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Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

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Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

We are planning a trip from the UK in July this year. We are most likely to fly in and out of Denver. We appreciate it is a massive state with lots to see so we have narrowed our area of interest to SW and South Central. We don't like to move on constantly as we prefer to unpack and have days out from one place at a time to allow time to get to know an area and have a few hikes, activities etc. Therefore we are looking at probably 4 different locations for 3 or 4 nights in each with a drive between each location. We would welcome suggestions for a suitable route. We could consider a one way route from Denver and then fly back to Denver at the end from a smaller airport.

The sort of things we like to do are hiking, rafting, sightseeing, shopping and eating and drinking! Ideally we like to be able to walk out in the evenings to eat and drink without taking the car.

Any help would be much appreciated.

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1. Re: Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

"The sort of things we like to do are hiking, rafting, sightseeing, shopping and eating and drinking!"

A few towns that come to mind:

Pagosa Springs - San Juan River downtown, hot springs, Chimney Rock Archaeological Area nearby

www.visitpagosasprings.com

Durango - largest town in SW CO - downtown is nice, lots of shopping, bars and restaurants, Durango-Silverton Train, Animas River

http://www.durango.org

Ouray - 8 square blocks of restored victorian houses, variety of shops and restaurants

www.ouraycolorado.com

Cortez / Mesa Verde National Park

www.mesaverdecountry.com

Telluride - free gondola connecting downtown to mountain village

http://www.visittelluride.com

Montrose - near Black Canyon National Park

www.visitmontrose.com

Alamosa - near San Dunes National Park

The Sand Dunes are great, but 4 days may be a bit much

www.alamosa.org

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2. Re: Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

Thank you for your helpful reply. If we based ourselves in Durango for a few days would you suggest also having a few days in Telluride or Ouray as well or would it be covering similar areas?

If we based ourselves in Telluride for a few days, is it a long drive out of town to get anywhere? Would Ouray be more suitable for a base for day trips?

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3. Re: Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

Base #1- Colorado Springs- Pikes Peak Cog Railroad, Garden of the Gods, Air Force Academy, Bear Creek Park... stay downtown

Base #2- Pagosa Springs

Base #3-Durango- check out Mesa Verde NP

Base #4-Ouray/Telluride area

Can fly back to Denver if you want out of Montrose or Grand Junction.

or loop

Base #1-Glenwood Springs/Aspen area

Base #2-Ouray/Telluride

Base #3-Pagosa

Base #4-Summit County (Breckenridge,Frisco)

Matt

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4. Re: Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

Either Telluride or Ouray are in gorgeous locations and are ideal places to be able to walk about in the evening to dinner and drinks without a car. Telluride is more upscale and has a greater variety, although you wouldn't go hungry or thirsty in Ouray!

Durango is a larger town and more spread out, but there are buses and the trolley to get you most anywhere you'd like to go.

Are you planning to take the Durango-Silverton train ride? Visit Mesa Verde? If so, spend three or four nights in Durango, two to three nights in Telluride, and three to four nights in Ouray.

I'd suggest your first base be Buena Vista or Salida for rafting and day trips to Great Sand Dunes, Breckenridge or Leadville. Lots of hikes and scenic drives. (Agnes Vaille Falls, St. Elmo ghost town, Mt. Princeton hot springs)

Your next stop would be either Pagosa Springs or Durango. The route I suggest would be pretty much a full day scenic drive with several stops to sightsee. Go west over Monarch Pass through Gunnison, then south on 149 to Lake City, Creede, and South Fork, (read about the Silver Thread Scenic Byway--Lake San Cristobal, Slumgullion earthflow, Alferd Packer, Clear Creek Falls-- lakecity.com/index.php/scenic-drives-and-byw… ) If you wanted to break from your base camp plan for one or two nights, you could go north to Crested Butte first, then to Lake City or Creede for the night. Then you could take your time along the Silver Thread and stop at all the viewpoints with time to explore Lake City and Creede. The Creede Repertory Theater is quite well known and would make a fun evening activity. http://creederep.org/

http://www.lakecity.com/

Next would be working around the San Juan Skyway, basing in Durango or Pagosa Springs, Telluride, and Ouray. Plenty to do in or near each location, with each community having a unique "flavor" and atmosphere.

Montrose would be a good alternative as a base spot as well. If you fly back to Denver this would be a good place to fly from, and you could spend a night or two there to see the Black Canyon, Museum of the Mountain West, Ute Indian Museum, lots of shops and several galleries, good places to eat, and of course the Russell Stover Candy Factory outlet store. If you time it to be there on Thursday night, Main in Motion is a lot of fun with all kinds of things going on along Main Street. You might consider staying on Main Street at Canyon Creek Bed & Breakfast. http://canyoncreekbedandbreakfast.com/

If you don't fly back, you can easily visit Montrose and the Black Canyon as a day trip from Ouray, or as you pass through on your way back to Denver.

http://visitmontrose.com/

A scenic route back to Denver would be Montrose > Delta> Hotchkiss> Redstone > Glenwood Springs and I70 to Denver. It would make a longer day, but you could also drive from Redstone to Aspen, then over Independence Pass, then through Leadville to hook up to I-70.

Have fun planning!

Edited: 03 February 2011, 18:10
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5. Re: Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

Here's the good site for Colorado Springs visitors www.visitcos.com.

I'd definitely made Colorado Springs one of your destinations.

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Nottingham, United...
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6. Re: Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

Thank you to everyone for so much help. I feel like there is so much to see and do in Colorado we have to forfeit quite a bit in order to have some rest and relaxation time on our holiday too! However, it is a good excuse to visit again sometime!

We are pretty much decided on Denver to Colorado Springs to Durango with a few days in each place but then the final indecision is whether to head from Durango up towards Telluride/Grand Junction or south to Santa Fe and fly home from there. The reason for this would be to have a few days relaxing in the sun before flying home to work. Any comments on this plan, although I appreciate this is a Colorado Forum so you may be biased!! :)

Again thanks to everyone for valuable input.

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7. Re: Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

From Durango I would choose Hwy 550 over the Million Dollar Hwy and into Ouray, you could stay there or stay in Telluride (about 1 hour apart). Spectacular scenery and views abound in that area!!

www.telluridemuseum.org

www.ridgwayrailroadmuseum.org

www.ridgwaycolorado.com

www.visittelluride.com

www.mountain-village.co.us

www.ridewithroudy.com

Of course Santa Fe has loads of charm as well, will be more crowded tho.

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8. Re: Ideas welcome for summer visit to Colorado

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