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3 Day weekend in August coming from North Carolina

Winston Salem...
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3 Day weekend in August coming from North Carolina

Hi All,

I'm tagging along with a friend while she attends a conference in Denver. We'll rent a car and I'll have Friday-Sunday to explore, leaving on Monday. I've never been to Colorado so I want to make the most of the experience without breaking the bank or spending the entire trip in a car. I plan to spend a day in Denver and then two days wandering around. So far I'm thinking Red Rocks and maybe Mount Evan (Though the drive looks like it might be too much for me).

Questions:

* What is the speed limit up to Mount Evan? I think I might be

able to handle the drive if I can really take my time. How slow is

too slow?

* Red Rocks, are there good walking trails? Is it worth the time?

* If I chicken out on Mount Evan where should I go to experience

the Mountains? The highest mountains I've ever driven has

been the Great Smokey's. I can handle the turns but the shear

drops might be too much.

* Altitude Sickness. One thing that worries me about the drive to

Mount Evan is not knowing if/how badly I might be effected.

Does anyone do any tours up to the top. I might prefer if

someone else took the wheel.

* My friend wants to go to Royal Gorge Bridge & Park in Canon

City. I don't ride roller coasters and while the Tram and Incline

Railroad look like fun, is there enough to keep me busy? Are

there trails or other natural things to enjoy? How far a drive is

Canon from Denver?

* Also, I love grave art. Are there any really cool cemeteries to

check out?

Sorry for so many questions but I'm a bit overwhelmed. Never Having been anywhere like Colorado I'm excited and nervous. Thanks for all of your help in advance!

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
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1. Re: 3 Day weekend in August coming from North Carolina

With only 3 days, I would not take the time to go to Royal Gorge. Depending on where you are in Denver, it would be about a 5 hour round trip, and--just my opinion--not on the top of the list for things to do and see in the area. If you had a little more time, maybe, and were going to spend some time in Colorado Springs or Pueblo.

For beautiful scenery with limited time, I'd pick the route described in this post, the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway toward Estes Park and Big Thompson Canyon, with some time spent in Rocky Mountain National Park if you can (get an early start and spend the day:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60945-i436-k46175…

When is your visit?

Here are a couple of previous questions about day tours from Denver:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g33388-i253-k45642…

www.coloradowildernessridesandguides.com/

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g33388-i253-k52699…

Here's an interesting article about cemeteries, with some photos and a list of locations/directions. Central City, Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Gold Hill and Nederland would be some that would be within easy day trip range and also scenic drives. Not mentioned in the article, but also nearby, would be the Golden Cemetery, owned by the city since 1873.

frontrangeliving.com/escapes/cemeteries.htm

cityofgolden.net/live/…

I hope someone else will chime in about the advisability of the Mount Evans drive. I don't like dropoffs, either, so if it were me, I'd take the tour, lol. But you probably would be just fine going at your own pace, as most everyone else will be, too. And you're correct to be cautious about the altitude, especially driving it by yourself. If you decide to do it, it would be better to do it your last day, IMO, after you've had a day or two to acclimate a bit. Drink plenty of water while you're here.

Have fun! You're going to love Colorado!

Edited: 19 April 2012, 18:03
North Carolina
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2. Re: 3 Day weekend in August coming from North Carolina

LadyZady, if you don't want to drive up Mt Evans (I wouldn't), maybe you could go down to Colorado Springs and take the train to the top of Pikes Peak. You could also check out Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs (rock formations with Pikes Peak in the background). Rock formations and mountaintops are different than in the Smokies - must see them.

Can't comment on Canon City - couldn't handle the idea of the Royal Gorge Bridge. Won't do the swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain, either. Lots of folks go rafting in the Canon City area.

Don't want to make things more confusing, but you could also go to Rocky Mountain National Park from Denver and have lots of trails and natural things to enjoy.

Enjoy Colorado - it's beautiful.

Saint Paul
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3. Re: 3 Day weekend in August coming from North Carolina

There are other options not far from Denver for good (comfortabel) scenic drives.

You could head west via I-70, exiting just prior to the Eisenhower Tunnel. Take old highway 6 up and over Loveland Pass. Scenery is good. You can stop and [probably] play in the snow. Road continues through Keystone to Silverthorne, and back up, through tunnel to Denver.

