Colorado vacation

Old Apr 9th, 2006, 05:11 AM
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Colorado vacation

Hi, my wife and i are from Ireland and we will be travelling to Colorado for our vacation in August for 16 nights and we were wondering what people would recommend doing while we are there.We will be staying in Denver for 5 or 6 nights and then moving on, but we are not sure what to include in our itinery, any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 06:57 AM
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Colorado has so much to offer that it's difficult to know what to recommend without knowing more about your interests. One possibility is to spend a couple of nights in Estes Park and check out Rocky Mountain National Park. It will be extremely crowded that time of year, though. If you head that direction, you might also want to check out Boulder.

Another possibility would be to spend some time in one of the ski areas; Summit County, Vale, Aspen, Steamboat Springs, etc.

And then there's the possibility of heading farther south to Durango and Mesa Verde.

Frankly, unless you're going to be there for a particular purpose, I'm not sure that I'd recommend 5 or 6 nights in Denver.

I'm sure that others will offer great suggestions. But you might want to do a search on this board of other Colorado threads. And I would also recommend going to Amazon.com and ordering a good Colorado guidebook.
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 06:58 AM
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MaureenB
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Your visit in August will most probably be very hot in Denver. Unless you have definite reasons to spend 5 or 6 nights in Denver, I'd shorten that time, because the mountain areas are so refreshing in August. I assume you will have a car? With so much time, you could make a wonderful driving loop through the mountains and end back in Denver to fly home.
What are your particular interests? Music festivals, fly fishing, white water rafting, lake activities, climbing a 14er, shopping, dining, relaxing...? Post some more specifics and you will get lots of ideas.
Personally, with that much time, I'd say drive to Aspen or Telluride. Both beautiful areas, and you can take a route that includes other sights you might be interested in seeing along the way there and back. From Denver to Aspen direct is about 5 hours' driving, but you could also fly there. Telluride is further. I'm not sure if there would still be a music festival going on, as I know they each have them every year. You could Google them to see what's happening.
Post more questions. You will love Colorado!
 
Old Apr 9th, 2006, 09:50 AM
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I agree, unless you are visiting family or have a reason to be in Denver, I would cut that time in half. My favorite part of the state is the southwest. You could visit Telluride, Ouray, Mesa Verde, take a trip on the Durango/Silverton Railroad, take a jeep trip - you have so many options.
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 10:15 AM
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Colorado is a beautiful state and Denver is nice. However, you should really plan on only a day or two in Denver and spend the rest of the time enjoying what really makes Colorado special - the Mountains.

In and around Denver you should tour the Denver Mint, consider going to a Colorado Rockies baseball game at Coors field, shop on the 16th St Mall, Go to Red Rocks ampitheater (try to go to a concert, but it is also open during the day with a free visitors center), and make sure to try the local Colorado micro-brews (you should really try the New Belgium brews from Fort Collins - particularly Fat Tire amber ale).

You really should consider going to Rocky Mountain National Park. Drive over trail ridge road - the highest paved highway in the United States. The earlier suggestion of making a loop through the mountains is an excellent one. Make sure that a good part of that loop is on highways and not just I-70. The travel is slower, but you'll be rewarded with more spectacular scenery.
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 10:41 AM
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Thanks for the replies they are very much appreciated,as asked here are some more details. We arrive on the saturday and on tuesday we are planning on going to a concert at the Red Rocks Ampitheater, after that we will be heading out on the road.We are into hiking,we would love to give canoeing and fishing a go and generally relaxing and chilling out,we have no issues with driving but we would prefer to make a maximum of 3 stops enroute,this gives us the chance to explore the area we have stopped in.Hopefully this will help with some more suggestions and ideas for us.If you could also help out on the hotel front as well it would be really helpful.My last question is this,is it easy to get back to Denver from red rocks after the show if you do not have a car or would it be better to stay in the area itself?Thank you in advance for all the help.Finally i am looking forward to tasting some of these micro-beers so some recommendations here as well please.
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Old Apr 9th, 2006, 11:20 AM
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Few more things in Denver:

Elitch Gardens is a pretty good amusement park. Water World can be quite fun.

The Denver museum is okay... not great. I suppose the main or maybe only reason to go there would be to catch an Imax show. I've never been to them, but have heard good things about the Denver Botannical Gardens. If you like to Golf, then go to Inverness.

The Coors brewery in Golden is an interesting tour. Of course it is just Coors, so nothing to special like the various Microbrews that you can find in Downtown. Go to Wynkoops brewery for some brews and fun downtown.

