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SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

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Bend, Oregon
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SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

Hi Everyone,

I was looking for suggestions on a six-day road trip around Colorado with my father who's in his sixties. We're meeting on Saturday June 23 in Denver, and then fly out on Friday June 29.

We are seeing a concert at Red Rocks Thursday night so we need to get back to the Denver area by late Thursday afternoon. Also, we plan stay one night in Telluride to visit a friend.

I'd like to break up the driving a bit, but one long 6-hour day is fine- preferably Thursday before the concert.

Trip goals: see as much scenery as possible and drive scenic mountain roads, maybe do one excursion (Durango train or whitewater rafting) hang out in cool towns in the evenings and drink good beer, ha ha.

Here's what I'm thinking, and any help would be great.

Saturday: Drive Denver to.... ? Something around 2-hour drive would be ideal as we don't get the rental car until 2PM and I have a very long day of traveling to get to Denver.

Sunday: ?

Monday: Telluride/Durango/Mesa Verda NP/Ouray

Tuesday: Telluride/Durango/Mesa Verda NP/Ouray

Wednesday: Telluride/Durango/Mesa Verda NP/Ouray

Thursday; Drive back to Denver area for concert

Friday: fly home

Again, any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks!

Edited: 24 May 2012, 00:33
vcv
Tennessee
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1. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

I'm usually a budget traveller, but the adult-only cars on the Durango train are a wonderful splurge.

For scenery, have you thought of a jeep tour from Ouray? I've done two with Switzerland of America; the scenery was spectacular. They have half and full-day tours--the half-day tour was just right for us.

MissP recommended the Silverton cemetery last year--strolling through it gives an interesting perspective on the history of the area.

I hope you and your dad have a wonderful trip--the scenery is so breath-taking that after my first visit there, I was driven to return the next year.

Columbia, Maryland
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2. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

From Denver to Durango, stop at either Leadville or Buena Vista. A little over 2 hours to Leadville, about 2.5 to Buena Vista. Leadville sits at 2 miles high and is surrounded by 14k foot mountains. Interesting old mining town. Buena Vista is a quiet little town nestled at the foot of the Collegiate Peaks mountain range.

The quickest way to Leadville is via I70 to CO91. The quickest way to Buena Vista is via US 285.

Form Leadvile to Buena Vista is about 1/2 hour, so if you don't mind a little more driving for a stop in Buena Vista, come through Leadville and drive south on US24. You will parallel the Collegiate Peaks. A very scenic drive. Granted, US285 is nothing to sneeze at for a scenic drive either.

In Leadville or Buena Vista, eat dinner at Quincy's. The menu is simple - filet mignon Sunday thru Thursday, prime rib Friday and Saturday; baked potato, salad with house dressing. That's it. Your only decision is what to drink and how you want the meat done. Cost is about $1 per ounce for a 6, 9, 12, or 15 ounce portion.

From Durango to Denver is about a 6.5 to 7 hour drive via the fastest route - US160 over Wolf Creek Pass to US285.

Maybe on the way there for different scenery you may want to take US50 west to US550 south over the MIllion Dollar Highway. There is a bit of white knuckle driving involved between Ouray and Durango. Look it up on the internet to see what you would be facing to decide if this is for you. It's about a 7.5 hour route.

If the Million Dollar Highway is not for you, you can still take 2 slightly different routes to and from Durango. Take I70, CO91, US24, US285, US160 on the way there and take US160 and US285 back. This works for making your on the way stop in Leadville or Buena Vista.

Bend, Oregon
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3. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

Thanks for the advice. I think Leadville or Buena Vista work good for a first night stop. I definitely want to do the Million Dollar Highway, and the Jeep tour sounds like a great idea.

Would you suggest going to Telluride directly from Leadville? or would it be better to do Ouray--->Durango--->Telluride in that order?

Thanks again!

WestSlope,CO
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4. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

Since you have your concert to get to Thursday night, I suggest you get a little closer to Denver on Wednesday night. Maybe spend most of the day in Ouray on Wednesday and then either drive to Montrose (visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison Natl Park) or Grand Junction (visit Colorado Natl Monument) for the night so you'll have a pretty easy drive the following day. An alternative would be to head to Pagosa Springs or Alamosa to stay the night on Wednesday.

