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Old 08-05-2012, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Oklahoma City
12 posts, read 23,164 times
Reputation: 20

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Hi, I decided to drive to Denver then drive around Colorado in counterclockwise routes for 1 week:

Denver -> Silverthorne -> Vail -> Glenwood springs -> Rifle -> Grand Mesa -> Telluride -> Ridgway -> Ouray -> Silverton -> Durango -> Mesa verde -> Chimney Rock -> Pagosa Springs -> Gunnison -> Crested Butte -> Salida -> Buena Vista -> Aspen -> Leadville -> Denver

This is the Google map of the route: goo.gl/maps/kJwbV (put http:// in the front, somehow I can't get this to show up properly here)

So my questions are:
1) Are there restaurants/food that MUST NOT be missed either at the destination spots or small cities/towns along the route? The type of restaurants that are considered to be some of the best in US or world?

2) I'm having problems finding cheap hotels. Most hotels in those cities cost around $100, And I'm looking for ones that cost around 50 to 70 bucks max per night. Is there any tips of getting cheap hotels in Colorado despite the current high season? Any good websites for cheap hotels other than hotels.com or booking.com? Or is it better for me to just go there then get a hotel whenever sunset comes? Maybe they slash the prices at the last minute to fill in capacity?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-05-2012, 03:24 PM
 
Location: Western Colorado
10,518 posts, read 11,623,635 times
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Ridgway - Panny's Pizza. They have the best pizza and icecream on the planet. Ouray, a small neat place - Back Street Bagle and Deli. Silverton - Handlebars. You'll also be going through Delta if you take HWY 50 from Junktown, best place to eat in Delta is Butch's Cafe on the south end of town. Montrose - The Stonehouse. And $100 a night in the Ridgway Ouray Silverton area IS cheap during tourist season. Sounds like a fun trip. But all that in ONE week? Drive fast.

OH there's construction on HWY 550 from the Ouray County line to Ridgway, flaggers, and a reduced speed limit. DO the reduced speed limit, they'll be a Trooper waiting for you. Also HWY 62 through Ridgway is under construction as CDOT is replacing a bridge. And HWY 550 over Red Mountain Pass is still one lane with a stop light due to construction, expect a long delay. There was a mudslide on 550 north of Ouray last week, so beware of afternoon thunderstorms too.

Have a great time.
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Old 08-05-2012, 09:19 PM
 
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
2,970 posts, read 6,605,182 times
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I've had luck getting good hotel deals with: Last Minute Travel - Best Deals: Hotels, Packages, Flights, Activities Summer is still very busy in the mountains and hotels price accordingly, stay away from the big resorts like Aspen and focus on smaller towns.

Hwy 82 to Aspen will take you over Independence Pass, it's a beautiful, twisty, turny road, but it may be one that you do not want to drive twice especially if you are getting tired.
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Old 08-06-2012, 05:10 AM
 
10,868 posts, read 41,128,193 times
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Is your priority just to "see" the state from the windshield of your car, or do you want places to stop at and enjoy?

In one week, if you have any interest in doing something besides driving ... you'll have very little time to see and do other stuff. There's a huge number of things to see and do, but much depends upon your interests. I wouldn't, for example, pass through places that had hot springs without stopping for awhile. For example, Glenwood Springs.

Heading to Mesa Verde, if you are going to actually visit any of the ruins requires a couple days to take the multiple guided hikes into them. It's not like the attractions of Mesa Verde can be seen from the highway, you have to take the time to drive into the park, then get accomodations, then choose which hike you'll take ... in high tourist season, you may need to make a reservation for a given tour and that can be some number of hours before your group will head out for the hike. Some of the hikes can take a couple of hours; your choices for levels of difficulty (ladders to climb, places to hike to) will be guided by how much interest you have in going through the historic ruins. But for certain, other than the museum display at the headquarters, you will need to take at least one of the hikes to be able to actually see anything.

