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  1. Default Help planning road trip from Austin to Denver in 7 days

    We are a family of five, 2 adults and 3 kids ages 11, 5 and 2. We are planning a roadtrip going from Austin to Denver and back in about 7 days if this is doable, looking for advise on that.

    We are planning on leaving Austin on Saturday March 4 around 8-9am looking to drive to Amarillo that day to see family. Sunday we are thinking of drive to Pueblo or Colorado springs. Here we want to do the COG rail and see the Garden of the Gods. Also thinking about the Cheyenne mountain zoo. Are their any other great things to see or do in this area please let me know.

    So we figure we will spend Monday and part of Tuesday here and then drive up to Denver that night. So Wed we are thinking about seeing the Denver Aquarium and Museum of Nature & Science. Any other things to do or see in this area please let me know.

    Thursday we are thinking about going to the rocky mountain national park or instead of that heading to Mesa Verde National Park. Any advise or which is worth it more and which is more doable would be greatly appreciated as Mesa Verde seems pretty far compared to Rocky Mountain.

    Friday we plan on headed back as we would like to be home by Sunday mid day at the latest. Any suggestions on things to do or see or restaurants in these areas would be great. Does this trip seem doable with all the things we hope to see. Any and all advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Ramiro

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,505

    Default

    Welcome to RTA! Your trip sounds like it could be wonderful, but sometimes those of us who live in warmer climates tend to forget that some parts of the US, including Colorado, could be bathed in snow and cold weather in early March.

    Austin to Amarillo is over 500 miles, so if you want to have enough time to visit family, you might want to plan on your departure at least 9-10 hours before you want to arrive. The next day is about 360 miles, some of it on US highways, which may make the trip 7-8 hours. Check the weather before you leave home, and then again before you leave Amarillo heading north.

    Be careful not to overplan what you do in each area. It starts to feel like a marathon, slugging through so many different places that you don't see any of them well. You also have shorter daylight hours for things like the COG railway up Pikes Peak, and the Garden of the Gods.

    To help you out, you may want to save both of the national parks for another trip, another season. I suggest that because, at Rocky Mountain, the two main roads through the park (and its main attractions) are closed through late May and mid-July. Getting TO Mesa Verde from Denver or Colorado Springs means you are going to have to go over the mountains, and the weather may/may not be cooperative.

    One of the good things about postponing RMNP and MVNP would be more time to do the things in Colorado Springs and Denver that you mentioned. There are tours of the US Mint available (free!). If any of your family is into the outdoor life, REI's flagship store is in Denver.


    Donna

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12,987

    Default

    Mesa Verde is about 7 hours of driving from Denver, so that would be a dramatically different choice than Rocky Mountain NP - which is about 2 hours away.

    Mesa Verde also requires guided tours to see some of the most interesting features of the park, so it takes even more time to explore than many parks.

    There are a lot of great things to see between Denver and Mesa Verde (Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Million Dollar Highway to name a couple) but I think it would be difficult to include both on the same trip with just a week, especially with your plans to spend a couple of those days in Colorado Springs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,696

    Default

    In the Colorado Springs area you also have Caves of the Wind near to Pikes Peak. If you are spending a couple of days getting there while visiting family and a couple of days around Colorado Springs before going to Denver then that's 5 of the 8 days accounted for and Denver to Austin is a couple of days driving. It might be wise just to break the drive home up rather than adding a lot more miles of driving. You could visit Great Sand dunes NP, Taos Pueblo and head home via Santa Fe for example.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DonnaR57 View Post
    Welcome to RTA! Your trip sounds like it could be wonderful, but sometimes those of us who live in warmer climates tend to forget that some parts of the US, including Colorado, could be bathed in snow and cold weather in early March.

    Austin to Amarillo is over 500 miles, so if you want to have enough time to visit family, you might want to plan on your departure at least 9-10 hours before you want to arrive. The next day is about 360 miles, some of it on US highways, which may make the trip 7-8 hours. Check the weather before you leave home, and then again before you leave Amarillo heading north.

