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  1. Default Aussie family Denver to Salt Lake City 14 nights Oct 2014-Any help would be great

    Hi everyone we are a family from Australia children 15 and 12. We are heading to USA and part of the trip is a road trip for 14 nights from Denver to Salt Lake city. We have already done Grand Canyon, Zion,Bryce and Yellowstone (though one day I would love to go back here we loved it so much ). So our plan at the moment is
    Arrive Denver at lunch time 2nd October and drive to Estes Park stay over night
    3rd October up early and drive Trail Ridge Road and head to Glenwood Springs for the night
    4th October Ouray/Silverton. Not sure which to stay at and for how many nights. Want to do the million dollar highway here.
    This is where I get a bit lost as not sure how long and where
    We want to do Mesa Verde then onto Moab before heading to SLV to fly home via LAX.

    I would love some feedback on places we should go that I have missed, how long we should stay in each place and that includes the start of the trip if we should spend more time in Estes Park and the RMNP.

    I have done lots of reading but I am still confused on exactly what to do. Also has anyone done this road trip and do they think it is a good idea. I am really open to any options suggestions etc. Thank you so much in advance for any help you can offer.

  2. Default

    It certainly sounds like you know what you're doing.

    Arrive Denver at lunch time 2nd October and drive to Estes Park stay over night
    - 76 miles, maybe a bit far especially if you have any flight or immigration delays?

    3rd October up early and drive Trail Ridge Road and head to Glenwood Springs for the night
    - 170 miles (from Estes Park) - no probs.

    4th October Ouray/Silverton.
    - how about Montrose (143 miles, via Grand Mesa - would need to check that road is ok when you're travelling though, it goes up high - otherwise via Grand Junction)? Then visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in the afternoon - it's a great little park with superb views down the sheer sided canyon, and you can drive down to the bottom as well.

    Want to do the million dollar highway here.
    - Yes, great, one of the world's most scenic roads - but scary in bad weather. BTW the Telluride road is also extremely scenic, and also dodgy in bad weather.

    - Then I'd suggest driving to Durango or Cortez (plenty of motels in either).

    We want to do Mesa Verde
    - Superb park. Give it at least one full day, possibly two - by now you'll need a rest from driving. As well as Chapin Mesa, the drive out to Wetherill Mesa and the Long House tour is extremely worthwhile. Be sure to stop at Park Point and walk up to the lookout point (also look for the historic stain in the parking area where our rental car decided to deposit its radiator water one year :) )

    Then onto Moab
    - Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point - one day.
    - Arches - one day, maybe two - Double Arch is great and only a very short flat trail.
    - BTW Ut128 between Moab and I-70 runs alongside the Colorado River with huge red sandstone cliffs towering above you on each side, it's like driving through the bottom of the Grand Canyon, great road.

    before heading to SLV to fly home via LAX.
    - Maybe Capitol Reef National Park if time allows?

    - Sorry not to offer more specific advice about how long to spend in each place but so much depends on your personal preferences - and the weather. At that time of the year you won't need to book any accommodation in advance other than the first night, just keep a few days ahead with provisional bookings made while you're travelling, especially at weekends, so you can be flexible.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Getting to Estes Park the day you arrive might be a bit much, if you are flying in from Australia. Yes, it's only an hour and a half or so of a drive, but it will be coming after you have been traveling for well over 24 hours (factoring time at the airport before and after the flights). Also, If you land around noon, your body is going to be thinking that it is about 4am the next day, because of the 16 hour time difference. You might be better off sticking to a hotel in Denver on day one.

    After Silverton, the Million Dollar Highway takes you to Durango, and from there you can continue onto Mesa Verde pretty easily. You might also consider checking out the Narrow Gauge Railroad between Durango and Silverton.

    Between Mesa Verde and Moab, I'd look and heading to Monument Valley, and then up through Utah, perhaps adding in places like Goosenecks State Park, a drive up the Moki Dugway, and Natural Bridges National Monument. You could also consider spending a little time in the Needles sections of Canyonlands National Park before you get to Moab for Arches and the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The Trail Ridge Road and more.

