Great loop trip from Denver

Old Jul 17th, 2018, 01:14 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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Great loop trip from Denver

My husband and I, and our two adult sons, spent a wonderful week in Colorado over the fourth of July week. We flew into Denver early on Sunday morning. We got our rental car (from Silver Car rentals which was fantastic) and headed out to Breckenridge for lunch. There was so much traffic on the road to Breckenridge! Not sure why as we saw no accidents but...it was what it was. When we got to Breckenridge we were starving and decided to eat at the Canteen. Food and service were great. The brisket was delicious! We then walked around Breckenridge for quite a while. It is a lovely town, great shops, beautiful scenery. lovely people. Of the towns we went through in Colorado, Breckenridge was my favorite. If I go back I would love to stay there for a few days.

We headed on to Minturn where we had rented an Airbnb for 3 nights. Minturn is a pretty small town but has some restaurants you can walk to and it is fairly quiet. It's in a great location to explore the area. It is very close to Vail, which is much larger than I expected. We initially stopped to go to a grocery store and stock up on some staples. We went back again the second night we were there for dinner. There are LOTS of restaurants in Vail and they are in a few different locations. Very interesting place to walk around and people watch.

Our first full day we took a 4 x 4 Razor tour at Above and Beyond 4 x 4 Guides in Wolcott. It was about 25 minutes from Minturn. It was an amazing morning! Our guide Chuck was fantastic! We rented a four seater and the boys took turns driving. We saw some amazing scenery and had a blast while doing it. Highly recommend the tour. We then drive over to Red Cliff for lunch at a small restaurant with amazing food called Mango's Mountain Grill. Hands down the best sweet potato fries I have ever had. When we returned to Minturn the boys climbed up Lion's Head. I will say the altitude was bothering me quite a bit the first few days.

The next day we did not get as early a start as we planned (as even on vacation work gets in the way some times) so we did not get to hike Hanging Lake as the parking lot was full. If you want to hike it be sure to get there early! We then drove over to some natural hot springs on a river and spent a relaxing morning in the warm water in an absolutely beautiful setting. Next stop was Maroon Bells. It is a bit touristy but it is well worth it as it is gorgeous!!! We were going to stop in Aspen on the way out but a sudden thunderstorm interfered with out plans. We did a drive by and Aspen was much bigger than I thought it would be. The weather cleared and we drove over Independence Pass. It was quite the ride! Very high, steep and curvy! We had dinner in Leadville on the way back. Leadville is sure a blast from the past. Looks like a typical, old Colorado town. It was a fun day.

The next day we drove over to Winter Park. We got lucky and got to check into The Vasquez Inn early. Rooms were quiet, clean and quite nice. The boys rented mountain bikes for four hours in the afternoon as there are trails everywhere. Husband and I walked on the bike trail from the town up to the resort to check it out. We all had a great afternoon. Had dinner at Volario's in the Vasquez Inn that night. Best dinner of our trip. The food was out of this world. That night was fourth of July and they had festivities in a park right across the street. As there could be no fireworks due to how dry everything is the festivities were not quite the same. Watching fireworks on a jumbotron loses some of its luster.

The next day we drove up through Grand Lake and into Rocky Mountain National Park on the Trail Ridge Road. We hadn't been in the park more than five minutes when we saw a very large moose! How cool is that? Can't even describe how beautiful the Rockies are. Drive was busy but was fantastic. At the Alpine Center we stopped and did the short hike up to the top of the mountain. It was quite busy up there but worth the stop. It is well worth climbing the 200 plus steps to go to the top. The view!!! We saw a herd of elk while up there too. What a drive across the mountains to Estes Park. We stayed at the Quality Inn which was a great place to stay. We had a family suite which was huge. Would definitely recommend it. You could walk into town from there but there were also busses.

The next day we did a hike to Alberta Falls and Wills Lake. Again, I would highly recommend this hike. You need to go early to get a place to park either in the Park and Ride or at the trail heads. The Park and Ride was full when we got there at 8:00. We got lucky and happened to find a spot at Bear Lake (we were extremely lucky). We started our hike from there. I loved Wills Lake. A ranger had recommended that hike to us and they do know there stuff. We hiked up to Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and Emerald Lake when we were done. Those last trails were very busy but it was worth the hike. Our boys hiked out to Black Lake. They found snow fields as well as a herd of elk, up close and personal! They had a great day. I loved hiking out there. As I had been in Colorado for 5 days by now the altitude was not such an issue. You do still feel it on the up hills though.

The next day we had lunch in Boulder before heading to the airport. All in all if was a great loop and I would definitely go back to Colorado!
Sberg is offline  
Old Jul 17th, 2018, 06:17 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2008
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Sounds like a wonderful way to spend the 4th week. Thanks for the report.
emalloy is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2018, 10:49 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2017
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Originally Posted by Sberg View Post
The next day we did not get as early a start as we planned (as even on vacation work gets in the way some times) so we did not get to hike Hanging Lake as the parking lot was full. If you want to hike it be sure to get there early! We then drove over to some natural hot springs on a river and spent a relaxing morning in the warm water in an absolutely beautiful setting. Next stop was Maroon Bells. It is a bit touristy but it is well worth it as it is gorgeous!!! We were going to stop in Aspen on the way out but a sudden thunderstorm interfered with out plans. We did a drive by and Aspen was much bigger than I thought it would be. The weather cleared and we drove over Independence Pass. It was quite the ride! Very high, steep and curvy! We had dinner in Leadville on the way back. Leadville is sure a blast from the past. Looks like a typical, old Colorado town. It was a fun day.
Can you tell me more about this day? It sounds almost exactly like what I was planning for us (husband, 4mo baby and I) in mid-August, but I'm a bit worried that it's trying to fit too much in at one time...
Which hot springs were you at? Was it a built up place or outside? (Accessible by stroller, by any chance?)
Did you do anything in Leadville other than walk around and eat?

Thanks for your helpful report
sunshineisyummy is offline  
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