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Old 04-17-2012, 12:05 PM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
15 posts, read 21,859 times
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How much time would it take to see Garden of the Gods?




Thanks for the tip about making a reservation ahead of time to tour the US Mint. I was looking at their website and saw info about what you're allowed to bring inside. Are they very strict about this?

The United States Mint About Us

As a tourist, I always carry a shoulder bag or a purse with me containing my usual travel essentials while exploring any place … stuff like: water bottles, snacks (very important with a child in tow!), guide book/maps, camera, phone, wallet, keys, lotion, cosmetic bag, wet wipes, etc…

If I'm not allowed to carry all this stuff with me while touring around, then I may need to fork over the extra bucks to spend 2 nights at a hotel in downtown Denver -- within walking distance of the US Mint -- so that I can have a place to leave this stuff. (I was planning to stay at a hotel outside of downtown Denver to keep costs down)

Hmmm…..
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Old 04-17-2012, 12:06 PM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
15 posts, read 21,859 times
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Would it be overly ambitious to do the Bear Lake drive from Estes Park AND the Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake all on Day 5?



I was planning on staying overnight in Grand Lake because I thought we might be too tired after the Trail Ridge Road drive from Estes Park to Grand Lake to turn around and drive back to Estes Park to spend the night. I was originally thinking we'd sleep in Grand Lake and then go back to Denver via Trail Ridge Road, Estes Park and Boulder … but then I changed my mind and thought it would be quicker to drive back to Denver via Golden.
Do you think I should take the Trail Ridge Road route back to Denver instead of going south through Golden?
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Old 04-17-2012, 12:43 PM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
17,804 posts, read 33,182,518 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FayeMarie View Post
I'm planning a trip to Colorado in early June and would appreciate some itinerary advice. I'll be traveling with my husband and 7 yr old. This will be our first trip to Colorado. ... I'm trying to find a nice "sweet spot" for seeing the sites without getting overwhelmed.

DAY 1: Too much Open time... combine most of Day2 here especially stuff that can be done in the evening,
-- Arrive in Denver (1pm)
-- Sleep in Denver.

DAY 2:
-- State Capitol
-- Denver Art Museum
-- US Mint
-- 16th Street Mall
-- Denver Museum of Nature & Science
-- Sleep in Denver. (Too much Sleeping in Denver, one night would be way too much for me)

DAY 3:
-- Drive to Manitou Springs
-- Lunch in Manitou Springs
-- Garden of the Gods (Stay in Springs, Sunset in Garden is great lighting for pics (as is sunrise)
-- Drive back to Denver
-- Sleep in Denver

DAY 4:
-- Drive to Boulder
-- University of Colorado
-- Pearl St Mall (lunch)
-- Celestial Seasonings ?? (Yes, + Leaning Tree, Next door)
-- Drive to Estes Park
-- Sleep in Estes Park

DAY 5:
-- Drive to Grand Lake
-- Trail Ridge Road (yes add Bear Lake, EARLY in AM, I often enter park by 5 AM, animals are much more visible. I grab a breakfast snack . fruit the night before and take a couple 10 minute naps during the day, while spouse attends to kids)
-- Sleep in Grand Lake Consider Winter Park as well

DAY 6:
-- Drive to Golden (lunch)load up an several more activities this day
-- Drive to Denver
-- Sleep in Denver

DAY 7:
-- Fly out of Denver (10am)


..

Is it worth driving to Red Rocks Park? (when there is no concert scheduled) Sure if your nearby (30 minutes), not worth an extra trip

Also, how easy is it to find public restrooms in any of these areas? This is important with a young child in tow. Plenty...(trees work too... we homeschooled and traveled extensively (and frugally) from birth to age 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by FayeMarie View Post
Would it be overly ambitious to do the Bear Lake drive from Estes Park AND the Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake all on Day 5? Do that + more



I was planning on staying overnight in Grand Lake ... I would consider staying in Winter Park... We stayed there one summer eve and had a WHOLE ski Lodge to ourselves, we got to choose any room! starlight from Hot tub was superb(Miller's Lodge, Circa 1980)
Purpose of trip?

Scouting for relocation?,
Sightseeing?
I do a much different itinerary for either.
I would suggest staying in Boulder, Ft Collins, and Colo Springs. All are VERY pleasant cities with lots to do and NOT the traffic / noise / expense / time sink of Denver. Don't waste too much of vacation traveling back and forth to Denver, see it and LEAVE.