    Hi Curtis, better have a plan B for 3rd October. There is no guarantee that The Trail Ridge Road will be open to drive. This road which is at well over 12000' is subject to blizzards any day of the year. In 2001 it closed in August, in 2004 in July, in 2007 in June and in 2009 in September. I finally drove it a week later in 2009. Well worth the wait.

    If you are fortunate to find it open, don't measure it by miles or mph. Allow time for it. (I think I took almost two hours one way.) Allow time to savour the pull-offs on the way up, and down. Check out the Alpine centre at the apex and the many spots where you will get spectacular views over the mountains. Views you will never get at home.

    If you are unfortunate to find it closed, be sure to still drive up as far as you can. The view points along the way are still worth the trip. You will be well above 2 miles above sea level.

    When you travel along I-70 west of Denver, be sure to take the detour onto US6 over Loveland Pass, the only mountain pass which is kept open all year round. This too is a wonderful trip and place with some great short hikes up the top. If you are into really enjoying this mountain scen ery and atmosphere, especially with teenagers, be sure to allow plenty of time to really make for memorable moments.

    Do you have any maps or a road atlas from previous trips? Are you aware that you can get free maps and tourist information from the AAA with your membership from home? You don't say where you are from, but if you are a member of RACV, NRMA or similar, be sure to bring it with you.

    I find it useful to take home maps to help in planning the next trip. If you know the region you would like to cover next time, get the maps before you go home. Makes planning so much easier when you can see all the attractions, parks and scenic routes on proper maps, rather than within the confines of a computer monitor.

    I would also second Michael's suggestion that you stay in Denver for the first night if you are flying in direct from Oz.

    Last edited by Lifemagician; 05-04-2014 at 04:13 PM. Reason: I goofed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default More time for RMNP.

    I would also recommend spending the first night in Denver, but whether you do or not I would allow an extra night at the start of your journey for Rocky mountian NP before heading over the Trail Ridge road, if open. Near to Estes Park you will find the Bear Lake area with plenty of sight seeing and walking around the lakes to be be enjoyed. Ouray and Silverton are both wonderful towns and as suggested above, Black Canyon is worth a visit. After Mesa Verde you could head up to Telluride and back towards Grand junction and Fruita where nearby you will find Colorado National monument, or as mentioned head to Monument Valley via Four corners and up the Moki Dugway. I wouldn't let the fact you have been to Bryce before stop you going again and if you didn't drive Utah scenic 12 through Escalante last time, it's worth the drive. Capitol Reef between Hanksville and Torrey is a great park and another wonderful drive.

  6. Default

    The Moki Dugway is an unpaved road. AFAIK all rental car agreements forbid the driving of their vehicles on unpaved roads. Is that right?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Good question.

    It's a good point John and one that only each company could clarify for sure I would imagine. It's a bit of a grey area in the fact that you are on a State Highway when you come across this section of gravel road, rather than having turned off a highway onto an unmade road. So technically it's unpaved but part of a highway. Hmm ??

  8. Default

    Alamo's web site:
    "Vehicle shall not be driven on an unpaved road or off-road."

    " Prohibited Use of the Car...
    It is a violation of this paragraph if:
    You use or permit the car to be used: 1) by anyone other than an authorized driver, as defined in paragraph 3 above; 2) to carry passengers or property for hire: 3) to tow or push anything; 4) to be operated in a test, race or contest, or on unpaved roads"

    "You are fully responsible and liable for Damages under caluse 6 where the vehicle is used on any road or other surface which is not sealed other than a road under repair, short access roads to National or State Parks, tourist attraction or holiday accomodation, or a road notified to You by Hertz, unless the vehicle is a four wheel drive"
    (their spelling)

    But - is a state highway a road???

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Can you hear the duck quacking?

    Ya know if it walks like a duck..... it's a duck. The Moki Dugway is considered by all rental car companies as being off-highway....

    Here is a thread -- where Southwest Dave is shown driving a rental RV on the road...


  10. Default WOW thank you all so much

    Thank you all so so much. This is great and gives me so much to work with. I am going to sit down later this week and try and nut out a good plan, and have a back up if Trail Ridge Road is not open. Again thank you all for your help.

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