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Denver CO/RMNP & Boulder itinerary suggestions

Denver CO/RMNP & Boulder itinerary suggestions

Mar 13th, 2013, 05:53 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 7
Denver CO/RMNP & Boulder itinerary suggestions

I am planning a 7-8 day trip at the end of July or beginning of August trip with my husband to Denver, CO. The purpose is to do some backpacking and ultimately see the local life in hopes that it might be a good fit for us long-term at some point. I currently live over in the Northeast and we both love the outdoor life (hiking, skiing, rock climbing, and rafting) and my husband is seriously into golfing. I want to see what the lifestyle of the locals would be but still get to do some touristy stuff, we definitely want to see boulder also if that would be a better fit for us. We do like living in the city but want to have the outdoors at our fingertips. We are equipped for a day hike with camping but not currently for backpacking. I was considering a REI backpacking activity to get to see RMNP the right way but unsure if we would be able to do an overnight on our own and get to see and learn a lot. Any suggestions for a must see look into being a Coloradan through and through?
sobehound is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 06:47 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 286
We have visited RMNP every year for about 5 years. We do all day hikes and love the variety of trails available so can't comment on overnight backpacking. I think you could arrange this easily on your own though. It really is a magnificent place with so many options for various fitness levels. We would love to live out there (we are mid-westerners) and even considered buying some property - but decided not to in the end - mainly because of the lack of jobs (even in Denver). Do your research carefully (especially about jobs) - of course you may be independently wealthy and not have to worry about that Enjoy!
illnative is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 07:50 AM
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Hard to give specific answers to such a general question. A lot of visitors get excited about RMNP and Estes Park. It is pretty but there is a lot more to Colorado than RMNP and at that time of year it will overrun by tourists. If going to Boulder it certainly is worth a trip over Trail Ridge Road and back through Winter Park. I would go further into the mountains in areas around Frisco, Vail, Glenwood Springs. A good loop is through Leadville, Independence Pass into the back side of Aspen and return via Glenwood Springs and Canyon. Several nice day hikes in the canyon. Golf courses at Copper, Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone are all very nice and public.

Unless related to mining and energy, the jobs will be in the front range and mostly in the Denver metro area. Our unemployment rate is below the national average. In the Denver area we have 500 miles of separate bike/hikes hard surface paths. You can have outdoor activity 12 months of the year. The Denver area weather is pretty mild. It will be 70 tomorrow. Of course, we did have about at foot of snow last weekend but it is mostly gone.

The Colorado section of any of our bookstores will have a wide selections of books relating to outdoor activities in Colorado. So hit the bookstore when you get here since you do need to spend a couple of days in Denver if you are considering relocation.
fmpden is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 08:05 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2012
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Thank you so much for the quick response, perhaps I will put off RMNP if we are looking into relocating, as we will have plenty of time then to do to that and instead enjoy less crowded state parks. I do not like crowds. Luckily my husband is in electrical engineering, there are some good jobs in our preliminary search for him. All we know is that people from Colorado cannot say enough good things about their state. Looks like there is enough to do there to keep us occupied for a long time! We love road trips and weekend excursions, can't wait! Thanks again for any future suggestions as well!
sobehound is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 08:20 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
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I camp at Moraine Park (see my profile pic) in RMNP once or twice a year and then do day hikes. I'm not sure there is a "right way" to see RMNP and I think the REI tours seem expensive.

You can look through the following list and get an idea of the wide variety of hikes available in the park.

One thing to consider in your planning is delays due to construction on Bear Lake Road. We did not have a problem using the shuttle last year, but we went mid-week and early. I did hear of some very significant delays, though. If you stay at Moraine and you hear of delays you could use the Fern Lake Trailhead.
wtm003 is online now  
Mar 13th, 2013, 08:30 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
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If you want to relocated then yes, you'll need/want to spend most of your time in Denver and Boulder. It would be easy enough to do some dayhiking in the Flatirons while you're in Boulder.

Most locals shun RMNP and head deeper into the mountains. However, you can avoid the crowds by backpacking and picking out trails in less-visited areas. Personally I wouldn't go backpacking on this trip - stick to day hikes, much less work and it allows you to be more flexible with your time. Pretty much all the backpacking sites in RMNP are reachable with a day hike, the big draw to backpacking is you can camp overnight and reach more inaccessible areas from the basecamp. I just don't think you really need to do that this trip and I don't think it's a good use of your time. Not telling you what to do, I just think if you're looking at relocating you should focus on where you would live instead of where you would play because you'll spend a lot more time living in the city than playing in the mountains.

