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  1. Default From Boulder Colorado to Connecticut

    Hi Everyone,
    I will be picking up my daughters van in Boulder and have three weeks with it, before I have to be back in Connecticut. I would like to spent up to 10 days in the Colorado area. I don't want to go much further west, because it would add the same distance to my way back and I have toured the California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona area before. I am a nature lover and not into big cities. I am hoping for suggestions for my time in the area and also for my way back. I guess I have to generally choose between the I 70 and the I 80 but would also like some scenic alternatives. I would like to take daily drives from a couple of hours to not more than half a day. And spent the rest of my days in National or state parks, a little village or with something else that is interesting. I am also interested in campgrounds. I generally prefer the more rustic state park campgrounds over the everything paved luxury ones.
    Any suggestions are highly appreciated. I have just started looking into this.
    Thanks :)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    Check out our Camping RoadTrips forum. There are threads in there with camping on the Interstates and on the major US highways, among others.

    I would try to avoid I-80 from Chicago and east - the traffic around Chicago can be awful, and there are a lot of tolls. With that in mind, I'd look at I-70 to Washington PA, I-79 south to I-68 back to I-70 to I-81 to I-84.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Central Missouri


    Hi, and welcome to RTA!

    First thing I would recommend is to grab a road atlas and open it up. Look at what's between Boulder CO and Connecticut. If you have 10 days in Boulder, a total of 21 days, you have 11 days keft. If you went directly home, it would take you about 4 days (driving 450 miles a day). So generally, you now have 7 days to play with.

    You've been direct with us about the love for nature and camping in state parks. What jumps into my mind? The Black Hills of South Dakota and the lakes of Minnesota are full of natural beauty and plenty of public campgrounds.

    Speaking of campgrounds....we have a whole forum dedicated to public campgrounds. These are county, state and national forests and parks with campgrounds. Most are pretty rustic at best -- not the "everything paved luxury ones". Some will offer showers, some won't. Some have electric hookups, many do not. Some have reservations, which are recommended if you are going into an area that's pretty popular, like the Black Hills of South Dakota.

    Don't forget the mosquito repellent. :-)


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


    You could easily spend 2 or 3 days in Rocky mountain NP and there are many more attractions in Colorado where you could create a nice loop around the State. Things such as the Colorado NM, Mesa Verde NP, Black canyon of the Gunnison and a drive down the Million dollar highway. Around Colorado springs is Pikes peak, Garden of the gods and Cave of the winds and further south the Great sand dunes. As mentioned you could head up towards the Black hills and Badlands NP, there are more than enough options to keep you occupied and amazed !! Once you have done some research and got a few dots on the map we can help fill in the blanks but until you have a few basics sorted we are shooting in the dark. Although this Denver loop trip report does venture into Utah and New Mexico it does give insight into some of Colorado's attractions.

  5. #5


    I'd recommend signing up with AAA if you are not already a member. Once joined, stop by the local office to pick-up regional and state maps and one for the entire USA. Public libraries also should have plenty of travel guides including some that feature "scenic drives" (which you can also find on-line).

    From Boulder you can loop down to the south, to Great Sand Dunes, go west to Mesa Verde, north to Canyonlands and Arches, stopover at Colorado National Monument, head north to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, head east over the NE entrance, loop down to the Medicine Wheel and scenic US-14A, head east to Custer State Park, Jewel Cave and Wind Cave, then the Badlands. And head east.

    With all the national parks, monuments, recreation areas, etc., you would benefit from a national park pass (or a senior's lifetime pass).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Dots and How to Connect Them

    While you've gotten some good advice on what to see and do around Boulder, I'd also add a couple of smaller parks that are reachable as day trips such as Golden Gate Canyon State Park and Lory State Park. but this reply is going to be mostly about those 11 days you have for the drive back to Connecticut.

