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A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

Cork, Ireland
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A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

Hi all, just a quick question about the best route to take from Denver International Airport to Estes Park. We want to stop in a Target/Wallmart or similar to pick up a cooler and other bits and bobs, so looking at the map, I would imagine Loveland or Longmount would be the best place to stop? I am just wondering if one route is better in terms of scenery? Also, I would prefer to take the ‘easiest’ route in terms of driving as thanks to Iberia’s ever changing flight schedule, we won’t be hitting the road in Denver until about 6:00pm. Also, we will be after a long flight, so would ideally like the least challenging route.

Also, a bit of a silly question, it will be about 8:00pm by the time we arrive in Estes Park (August 31st) is it safe enough to drive this route after dark? I know they advise against it in GTNP and Yellowstone, just wondering if the same advice applies here.

And lastly (sorry this was supposed to be only one question!) we probably will be too tired to go out to dinner once we arrive in Estes Park, is there anywhere in Estes Park that we could get some nice take out salads/sandwiches at that time?

Omaha, Nebraska
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1. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

Going up from Loveland is the most beautiful route. Longmont may be easier to drive, but I definitely think you should take the Big Thompson Canyon route from Estes Park to Loveland while you are there. The scenery is breathtaking.

The Longmont route would be safe to drive after dark, just follow the posted speeds.

Since you are landing at 6:00, I wonder if it wouldn't be better to pick up something at the airport or on your drive to Estes to eat. I'm sure you will be able to get take out there, but it may take a little time to find what you want to eat.

Have a wonderful trip. It is so beautiful!

Windsor, Colorado
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2. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

I do not agree that going up I-25 and highway 34 through Loveland is the most beautiful route. Actually, we had a similar discussion on your earlier posts when talking about where to buy a GPS and where to eat on your way or upon arrival in Estes Park. Overall, the Longmont/Lyons/South St. Vrain Canyon (highway 7 not 36)/Peak to Peak route has the most and best combination of scenery. This route will also have less traffic than I-25/highway 34 through Loveland to Estes Park.

http://goo.gl/maps/QbSZ3

The Walmart Supercenter in Longmont (2514 Main Street) is at the intersection of highway 66 and 287 on the northeast corner. You can not miss it. There is a Subway sandwich location in this Walmart. You could grab your sandwich or salad there and save some time.

As a reminder, do avoid the toll road around DIA, E-470.

You can drive either route close to dark. There is no scary driving just some winding roads through the canyons.

Big Thompson Canyon is quite dramatic between west Loveland and Estes Park. To drive the canyon from Estes Park to The Dam Store and back through Glen Haven to Estes Park only takes about 90 minutes if you have the time while in Estes Park.

http://mapq.st/1cVAEXD

Atlanta, Georgia
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3. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

We always go the Loveland route. There is also a Target and Walmart near the road. We stop if not on a Sunday at the Chick Fil A for a sandwich or salad. (You probably do not know what a Chick Fil A is but it is a sandwich, soup and salad restaurant started right here near Atlanta- been going since I was a child.)

Windsor, Colorado
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4. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

Looking back at your other posts, it appears you are headed to South Dakota after Estes Park. That means you will be driving down highway 34/Big Thompson Canyon between Estes Park and Loveland on your way to South Dakota. That is another reason to take the Longmont/Lyons/South St. Vrain Canyon route on your way to Estes Park. There is no reason to drive the same route twice.

Peachbelle and Grandmaticky, if you have not driven through South St. Vrain Canyon - highway 7 between Allenspark and Lyons, you need to. It is a beautiful drive. South St. Vrain Canyon is very colorful. My almost 91 year old mother calls it the canyon with the purple rocks. You can do it as a loop trip from Estes returning by way of highway 36.

Nederland, Colorado
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5. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

FYI sunset will be around 7:30 pm on August 31 so it won't be completely dark at 8 pm.

Cork, Ireland
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6. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

Thanks for all the replies, it sounds like either way would be a nice route. I like the idea of getting food on the way, I would imagine by the time we arrive in Estes Park we will be exhausted and not feel like looking for food. We will try and hit a grocery store too to fill up our cooler, does Walmart sell food?

We actually land at 4, so I am allowing a couple of hours to get luggage and car etc. so I'd imagine we'll be hitting the road by 6 (hopefully).

fv, we changed our itinerary with regards to SD, we decided to skip it for this trip add an extra night in RMNP, GTNP and YNP. Would that change your opinion on which route to take?

By the way, with regards to the GPS, we were able to download an app called sygic on to our iPhone for $30 that acts as a GPS without using data so no expensive roaming charges. Worked out cheaper than buying or renting a GPS.

Atlanta, Georgia
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7. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

fv1989,

Thanks for the info. We actually have driven that route in 2010 in September. We not only did RMNP, Peak to Peak Hwy but also took a trip to Longmont, Boulder and Fort Collins.

Windsor, Colorado
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8. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

People often take highway 119 through Boulder Canyon, the Peak to Peak to Estes Park, highway 36 or 34 into Estes Park. The section of highway 7 that is not part of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway but is the beautiful route through South St. Vrain Canyon is somewhat overlooked. If I don't shut up about it, it will not be overlooked anymore!

The Super Walmart in Longmont (like all Super Walmart stores) has a complete grocery store and a deli. It is one stop shopping. I actually like the Walmart on Main Street in Longmont better than the one off highway 34 in Loveland, but a Walmart is a Walmart.

Eventhough you are headed to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons after RMNP, I still like the Longmont/South St. Vrain Canyon route. It has both canyon and mountain views. I do not know which route you are taking from Estes Park to Jackson Hole, but if it is the shortest route (link below) - I-25 through Cheyenne and highway 287, etc., you will still be traveling down highway 34 and Big Thompson Canyon on your way to Jackson Hole. Again, no need to take the same route twice.

http://mapq.st/14VzIj6

Atlanta, Georgia
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9. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

We will check out that route again in September. We are doing Colorado Springs, RMNP, Yellowstone and the Tetons.

Thanks for keeping everyone updated.

Cork, Ireland
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10. Re: A few questions about route from Denver to Estes Park

Thanks again, I think I will take the advise to take the route via Longmount and hopefully we will be able to get our cooler and supplies on the way. Thanks again, so excited now! Still 56 days to go though :(