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Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

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Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

Hi,

We are a family of 4, (2 adults,one 4 yr old and 6 months old). Driving from St louis to Colorado.,Here is the trip breakdown. Travelling to Co for the first time.

- Sat morning, night halt at Hayes,KS on Sun reaching Boulder. Staying in Co for 5 days.

-Mon morning start from Boulder to Estes park cover bear lake, Emerald lake, Nymph lake, Alluvial Fall and stay that night at Estes

- Tue, cover Trail Ridge Road and stay that night at Estes.

- Wed, Start from Estes Park drive to Glenwood Springs, and cover hanging lake and stay that night at Glenwood Springs.

-Thursday Start from Glenwood, drive to Arches NP and stay that night at Grand Junction.

- Friday Start from Grand to Aspen, Maroon bells and reach denver by evening, night stay.

- Sat, From Denver drive back to St louis.

Travel gurus, please suggest if this routing is OK, Many thanks in advance!!!

WestSlope,CO
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1. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

Oh. my. goodness. I've driven that route many times and the first thing I noticed was that you are planning to drive from Denver all the way back to St. Louis. It is possible but it is a long day, even for adults. Your little ones must be very good travelers.

Your route is okay, but IMO you are trying to cover it in too short a time, especially with a preschooler and an infant.

Windsor, Colorado
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2. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

If you head to Nederland on highway 119 through Boulder Canyon from Boulder, your 4 year old would really enjoy the $1 rides on the Carousel of Happiness. From Nederland, take the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway (72 to 7) to Estes Park. Along the Peak to Peak near Estes Park, stop for the .8 mile trail around Lily Lake.

Take the Alluvial Fan in RMNP off your list. That area was severely damaged by the September 2013 flood and is not safe especially with a 4 year old and 6 month old. For safety, you need to have a hiking carrier for the 6 month old in order to hike to Emerald Lake or any hike other than level, easy trails. At 3.6 miles round trip, your 4 year old may not be able to handle Emerald Lake. You can always stop at Dream Lake which is 2.2 miles round trip. Look at adding Alberta Falls (1.6 mile round trip) and Sprague Lake (.9 mile loop).

You could drive and explore Trail Ridge Road on your way to Glenwood Springs. That would give you an extra day in RMNP or you could stay one night in Estes Park and then have more time for Arches or Glenwood Springs. You could use an extra day in that part of your trip.

The Hanging Lake hike will also be a real challenge for a 4 year old and the steepness and crowded hiking conditions would not be good at all if you have to carry the 4 year old. Allow a minimum of 3 hours - probably more like 4 hours for a 4 year old on that hike.

You have a great deal of driving between lodging stops. If you have not mapped this trip, here is the link beginning from Boulder and ending in Denver. I put in the drive by way of the Peak to Peak to Estes Park and over Trail Ridge Road as the route from Estes Park to Glenwood Springs.

http://goo.gl/maps/ksMMp

I agree with Missp. The trip is doable but there is a great deal of car time for the little ones.

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3. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

Thanks for your inputs guys!! That was quick. As suggested will remove Alluvial Fan and Hanging Lake. I did look up in the map, honestly I'm a little afraid of the driving with 2 little ones. First long drive with them. Should we drop Arches or Aspen from our trip? Please suggest. We are not looking to hike, just passionate about visiting scenic places.

Arvada, Colorado
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4. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

I personally would drop Arches. Too much driving with the little ones. I'd almost just focus on one area and then enjoy a lot of down time, non planned things. When our son was 5 we did the southwest area of Colorado. We did the train, Mesa Verde, etc.

But we also just did things like stop along the river and he'd spend time just playing and throwing rocks into the river. Might be silly but those were some of the moments I remember most.

WestSlope,CO
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5. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

I think you should drop Arches this time. It is a wonderful place, but it is a long way to go to spend such a short time. Most people will tell you to allow at least 2 to 3 nights there. Also, in the summer it will be hot, hot, hot. Maybe you'll be able to come again sometime (fall is ideal) and spend more time there..maybe include some of Southwest Colorado, too, with Mesa Verde, the Durango train ride, the Black Canyon, Ouray, etc. But for this trip, I think you will have a much better time if you curtail the driving time, and definitely make an overnight stop along the way back. It can take quite a bit longer to get from point A to point B with little ones, who need extra stops and who really can't be expected to sit happily in car seats for 12 hours.

If you have to be back in St. Louis on Saturday, plan on spending Friday night somewhere along the way.

So, this itinerary would be the maximum driving I'd attempt with little ones. (and I've done lots of trips with kids and grandkids, and so have my children. In fact, one of my kids lives in MO, so various family members drive between the two states fairly often, most of the time with a couple of babies and toddlers in tow.)

Reach Estes Park from Hays on Sunday. (There's also a neat carousel in Burlington if you need to stop and stretch your legs.)

