We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

Upstate, New York
Level Contributor
12 posts
Save Topic
Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

Several questions:

1) Best way to get to Aspen from Colorado Springs in early May? Travel time?

2) Is Aspen really worth the travel time w/ all of the road closures?

3)Best Ghost town to see?

4)Must see side of Rocky Mtn Nat Pk ?

5)Ability to find decent affordable(under $100) hotels w/out reservations in May?

Mentioned in this post
Aspen
Aspen
Colorado
Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs
El Paso County, CO
Westminster...
Level Contributor
240 posts
1 review
Save Reply
1. Re: Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

1) This is the shortest/fastest route:

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&hl=en&saddr=colorado+springs&daddr=aspen,+co&ll=38.96368,-105.809326&spn=1.990336,3.4552

You could take I25 up to I70 and then down thru Leadville, but I'd just take the route above. It says 4:15 but I'd say more like 5 hours.

2) I've never been to Aspen, and I've lived in CO for 15 years. Lots of other Colorado places are probably just as pretty if not prettier. Most people go just so they can tell others "I've been to Aspen".

4) The Estes Park side is probably more crowded than the Grand Lake side, but either is just as pretty. If you're going from Aspen, you could just go through the whole park on your way back to Denver (or the Springs).

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&q=rocky+mountain+national+park&ll=40.3366,-105.67749&spn=0.243904,0.543823

5) Where do you want the hotels? There are some, especially on the front range. In the mountains (Aspen) might be harder to find. I definately don't think reservations will be needed unless there's a special event going on (AFA graduation, festivals, etc).

Mentioned in this post
Leadville
Leadville
Colorado
Aspen
Aspen
Colorado
Colorado
Colorado
United States
Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Denver
Denver
Colorado
The Springs
The Springs
70 Reviews
Keystone, CO
Littleton, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,853 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

Very important!! The information from the poster above is not accurate with regard to the route from Colo. Springs to Aspen because of the time of year!! That route goes over Independence Pass (Hwy 82) which is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Unfortunately, when you internet-map the route using major programs like Mapquest or Google, you are directed to use Route 82, no matter when, without any warning about its closure most of the year.

The only other way to get from Colo. Springs to Aspen is to go north I-25 to I-70 west to Glenwood Springs, then east on 82 to Aspen. The driving time would be about five hours.

I've been to Aspen and heartily recommend visiting it. There is a recent thread on this forum in which the same question was asked and about 10 posters unanimously recommended traveling there, not just to say "they’ve been to Aspen." It has great information, so I recommend that you search the Aspen forum to get a variety of opinions. If you’re looking for hotels under $100 in Aspen, they exist, but are few and far between, although early May will be off-season and you'll get your best deals then. I've stayed at a nice place, Aspen Mountain Chalet, that had rooms for about $125 in August. Check the listings on this site. You would probably be able to find a room without a reservation in early May, particularly if you travel mid-week.

With regard to RMNP, in early May, you'll have to pick one side or another because the road that connects them, Trail Ridge Road, will still be closed (so you can’t "just go through the whole park on the way back to Denver!") I'd recommend the east side of the Park (Estes Park) because it is a larger area with different terrain to explore. Estes has more in the way of lodging and restaurants and will not be crowded at that time. This is not to say that the west side of the park (Grand Lake) isn't nice and worth visiting, just that it doesn't offer as much to see and places to stay.

There are a number of ghost town suggestions on this forum – use the Search tool to find them.

I hope this clarifies the travel situation to Aspen, which can be confusing – just goes to show that online mapping is not always the most reliable tool!

Mentioned in this post
Aspen
Aspen
Colorado
Independence Pass
Independence Pass
1,378 Reviews
Aspen, CO
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
2,934 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Denver
Denver
Colorado
Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Colorado
Level Contributor
444 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

Even more very important!! Independence pass **MIGHT** be open in early May. I'd recommend checking the Colorado Dept. Of transportation website www.cotrip.org and check the Road conditions link, or just call. It also stays open well past labor day, I've traveled that route in october.

The CDOT website just says "Opens Spring 2006" so I think it's somewhat weather dependent. It's a much more scenic and slightly quicker route when coming from Colorado Springs, so if open highly recommend that route.

Aspen is worth the time, great place (though pricey)

There is also somewhat of a Ghost town on the north side of Indepence Pass. Think it might even be called Independence.

Mentioned in this post
Independence Pass
Independence Pass
1,378 Reviews
Aspen, CO
Colorado
Colorado
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs
El Paso County, CO
Littleton, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,853 posts
56 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

Hey Lab, you're right about the pass being open past Labor Day (sorry!), but a search of the CDOT website revealed press releases regarding the pass closing for season that say this: "Each spring, CDOT plans the opening of Independence Pass for Memorial Day weekend in May, weather permitting."

