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Old 06-07-2017, 01:54 PM   #1
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Colorado Suggestions

We are heading to Colorado from Bardstown, KY with our entry point at Colorado Springs. Driving a 30 MH (gas) w/mini cooper tow. Looking at routing - I started with Co Springs to Salida to Durango and drive the Million Dollar Mile in the Cooper. I see Durango is about 70 mile from Silverton so is there a better jump off point. Also, from Durango where can we go without treacherous mountain passes. I'd like to see Marble and spoke out to some of the resort areas that aren't easily accessible by mh.

I have about a ream of paper printed from various threads here..trying to piece it all together. Basically we've got a month and want to circle Colorado and then we'll head back to Florida. Timeframe - arrive Co Spg July 14th and want to be back in FLA by end of August. Thank you for your help.
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Old 06-07-2017, 02:46 PM   #2
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A suggestion:

From CO Springs, head to Salida via US 24 to US 285. From there, take US 50 over Monarch Pass to Gunnison. Monarch Pass isn't too bad a grade, either going up or descending, Visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, then continue on to US 550 at Montrose. From there, you can go south to Ouray and set up camp to tour the Million Dollar Highway (US 550 between Ouray and Silverton) in the Mini. Depending how long you want to stay in that area, you can also go to Telluride. There are many side trips you can take from here.

You might check out CO 141 between Naturita and Grand Junction to see the hanging Flume and the scenery along this road is beginning to look more like Utah than Colorado. This might be a good trip in the Mini so you have more options on scenic pull-outs.

Marble might best be accessed from the North using the Mini. I would suggest heading to Grand Junction from Ouray, checking out the Grand Mesa at some point. From there you could go to Glenwood Springs and/or Aspen to set up camp and again tour in the Mini.

From that area, you could then continue east on I-70 and drop down to Leadville and Buena Vista. There's lot's to see in those areas and RV parks should be easier to get into.
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Old 06-07-2017, 03:23 PM   #3
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If you're in Durango, you gotta go to Mesa Verde National Park and see all the cliff dwellings. Many can be seen from the car or via a short trail.

But don't drive too fast. My son is a NPS law enforcement ranger there and he's very diligent... If you go on Monday or Tuesday, I may even convince him to give you a tour!
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Old 06-07-2017, 05:35 PM   #4
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Colorado Suggestions

Don't have fear of Wolf Creek Pass.
It's drop-dead gorgeous with lots of pull offs.
The train from Durango to Silverton is amazing, and don't miss the magic of Skyline Drive!
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Old 06-07-2017, 05:44 PM   #5
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If you are passing through Gunnison, I would head North to Crested Butte for the night. There is a RV park there. Really cool little town.
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Old 06-07-2017, 06:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TAKINBETZ View Post
We are heading to Colorado from Bardstown, KY with our entry point at Colorado Springs. Driving a 30 MH (gas) w/mini cooper tow. Looking at routing - I started with Co Springs to Salida to Durango and drive the Million Dollar Mile in the Cooper. I see Durango is about 70 mile from Silverton so is there a better jump off point. Also, from Durango where can we go without treacherous mountain passes. I'd like to see Marble and spoke out to some of the resort areas that aren't easily accessible by mh.

I have about a ream of paper printed from various threads here..trying to piece it all together. Basically we've got a month and want to circle Colorado and then we'll head back to Florida. Timeframe - arrive Co Spg July 14th and want to be back in FLA by end of August. Thank you for your help.
From an older post;



Might give you too much but will also give you some things to put into the plan.

Colorado, and the many options for a trip.


Let me start off by saying that IMHO Colorado offers as much Adventure and Beauty as any part of the country – add to that that is very close to the center of the US – Close to Yellowstone and Utah - and it’s exceptional weather make it a great destination vacation.


In my first dozen plus trips to Colorado I usually traveled to RMNP and Colorado Springs. Having spent most of my life either on the left coast or the right coast I actually only did the touristy drive through when going from one coast to the other. I never really was able to spend much time just being immersed in the culture or the people and land of the state. Having seen the Coors commercials I was under the impression that Golden was a town located deep in the Rockies – not just 15 minutes from downtown Denver, you can imagine my surprise when I discovered this. In the 90’s my son was invited to Vail for a July 4th sports tournament, so we visited every summer while he was in College, arriving in Vail from, Colorado Springs – Albuquerque – and Salt Lake – Denver – Giving me an opportunity to learn a little about the state and the many drives/areas it offers, this started to Open my eyes, exposing me to the many attractions and so much more about the state. Then when my son moved there in 2002 and I discovered that I had only scratched the surface and would spend the next 5 years learning more about the state.