    As Donna pointed out you've got plenty of time on the eastbound portion of your RoadTrip to see pretty much anything you want, and the things you might want to see don't have to be in a straight line back to Connecticut. So where I'd suggest you start is by picking out three or so sites or areas that you'd regret not having included and build your trip around getting to those. The Black Hills (with four or five National Parks or Monuments) have been mentioned, but you could also include the UP, the Great Smoky Mountains, the Outer Banks and/or the Shenandoah Valley and still fit it all within those 11 days.

    As for routing, that will depend on which major natural sights you're going to visit, but in general, when I'm trying to do the sort of RoadTrip you seem to be envisioning, I tend to stick to semi-major US highways. I'll just give you a couple of examples of the types of roads I mean. Major east-west US highways include US-30, US-40 and US-50. But because they're 'major' highways, they tend to go through large cities such as Chicago (US-30), Indianapolis (US-40) or St. Louis (US-50). Interesting, but not scenic/natural. Whereas the semi-major US highways such as US-24, US-36, or US-62 tend to meander more, take you through smaller towns and generally provide a more relaxing drive.

    So, your planning will be an iterative process where you first pick some major 'targets', see what roads best connect them, adjust your main targets and add smaller venues to visit, re-adjust your routes, and repeat until you've got a plan that suits you. The be willing to change on the fly as you travel. We can help with all of that, but the decisions are yours.


  7. Default Thank you everyone!

    Thank you so very much for your replies.

    Because the border to Canada is still closed for tourism at least until June 21 (if I did my research right) I will have to stay south of the great lakes to get back home and would therefore avoid to go up to the north a lot.

    I have been on a big loop trip through the west several years ago with Mesa Verde being the furthest eastwards and would now rather stay in areas I haven't been. That trip also included Canyonlands and Arches. (One of the best trips ever :) )

    The Colorado loop sounds great I will do some more research on them.

    Living in Connecticut for several years now I have also done the Skyline drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smokey Mountains (loved them).

    So far I tend to doing a Colorado loop and than basically meander around the 70 avoiding the cities and trying to find some nice spots along the way.
    Any help is highly appreciated.

  8. #8


    Then certainly consider Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes NP, the US 550 stretch between Grand Junction (proximity of Colorado National Monument) and Durango through Ouray.

    Between Great Sand Dunes and Santa Fe you can drive the High Road to Taos and also visit and camp near Los Alamos at Bandelier NM (good hiking and viewing at Bandelier and nearby Los Alamos is full of history). The High Road to Taos is the old Spanish Mission route between Santa Fe and Taos, so allocate a few days for this. There is a lot of information on the internet about these sites so I won't try to repeat it here.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Possible 'Detours' from I-70

    OK, your plan is starting to come into a bit more focus. You've got your two end points, a connecting line, and an overview of what you'd like to do. So let's start there and see what there is to see along that basic route. the first thing I'd do is use I-80 out of Colorado instead of I-70. that will take you along the old Oregon Trail and the Platte River rather than the otherwise featureless Great Plains. Next, dropping south a bit from Nebraska City you could pick up US-136 across northern Missouri through small towns and avoiding both Kansas City and St. Louis on I-70. Next, upon hitting the Mississippi at Keokuk, you could take the Great River Road down to Hannibal and I-72 east to Springfield MO with Lincoln's home and Presidential Library. I-72 joins I-74 at Champaign IL which will take you to Indianapolis (There had to be at least one large city, unfortunately.) and Dayton. From Dayton take US-35/I-64 southeast to Beckley WV and the New River Gorge. For your final leg to Connecticut you can swing well to the west of the east coast cities by using US-219/I-99/I-80.

    The above route concentrates mostly on roads and major attractions along them (connecting the dots) but all along your route, wherever it may end, there will be multiple opportunities for lesser-known sites as well as camping opportunities. And again, as pointed out earlier, this is an iterative process. You may find things, roads and/or sights, may like better than what I've suggested, or you may want to use some of the other suggestions you've received, some of mine, and some of your own.


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