As I said before, I really like New Belgium brewery beers (Fat Tire, Sunshine Wheat, others).

If you like shopping, then you'll find just about anything you want at Park Meadows Mall. Flatirons Crossing is a large mall as well, but I prefer Park Meadows. Alternatively, you can find some more upscale shopping at Cherry Creek Mall.

My favorite hike in Rocky Mountain National Park is a relatively easy one and takes an afternoon. It is the hike up to Emerald Lake.

You should consider going on a river rafting excursion. Salida is a good place for river rafting.
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Old Apr 10th, 2006, 11:26 AM
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Bigstevie you ask "is it easy to get back to Denver from red rocks after the show if you do not have a car or would it be better to stay in the area itself?"

I really recommend having a car. How are you planning on getting to Red Rocks? If you are planning on heading to the mountains the next day, I would spend the night in that area and head out to the hills the next morning. It will be easier to make a hotel suggestion after we know if you are heading to RMNP, SW Colorado or the Summit County area.
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Old Apr 10th, 2006, 04:16 PM
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Who are you seeing at Red Rocks? Everyone sounds better at Red Rocks-- such a gorgeous venue. I saw Santana there last summer. You will love it. Go early enough that you can see the surrounding area, which has some nice hiking.
But, I don't know how you'd get to Red Rocks and back to anywhere without a car. Have you found any transportation to and from without having a personal vehicle?
You pretty much need a car in Colorado. And I would think it's probably less expensive to get it at the airport and save the expensive cab or shuttle fare into town.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2006, 11:24 AM
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Thanks everyone for the help,it looks like we will stay in Denver for 3 nights then head out to Red Rocks(Journey and Def leppard Maureen).We hope to stay in the vicinity(any hotel suggestions) and then move on in the morning,any suggestions for where to next would be a big help.We do know we want to go to either Aspen or Vail for a few days,Boulder for a few days and Durango for a few days were we can do some hiking and biking and hopefully some canoeing and maybe some white water rafting,something i have never done before but would love to try it,after that we are pretty flexible as we are still in the planning stages at the moment.In durango and vail what hotels or lodges would people recommend,we have looked at a few but obviously beeing in Ireland we are just going by what a few books tell us,so any recommendations from people who have either been there or actually live there would go a long way to helping us decide where to go and stay. We would ideally like to go to one of the national parks but again there is so many to choose from,but we seem to be aiming towards Rocky Mountain National Park,is this a good idea or is there somewhere better to visit.
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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 01:41 PM
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Just a word of caution. Drive times can be deceiving, if you're looking at maps and calculating miles. Remember Colorado is mountainous, and some routes are much slower than you'd guess by just figuring the distance. So getting from point A to point B can take longer than you expected. Plus, there is so much to see, you may want to pull over and take photos, etc. a few times.
One other thought: Colorado is beautiful in August, just about anywhere you look! So, I'd suggest you pick one section of the state and stay several nights there. It sounds like a lot of driving you're talking about, and you'd miss the wonder of Colorado if you're inside your car. You will want to be able to smell the air, feel the breezes, and walk in the quiet of a mountain forest! Also, whitewater raft, fish, etc.

For example, personally I wouldn't try to do Denver, Boulder, Vail, Aspen, Durango, RMNP, in 16 nights. It would make a long and winding road!

For a mountain location to stay for a week, I'd choose Aspen myself, because it has everything you mention and the drive up there would be pretty. You could see Denver, then Boulder, then Vail, and end up in Aspen for several nights. You'd be getting a very good taste of Colorado that way, without overdoing it on driving.

Actually, any place you mention would be good for a week. Just don't try to do them all or you will be exhausted and miss the whole point of Colorado IMHO.
 
Old Apr 11th, 2006, 05:02 PM
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If you want to do a National Park then your only real choice is Rocky Mountain National Park. National forests are different. The Great Sand Dunes are neat, but are a completely different experience. RMNP is your best chance to see Colorado Wildlife.

Boulder is a nice town (Pearl Street Mall is nice - but you'll already see something like that on the 16th Street Mall in Denver), but nothing compared to the views from RMNP. It is an ALL day trip (counting all the stops getting in and out of the car), but you can drive from Denver or Boulder up to Estes Park, go over trail ridge road, and loop back to I-70 via Winter Park. That would be a lot to pack into a day, but you could spread it over two days. Winter Park could be a hotel spot or Estes Park.
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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 05:19 PM
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bigstevie...I can't help laughing when I read your post. I grew up in Colorado and lived there for many years. Yet the exact same time you will be in my homestate I will be in yours, Dublin to be specific! And, I have been to Red Rocks to see Def Leppard back in 1989. So funny!!!