Towns like Telluride ... it's at the end of the drive up the canyon. Once there, if you're going to see anything in town, you'll need to get out of your car and walk around for awhile. Even a most brief sightseeing there would be several hours. Same for Ouray, Silverton, Vail, and Aspen ... all depending upon what your interests are in visiting. Vail, for example, has some unique features such as the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens ... which are not in the TOV proper but a little distance from town, readily accessible by your car or taking the local free bus from the center of town parking garage. And I wouldn't head to Aspen without wanting to head to the hot springs there, which is out of town a modest drive and time to access it. Nor miss the old hot springs by Carbondale. If you had interests in the mining history of the area, you'd want to stop in Georgetown for the day ... between the shops/museums which are a wealth of information. As well, there's the historic narrow gauge train ride up that way. All of this stuff takes time to visit and take in.

You'll be going past hydro plants which have an interesting history in the development of the area, many of which have museum areas to detail the construction and functioning of the facilities. Some have tours through the plants. There's historic fish hatcheries you'll pass, with their histories and structures and activities. There's world class fisheries you'll be passing ... do you have any interest in fishing? While the water levels are low this year, there's still rafting adventures in some places that will give you access to seeing places that have no other access. There's superb mountain vista's and views to be enjoyed and savored ... some readily accessible hikes or bicycle rides from parking areas, like off the top of Vail Pass. But all of these activities in the mountain areas require time and getting out of your car and being physically active to sample these highlights of the region; what you can see from the roads is but a small fraction of what these areas have to offer.

There are less expensive motels in some of the places you've planned to travel through, but the quality of some of them can leave a lot to be desired. What's your priority in lodging? just a roof over your head and a bathroom? You can find that, but some of the cheap motels are pretty crummy places ... and some have nicer lodging, some places have individual little cabins that are charming, well kept, and comfortable ... but at a price.

If you'd post what your interests are in your sightseeing, it would be a lot easier to give a meaningful response about things that are "must see". As well, what are your interests in restaurants? ethnic foods? a good steakhouse? a bar/grill with local character? What is it that appeals to you that would make a place a "must see"?

IMO, unless you are just trying to put a lot of miles on your vehicle for the week ... you'd do better to focus on your specific interests here in Colorado and plan a trip to access those things. You'll drive a whole lot less and have the opportunity in your limited time to enjoy the place.

Last edited by sunsprit; 08-06-2012 at 05:27 AM..
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Old 08-06-2012, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Oklahoma City
12 posts, read 23,164 times
Reputation: 20
You guys are right. I did some research this weekend and it's not a good idea to stroll around these cities for 2-3 hours each. I cut down a huge chunk of destinations so that I can spend at least 1 day/city unless I can finish the tour in half a day:

Denver, CO to Denver, CO - Google Maps

Denver -> Vail, CO -> Glenwood Springs -> Grand Mesa -> Carbondale (via US 65 stopping by Delta) -> Aspen -> Leadville (short tour) -> Breckenridge

I do want to do some hiking, but if it takes 5 hours or more to complete then I don't mind skipping it.

These are the current things to do I've gathered so far. Feel free to throw in some suggestions/tips. Thanks !!

Vail, Co:
- Lionshead Gondola
- Walking around downtown(it looks pretty)

Glenwood Springs:
- Hanging Lake
- Glenwood Canyon
- Hot Springs (I don't know which one is the best)

Grand Mesa:
- Grand Mesa scenery

Aspen:
- Maroon Bell / Lake
- Silver Queen Gondola
- Downtown

Leadville:
- Downtown

Breckenridge:
- Peak 8 Fun Park
- Downtown
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Old 08-06-2012, 10:42 PM
 
10,868 posts, read 41,128,193 times
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IMO, you've made realistic improvements in your trip planning, but are still off the mark for a vacation ...

None of these places & activities can be done in a 1/2 day with the exception of Leadville's downtown district. But if you want to check out hte mining museum, you'll still be spending more than a 1/2 day there.

You'll see a lot of Glenwood Canyon on I-70 as you head from Vail to Glenwood, but the hike up to Hanging Lake can take awhile. Remember, you are now at high altitude and that will take it's toll upon your physical abilities. Glenwood Springs has a lot to see and do, too; the big main outdoor hot springs pool is OK, but not as hot as I prefer. The smaller private facilities are a better choice if you are a hot springs fan.

'nother example: Aspen, to see the Maroon Belles area. IIRC (it's been quite a few years since I camped out at Silver Belle campground), you cannot drive your car up the road to this area anymore. You must either hike or take the public transporation from the base area. So it takes a fair amount of time to do this and actually see anything.

