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Old 08-18-2016, 04:15 PM   #1
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Travel Advice to RMNP

We will be leaving Michigan for a September trip, heading to RMNP via I80. We plan on taking I80 West to I25 South to Loveland, parking the motorhome there & driving the car to the park. We will not be in a big hurry & are asking for suggestions for places/parks to spent a night or 2 along the route. Seems I've read that the Cheyenne area has some interesting places.
Any thoughts on our route or places that should not be missed along the way?
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Old 08-18-2016, 06:39 PM   #2
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Oh, your timing is great. We were at RMNP last Monday. Also we traveled across Iowa the first part of July. I rode RAGBRAI from Glenwood to Muscatine Iowa the last week of July. Here's a couple of places in Iowa along I-80. They're both close to the interstate. First is the Amana Colonies just east of Iowa City. This is a German based community that has great food, beer, and wines. Also there are a lot of local artists that live there. Next is the Living History Farm on the west side of Des Moines. It is a fun 1 day visit to see how farming progressed throughout the centuries from early Iowa Indians to today's farm and beyond. Also while you are in the Des Moines area a visit to the capitol building in downtown is interesting as it is a replica of our nations capitol in DC. Near the Living History Farm is the Machine Shed restaurant which I highly recommend. It's popular so expect a short wait for a table but I feel it's worth it.

Don't know much about I-80 in Illinois or Nebraska but we stayed at the AB Campground on the south side of the I-80 / 25 interchange outside of Cheyenne last week. This is a nice park but a little cramped and the surrounding area seems a little rundown. It's good for an overnight stay and if you are a Good Sam member they give you a discount. There is a BBQ grill right in the campground which is pretty good after a long day on the road. Speaking of Good Sam there is a Flying J right on the I-25 exit for the campground. (Discount on fuel) Note that the I-80 / 25 interchange is under construction right now but it is passable.

We stayed in the Loveland Resort RV Park just off I-25 in Loveland. It's nice but a little cramped for slide outs but they fit. It is also a very busy park. Do your research for RMNP as it is getting close to snow time in the higher elevations. As we were heading south out of Loveland on Hwy 285 past Denver we crested Kenosha Pass at 10,000' and saw very wet and thin snow along the side of the road. It's getting close to accumulation time in the Rockies. Another thing we found outside of Loveland - between Loveland and Greely off Hwy 34 - is the Cozy Cow Dairy. Really fresh and good milk and Ice Cream. It's worth the stop.

I hope I've given you some ideas for your trip. The drive across I-80 can become tedious but the destination is fantastic. Safe travels.
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Old 08-18-2016, 10:47 PM   #3
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I'm actually going to be boondocking in RMNP next week for three nights with the RV (35' Class A). I'll be in the Moraine Park campground. I live in the Denver area, though, so I can't tell you much about sights to see on the way to this area. However, though there may be snow in the very high country, I wouldn't worry about it on the paved areas and most of the trails will be just fine.

If you are up for hiking, the Glacier Gorge Trail Head and the Bear Lake Trail Head take you to some neat spots. Also, the Wild Basin Trail Head takes you through some pretty waterfalls, and is fairly level for the first few miles.

I love the western side of the park the most. The trails are less crowded (due to distance from Denver) and there are some spectacular sites. If you go up the Colorado River Trail, it is very level, you'll almost trip over the wildlife (don't get too close to the moose), and if you go about 4 miles in, you'll see the Little Yellowstone Canyon (named because it looks a lot like a small version of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone). My all time favorite hike in the park starts at the Adams Falls Trail Head. Just a quarter mile in, you see a pretty large waterfall, and about another quarter mile past that, you come out into a spectacularly beautiful valley that makes you feel like you are truly in God's Country. It's a very level hike for about 3 miles, and I always take flatlanders here as it is a great exposure to spectacular mountain scenery without exposing them to steep trails and precipitous dropoffs.

The park will be crowded, and the town of Estes Park is a zoo. You may get tired of the drive up from Loveland every day. Consider taking Route 7 south from Estes Park down to Route 72 all the way to Nederland, if you want a nice mountain drive outside the park without as much traffic. But, of course, you must drive over Trail Ridge Road (only way to get to the west side of the park by car), and you can scare the heck out of passengers by swerving close to the edges of the road that have no guardrails, and drop off for a long, long way.

Between Estes Park and Grand Lake (the town on the west side of the park), I've always preferred Grand Lake. Although still crowded, it's not zoo-like as is Estes Park.

