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7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

San Diego...
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7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

I don't know if I've done any work the last two days because I'm trying to soak up all the info out there!

My daughter and I are flying in and out of Denver 7/18 arriving at noon 7/25 leaving at 10pm.

I definitely want to spend a few days in Estes park, planning on booking two nights at the 4 Seasons Inn on Fall River at the end of our trip (7/23-7/25) because a room with private hot tub is available. The kiddo is all about horses, so definitely a ride. I like hiking and at home usually do 8-10 mile round trips. Obviously for this trip I will stick to the easier trails, hopefully picnic by a beautiful lake (was checking out http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/rocky-mountain-best-easy-hikes.htm). Being from San Diego I appreciate craft beers so I'm hoping to stop by a kid friendly brewery for lunch or dinner while we're there. A scenic, fairly easy bike ride would be cool, but I'm not sure if the stores rent kids 20" bikes. I figure I can do this in other areas too.

My others ideas for the trip are all over the place!

Definitely want to try rafting (my daughter is on the smaller side for 8, I'm pretty sure she just hit 50 lbs which I see is the weight requirement, but definitely adventurous and like a good thrill). I'm trying to decide between:

Big Horn Sheep Canyon half day with Echo and camping or "glamping"

and

Brown Canyon half day with Noah's Ark and adding the Adventure Park (because it looks awesome!) and camping at Chalk Creek. If we go this route I'd also look into doing the hot springs at Mt. Princeton on a second day, because my kid would go wild about the waterslide. I saw on their site that the creek pools are closed for run off, not sure if that's still an issue in mid/late July? I'm assuming this is because of Naegleria fowleri risks (thanks for the scare microbiology).

Other things that sound interesting but I'm not sure how/if to fit them in. We're totally fine making 2-3 hour drives regularly at home to go to Disneyland or LA, but wouldn't want to drive that long for a day trip somewhere if that makes sense?

Drive up Pikes Peak (America the Beautiful!)

Garden of the Gods (possible renting bikes here?)

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (we have a great zoo and a wild animal park in San Diego, so this might be fun but not a "must do")

Cave of the Winds (if we don't do the Adventure Park in Browns Canyon/Buena Vista I think the one there looks cool, but it's also not a "must do")

Thoughts? Suggestions? Way too much?? Should I also post this in other city forums? Thank you everyone! First trip to Colorado and I'm so excited.

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Colorado
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1. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

FYI you can't drive up Pikes Peak this summer but you can take a shuttle. Info here: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28927…

Wheat Ridge...
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2. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

The creek pools are Mt. Princeton are closed until the flow in Chalk Creek is low enough to allow the warm water to accumulate. I'm not aware of any sort of health issue. You should call an inquire about when the flow may be low enough to use these pools.

Unfortunately your 8yo will be limited to the older side of the hot springs. Its more rustic than the spa side, but the spa side is 16+ only.

I love this area and camping here. We have reservations at Cascade Campground. There are two other developed campgrounds, too. IDK if you can get reservations at this point, though. Check on recreation.gov. You can try to get a hotel room at Mt. Princeton, or stay in Salida or Buena Vista if not.

That is a lot to pack into a week trip. If you want to do it all I think I'd go to Colorado Springs first, then Mt. Princeton, then Estes Park. You could come from Mt. Princeton to Estes Park via Trail Ridge Road and be able to see that drive on your way in. Adds about an hour to the drive plus time to stop.

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3. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

"FYI you can't drive up Pikes Peak this summer but you can take a shuttle"

Oh thanks for the heads up! Was hoping we could stop along the way up to view/take pictures, so that's kind of a bummer. But the view at the top is still amazing obviously, so still worth the trip?

Edited: 18 May 2018, 20:05
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4. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

Thanks for the advice Wheatie59 ! Should I be worried about trail ridge road if I'll be in a rental car and not my usual 4x4? Most of the mountain drives I'm used to are 3,000. We did a road trip last summer to Mammoth and Tahoe but I think the highest we got was 7,000. I've read scary reviews about ice and drop offs, maybe I'm just feeling spooked, because I didn't think twice about the drive up Pikes ;)

Also good to know about the hot springs, I'll have to get in touch with them. Bummer about the spa side, but I completely understand the age requirements (I love my kid, but I also love to be a grown up that's not around kids from time to time)

Edited: 18 May 2018, 20:24
Fort Collins, CO
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5. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

There will be no ice on Trail Ridge Road at the end of July. It is paved so you do not need a 4x4. There is a short section that can be a little scary but in my opinion, the road up Pikes Peak is scarier. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60945…

Some of my personal favorite hikes in RMNP:

- Bear Lake to Emerald Lake - most popular hike, will be crowded

- Glacier Gorge trailhead to either Mills Lake or the Loch (same trail that goes past Alberta Falls and then splits to either lake). It's about 6 miles round trip but not terribly difficult.

- Ute Pass Trail - starts across the road from the Alpine Visitor Center on Trail Ridge Road. Beautiful alpine/tundra views above treeline. You don't need to go far to get a sense of the views. Wildflowers should be good that time of year.

We get a lot of afternoon thunderstorms in July so you'll want to plan your hikes for the mornings.

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6. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

It is a shame that people cannot drive to the summit of Pikes Peak this summer. This is the first time a shuttle service has been used (to my knowledge) so I can't comment on that experience.

The views from the summit are breathtaking. (but not today, it's socked in up there - rain/snow on the way) keno.org/colorado_web_cams/pikes_peak_cams.h…

Wheat Ridge...
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7. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

We really like Mt. Princeton. We will hit it at least once and maybe twice when we camp there. We were there later in the summer when people were in the creek pools, but didn't go ourselves. I'd recommend water shoes if you want to try them.

Consider driving up to St. Elmo. There are a couple of scary places on that road. IIRC that road does turn to gravel at some point. I can't recall where, and it is a county road all the way to St. Elmo. That may be an issue with your rental car contract.

Eagle, Colorado
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8. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

The river pools in Mt. Princeton should be fine in late July, we have gone to them many times in June and this is a low water year, high water wont last too long this year. Water shoes or teva type sandals are helpful, flip flops can come off and end up down the creek. There are 3 forest service campgrounds above the hot springs and all are nice, but all book up fast. If you want to camp there check today and book it if its available, but it may be too late. Arkansas Headwaters has campsites on the river but not as nice, but book up later.

San Diego...
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9. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

GalxeFortCollins_CO thanks for the links to the other posts, the youtube videos of the actual drive put my mind at ease a little, and knowing there won't be snow or icy roads (this San Diego girl has never driven in snow, only sand and asphalt). Will make a note to hike in the mornings and bring a light jacket in case of thunderstorms.

Babalax thanks for the link to the web cam, I'm excited to check it out tomorrow (when it's not dark, ha)

Wheatie59 it's a "ghost" town, how fun! We have an old town area here, with a haunted mansion you can tour. My kid would love that, and reviews say you can feed chipmunks? That's right up her alley to. I'm renting a mid-size SUV, but I'll inquire about the gravel road concern, thanks.

Edited: 19 May 2018, 05:38
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10. Re: 7/18-7/25 trip with my 8 y/o - narrow down ideas?

618keith thanks for the reminder to add good water shoes/sandals to our list. I was looking at this site, it looks like a few spots to camp by the creek and more in a meadow.

https://chalkcreek-campground.com

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