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Mid-October, First Time in Colorado w/ 6-yo, Estes Park, Boulder or Breck?

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Jul 15th, 2014, 04:49 AM
  #1
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Mid-October, First Time in Colorado w/ 6-yo, Estes Park, Boulder or Breck?

I'm looking for opinions on a family vacation destination this October. Since this will be our first trip, we would like to be able to do a variety of things without being caught up in a big city. We did a ski area in the fall before (Park City) and enjoyed the natural beauty, sparse crowds and fractional costs, but I am worried that Breck may be too similar. Boulder seems to be a lively and entertaining town but will we able to experience tranquility there? RMNP is a big draw for us as we come from Chicago and ln experience elevation in man-made structures. Is the weather typically the same for all of these places? Also, will the road that bisects the Park be closed by then? Thanks for any help you can provide!
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Jul 15th, 2014, 05:17 AM
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The average closing date for Trail Ridge Road is Oct.23--however, it can be earlier (or later) in any given year. You need to realize that even though the road may close in mid October, the snows at the altitude of Trail Ridge usually begin in September, so it could be quite windy and snowy in October up there. It is doubtful that any ski area will be open in Colorado in mid-October--except for Arapahoe Basin.

Breckenridge would be my choice--it's off season, so fewer people, and the days could still be warm and sunny.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 06:01 AM
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If you stayed in Breckenridge (or Winter Park), you could day trip into the park through the west entrance to go to the top of Trail Ridge (if still open).
Winter Park offers similar lodging deals, is closer to RMNP, and you could also see Grand Lake and even visit hot springs (http://hotsulphursprings.com/)
Grand Lake County (http://www.visitgrandcounty.com/acti...ghtseeing.html)
Boulder is not tranquil; especially in the fall. It's set in a scenic spot, but it's like any other small city of that size.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 08:00 AM
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The weather and the locations are all very different. What part of October - first, last, middle ? October goes very quickly from Fall to Winter.

Breckenridge would be very similar to Park City as a ski area but it is flat. By middle Oct Breck will be struggling to get open for the ski season as are the other ski areas. Loveland has been the first to open around mid October. Rates would be cheap and pretty quiet. But the weather could run from cold and snowy to warm and sunny or at least cool and sunny. Night time temps will be around freezing.

Estes Park will be nearing the end of the high tourist season. The turning if the Aspen, the Elk rut, etc.,are big draws in Sept and early Oct. Remember with an average closing date of the 23rd only means that there have been many closings prior to that date and equal number after that date. Estes is lower and along the front range which means that it will be warm and less subjected to early snow. But snow is always a possibility at that time of year.

I would not associate tranquility and Boulder together in Oct. It is a college town and Oct is prime football time. Homecoming, Parents weekend, etc. will be schedule in October so you might want to check the CU web site for home games. The town will be packed when home games are scheduled.

Not to scare but simply to give you a hint of the variability of Denver's weather. In Denver, we had our first on Oct 5th in 2001, Oct 8 - 2011, Oct 9 - 2006, Oct 10 - 2005, and Oct 12 - 1997. And in some of the in between years didn't come until late November. You just have to be prepared for some near winter weather with appropriate clothing.

A little better explanation of what you want to do and see, might help to make better recommendations.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 08:16 AM
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How long is your trip? If you have a week you could split the time between two locations, but if it's a long weekend pick just one.

I suppose if you could find lodging on the outskirts of Boulder it could be tranquil but not in the middle of the city.

If RMNP is the main draw then just stay in Estes Park. The weekend may be busy but mid-week should be pretty quiet. Trail Ridge Road may be closed by mid-October but the more likely scenario is that there would enough snow to close it for a day here or there and then reopen for a few days. You would need to watch the weather and not plan an extended day trip to the west side if there's any chance of snow, or you face the possibility of a really long drive back to Estes if they close TRR while you're on the other side.

There is still plenty of stuff to do on the east side of RMNP without heading over to the west side, so the status of TRR shouldn't be a huge determining factor in your decision on where to stay. I would not base myself in Breck and do a day trip to RMNP as the west side of the park is just not anywhere near as spectacular as the east side.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 09:28 AM
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Agree: day-tripping from Breckenridge to RMNP and back, would be a bad plan. It's not a short drive.

Boulder is a college town. It's fun, but not tranquil.

We like Aspen, especially in the off-season. It has a good vibe, and staying in historic Aspen proper gives you plenty of walking/window-shopping/dining possibilities. Lots of wide open space to explore, too.

