Okay. We just got back from our trip to Colorado. Thanks to everyone for the info here, it was great insight. Here's the report I promised:
Departed Wilmington, DE on Sat. Sept 3. It took us 11 hours to get to Holiday Inn Express in Greenfield, IN.
The next day was 11 hrs. to a very nice Super 8 in Salina, KS (we were very impressed) and the 3rd day was 8 hrs. to Estes Park =1818 miles. In Estes Park stayed at the Silver Moon Inn 2 nights, which was quaint but could use a little renovation. We ate at Chelitos the first day (very good mexican)and then breakfast and dinner the next at the Grubstake which was good too.
We tried to lay low to acclimate to altitude but were so excited the next day we hiked to Nymph Lake and then drove to summit of Trail Ridge Road to miss the forecasted rain of the next day. Don't do this as quickly as we did, the altitude will get you.
We left Estes and headed over Trail Ridge Road (saw elk), stopped in Grand Lake, very nice! and then hit I-70. We were glad we went this way otherwise we would have missed awesome Glenwood Canyon. What a sin there's a road through it.
We were trying to avoid "cities", so we skipped congested Glenwood Springs and drove further. Stayed in Redstone at the Redstone Cliffs Lodge. REALLY NICE! Ate at the historic Redstone Lodge.
Left Redstone in the morning and headed for the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. DO NOT MISS THIS. The BCG is magnificent, awesome, spectacular! Saw a bobcat here too. Leave time, it's lots of overlooks which are each very different, and some are a hike.
When we left BCG we headed to Cortez. Ate at the local brewery on Main St. and stayed at a Super 8. Not as nice a one as Salina but the beds are really comfortable.
From Cortez we went to Mesa Verde. This place is amazing!!! Take the Cliff House tour and then go to Spruce House. There are overlooks where you can see some of the 600 cliff dwellings here. You can go to Spruce House on your own. There is hiking and climbing involved here, be ready, take water.
From Mesa Verde we drove to Four Corners. Actually nice because there are Native American vendors here, our only interaction with Native Americans. You are in the Navajo Nation here. Try the Navajo tacos from the lady in the little trailer with the awning. Yummy! It's desolate on the way (why did we give the Indians all the land they can't do a darn thing with?)
Drove from here through the corner of Arizona and then thru the top of New Mexico to Durango. Stayed at Super 8 again. Next day took the Durango Silverton train trip. What great scenery! We recommend it highly. We saw a bear on this trip. Silverton was really nice! Ate at Handlebars, bought jewelry from Ellis Tanner. Took the train back. It gets long at the end of the day. Some people in our hotel took the bus back and said it only took an hour and the driver gave a great narrative on the way back to Durango.
Left Durango and ate breakfast at the Brickhouse Cafe. This was really good. Drove the Million Dollar Highway and stopped at Silverton again for a leisurely visit, you only have 2 hours when you take the train.
Left Silverton and headed to Ouray, our real destination for our 25th anniversary. Drove the Million Dollar Hwy, the only way to go. Spectacular scenery! White-knuckled driving.
Ouray. What can I say? It's wonderful. We were there 3 days. We stayed at the Box Canyon Lodge, also wonderful. They are reasonably priced, and have their own mineral hot springs tubs, now a must in our book. Went to Box Canyon to see the falls. Its nice, but once you've seen BCG....
We went to Cascade Falls, it was okay - a little bit of a steep hike. I recommend walking sticks always.
We ate breakfast at Bulow's Bistro in the Beaumont Hotel. Limited to a delicious wrap and Starbucks coffee, while there just stop to take in the lobby. Incredible! We also ate a breakfast at a little coffee shop/internet cafe. It's okay but the staff isn't. Ate our last breakfast at a wonderful little bakery on Main Street. We ate 2 lunches at the Goldbelt, one at Billy Goat Gruff's (good german food) and dinners at the Outlaw (very good) and the historic Western Hotel.
Signed on to a jeep tour with Switzerland of America to Imogene Pass. This too was amazing! If you do this in September, do not be fooled by the weather in town. It was freezing with a driving, howling wind up there. Luckily we dressed for it, many didn't. This is an incredible thing to do, it's beautiful up there, like the top of the world.
Sadly left Ouray to head home. The last big pass out of the Rockies, Monarch, was socked in and it actually snowed for awhile. Headed for Canon City and Royal Gorge Bridge which was a total waste. The commercialism hasn't been updated since about 1960, and you can't even see the bridge from the parking lot, because of a strategically placed building for the aerial tram. With the weather from Monarch bearing down on us, we just left without seeing more than the towers sticking up.
We just headed to Pueblo. We did check out Florence per a suggestion from someone here, but it didn't seem like much and the Super 8 we were looking for was so far out of town it was scary. We turned around and just headed for Pueblo. The S8 wasn't that great but the beds are always really comfortable. Angelo's New York Pizza, next door, had the best pizza I've ever had.
We left Pueblo and headed out Rt. 50 to Dodge City. It too was a sad, commercialized waste of time. We got the heck out of Dodge (sorry, I had to say it) and made it to Salina, KS by the evening. From there our long day was to Plainfield, IN and a positively awesome Super 8.
From there we slowed a little, spent the night in Pittsburgh, a 6.5 hr. drive, stayed in a crappy Days Inn, ate at the Church Brew Works, awesome! and then a 5.5 hr. trip home.
Was gas high? Yes, but thankfully went down during our second week out there. Our total driving time was 30 hrs. out, 32 hrs. back and $562.00 in gas. We drove a lot, but always knew the scenery was a big part of the trip so it was okay. Overall a wonderul trip. We'd both recommend Super 8's as well. Good road trip hotels.