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  1. #1
    Momof2Girls Guest

    Default S. CA to CO (Denver Area) w/2 kids & a dog

    Ok, we are planning a road trip from Orange County, California (southern CA) to the Denver/Boulder areas of Colorado with our two girls (6 & 8) and our 6 month old Bichon Frise puppy this Christmas. :) This trip will take place from Dec. 18 through the 31st. We already have a cabin reservation near the Allenspark/Raymond area for Dec. 23 through the 26 (checking out on the 27th), but we still need to reserve dog friendly hotels around Louisville, Littleton, and Colorado Springs as we are checking out places to maybe move to some day. I don't mind maybe taking a more scenic route into Colorado as we are planning to make the trip in two days (or more) as we want the kids to see the Four Corners (where Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico meet..), but probably will want the quickest route out, so that won't need to be scenic. Any ideas..route suggestions, hotel suggestions, etc?? Any hotels near the four corners too?

    Also, as we'll be driving our Honda Odyssey, will we need snow chains? I'm not sure how bad the roads get in CO in December?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Across Colorado in Winter

    Jill - Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America forum.

    As far as road between the LA area and the Denver area, you have a few basic choices. The fastest and probably best maintained route is just I-15 north to Utah and then join I-70 for the run into Denver. This route is all interstate, but is not un-scenic. It would allow you to stop and see Zion and Bryce National Parks and the Colorado National Monument.

    An alternate route via four corners would go something like: I-15 north to I-40, then west of Flagstaff go north on AZ-64 through Grand Canyon National Park, and US-160 to four corners. You could also make a short detour on US-163 to see Monument Valley. From Durango, CO you can either continue on US-160 to Walsenburg and then up I-25 to Denver (this way takes you through Colorado Springs) or you can head north from Durango on US-550 and US-50 to Grand Junction, pick up I-70, and follow that into Denver.

    The one big caveat with either of the routes through four corners and southwestern Colorado is the weather. I have gotten snow-bound in Cortez in January, and if you go this way, you must be ready to sit out a day if the weather requires. Note that US-160 to Walsenburg crosses 10850 ft Wolf Creek Pass while US-550 north crosses three separate 10000+ ft passes. This is not meant to scare you off, but just to let you know what you may run up against. I would recommend chains if you have some experience with them, but the Rockies in winter are probably not the place for learning. I think you'd be better off to use the Interstate route if this is your first time with winter mountain driving or to pay very close attention to weather reports as you progress.

    The area you're going to be staying in is gorgeous. My wife and I spent some time there last fall and thoroughly enjoyed it. Do note that to get from there to Denver and Boulder will require some two lane driving on high elevation roads, so the same attention to the weather must be paid.


  3. #3
    Momof2Girls Guest

    Default Thank you!

    Thank you for responding. I appreciate knowing what we might really helps. I'm a native Californian, so haven't done any snow driving, however my husband was born and raised in Michigan so I expect I'll let him do most of the driving as he is familiar with driving in heavy snow. He probably doesn't have snow chain experience though as I don't believe Michigan allows them...but he'll be better than me and is a quick study.

    My husband informed me after I posted that there really is no where to stay near four corners. What would be a good half way stopping point between Orange County, CA to Denver, CO if we did decide to do the 4 corners on the way up? Since we'll have the dog, that will limit what we can do and where we can stay.

    **Also for those that have lived in Colorado....what are the best cities/towns to live in and what areas should we avoid? This trip is part recreation and part fact finding mission for a possible move within the next few years. Thanks.

    I'm glad I found this forum.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Halfway

    How about Kayenta, AZ? It's just about 615 miles from Irvine and about halfway to Denver. It's up to you whether you consider that a comfortable day's drive. There are a few name brand motels in town and it would put you in position to start the next morning with a visit to Four Corners. While in town you might want to stop at the small museum dedicated to the Navajo code talkers of WWII located in the Burger King.

    If 615 miles is too much for a day (the second day would be 'only' about 500 miles, but remember that's through the mountains) you could lay up in Flagstaff, just 465 miles from Irvine. But then that leaves you a second day of about 650 miles. And there's not a lot between Flagstaff and Kayenta. So you see, two days is not really a lot of time for this trip, even if the weather cooperates.

    And thanks, we're glad you found it, too.


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