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Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

New Jersey
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Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

Land in DIA Sept 9 @ 10 AM -Depart DIA Sept 15 @12 noon.

Day one: Drive to Manitou Springs see Garden of Gods & Manitou

either spend night in this area or drive to Cripple Creek & spend the night. (Is CC worth the drive, we really liked Deadwood , SD).

Day two: Take Cog RR up Pikes Peak than drive to Golden/ Black Hawk area. Spend nite here.

Day three: Tour Golden (old town, musuem, outlook mt) go to Black hawk spend night.

Day four: Take Peak to Peak to Estes Park (with a stop in Nederland?). Spend nite in Estes Park.

Day five: Tour RMNP(trail ridge road or Fall River Road to Alpine Visitor Center). We might extend this trip to western side for the lunch in Grand lake back to Estes Park to spend night.

Day six: Drive to Boulder, have lunch Pearl St area. Spend nite here or closer to airport.

Should we skip day three at Golden & do this on our last day after Boulder? That way we could spend more time in the park area.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. (I have changed this so many times-there is just so much to see)

Thanks in advance.

Charlotte, North...
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1. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

jackson13: I would probably combine Boulder and Golden on your last day, as you mentioned possibly doing. This would give you an extra day to spende either in CO Springs or RMNP. I'd recommend adding it to RMNP. If you only have one full day in RMNP, I would suggest not going to the western side of the park. It is beautiful, but you would just be rushing it. If it's only one day, drive the Old Fall River Road up to the Alpine Visitor Center and take Trail Ridge Road down. Then, you'd have time to explore the Bear Lake area (perhaps a short walk to Bear Lake and Sprague Lake?).

If you add a day to RMNP and have two days, then spend one day driving up Old Fall River Road and exploring the west side. If your accomodations aren't set in stone, then spend that night in Grand Lake. The second day explore the east side of the park.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Sean

Littleton, Colorado
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2. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

Black Hawk is not worth spending the night in, IMHO. It's an old town that was totally razed to squeeze in as many modern casinos as possible. We have "limited stakes gambling" here, which means it's mostly slot machines (a million of them!), with some poker and blackjack with $5.00 max per hand bets. Maybe a drive-by look when you're passing by on the Peak-to-Peak (gorgeous drive), but definitely not two, or even one night! Golden is OK, but an afternoon will do it. I know people love the Coors Brewery tour, but I'm partial to *real* beer myself, so I've never done it! Lookout Mountain and the Buffalo Bill Grave are worth visiting. Stay in Boulder - that's worth seeing, and only an easy hour from the airport - no need to stay closer.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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3. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

Arrive DIA, probably get out of there by noon. Take E470 a toll road around Denver. It will be much quicker even if it costs a bit in tolls. About an hour to C Springs.

I would spend the night in Manitou. I don't really see the need to go to Cripple Creek. Have a nice meal in Manitou, relax and enjoy your first night in Colo.

Pikes Peak will be fun. Have lunch in Manitou, then head up the 2 hours to Black Hawk/Central City. I don't know if Golden is necessary, not much there really but Coors. You can see Lookout Mountain on your way up I70 to Black Hawk.

On the Peak to Peak Hwy stop in Rollinsville (before you get to Nederland). Head west about 8 miles or so to the East Portal of the Moffat Tunnel (train!). The west portal is near Winter Park!! As a teen we used to take the train from outside Boulder to Winter Park to go skiing. Lots of "fun" teen memories of this tunnel, LOL!!!

I think you must to Trail Ridge at least once in you lifetime!! Maybe the next day drive up Fall River Road. Also go to Bear Lake and take the trail around the lake. Enjoyable!

I would try to spend another night in Estes to see more of RMNP.

Have fun

Fort Collins...
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4. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

I think your itinerary looks great! My suggestions include:

-combining Golden with Boulder. Golden can be done in a few hours and does not even compare with RMNP. You can even cut out Golden all together and just do Denver. Denver has much more to offer downtown in terms of things to see and do.