We have always stayed in Private guest homes ($10 / night). Basically, a classy way of Couchsurfing. (There are MANY in Colorado). There are some directories online, but we started with a homeschool guesthome directory 25 yrs ago. The kids loved it, and us too. You get to meet 'locals' and learn LOTS about the area, and they are SAFE and quiet. These hundreds of pleasant stays have actually MADE our trips. (worldwide) Usually include at least one meal, but sometimes we've ended up staying for a week or more to help on farms or with elderly.

Not sure of your dates, but since I am now PNW based, (traditional music deprived); I have a fun family event in Ft Collins, Colo; June 16, that is a must attend (for me).
Walker Manufacturing Presents...
It's Next door to here (another must see when we had kids dragging along)
Folk Art: Swetsville Zoo, Fort Collins, Colorado
Swetsville Zoo - Fort Collins - Reviews of Swetsville Zoo - TripAdvisor


Of course I also come to CO in Aug for Loveland High Plains Arts Council
Other travel resources I use:
America's Byways®: National Scenic Byways Online
Free Campgrounds for RVs
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Old 04-17-2012, 02:04 PM
 
Location: CO
109 posts, read 209,392 times
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Garden of the Gods could be done in an hour or so if you just want to do a quick sightseeing drive through the park. But once you see it, you'll want to make lots of stops, do a little hiking, take tons of pictures. It's absolutely gorgeous. I'd allow a minimum of 2-3 hours. You can easily spend 45 minutes to an hour in the Trading Post and the same amount of time at the Visitors' Center.

The US Mint is VERY serious about their rules - as in, absolutely no exceptions. (You definitely don't want to get into an argument with one of the armed guards. They have no sense of humor whatsoever.) If you'll have a car with you, just park as close to the Mint as possible and lock all your stuff in the trunk. The tour of the mint doesn't last that long.
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Old 04-17-2012, 02:09 PM
 
728 posts, read 1,305,800 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FayeMarie View Post
How much time would it take to see Garden of the Gods?
Some of the items on your list do have time limits: a tour of the capital or the mint have predetermined schedules. Many items, however, could take a lot of time, or a little, depending upon your interest level. I took someone through GOG once in under 20 minutes. On another occasion I stayed most of a day. One could spend two hours at the Visitors Center, or not go at all. Same for the Trading Post (nice place in summer for a picnic, by the way). I guess three and a half to four hours would get most of the drives, a short visit to the Visitors Center, some picture taking, and a couple of short walks. A slow drive through is about an hour.

My mother and sister loved Manitou Springs. Personally, I haven't spent 90 minutes there total in 10 years. You could enter Rocky Mountain National Park, drive up and over the pass, and be in Grand Lake in two hours, or an entire day there could leave you wanting to stay the week. I can sit in the car at the stop light and see all of the 16th Street Mall I want to see while waiting for the light to change; my wife needs a bit more than that. We spent at least five hours at the Natural History museum last time we were there, but you could hit the high points in 90 minutes.

There is one complicating factor - summer weekends. While early June is not as crowded as later in the summer, Estes Park and Garden of the Gods can get crazy on summer weekends. So the time you need will also depend upon the day of the week.

If you asked 100 people, they would alter your itinerary 100 different ways. You have scoped out quite reasonable choices for a first time visit, so take all of our comments as representative of the personal choices they are.
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:48 PM
 
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Wink Bear Lake, Grand Lake, etc.

It would be possible to drive to Bear Lake from Estes Park, and then (in backtracking somewhat) over Trail Ridge Road to Grand Lake in a single day. Whether advisable or not is another matter.

As with so much the rest of it, a matter of personal predilection. Even in the summer it should be possible to make a round trip excursion to Bear Lake in less than two hours (do check prior with RMNP for possible traffic delays due road construction). One big caveat to this is that come summer (and possibly by your visit in June) RMNP has the habit of closing the last half of this route to public automobiles (during the day—but then see possible night construction closures, now), requiring everyone use their shuttle buses; that should throw a suitable kink into anyone's timetable, if in a hurry.

Another consideration for many is that while the ever so lovely Bear Lake can literally be walked to in a minute from the terminus parking lot, this spot serves also as trailhead to all the marvelous hiking and lakes beyond. That will take time, if so inclined.

