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  1. #1

    Default 3 week trip Denver to Denver and lots in between.

    Hello all, any advice gratefully appreciated, we are coming over from the UK for a 3-week trip, in Sept. We previously used this forum when we completed a road trip from Atlanta to LA in 2016 and we received lots of really good advice so here I am again, hoping for your assistance.
    General plan as follows:
    Week One
    Friday Eve 6pm - Denver Airport to Estes Park – stay for Two nights
    Can anyone advise the best route to Estes for scenery – I have been reading a lot of previous replies on this forum and have noted
    Drive from DIA to Boulder and 119 through Boulder Canyon, then Peak to Peak at Nederland (72 to 7) approx 2 1/2 hours from DIA – is this the best route do you think?
    While at Estes we hope to visit RMNP – as our time will be limited any “must see” recommendations will be appreciated. I have already noted down the “Ariel tramway” and “The Stanley Hotel”
    Sunday Estes Park – to Keystone SD stay for Two nights
    Is there a “best scenic” route for this?
    Someone has mentioned the “Trail Ridge Road” is that easy to pick up when leaving Estes Park towards Keystone and do you recommend it?

    I was hoping to go visit Deadwood, or Sturgis (or Both) as well as seeing Mount Rushmore, etc, is this realistic do you think?
    Tuesday Keystone to Sheridan – Stay one night
    Wednesday Sheridan to Cody- Stay one night
    Thursday Cody to Yellowstone for Two nights

    Any advice for things to see and do, best drives, places to eat or “must see and do” would be really welcomed. Thank you from a grateful Brit.
    I didn’t want this to be too long so have only posted about the 1st Week for now.
    Last edited by Scruffygirl; 07-06-2017 at 04:17 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,699

    Default The makings of a nice trip.

    Hello and welcome back to RTA !

    The route you describe to Estes park is the one we took and it was very pleasant and worth the detour in my opinion. You can always stop and stretch your legs with a pleasant walk around Lily Lake on route. The big problem is if you are planning to do it after a long haul flight, that's certainly not recommended especially when arriving late in the day. From personal experience I would recommend staying near the airport, relaxing and get an early night and head off early morning giving your body clock at least some time to adjust.

    Estes park is close to the Moraine park area of RMNP and has some great walks and scenery along the Bear Lake road which makes for a nice day. The Trail ridge road is an amazing part of the Rocky experience, if it's open. It's the highest continuous paved road in the US and can see high winds and snow at any time and although a good chance it will be open, it's not guaranteed. The other problem is it's starting out in the wrong direction to Keystone and is probably too much to do in one day. If you can juggle your time line you could do an out and back trip from Estes, or stop over somewhere like Laramie and continue to Keystone the following morning. Of course, if the road was closed that would then be off the direct route.

    Not knowing where your trip goes next makes it difficult to offer alternatives into Yellowstone, but you should look at the option of entering the park via the Beartooth highway (212) through Cooke city/Silver Gate, which could be done from Cody but makes it a bit off route.

    Two nights in Yellowstone is really not enough time when you add on the travelling in and out of the park. The place is awesome but huge and very slow going, so I would add an extra night. Seeing a brief outline of the whole of your trip puts us in a better position to see how you can get the best from this first part, rather than seeing bits of the puzzle.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thank you for responding Dave, I did think about staying in Denver first night, but got a great deal for the two nights in Estes Park and was advised its only a 2-3 hour drive from the airport so thought it was a good idea at the time to go ahead.

    Ok the remainder of the trip - after yellowstone is as follows:

    Grand Teton NP for two nights
    Vernal for one night
    Bryce Canyon for two nights followed by Springdale also for two nights
    Page for two nights, we especially wanted to see Antelope Canyon, then onto Moab for Two nights.
    Last night will be a stop in Glenwood Springs before heading back into Denver for a flight back to London.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,699

    Default

    You do have a nice tip planned ! Are you completely booked without cancellation options ? To tweak it so you are not to rushed at the start and at Yellowstone, you could plan on one night in the Tetons and the same for Bryce canyon. Not because they are not amazing places they are just quicker/easier to visit and the Teton's being so close to Yellowstone would mean you could spend another night in Yellowstone and still have part of the following day to explore the Tetons.

    To be honest if you have to drive to Estes on arrival day you would be better off taking a direct/quick route. If you land at 6pm it could be around 7:30 before you clear customs and get your rental sorted ready to go and that will be after at least 14 to 15 hours of travelling from London.

  5. #5

    Default

    Hi Dave,

    Thanks again for responding, Yes i have already pre-booked the trip. The second night at Bryce we have a planned event to attend that cannot be changed. Our flight is due to arrive at 5pm, so i was anticipating getting through customs and collecting car by 6 ..........is that unrealistic?

    I guess a direct route to Estes would be the most sensible option, if its going to be dark? little use in scenic route if i cannot see the views........is there one you can recommend?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    12,995

    Default

    Getting through customs and getting your car within an hour seems quite unrealistic. It wouldn't surprise me at all if it took you an hour just to get your bags and go through customs. At Denver, there are no car rentals directly at the airport, you're going to have to take a short shuttle ride to whichever company you are renting with - and then potentially have to wait in line to get your car. By the time you get through everything, I would consider it a bonus if you were on the road by 7. (and that's assuming your flight is on time!)

    Sunset in Denver is around 8pm in mid-september, so you need to expect that at least half of the drive to Estes Park would be in the dark.

    Of course, while it might be 7pm Denver time when you get on the road, your body is going to think it is 2am, UK time.

    So in the end, you'd be talking about missing out on most of a scenic drive, because it will be dark, and trying to drive a couple of hours, on mountain roads in the dark, when your body thinks it's the middle of the night, after you've been traveling for at least 14 or 15 hours at that point. To me, that's a pretty horrible way to start a roadtrip - and as Dave originally mentioned, I think you'd be much better off finding a place to stay in Denver.

    As an aside, the Direct Route from the Denver Airport to Estes Park would have you getting on the 470 Toll Road right after leaving the airport. There are no toll booths - it's purely based on them snapping pictures of your license plate. Most rental car companies will absolutely pummel you with "convenience" fees if they pay the toll for you (Many will charge a fee for every day of your rental, even if you only go through a toll once!) so make sure you pay the toll online or check with the rental company about how they handle toll charges.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,699

    Default

    Sunset will likely be around 7-7:30pm depending on the time of month. If things go smoothly it's possible I guess as long as there are no flight delays, but unlikely in the real world. (Fingers crossed for you, but ours was delayed by almost 2 hours last trip)

    The quickest route would be taking E470 to I-25 but that would mean a Toll charge. You could go along E56TH Ave and then take US36 through Boulder all the way to Estes.

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