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Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

Memphis, TN
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Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

In June, I'm planning my first ever trip to the Rockies area. I'll be flying in to Denver, will probably stay a day or two visiting friends in the fort collins area. So I've basically got 5-6 days to do whatever I want and I'm a bit overwhelmed. I'm hoping some experienced posters here can give me ideas of what to do, where to go and what to see. Thanks.

Here's some details...

Travelling with wife and 8 year old twin boys (who love minigolf, snow and pizza).

We like to take senic drives.

We don't mind walking some as long as there aren't long distances or significant altitude gains.

Love good local food.

Don't mind staying in different places (we're considering going to colorado springs and spending part of our time there).

We aren't cheap, but aren't extravagant. (Like bargains).

We're looking to make memories.

Want to do a little shopping, but not alot.

Also, we're big geeks,so if there's anything we might like to know about (comic books, sci-fi and fantasy movies and books, board games, ect.)

Last. I love root beer and look for unique one wherever I go.


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1. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

IMO, skip Colorado Springs. It's nice, and there are a couple decent spots like Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, Royal Gorge, Cheyene Canyon, but I'm a "homer" for Estes Park. For 5 days with twin 8 year olds, you could probably fill your time with some horseback riding, some scenic drives (Estes has the best), short walks/hikes, picnics, amusement spots with the mini golf, etc, a day shopping trip to Boulder (and the main drag in EP). The marina rents boats, fishing poles, etc. Lots to do and enjoy with kids in the area. If I chose another area besides Estes, I might consider Breckenridge, as I think that's a great town.

As for Root Beer, I would recommend 90 Shilling by Odell Brewing Co, but there is no "root", only beer :). Enjoy.

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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2. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

About your time in Fort Collins---you want to drive the Cache La Poudre Scenic Byway and consider booking a white water rafting trip on the Cache La Poudre National Wild And Scenic River. Fort Fun in Fort Collins has 2 great 18 holes each minigolf courses in addition to go karts, paddle boats, laser tag, etc. Visit The Farm at Lee Martinez Park. For the adults, book a tour of the New Belgium Brewery. It is so popular, tours book two months in advance! You can book online. Beau Jo's Pizza is the local favorite in Fort Collins.

For your time in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, I agree with Plz's suggestions above. With two 8 year old boys and looking for a bargain, you are a perfect candidate for the YMCA of the Rockies Estes Park Center. www.ymcarockies.org Realize this is a resort with lodge rooms and cabins and great views. Click on the activities link and you will be amazed. Many activities are included in the lodging cost or have very reasonable fees. Families give them wonderful reviews here on TA.

There is no shortage of scenic driving in RMNP or in the Estes Park area. Check out this link. www.estesparkcvb.com/transportation.cfm

For great short hikes and walks in RMNP, see rmnp.com/RMNP-Things-ShortWalksAndHikes.HTML

If you do a search on the RMNP or Estes Park forums, there are numerous topics about things to do with kids or family friendly hikes, etc.

Edited: 25 January 2012, 00:40
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3. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

I'll answer your root beer question as I am a bit of a connoisseur myself. If you go to Estes Park, the Estes Park Brewery makes their own Stinger root beer which is quite good.

Memphis, TN
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4. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

Thanks, that helps.

Divide, Colorado
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5. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

definitely don't miss the colorado springs area! i would suggest at least 2 days down there and 3 in the RMNP area .

especially with 8 year olds, the springs area is fantastic ... visit garden of the gods ..pikes peak .. cave of the winds .. the cliff dwellings... 7 falls .. drive up ute pass for the dinosaur center , the wolf and wildlife center and the florissant fossilbeds. (garden of the gods at dusk, if the youngsters are into seeing bats) if you stay 3 days, you can get to the royal gorge , the great sand dunes or even dip down into NM and visit taos

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6. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

Don't miss Coopersmith's while in Fort Collins. It's a restaurant/brewery in Old Town and they make their own Root Beer and Cream Soda. You can also do a beer sampling if you are interested.

Your kids will probably enjoy a picnic at Swetsville Zoo in Fort Collins -- a very nerdy, quirky place. It's not a real zoo. It's huge sculptures of animals that are welded together out of scrap parts from just about anything they can find.

Fort Collins also has a couple of great disk golf couses. if your kids like to throw a frisbee, they will love playing this. There is one at Edora Park, and a brand new one just opened last week at Hughes Stadium.

For board game geeks, Fort Collins has The Haunted Game Cafe. A coffee shop filled with board games. Just buy a cup of coffee, italian soda, or hot chocolate and play a few games. They have tournaments and stuff on Friday nights, and several other things during the summer. My kids love to go there with their friends. Sometimes they stay 6-8 hours and have lunch there ( there is a great Vietnamese restaurant in the same strip shopping center --- Young's Vietnamese Restaurant).

I would recommend taking your kids up to Summit County (I would probably split the time between RMNP and Summit County). Breckenridge has a great fun park where they can do a human maze, ride a ski lift to the top of the mountain and take the alpine slide down, mini-golf, and a few other things. There are also some gold mine tours there, lots of great hikes, cycling, and a great reservoir that you can rent canoes, kayaks, or other boats. The weather up there is amazing in the summer.

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7. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

I really enjoyed Colorado Springs and think that 8-year old boys would love it! Garden of the Gods is cool, as is Pike's Peak. Even if you only spent two days, I think it would be worth it.

In RMNP, I really like the Bear Lake Trail. I share your philosophy of hiking-not too long and not too much altitude gain, so Bear Lake is perfect for this, and breath-takingly gorgeous besides. I also like Sprague Lake. Be sure to drive up Trail Ridge Road-you can get an inexpensive road guide from the visitor center that gives you an idea of what you're looking at for all the viewpoints. There are short paths/trails at many of the viewpoints.

Kansas City...
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8. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

I'd hit pikes peak / garden of the gods, etc and then get to Estes as quickly as possible. It seems to have a lot of what you are looking for (mini golf, good food, a little shopping, etc).

The only thing that would be worth a side trip for might be to raft the arkansas, but not sure if you are looking for that much adventure.

Fort Worth, Texas
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9. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

With 8 year olds, I would try to do some rafting. My son is 3 so I dont have any recommendations. Horseback riding looks like fun too. I would get a book on easy day hikes. There are many that are very easy, and the books will tell you total mileage along with elevation gain. U would recommend Adams Falls on the west side, Mushroom Rocks at the top of Trail Ridge Rd (saw pika, and they have these cool rock formations the boys can climb on and a cave that they can crawl in), Nymph/Dream Lake (if you can push onto Emerald Lake, it is soooo worth it), and Alberta Falls (if you can push on to Mills Lake, its stunning - an alpine lake with Long's Peak in the background.) Keep in mind June can still be pretty cold, especially at high elevations. It can be warm too so dress on layers.

I personally prefer Estes Park and RMNP, but Co Springs sods have some activities that your boys will enjoy.

Also, we love Poppy's Pizza in Estes, right on the river. Haven't had the root beer there, but they have great pizza and salads.

Have a great time!!

10. Re: Need help planning my first trip to the Rockies

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