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Loop from Denver to Southwestern CO in July

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Loop from Denver to Southwestern CO in July


I have enjoyed reading the posts on this forum and am looking forwarding to visiting Colorado in July. We are a family of four with an 18 year old girl and a 9 1/2 year old boy. We like nature, moderate hikes, biking onfairly level ground, water activites, and Mom likes seeing cliff dwellings and Native American dances. (The 18 year old likes more rugged activities).

We would appreciate suggestions and feedback on this itinerary:

July 1 - Fly into Denver and spend the night there.

July 2 - Denver to Buena Vista.

July 3 - Raft on the Arkansas river. (Not sure which trip to go on there, but want level 3.)

July 4 - Buena Vista to Durango. Stay at the Best Western Mountain Shadows or in a Ferringway condo (depending on the price there.) Is Durango nice on the 4th?

July 5 - 8 Stay in Durango and do some day trips - one to Mesa Verde, maybe one to Hovenweep and four corners.

July 9 - Durango to Ouray, stopping in Silverton. Stay in the Box Canyon Lodge.

July 10 - Stay in Ouray. Maybe take a jeep tour there.

July 11 - Ouray to Gunnison, stopping at the Black Canyon. Stay at the Best Western Tomichi Village Inn.

July 12 - Gunnison to ??? We were thinking of going to see Garden of the God's and/or Pike's Peak. The Pike's Peak area seems very commercialized, so I'm not sure. Ideas?

Maybe we should just spend more time in the Gunnison area or go somewhere else?

July 13 ???

July 14 - ???

July 15 - Fly home from Denver.

We may slide our vacation forward a few days. I'm not sure if going over the 4th is the best plan. The pros are that it will be fun to see the 4th in a new area. The con is that I'm afraid things may be especially crowded.

Thanks for your ideas,

Diane and Scott

Arvada, Colorado
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1. Re: Loop from Denver to Southwestern CO in July

I have a couple suggestions - from Gunnison, head up to Carbondale via 92 then 133. It is a beautiful drive and that time of year is cherry season. There are usually places you can stop and get cherries. Aspen is wonderful that time of year - or head up further to Glenwood Springs.

As far as 4th of July, the suggestion I have not in the same area, but for years we have gone up to Frisco. They have a wonderful home town parade and the fireworks over Lake Dillion are wonderful. Grab a blanket to sit and (and some to wrap up in) and sit by the lake. It's great.

As far as Pike's Peak/Garden of the Gods - just my opinion, but I'd do something else. If you are looking for an amazing place to go that is a bit different, go to the Colorado National Monument out of Grand Junction. It's incredible.

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2. Re: Loop from Denver to Southwestern CO in July

Thanks for your post. I will look into Carbondale, Frisco, and seeing Colorado National Monument.

Does anyone else have any suggestions about our itinerary, which is a loop through Denver, Gunnison, Ouray, Durango, and Buena Vista?


Glenwood Springs...
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3. Re: Loop from Denver to Southwestern CO in July

I vacationed in Colorado over the 4th many years before moving here. The 4th never seemed more crowded than any other time. If you have extra days to kill, I would recommend Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park and possibly a day trip to Vail. Summer in Vail is beautiful, weekends offer a wonderful farmer's market and it is a great area to stroll and enjoy the scenery.

Since you will be near Canyon City, check out the Royal Gorge. Although a bit commercialized, it is a pretty awesome sight.

Pagosa Springs, CO
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4. Re: Loop from Denver to Southwestern CO in July

Pagosa Springs (60 E of Durango)has a very busy small-town 4th of July celebration with parades, barbecues, and fireworks. The population of the town must double on that day! Durango usually has lots of 4th of July activities planned, but I haven't been there recently, so I'm not sure what they still do.

Mesa Verde is a great trip -- fascinating if you're into Indian history at all. Get there early if you want to take one of the guided tours into the ruins. Tickets sell out quickly. Between Pagosa and Durango is Chimney Rock, another area important to the local Indian culture. They sometimes have Native American festivals there, but I'm not sure when they're planned.

Four Corners is basically a marker in the middle of nowhere. A fun picture, but you won't want to spend much time there.

Durango has a fantastic recreation center with swimming pool, etc. for a reasonable day rate. There are also many hiking trails in the area. You might want to check with the US Forest Service (Public Lands Center) to see what trails they've got open. If you get a chance, the Durango/Silverton rail trip is wonderful. Best to get tickets in advance as they sell out.

I live in SW Colorado, so let me know if you have any other questions about the area!


Mesa, Arizona
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5. Re: Loop from Denver to Southwestern CO in July

If you have time to spend in Denver itself the Mint is an interesting tour and is free last I was there anyways. The old Molly Brown house is an interesting piece of history. Even just going around the historic district looking at the old mansions is a nice side trip. The zoo there is also good for kids.

I'd definately throw in Mesa Verde and take the guided tours definately worth it. The four corners is ok but a long drive if you aren't going to anything in the area. Its basically a plaque marking the connection of those 4 states and a lot of Native Americans selling goods. It dose cost to get in last was about $5.

Durango one of my favorite cities. I took my friend from Australia there and we did the train, white water rafting, kayaking, fishing, and a jeep tour to the silver mines. The DoubleTree in Durango is very nice and make sure you get a room next to the Animas river. The back doors slide open and the river is about 20 feet away if that. Mesa Verde to Durango is about 45 mins.


This website is interactive just click on the green dot in the area and it has all kinds of info.


Rockford, IL
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6. Re: Loop from Denver to Southwestern CO in July

If you are going to Durango you really should do the Durango & Silverton Train.