Anyway, you have lots of good advice. I agree with MaureenB with Aspen. It is so pretty up there with lots of hiking.

I really can't recommend Estes Park though. I was just there this past summer and felt it was waayyy too touristy than it has been in years past, or maybe I didn't remember it correctly. The Stanley Hotel was really nice though and I am sure there is nearby hiking to be done.

In lieu of Boulder I have to plug my hometown of Fort Collins, especially since you mentioned you like micro-brews. New Belgium Brewery is there (Fat Tire, Sunshine Wheat, etc.) along with a few other micro-breweries. It is a cute little town with lots to offer. And I have stayed at the Armstrong many a night downtown when I have enjoyed too much Fat Tire.

http://www.thearmstronghotel.com/

But you are probably confused with so much information and suggestions at this point. I know I am with my plans to your beautiful country!!! Hope you have a wonderful time!
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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 07:24 PM
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Fishing?

Did someone say fishing????

There is some nice flyfishing to be had in the Aspen/Basalt area. There is the Roaring Fork River, the Fryingpan River, and the Crystal River - all within an hour of each other. If you've never flyfished I'd suggest getting a guide for a half a day. Try the guys and gals out of the Taylor Creek Flyshop in Basalt (www.taylorcreek.com). There's nothing like standing in a clear cold trout stream tossing fur and feathers on a hook.
If you only do one national park, make it Rocky Mountain. If you don't like the touristy aspect of Estes Park, drive over and stay in Grand Lake.
I'd skip Vail. It's nice in winter, but less entertaining in the summer.
Aspen is better IMHO. If you go to Aspen, get there by going through Leadville and over Independence Pass. Take the route through Glenwood Springs on the way back.
Whitewater rafting might be iffy in mid August, depending upon the flows from runoff. Outfitters in Glenwood Springs will still probably be able to get you on the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon though. The water will be cold even in August - remember, in most cases the water in the rivers around here was snow and ice less than 48 hours ago.
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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 08:35 PM
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I have to agree that I find Estes Park to be very, very touristy. However, I do recommend RMNP. I also second Ft. Collins even if all you do is visit New Belgium Brewery for some excellent Fat Tire.
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Old Apr 12th, 2006, 07:02 AM
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Furledleader gives some good tips re: fly-fishing near Aspen. We've done it a few times there. Again, the Aspen countryside is breath-taking. We also did a whitewater raft trip from Aspen once. There's a shop right at the base of Aspen mountain. Water could be low in August most years, but maybe not after the huge snowpack we've got this year. In June, it was a wild ride, but this August could also be well worth it, even if a bit tamer. If you Google it, you will find Aspen has a lot of music festivals each summer, from classical to jazz to bluegrass and more. I know they have free concerts weekly, etc. Definitely check out Aspen, in my opinion, as your ultimate destination. Everything you want is there.
 
Old Apr 12th, 2006, 08:40 AM
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If you do go through Glenwood Springs, try to stop for an evening at the hot springs pool. It is rather interesting to be in a gigantic hot springs swimming pool knowing that it is all natural. Also, there is a hike in Glenwood canyon (that I think you have to be going East bound on I-70 to reach it) up to something called hanging lake. It's a nice hike that can be somewhat rigorous. Take PLENTY of water or Gatorade. I wouldn't call this a must-do kind of a hike, but it is something to do. My wife and I actually used it to break up a long drive back from Montrose.

http://www.hotspringspool.com/

http://hikingincolorado.org/hang.html

As long as we're talking Fort Collins breweries, we might as well mention Odell's and Fort Collins brewery. Odell's favorites of mine are 90 Shilling, Easy Street Wheat, and 5 Barrel Pale Ale. I just had a Pomegranate Ale from Fort Collins brewery that was pretty good.

Google was kind enough to provide this link on Fort Collins breweries:

http://www.ftcollins.com/Media%20Cen.../breweries.htm

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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 07:20 AM
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Thanks guys for all the info it has really helped in working out our route.We will be in Denver for 3 nights then we are going to Morrison for a concert at red rocks,so any suggestion for a hotel there would be appreciated.We are going to Aspen for a few days and then we were thinking of going to Durango, but i need to find out if there a lot to do there,we have been reading up on it and it does seem like it could be kind of interesting.Steph, i do hope you enjoy your trip to Ireland,i imagine you are going to Dublin and the south of Ireland, but if you get the chance you should come up north and visit Belfast it is an interesting city to see.Hope to read your replies soon, cheers.
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