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Need opinions on this trip - please

florida
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Need opinions on this trip - please

We are ready to make our first trip to Colorado, but only have a week and want to see as much as possible. Is the following possible without killing ourselves?

Day 1 Land in Denver at 7:30 AM. Drive to Colorado Springs.

Cave of the Winds Lantern Tour

Mllie Katherine Underground Gold Mine Tour

Pioneer Museum and Old Western Town

Chuckwagon Supper and Western Stage Show

(we live in Florida and wanted to do activities that would keep us at a lower elevation and give us some time to adjust)

Day 2 Pike���s Peak - we will drive to the top

Garden of the Gods

Manitou Cliff Dwellings ��� if time permits

Miramount Castle

Iron Springs Melodrama Dinner Theatre

Day 3 Drive to Durango

Tour downtown

Diamond Circle Melodrama and Vaudeville

Day 4 Drive to Mesa Verde (very early to get tickets)

Tour Mesa Verde

Return to Durango for evening

Dau 5 Drive to Aspen on San Juan Scenic Highway (C550)

Pass through Silverton (could do Silverton Mine Tour)

Pass Ouray ��� Black Canyon National Park

Silver Queen Gondola Lift Ride

Spend the night in Aspen

Day 6 Drive to Leadville

On the Way tour Ashcroft and Independence Ghost Towns

Leadville Colorado Southern Train

Leadville Mining Hall of Fame and Museum

Spend the night in Leadville

Day 7 Drive to Rocky Mountain National Park Spend the day exploring the drives and trails in park

Spend the night in Estes Park

Day 8 Drive to Denver

Tour the Molly Brown House

Fly home - flight leaves at 6:30 pm

Thank you for your opinions/advice. We can't wait to see beautiful Colorado!

Colorado Western...
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for Ouray, Outdoors / Adventure Travel, Montrose
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1. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

You've selected a lot of fun things to see, but I'm thinking you're going to spend almost as much time in your car as you spend doing things.

The drive from Colorado Springs to Durango will probably take 5+ hours. Durango to Aspen via Ouray also at least 5 hours. In both cases, you'll be passing through some wonderful scenery -- you wouldn't want to rush (especially on the Million Dollar Highway -- the sheer dropoffs will keep your speed waaaaay down!).

Also, since you plan to do so little in Denver, had you considered flying in and out of Colorado Springs instead?

Springfield, MO
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2. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

Your will not be able to get everything in on Day 5. If you stop at Silverton and the scenic overlooks (which you absolutely should), Ouray to Durango can easily be a 3 or 4 hour drive. Black Canyon (if you do most of the short hikes to the overlooks) will also take 3-4 hours.

I know it looks like you are close to Salida at that point, but remember you have to go over Monarch Pass, and you won't be able to drive 60 mph the whole time. You will be less rushed and enjoy your trip more if you spend that night at Montrose (which is actually closer to the entrance of Black Canyon than Gunnison is).

It will be much easier to incorporate that last bit of driving to Salida on day 6, and you should still be in good shape to get everything done in Leadville. The museum in Leadville is really interesting.

florida
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3. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

Thank you so much for your responses. You're right..one of my concerns was that we would be spending the vacation in the car. My husband wants to leave out the southern portion of the trip and go from Colorado Springs to Canon City (Royal Gorge Bridge, etc) then on to Aspen, Leadville, and RMNP for a more leisurely trip.

However, the scenery I've seen in the San Juan mountains while researching the trip is absolutely beautiful and I hate to miss it.

Unfortunately we can't change our flight plans - we booked nonrefundable tickets because we got such a great deal on them.

Thank you for the replies. Keep them coming. I have a feeling after I've been to beautiful Colorado, I will never want to return to hot, humid Florida.

Colorado Western...
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for Ouray, Outdoors / Adventure Travel, Montrose
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4. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

I think you're right to keep the southern part of the trip intact -- I'm a Colorado native, and I think the SW portion of the state, especially the San Juan drive, is the most spectacular of all.

Royal Gorge doesn't do much for me. The scenery is fine, but the commercialization is overwhelming.

If you want to shorten up some of your driving, you might consider skipping RMNP, even though it is certainly beautiful. You've only given it part of one day, which is pretty short for really getting to explore any trails. That would free up some time to spend in other areas. Maybe you could spend several days at Rocky Mtn National Park on a future trip to Colorado that features the northern part of the state! ;-)

Springfield, MO
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5. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

I agree completely with WingLady - you can't skip SW Colorado and the San Juans. If you have to skip something, I would leave out Pike's Peak and the Colorado Springs area - not nearly as spectacular in my opinion.