Winter Park and Steamboat are good places to consider, as well.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 01:29 PM
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Breckenridge to RMNP is almost 2 hours (~95 miles); hardly out of the realm of a day trip.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 01:40 PM
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Don't know what it would be like in October, but I loved Glenwood Springs, which is near Aspen. It seemed like a great place for families and there is plenty of natural beauty and hiking opportunities. Lodging rates are lower than Aspen, too.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 02:03 PM
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Sure, a 2 hour trip doesn't sound so bad at first glance. But it's another 30 minutes at least to the top of Trail Ridge Road....and a 5+ hour round trip from a mountain town to see some different mountains doesn't trigger my urge to hit the road. Particularly when the west side of RMNP is not very spectacular or dramatic scenery. I love the west side but I suspect the OP could get their fix of that type of scenery without making a 5 hour drive.

As I said in my post, if the OP wants to see RMNP either stay in Estes Park or split their time between Estes and Breckenridge (or another mountain town). Focus on the east side of the park.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 02:44 PM
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I believe that drive is over 2 hours, Breckenridgemto Grand Lake, in the best conditions. There's no need to drive that far. Breckinridge area is beautiful, too. Take the pass right out of town, for a sightseeing day trip.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 03:05 PM
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Thank you for the responses. To clarify, we will be there for 4.5 days after a day in Denver. We want to choose one location, rent a place off VRBO and simply enjoy being a visitor to Colorado. It sounds as though Breck might be our spot. How does Aspen compare to Breck in terms of natural beauty and and activities. I'm trying to determine if the extra time to the airport is worth it.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 04:22 PM
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Aspen is a gorgeous area, but quite expensive; there are many places to visit (such as the Maroon Bells, Redstone, Glenwood), but it will involve driving.
If you are flying in and out of Denver, the trip there could include a visit to Leadville, if you choose the Independence Pass route. However, it closes the first week in November (usually), so if it closes early you will have to get to Aspen via I70 (through Glenwood).
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Jul 15th, 2014, 05:35 PM
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We will be in Aspen in a couple of weeks. We have a very nice one-bdrm condo w/fireplace, a very nice pool in its courtyard, and all the amenities. It is right at the base of Aspen mountain, in town. Our relatively last minute rate is $379/nite.

Same housing in downtown Breckenridge would cost that much or more, I'll bet.

Best to price things out for yourself.

Aspen is in gorgeous country, and there are lots of places of interest there. It might tend to be skewed less to kids, per se, than Breckenridge.

There's also a nice YMCA facility, Snow Mountain Ranch, near Winter Park, which has a wide variety of family lodging. And inexpensive activities for kids. Skewed more to families with kids.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 05:37 PM
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Forgot to name the condo-hotel: Aspen Square.
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Jul 15th, 2014, 09:00 PM
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Also the YMCA of the Rockies at Estes Park. Again plenty of activities for kids and usually at a reasonable price.

Personally I prefer Aspen to Breck but, that said, we are taking kids and grand kids to Breck for a four day trip in August. Breck is less expensive, less travel time from Denver and it has more activities for kids. We are renting a very nice four bedroom house for less than $500 a day. I saw a number of very nice two bedroom homes for rent for less than $300 a day.
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Jul 16th, 2014, 07:25 AM
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You make good points, HistoryTraveler. I think those of us who live here can get really picky about where we'd vacation. But for a first time visitor, Breckenridge is perfect. Probably no need to drive further, when there are only 4 nights. And it's close to Vail for a day-trip.
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Jul 16th, 2014, 02:29 PM
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...Same housing in downtown Breckenridge would cost that much or more, I'll bet. .......

Don't make that bet. You would lose. A number of one bedrooms at the base of Peak 9 is less than $200. All over the historical core of Breckenridge you can find two bedrooms ranging from $150 to $250 well under the $400 mark in Aspen.

For a six year old there are far more activities in the Summit County area (Frisco, Breck, Keystone) that would appeal to a six year old than in the Aspen valley area.
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Jul 17th, 2014, 09:42 AM
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I am sure you can find cheaper condos than my quote in Aspen. But comparing apples-to-apples, prices would be similar. I'm talking a very nice condo-hotel, smack in the middle of town, not a sprawling condo complex with few amenities. Big diff. Probably doesn't exist in Breckenridge.

Six year olds are easily entertained, so I don't think that's a big factor in choosing.
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Jul 17th, 2014, 07:09 PM
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Regardless of where you go, you might find this interesting

http://www.zagat.com/b/denver/13-to-...aign=Denver#11
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