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Denver, Avon, National Parks with Kids

New Haven...
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Denver, Avon, National Parks with Kids

Hi there,

We are planning an 11 day trip to Colorado in mid-July.

We fly in/out of Denver and will be staying in Avon for a week (timeshare) and will have three days at another location (TBD). We will be with our children (ages 7 and 9) and would like to visit the following and any other recommendations you have:

Rocky Mtn Natl Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP

Great Sand Dunes NP

Ghost Town

Attend a concert at a Music Festival

Avon will be our base for the first seven days (bc of timeshare) and then we plan to head towards Denver to explore RMNP. We would love feedback on possible itineraries for the places mentioned above. We would like to break up the week with staying local and enjoying the Avon area, and with drives to the southern NPs. Kid friendly restaurant recommendations are also welcomed (our girls are very well behaved and open to trying new and different cuisines). We would also like a recommendation for a place to stay near RMNP and reserve before things get booked up.

Many thanks in advance for your help, and a happy, healthy and safe New Year to all!

Destination Expert
for Breckenridge
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1. Re: Denver, Avon, National Parks with Kids

For RMNP with kids, check out YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. Great place for families.


Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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2. Re: Denver, Avon, National Parks with Kids

Matt is correct. The YMCA of the Rockies is a great place for families with many activities on site such as heated pool, mini-golf and roller skating. They have 2 new lodges built in 2009. Check out the reviews here on TA. Your timeshare location in Avon is not centrally located to the areas you want to see. A quick check on Mapquest yields the following distances from Avon: Black Canyon-3 hours, Great Sand Dunes-3 1/2 hours, Colorado National Monument-2 1/2 hours, Dinosaur National Monument-3 hours, Colorado Springs-3 hours. These are one way distances. A round trip would mean many hours in the car, especially for the kids. All of the locations listed are great and the drives to get to them are non stop scenery, I just wanted to make sure you understood the time involved.

Vail, Colorado
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3. Re: Denver, Avon, National Parks with Kids

There are lots of fun things to do in the Avon area. Piney Lake is a fun place to visit, Vail and Beaver Creek are full of summer activities, Ford Amphitheater should have some music or the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek. Glenwood Springs has Caverns that are pretty amazing, there is also rafting in Glenwood Canyon or hike up to Hanging lake. If you drive over Independence Pass over to Aspen you can stop at the Ghost Town up there. There are so many things to do in the area, hopefully you get to enjoy some time here rather than just driving in the car.

Colorado Western...
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for Ouray, Outdoors / Adventure Travel, Montrose
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4. Re: Denver, Avon, National Parks with Kids

Maybe I've misunderstood your schedule, but I'm wondering if you are trying to fit some things in that are going to result in spending almost an entire day in the car, with little time left for enjoying the destination.

I'm assuming you are hoping to go see Great Sand Dunes and Black Canyon during the 7 days you are staying in Avon. You're looking at about a 3+ hour drive one way from Avon to either of those destinations (so 6-7 hours RT in the car if you want to return to your timeshare that evening).

Perhaps it would be more fun (and less time spent in the car) to just visit places in the northern part of the state, since you also want to see RMNP. Don't get me wrong -- I live close to Black Canyon and love it, and Great Sand Dunes is one of my favorite places to be -- I just wouldn't want to rush through either of those and spend all my time driving.

Destination Expert
for Colorado
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5. Re: Denver, Avon, National Parks with Kids

So, would that be 9 days plus day of arrival and departure?

I also don't think it's advisable to visit the Black Canyon and Sand Dunes as day trips from Avon. I've been trying to think of ways to make it work...Is there any way you'd consider spending one of your time share nights elsewhere? You could drive to Montrose to see the Black Canyon and Museum of the Mountain West, then perhaps on to Ouray to see this historic and picturesque village and play in the hot springs pool, maybe hike to the waterfall. In the morning you could drive to Buena Vista and visit St Elmo ghost town, then on to Leadville and back to Avon.

Or, getting an early start you could drive to the Black Canyon, explore for two hours, then drive on to the Great Sand Dunes for the evening and sunset...a VERY full day, lots of driving, but doable. Stay overnight in Alamosa, then drive the next morning to Buena Vista,( St. Elmo, Agnes Vaille Falls), Leadville and back to Avon.

If that isn't possible, and you really want to see the Black Canyon and the Sand Dunes, then you could drive to Grand Lake from Avon and drive Trail Ridge Road, visiting Rocky Mountain National Park as a day trip. Then make your loop to the Black Canyon and Great Sand Dunes after your Avon stay.

Or, could you sandwich the Avon stay into the middle of your trip? I.e.:

Day 1. Arrive, drive to Estes Park. Visit RMNP.

Day 2. RMNP. Drive Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake and on to Avon.

Day 3-8. Avon and area.

Day 9. Black Canyon and on to Sand Dunes as previously described

Day 10. Alamosa to Buena Vista. Visit St. Elmo and Agnes Vaille Falls. Drive on toward Denver, or to hotel near airport, depending on time of your departure on day 11.

Again, if you could spend 6 nights at your time share it would work better...night 2-7 at Avon, night 8 in Montrose or preferably Ouray, night 8 in Ouray (then you'd have time for a jeep tour, or drive to Silverton and Animas Forks ghost town), night 9 in Alamosa and night 10 in Denver.

If these options don't sound good, then Avon and Rocky Mountain National Park will be a great trip!

Park City, Utah
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for Utah, Winter Sports
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6. Re: Denver, Avon, National Parks with Kids

As noted, you will have a tough time using Avon as a base to go to the destinations you noted. But you'll have a great time right in that region.

For your extra three days, look at basing somewhere to explore Rocky Mountain National Park (YMCA of the Rockies is a great choice). You could do that on the way in or out.

While in Avon, there are tons of daytrips. Aspen is just 75-90 minutes away for a hike at Maroon Bells. It's an easy shot down to Leadville. You can also head to Glenwood Springs in 45 minutes for the hot springs. Rafting on the Colorado is also fun.

For informal restaurants that are kid friendly, try The Saloon in Minturn or Agave in Avon.

Have fun.

7. Re: Denver, Avon, National Parks with Kids

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