(…state.co.us/communications/…NW20041019-1.htm)

Westminster...
Level Contributor
240 posts
1 review
Save Reply
5. Re: Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

Sorry. When I was posting I was thinking early June even though Ahhvacation clearly said early May. I've got early June things on my mind I guess.

Trail Ridge road also opens Memorial Day weekend, right?

And, with all that said, if you're going to Denver, I'd goto the Estes Park side. If you're going back to The Springs for a return flight, I'd goto the Grand Lake side and avoid all the urban side. Though you could then visit Boulder on your way to Estes which is a unique experience too.

Mentioned in this post
Denver
Denver
Colorado
Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
The Springs
The Springs
70 Reviews
Keystone, CO
Grand Lake
Grand Lake
Grand County, CO
Boulder
Boulder
Colorado
Aspen, CO
Level Contributor
980 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

I certainly suggest Aspen is worth it, though you could probably say I'm biased. May will be off-season, but that means you'll have the whole town to yourself and may get to know some of the locals. There are many wonderful deals to be had in both hotels and dining. Visit www.stayaspensnowmass.com for the local central reservations service who can recommend great hotels at a nice price, and then once you're here pick up a newspaper for that day's restaurant deals. It's highly likely you could walk right in and get a table without waiting and enjoy a meal that would cost three times as much in the high season.

Mentioned in this post
Aspen
Aspen
Colorado
Woodland Park...
Level Contributor
3,284 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

You don't have to use I-70 to get from Co. SPrings to Aspen! In fact, I'd advise against it. You can take US 24 from Colorado Springs through Minturn to I-70. It will take a little longer but it's a spectacular drive. You'll get to experience one of Colorado's mountain pakr s(South Park) and drive by the chair of tallest mountains in Colorado. At I-70, head west to Glenwood Springs, and the follow signage to Aspen.

Being a Coloradoan, I've never really seen the draw of Aspen. It's pretty, I guess, but I've seen just as many other beautiful towns that are much less expensive. However, if you're curious about how the other side vacations, it's a good place to check out.

Early May is off-season in many ski resorts. You may be able to get a good deal on hotels, but I would stringly urge booking ahead.

If you are going to Rocky Mountaiin Nat'l Park in early may Trail Ridge Road will likely not be open yet. I would suggest entering the park from the Estes Park side.

Enjoy!

Mentioned in this post
Aspen
Aspen
Colorado
Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs
El Paso County, CO
Colorado
Colorado
United States
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road
2,934 Reviews
Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Estes Park
Estes Park
Colorado
Upstate, New York
Level Contributor
12 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

Thanks to all for the feedback and suggestions. You've confirmed what I've been struggling with--for a while I thought my map reading skills were waivering. The Mountains and road closurs sure do add a twist!

The last poster suggests Rte 24 to I 70. Isn't a section of that closed in winter as well?(right outside of CS from the map I have)

If not, then that opens up more pssibilities. So far, we will land in Denver Sat eve--visit the Mile High Flea Mkt on Sun, take in a couple of downtown sites then head south to overnight near Castle Rock. Visit CS-Garden of Gods, Pikes Peak and possibly the AF base. That's where we are at a fork in the road. I'm thinking jumping back on the interstate north to I 70 west is the way to go. From there, we'll spend a part day in Aspen and drive a bit back out and overnight somewhere between Glenwood Springs and Vail. Following day to Rocky Mtn Nat Park (Estes Pk side). After that we have reservations for 3 nights in Golden to use as our base to see that area, Boulder and the sights we have interest in Denver (Art Museum, Botanical Gardens, Capitol,etc). The Mint had our interest but the rules/process/welcome described by other posters for a 20 min tour have eliminated this as one of our stops. Of course, we will stop at whatever antique shops & flea mkts that we find along the way. Other comments welcome.

Mentioned in this post
Denver
Denver
Colorado
Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak
5,467 Reviews
Colorado Springs, CO
Aspen
Aspen
Colorado
Vail
Vail
Colorado
Boulder
Boulder
Colorado
Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum
2,859 Reviews
Denver, CO
Woodland Park...
Level Contributor
3,284 posts
12 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Trouble Plotting Trip through CO......

No need to drive all the way back to Denver. US 24 is open year round(it's the main route for Colorado Springs residents to go skiing!) and, IMO, is a much more scenic drive than I-70. They're both nice, but US 24 has a little more of a small town/highway in the Rockies feel. Depending on when you're making the drive, it may be less crowded as well. I-70 can get pretty jammed up with weekend recreation traffic.

Mentioned in this post
Denver
Denver
Colorado
Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs
El Paso County, CO