Southwest Colorado Trip

Jan 12th, 2009, 09:26 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 47
Southwest Colorado Trip

We are thinking of a 10 or 11 day vacation to southwest Colorado in late May/early June.

The main focus would be the San Juan Skyway loop with a short side trip to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

The first option would be to fly to Denver and then drive to Durango, drive the loop and back to Denver. The cost of a flight to Denver is about half price of that to Durango, and the drive of about 6 hours (???) seems worth it. Ont he loop, I was thinking of dividing the 8 nights or so we have between Durango, in or near Mesa Verde, near the Black Canyon, and Ouray or Siverton.

Does this seem about right, or should we make less hotel stops and just drive a bit more between places. We are interested in moderate amounts of hiking, some relaxing, and seeing the "old west" towns.

Any tips on how to break up the trip and suggestions on places to stay (up to $150 per night) would be appreciated. Also, is the railroad from Durango to Silverton worth the time/cost for two adults if we are dring there anyway?

The other option would be to fly directly to Durango and skip Denver.

Howie234 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 09:50 AM
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If it works for you, fly to Albuquerque and drive to Durango. The drive is about 3 hours. The drive from Denver to Durango is around 7 hours. Southwest flies to ABQ and they have their seats available now for this time period. Be sure take a bit of detour and go to Tent Rocks and do the hike. Great rock formations.

Also, be sure to stop at Chaco Canyon on your way to Durango.

Do you want to stay in B&B type of places or hotels, motels??

The train ; always a tricky question. Yes, you can drive from Durango to Silverton and see alot of the same scenery. Taking the train will take you more into the trees. Take the train only one way and then take the bus the other way. Silverton is a nice stop, but really doesn't warrant a lot of time. The train leaves you to eat [not anything great either] at local places and gift shops. The trian is nice because the "driver" will get to look see too. You can't look and drive the San Juan Skyway, but there are good pulloffs.

Will you want to do an off road tour? If you are able to, it is fun. Very bumpy and if you have a problem with heights, it might be a problem.

I can give you lots of ideas on places to stay, eat etc. with a bit more info.
DebitNM is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 11:06 AM
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heres some photos of the the 4 Corners click on "view all" then "Mesa Verde"

we rode the train 1/2 way then went ziplinning. train is pretty scenic
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 11:07 AM
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with 10 or 11 days, if you drive from Denver, do a loop and on the way back stop off for a day at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Yep, tons of sands in the middle of the mountains.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 11:08 AM
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with 10 or 11 days, if you drive from Denver, do a loop and on the way back stop off for a day at Great Sand Dunes National Park. Yep, tons of sands in the middle of the mountains. Around the end of May there is a creek that does some tricks flowing right through the park. The trick is that the water piles up on the sand and then comes in the form of shallow waves every minute of so. Best time for this is usually then end of May and 1st of June.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 11:13 AM
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by the way, we flew into Cortez, last year far cheaper than we could into Durango. Don't know what the deal was with that. Cortez is a tiny airport with about 3 or 4 flights a day. It is close to Mesa Verde. So you might want to check on it.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 11:17 AM
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spiro, you were lucky with a good fare into Cortez. There are just 2 flights in and out a day to Denver and it is a fortune for that flight alone. You must have gotten a good deal on the entire ticket.

DebitNM is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 11:19 AM
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We did a similar trip last June (with much help from Deb's posts). We flew into Albuquerque, spent the night at an airport hotel because we got in late. We were making our base in Telluride, which is a little out of the way, but beautiful. We left Albuquerque and stopped in Durango for lunch (I think it took about 3 hours) and to look around, and then onto Telluride. We went to the Black Canyon of Gunnison one day. I think we did the south rim...whichever would have been closer..and really enjoyed that. We did the train from Durango to Silverton and then the bus from Silverton back to Durango. My husband and I liked it, but our kids got bored after the first 2 hours or so. We thought Silverton was pretty cool. Of the towns we visited, it seemed to be the most "Old West". We loved Ouray. The drive from Silverton to Ouray and then over to Telluride was very scenic. As to whether the train is worth it, I guess it all depends. My husband enjoyed it the most, since someone else had to "drive" and he could sit back and enjoy the scenery. I enjoyed it too, but I also enjoyed the scenery on the drive (however, I was the passenger and not the driver so I could look around). It's a beautiful part of the country. We also spent a couple of nights in Santa Fe on our way back to Albuquerque.

Kathysa is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 04:49 PM
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For some reason, if you book the ticket about 10 or 11 months in advance, you get a pretty low fair into Cortez or Moab. These are both served by Great Lakes Airlines. which is flying on a Bumble Bee without an attendant or bathroom. I love how the pilot just looks around and says buckle up. it is pretty funny.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 09:28 AM
Original Poster
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Thanks for all of your input.

I checked flights to Cortez,and they were very expensive, so that option appears to be out. Even though the drive from Denver is farther than from Albuquerque, we will probably choose the former, since we have been to Albuquerque and Santa Fe before, but never to Denver except briefly on business. The Sand Dunes idea seems great.

As far as the type of place we would like to stay at, we are open to hotels/motels/B&B's. A palce with a hot tub would be nice, but not at all mandatory.

As for location we would rather be in the center of a town, than out on the edges (e.g. in Durango). Would also be open to staying out of town - e.g. at the one place to stay within Mesa Verde Park.
Howie234 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 11:09 AM
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I would definately stay in the park at Mesa Verde. Two historical Hotels (names slips my mind right now) are nice in Durango. Strater is the name of the one that we stayed in. The airport in Denver is a heck of a long way from the city.
spirobulldog is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 07:13 PM
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We did a similar trip in 2007 and had a great time. You will really like Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Make sure you get on the web site and order your tickets ahead of time as they did not take walkups when we went (boat ride). It was definitely worth it to do the boat trip. I definitely recommend at least one full day and maybe two at Mesa Verde. There are lots of great hikes there...we did the Petroglyph hike and highly recommend it. We also did some mountain biking and golfing on the on my screen name and read my report if you wish. Have a great trip!
rockie is offline  
Jan 14th, 2009, 07:14 PM
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Welike St. Elmo's B&B but there are a number of motel like places too. Try to stay in one that is not on Main Street, but rather a side road. Main St has a lot of traffic on it as it is the main road in the area. Try:

Best Western Twin Peaks,

Box Canyon Lodge


Apple Orchard Inn - it is north of town, but it one of THE nicest places we have ever stayed in. The hosts are really nice and breakfast is excellent. They have hot tub, but Trimble Hots Springs is right down the road.

In town, there are 2 grand dames; rooms aren't large but are charming
The Strater
General Palmer
There are also the usual motel places including Holiday Inn, Doubletree, Best Western, Wyndham.

2 choices for accommodations - in Mountain Village and in town of Telluride.
In town, Victorian Inn is best price. It is simple but clean.
New Sheridan; Hotel Telluride are nice but expensive.

Mountain Village has mostly condo type places; it is easy to get into town via the free gondola. Most of the restaurants and shopping is in Telluride proper.

Staying at Mesa Verde NP is a nice thing, so you can see sunset. It makes sense if you are going to spend more than 1 day at the park as the drive in and out can take an hour each way. Far View Lodge is the only place inside the park. Cortez is nearby [10 minute drive from entrance] and has a nice Comfort Inn and Holiday Inn Express as well as a lovely B&B - The Lebanon Schoolhouse.
Here are 2 links that should help you:

Check out this old thread, it has some good links to other threads and websites:

Let me know when you are ready for restaurants.

DebitNM is offline  

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