Anyway, if you do make it to RMNP and want to visit less-crowded areas: 1) get up early and be on the trail before sunrise to beat the tourists in busy areas like Glacier Gorge, 2) west side has fewer visitors but not as dramatic scenery, 3) pick harder/longer trails on the east side (Thunder Lake, Lion Lake, Lawn Lake, Lost Lake). No matter what, you'll need to get up early, watch the sky and plan on being back below treeline by early afternoon.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 08:46 AM
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I agree that there are many great hiking options in the state, but this local disagrees with the above statement.
wtm003 is online now  
Mar 13th, 2013, 08:51 AM
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Because you don't shun RMNP, or because in your opinion many locals don't shun RMNP? I'm curious because I hear a lot of negative comments from people that live in Denver about RMNP, and it sounds like most locals actually don't go there very often.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 09:51 AM
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Both. I know a lot of people who use and enjoy RMNP, but I would never say most locals love RMNP based on some random sample. I really, really dislike Estes Park and I think there are some who lump Estes Park and RMNP into the same bucket.
wtm003 is online now  
Mar 13th, 2013, 11:50 AM
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I visit RMNP a couple of times a year. I have never found it crowded - maybe it's just the days when I go.

If you do go there (Estes Park) and want to play golf, the course has a different hazard - elk! Although in July I don't think it would be a problem - Sept would be a different matter!
bigtyke is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 12:06 PM
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It is hard to not to lump Estes Park and RMNP together because many tourist stay in Estes and you have to drive through Estes to get to RMNP.

I think it is silly to suggest that local "hate" RMNP/Estes. It is just after 33 years in Colorado I have a very different perspective of Colorado than someone who occasionally vacations in Colorado especially if the only place they go to is RMNP. And there is the whole question of personal preference. I happen to favor the history, especially the mining history, of the state. I constantly recommend the Mineral Belt Trail in Leadville but doubt if anyone here has ever walked it. I happen to think that Glenwood Canyon is one of the more scenic spots in the state and often recommend the bike/hiking along the river even though you have to share it with I-70.

And I am not big fan of Boulder even through both sons graduate from there. Probably a better fan if they ever learn how to play football.
fmpden is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 01:01 PM
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"I think it is silly to suggest that local "hate" RMNP/Estes."

Nobody said the locals hate anything. I said they shun RMNP - which is saying they deliberately avoid RMNP because of the crowds in favor of lesser known, less crowded areas.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Mar 13th, 2013, 01:08 PM
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I've biked the Mineral Belt Trail. I agree with the recommendation.

Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon is another great hike, but parking can be tough at times.

Boulder is good for a stop for breakfast on the way to RMNP for a day hike or a visit to Avery Brewing Co after hiking the flatirons.

There are a lot of options, but hard to narrow a few down for a short trip.
wtm003 is online now  
Mar 15th, 2013, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
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Another way to avoid RMNP crowds is to arrive at the trailhead late in the afternoon. This is more palatable to some people (like this writer's wife!) than the early dawn alpine start.

There are a lot fewer people on the trails, there's more wildlife and the light is superb for photography.

The weather must be cooperating of course, but I've arrived on the summit of Hallet Peak at 6:30 PM on one of those not-a-cloud-in-the-sky July days.

I more commonly do the early starts myself, but keep this option in mind.

RMNP is crowded, but the scenery vs. ease-of-access ratio in a place like Glacier Gorge is hard to beat from any of the Front Range cities, IMHO.

Have a great trip.
Nelson is online now  
Mar 15th, 2013, 12:10 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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"Most locals shun RMNP"

Say what?! This (Boulder) local, her friends, and neighbors have been visiting RMNP in all seasons for 25+ years! We make reservations early (and enter the park early), and have never had problems with crowds, except on holidays and signal days in the fall, for example, when the weather is sublime and the elk are calling. Certainly the traffic has been complicated by the TRR and Bear Lake repaving, but there are ways around that, too.
sylvia3 is online now  
Mar 17th, 2013, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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We've visited RMNP many times, including last summer and learned if you got to the trailhead very early (at sunrise), you will definitely beat the crowds. Also, there was construction on some of the park roads last year and I believe it will still be going on this summer. If you got to the park there early (I think before 9AM) you were allowed to take your own car to the trailhead and not forced to take the shuttle.

Personally, I find Estes Park to be a little too touristy for me, but if you like shopping, crowds, etc, then you won't mind it too much. We like to stay on the outer part of town along Fall River Road away from the crowds.

If you're looking for a challenging hike, there's always Long's Peak. I've only made it to the Keyhole - not enough nerve to make it to the top! I think a much better and scenic hike is to Hallett Peak which has spectacular views:


If you want more challenging hikes in Colorado, try one of the many 14ers in the state. We've stayed in Leadville several times - which sits at over 10,000 feet. It's a great place to acclimate for the 14,000' peaks. We've hiked Mt. Elbert twice which is the 2nd highest point in the lower 48.

wave725 is offline  
Mar 20th, 2013, 07:50 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2012
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thank you so much for all your input, just got my colorado guide and I can't wait to visit!
sobehound is offline  
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