Help! Colorado...what to include & when?

Mar 6th, 2006, 02:39 AM
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Help! Colorado...what to include & when?

Thinking of a trip to Colorado to get a fix of Fall colors as I miss my Midwestern autumns now in Calif. (altho' they're getting better!)

Timing? 3rd week of Sept?
4th? October? Any rough advice most welcome!

Also, I thought we might drive but now think we'll fly into Denver w/my elderly mom. I'll probably have a brother who is near Breckenridge 'fetch' her while my hubby & I tour around for a bit. Not sure how to acclimate ourselves or my 82 yr old mom, however. Not too interested in heading to flatter areas. ;-)

Should we maybe hit Estes Park entry to RMNP & tour through there first? Any colors there, or not so much? Can we see wildlife there elsewhere much in Colorado? I did see it years ago (several times) & have been to Canadian Rockies quite a bit I wonder if we only have a week or bit over that if we should skip RMNP in favor of seeing the state from Breck area south towards Ouray & Mesa Verde?

Again, our main goals would be for wildlife, fall colors, & short fun hikes! One idea which might be too ambitious would be to go through RMNP & around back to Breck. See brother for a few days & then, head south to Mesa Verde region & perhaps back up to Breck before flying out of Denver w/my mom again.

But all of this in one week...perhaps just too much? I don't really want just a whirlwind tour. Would probably prefer slowing up a little so if doing RMNP maybe would stay 2 nights at one end.

Thanks for any guidance you can lend...
am feeling confused about what to include & do! Colorado Nat'l Monument sounds interesting, too!
Daydreamer is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 02:42 AM
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Just want to clarify...wouldn't head for RMNP due to altitude change being gentle...I realize that might be better if we went south to Cortez first?

But, seemed like looking at maps that touring through RMNP makes more sense from Estes Park than from Grand Lake, but I can't be sure. Just guessing.

Also, I wonder if going to Mesa Verde so late would feel frustrating. Looks like the rangers don't even lead the usual hikes perhaps we'd be missing out on too much? (Cliff Palace tours end at Labor Day)

Just wanted to clarify things. We've never done the Ouray area...or San Juansaltho' I was at Mesa Verde when 6 yrs old & sooo impressed then! ;-)
Daydreamer is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 03:32 AM
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The color will be yellow--aspens. I think October is too late.
Gretchen is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 06:00 AM
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Hello day dreamer - ahhhh, Colorado in the fall.

Last fall, my DH and I took my 80 year old parents on a trip through Colorado. If you click on my name you should be able to find my trip report.

Just a couple suggestions: we had intended to stay at RMNP and Brek; however, even with acclimating ourselves to the altitude, Dad could not sleep (chest was very tight), so we stayed low. Mesa Verde was the highest we stayed (seems it's around 8000 ft.).

We left on Sept. 20, and the leaves were spectacular. If you want to stay in Mesa Verde (recommended), try to call them ASAP. Get a Kiva room if possible and eat dinner in the Metate Room (excellent cuisine!).

In Ouray we stayed in a huge apartment just off the main street. Took our jeep ride starting here.

Happy travels y'all!
kopp is offline  
Mar 6th, 2006, 06:07 AM
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We take an 84 yr old flatlander over Trail Ridge every year, and she does fine--just no hiking or strenuous stuff. You might want to have the brother in Breck let you know when the colors will be good closer to the date, and drive. Mesa Verde can be tricky to see up close and personal (ladders, etc. on some of the tours). Maybe ask the bro in breck for suggestions?
sylvia3 is online now  
Mar 6th, 2006, 10:49 AM
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Our problem in the high elevations was not during the day. It was sleeping at night. Dad just couldn't get enough air into his chest. Pretty scary.

But he had absolutely no problems going up to 13,000 ft. on the jeep trail for the day, then back down.
kopp is offline  
Mar 8th, 2006, 02:13 AM
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Thank you all so much for your experiences. I'll ask my brother for some ideas. I know he's sort of concerned about the altitude thing too for my mom, as she once had some heart issues, too.

