Vacation around Colorado Springs, CO

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Apr 2nd, 2011, 06:03 PM
  #1
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Vacation around Colorado Springs, CO

My family will be in Colorado Springs, CO for 3 days at a Soccer Tournament. Wanting to take another 5-6 days of vacation. Which way to go? We did Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons last year. Thought about the Moab, UT area but worried about the heat in July.

Ideas or suggestions?
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Apr 2nd, 2011, 06:15 PM
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I'd head down to Great Sands -
http://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm

And then over to Durango to see Mesa Verde -
http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm
And take the Durango-Silverton train
http://www.durangotrain.com/

You could head over to Moab, but heat is a concern you could go to one of the ski towns in Colorado and enjoy the summer activities there in the Rockies.

Near Colorado Springs, you could go up to Pike's Peak
and go down into a gold mine at Cripple Creek
http://www.pikes-peak.com/Attraction/20.aspx

How old are the kids?
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Apr 2nd, 2011, 09:07 PM
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They are 14, 12 and 8. All more active than my wife and I, so anything we can do they can do better. (don't tell them I said that)

We enjoy sightseeing, light hiking (more like nature walks), seeing nature, photography, history, etc.

Is Mesa Verde hot in July as well? We're from Illinois, so hot weather is common in July, but don't want it to be unbearable.

Thank you so much for your response so far and I look forward to more.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 05:33 AM
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Another suggestion--head into the mountains to the area around Buena Vista. (It will be much cooler there than Utah or Mesa Verde).

Check out Mt. Princeton Hot Springs
http://www.mtprinceton.com/ There are several pools there and by July Chalk Creek should be running low enough to allow soaking in the springs that run into the creek.

If you want to river raft, there are lots of companies along the Arkansas that offer all levels of rafting--River Runners is the one we've used in the past--but there are many others.
http://www.riverrunnersltd.com/rafti...ista-colorado/

St. Elmo is a ghost town close to Mt. Princeton that is fun to explore
http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/saintelmo.html

Part of the Colorado Trail is very close--and as I recall the hiking was pretty easy in that section
http://www.coloradotrail.org/

The town of Salida is close with restauants and a nice downtown. http://salida.com/ Amica's is great for pizza. http://amicassalida.wordpress.com/

Or if you want a bigger town--head to Breckenridge--it's fun in the summer. http://tinyurl.com/3or8d5z
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 05:33 AM
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Another suggestion--head into the mountains to the area around Buena Vista. (It will be much cooler there than Utah or Mesa Verde).

Check out Mt. Princeton Hot Springs
http://www.mtprinceton.com/ There are several pools there and by July Chalk Creek should be running low enough to allow soaking in the springs that run into the creek.

If you want to river raft, there are lots of companies along the Arkansas that offer all levels of rafting--River Runners is the one we've used in the past--but there are many others.
http://www.riverrunnersltd.com/rafti...ista-colorado/

St. Elmo is a ghost town close to Mt. Princeton that is fun to explore
http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/saintelmo.html

Part of the Colorado Trail is very close--and as I recall the hiking was pretty easy in that section
http://www.coloradotrail.org/

The town of Salida is close with restauants and a nice downtown. http://salida.com/ Amica's is great for pizza. http://amicassalida.wordpress.com/

Or if you want a bigger town--head to Breckenridge--it's fun in the summer. http://tinyurl.com/3or8d5z
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 07:55 AM
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My husband, 19 year old son and I spent a week in Colorado last year, some time at a family reunion in Colorado Springs, some time on a loop starting in Denver/Golden and ending in Colorado Springs

We had been to Pikes Peak and Cripple Creek on an earlier trip so didn't go to those spots, but I agree thy might be of interest to your family.

Other places we saw:

In Leadville (highest town in the US) we toured the mining museum and had lunch. The museum has a lot of interesting exhibits but we didn't think it was very well organized.

From there we enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the Arkansas River on our way to Mt. Princeton hot springs resort mentioned in another post. This is a good resort if you like outdoor activities (horseback riding, biking,hiking, rafting, tennis) with gorgeous scenery of the Collegiate range. The resort has cabins for rent but we stayed in one of the "cliff side" rooms. We ate in the dining room there, which was fine.

