Denver Itinerary for 3 nights 4 days

Old Apr 1st, 2013, 10:41 PM
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Denver Itinerary for 3 nights 4 days

Our group of 3 adults in our mid twenties will be going to Denver in April 13-16, and I did go through the forums but i think i have a problem with geography and structuring the itinerary. We get in early Saturday morning and leave tuesday afternoon (so about 3 nights)

We wanted to do:


Hiking - We are beginner hikers, but RMNP or Mount Evans seems amazing for scenery. We will have a rental car (just a normal economy one, do we need an SUV?), but driving skill is a bit of a concern (I am super scared of windy roads but there's no other way to get there). Will the roads be okay in april? Are there easy paths to hike and scenic roads that we should take getting to either place? Estes Park might be easier. Horseback riding?

Hot springs (avoiding Indian Springs, it seems more people are complaining about the dirtiness) so we need to figure out if we want to do Hot Sulphur Springs, Glenwood or Mt. Princeton (the latter two are 2.5 hours I hear)

Then maybe fit in skiing somewhere (but not necessarily), since we are beginner skiiers and only think it's a bit sad to go to denver and not ski.

Are there other recommended activities? could we do a loop of colorado springs, breckenridge etc?


Also would love recommendations for food. I see Shine and Q's restaurant? Are there other options? Not necessarily fine dining but good mid-tier restaurants (ones that may not break the bank less than 50~ a person) I think we're hit a brewerie to try the local beer, which one would be recommended? Food is a main interest of ours but we do want to relax and take in the natural scenery.

We do have a hotel reservation for 3 nights in Denver, but would it be worth it to stop by a night by the hot springs?

Do something like, 1 night in denver, drive to Rocky Mountains (or a good open and easy get to hiking destination), drive to a hot springs (which might depend on recommendations to do after the hot springs or the park before the hot springs), stay a night, drive a loop and into denver for the night, and wander denver some more on tuesday?

That would mean 1.5 days ish in Denver, are there any recommended activities? Biking looks fun but 2 out of 3 of us can't bike. Shopping isn't of interest. Or do you think we can extend half a day into another excursion around Denver?

Any comments welcome!
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 05:00 AM
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Since you are only going to be in Colorado 3 days-you should decide which activities that you must do (hiking, hot springs, skiing, relaxing) and pick an area where you can do the ones you want so you are not spending hours in a car, IMHO. That said, see my comments below.

Hiking in the Rocky Mountains in mid-April is questionable at best. The mountains have had lots of snow in March (in fact, it snowed last night)and trails will be either snow-packed or icy or, at best, muddy and the air temperature could be chilly--depending on altitude and how shaded the trail is. There are areas that are at lower elevations (the areas just west of Denver and Boulder, for example) that might be ok. Here are some websites for some of these hiking areas.

http://www.coloradotrail.org/planning.html the Colorado trail runs very close to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs--you might check with the people there to see if the trail is hike-able now and you could also spend some time in the pools there

http://www.visitingboulder.com/hiking-in-boulder.php there are lots of trails in the foothills just west of Boulder--many beginning at Chautauqua

http://funcoloradohikes.com/tag/evergreen suggestions for hiking around Evergreen, Colorado--which is about 20 miles west of Denver

Getting to Boulder, Evergreen, and Mt. Princeton is on either 4- or 2- lane highways which should be fine unless we get an April snowstorm (which does happen)--watch the advance forecasts on the weather channel.

I, personally, would forget skiing with the short time you’re going to be in Colorado. However, it appears that Copper Mountain, Keystone, Breckenridge and Vail close on April 14, Winter Park on April 21. Loveland sometime in May. Eldora —which is 18 miles from Boulder—closing April 14.

Shine and Q’s are in Boulder. There are many, many other restaurants in Boulder—a few of our favorites—Oak on 14th, Riffs, The Kitchen, Raddo Trattoria. Denver also has many, many restaurants. A few favorites, Steubens, Ace, Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza, Bones, Deluxe, Charcoal. Here’s a website re: breweries in Denver http://www.fodors.com/news/best-micr...nver-5891.html and Boulder has lots of breweries also.

