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short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

Houston, Texas
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short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

Hi all

We will be visiting RMNP(me, my wife and my 2-year old son) for a very short time in the 3rd week of August. I will stay at centennial(due to some low car rental rate, as I will be driving to las vegas via Grand canyon with a break at Durango after RMNP, Garden of Gods and Pikes peak train). We do not have the intention to hike. We would like to stop for scenic beauties at some of the spots of Trail ridge road. I have some questions.1)Which way is preferable--west entrance or east entrance of RMNP for trail ridge road? 2) what are the spots that we can consider as breath-taker of Trail Ridge Road?3) I am renting an intermediate car. Is it OK to drive Trail Ridge road and other areas of Colorado (including Wolf creek pass to Durango) with intermediate car?Do I need 4WD car? 4)How scary is driving in Trail ridge Road?I never drove in mountains. So probably need to give some time to adjust my body to altitudes. I read about some of the suggestions of fv1989 of this forum but now cannot get link to those advises. if somebody can provide me the links, it would be great for me. Thanks to all of you in advance.

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Durango
Durango
Colorado
Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
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Colorado Springs, CO
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
2,936 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Colorado
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United States
Colorado
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1. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

You do not need 4WD. The roads are paved.

If you are driving all of Trail Ridge Road from one side to the other, it doesn't really matter which side you start.

Here's a link to an informative overview of TRR: visitestespark.com/blog/…

Hundreds of thousands of people drive TRR every year. Many do not think that it is "scary". Go here to read reviews: tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60945-d19…

However, here is a recent thread by someone who was "terrified":

tripadvisor.com/…59998389

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Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
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2. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

If you go to the right of your post under Rocky Mountain National Park Destination Experts you can click on fv1989's avatar and view her posts. You can search for the info you need.

Also, at the top right of the page see the Top questions about Rocky Mountain National Park and click on How long does it take to drive Trail Ridge Road?

Edited: 24 July 2014, 22:22
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Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
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Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Houston, Texas
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3. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

Hi Babalax

Thanks for your reply. I picked up two routes-to and from RMNP(given by fv1989) as discussed in other threads of RMNP. These are: www.mapquest.com/?version=1.0&hk=1-1n8pe6zD and www.mapquest.com/?version=1.0&hk=2-7HrolVUi. I have two questions regarding these routes. 1) Is it difficult to drive the peak to peak road (72-7)?Consider that I never drove in mountain roads and never been at high altitudes. Is there is particular suggestion that you want to give me?2) Regarding the return drive, I assume that I will be driving after sunset from Decker to Manitou Spring. Is it OK to drive after sunset in that Road or should I continue 470 instead of entering 285?

Also anybody knowing these routes are welcome to answer my questions--

Thanks a lot for your help.

Windsor, Colorado
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4. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

fv1989's ears are burning! I am here and see your post. Let me get something clear. Are you planning to make a day trip to RMNP and Trail Ridge Road starting and ending in Centennial? If not, from where are you starting this day trip and where are you ending it?

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Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
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Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Houston, Texas
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5. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

Thanks fv1989 for replying to my post. I am starting from centennial and ending at Manitou spring as next day I would visit GoG and pikes peak by train and move towards GC with a break in Durando. RMNP is for day1. My plan is Centennial-peak to peak route to beaver meadow entrance-bear lake-trr to grand lake-back to manitou spring through your return route.i believe it will be a 12 hr journey.so I was looking to make it short.

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6. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

>> 1) Is it difficult to drive the peak to peak road (72-7)?Consider that I never drove in mountain roads and never been at high altitudes. <<

It is not difficult at all.

Houston, Texas
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7. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

Thanks for the reply. What about the 2nd question?Any comments?

Windsor, Colorado
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8. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

After giving it some thought, here is the route I would take. Centennial - Grand Lake - Trail Ridge Road - Fall River Road - Estes Park - Nederland - Golden Gate Canyon Road - 470 - 85 - 105 - I-25 to Manitou Springs. I think overall you will encounter less traffic and this breaks the trip up better for traveling with a 2 year old. Here is the google maps link.

http://goo.gl/maps/bN5Uq

You will be doing so much traveling this day that I would skip going to Bear Lake. Between Berthoud Pass, Trail Ridge Road and the Peak to Peak, you will see plenty of mountain scenery. With an early start, you should reach Nederland in time to enjoy the Carousel of Happiness and perhaps have dinner in Nederland.

http://www.carouselofhappiness.org/

The trip breaks down something like this. Pack a picnic lunch or grab a picnic lunch to go at Cy's Deli in Grand Lake.

