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Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

Greater Sydney...
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Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

We will be finishing off a four week trip to the US and Canada next June and I am planning a break in your region before flying home to Australia. I always have some difficulty with trip planning because my main interests are in natural beauty and wildlife, while my wife likes cities and cruises. So far for this trip my wife is well in front as we will be visiting DC, NYC, Toronto, Montreal, then cruise to Boston. I was looking to break up the trip from Boston to LA for our flight home, and the Denver region looks like my type of place.

We are in our early 60's, and I have a stuffed back which limits my walking capacity. I am also a petrol head and have followed the Pikes Peak event for years. We have no interest in museums and cultural activities.

We will have three nights in the region, so effectively only two full days. I am thinking that I cannot do both Pikes Peak country and the Rocky Mountains National Park, but the Peak, Royal Gorge, cliff dwellings, etc appear more attractive to me. I would hire a car from DIA for this and I particularly want to drive Pikes Peak, even though it will probably be all sealed by then, is a toll road, and has a 25mph speed limit (It is a bloke thing).

So, do you think that staying at Colorado Springs would be best, or in Denver and try to fit in a trip to the RMNP as well?

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Colorado Springs, CO
evergreen, colorado
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1. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

I definitely vote for Denver, RMNP. Wanna have a fun drive, drive to the top of Mt Evans outside of Denver, highest paved road in North America, takes you to the top, 14,200 feet. Nothing near the Springs compares to the beauty of RMNP, and Denver itself is a far nicer city than the Springs.

WestSlope,CO
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2. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

Well, you could fit in a day trip from Denver to Colorado Springs to drive Pike's Peak and see the Garden of the Gods, and also a day trip to drive the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway to Estes Park and see some of Rocky Mountain National Park, where your chances are excellent to see a variety of wildlife. Or depending on your arrival and departure times, you could spend two nights in Estes Park and a night in Colorado Springs on a mini-loop trip, which would be my preference. (But to do this I think you'd probably have to skip the Royal Gorge, which IMO would be okay with the time you have...I'd put it further down on the must do list than Rocky Mountain National Park or even Mount Evans since you want to see wildlife)

What time do you arrive and what time is your flight out?

Since you are spending quite a bit of time in cities on your trip, Rocky Mountain National Park will be your best place to see wildlife and natural beauty, and the great part is that the scenery starts on the way there, so even the drive to and from the Park is worthwhile.

I would recommend doing your Pike's Peak drive on the day before you depart in order to give your body at least some chance to acclimate to the altitude.

Another option for a fun drive and wildlife viewing near Denver is Mount Evans.

You may not need to fit in the Manitou Clliff Dwellings since you aren't interested in museums/cultural stuff. There were no cliff dwellings in the Colorado Springs area. The one that is there now was purchased many years ago when that sort of thing was still allowed, dismantled and reassembled. It is an authentic reconstruction, but not in its original setting.

So, your trip might look like this:

Day 1. Arrive, rent car, drive to Estes Park. If you have time, visit Rocky Mountain National Park for a couple of hours. The hours near dusk are very good for spotting wildlife. (or if late arrival, drive to Boulder. You want to do your drive in daylight hours)

Day 2. (first full day) Visit Rocky Mountain National Park till early afternoon, then drive to Colorado Springs.

Day 3. Drive Pike's Peak this morning--you're less likely to have rain in the morning. Then spend the rest of the day exploring Colorado Springs as time allows. Garden of the Gods would be a good bet. Either spend the night in Colorado Springs, or, if you have an early flight, drive back to Denver to spend the night near the airport.

Day 4. Depart. If you have a later departure, you could do some sightseeing in Denver downtown or you might like to visit Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge for yet another chance to spot some wildlife right near the city and the airport.

WestSlope,CO
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3. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

lol, I see as I was typing, Dawg was weighing in, and I agree! But if Pike's Peak is a must for you, it could be done.

Windsor, Colorado
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4. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

Add my vote to the Mount Evans scenic byway and Rocky Mountain National Park. For nature, scenery and wildlife near Denver, there is no competition!

colorado springs,co
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5. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

Colorado Springs is a prettier city than Denver, iMHO.

Greater Sydney...
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6. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

G'day again,

Thanks sincerely for the replies which have convinced me to alter my priorities. I have been researching further and put forward the following suggested itinerary for which I would appreciate your observations:

6/18/12 Land DIA 12:57pm, hire car then drive to Estes Park. That should see us getting there by about 5pm, check in (somewhere yet to be decided) and maybe a short evening drive into the Park. I notice that sunset at that time would be about 8:30pm.

6/19/12 RMNP

6/20/12 Estes Park to Mt Evans via Peak to Peak, then to Denver and take a look around.

6/21/12 DIA flight out to LAX 10:55am.

I have limited driving experience on the right hand side of the road, and am very comfortable with it in non-urban regions, but would prefer not to drive in a busy urban area. Suggestions on a region to stay in Denver for the last night would be appreciated where I might park the car and catch public transport to other areas worthy of a look.

Your ideas look much better than my original thoughts.

Regards from Aus.

evergreen, colorado
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7. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

I think that itinerary looks good. Maybe the Cherry Creek area for a Denver hotel, beautiful suburb, lovely shopping and restaurants, pedestrian friendly, about five minutes from downtown.

Colorado Springs...
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8. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

I think you'd do fine staying in downtown Denver. You can park wherever you are staying, then walk and use the 16th St Mall shuttle some as well. Denver really isn't too bad for driving. I've driven in major cities all over the world, and I find Denver drivers to be easy to get along with.

Greater Sydney...
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9. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

Thanks to all for the suggestions. Bookings are now all made and we are looking forward to a great visit. You might also get a trip report out of me afterwards. :)

10. Re: Colorado Springs or elsewhere near Denver

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