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southwest colorado trip help

Grand Rapids...
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southwest colorado trip help

My family (which is myself, husband and 3 kids ages 8,6, and 3) will be traveling to Colorado this June. We have a list of places we want to see and figured it would be 2 to 3 weeks (which includes drive time to and from Michigan). I'd like some help narrowing down, adding anything and order of sites for our trip. Here is our list:

Crested Butte (we love mt. biking)



Mesa Verde

Canyon de Chelle

Durango-Silverton train

Pagosa Springs

San Juan Mountains

Red Mountain Pass

Rafting Gunnison River

Florrisant Fossil Beds National Monument

We'll also be spending 3 to 4 days in Denver for a family reunion.

Is this waaaay too much for our family? We are all about adventure and understand there will be meltdowns and revisions along the way. Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated, thank you!


Colorado Western...
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for Ouray, Outdoors / Adventure Travel, Montrose
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1. Re: southwest colorado trip help

A few observations:

If you take the Durango-Silverton train, and opt for the train ride one way & bus ride back, you'll certainly see some excellent sections of the San Juan Mountains. Then, drive from Durango to Ouray, and you'll go over Red Mountain Pass.

Just because of the driving distances involved, you may want to eliminate Canyon de Chelly and/or Pagosa Springs.

Pagosa Springs...
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2. Re: southwest colorado trip help

Pagosa Springs is an hour east of Durango (and can easily be on the route to or from Michigan). Chimney Rock is a fascinating area and may (hopefully) become the next National Monument.

There is great mountain biking in Pagosa Springs. The Turkey Springs area offers 50+ miles of trails of varying difficulties.

Additionally, the hot springs and tubing through downtown are great activities, if you decide to include Pagosa in your visit to the area.

Destination Expert
for Wisconsin, Colorado Springs
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3. Re: southwest colorado trip help

In between Florissant Fossil Beds and Denver enjoy passing through Woodland Park (beautiful town/setting) on your way to Manitou Springs/Colorado Springs. Drive through the Garden of the Gods if nothing else, it's free and it can be seen quickly or more thoroughly depending on your time available and how it works for the family. Also I would be remiss to not suggest the Cog Railway up Pike's Peak www.cograilway.com It's a fantastic trip with spectacular views. Cheyenne Mtn. Zoo (only if time permits to do extras in the Springs) is a great smaller scale zoo in a unique Mtn. location. The giraffes visiting up close and personal is a highlight as is being able to drive up to Will Roger's Shrine to the Sun with zoo admissions paid for. http://www.cmzoo.org/

As for Denver the Red Rocks Ampitheater are a neat stop. Also for the kids I recommend TinyTown:


Edited: 26 April 2012, 18:31
Columbia, Maryland
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4. Re: southwest colorado trip help

While in Durango take in the BAR D Chuckwagon Supper:


Santa Fe, New Mexico
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5. Re: southwest colorado trip help

I would take out Canyon de Chelly if you plan only 2 weeks. If you have 3 weeks, then you can do this monument.

Day 1 arrive Denver

Day 2 Denver

Day 3 Denver

Day 4 Denver

Day 5 Denver to Colorado Springs. See Garden of the Gods, then to Florissant Fossil Beds. On to Buena Vista for the night.

Day 6 Cottonwood Pass from Buena Vista to Crested Butte

Day 7 Crested Butte

Day 8 Crested Butte

Day 9 Gunnison, Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Ouray. Hot springs there are great.

Day 10 Ouray to Silverton to Durango (Million Dollar Highway, Red Mtn Pass)

Day 11 Durango

Day 12 Mesa Verde NP

Day 13 MV to Telluride

Day 14 Telluride to Durango

Day 15 Durango to Alamosa and see Great Sand Dunes.

Day 16 To Denver

Day 17 Depart

Edited: 27 April 2012, 00:36
Golden, Canada
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for Regina
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6. Re: southwest colorado trip help

Weather could be a factor and that will take away and add possibilities.

As noted above I would also drop Canyon de Chelly as it's out of the way, and not really any different than the cliff dwellings you'll see, or the several canyons you'll see in Colorado.

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7. Re: southwest colorado trip help

Which Gunnison River raft trip did you want to take? You'll need to add a day/overnight in for that. I don't think the 3 year old can do the trip which requires hiking into the Canyon...oh, but you were probably thinking of one of the ones from Almont? There are also trips from Montrose, Ridgway, and Durango.

For a great family adventure activity, look at this:



Here's another possible itinerary:

Day 1,2,3: Denver

Day 4: Denver to Crested Butte

Day 5: Crested Butte

Day 6. Curecanti boat trip, (or float trip from Almont if that was your plan) then to Montrose for Black Canyon, Museum of the Mountain West. (If this falls on a Thursday, Main in Motion downtown has fun things going on all evening)

Day 7. Ouray

Day 8. Ouray

Day 9 Telluride (Ride with Roudy horseback ride, etc)

Day 10. Telluride to Mesa Verde (stop at Anasazi Heritage Center for a kid-friendly introduction to the Ancestral Puebloans of the area) If you don't stay at Mesa Verde, consider Cortez. They have Indian dances at the Cortez Cultural Center most evenings.

Day 11. Mesa Verde, then stay at Far View Lodge or on to Durango for the night.

Day 12. Durango

Day 13. Durango(train/jeep combo will take you on jeep roads and to Animas Forks ghost town, or there's a bike & hike package or horseback package, too...not sure if the 3 year old can do horseback trips...you'll want to check about that)http://www.durangotrain.com/packages/adventure-packages

Day 14. Pagosa Springs

Day 15. Pagosa Springs to Great Sand Dunes to Buena Vista or Nathrop (Mt. Princeton Hot Springs)

Day 16. St. Elmo ghost town, Agnes Vaille Falls, then on to Florissant Fossil Beds and Manitou Springs for the night

Day 17. Pike's Peak cog railway, Garden of the Gods, then set out for home from Colorado Springs.

If that sounds like too much moving from place to place for your liking, then you would need to eliminate a couple of things and stay longer in others. You could drive from Denver to Ouray with a stop at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park along the way. Stay three or four days. (I know, this would mean skipping Crested Butte, but you'll have mountain biking other places) Then go to Telluride for a couple of days, (or spend most of a day there and on to Cortez or Mesa Verde. I think, with a 3 year old, that it would be best if at all possible, to spend at least one night at Far View Lodge. Then you have a place you can all take a break, or one parent can take the 3 year old for a nap while the others continue to explore. Then spend most of the remaining time in Durango before heading east for a quick stop at the Great Sand Dunes, Florissant, then Colorado Springs.

It will be a memorable trip! I hope this gives you some ideas to help with planning. When you get your itinerary, # of days, dates, etc. nailed down a bit, we'll all be glad to take a look and chime in with enough suggestions to fill another week or two. ;)

Edited: 27 April 2012, 16:28
Grand Rapids...
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8. Re: southwest colorado trip help

Thank you for all of the great information!

9. Re: southwest colorado trip help

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