug 16th, stay overnight in Denver, and fly back to NY on Thurs morning.
a) Can I hear some suggestion for the best day trips to make from where we will be staying in Co. Of course, one trip will be to RMNP. We would like to include one train trip. Is ROyal Gorge worth visiting ?
b) On the trip on I-70 to Moab, should we make a detour to Black Canyon? Or can anyone suggest some other side trip to make on the way ? (to break up the drive).
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 06:44 AM
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I do not have a map in front of me, but Mesa Verde is my favorite place in Colorado; your kids would think it was really cool! We did camp one night at Gunnison. It is an impressive canyon!! The park has very few amenities and we didn't see any wildlife. It is worth a look but if I was voting I would go out of my way for Mesa Verde and only slightly for Gunnison. All of Colorado is gorgeous! Have fun! (Note: It was in the 100's during the day at both of these places....RMNP is nice and cool!)
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 07:38 AM
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Mesa Verde is in the very southwesternmost part of the state; sounds as though you will be going due west, then south to Moab? You could then go south to Hovenweep, then to Mesa Verde, then back up (from Durango) through gorgeous mountain scenery (Ouray, Silverton), if you changed your schedule; or you could go back I70 east through Grand Junction (national monument, dinosaur stuff), south to Black Canyon. It's not exactly on the way, but it's certainly closer than Mesa Verde. Better look at a map--I don't think you've got time for everything on your list (from Moab to Denver will take most of a day).
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 07:41 AM
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I hope you plan on entering Rocky Mountain from the west, via 40 through Granby? It's a long day, but try to stop in Grand Lake before you enter the park.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 07:58 AM
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While you're in Summit County you might want to pick up a book called "The Summit Hiker". We did a few of the hikes. But used the book more as a guide for some beautiful drives.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 08:44 AM
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Hi Brooklynguy,

First a question--will you be visiting RMNP while staying in Denver? If not, that would be a very long day from Summit County and back.

One interesting day would be a trip to Leadville. It is full of history and has a railroad trip you can take.

From Summit County it is only about 5 hours going straight to Moab. As much as I like Black Canyon, I would not go that far to see it. The Moab area is so different from the Colorado Rockies--I think I would head there and enjoy the extra time at Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Be sure to take the road along the Colorado River (Hiway 128) from mile marker 202 on I70.
This is one of our favorite drives from our home in Grand Junction.

Hope this helps.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 09:57 AM
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ditto everything djlinda said plus while you are in leadville find elm street drive almost to the end and eat at the grill. its the best mexican food in the state. all homemade, plan on a margarita in the backyard while you play horseshoes and wait for food.
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 11:07 AM
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I will be going to RMNP(the west entrance at grand lake) from copper mt., not from denver. The distance is to Grand lake is 100 miles. The distance from Denver to Estes Park is 70 miles.
Is it worth making a day trip to Colorado Springs for the pikes peak cog railway and anything else that I might have time for ?
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Old Jun 26th, 2006, 12:01 PM
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I would not load up with Colorado Springs area. Terrible traffic, very touristy. You will see much better sights if you take Linda's advice. Glenwood Canyon and Utah Rte. 128 are outstanding. Also Moab area.

You can always go back for Black Canyon, Mesa Verde and Million $ Highway.
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Old Jun 28th, 2006, 06:13 PM
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I would not do Colorado Springs either. It's a long drive from Copper Mountain, and you'll already have one long day trip when you go to RMNP. Besides, I've done the Pikes Peak Cog Railway, and although it's an interesting device, I didn't think the views along the way were too great - a lot of time was spent in forest until we hit treeline.

There is a narrow gauge railroad that runs between Georgetown and Silver Plume. It's a much shorter trip than the Pikes Peak Cog, and it's much, much, much, much shorter than the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge in the sowthwest part of the state. But it's between Denver and Summit County, and if all you're looking for is a taste, well then give it a try.

The west entrance to RMNP will be a good 2 hour drive from Copper if you go I-70 to Hwy 9 north at Silverthorne, to Hwy 40 east at Kremmling to Hwy 34 east at Granby. Taking I-70 all the way back to Hwy 40 between Georgetown and Idaho Springs, and then Hwy 40 west over Berthoud Pass to Granby may be a prettier drive, but it won't be less time consuming since you will be tackling the continental divide twice just getting to the park.

Stop at the west entrance visitor center to see if anything special is happening and get a good overview of the park.

I agree that you should take a day trip to Leadville, but don't take the conventional way from Copper. I'd suggest leaving Copper and heading west toward Vail. Near the top of Vail Pass is a rest area (exit 190). Get off there. Before you drive into the rest area itself, there should be a sign for Shrine Pass Road. Get on Shrine Pass Road. It's a dirt road (or paved for the first quarter mile, I can't remember) that should be passable for passenger cars, Take this road toward the town of Red Cliff. Shortly after you start to descend toward Red Cliff there should be a very obvious parking area on your left that is the trailhead for a nice, easy hike into some beautiful wildflower meadows that should be in full bloom at the beginning of August. The trail is well traveled and you probably won't be alone.
As you descend further toward Red Cliff you will see a little sign for a pull-over that offers a sight that many Coloradoans have heard of, but never seen since it's tucked away so well. What you'll see is the front face of the 14,005 foot Mount of the Holy Cross. If there is still snow in it's couliers you'll see how the mountain got it's name.
At Red Cliff, turn left and take Hwy 24 to Leadville. You can take your time in Leadville, or continue down Hwy 24 to Hwy 82 and head west on 82 to Independence Pass, then backtrack to Leadville, and then to back to Copper via Hwy 91 over Fremont Pass.