    Be careful not to overplan what you do in each area. It starts to feel like a marathon, slugging through so many different places that you don't see any of them well. You also have shorter daylight hours for things like the COG railway up Pikes Peak, and the Garden of the Gods.

    To help you out, you may want to save both of the national parks for another trip, another season. I suggest that because, at Rocky Mountain, the two main roads through the park (and its main attractions) are closed through late May and mid-July. Getting TO Mesa Verde from Denver or Colorado Springs means you are going to have to go over the mountains, and the weather may/may not be cooperative.

    One of the good things about postponing RMNP and MVNP would be more time to do the things in Colorado Springs and Denver that you mentioned. There are tours of the US Mint available (free!). If any of your family is into the outdoor life, REI's flagship store is in Denver.


    Donna
    Thank u so much for this info and i think your right ill probably look into dedicating another trip for the national parks at a better time of the year. Will focus this trip in the colorado springs and denver area most likely

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    Mesa Verde is about 7 hours of driving from Denver, so that would be a dramatically different choice than Rocky Mountain NP - which is about 2 hours away.

    Mesa Verde also requires guided tours to see some of the most interesting features of the park, so it takes even more time to explore than many parks.

    There are a lot of great things to see between Denver and Mesa Verde (Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Million Dollar Highway to name a couple) but I think it would be difficult to include both on the same trip with just a week, especially with your plans to spend a couple of those days in Colorado Springs.
    Thanks for this info ill look into those places, i greatly appreciate the advice and will probably end up dedicating another trip to see this area and will keep in mind the places you mentioned

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    In the Colorado Springs area you also have Caves of the Wind near to Pikes Peak. If you are spending a couple of days getting there while visiting family and a couple of days around Colorado Springs before going to Denver then that's 5 of the 8 days accounted for and Denver to Austin is a couple of days driving. It might be wise just to break the drive home up rather than adding a lot more miles of driving. You could visit Great Sand dunes NP, Taos Pueblo and head home via Santa Fe for example.
    Thank u for the info and i really like your idea about the drive home. This is exactly the type of advice i was looking for thank you all for thr responses.

  8. Default

    I done trip from Dallas to Denver in May. I can tell you that 99% chance that Pikes Peak and RMNP may not be doable due to snow conditions in March/April time-frame. I had a main road between Estes park and south entrance was open one day and closed due to heavy snow overnight the next day in May.

    You will only have three days outside traveling. I would recommend Moab and Arches National park and back down to NM/TX return trip. However it may be too tight for your time-frame but doable.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,922

    Default At a better time of the year?

    Quote Originally Posted by VegetaG View Post
    Thank u so much for this info and i think your right ill probably look into dedicating another trip for the national parks at a better time of the year. Will focus this trip in the colorado springs and denver area most likely
    Note, that when it comes to RMNP, The Trail Ridge Road can be closed by blizzards on any day of the year. Even at the last minute. It is very much one of those things you need to check right on when you get there. Even a day before is not guaranteed it will be open. When I asked in September at 4pm on a Sunday, I was assured it would be open the next day. Two hours later it was closed by a blizzard. [I have also found it closed in June and in August. It is not really something you can plan for. You just need to cross your fingers and pray. Mother nature has a mind of her own.]

    A week later I was able to drive the TTRR.

    Lifey

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Note, that when it comes to RMNP, The Trail Ridge Road can be closed by blizzards on any day of the year. Even at the last minute. It is very much one of those things you need to check right on when you get there. Even a day before is not guaranteed it will be open. When I asked in September at 4pm on a Sunday, I was assured it would be open the next day. Two hours later it was closed by a blizzard. [I have also found it closed in June and in August. It is not really something you can plan for. You just need to cross your fingers and pray. Mother nature has a mind of her own.]

    A week later I was able to drive the TTRR.

    Lifey
    Sorry to hijack this thread. Is anyone able to advise what the weather conditions and temperatures are likely to be in May around the Colorado area? We are planning on making our way to there and then across to Utah before down to the Grand Canyon and now I'm a little worried what roads may be effected.

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