Originally Posted by TAKINBETZ
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 its 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 90s 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 lets 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 10,000and 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 Juans 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 CGs 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 its 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 -- Ill 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;
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Hope this is of some help,
Best of Luck,