Mon. RMNP, overnight Estes Park

Tues. Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake

Wed. Grand Lake to Glenwood Springs

Thurs. Glenwood Springs to Aspen over Independence Pass to Twin Lakes. Overnight Twin Lakes or go on to Frisco

Friday. Head toward home. Overnight Hays or Salina.

Sat. St. Louis.

I think a better plan with the time you have, and with 2 little ones, would be to choose no more than 2 locations in Colorado. Those who often read my posts might be surprised to see that, as I am a fan of road trips, changing destinations every night or so....but as far as you have to drive to get here, and with the little guys, even this itinerary is too ambitious, and the drive times once you get to Colorado should be curtailed further. You could have a perfectly nice vacation if you stayed your entire trip in Estes Park, or perhaps Estes Park and Grand Lake, or Estes Park and Frisco, or Estes Park and Vail. You'd still see plenty of awesome scenery and have a little time to relax and enjoy it Here's what that might look like.

Sun. Reach Estes Park.

Mon. RMNP/Estes Park

Tues. Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake to Frisco.

Wed. Day trip....maybe to Vail (Betty Ford Alpine Gardens is a lovely place for a walk, and it is free. Plus Vail has some awesome kids' play areas in their parks. http://coloradoinfo.com/vail/parks ). If you feel like driving on, you could go to Twin Lakes on hwy 24 and back to Frisco via 91.

Thurs. Day trip to Breckenridge, or to Twin Lakes if you didn't go on Wed. Or just hang out in Frisco, go for a boat ride on the lake.

Friday. Head back toward home. Maybe stop at Georgetown to see if you can spot the bighorn sheep herd at the viewing area there. There's a buffalo herd as you approach Denver, so you could stop there, too. Or stop at Dinosaur Ridge to show the 4 year old the dinosaur tracks. One of the places our little guys like is the giant Bass Pro Shop toward the east side of Denver. But you'll want to get at least as far as Burlington or Hays tonight.

WestSlope,CO
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6. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

Not silly, skiracermom! Good times. We spent some time with a couple of 3 & 4 year old grandkids in Estes Park at a cabin, and they had the best time just walking and picking up pine cones and pine needles. On a whim, I bought them each a cheap bag of plastic cowboys and horses, and they spent hours under a pine tree building a "ranch" with corrals, lakes, rivers, and mountains while the adults relaxed and enjoyed the cool mountain air. We took lots of walks, scrambled around on rocks, learned to walk silently (ha!) to watch for animals.

Oh, and be sure to get your 4 year old the book Who Pooped in the Park? http://www.amazon.com/Pooped-Park-Rocky-Mountain-National/dp/1560373202/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403878642&sr=1-3&keywords=who+pooped+in+the+park

WestSlope,CO
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7. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

www.robson.org/gary/b-rockymountain.php

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8. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

Thank you for the detailed break down of the the trip,misspWestSlope_CO and skiracermom, I think our idea of fun is kinda similar to yours.

So if we are not doing Arches, can we avoid Glenwood Springs? was thinking of using glenwood as hub to visit Arches Np and Aspen before,also Hanging lake is not possible for us. So from Estes can we just head to Aspen and stay that night at Frisco?

Windsor, Colorado
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9. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

"So from Estes can we just head to Aspen and stay that night at Frisco?"

No, you do not want to do that. That would be over 7 hours (probably more like 8 hours) of just driving time. What you may want to do as a day trip from Frisco is drive over Independence Pass on your way to Aspen, visit famous Maroon Bells just outside of Aspen and complete the scenic loop through Glenwood Springs back to Frisco. Even that is a fairly long day in the car. Here is what that loop looks like.

http://goo.gl/maps/yr6Yo

The google time estimate is short in my opinion. People drive very slowly over Independence Pass and that route is easier driving east to west as I have shown it. There is zero reason to backtrack over Independence Pass instead of making the loop. The google time estimate does not include the trip all the way to Maroon Bells.

To save you backtracking time on Trail Ridge Road, drive and explore Trail Ridge Road (highway 34 between Estes Park and Grand Lake) on your way to Frisco as Missp suggested. Otherwise, you drive Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park to Grand Lake and backtrack to Estes Park. As Missp suggested, you spend Sunday and Monday night in Estes Park and then drive and explore Trail Ridge Road on your way to Frisco on Tuesday.

Link for that route

http://goo.gl/maps/etCA5

Remember there are many overlooks and short easy trails (including stroller friendly trails) along Trail Ridge Road so allow plenty of time for exploring and not just driving.

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10. Re: Driving from St louis, 5 days stay in Colorado

Thanks a lot misspWestSlope_CO for those details. I think we might avoid Frisco and Drive from Estes to Glenwood Springs and the next day will do a day trip from Glenwood to Maroon Bells and crater lake.