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  1. #1

    Default Maryland to Colorado Road Trip

    Hello everyone!

    Several months back I posted an utterly insane road trip I had planned, and thankfully, you all gave me a much-needed wake up call. After some unforeseen circumstances, my road trip plan has morphed several times more and this is the finalized version that I think will work. Of course, I would like the opinions of those with more extensive knowledge than myself.

    I am 18, as is my best friend, with whom I am taking this trip. We will be driving from Frederick, Maryland to do a road trip in Colorado (one friend bailed last minute, so this is as far as we can go). My best friend bought a 2012 VW Jetta, so that's what we'll be driving, and both of us are experienced. Here is the itinerary we are planning on using - if you have any feedback (is this still too much/are we crazy?), tips, estimated costs (around $2000/person?), or ideas of places to visit, especially around Grand Junction, it would be much welcome and appreciated.

    July 3rd: Leave at 7am. Arrive in Louisville, KY that evening. 565 miles, approx. 9 hours. Stay in Louisville.
    July 4th: Leave at 7am. Arrive in Topeka, KS that evening. 569 miles, approx. 9 hours. Celebrate the 4th here. Stay in Topeka.
    July 5th: Leave at 7am. Arrive in Boulder, CO that evening. 558 miles, approx. 8.5 hours. Maybe see show at Red Rocks Ampitheatre? Stay in Boulder.
    July 6th: Explore Rocky Mountain NP. Bridal Veil Falls? Stay in Boulder again.
    July 7th: Explore Rocky Mountain NP. Stay in Boulder.
    July 8th: Drive to Grand Junction, CO. 232 miles, approx. 4 hours. Explore along the way - take time getting there, or look into more things to do along the way/in the town. Stay in Grand Junction.
    July 9th: Explore Grand Junction area. Stay in Grand Junction.
    July 10th: Drive to Montrose, CO. 60 miles, approx. 1.5 hours. Explore Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. Stay in Montrose.
    July 11th: Explore Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP. North Vista Trail? Stay in Montrose.
    July 12th: Drive to Durango, CO. 107 miles, approx. 3 hours. Explore Mesa Verde NP. Stay in Durango.
    July 13th: Drive to Alamosa, CO. 149 miles, approx. 3.5 hours. Explore Great Sand Dunes NP - SAND SLEDDING! Stay in Alamosa.
    July 14th: Drive to Lawson, OK. 379 miles, approx. 6.5 hours. Stay with my stepsister and her husband.
    July 15th: Leave at 7am. Drive to Magazine, AR. 446 miles, approx. 7.5 hours. Hike Mount Magazine. Stay in Magazine.
    July 16th: Drive to Cookeville, TN. 541 miles, approx. 9 hours. Stay in Cookeville.
    July 17th: Drive home. 577 miles, approx. 9.5 hours.

    Yes, these driving times were calculated using Google Maps, so I know that they won't necessarily be accurate, hence the rounding, but the mileage should be correct. We could cut back a day in Colorado and leave a bit earlier to have shorter drives on the way home, but I personally feel content with this level of driving - once again, I would like some outside opinions. Thank you all! :)

    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 06-16-2016 at 01:07 PM. Reason: Added link to original plans.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    A little bit better planned this time!

    To get a better idea of time-in-the-car, take those mileages. Divide by 60-65 if driving on interstates, or 50-55 on 2 lane roads. Still, that isn't rocket science. You may have construction bringing you to a complete halt, if you are on I-70 west of Denver around Dillon and Silverthorn. It can delay you for an hour.

    Mesa Verde National Park -- to see the ruins up close, you are going to have to sign up for a tour. So be sure to get online first and see how to make reservations.

    Donna (just drove the 70 in CO today)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    If you are using Google drive times, just add 20% for a realistic estimate. This will account for delays and "normal" stops (fuel, food, bathroom, etc.). Sightseeing will add more time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    I think you would be better off leaving Montrose and driving to Mesa Verde [Durango or Cortez] on the afternoon of the 11th to give yourself plenty of time for Mesa Verde.

    Another thought is that rather than heading back to Boulder again on the 7th you could drive the Trail Ridge road through RMNP [providing it's open] and stay around Grand Lake or Granby, it would save backtracking.

  5. #5


    My 2 cents: consider skipping Grand Junction and instead driving from Denver/Boulder to Montrose, CO, via US 285 South and then US 50 West, for exploring the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

    From Gunnison drive on US 550 South via Ouray to Durgango. Instead of staying in Durango, suggest staying closer to Mesa Verde, such as Mancos or Cortez. Durango is quite far to Mesa Verde NP... it is at least a half hour drive from the hwy exit to the visitor center to the places you would want to visit in Mesa Verde. The traffic between Durango and Mesa Verde can be slow going at times. Durango is a nice town but just not close to MVNP.

    If you are staying in Cortez a couple of nights (depending upon your ability to get a tour booking in Mesa Verde NP), you could use a day for a circle route to Four Corners --> Cayenta --> through the Monument Valley area to Mexican Hat --> Rt. 261 to the Moki Dugway, Muley Point Overlook --> National Bridges National Monument --> Monticello --> Cortez. Long day but some beautiful breathtaking scenery.

    Expect you will be purchasing a National Parks Annual Pass. Have fun!

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