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  1. Default start end in denver, include pikes peak, great sands, fairplay with 3 kids

    Hi. Looking for ideas for a road trip starting and ending in Denver in early August. My kids are 6, 9, 12.

    We love baseball, hockey, natural beauty, quirky local flavor, history and science, and comfort –that is, we are not campers or extreme-adventurers, not that we can afford luxury. I like having everything figured out beforehand. I prefer not to drive more than 2-4 hours at a time and like the idea of staying more than one night where it's worth it. I have 10-12 days.

    Was thinking of an itinerary that includes:
    -pikes peak
    -caves of the winds
    -great sand dunes
    -south park city (that is, the "authentic cowboy town?").

    I can research Denver, but would appreciate the inside scoop on the rest. When I look at above, it is a partial circle. How would you close it, circle or other shape, back to Denver?

    For example, is Rocky Mountain Park or Boulder or Dinosaur Monument worth adding? Or, if you DON'T recommend some part of my itinerary sketch and have alternatives, I'd like your opinion as well.

    What would you recommend, in between or nearby these stops?

    Where would you make as a base for any of these stops?

    I've seen some great ideas for food stops and unusual attractions from your community for other trips: do you have any for this one?

    Anything of interest in Pueblo, Salida, Frisco, or Boulder?

    Any comments about the weather?

    THANK YOU, DEAR RTA, FOR SUCH A RESOURCE. So much to study it's overwhelming!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default That Part of Colorado

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    My wife and I spent a week in that neck of the woods a little while back, and although our main destinations were a bit north of where you're going, some of the places you might like are Garden of the Gods and the Sky Sox in Colorado Springs, and the Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave in Golden. There's a small Natural History Museum buried in one of the CU buildings in Boulder and Pearl Street is always a hoot. We also really liked hiking around Breckenridge in the summer. Oh, and South Park City is a recreation.

    AZBuck

  3. Default what do you think of...

    Here are my new thoughts (thank you AZBuck!) which may not be in the right order, so feel free to correct:

    Denver a couple of days
    McGraw Memorial Park, Bailey
    Jefferson?
    South Park City, Fairplay
    Salida Hot Springs
    Stay over in Salida
    Monarch Pass, Monarch
    Great Sand Dunes National Park
    Stay somewhere here?

    Then, somehow, add to that:

    Colorado Springs area:
    Pikes Peak
    Garden of the Gods
    Larkspur

    I read that Cave of the Winds is corny and not necessarily worth the admission. What do you think?

    Is the Royal Gorge worth adding? Where would you put it in the loop? I saw it placed after Monarch Pass on one person's itinerary where they headed back to Denver after that, but I am not going back to Denver until after the Colorado Springs area. (Unless you recommend looping back to Denver at some point.) How then would you loop in Great Sands, backtracking?

    And Steamboat Springs sounds worth visiting-- do you agree, and where would you put that, in the beginning or end of this loop?

    and where would you recommend rodeo or dude ranch in this loop? We can't do luxury but we'd like nice!

    THANKS DEAR RTA.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Don't Go Overboard

    One of the main points of a vacation is to relax. Your trip is starting to sound like "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium". I had a list that was shorter than what you've got already when I spent ten days or so in that area, and I didn't get to everything even at that.

    It's been over 40 years since I was at Royal Gorge, and given the other stuff on your itinerary, that's one that I'd pass. It is privately owned and doesn't really go anywhere. In fact I believe the bridge was built simply to get tourists to come there. Sorry, I don't know Cave of the Winds.

    AZBuck

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default my trip

    I guess you've decided to scale things back from your previous plans for a summer trip?

    I agree with Buck that you might still be pushing too hard to fit in everything under the sun.

    Many of the places you are talking about I visited on my own trip to Colorado a couple years back. I suggest you take a look at the suggestions I recieved, as well as my report. You'll see I was not a big fan of Royal Gorge, and I thought stopping at "South Park" was fun because of the connection to the TV show, the only thing we really did there was stop for souvieners and played a game of home run derby at "Two Mile High Stadium" on the edge of town.

  6. #6

    Default Over the Pass- Cottonwood Pass

    Hi momo,

    I know little of most of the areas you mention but have traversed the pass between Fairplay and Breckinridge, and it's a very cool drive with incredible views.

    You mentioned Salida Hot Springs and Monarch Pass. Let me suggest looking at traversing Cottonwood Pass from west to east and stopping at Cottonwood Hot Springs. The pass is accessed from Gunnison, where you drive north towards Crested Butte ski resort, thence northeast to Taylor Park Reservoir. The views at Taylor Park are breathtaking to begin with, then the road reverts to gravel (at least it did in 1994) and climbs up to Cottonwood Pass. Even though gravel surfaced, my group did the traverse in a rental sedan with no problems whatsoever. At the pass, you're at around 10,000' and are in the midst of a group of "Fourteeners". Pretty much unreal views. You pick up pavement at the pass and travel down towards Buena Vista. Around 1/2 way down, you pass Cottonwood Hot Springs, a developed hot spring resort. It was rustic when I was there, but it looked like a fun stop.

