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One night away from Denver?

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Feb 28th, 2012, 01:27 PM
  #1
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One night away from Denver?

Folks,

Coming to Denver for multi day conference this April. Looking for a one night getaway leaving Denver early afternoon (on a Saturday) and having to be at the airport for an 11 Am flight on Sunday. Likely rent a car unless I learn otherwise. Looking for the natural beauty of the Rockies and a good dinner.

Thanks.
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Feb 28th, 2012, 04:23 PM
  #2
 
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One option would be to get on I-70 and head west for 3 hours and spend the night then head for the airport early in the morning.

Another would be to head up to Rocky Mt. National Park, spend a couple of hours then start back and find a place to stay so you could leave early and head for the airport early in the morning.
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Feb 28th, 2012, 04:58 PM
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I would head to Vail. Beautiful scenery, nice trail along the river, great hotels and restaurants.Prices should be good after Easter. a few restaurants will be closed, but plenty stay open.
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Feb 28th, 2012, 06:21 PM
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If you are heading to Vail - you might also consider going a bit further to Aspen - which is also very pretty.

And on the way to the Rocky Mt National Park - the college town of Boulder is very cute.
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Feb 28th, 2012, 10:38 PM
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It sounds like you're not going to have a lot of daylight to enjoy the mountain scenery, unfortunately. Also, April weather can be very iffy - snow, even blizzards are not unheard of, especially in the mountains. A flexible plan is always good at this time of year.

A quick daytrip to Rocky Mountain National Park via Estes Park would be quite doable, and less than 90 minutes away. You'd have time to drive around the east side of the park and enjoy some awesome vistas. Then you could return to Boulder for the evening (45 minute drive back) and enjoy one of many great restaurants there. In the morning, you're less than an hour away from DIA. If the weather is iffy, then just spend the afternoon and night in Boulder.
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Feb 29th, 2012, 06:44 AM
  #6
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Thanks, all... looking forward to the Denver and environs trip.
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Feb 29th, 2012, 07:22 AM
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I'd go to Vail also. Aspen is another 2 hours past Vail, and that has to be done to get to the airport--very early.
I'd have the destination--and a reservation for dinner somewhere with a view of the mountain base, walk around and enjoy the ambience.
And the idea of the Boulder trip is pretty nice.
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Feb 29th, 2012, 07:23 AM
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I agree with tekwriter. Stay close enough to catch that morning flight. Stay over in Estes or Boulder.

If you don't get further than Boulder, drive up Flagstaff mountain to get a sweeping view of the continental divide and walk around in a mountain setting.

Lots of amazing restaurants in Boulder. Chautauqua Park, just below the Flagstaff drive, has a wonderful restaurant. In Boulder proper there is the Mediterranean which is a great bar scene. Or for fine dining there is The Kitchen, and the Boulderado hotel has a fine dining restaurant, too.

Aspen? To be at DIA for an 11 a.m. flight? No way. I wouldn't suggest going up I-70, given your morning flight.
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Feb 29th, 2012, 02:28 PM
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Another vote for tekwriter and PeaceOut's suggestion. Drive to Estes Park for mountain views and then back to Boulder for the night.

In RMNP drive up Trail Ridge Road as far as it is open and then up to Bear Lake. Many of the RMNP postcard views are taken along the Bear Lake Road. Great (almost certain) chance to see herds of elk in the evening.

For Boulder PeaceOut's suggestion of The Med for dinner is perfect. If you like a more lively crowded local scene then go to the Rio Grande for a legendary margarita, but make sure you are walking back to your hotel.

Don't even think about driving to Aspen and think twice about I-70 at all.
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Feb 29th, 2012, 06:09 PM
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Aspen is about 2 hours past Vail.
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Feb 29th, 2012, 06:12 PM
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Sorry I missed Gretchen's response.
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Feb 29th, 2012, 07:17 PM
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At the risk of getting booed, Vail is pretty much a tourist town -- new built and pretty boring. Good skiing, but not much else.

RMNP is beyond beautiful, wild and natural. There's no comparison.

If you had a bit more time, and really wanted authentic, I'd hit the other side of the park, at Grand Lake -- the highest natural lake in the country and one of my favorite places on earth. Great spot to visit winter or summer -- but you need 4wd for both Winter and "mud season". Estes Park is more developed with lots of shopping, but still nice, and once you are in the Park that all disappears. I agree that Bear Lake is lovely but if I had to choose I'd hands down do the Trail as far up as you can get (and take a photo standing next to the snow marker showing it is, probably, higher than you are!)

The drive across the Trail, when open, from Estes Park to Grand Lake is fabulous, includes crossing the Continental Divide, and a place to stop at the top, but probably will still be closed due to snow at that time of year

Not sure where you're from, but Boulder also has some good ethnic restaurants, like Nepalese and Eastern Indian -- tho I don't remember the names. There's a book called (am I right here?) the Pig Book that lists restaurants all over the Denver area...

AND -- if you get really stuck with snow, take a ride out to The Fort, for at least a drink, if not also some Buffalo and Ostrich meat...

And super seriously -- no matter how tempting, do NOT go anywhere without a coat and hat, water, food bars, and a full tank of gas. With those, you can wait out the worst of storms. Without them, it could get ugly.

Sorry if this is a bit disjointed.

Enjoy your trip!

TF
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Feb 29th, 2012, 08:14 PM
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I agree with all the responses for RMNP. However, Trail Ridge Road will be closed until usually Memorial Day weekend at the earliest. Bear Lake is lovely and the park in the winter is a treat. If you stop in Boulder, I love to have tea or lunch at the Dushanbe Tea House right off of Pearl Street-unique spot.
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Mar 2nd, 2012, 09:21 AM
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Take the hour drive up Hwy 6 into the mountains, check out Blackhawk and Central City, stay in a lux hotel for cheap, have the buffet, etc.
http://www.ameristar.com/Black_Hawk.aspx
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Mar 2nd, 2012, 07:54 PM
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I politely disagree with Central City. Gambling is gambling... and cheap buffets are everywhere...

You could also go to Georgetown which is an old mining town... but really, nothing beats RMNP. Tourists come literally from all over the world to see it.

TF
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Mar 4th, 2012, 06:51 AM
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I am not a fan of Central City. We used to drive Hwy 6 all the time, before Central City was re-created for gamblers. Now we don't drive Hwy 6 at all, because there are so many more accidents on it than before. Sorry, but gambling + drinking is no my idea of a mountain retreat. Just IMHO.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 07:06 AM
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Just giving an alternative to RMNP; Trail Ridge almost certainly won't be open until Labor Day, after all.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 07:42 AM
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sylvia, correction: you meant Memorial Day, not Labor Day. Yes, Trail Ridge will not be open in April, when the OP is in town, but there is a LOT to see on the east side of the Park. As mentioned, a great many of the postcard views of the Park were taken on the east.
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Mar 5th, 2012, 07:37 AM
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oops!
Plus, driving back a different route (on 7, southSt. Vrain canyon to Lyons then 36) is also beautiful scenery. Or 7 to 72, Peak to Peak to Nederland (fun arts and crafts shops).
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Mar 5th, 2012, 10:11 PM
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OK, gotta put my two cents worth in for the WEST side of the Park. Beautiful and quiet and friendly -- LOTS to do in terms of lake sports and snowshoeing and skiing and etc -- great place for kids -- sledding and more... but the road is not for the faint of heart during the winter. So I agree on the east side for now OP -- but next time, try Grand Lake.

TF
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