So as beautiful as Bear Lake is, and as lovely a drive up to it, unless a dedicated trip with enough time allotted, it might prove more trouble than it is worth when one is wishing to be moving more purposefully elsewhere. Trail Ridge Road is a suitable excursion in itself, and it would be the jaded tourist who on first driving this route was not tempted at times to stop and enjoy the views. It is also a challenging road, at least to those distrustful of their driving, and fearful of putting a tire of the road and subsequently themselves rapidly down half a mountainside. Quite picturesque, but do stay on the pavement. Perhaps in consequence, in the middle of the day when most of the tourists are out and about it is not uncommon to find at least someone(s) driving even under the posted 35mph speed limit. That limit—and their driving—extends all the way across down to the far and much flatter Colorado river valley. So plan on a long and scenic trip.

Once in Grand Lake, you will probably not be in the mood to immediately retrace your steps to Estes Park, despite the scenery as lovely. Grand Lake is a fine little town in its own right, even if not as large or busy as Estes Park. Among the attractions, aside from all the restaurants and shops catering to tourists, is a quite lovely lake with backdrop of RMNP, and Colorado's largest and deepest natural lake. Just west of town is one of the inlets to this lake, and a most beautiful river.

Do not overlook the historic Grand Lake Lodge, which resides high above town, and a magnificent view from there down across the town, the lake, and surrounding mountain peaks. It might be worth considering as lodging for the night, and if even not that, then simply worth the visit for the superlative view.

If one likes backtracking, then Trail Ridge Road is not at all a bad choice, if debatable in the same day. But since out and about, it can be a fine excursion—and in some respects simpler—to continue south through Granby and Winter Park, and thence over Berthoud Pass (11,307 feet) to drop into the Clear Creek drainage and merge with I-70. If wishing to visit Golden, then it is an simple thing accomplished east on I-70 and then via US 6 (CO 470 to US 6); although a lovely drive along the course of Clear Creek in its scenic canyon on US 6 (no typo—so pay attention, as this exit to the left, shortly east of Idaho Springs—after the tunnel, and not far beyond the exit towards Central City).

Otherwise, once on I-70 it is a straight shot (with a few mountains thrown in) on into Denver.

If perchance turning west on I-70 when reaching it, a great drive on towards Loveland Pass, Summit County, and points beyond—but that may be another trip and time.
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:14 PM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
15 posts, read 21,859 times
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I'm really excited about this trip to Colorado. All I do these days is read up on it to plan my trip. It's driving my husband crazy LOL cuz he doesn't want to be bogged down with all the details. I keep finding more things I want to see/do, but can't fit them all in due to time constraints. So I'm just going to consider this trip my "sampler platter" visit and come back to focus on specific areas in the future.


Seeing the sunset from Garden of the Gods sounds like a good idea.
If I were to spend the night in the Colorado Springs area on Day 3 (instead of driving back to Denver to sleep) … would it be better to sleep in Colorado Springs or in Manitou Springs? Or makes no difference?
I originally planned on driving back to Denver to sleep, so that there would be less driving on Day 4 from Denver to Boulder and Estes Park … but I now realize that Boulder isn't so far from Denver … and I'm thinking this would work out better than driving back to Denver in the afternoon and possibly hitting rush hour traffic.


My Day 3 is a Tuesday so I'm hoping not to run into too many crowds at Garden of the Gods.


OMG you weren't kidding about making a reservation for the US Mint "right now" … just discovered that the US Mint tours are already fully booked on that day (which is 55 days later!!!)


Is the tour required to see or get entry to the State Capitol?
I assumed it was like visiting the US Capitol in Washington, DC where we just walked in and looked around.



I'm not too worried about driving Trail Ridge Road … unless it is worse than some of the cliff edge sections of driving to Yosemite or Sequoia/Kings Canyon?


Thanks for the left exit tip for visiting Golden. There really is no particular reason for stopping there, other than a possible lunch stop. I can guarantee that my daughter will ask where we're stopping for lunch before pass out of Grand Lake's town limits LOL.
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:37 PM
 
Location: Southeastern Colorado
319 posts, read 580,144 times
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Default Don't forget to plan for altitude adjustment.

Here's a tip that I don't believe I've seen yet on this thread. If you are unaccustomed to high altitude, you may find yourselves a bit fatigued, slightly woozy/dizzy, or even have some mild symptoms that could "knock you out" for a day or sap you of your usual energy. The sun and dryness may compound the situation.

