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Family trip to Colorado - younger kids that love mtns

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Family trip to Colorado - younger kids that love mtns


I've spent some great evenings reading the forums here getting syched up to visit Colorado this summer. We are a family of 5 living in Denmark, kids 6,9 & 11. We've been out and about in Chamonix last year (10 days) and now we're looking forward to seeing the American West. I have a cousin in Evergreen, so we're thinking of starting there as a base for day visits up to boulder, vail, RMNP, and of course, Denver. We have 9 days all in all.

Now the challenge: We want to do it all!! :)

My wife and daughter want to do some horseback riding - they're experienced. The boys want to spend some time on a river catching fish. We all want to do some hiking. exploring some of the mountain towns would be nice too. A rodeo/local markets are good!

Since we'll be up high, have 3 young kids, and have only 9 days - I'm kind of assuming that most of the hiking will be "chairlift assisted" (copper, vail, breckenridge....?)

Some questions:

Originally we were looking at a dude ranch - but we don't think we want to be locked into the program there - we like the flexibility of setting our own agenda and following YOUR good advice (getting local!). We would prefer to stay atperhaps 2 places rather than a new hotel each night.

Can one find ranch type lodging without the rigid program? and for fewer days than a full week? Rustic cabins are good (near water?).

We considered starting in Evergreen for 3 days (good base for day trips?) then down somewhere southwest-ish where we can make a day trip to the durango silverton train and another to the mesa-verde dwellings.

The toughy here is the second place to use as a base. Should we take just one place or two? We'd like to stay in the mountains rather than head all the way out to the higher desert down south.

I'm rambling a bit - and I really appreciate any help. We're coming July 18-28.

Thanks so much!!

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1. Re: Family trip to Colorado - younger kids that love mtns

YMCA of the Rockies has two mountain locations with cabins and lots of activities. They might already be booked up.

However, if you want to go to Southwest Colorado to see Mesa Verde and ride the Silverton-Durango train, your remaining 6 days will be filled! Allow one full day to drive to the Durango area (drive time plus a few stops) and one back; then a full day at Mesa Verde and a full day to ride the train (I recommend the train/jeep tour combo to maximize your time & mountain experience--one way on the train is usually enough for kids), then that only leaves two free days for hiking, horseback riding, and fishing!

Because of the distance involved in travel to SW Colorado, it often works well to break up the trip by staying in more than two locations when you have limited time. (i.e. 2 nights in Ouray, a night at Mesa Verde or Cortez, and two nights in Durango) but I understand the advantages of staying in fewer locations, esp. with kids.

A couple of fishing questions...will you need a guide/lesson? Will you need to rent gear? Fly fishing or bait/lures? Do you want catch and release or do you want to be able to keep and cook your catch?

One 6 day plan with 2 bases would be:

Day 1. Depart Evergreen & drive to Ouray. Perhaps go by way of Glenwood Springs & then to Redstone and McClure Pass. Then you'll see fruit/farm stands in the Paonia/Hotchkiss area. Or go by way of Fairplay for a stop at restored mining town South Park City or Nathrop for a hike to Agnes Vaille Falls. At Montrose, you'll want to visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, have dinner, and drive to Ouray. Be sure to leave early enough so that you can make the drive from Montrose to Ouray before dusk.

Day 2. Hike in Ouray this morning. Cascade Falls, Perimeter Trail, Box Canyon, etc. Or take a half day jeep tour. This afternoon, play in the hot springs pool or drive to Red Mountain Pass or to Silverton. The ghost town of Ironton will be along your route on the east side of the highway. Overnight Ouray. Or the girls could ride horses with Deb's Livery while the guys go fishing at Ridgway State Park.

Day 3. Drive to Durango today, but take the long way by Ridgway and Telluride. Ride the free gondola in Telluride and do a little hiking. (Ride with Roudy in Telluride is great for horseback riding, too) On to Dolores and the Anasazi Heritage Center, very kid friendly. You might consider Echo Basin Ranch for your visit to Mesa Verde and Durango. It's a little out of the way, but is between Durango and Mesa Verde so might make a fairly convenient base camp for both since you don't want to stay in a third location. They have horseback riding, too, and they have fishing but you'd need to check with them to see if they have fishing gear available. (It might be just as well to buy the boys some inexpensive gear as to rent) http://echobasin.com/Home.aspx

Day 4. Mesa Verde or Train/jeep or Train/horseback ride

Day 5. same

Day 6. Return to Denver. Drive to Pagosa Springs & Wolf Creek Pass, then 160 to Alamosa. Time for a quick stop to see the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Then on to Denver.

This route does include two longer days of driving to get to and from SW Colorado, but easy drives in between.

Edited: 07 June 2011, 22:36
2. Re: Family trip to Colorado - younger kids that love mtns

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