Of course, the Peak to Peak highway drive provides excellent scenery, and there are a number of places where you can access it.

I wouldn't be intimidated by the Mt Evans Drive, and if you get stuck behind a motorhome, you'll be going plenty slow.

I agree with others that with your available time, a drive to Canon City/Royal Gorge isn't really logical.

Central City Cemetary area (more than one cemetary) is interesting in itself. Easy to access , and located on a windswept hill at the end of town.

Also some interesting info and history in the museum in Central.

Also, you'll find Buffalo Bill's grave (and Museum) on a road above Golden, a short hop out of Denver.

You can also get some good views from the Berthoud Pass road...........this is a state highway which accesses Winter Park, and splits from I-70 just before Georgetown.

The West side of Mt Evans with some good hiking is available from the Guanella Pass road that begins in Georgetown. The road starts as asphalt, but eventually the pavement is gone to gravel. However, this is a State highway, and well used, so no need to be skittish.

Have a great trip.

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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4. Re: 3 Day weekend in August coming from North Carolina

There is more to the Mount Evans Scenic Byway than just the summit. All of 103 (including the section from Bergen Park to Echo Lake) and highway 5 (Mount Evans Road) is very scenic. Even if you only drive to Summit Lake, it is a great trip. Because I have steady hands and nerves of steel and do not tend to get too caught up in the scenery and swerve on the road, I am the designated driver among friends and family for trips up Mount Evans. There are sections between Summit Lake and the top with not only NO GUARDRAILS but also NO SHOULDER. It is worse coming down than going up. www.mountevans.com Note the section on picnic areas. People often skip these if they are not planning a picnic. Mistake! They are in especially scenic areas. I live in Colorado at 5000 altitude. I still get a headache (a symptom of altitude sickness) after about 45 minutes at the summit of Mount Evans. I, personally, would not make the drive to the summit by myself--to Summit Lake, yes.

As stated already, RMNP by way of 36 to Boulder, 119 (Canyon Blvd. which becomes Boulder Canyon Drive with a stop at Boulder Falls) to Nederland and then 72 to 7 (part of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway) is much tamer and offers very diverse, amazing scenery. Big Thompson Canyon (highway 34 between Estes Park and Loveland) can best be described as dramatic.

To save me some typing, see this link (it is also in the scenic day trip under Top Questions in the upper right). tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143048-i3489-k498…

Modifications for your trip. Pack a picnic lunch or stop at Safeway (at the 36/34 intersection before you get to the Stanely Hotel paragraph 4) and get what you need. Paragraph 7 which begins "At Deer Junction," you will be able to go to the Alpine Visitor Center on TRR and stop at overlooks along the way. Skip the rest of the itinerary after this paragraph 7. With Bear Lake Road under construction, negotiating the free shuttles between 9am and 4pm will be too time consuming. You also do not want to drive Old Fall River Road (dirt road past the Alluvial Fan) as it is too time consuming. When coming back down TRR and staying on highway 36 as paragraph 7 says, look for the Upper Beaver Meadows Road. This road has really nice views and is frequented by wildlife.

Back in Estes, you can browse the town if you have time. The Riverwalk through town and behind the shops on Elkhorn is particularly nice.

Some time estimates--as it says in the itinerary, 2 -2 1/2 hours for Denver to Estes taking the 36/119/72/7 scenic route

Estes to Denver via Big Thompson Canyon through Loveland 1 hour 45 min. to 2 hours

In RMNP, Fall River Entrance, Alluvial Fan, TRR to Alpine and back with stops, Upper Beaver Meadows Road and back out Beaver Meadows Entrance---4-5 hours including time for a picnic lunch.

Edited: 20 April 2012, 17:17
Winston Salem...
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5. Re: 3 Day weekend in August coming from North Carolina

Wow, you guys are so wonderful and you've given me a lot to think about!!! Pretty sure I'm gonna skip Mount Evan and the Royal Gorge. But the Peak to Peak drive looks like a good bet as well as going into the RMNP. I can't wait to check out all of the links. Thanks Again!

6. Re: 3 Day weekend in August coming from North Carolina

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