With my truth in a very limited -knowledge, on the state of Colorado I will move forward with my personal suggestions for a week (Or month) or two in Colorado – a sort of 7-17 days to see the state. You need to Understand that I believe this is one of the last great Wild Places in the US, and is IMHO a National Park, once you hit the Foothills. You need to set aside twice the time you think if you really want to, enjoy, see, touch, Love this state the way it deserves. If you take the time, you will return again and again – Discovering that it has just so many surprises – all of which just continue to amaze me.

So let’s start at the obvious spot, Denver/ Golden – you could start with a tour of the Coors brewery catch dinner in the town and then have a great walk along Clear Creek, you will need a little planning to get a site in the CG (Clear Creek CG)as it has now been Discovered and is normally FULL. (an option is JeffCoFairgrounds). Because I have 4 Granddaughters in Colorado and this is the closest CG I am slightly biased as to how great it is. It is within walking distance of – restaurants/Main Street – Community Center – Library – Coors – Downtown Golden.

Peak to Peak drive is the next thing I would insist that you experience – for me I would base camp in Golden and make this drive a couple of times, or make the loop across Trail Ridge and Berthoud Pass – not a drive for the faint of heart (In the RV)as both offer switch backs and areas free from guard rails on some very impressive grades to get over and down from these Passes.(the reason for the base camp is to allow a couple of good drives. (Peak to Peak and Trail Ridge) Along with these drives are an unlimited number of areas to take great hikes – just do a quick search and you will not be disappointed, almost every jurisdiction will have dedicated Open Space areas with great trails /hikes.


Most people will start in Rocky Mountain NP – I am sure most are aware of the Pine Beetle Kill – it has decimated the beautiful green forest of RMNP – making it a very different trip from what it was just 5-6 years ago. Still it is RMNP and it does have some very impressive natural features and hikes to offer. IMHO Estes is (the east side of the park – where most visit) just not that attractive in the tourist season. (a personal Bias as I tend to go where and when the crowds are not) The Camp Grounds leave much to be desired and the town is much too crowded for my personal taste. With that said I love to visit and spend time on the other side of the park – WEST- at Grand Lake a smaller town with still a sort of quaint feel about it, much more family oriented and not nearly as crowded. The drive from one side of the park to the other over Trail Ridge is not to be missed – the many hiking areas away from the crowds are many and varied – from Longs Peaks- 14,000’+ to many of the hikes to lesser known peaks and lakes, more than enough to spend the entire trip on and only scratch the surface. ( if you were to drive over Trail Ridge you could make a quick run to The Steamboat area –Lakes –Town - State Parks – just lots to see and do in this area then just head down to Dillon and pick up there)


Leaving Golden I would head out Rt 6, driving along Clear Creek to Idaho Springs and the entrance onto I-70 going through the tunnel (actually a number of tunnels – 6?) and getting off on at Rt 91 and heading to Leadville, Highest incorporated Town in the US 10,000’and home of Quincy's Steak House for a Leadville dinner. Turquoise Lake, 4X4 trails, historic town, and base for a day trip over Independence Pass and a dash to Maroon Bells in Aspen. This trip is good anytime the pass is open but is truly spectacular in the last week of September when the Aspen turn GOLD. (this is taken in the Toad or TV as it is a restricted length road)


From Leadville down to Buena Vista – home of the Arkansas River Rafting adventures – great in the early summer with the snow melt. If you have missed the rafting at its peak, not to worry, as the trails and drives in the Collegiate Peaks are again very special, you can get all the way over to Crested Butte – a very neat little ski town – by 4X4 or gravel road. (Home of Bud Light commercials and Crystal Mill)

If you are into crossing National Parks off a list then the next destination would be Great Sand Dunes NP, this could be a Toad drive or a stop but unless you just love sand in your shoes you see most of it pretty quickly.


