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Old 04-08-2013, 03:03 PM
9,830 posts, read 19,529,511 times
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Originally Posted by jkrunner88 View Post
Well we will be doing a lot of driving for sure, but I've been told by friends that driving the pass to get to Aspen is just as exciting as anything. I want to possibly extend our trip an extra day just to be able to see more in Aspen, that way we have a chance to relax. I've heard about the Maroon Bells and definitely want to check that out.
You might want to recalculate your drive time as these are mountain roads not straight lines on a map.

As it stands right now you'll be in the car most of the time and will not be hiking all over the state and trekking all over. For instance right now you have driving back through the mountains the same morning you want to be in Boulder. Unless you have developed a way to be in two places at one time, that isn't going to work.
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Old 04-08-2013, 03:46 PM
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I'm not 100% sure what you are thinking, but this is what I get when I mark your points on a google map (this might be in reverse, but that doesnt matter): https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=P...2,3,4&t=m&z=11

I think skipping Boulder would be a more interesting drive: https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=P...,3,4,5&t=m&z=9

But as everyone has said that's a TON of driving for a three day trip.
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Old 04-08-2013, 05:21 PM
Location: Na'alehu Hawaii/Buena Vista Colorado
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After driving all night from Illinois, you will arrive in Denver. Then you have about an hour+ drive to Breck, where you will stop for a couple of beers and walk around town. Then back in the car, go back to I-70, exit at Copper Mountain and go over Fremont Pass (nothing exciting) to Leadville (another hour+). Leadville is another cute mountain town; maybe you'll need to stop for lunch. Then it's off to Independence Pass (btw, nothing worth seeing in Twin Lakes), which will be another hour(?). You probably will want to stop at the top and take in the scenery. There are some hikes on the downhill side of the Pass. Now you are in Aspen and it is late afternoon. Probably way too late to do more hiking at the Maroon Bells, so you need to save that for the next day. There are lots of nice hikes there, so you should plan at least a half day. BTW, you also need to figure on acclimating to the altitude.

So now you are at least half way through your trip. I suggest that your next plan should be to drive from Aspen to Grand Lake -- another four hour trip -- and spend the night there. Then the next day (your third day) you can explore RMNP.

LOTS of driving and not much hiking. If you could extend your trip and spend more time at both the Maroon Bells and RMNP, it would be better. If it were me I'd plan to go just to RMNP because there is beautiful scenery and a lot of great hiking. If you were to spend your time in RMNP, you could take an exciting drive over Trail Ridge Road and go visit the very cute town of Grand Lake.
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Old 04-08-2013, 05:53 PM
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I'm not feeling too good about your plan. I don't think your taking into consideration the altitude. After driving all night from IL your going to go right up to altitude and then plan to drink. I don't think any of you will be feeling well enough to drive or hike after that. It would be a shame to come all this way and then not be able to enjoy yourselves.

Effects of Alcohol at High Altitude | eHow.com
  1. Significance
    • The blood absorbs alcohol quickly, interfering with the absorption of oxygen by hemoglobin. This effect is magnified by high altitude. In other words, drinking alcohol at high altitudes reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to the brain.

    • It is estimated that one drink at high altitude will have the same effects on the body as three drinks taken at sea level.

    • Drinking alcohol dehydrates the body. High altitude causes dehydration. Dehydration dramatically increases when drinking alcohol in high altitudes.

    • Both alcohol and high altitude reduce reaction times. Drinking alcohol and driving in high altitudes increases the likelihood of an accident.

    • Symptoms of high altitude sickness are increased by alcohol consumption. Victims suffer headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite and possibly vomiting.

    • People traveling to a high altitude should refrain from drinking alcohol for at least 48 hours before they arrive.
The mountain roads are challenging to drive. They are best tackled while well rested and completely sober.
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Old 04-08-2013, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by mic111 View Post
The mountain roads are challenging to drive. They are best tackled while well rested and completely sober.
Ditto that, no sleep on the drive out, up to 10000 feet, pound some beers at altitude, back in the car over Independence Pass where one slight mistake is your last, into Aspen, hiking along the way, out of Aspen, back to Boulder, up to Estes Park, hiking all along the way.

From 10 years ago, sounds like the guy that drove out from Indiana through the night, wound his way up Hwy 24 outside of Vail and either suicide, stupidity, asleep at the wheel or inattentiveness, dropped his tires off the edge of the road and took a 1000 foot drop to his death.
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Old 04-08-2013, 06:42 PM
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Wink ... and on that next trip

As everyone has said, you're planning on a lot of driving. If in some lovely country, do not plan on getting a lot of hiking in—as it will cut into your necessary driving time.