When I took my fiancee to the mountains for the first time last year, he said he wanted to stay in one place. We did for the first few days, but the more he saw, the more he wanted to drive and go somewhere different every day. We are leaving for CO again a week from today, without reservations, planning to just drive wherever we feel like going - no more staying in one place for us. Just be sure to make lots of stops at all the scenic overlooks, museums and other fun places - that is what you will remember more than anything. Have fun!

florida
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6. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

I hear you. What are your favorite things to do in the San Juans. I'll be traveling with my husband and our 22 year old son. They want to do all the exciting things like whitewater rafting, jeep tours, etc. But I don't want to miss the really great things. Thanks so much. You're really a huge help.

CO
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7. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

One day is not enough to acclimate yourself to our altitude from yours in FL. Three days is usually recommended. I would skip Pikes Peak! My niece suffered horrible altitude sickness when traveling to Pikes Peak her second day in Colorado. I did not take her; the other aunt did not think it through. Put the girl out of commission for 3 days afterward.

Colorado Springs is nice, but really most of those sites are touristy. Not worth your travel time. I would take 285 out of Denver down to 50 to Gunnison, beautiful views and the canyon is on your way to Rt 550. Head south to Ouray, Silverton, Durango, and Mesa Verde. Wow! What a view. You can return 550 north (only part of the trip would be a repeat, but what a repeat!) to Grand Junction head 70 East to Glenwood Springs and on to Aspen. Hop back on 70 east and return to Denver.

Do the Denver and Colorado Springs and Rocky Mountain NP another time. Colorado is a BIG state and it takes a lot of time to drive everywhere. The mountain roads are NOT 60-65 mph. In fact, Red Mountain Pass between Ouray and Silverton is 15 or maybe it is even 10 mph.

Have a great time.

Colorado Springs, CO
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8. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

I agree with some of the other posts. You are trying to put too much into a week. You don't realize how much time you will be driving on two lane mountain roads with slow tourist traffic. Even though I live in Colo. Springs, I would skip it or allow only one day. Some of the things you listed in C.S. are very touristy. The worthwhile items you listed are Pikes Peak (a 3 hour drive up & down and should only be started early in a.m. due to thunderstorms in p.m.) The altitude effects everyone differently. Some hardly notice while others can suffer great discomfort. The other item in C.S. worthwhile is Cave of the Winds. Of couse Garden of the Gods is a beautiful City Park but I wouldn't want to take time and miss some of the southwest part of the state.

The Royal gorge is fascinating but has become very commercialized - kiddie rides, merry-go-round etc. and big gift shop of course. I would rather spend my time at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It is much larger and very beautiful. It is a several hour visit.

The trip from C.S. to Durango will take you on the northern route (through Gunnison and Montrose and Ouray) or the southern route ( through Del Norte and Pagosa Springs). Either route is a good 7-8 hour drive if the traffic isn't heavy - can be longer. The Northern route is the most beautiful but you could spend two days getting there with many stops along the way. The northern route will take you over Monarch pass and down into the Gunnison valley. Then on to Montrose - but about 8 miles before you get to Montrose is the entrance to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison (not to be missed) - much more beautiful and much larger than the Royal Gorge. Then from Montrose to Ouray is about an hour. But You may want to spend some time in Ouray - the most beautiful mountain town you will see. The scenery there is breathtaking. They also have a great outdoor natural hot-springs pool that is a great place to swim and relax in the most beautiful setting in all of Colorado.

The time at Mesa Verde is also great. A full day is good to plan there, particularly if you get tickets for some of the guided tours. The best train ride in Colorado is from Durango to Silverton and back. This takes most of a day also. Your plan to tour S.W. Colorado and then all the way to Rocky Mtn National park in one day from Durango is next to impossible. I would recommend forgetting Rocky Mtn. Nat. Park this time.

There is just too much to see and do in Colorado to get it all in a week. Good luck and enjoy.

northern Colorado
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9. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

Hi pianogal - I'm partial to northern CO (it's where I live), but I would have to say that if what you're looking for is spectacular scenery, I would focus on SW CO or extreme NW CO (the area around Steamboat Springs). I would skip the drive up Pikes Peak (maybe take a short hike up the trail, but the drive up is not that fantastic... I prefer Trail Ridge Road for a high altitude experience). The million dollar highway is spectacular, scenic, and SCARY! I'd skip the Cliff Dwellings near C Springs and the Mollie Kathleen mine - you can find better in SW Colorado. In short, make plans to return to CO sometime, but it sounds like (based on your interests) SW CO is your best destination. You might stay in C. Springs the first night to get in some of that area.

robinCO

PS: SKIP Canon City.

florida
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10. Re: Need opinions on this trip - please

Wow, am I glad I posted on my trip here. I have completely revamped the trip. Do you mind reviewing this and let me know if it is doable? Thanks so much......

Day 1 - Denver to Cortez (I know it will be a long drive - 379 miles