Hmmm...when you say drive do you mean...all the way from where we live in order to better acclimate?

thanks for any further ideas!
Daydreamer is offline  
Mar 8th, 2006, 02:14 AM
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Oh & thank you so much for the recommendation re: a KIVA room. Will do!

When were you exactly at Mesa Verde? Were all tours still running?
Daydreamer is offline  
Mar 8th, 2006, 10:33 AM
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Grocery Stores sell pills to help you with the altitude and also oxygen in Colorado. There is a big difference in the air at 10,000 feet even than 8000.

It was hard for us the first day or two and we are 42. My husband had trouble sleeping about half the nights. The kids had no problems, of course. Sleeping at the high altitude, I agree, is the big concern. If you can have a home base at 5000-8000 feet, it would make a huge difference I think. Higher altitude day trips don't seem too hard.

Drink tons of water so altitude sickness is averted. That could really hurt an older person and there is little humidity so lips crack and skin gets soooo dry. Bring a great lotion, lip balm and maybe even eye drops to keep them comfortable!
BellaD is offline  
Mar 8th, 2006, 12:03 PM
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What Bella writes about altitude - perfectly said! A BIG difference staying 8000 vs. 10000. Chest tightness is not a fun thing to experience. Made Dad think he was having a heart attack.

Regarding the Mesa Verde tours, we took a ranger-led tour of Cliff Palace, a self-guided tour of Spruce Tree House, but the dwelling at the very end of the road (can't remember the name) was closed for the season, so we did not see that.

We were at Mesa Verde for 2 nights, Sept. 23 & 24.
kopp is offline  
Mar 8th, 2006, 12:22 PM
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I think the best thing you could do for your mom is to talk to her personal physician about the potential problems she may have adjusting to the altitude.
wtm003 is offline  
Mar 10th, 2006, 01:27 AM
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Thanks for the further thoughts on altitude! Helps a lot & we will check into things more carefully.

Also thanks for sharing about Mesa Verde & what was open.
Daydreamer is offline  
Mar 11th, 2006, 11:40 AM
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Hey Daydreamer - forgot to mention one thing about Mesa Verde.

If you can, try to make a point of eating in the Metate Room. Definitely worth the splurge! We had the elk and buffalo - recommended by this board - and it was delicious!

For breakfast, we were just going to go to the cafeteria, but it was booked totally by a tour group. That was a blessing in disguise. Since there was nowhere else to eat, we again went to the Metate Room - for $9pp they have a wonderful cold buffet, something like you'd see in Europe. Wonderfully crisp and delicate croissants, oh so sweet strawberries, and the biggest raspberries I've ever seen (about the size of walnuts!). Plus cereals and cheeses. Definitely worth the money.

Ask for a table by one of their windows. Great views to eat by!

Happy travels!
kopp is offline  
Mar 17th, 2006, 06:30 PM
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Just to add onto this thread. There aren't a lot of aspens in RMNP. It is mainly pine and spruce forests. So if you are looking for a lot of color, I wouldn't recommend it. For scenery though it ranks #1 in my opinion.
sshoover is offline  
Mar 17th, 2006, 06:37 PM
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Glacier Gorge/Bear Lake area has a good amount of fall color in RMNP. I was there first weekend in October and the color was still good, but 2 weeks later my co-worker went and most leaves were gone. I'd say mid to late September is your best bet.
Mar 22nd, 2006, 11:29 PM
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Do you think colors would still hold into October in places like Ouray, too? Now thinking if we go in Fall,
might not be able to go until that 1st wknd in October after all! :-{

Or, we might switch to mid-summer if that makes more sense.

Thanks again to all for your great help!
Daydreamer is offline  
Mar 23rd, 2006, 02:26 AM
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The best fall colors we saw during our tour in 2002 were the following:
- the road from Durango to Gunnison
- the maroon bells in Aspen.
This was in the second half of September.Paul
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