And although I hate to mention it, the term "designated driver" comes to mind. Although a very good idea whenever driving, Independence Pass is definitely one place where your driver will want to have all their faculties about them. Perhaps enjoy brews briefly in Breckenridge, and then take the rest to go for later. Also consider that altitude accentuates the effects of alcohol (elevation of Breckenridge: 9,600 feet / top of Independence Pass: 12,095 feet).

Twin Lakes is a cute town directly at the east approach to Independence Pass. So no harm in visiting, as already there, but aside from the scenery not a great deal to see or do. IF the time (and a big if in these circumstances), there was an outfit renting canoes for an excursion on the lake.

Aspen is definitely worth the visit and, uh, expensive. In your hiking endeavors, perhaps check in advance: they may require your taking a public shuttle to visit the Maroon Bells (which could slow you down).

Off of I-70, one place to hike is to Hanging Lake. The trailhead is in Glenwood Canyon, near the twin tunnels (research this in advance, or you'll likely miss the turnoff). Worth the hike, but a good uphill hike—and, well, doing so could seriously cut into your driving time.

You'll be doing yourself a favor if not driving directly to Boulder from Aspen. For one thing, as lovely as it, you've already seen that route. So an alternative would be to cut north to Kremmling from Silverthorne, at I-70. From Kremmling head east to near Granby, then north to Grand Lake. Either stay there the night, or on over spectacular Trail Ridge Road to Estes Park. It is worth seeing in the daylight, so plan accordingly. Also figure on a relatively slow drive, aside from any stops for sightseeing: the posted speed limit most of the way through RMNP is 35mph, and many tourists may keep you even under that. But what a drive.

No idea of the quality, but there is a brewery in Estes Park. It is located near the Big Thompson River, near US 36 on the way to the main entrance to the RMNP; but it is accessed off of Riverside Drive.

In just hiking, Rocky Mountain National Park is the place to be. Not that you'll have time, but they have 355 miles of formal hiking trails. You may not have time to search out the more obscure trails, so perhaps try the Fern Lake Trailhead at Moraine Park to hike up along the Big Thomson River. Or continue on up Bear Lake Road to its terminus at 9,450 feet and Bear Lake. That is the popular trailhead for some lovely hikes farther up the mountain. Unfortunately the park has a most bogus road construction project in progress on that road, so plan on some delays, and the likely requirement of transferring to a public shuttle at a point to reach the far end of the road at Bear Lake.

Boulder is of course a great town. In driving down US 36 through Lyons, you might drive through Boulder on the way to cutting over to I-76. Depending on how things go you may or not have time for a little hiking from Chautauqua Park. And/or take the lovely drive on up Flagstaff Mountain to visit the (paid) city park with a spectacular view out over town and the eastern plains (and to the west, great views of the Front Range Mountains).

You might, alternatively, save a little driving time in skipping Boulder to visit the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins. If so, then from Estes Park it is down US 34 in that lovely canyon to near Loveland. If you play your cards right you'll enter Fort Collins from Horsetooth Reservoir, via Masonville. From Fort Collins you can cut down through Greeley, via US 34 to intersect I-76.

Plan on missing a few things, and already thinking of the next trip.

Last edited by Idunn; 04-08-2013 at 07:21 PM..
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Old 04-08-2013, 07:14 PM
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,764 posts, read 16,838,766 times
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I'm thinking that you are likely to change your mind about all that driving once you get out here and you see firsthand what Colorado has to offer. Being cooped up in a car, and experiencing the Colorado countryside vicariously at 70 mph from a 4 lane interstate is unlikely to be very gratifying, especially knowing that you could actually be outdoors playing in it. It'll be pretty hard to pass up experiencing the real thing, so most likely you will opt for less driving and more playing.

There's a short, easy, leg stretcher hike off of I-70 in Glenwood Canyon into a fabulously scenic place called Hanging Lake. A hike like this will lift your spirits after spending so much time cooped up in a car.

Last edited by CosmicWizard; 04-08-2013 at 07:37 PM..
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:10 PM
Location: The Berk in Denver, CO USA
13,950 posts, read 20,201,871 times
Reputation: 22581
Drive less.
Drink more [beer].
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