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  1. #1

    Default West From Indianapolis

    I am planning a longer trip this spring (March 24-31) with my girlfriend. She has never been to the mountains or the southwest. I was wondering what we could accomplish in that amount of time...

    Her request is to see the Stanley Hotel and I really want to hit just about everything humanly possible. I guess what I am asking is where would you go? I know late March can be an iffy time in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. But it's the only time we have!

    Anyone have comments on these locations:
    Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park
    Dinosaur Nat'l Monument
    Royal Gorge
    Other recommendations?

    Old West & Colorado intrests prevail, but any recommendations/comments appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default A Colorado Loop?

    I think I would stick to Colorado for the most part. With 9 days to work with, I think Tombstone might be a bit too far for this trip.

    After your travel time, you'll basically have 5 days to explore. I'd probably shoot for a loop something like: Denver, Rocky Mnt, Dinosaur, Arches, Mesa Verde, Sand Dunes, Pikes Peak, and then head for home.

    That would be a pretty quick run through those places, you'd need to scale back if you'd like to spend more time looking around. You could also fit in Royal Gorge, I just personally don't recommend it. I thought it was a gwady, extremely overpriced, tourist trap. Of course that's just my experience, others thoughts on the area may differ substantially from mine.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default A Plethora of Possibilities

    It is roughly a thousand miles from Indianapolis to the Rockies, so realistically, you're looking at spending two days on the road each way. That only leaves you four days to explore the mountains and maybe just get a taste of the Southwest, so you're going to have to be pretty selective. I agree with Michael that Tombstone is just too far and Royal Gorge can be a disappointment. But if you really want to see both the mountains and the southwest, then you're also going to have to give up some of the Utah attractions such as Dinosaur and Arches National Parks. The truth is, there is no one best plan to meet your needs, and it will be up to you and your girlfriend to decide both your travel style and the places you really want to get to. With that in mind, here is another set of possibilities. Keep in mind that both Michael's suggestions and these entail a good bit of driving and will have to be modified on the fly if the weather turns against you, and that both of these possibilities are but two of the many that are available.

    Take a bit of time as you trek across I-70 to take in a sight or two in St. Louis as well as some of the quirkier stops in Kansas. Your objective is to be in Boulder by the end of the second day so that you can enjoy the Pearl Street Mall in the evening before heading out the next day to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and then continue on to Rocky Mountain National Park. Spend most of the day exploring the park (not enough, really, but...) and end up on the west side staying somewhere along I-70 between Empire and Vail. On your second day in the mountains, work your way south on US-24 stopping in Leadville, generally enjoying some spectacular scenery, and then heading west on I-50 through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. This evening stay somewhere between Montrose and Durango, depending on how you do.

    Your next day you'd start the southwest portion of the trip with a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, then using US-160, CO-41 and UT-162 cut over to Bluff, Utah for a drive through Monument Valley. When you come out on US-160 again at Kayenta, double back (east) to take US-191 south to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Finish the day by heading south to I-40 and start heading east towards Albuquerque, maybe bedding down for the night around Gallup. Your last day would then entail stopping at the Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque and then heading northeast up I-25 with stop in Santa Fe and/or Taos, two wonderful southwestern cities. You would then use US-64 and US-54 and the two days remaining in your trip to head for home.

    Even this is overloaded, and I don't think you could do it all, but it gives you an idea of what's available and within reach of a four day loop.


  4. #4


    Oooh...plethora...big word :)
    Wow! Thanks so far guys...lots of information to take in! I read about Mesa Verde and that is definately in my plans now. What about the 4 corners? I noticed that MV was close to there.

    Last year I got from Indianapolis to North Platte in 15 hours (a big detour to Indianapolis, Iowa--just wanted to see another Indy!). Then went from North Platte to Colorado Springs in 12 hours by route of Cheyenne (just to say I've been to Wyoming). So...If I take I-70, I planned on getting to KC on the first night (leaving Indy about 6 or 7pm). Then taking I-70 to Denver by nightfall the next day.

    Anyway, what roadside attractions do you suggest on the way there or back? I know about the catsup bottle...and I have already planned a funny picture with that one!

    Also, is there a place to post my pictures and notes about my last trip west?

    Please keep the info coming!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default It's Only Eight Letters

    But this year, rather than just doing a speed run, you're trying to have a leisurely and enjoyable trip with your girlfriend, and that calls for a bit more relaxation and time out of the car for her to enjoy the country you'll be travelling through. KC makes a good halfway point on the way to the mountains and just under 500 miles will be a whole lot better than nearly 900. But there's no way you get there the first night by leaving Indianapolis at 7:00 PM! Not going to happen. Again, plan on two full days of driving to get west and two full days of driving to get back. Otherwise, there is no point to even thinking about what to see as you cross the Plains, Attractions will either be closed or you won't have the time or energy to enjoy them.

    If you do adopt a saner approach, then besides the stops in St. Louis, I've already pointed out, you should consider the Truman National Historic Site in Independence, MO; a quick stop in Lawrence, KS to see Comanche, the lone survivor (on the 7th Cavalry's side) of the Battle at the Little Big Horn; or the Cathedral of the Plains in Victoria, KS. If you come back via US-54, then stops in Dodge City (a bit on the touristy side) and in Greensburg, KS to see the world's largest hand dug well and attached meteorite museum are in order.

    Finally, there are several on-line sites that will host your pictures, but the storage space required is beyond our current capabilities. Right click on the photos displayed in some the threads here and follow the link to see where people are actually posting them.


  6. #6


    Thanks! And you're right, I was by myself and liked the speed run just to see the Rockies the first time...and I do want to let her see everything to her content. Sometimes I get ahead of myself!

    You are very right about Dodge City, I went through last year and it seemed very touristy. Actually I thought it was the biggest dissappointment of my trip.

    One question I have after reading on these trips today was that I read that late March and early April were the worst time to go to New Mexico? It mentioned the windy season, ect.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default New Mexico Winds

    While it is true that winds tend to be seasonal in New Mexico, and they are strongest in Spring, these are generally due to the strong temperature differential that develops between the mountains and plains and tend to be confined to the eastern plains and should not be a significant factor if you stick to the northern (and mountainous) areas we've been discussing.


  8. #8


    Thanks for the info! I am developing a plan right now, I will post it when I get it done and see what you all think!

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