Enjoy your trip.
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Old 08-18-2016, 11:14 PM   #4
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We've camped in Estes Park and RMNP for many years. We camp either in the park or at Elk Meadow RV Park (They can park up to a 49 ft. coach and have a great view of Longs Peak). I would not make the drive up from Loveland every day. Good luck.
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Old 08-19-2016, 06:41 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schools out View Post
We will be leaving Michigan for a September trip, heading to RMNP via I80. We plan on taking I80 West to I25 South to Loveland, parking the motorhome there & driving the car to the park. We will not be in a big hurry & are asking for suggestions for places/parks to spent a night or 2 along the route. Seems I've read that the Cheyenne area has some interesting places.
Any thoughts on our route or places that should not be missed along the way?
How much time?

You know there are a number of ways to access RMNP?

Estes has ,IMHO become just too Crowded, so while we will still drive from the East we tend to Favor the western side (Lake Granby area) of the park and make a number of day trips from the west using Trail Ridge.

Peak to Peak highway - Rt 36 - Lyons - Berthoud Pass - Steamboat Springs and the state parks that are close - Stagecoach SP and Steamboat Lake SP are fun.

As for the drive - we always tend to just get to The Rockies then start to spend time, that said there a numerous great little State Parks and Reservoirs along the way that will provide a rest and a Beautiful Sunset.

Best of Luck, let us now more if we can be of more help,
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Old 08-19-2016, 09:49 AM   #6
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Even though Estes is crowded you will probably be in the park itself for a good portion of time. Loveland would be too far of a drive for us if doing it daily. Also, school will have begun when you arrive so there won't be the vacationing families at least not during the week so I don't feel Estes would 'feel' as hectic as during the summer.


We enjoy the west side also but we've been to the park many times and have volunteered there. For a first time I think you'd enjoy the east side (Estes) better as there's more to do and easier to get to easier hiking. Having to travel Trail Ridge Rd from west to east could be iffy at that time of year. It's alpine elevation and definitely could have snow.
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Old 08-20-2016, 03:14 PM   #7
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Thank you all for the helpful ideas. Your experience will save us some ordeals, and give us some great starting places for our 1st trip to RM. We plan to spend the month of Sept in the area. We have booked 1 week in a campground with a Loveland address, but, per their web site, it's 20 miles from the park. So, our thinking is the 1st week we'll stay there, then venture into the park, to "camp" once we get an idea of where. We're not intimidated by the thought of snow on the roads, but the mountain elevations do give us pause. Is it realistic to park on the Eastern side of the NP & drive the car to the Western part? If not, any ideas for a good midway camping area.
Again, thanks.
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Old 08-20-2016, 06:22 PM   #8
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Sure you can drive your car from east to west on Trail Ridge Road. It's quite an experience.

Scour the park's website for lots of good information. Under park information there's a weather section and a 'Clicky' to view past weather. It also says Trail Ridge Rd. normally closes mid-October so you should be good to go!

If you're planning to stay in Loveland the week and scout out the national park, that week might be plenty for you and you'll want to move on.

http://https://www.nps.gov/romo/plan...ridge_road.htm


You didn't say what else in the area you wanted to see but I would suggest to explore a little west of Denver for a more 'quiet' time. Taking 285 into Buena Vista is a nice area. Royal Gorge is also down that way.
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Old 08-20-2016, 11:51 PM   #9
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I agree with twogypsies. Driving Trail Ridge Road from the east side of the park to the west side is quite an experience, but it's actually relatively easy. You just have to remember that you will have to frequently slow down to 20 MPH in your dinghy many times. Driving faster in spots over that road is both foolish and dangerous. But the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. By the way, I've lost track of how many times I've driven Trail Ridge, but I will never, ever, drive my 35' coach over that road. There are a few really narrow spots.

As I said in my earlier post, I prefer the west side of the park. Go to one of the lakes on the west side (Grand Lake, Shadow Mountain Lake and Lake Granby) and rent a pontoon or speed boat and take a cruise. There is something really cool about floating on the water in the midst of high snowy mountain peaks.

I also agree with twogypsies that you may want to get deeper into western Colorado. There are countless places you can go that will take your breath away (and it won't be because of the altitude ).
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Old 08-21-2016, 06:25 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by schools out View Post
Thank you all for the helpful ideas. Your experience will save us some ordeals, and give us some great starting places for our 1st trip to RM. We plan to spend the month of Sept in the area. We have booked 1 week in a campground with a Loveland address, but, per their web site, it's 20 miles from the park. So, our thinking is the 1st week we'll stay there, then venture into the park, to "camp" once we get an idea of where. We're not intimidated by the thought of snow on the roads, but the mountain elevations do give us pause. Is it realistic to park on the Eastern side of the NP & drive the car to the Western part? If not, any ideas for a good midway camping area.
Again, thanks.
2GYPSIES is the resident expert so I'll just add a few personal thoughts;

Two weeks will be a long time in RMNP -Unless you have a long list of Mountain Hikes - The Beetle Kill has left it's mark and it is not nearly as green and Tree covered as it once was - so I might be so bold as to suggest a few other locations to visit in September.

