Itinerary help for 7 days in colorado in July

Old Mar 22nd, 2023, 06:40 PM
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Itinerary help for 7 days in colorado in July

Hi everyone - I am planning a week long trip this summer to colorado. We already have the flights booked so there is no changing that! We will fly into and out of Denver from Boston. Our flight home is very early so we are spending the last night at the Westin in the airport. A bit of a splurge, but worth it for peace of mind making our flight.

Last summer we spent a week in South Dakota and it was the BEST vacation and we are hoping to find an equal amount of fun, learning and adventure in Colorado. My kids are 16, 14, and 8. Because of their wide age range it can be tricky to find the right activities. We all enjoy unique learning/historical tours. I wish we could do the Mesa Verde Natl park but I think it's tooooo long of a drive. I also think the Sand Dunes would be fun, but again, too far of a drive.

We would like to do some small adventure type things like horseback riding, a moderate rafting trip, zip lining, some hiking ( my daughter is NOT a fan of hiking so it can't be anything too crazy and my son is only 8 so can't be too challenging ).

So far, on the itinerary is Estes Park, RMNP, Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, Royal Gorge. I don't want to spend hours and hours in the car so I think we should spend three nights north of Denver ( Boulder? where is a cool fun place to stay? ) and three nights south of Denver ( Colorado Springs ? ). What else should we see/do? We like to stay pretty busy and have an activity for each morning/afternoon.
I wouldn't mind going to a hot springs place ( but not the kind that is a basically a super crowded pool!! ). Does anyone have a suggestion for a specific place that would be great for a horseback ride or family friendly rafting trip? I am thinking Royal Gorge for the zip lining.

Thank you in advance for your advice!

Last edited by mrsJuiceS; Mar 22nd, 2023 at 06:40 PM. Reason: I forgot to tag the state
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Old Mar 23rd, 2023, 06:41 AM
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Check out the Wild Animal Sanctuary at Keenesburg, a little NE of Denver
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Old Mar 23rd, 2023, 07:46 AM
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Thank you for the tip bigtyke That looks very cool and is exactly the kind of thing my kids would love
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Old Mar 23rd, 2023, 08:26 AM
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There is a good light rail system from the airport to downtown Denver intermodal station which also serves as the Amtrak station. The westbound Amtrak California Zephyr leaves DEN at 8:05AM (often late). Take the train to Glenwood Springs. The scenery east of Glenwood Springs in the Glenwood Canyon is some of the best you will see on any daytime route. Glenwood Springs has the world's largest hot spring fed swimming pool. Also in town is a chairlift that goes up to Glenwood Cavern. There is also a good bus service from Glenwood Springs up to Aspen (41 miles).
Renting a car from there to go to other places in western Colorado might be good. There are float trips on the Colorado River available in Glenwood Springs. There is also a good paved hiking/biking trail east of town into the Glenwwod Canyon. Seeing the canyon from the train is a lot better than driving through it on I-70 IMO.
If the California Zephyr is very late or cancelled, there is a daily bus service from the intermodal station (Bustang) that goes to Glenwood Springs shortly after 8AM.
The Zephyr also has a stop at Fraser/Winter Park that would work for a visit to RMNP. The intermodal station has a nice hotel attached to it. Things to see in Denver include the capitol building and the mint. Renting a car in downtown Denver is always cheaper than renting at the airport.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2023, 01:14 PM
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Buena Vista is a popular place for white water rafting May-Sept. BV is 94 miles west of Colorado Springs. Nearby is Nathrop, home to Mt Princeton Hot Springs. There are several hikes in nearby Chalk Creek Canyon as well.

Near Woodland Park, which you'll pass through between Colorado Springs and Buena Vista, you'll find the Wolf Sanctuary. And Woodland Park is home to the Dinosaur Resource Center if your kids are into that.

Last edited by Melnq8; Mar 23rd, 2023 at 01:16 PM.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2023, 01:52 PM
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With 7 days you really could see Mesa Verde--it is a wonder of the world, IMO. In one long day you can drive to MV passing by the Great Sand Dunes for a quick look. They are awesome.
If you do MV get reservations IN the park at Far View Lodge. Stay 2 days.
Then plan a trip back approaching RMNP from the west side.
In the mountains in Summit County there are zip lines and things kids would love.
By summer there is no guarantee of having float trips even with the snow pack they have this year. At least that is my impression.
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Old Mar 25th, 2023, 07:55 AM
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Last fall I stayed in Old Colorado City. Small town, think Hallmark, with shops and restaurants. I stayed at an airbnb. Mine would be too small for your family but there were many others. It is between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. Manitou Springs also had some interesting hotels and motels. Some looked straight out of the 50's or 60's. Great location for Pike's Peak and Garden of the Gods. Manitou Springs had many shops restaurants and an arcade type place. I took the COGS railway up to Pike's Peak. The whole trip took the better part of a day.
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Old Mar 25th, 2023, 11:07 AM
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Sounds like you have a good preliminary itinerary. Remember Colorado is super-crowded with visitors in the summer. You could stay in Estes Park which is the eastern gateway to RMNP. It's a pleasant town with plenty of activities and lodging. The suggestion that you stay in Old Colorado City is a good one for the Col Spgs. area. It's near Garden of the Gods. Yes, you can zip-line at the Royal Gorge. As mentioned you can raft the Arkansas River at Buena Vista and nearby is Mt. Princeton Hot Springs (large heated swimming pools).You can also rent mt. bikes at Buena Vista and ride through old granite railroad tunnels (Midland Tunnels on CR 371). There is also horseback-riding west of town but I bet there is a better place in or near RMNP. Have fun!

Last edited by PrairieHikerI; Mar 25th, 2023 at 11:14 AM.
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Old Mar 27th, 2023, 07:25 PM
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Thank you all for your help and for your suggestions. I am looking at three nights in the CO springs area (TY for the Old Colorado City rec) and then three nights in Estes Park. I'm sure i'll be back with more detailed questions
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Old Mar 28th, 2023, 05:36 AM
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Since you are staying in CO Springs do go over to Woodland to the Dinosaur Exhibit. No matter the age of you or your kids it is a wonderful place--small, but mighty with a laboratory where they are working on more fossils.
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