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Old 05-29-2012, 08:23 PM
8,317 posts, read 25,170,257 times
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Like sunsprit, I've done my share of "extreme mileage" travel in the West. For years, I had to combine business with pleasure (and I still do have to fairly regularly), which meant a lot of long mileage days. I used to have to do a full day's work--then drive 400+ miles that evening. That lost its luster long ago. And it is much more stressful now than it used to be, especially if one's travel takes in anything within a 100+ miles of one of Colorado's metro areas. I can honestly say that the only great thing about the stubbornly high fuel prices of the last couple of years is that it has knocked a lot of tourists off the roads in Colorado, making it a lot less stressful for those of us who have to travel those roads as part of our work.

If the OP is serious about having a quiet vacation away from the crowds, then he needs to avoid the big resort areas, the big National Parks (Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde) and go to one of Colorado's lesser known mountain areas--and explore the immediate area there. The amount of quiet and solitude one can still enjoy in Colorado is directly inverse to its ease of accessibility and amount of tourist "amenities." It's as simple as that. Easy to get to and lots of amenities = crowded and phony. Hard to get to and less amenities = uncrowded and genuine.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:07 PM
Location: MO Ozarkian in NE Hoosierana
4,679 posts, read 10,658,279 times
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Quoting the rascally jazzlover: "Easy to get to and lots of amenities = crowded and phony. Hard to get to and less amenities = uncrowded and genuine." Please read my first post... and you'll recall that two of our best / favorite vacations were not run-abouts, but going to a cabin, lost on the bank of a stream and upon the shore of a lake, with some short drives to see local interesting areas, but mainly just chilling in the solitude. Unfortunately, given the schedule of schools, July is the only opportunity that we will have, so will have to battle the other fools when going between points A and B.

Nevertheless, again, THANKS much for the suggestions... am taking notes and doing other research, so that and any other ideas are excellent.
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:28 PM
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Just to put things in perspective, Mesa Verde/Durango gets about 1/6th the annual visitors that Estes Park/RMNP gets (half million vs. three million). Durango at the height of the tourist season will not have a tithe the traffic of Branson Mo. Or Lake of the Ozarks. A mid-summer weekday will be less busy than Meramec Spring or Johnson Shut-ins on a nice weekend. There are few places on the planet I would fight crowds to see - Mesa Verde is one of them. But arrive early on a weekday and it will be very manageable. Much of the park is above 7500 ft., and it seldom tops 90 deg. With the low humidity it will feel like spring to anyone from south Missouri.

And there are plenty of options for lodging with varying degrees of seclusion.
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Old 05-29-2012, 11:37 PM
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Wink Plan B

Duly noted. An alternative that can be headed directly to and remained at is Twin Lakes, CO. A pleasant and quite small town in a decidedly scenic local that most tourists only drive past. It resides directly at the eastern approach to Independence Pass, with the far side of that magnificent drive the chic town of Aspen (but a world removed). From Twin Lakes the closest supply points of any degree of services would be either Leadville or Buena Vista. There used to be a very nice rustic and historic lodge in town, which has since closed (but perhaps now reopened?). Otherwise, perhaps one could contract for one of the cabins in the area. There may as well be at least one other commercial lodging option.

Otherwise, heading directly to Wyoming will bypass not only Colorado but most tourists. There are still a good number in the far northwest corner of the state at Yellowstone NP, and to a lesser extent Grand Teton NP. The area is so spectacular and unique that it is worth considering, tourists or not. But those seeking serenity would be better advised elsewhere, which still leaves a good portion of mountainous Wyoming that is quite beautiful. The Wind River mountains are one such place. There are others as well.
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Old 05-30-2012, 07:23 PM
Location: High in the Rocky Mountains
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Although I live in the San Luis Valley, my vote would be for Pagosa Springs, CO - friendly quaint town, great music haven, home to the World's LARGEST HOT SPRINGS, tubing, etc.

The weekend of July 14th, is the San Juan River Music Fest - Here's the link to their Calendar: Pagosa Springs Colorado | Refreshingly Authentic

I'd come through the SLV, stop at the Great Dunes for the day, then head up to South Fork, stay at Lazy Bear Cabins South Fork, Colorado - Cabins and Lodging : Lazy Bear Cabins on the Rio overnight, spend the next day fishing the Rio and panning for gold - yep, there's gold comin' down from them there hills!

Then you have the option of hopping over to Creede, historic mining town with a fantastic downtown, tubing on the San Juan for the day, have a nice home-style meal and local brew (also one of the movie shoot sites for the Johnny Depp Lone Ranger movie - they are filming there as I type this)

Or, go directly to Pagosa Springs, an amazing drive (take your camera/videos) along the Rio Grande as you follow it to its beginnings to the Continental Divide at Wolf Creek Pass. Might even be snow on the ground when you get there - there was last 4th of July and we had snowball fights - IN JULY !!!

We like the Pagosa Springs Hotels : Pagosa Springs, CO Hotels : Motels in Pagosa Springs San Juan Motel's housekeeping cabins because they are next to the San Juan River and just across the bridge from the start of downtown. Easy walk to the bakery, Kip's Grill, city park, movies, restaurants and Hot Springs. You can bring your own inner tubes and float down the river to the Hot Springs and enjoy the Springs for free. Or you can pay for access to the differnet pools offered by multiple resorts and spas.

There's also several condo resorts in "new" Pagosa, just up the hill from downtown. Here you'll find shopping, fast food, restaurants, golf course, etc.

And, if you make Pagosa Springs your midway point, it's a couple hours to Durango (very touristy, kitzy area, but fun the first time) as they do Wild West shows, etc.

If you do it right, and really take in each area, you'll easily kill 8-10 days. It just depends on how much time you want to spend ON the road vs taking in the beauty of the areas you visit.

Southern Colorado has SO much to offer and because we are full of small towns with happy people, we tend to be overlooked for areas like Denver, Aspen, etc.

Oh yeah, and when you look up at the stars at night out here, you can actually see the Milky Ways (but be on the look-out! After all the San Luis Valley is home to alien sightings and was the basis for Close Encounters, the movie!)

Have fun!!
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Old 05-30-2012, 08:04 PM
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I second Twin Lakes. That's where I spend almost every weekend (year round). Tons of fishing (Twin Lakes, Forebay, Arkansas River, etc etc), hiking (13ers, 14ers you name it), Rafting on the Arkansas, mountain biking, bike path biking (may i suggest the mineral belt trail), the lakes do get warm enough to swim in (mid to late July), and best of all no crowds!!!! I have no idea why.
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