An example of an itinerary, on Sunday, drive to Boulder, ski at Eldora. Monday hike at Chautauqua and enjoy the Pearl Street Mall in the afternoon. Return to Denver on Tuesday by way of Evergreen—and do more hiking (around Evergreen Lake, if nothing else) or you could stop and see Red Rocks http://www.redrocksonline.com/ on your way back into Denver.

Another example, on Sunday, drive to Mt Princeton Hot Springs, via I-70 and ski at either Breckenridge or Copper Mountain. Stay at Mt. Princeton on Sunday and Monday nights. On Monday, hike a section of the Colorado Trail and soak in the hot springs pools after. On Tuesday, drive back to Denver on highway 285 (could stop at Red Rocks).
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 09:14 AM
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OK, nearly everything you have suggested is not totally workable because of the distances IF you are staying three nights in Denver. Since you are staying in Denver, you are limited to day trips of about hundred miles or so. Stay in Denver on Sunday because mountain traffic returning to Denver on Sunday is a big issue.

That time (13-15) is right on the seam between winter and spring for the mountains. Mt. Evans road and Trail Ridge Road will not be open because of snow. So that is out. Other than a few trails around the front range, Boulder, Idaho Springs, hiking in the mountains is very limited again because of snow and mud where there is no snow. One of the lead articles in today's Denver Post was the beginning of mud season and time for indoor activities. I will try find a link to the article

The major of ski areas will close on the 13th so skiing is out. You will want to avoid returning to Denver on the 14th from the mountains because the traffic jam will be endless as each ski area has a big blow out on the last day. So you should probably save skiing for the next trip.

April tends to be our wettest month starting with snow the first half and rain the second half. So you need to prepare for a wide range of weather. Two days ago was in the 70s and today's forecast is 30s with sleet and snow tonight. It is Spring time in the Rockies.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 11:12 AM
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We are in Frisco/Copper now and lots of snow on the ground and a BIG spit of corn snow about an hour ago. Areas closing next weekend as others have said.
We just passed by Officer's Gulch outside of Frisco and you might look that up and see if you'd be interested in seeing the mining area around it for a short hike (I think).
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 11:14 AM
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I'm not sure I'd do it all as day trips from Denver either. /
Spend a night in the mountains somewhere.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 11:20 AM
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Here is the link for the Mud Season article

http://www.denverpost.com/lifestyles...denverpost.com
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 05:04 PM
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Hope you make it back, Gretchen. I-70 is now closed at Copper and Vail pass. A quick, heavy storm dumped on the area this PM. Typical spring storm in the mountains.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:04 PM
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The Boulder area has some good low altitude (for Colorado) hiking trails...Chautauquua Trailhead, Flatirons Vista Trail etc. and are only about 35 minutes from downtown Denver. Plenty to see/do in Denver as well as Boulder.

Weather wet here in Denver now but suppose to get to mid 70's Friday. That's Colorado where the weather is completely unpredictable.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 08:38 PM
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Winter Park ski area closes April 21.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2013, 09:13 PM
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We are not limited to staying all 3 nights in Denver, it's just what we reserved the hotel for, so maybe we can stay sunday outside of Denver (which was roughly the plan anyway).

We can skip skiing, if it's a hassle, I think someone wanted to do horseback riding in Este Park (which was mentioned in the mud article) not sure what else we can do there... hiking to the Alluvial Fan was mentioned in the article?


I think we just wanted to link a trip to the hot springs to hiking since the only requests I had from the other two were 1) horseback riding, picked up some groupon, 2) hot springs, 3) hiking

Can i still do martym suggestion if we move one of the hotel nights to mt. princeton?


something like that?

Saturday morning (we get in at 9am) - explore Denver
Sunday - drive to Mt. Princeton/hike if possible at colorado trail, soak in hot springs.
monday - return to denver, drive to este park (that's probably a crazy 5 hours though)Maybe should do this saturday instead.