The last week of September to the first week of October have historically been the prime time to see the Aspen turn GOLD, having missed it for 9 years (would always be in Maryland for end of August and September) I finally flew out and spent that week in the Mountains - OMG - Now we try to get out for at least a few days every year to just see some of this Beauty, you will be there in Prime Time, and I will beg you to try to experience it. here is a link to a Photo shoot by a fellow RV'er - https://lynn.smugmug.com/Travel/Colo...pens/i-tsVRkXg

After looking at these pictures if you have no interest then (check your pulse ) every Mountain Pass will afford you the opportunity to see these sorts of shots, some more than others but all memorable.

Locations that we have enjoyed the Aspen;

Marron Bells
https://www.google.com/search?q=maro...w=1536&bih=796

Collegiates
https://www.google.com/search?espv=2....0.DBa-Xg66wmU

Rt 24 Minturn to Leadville

San Juan's - Lake City - Alpine Loop - Silverton - Ouray - Telluride - Dunton - Rt 133 Marble and Redstone

I think you get the Idea. Lot's to see and enjoy while you are in Colorado, so do enjoy RMNP - it is special - but Please do not confine Yourself to just that one area, Colorado just has TOO Much to offer and being there during what I would Call Prime Time, it would be a shame to not explore a little more, and enjoy a lot of what Colorado has to offer.

Enjoy your time in Colorado and report back as to what you enjoyed.

Best of Luck,

Busskipper

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Old 08-21-2016, 07:44 AM   #11
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This is the type of information we need. When I look at the RMNP web site, I think it seems that we could never see it all in a week or 2. So good to have experienced travelers chime in.
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Old 08-27-2016, 11:14 AM   #12
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Just returned from our two week stay (we weren't ready to leave). The aspen are just starting to turn, and the elk are making their way down to lower elevations for the big spectacle. And, the upper elevations got a dusting of snow thursday afternoon.

Can I go back? Please???

Keep in mind, the highway between Loveland and Estes is currently being worked on. As of Friday morning, there were two sections shut down to one lane while they are working. This could cause you a 10 to 20 minute delay at each location, so the typical 30 to 45 minute drive could easily stretch to an hour. Though, I could think of worse roads to be stuck on for an hour.

In October, stretching through to June of next year, that highway will be closed to local traffic only.

The reason behind all of this work is the flood a couple of years ago. They patched the highway well enough for traffic back then. Now they are taking on a broader scope to build the road for a "ten year flood".

As far as the Estes Park "zoo". Meh. There are several campgrounds Southwest of the village. If you stay in one of those, you can get in and out of the park without ever going near the main strip. That is, if you're scared of people .

We stayed at Mary's Lake (run by the city). And while it isn't the most picturesque campground, the location gave us easy access to the Beaver Meadow's entrance with little to no traffic to deal with on the way.

Other campgrounds on that side of town:

Elk Meadow - You could hit the RMNP welcome sign with a marshmallow from here. A bit pricey (as is most in this town), but nice people.
Spruce Lake - same company as Elk Meadow, just a stones throw down the road. Right on the river, and a short walk to the grocer.
RV Manor - never stayed, but it looks like it could be an adventure to get into with a big rig. Also good location.
East Portal - the other city run campground. A couple of miles down 66, so further away from the crowds, but still within comfortable distance of the park. I have not stayed here.

If you're gonna hang in Loveland for a while, and have a day to kill, scoot up to Ft. Collins and take the Poudre River drive to the west side of the mountains (Walden, CO), cut down to Grand Lake and back across Trail Ridge and on back to Loveland. This loop is a full day adventure, but scenic and you may even spot a couple of NPS campgrounds you could fit into for a day or two on a future adventure (we did). We had a couple of moose stop for a photo shoot for us Thursday during this drive.
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Old 08-27-2016, 11:30 AM   #13
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Following this post with interest, as we are leaving for Colorado in a week and want to go to RMNP. My question is how crowded are the NPS campgrounds? We have no reservations made, as we want to just "wing it" and not be tied down to any one area. We're not huge fans of crowded campgrounds or RV parks and much prefer NPS and State park campgrounds, even if they offer no hookups.
Will we have much problem finding a site after Labor Day weekend at RMNP?
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Old 08-27-2016, 01:58 PM   #14
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We have no reservations made, as we want to just "wing it" and not be tied down to any one area. ........Will we have much problem finding a site after Labor Day weekend at RMNP?
The best thing to do as you're traveling and getting close to the park is to check the reservation site for the dates you'll be there to see where sites are not reserved. You might even consider moving to another site in order to get your full week. Moraine campground would probably be your best option but look at the others, too.

Aspenglen closes 9/25; Glacier Basin 9/11 and Moraine is open year-round but reservations only available through the first part of October. Good luck!

https://www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvis...tm#morainepark
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