IMO, you'd do well to consider even fewer destinations and more stop time than you've currently planned ... perhaps Denver-Vail-Glenwood-Aspen with a return over Independence and through South Park back to Denver. Take the time to stop in Georgetown if you are interested in Colorado's mining history. At that, you might even consider a Denver-Idaho Springs-Georgetown-Vail-Glenwood and return as a more realistically achieveable and better paced week in Colorado.
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:04 AM
 
Location: Western Colorado
10,518 posts, read 11,623,635 times
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The drive on HWY 65 over the Mesa is really nice. Stop at the Visitors Center to look around. As you approach Cedaredge you'll see Aspen Campgrounds on your right. STOP for ice cream in their home made waffle cones. They make great sandwiches too. In Eckert there's a chocolate place on your right, stop there for the best homemade candy. Lots of fruit stands too. You'll come down to HWY 92 and will bypass Delta if you're heading on north. 92 is a nice fast hwy until Hotchkiss. Going up, left of the reservoir there's a neat waterfall and a small pullover place. The speed limit is 35 driving up past the reservoir. A side trip to Marble is pretty cool, you can pick up a chuck of real marble for a dollar and see huge blocks of it they cut from the mine. Go into Redstone too, a neat little town. There's a small cafe on the river you can sit outside by the river and have lunch.

Have fun! Too bad you'll miss the best part of Colorado, Ouray County.
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Old 08-07-2012, 10:51 AM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,754 posts, read 16,447,829 times
Reputation: 9287
crestyplump91 wrote:
Grand Mesa:
- Grand Mesa scenery
While you are on the Grand Mesa, take at least a short hike on the Mesa Top Trail. It's a scenic, e-a-s-y walk on fairly level ground. The first mile passes thru open meadow land mostly with occcassional short forays into the edge of the forest. A small lake ( pond ) is encountered around the one mile mark. The trail continues for approximately another 2 miles past the lake. Turn around and walk back out whenever you've had your fill.

Also on the Grand Mesa.....if you don't mind a moderately strenuous uphill hike, consider hiking on the Crag Crest Trail which is designated as a National Scenic Trail. It's approx 2.5 to 3 miles to the crest potion of the trail which will allow for the most fantastic views you've probably ever encountered. It's well worth the time and effort!
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Old 08-07-2012, 03:34 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
4,888 posts, read 8,899,377 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crestyplump91 View Post
Denver -> Silverthorne -> Vail -> Glenwood springs -> Rifle -> Grand Mesa -> Telluride -> Ridgway -> Ouray -> Silverton -> Durango -> Mesa verde -> Chimney Rock -> Pagosa Springs -> Gunnison -> Crested Butte -> Salida -> Buena Vista -> Aspen -> Leadville -> Denver

....
So my questions are:
1) Are there restaurants/food that MUST NOT be missed either at the destination spots or small cities/towns along the route? The type of restaurants that are considered to be some of the best in US or world?
I've been all of those places. I can't think of any restaurants that are "to die for" but there's some great microbrew in many of those towns, some of which I would consider "world class". You should definitely check it out if you like beer.

Quote:
2) I'm having problems finding cheap hotels. Most hotels in those cities cost around $100, And I'm looking for ones that cost around 50 to 70 bucks max per night.
I usually look for Super-8s. I think they have a book that lists the addresses and phone numbers of all the hotels in the country.
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Old 08-08-2012, 04:22 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,754 posts, read 16,447,829 times
Reputation: 9287
In Crested Butte, consider staying at the International Hostel. A bunk in the dorm room is under $35 a nite. I stayed there for 7 nites ( stay 6 nites and the 7th nite is FREE ) at the end of June. My total cost ( including all the tax crap ) was just over $180. Not only will staying at the hostel reduce your lodging costs, it can also reduce your food costs as well because you can store you food and your beer in the refrigerator and cook your own food at the hostel kitchen. Cooking your own food provides better food and avoids the high cost of eating out and paying a premium price for beer. The hostel is a good deal all the way around.

Last edited by CosmicWizard; 08-08-2012 at 04:39 PM..
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