I guess that's 5 hours driving either way i cut it though unless i ignore estes park. Haha, probably shouldn't have bought that groupon.

Sorry, I'm really bad with understanding distances and stuff ( this is why I get Fodors to school me haha).
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 04:10 AM
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FYI--Mt Princeton has riding stables (but no groupon) http://www.coloradotrailrides.com/ Call them to see what is available, if you're interested.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 06:18 AM
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oOh, we are staying in Frisco. When DS came home last night from shopping in Silverthorne traffic was backed up to the Frisco exits. BEAUTIFUL snow!! There were apparently several bad accidents between here and the Pass.
Leaving today for Denver and then home tomorrow. The family has had a GREAT time.
Our Denver family is coming back up for the rest of the week for spring break. Great skiing for them, and no crowds. Thanks for the thought!
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 06:20 AM
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We will see how the Idaho Springs tunnel work affects traffic. DD went home Monday and said eastbound was pretty good (there is a detour onto a frontage road), but the westbound traffic was really a mess. This was mid-morning on Monday. I guess it could be more spring break traffic--or just regular traffic.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 04:45 PM
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Your plan to do day trips from Denver to the mountains just won't work well with the Idaho Springs tunnel work--if you are going that way. The westbound traffic is backed up for about 2 miles--I guess because it narrows to one lane, while eastbound is on a 2 lane bypass road.
If you are only doing it once as it seems now, not so bad.
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 06:29 PM
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Yes, but they can still go up to Estes Park, do the usual loops via car,even a couple of short hikes. They could return on Peak to Peak highway which puts them in Netherland and then on to Boulder.Or return to Lyons following the Vrain River and then on to Boulder However,I think the Bouldet area itself offers pretty much what they want...minus hot springs.

Certainly no need to head up I 70,
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Old Apr 3rd, 2013, 10:26 PM
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So what is the usual loops? Boulder?

Basically could I:

saturday : explore denver

Sunday : drive to hot springs (sulfur ones probably since that's the closest one that's not the the idaho one), is there anything to do here besides the hot springs??

http://goo.gl/maps/ru4D5 (map). Tell me if you think I should add anything or have restaurants speced out as well.

Monday: drive to estes park, hike and horseback ride, drive back to boulder, eat, and then drive to Chatauqua Park? Hike one of the trails:Flatirons Vista Trail etc? Probably should just pick one when we get there. and then back to denver
Tuesday in Denver


It's probably a little ambitious but the only way to fit the hot springs in with estes park and hiking for boulder/chatautauqua park.
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Old Apr 4th, 2013, 07:57 AM
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For loops in RMNP here are a few. I admit I've been there so much I don't pay atttention to the actual roads so these may not be exact but once through the entrance it's very easy to select several difffent roads to explore and none take very long.

Bear Lake Road
Hollowell Park
Beaver Meadows
Moraine Park and Visitor Center
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Old Apr 4th, 2013, 08:29 AM
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Your loop won't work in April, because Trail Ridge Road won't be open. You'd have a long drive to RMNP from Hot Sulphur Springs.

Besides, Hot Sulphur Springs is a very tiny town, with nothing there but the hot springs, in the simplest 'spa' setting. It's ok, nothing fancy, but I would not drive out of my way to get there. I think the fun hot springs are places you hike to, like in Steamboat.

If you go that direction, I suggest you stay in Grand County instead of RMNP. There is lots to see there, too. Horseback riding is available at several places. The C Lazy U is a nice guest ranch, for example. I am not sure they will be geared up for horseback riding yet, though. You'd need to call around. It might be too early.
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Old Apr 4th, 2013, 12:09 PM
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I didn't suggest a loop of Trail Ridge Road as I know that it will be closed. However, once inside the park there are several roads that wind around and through the rest the area. None of them are long and some are dead end/turn arounds, but they still provide wonderful vistas and a good overall experience. All the "loops" I mentioned are doable without doing Trail Ridge Road.
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Old Apr 4th, 2013, 12:15 PM
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See the OP's last question.
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