-Cripple Creek, in my opinion, is definately worth the trip! I love it there. It has a old west feel to it, lots of fun casinos and restaurants. If you do Cripple Creek, I would skip Black Hawk. Black Hawk doesn't have the same feel as CC-it feels more like a resort town that happens to be in a canyon,not really worth it if you're already going to CC. If you skip CC however, I would go to Black Hawk.

-Grand Lake is worth the visit for lunch. It allows you to drive through the whole park and the town is really cute,the lake is beautiful.

-Lunch at BJ's in Boulder on Pearl St. is amazing, you gotta go there!

Have fun!

Woodland Park...
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5. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

Great advice from everyone already but I thought I'd throw this in. I know you've scheduled your visit to Colorado Springs first since you're flying out of DIA, however, many "low-landers" have problems with the altitude, especially if they visit the summit of Pikes Peak soon after arriving. You might consider switching up your trip to do RMNP first and then head down to Colorado Springs. Just something to consider. :)

As for Cripple Creek, it's a neat old mining town that is not entirely gambling focused. However, unlike Black Hawk (which is a real shame IMO), they've done a good job of maintaining the historic integrity of the town. Unless you really like gambling, it's probably not worth the trip up. We live about 30 minutes from there so we visit a few times a month. It's certainly entertaining, but only if you gamble.

As for Golden, if you want "real" beer you could also check out the Golden City brewery. Coors is neat to tour, but the beers at Golden City Brewery are quite good (and less touristy). Lookout Mountain is a pretty drive and provides great vistas of the city. See Buffalo Bill's grave while you're up there.

Colorado Springs...
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6. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

RE: Cripple Creek.

It is worth the trip if the fall colors (aspen) have started. Then the views are really grand. There's circle tour you could take: Colorado Springs, US 24 to Divide - Cripple Creek - Florissant (Fossil Beds National Park),to COS on US 24.

New Jersey
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7. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

Thanks for all the suggestions. We will probably skip Golden & spend the extra day in RMNP. Seriously considering spending the night of day five in Grand Lake than taking the Cache la Poudre Scenic byway to Fort Collins, spending our last night in Boulder area. How tedious of a drive is the scenic byway (don't want to wear my husband out)?

Woodland Park...
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8. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

I think the byway is a beautiful drive! In college (we lived in Fort Collins) DH and I would take the drive into Walden and then loop through Wyoming for a (long) scenic day drive. We like drives though.

Charlotte, North...
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9. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

I second the Cache la Poudre Scenic Byway. I took this route from Ft. Collins to Grand Lake in 2005, and it is one of the most scenic drives I've been on. The drive is not at all what I would call tedious. The drive from Grand Lake to Walden will feature some nice mountain scenery, and you will drive through a wildlife preserve on the way. Then North Park at Walden is just beautiful. It used to be a sea, but now it is a huge marshy plains area full of wildlife and surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and the Medicine Bow Mountains. Look for moose there---Walden is called the moose viewing capital of the world. Then again, I saw ~25 moose over 5 days in the Kawuneechee Valley of RMNP and only 2 moose in North Park. From North Park to Cameron Pass you will see some awesome snow-capped mountains (maybe some snow) and the western side of the Never Summer Mountains which form the backdrop of the Kawuneechee Valley in RMNP. Then from Cameron Pass to Ft. Collins you will drop out of the alpine scenery, into aspens and pines, and then down into the canyon, which is really cool as well.

I have some pictures of the route on my photobucket account. Go to the following site, and the first three rows were taken along the route.

…photobucket.com/albums/…

You can also see all of my pictures from RMNP by going to the following site...

…photobucket.com/albums/…

If you have any questions about where things are or anything at all, don't hesitate to ask. I hope that helped a little. Oh ya, and the drive from Grand Lake to Ft. Collins is around 4 hours. Boulder would be another hour, so the drive isn't that long either. It is definitely worthwhile.

Sean

New Jersey
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10. Re: Pikes peak/RMNP tentative itinerary(opinions needed)

Thanks everyone for the feedback. TNsoccer07-great pictures!! I am sure I will be asking more questions.