    It sounds like a fun trip! Enjoy the planning and the trip itself.

    Foy

  7. Default considering this loop

    Hello! I am thinking of adding this itinerary to my road trip thus:

    CO:
    Glenwood Springs
    Loma
    Rangely
    Dinosaur
    UT:
    Naples
    Vernal (where are the funny dinosaurs?)
    WY:
    Rock Springs
    Jackson
    Question: How long is the ride between Rock Springs and Jackson? Is Rock Springs a good place to stay overnight?
    On to Old Faithful-- how long is the ride from Jackson to Yellowstone? I know it's 95 miles, but don't know how slow the ride is.
    From Old Faithful, how many hours is the ride to Rawlins and where might I stop in between for scenery/bite/interesting sight?
    And where is it better to stay, Rawlins or Laramie?
    Then, on to Fort Collins and I'll leave for the East out of Denver.

    FYI: We love natural beauty, quirky local flavor, history and science, and comfort –that is, we are not campers, extreme hikers, or extreme-adventurers, not that we can afford luxury. I like having everything figured out beforehand. I prefer not to drive more than 2-4 hours at a time and like the idea of staying more than one night where it's worth it. I am hoping to do the above trip in 5-7 days in mid August.

    Thank you RTA!!
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 08-02-2008 at 08:15 AM. Reason: Moved Post - Please Keep Your Questions About This Trip to One Thread

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default I'm a bit confused

    Are you still going to the places you listed in the first post in this thread for 10-12 days? Are the latest ideas in your most recent post an addition 5-7 days, for a total of 15-19 days? Or part of the 10-12 day trip?

    Yeah, Vernal has some funny dinosaurs in town but the real attraction is its location near the entrance of Dinosaur National Monument. Are you planning on stopping there? Many people have reported great fun there.

    Question: How long is the ride between Rock Springs and Jackson? Is Rock Springs a good place to stay overnight?
    Figure about 4 hours for the drive. Rock Springs is a common stop-over for travelers and, as such, has a decent selection of various chain motels to choose from. It should be fine.

    On to Old Faithful-- how long is the ride from Jackson to Yellowstone? I know it's 95 miles, but don't know how slow the ride is.
    It's hard to answer how long it will take to get to Old Faithful as the roads will be crowded. How crowded depends on too many factors. But summer is the busiest time. I think I'd budget about 3 hours to get from Jackson to Old Faithful. Part of that is to get into the park as you can expect some waiting at the entrance. If it takes less time than this, consider it a bonus.

    From Old Faithful, how many hours is the ride to Rawlins and where might I stop in between for scenery/bite/interesting sight?
    About 6 hours. Of course there are tons of interesting sites while in the Yellowstone/Grand Teton areas. Hopefully you will have already taken time for many of them before you head out. AAA has good reviews for these restaurants: The Sawmill in Dubois and The Hitching Rack in Landers.

    And where is it better to stay, Rawlins or Laramie? Then, on to Fort Collins and I'll leave for the East out of Denver.
    Both would be fine with a good selection of motels to choose from. It really depends on which day you want to do that 1.5 hour drive from Rawlins to Laramie.

  9. Default I'm starting to think I'm being overambitious

    Yes, I intended to add a Yellowstone loop to my Denver-Colorado Springs loop. My new itinerary, without considering the info Judy has now given me, for 14 days:

    Denver for 3 nites
    Colorado Springs: Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs, Garden of Gods
    Salida, for passthrough Monarch (but I might skip this?)
    Glenwood Springs, because Foy suggested it in another thread for overnight
    Rock Spring overnight
    Jackson for Tetons, 1-2 nights
    Yellowstone 2-3 nights
    Rawlins/Laramie overnight
    Ft. Collins/Denver

    with the stopovers listed above (naples, etc.). I am in CO for 15 nights and have only booked hotels for Denver bookends and for Colorado Springs.

    That it would take so long just to go through the parks sends me back to the drawing board. I had read somewhere a suggestion to go through Thermapolis and staying in Cooke City or West Yellowstone.
    Last edited by momof3east; 08-02-2008 at 11:27 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,318

    Default I'm still confused

    Sorry.

    You state you are staying 1-2 nights in Jackson to explore the Tetons and 2-3 nights in Yellowstone to explore things there. This should give you enough time to enjoy the highlights of these two parks.

    The parks are congested with traffic in the summer. You will have to plan for that regardless of where you enter the park from and where you go afterwards. You will have the same issues with West Yellowstone, Thermopolis, etc. I suggest you just plan on getting on the road early. A lot of people sleep in while vacationing so an early start should get you out of the park in time to avoid the worst of the congestion.

    Also, if you are planning on stay in/near the Tetons and Yellowstone, you really need to get lodging reservations ASAP. I wouldn't try to wing this. These are very popular areas in the summer.

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