Charleston, South...
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5. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

Have you already planned in which towns you will stay on Mon, Tues and Wed nights? I'm sure your friend will help you, but be sure and ride the free gondola while in Telluride for some nice views. You don't say if you are interested in any hiking ~ but Bear Creek Trail that leaves right from Telluride is not too difficult with beautiful scenery. You might want to consider taking a drive up the Telluride Airport Road - lots of beautiful scenery there as well. (it is a short drive, 15-20 min, but pretty) There is also a cool, small museum that focuses on the history of Telluride that is worth seeing. It is located in the former Miner's Hospital.

The drive between Ridgway and Telluride includes Dallas Divide, yet more gorgeous scenery and a good spot to look for wildlife.

The small town of Ridgway is where part of the original John Wayne version of True Grit was filmed. If you rent it and watch it before seeing Ridgway, you will recognize many buildings, etc. The True Grit Cafe has lots of John Wayne memorabilia inside.

www.ridgwaycolorado.com

www.visittelluride.com

www.ouraycolorado.com

www.telluridemuseum.org

I would probably do Durango, Ouray, Telluride or the reverse of that ie~ Durango, Telluride Ouray and end in Durango again, thus doing the entire loop.

Edited: 24 May 2012, 15:03
WestSlope,CO
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6. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

A night or two at an intermediate altitude is recommended so that you have a little time to acclimate, so I would definitely not recommend Leadville for your first night. Glenwood Springs would be a better alternative, IMO. Buena Vista is just below 8000 feet, so it would probably be okay, too.

Saturday: Denver to Buena Vista

Sunday: Buena Vista to Ouray

Monday: 1/2 day jeep tour, then to Telluride

Tuesday: Telluride to Mesa Verde, then overnight Durango

Wednesday: Silverton, Million Dollar Highway, Ouray, Montrose

Thursday: back to Denver

Charleston, South...
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7. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

As I have reconsidered and looked more at the map...

Leadville to Telluride, then Durango and lastly Ouray would work out fairly well also. Previously, I was not really taking into consideration that you would be coming from Leadville.

Ouray to Denver is a long drive, roughly 8 hours or so, depending on stops, etc. So as Misspwestslope suggested you may want to go on to Montrose or even Grand Junction after Ouray to break up the long drive back to Denver.

You are going to love the Million Dollar Hwy, so gorgeous!! More incredible scenery in SW Colorado than you can even imagine.

An initial night at an intermediate altitude may help alleviate problems with adjustment ie~ head ache, shortness of breath, etc. Be sure to drink LOTS of water and no alcohol the first 2 days. The alcohol combined with altitude can really make you feel awful.

Edited: 24 May 2012, 15:14
Colorado
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8. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

I regularly drive from Denver to Gunnison. It's a really beautiful drive over several high passes including Monarch Pass. In the summer it takes 3.5 hours and the Gunnison Valley would be a wonderful place to spend the day before traveling on to Telluride (it's about half-way between the two).

Bend, Oregon
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9. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

Great ideas everyone. I didn't consider the altitude but I am glad that was pointed out.

I have done several high elevation hikes over the past couple of years and have not had any issues, but my father, who is a smoker, may definitely need time to adjust. That makes a lot of sense to stay at a lower elevation the first night.

I really appreciate all the help. I'm trying to make this a memorable trip for both of us and it's great to get such a response. I am looking over all the options in more detail now. Thanks again!

-Drew

Edited: 25 May 2012, 01:36
Bend, Oregon
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10. Re: SW Colorado Itinerary Help for Father-Son Trip

How about this, it seems to break up the driving.

JUNE 23…Denver to Buena Vista, sleep Buena Vista

JUNE 24…Early Start- Buena Vista to Telluride (spend afternoon/evening with friend who happens to work on the Gondola)!

JUNE 25… Telluride to Mesa Verde, sleep in Durango

JUNE 26… Silverton, Million Dollar Highway, Ouray, sleep in Ouray

JUNE 27… Jeep tour, drive to Gunnison, sleep Gunnison

JUNE 28...Gunnison to Denver area, concert at Red Rocks

JUNE 29…Fly out of Denver

Thanks!!!

Edited: 25 May 2012, 02:02