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Old 03-23-2019, 03:24 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollyt00 View Post
I'll be honest. The one time we went to RMNP it was because we had the annual Parks Pass that had been very well used. Otherwise I would have questioned the value as there are a ton of *free* places that offer *better* scenery than RMNP. All suggestions above are excellent to see natural beauty outside of RMNP.
What did you do there? I have seen some of the most amazing and beautiful scenery there - gorgeous hikes. See https://masooma.blogspot.com/2017/10...nd-102417.html for example - from a short one-afternoon visit. But yes, the price is a consideration.
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Old 03-23-2019, 07:02 PM
 
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I suggest being flexible enough with your scheduling that you can see Pikes Peak on a day when the weather cooperates. That may or may not be your second day.

Do check the forecasts carefully, and road conditions for all routes you will be driving.

Many people enjoy the train ride through Royal Gorge and back. If you want a slightly longer day you could make either the outbound or return leg via US 24 through Woodland Park and Florissant, then south on County 1 to County 11, then southwest to Colorado 9, then south to US 50, just west of Canon City. It will take 40 - 45 minutes longer than I-25, Co. 115, US 50, but is more scenic.

As noted by others, Manitou Springs to RNMP and back is a really tough day trip. If you want to see the high mountains Salida - Buena Vista - Leadville will be an excellent alternative. If you do not have to stay in Manitou Springs, a trip to Canon City with an overnight stay in Salida would be a great day. You could then drive up through Buena Vista, see Leadville, and return back on US 24 through South Park, or swing up to Breakenridge then back to Fairplay through Hoosier Pass (if you are up to driving mountain switchbacks) and back to Manitou Springs on US 24..

If you are committed to staying three nights in Manitou Springs I would do an out and back on US 24 to Buena Vista and up to Leadville, then return. Or Buena Vista to Salida and return. Manitou Springs to Salida to Leadville and back would make a very long day. The Pantry in Green Mountain Falls for breakfast. High Mountain Pies in Leadville for lunch.

Be aware that the weather in mid-April can be wonderful, bad, or dangerous. It would be good to have some indoor alternatives just in case.
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Old 03-23-2019, 08:31 PM
 
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Thanks for the zoo suggestion, it has one of the best Giraffe programs in the county and you can feed them from the deck; kids love doing that. The zoo also has a chair lift ride partway up the hill.

One may then drive THROUGH the zoo and up the hill to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun with a stunning view to the east.

One thing to consider, IIRC the top of Pikes Peak is typically 35 degrees colder than down in the city, and there can be strong wind chills to boot so keep that in mind if you decide to go up there. I've been up there with a wind chill of -20F and it's amazingly cold....
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:28 PM
 
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Thanks all for your inputs. Will definitely consider the zoo. Didn't know that Pikes peak summit can get that cold i thought by mid april it would have warmed enough that we wouldn't have to deal with sub zero temperatures a lot. Looks like I was wrong. We are planning to keep the schedule open and move around things based on the weather.
Are there any good lakes with nice views near pikes peak? I saw Crystal lake. Is there any hidden beauty which we can explore?
Thanks again!!!
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:50 PM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
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Colorado really isn't known for its lakes. Most of them are pretty small. I've never stopped at the Catamount Reservoirs or Crystal Creek Reservoir. Depending on where you are you might get a decent view of Pikes. The area around Eleven Mile Reservoir is pretty, but it sits at 8,800 feet and it'll be cold up there in mid-April.

Hanging Lake is probably the best-known lake in Colorado, but it's way too far of a drive from the Springs. It's also busy, starting in April you'll need a permit to get there, and it's a steep hike from the parking lot to the lake.
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Old 03-24-2019, 10:58 PM
 
Location: Manitou Springs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srick123 View Post
Thanks all for your inputs. Will definitely consider the zoo. Didn't know that Pikes peak summit can get that cold i thought by mid april it would have warmed enough that we wouldn't have to deal with sub zero temperatures a lot. Looks like I was wrong. We are planning to keep the schedule open and move around things based on the weather.
Are there any good lakes with nice views near pikes peak? I saw Crystal lake. Is there any hidden beauty which we can explore?
Thanks again!!!
This is Colorado ... if you're heading into the mountains and higher elevations, you have to be prepared for cold, which is why I mentioned planning on dressing in layers. It's usually cool in the mornings but then warms up nicely.

Pikes Peak is 14,000'+ in elevation ... you can count on it being cold and windy up there most of the time. We get some of our biggest snowstorms in March and April, though everything melts in 1-2 days. So yeah, be prepared. Don't worry, it won't be sub-zero, but it can be chilly.

This is the high desert - water is precious. We really don't have many lakes. That said, there are beautiful trails all over the place where you can hike next to mountain streams. Plenty of websites with hiking and trail information. Crystal Creek is a reservoir (as most of our bodies of water are) ... not sure if it's accessible now or not. Otowi will chime in here, I'm sure.

Google Eleven Mile Canyon/Lake George - not far from those fossil beds I mentioned.
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Old 03-25-2019, 06:55 AM
 
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Sure thanks botg of you. Will look it up.
Just one last question. Is cave of the winds mountain park worth the visit with a toddler? My toddler is bit scared of darkness. But i assume the cave is well lit.
Is taking the guided tour only way to explore the caves or we can walk around leisurely? Does. It have good view points as well?
TIA!!
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Old 03-25-2019, 09:11 AM
 
Location: Colorado Springs
3,491 posts, read 2,611,056 times
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Cave of the Winds might be more fun with teens than toddlers. The cave is lit but does have dim areas within it, and they do demonstrate how dark it is by turning out the lights in one part of the tour, so if your toddler is afraid of the dark, not sure this would be the best fit. They do have stairs and hand rails through the cave. The guided tour is fairly loosely managed but is required for entry. They do offer more intense cave experiences that go deeper into things, but it doesn't sound like that is on your radar. The additional fee rides such as zip lining and the Terrordactyle ride that flies off the cliff edge are also not toddler material.

Views up there are pretty impressive with a sight line down Williams Canyon all the way up to Cameron's Cone and other large Front Range mountains. The drive up does unnerve some as well as it switchbacks up the top of a ridgeline that then goes to the facility, which is perched on the edge of a large, deep canyon.
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Old 03-25-2019, 09:23 AM
 
Location: Manitou Springs
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You might want to look at the *Cliff Dwellings: https://www.cliffdwellingsmuseum.com/

As TCHP said ... Cave might be a bit much for your little one.
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Old 03-25-2019, 10:05 AM
 
5,706 posts, read 7,810,088 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by srick123 View Post
Thanks all for your inputs. Will definitely consider the zoo. Didn't know that Pikes peak summit can get that cold i thought by mid april it would have warmed enough that we wouldn't have to deal with sub zero temperatures a lot. Looks like I was wrong. We are planning to keep the schedule open and move around things based on the weather.
Are there any good lakes with nice views near pikes peak? I saw Crystal lake. Is there any hidden beauty which we can explore?
Thanks again!!!
There are some reservoirs on the peak that you would encounter on your drive up to the summit if it is open.
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