From there we took a rather indirect route to our next overnight stop in Manitou Springs--south to Salida, where we ate lunch, east as far as Canon City, then NW on Route 9 to Hartsel and east on Rte 24 . Many beautiful mountain vistas.

West of Manitou Springs on Rte 24 we stopped for about an hour at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. I was fascinated to learn that this area once had huge redwoods.

In Manitou Springs we walked around town, sampled some of the mineral water springs and had a good dinner at the Adams Mountain Cafe in the historic spa building.

The next morning we spent several hours at Garden of the Gods which is a really beautiful spot, before heading to the family reunion in Colorado Springs. On our earlier trip to the area we had visited and enjoyed the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site right near the Garden of the Gods visitor center, but was not open for the season yet during our last trip.

Most of the rest of the trip was family time. Our main tourist outing in Colorado Springs was to the Cheyenne Mt zoo and Will Rogers shrine (combined ticket). I usually don't like zoos, but this is a good one. Our 19 year old was not very enthusiastic when we started out but later listed the zoo as one of his favorite tourist sites on the trip. The shrine is has great views and quite a lot of interesting information about Will Rogers and the Penrose family who built the shrine and many other buildings in Colorado Springs.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 08:48 AM
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To answer your question about Mesa Verde, yes, it's quite hot. The bigger issue, though, is that there is very little shade and it's very dry. Keeping hydrated is a must. I formerly lived in Chicago, so I know what the heat is like there. It's more a matter of recognizing that if you visit Mesa Verde, it will be several hours (or whatever amount of time you spend outside in the park) in direct sunlight. But there are few places in the world like Mesa Verde in terms of historic value, and very few indeed in the U.S.

You've gotten a lot of good suggestions. If you want a destination that's closer to Colorado Springs, consider one of the mountain towns, such as Breckenridge or Vail. Plenty of biking, walking/hiking, gondola rides, beautiful scenery, old gold mines. You could visit Leadville from either Breck or Vail. Really, the only activity that's not convenient from either of those towns is white water rafting; you can do it, it's just a longer car or van ride to get to the rivers.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 09:25 AM
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For your children's ages I would go to Mesa Verde. It is a truly wonderful site.
Also while you are in CO Springs, go over to Woodland Park and tour the dinosaur museum there. It is VERY nice--and educational.
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Apr 3rd, 2011, 09:27 AM
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Oh, and hydration isn't just a need where it is hot. It is an absolute need for the altitude of Colorado. Drink drink drink, all the time. AND sunscreen.
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Apr 5th, 2011, 09:17 AM
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If you do the Durango-Mesa Verde trip, your kids might enjoy the alpine slide at the Purgatory Ski Resort outside Durango on the way to Silverton. Our boys have loved it!
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Apr 19th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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Some great ideas and more to think about. I'm sure we won't get back into this area anytime soon, so really thinking about fitting in the biggies. Still in the planning stages and again, lots to consider. I know heat may be an issue in middle of July, but thinking about hitting Arches, Mesa Verde and than fill in the days and time around that.

More suggestions or ideas are always welcome!!!

Colorado Springs - July 14th till 17th.
Arches National Park for a day or so
Mesa Verde for a day or two
Thinking about continuing south to Santa Fe, NM, area then head towards Texas on our way back to Illinois.
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Apr 19th, 2011, 08:23 PM
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That's a nice route with great stops, but you don't want to miss one of the most beautiful drives in the world - the Million Dollar Highway (Hwy 550). Last summer we started in St. Louis with stops at Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs. Then we spent several days in Crested Butte after a thrilling, nail-biter drive over Cottonwood Pass (though the natives seem to zoom up and down it without a thought). Next we headed to Durango via Ouray and Million Dollar Highway. The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was a great day (do the train up, bus back). You can top it off with Mesa Verde for two days. Honestly, the heat - even in August - was not a huge factor at MV for us. I would not let that deter you from going there at that time of the year unless you have health issues. We loved visiting parts of it at different times of the day, and our boys, 5 and 9, were very taken by it. The humidity was low, and we made sure to stay hydrated because of the altitude. We also did a quick loop through Arches on our way up to 70 to head back home...that was great but HOT in a way MV was not - if you go in July or August you'll definitely have to time your days for early morning and evening hikes if you want to do more than a drive through. I do think going from MV to Taos/Sante Fe to home (though we didn't do it) would be a great way to get back. Whatever you decide, you'll have a great trip!
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