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Family Trip to Colorado Springs

Tustin, California
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Family Trip to Colorado Springs

My nephew started at the Air Force Academy about a week ago and we're planning a road trip from Orange County, CA to visit him the 1st week of September. I'm thinking of going through Flagstaff (check out the Grand Canyon with the kids), Santa Fe (wife has family there), and driving north to Colorado Springs. It's about 1200 miles and 19 hours of driving according to MapQuest and Google Maps.

Curious to hear from a few others who may have made this drive in the past and any tips or travel recommendations. We're a family of 4 and my kids are ages 3 and 7, no pets traveling.

We aren't going to fly this time and my wife keeps saying it might be better to take a train -- I'm not buying the idea that a train ride is the way to go with young kids. At least with a car, we can pull over as often as we need to.

I am open to any opinions. Thanks!

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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1. Re: Family Trip to Colorado Springs

There is no way to take a train from OC to Colorado Springs and I agree with you that train travel with kids that little can be too much. I have driven this route many times, and just returned about 3 hours ago, lol, from Co Springs.

Santa Fe to Colorado Springs is about 4.5 hours. With kids you will want to stop, the best 1/2 way is Raton NM or Trinidad CO. There is a nice gas station north of Springer NM on I25 called Russell's with cool old cars, Subway and clean restrooms.

There are many nice chain hotel/motels north of Co Springs near the AFA. Downtown CS has a fun park with a fountain that kids love to play in.

Tustin, California
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2. Re: Family Trip to Colorado Springs

Thanks. Wondering about the roads and highways on this trip. Having never made the trip, I'm curious about the driving conditions. The 4.5 hours from Santa Fe, NM to Colorado Springs for example - is it an "easy" drive?

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
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3. Re: Family Trip to Colorado Springs

Yes, I25 is 4 lane, very flat and not mountainous except for Raton Pass which is one of the easiest mountain passes! From OC to Co Springs you can drive 100% on interstate highways.

Colorado
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4. Re: Family Trip to Colorado Springs

I'm going to step in here and recommend a hotel that I just recommended last week to Casa (I don't think they stayed there, but I think it's worth mentioning again). It's called The Academy Hotel. I think it would be great for a family in September. It's close to the Academy, has a huge indoor pool in the middle of the lobby/atrium, and a fabulous breakfast (they have a chef there that makes omelets and crepes for you, along with lots of other wonderful other things), and it is only about $100/nt (less with AAA discounts). I found it by reading the reviews here on TA. I stayed there last year, and will be staying there again in a few days.

Park City, Utah
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for Utah, Winter Sports
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5. Re: Family Trip to Colorado Springs

Very easy route with all freeway except your sidetrips. On way back, you might look at I-70 to I-15 or even cutting through southern Colorado. On the return, look at a stop in Moab, UT to visit Arches and Canyonlands National Park. If you have time, continue on to Bryce and Zion.

Have fun!

Colorado Springs...
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6. Re: Family Trip to Colorado Springs

Your plan is fine. We travel Colorado Springs - Tucson twice a year and also have gone on the I-40 to L.A.

Once you are out of L.A. area the I-40 is a good, fast moving (75mph) highway. The same is true for the I-25 once you are past Albuquerque and the Santa Fe exits.

The rest areas in New Mexico are nothing to brag about. So take heed of the advise about the service station near Springer. The rest areas in Colorado (north of Trinidad, at the Colorado Citry Exit and between Pueblo and Colorado Springs are nice and offer the koids some room to run around.

The Academy Hotel on COS is a good recommendation, however be aware the AF Academy is not accessible for tourist from the south entrance. You have to go to Exit 156B, north of COS to enter the Academy as a tourist. Just one mile north of that, at the Baptist Road exit, is a brand new Faifield Inn and shopping center with some 5 restaurants, none epicurian though.

To be closer to downtown Colordo Springs, Manitou Springs and Garden of the Gods, you should stay further south or in Manitou Springs.

Colorado Springs...
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7. Re: Family Trip to Colorado Springs

I think your drive to Colo Spgs is fine. You have nice stop-off places picked out. You'll want to stop every couple of hours to let the kids stretch and use bathrooms. Take the advice above and plan your stops. Parts of New Mexico can go on quite a ways before you come to a good stopping point.

You might consider a different drive when you go back. I-70 takes you through Glenwood Springs, which everyone loves for the Hot Springs pool. Moab, Arches, Canyonlands are also great. You could also go through Durango and the 4 Corners area. There are lots of great side trips. Keep in mind that the journey is part of the trip and it won't be such a long drive.

8. Re: Family Trip to Colorado Springs

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