Now for some difficult decisions – Gunnison area – Lake City – Ouray – Telluride - Trout Lake - Silverton – Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP – Gunnison Lake – Fly Fishing Hikes and 4X4 trails that are hard to believe if you have the time all of the afore mentioned areas are special. Gunnison is the center geographically, and will allow you to resupply, Lake City – wild – beautiful – isolated – 4x4 trails – Ouray – must see – the Alps in Colorado – hot Springs – Hikes Drives – Silverton – the middle of the San Juan’s – many of the 4x4 trails will bring you here – just a great area – Black Canyon – Surprising! – must see – on and on as you travel in this area. Notice I have left out Mesa Verde and Durango, so you certainly should/could include these, as both are interesting, just – for me again Durango is too Large/crowded – Mesa Verde is IMHO more of a to be included in Utah, and can be seen in a later time of year when the rest of Colorado is immersed in Winter.


Lake City – Just a special little town that still has a western charm that is hard to match – 4X4 trails to die for – hikes – lakes – 14ers – fish – Creede and on and on – it is just located in something close to an unspoiled paradise. JMHO.


Ouray or Ridgway SP – would be the logical base camp choice – central location – hot springs – CG – Near Silverton – more trails – Telluride just over the mountain – Hikes -- 4X4 trails just a great location and neat little town/area
.

Silverton – in the middle of it all – if you are really into the backcountry this might just be for you – they have CG’s in town but you can easily Boondock in the NF – train – 4X4 trails – quaint – beautiful – but isolated.


Now if the weather is really cool you can always bounce over to Utah and warm up if it’s great and if you need more Colorado head up to Delta and Rt 133, catch Marble and Redstone before getting back on I-70 two interesting areas with neat little histories. If you did not get over to Maroon Bells catch it now – this is a great treat that I will never visit too often.


Now if you are headed West just follow the route into Moab – if you are headed back to Denver just take I-70 back – the over and under highway along the Colorado River just East of Glenwood Springs is considered one of the most beautiful parts on the Interstate Highway system and it will head through Vail and right back into Denver – If you can remember to get off at the exit (exit 243) just east of Idaho Springs you can take Rt 6 back to Rt 58 into the City.


The other Option, if you are headed South is to head down to Mesa Verde NP/Cortez by using Rt 145 or through Silverton Rt 550 to Durango and over (Note that 550 is a road that some love and other just think everyone should stay off -- I’ll drive it every time I have a chance but google it to see pictures)

The other popular option is to head to Utah – either from Grand Junction (Colorado Monument) or 141 or 90 over to Rt 191 – if you take I-70 try to remember to get off at exit 214 then follow Rt 128 into Moab –just a Special Drive.

Well that’ my welcome to Colorado Loop – just to drive it and only “see” most of it would take the week and just not be fair but if you really push, it can get you into the state so you return Often to Hike – Bike – Drive, many of the wild and Beautiful areas that are offered. Or you can take your time spending weeks in every location and still return to discover more adventures.

Hope this helps to get your interest up for Colorado.

Not a fan of the Springs - just too much really good to see.

With your timeline and location head north catching some of these;

Silverton
Ouray
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Marble
Maroon Bells
Rifle
Dinosaur NM
Flaming Gorge
Jackson

Hope this is of some help,

Best of Luck,

Bill
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:35 PM   #7
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Colordao

Thank you for all this information. It is going to be extremely helpful. I'm sorry to hear about the beetle in RMNP. I took my kids camping and hiking up there 20 years ago and it was beautiful. I am looking forward to going back to Colorado and really explore it.

Thanks again.
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Old 06-12-2017, 10:41 AM   #8
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Busskipper briefly mentioned it, but I found Colorado National Monument near Fruita / Grand Junction to be a must see. This park wasn't on our radar, and is a fabulous find. We just got back from Montana looping south into Flaming Gorge, Dinosaur NP, Colorado NM, then Black Canyon of the Gunnison - of all the stops on this most recent trip, I found Colorado NM to be the most picturesque (Note: We have been to almost every other NP in UT, MT, CO, WY, not saying its better than the headline parks, but close). It's very easy to tour in the Toad, the road while in great shape, is not ideal for Class A travel. Black Canyon and Flaming Gorge are also highlights and should not be forgotten, I guess I was surprised that more people don't talk about Colorado NM. We go west every year and try to see different parks and routes every time, and also love to avoid crowds :-)
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