On your trip to Moab I wouldn't do Mesa Verde NP as it is WAY out of the way. I also wouldn't do Black Canyon as it is also out of the way - not as bad as Mesa Verde, but, out of the way none-the-less.

Instead, to break up the trip to Moab, I'd suggest stopping at Glenwood Springs to take a soak in the world's largest hot springs pool at the Glenwood Hot Springs. You can't miss it as it lies right along the freeway at the Glenwood Springs exit. It'll cost about $14 per adult for an all day pass. Kids are cheaper.

You could also do a side trip into Colorado National Monument just outside of Grand Junction.

Hope this helps.
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Old Jun 28th, 2006, 06:32 PM
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Hi Brooklynguy. I live in Summit Co. and have taken the trip through RMNP as a day trip a couple of times. It's a long drive but it's not impossible. Drive in through Grand Lake, over Trail Ridge Rd., out through Estes Park and back on the Peak to Peak Highway, through Nederland and Black Hawk.

Your boys might enjoy the Georgetown Loop Railway. www.georgetownlooprr.com. You ride in an open car behind an original steam engine through beautiful Aspen forests and along the river. There's an optional mine tour that I think your boys would like.

Rent bikes and ride the many many miles of paved bike paths in the County. A fun ride is to have someone drive you to the top of Vail Pass and ride back. I'm not sure where you are staying, but bike paths take you to Frisco, Breckenridge, Dillon and Keystone. If you want to give up somewhere along the way there are several options for picking up the (free) Summit Stage Bus, which has a bike rack on the front.

Rent kayaks or canoes in Frisco and explore the many nooks and crannies of Lake Dillon. The lake is full to capacity and there are lots of islands and coves.

The suggestion to get the Summit Hiker was a good one. You can pick up a copy at Gart Sports in the Dillon Ridge Shopping Center.

Friday nights there are free music venues at the amphitheater in Dillon. Saturday mornings there is a great Farmer's Market. And the Tiki Bar at the Dillon harbor is the highest Tiki Bar restaurant in North America.

The kids might enjoy going to "dirt camp". I've done it at Keystone, but I'm guessing they have them at Breck and Copper as well as both are very popular for mountain biking.

Ever try geocaching? www.geocaching.com will show you where there are dozens of caches hidden in Summit County. It's a great way to get your kids motivated to do some of those hikes.

We just went to Arches and Canyonlands in late April. Be sure to get off I-80 at 124. The road is not marked to exit there, and the road will make you think you're going the wrong way at first. But after a few miles it becomes incredibly scenic as you skirt the perimeter of Arches National Park.

There's so much to do in Summit County that I would not go to Colorado Springs. And Mesa Verde, although wonderful is a long long way. I was surprised how much driving was required to see Canyonlands Park. You'll be driven and rocked out by the time you finish the trip.

Enjoy!
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Old Jun 28th, 2006, 07:04 PM
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I've only been out to CO a couple of times, so I'm not sure about distances, etc. ... but we did the train and mine tour mentioned above and really enjoyed it. The ride was beautiful and the tour guides were fun and informative. We also took a tour of one of the silver mines, and the kids really enjoyed that.

We also went on a hike to a beautiful area called Hanging Lake. I think it's near Glenwood Springs if you decide to check out that area.

We also took a ride up Mt. Evans, which I believe is supposed to be the highest road in the U.S. Although I wanted to stop and turn around (it's steep and scary!) my son urged me on. I was glad we went to the top. It's absolutely gorgeous. (My brother, who lives in the area, said it would just take a couple hours to do the whole trip. It took me about four.)

Have a great time!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 05:22 AM
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Hey Brooklyn Guy!
I live in Delaware (sea level like you) my concern is all the hiking everyone is suggesting for a "low-lander". How long are you allowing to acclimate to the altitude before you do all this strenuous stuff? The altitude WILL get you if you're not used to it. We were in CO in Sept. and are going again in a week or so, the altitude is a lot more of an issue than some may think.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 07:26 AM
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I agree, deeaugust. Which is one of the reasons we used "The Summit Hiker" more as a guide for drives than for the hikes!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 09:23 AM
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I heard that the bicycle ride thru Glenwood canyon is very nice. Would any be able to compare bicycling in Glenwood to bicycling thru Vail pass.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 07:11 PM
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You will want to be sure and be in Arches in the evenings, especially since it will be really hot when you are there and it cools off considerably when the sun goes down.

My family loves waiting for the sunset there, especially at the Windows area. The lighting at that time of day makes for some beautiful pictures. We all love scrambling all over the rocks and discovering what's around the bend.

Arches is one of our favorite places and we have made some cherished family memories there.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2006, 07:46 PM
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I've done both the Vail Pass cycle route and Glenwood Canyon and Glenwood is much easier. Vail Pass is fairly difficult if you go east from Vail, but much easier if you go west from Copper Mt. Of course you can really cheat on the tough parts and simply go to the top and ride downhill all the way.

For those not accustomed to the altitude and not strong cyclists, Glenwood Canyon would be the best route. Actually it's a great ride into or out of Glenwood Springs along the Colorado River.
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 05:16 AM
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part of my question comparing the vali pass bicycle trip an d glenwood canyon is which of the 2 trips is more scenic ?
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Old Jul 5th, 2006, 07:50 AM
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Off the top of my head I'd say that Glenwood Canyon is so unique. It passes through amazing rock cliffs and right next to the river. The big difference is the type of scenery. Vail pass gives you the big open mountain vistas. Glenwood Canyon is tighter as you ride through the canyon. Both are really dramatic.
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