You might find you need siestas mid-afternoon or you may simply be a tad less energetic than usual. So, best not to schedule down to the minute. And of course, lots of (needed) hydration will translate into more potty breaks - whether at an official rest stop, behind/beside a tree, or at a gas station/convenience store. Your water bottle will become your best friend!

Take care of yourselves. We want you to have a wonderful time feasting on the beauty of our beloved state!
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:48 PM
 
2,253 posts, read 5,490,554 times
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Wink Manitou Springs, Boulder, etc.

A second on the altitude advice; and a good reason why one may wish not to over-schedule activities on the day of arrival, or even the day following. Everyone reacts to this differently, although generally those in decent health will be fine with a little common sense—and pacing.

Tioga Pass in Yosemite is a great drive, although I do not recall any portion as impressive (or intimidating, use your own adjective) as some sections of Trail Ridge Road. Some of the more notable are experienced driving eastbound (as on the outside lane—with no guardrail, of course), but opportunities for instant disaster can be had in either direction. But never fear; most everyone survives. Let's just say it is a good road to be driving on—and not texting.

At a (somewhat informed) guess, the options, quality, and price of lodging in Colorado Springs will be better than in Manitou Springs. It is but a short distance between the two, so from a practical standpoint no reason to spend the night in Manitou. However, decent lodging can be had in Manitou Springs, and particularly when visiting there is nothing like proximity; it can be the difference between glancing at one's watch, or contentedly strolling about the town into the evening, and again early in the morning. In that vein, look for something centrally located and ideal for walking, as some properties on the outskirts (if technically in Manitou Springs) are not particularly so.

There can be good reasons for remaining the night in the Colorado Springs area, but plan on possibly wanting to spend some quality time in Boulder. The University of Colorado has a lovely campus, best enjoyed by walking through it; with a visit to 'The Hill' across from the western edge of campus perhaps interesting; as well, perhaps, the shops and restaurants of the Pearl Street mall. Additionally, just driving around the residential streets of Boulder may be of interest—or not—and if so, then those to the west, and up towards Baseline Road, perhaps best chosen. Besides which (if the time, and feeling adventurous), a drive on up the mountain via Baseline Road, winding up through portions of the Flatirons is beautiful, and a great view from the top at Boulder's city park (fee). If instead perhaps wanting no more than a pleasant and scenic walk, the trailheads at Chautauqua (basically Baseline Road & 9th Street) are a good choice.

On the way into Boulder on US 36, note that not long after the Superior/Louisville exit, and just at about the summit of the last hill before dropping into town, there is a rest stop to the right with a great view of Boulder below, the Rocky Mountains serving as backdrop behind.

When at last ready to depart Boulder, it is about 1.5 hours via US 36 to Estes Park. Few lodging options offer easy walking access to the compact downtown area (where most tourists—and associated shops—will be found), but good options in free public parking can be found at such locations as the public library or near the post office.
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:54 PM
 
728 posts, read 1,305,800 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FayeMarie View Post

Seeing the sunset from Garden of the Gods sounds like a good idea.
If I were to spend the night in the Colorado Springs area on Day 3 (instead of driving back to Denver to sleep) … would it be better to sleep in Colorado Springs or in Manitou Springs? Or makes no difference?
I originally planned on driving back to Denver to sleep, so that there would be less driving on Day 4 from Denver to Boulder and Estes Park … but I now realize that Boulder isn't so far from Denver … and I'm thinking this would work out better than driving back to Denver in the afternoon and possibly hitting rush hour traffic.
Rush hour traffic of an evening northbound into Denver will be trivial compared to rush hour traffic leading into Denver of a morning. There will be heavy traffic from Denver to Boulder of an evening, but it should largely clear up by 6:30 pm or so.

Sunset at GOG will effectively be around 8:00 pm in early June. "Effectively" because it sets behind the mountains long before the theoretical horizon. This may be later than you would want to wait if driving to Boulder.

I'd spend the day in CS, then drive to Boulder. Get an early start and you could spend two or three hours each in Manitou Springs and GOG, and squeeze in the cog railway to the Peak. Or sleep in a bit and skip the trip to the Peak. Have a good supper somewhere - Manitou, Old Colorado City, or CS, and once the traffic has died down around 6:30 pm or so, drive the two hours (or less) to Boulder.

To deliberately choose to drive into and completely through Denver on a weekday morning when you have a good alternative is an act of madness, unless you start from CS before 5:30 am.
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