Centennial to Grand Lake - 2.5 hours

Grand Lake - town if you need some refreshment.

You will get a map to RMNP at the entrance gate but to give you an idea of where some of the stops listed are located, here is the google maps link for the Grand Lake to Estes Park part of your trip.

http://goo.gl/maps/tXJCu

Grand Lake - RMNP Adams Falls is only .3 miles (uphill with steps) from the trailhead.

rockymountainhikingtrails.com/adams-falls.htm

RMNP Kawuneeche Visitor Center - If you would like the $2 guide to Trail Ridge Road, stop here. There are real restrooms.

Kawuneeche Entrance Station - you will get a map and newspaper at the entrance station.

Holzwarth Historic Site - level stroller friendly trail. It is one mile total in and out but only walk as far as the Colorado River. Since you are going to the Grand Canyon, you will appreciate the interpretative sign about the Colorado River and will be amazed at the difference in the river itself. The Colorado River headwaters are not too far from this site. Elk and moose are often seen in the meadow and along the river.

Milner Pass/Continental Divide - if you just have to have the photo at the sign like most people.

Alpine Visitor Center and Trail Ridge Store - there is a small cafe at the Trail Ridge Store. The Alpine Visitor Center has real restrooms as opposed to vault toilets. Views!

Rock Cut Overlook and Tundra Communities Trail - stroller friendly trail uphill 1 mile total in and out - Do Not Miss!

rockymountainhikingtrails.com/tundra-communi…

Forest Canyon Overlook - very short trail to what may be the favorite overlook along Trail Ridge Road

Rainbow Curve Overlook - little critters and birds are always here but it is illegal to feed them. Note the cars below look like toys.

Hidden Valley - nice .5 mile easy loop trail along a cascading creek, good area for wildlflowers and there are real restrooms.

Beaver Boardwalk - kids love boardwalks and this one is very short to a nice meadow with a creek and views. Moose and elk have been spotted in the willows between Hidden Valley and the Beaver Boardwalk.

Horseshoe Park Overlook - on highway 34 below Deer Junction - semicircular paved pullout on your right. Great expansive mountain and valley views.

Estes Park - refreshments and a break.

So how long should you plan for the Grand Lake over Trail Ridge Road to Estes Park part of your trip with the stops and short trails listed? That varies. As Babalax said, you can use the Trail Ridge Road timeline in the first question over to your right in Top Questions as a guide. With a 2 year old, I think you are looking at about 5 hours including time for your picnic lunch. That means from the time you leave Centennial, you are 7.5 to 8 hours to Estes Park. If you run short on time, skip the Hidden Valley Nature Trail and Beaver Boardwalk.

Estes Park to Nederland is about 1 hour without stops for photo ops.

Nederland to Manitou Springs along the route I gave you above - 2.5 to 2.75 hours depending on traffic.

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9. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

If you would like restaurant suggestions for dinner in Nederland, Babalax can help you. If you have a picnic lunch, I assumed you would want an earlier dinner.

You can always take I-25 instead of 105 to Manitou Springs. I am just not a big fan of I-25.

I hope your 2 year old can tolerate this long day. Even just driving time is long. Entering RMNP from the east side and only traveling as far as the Alpine Visitor Center on Trail Ridge Road does not save driving time as you can see at this link. This route is also not as scenic and requires backtracking.

http://goo.gl/maps/Pj6sM

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Alpine Visitor Center
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Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
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Houston, Texas
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10. Re: short visit to RMNP and Garden of Gods

Sorry for delayed response fv1989. Thanks for the itinerary. I liked the way you designed the trip for RMNP. Probably entering from Grand Lake would be best because that also gives me the possibility to go at bear lake after 4pm, if possible at all...Waiting for the trip next week---

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Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO