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Old 10-05-2013, 12:38 PM
Location: Monument,CO
352 posts, read 292,768 times
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We're scheduled to go on an Elk watching expedition in Estes Park next Saturday, Oct 12, rescheduled from September 15 due to the rain/flooding. Since 36 and 7 are closed, we've been given the following directions from I70:

"Take the 119 exit towards Blackhawk and Central City. Travel on this route to the town of Nederland where you will pick up hwy 72 north to Estes Park. At the Junction of Hwy 7 you will travel north (left) to the town of Estes Park. It is approximately 2 hours from I70 to Estes Park."

Is that route reasonable? What are the conditions of those roads? I've never been on 119 or 72, and we'd be coming back at night. It's a heck of a roundabout route from Broomfield, but we do still want to go on this expedition.

Thanks for the guidance.


Last edited by unbeliever; 10-05-2013 at 01:18 PM..
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:07 PM
Location: OH>IL>CO>CT
5,255 posts, read 8,438,675 times
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The route given is good. Typical "foothills" highways with some curves and hills. Similar to the US 36 route from Lyons to Estes Park.

Be sure to watch the signs closely when passing thru Nederland. There is a traffic circle you will go 3/4 the way around to follow CO 72.

Coming from Broomfield, Coal Creek Canyon or Left Hand Canyon could have been shortcuts, but as of now, they are closed too.

Last edited by reed303; 10-05-2013 at 01:11 PM.. Reason: more
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Old 10-05-2013, 01:17 PM
Location: Ned CO @ 8300'
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The road conditions are fine. That's the route most people are taking. You can also drive beautiful Golden Gate Canyon (hwy 46) to catch the Peak to Peak Hwy (119).

FYI there are RUMORS that Boulder Canyon may reopen next week. (I read a blog today by the Nederland Mayor about it.) Check cotrip.org.

Last edited by Neditate; 10-05-2013 at 01:29 PM..
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:21 AM
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Wink Along the Peak to Peak

Broomfield to Estes Park via Black Hawk is a reasonable and even quite scenic route.

If, obviously, also the long way around. Figure a travel time of 2.5 hours—minimum. There will be more traffic as, other than Trail Ridge Road, this the only present route into Estes Park. Central City and Black Hawk routinely get traffic and tour buses of gamblers, so this to contend with initially. Then also, this route is perhaps best known as the Peak to Peak highway, being one of the better places to view autumn color; thus, even if perhaps past the peak of aspen color by then, figure on tourists there just for that and the pleasant drive. Which is also relatively slow. Once off the interstate (if having used it), the speeds limits vary, but on average are about 40mph.

If a simple enough route, it can nevertheless prove somewhat confusing to those not accustomed. First, just in accessing. The quickest way may be due south out of Broomfield to intersect I-70, thence north on CO 119. The exit off I-70 onto (US 6, to) CO 119, if eastbound, is quite simple, if one needs to remember to be in the left lane. It is not as apparent, if westbound. The junction is at the river, at the bottom of the long hill that I-70 drops down, just a bit east of Idaho Springs. BUT the exit, if westbound, is more near the top of that hill, and then a frontage road paralleling I-70 (kind of out of sight) until meeting the river.

One way to avoid that is to drive up along Clear Creek River on US 6 from Golden. It is a lovely canyon and drive, and will naturally lead on to Black Hawk. There is a junction in that river canyon where CO 119 departs US 6; and it is technically US 6 that continues on to intersect I-70. But one will have begun the slower portion of their drive to Estes Park at Golden.

Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to avoid Clear Creek canyon altogether and intersect CO 119 via Central City. If westbound on I-70, do not exit into the canyon, and shortly after reaching the base of the aforesaid hill (and river) will be, just west of there, the exit for the Central City Parkway. This four-lane monstrosity of a highway was seemingly built expressly to facilitate travel into Central City and Black Hawk for gamblers. And at least in providing easy access to same from I-70, it does an admirable job. Expect to rapidly climb up the mountainside, and then a faster speed limit once plateauing along the high flanks of these mountains, to at last drop directly into Central City. One advantage of such a route is that Central City is worth the visit, even if just driving through. It is one of the best preserved and authentic of the old Colorado mining towns. Black Hawk as well, which is just down the hill and adjacent. From there, just turn left and north onto CO 119 in Black Hawk.

The Peak to Peak highway (more like slow, mostly, two-lane road) is actually comprised of three different road monikers. From Black Hawk (actually farther southeast of it in the canyon) begins CO 119 to Nederland. With CO 119 itself then turning east from there to continue down Boulder canyon to Boulder. But from the round intersection in town just loop to the west to continue north out of town on then CO 72. This continuation of the Peak to Peak runs to just south of Allenspark, where intersecting CO 7. This is the designated road that one will at last enter Estes Park on from the south. If turning right at the lonely intersection, CO 7 will lead one down along the canyon of the St. Vrain River to Lyons. So just turn left, and on past Allenspark, Meeker Park and so forth to Estes Park. While the description of various road designations might appear confusing, on the ground this seems a rather obvious (and continuous) road and route from Black Hawk to Estes Park.

If CO 119 should happen to open by then, between Boulder and Nederland, opting for it will definitely save some travel time. It is a quite lovely drive as well up along the river in that beautiful canyon. But either way is fine. And, in retrospect, one will surely not regret having had the chance to drive the length of the Peak to Peak route.

Last edited by Idunn; 10-06-2013 at 10:36 AM..
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Old 10-06-2013, 03:33 PM
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Opening of Boulder Canyon 119:
Boulder Canyon to reopen ahead of schedule! - Boulder Forum - TripAdvisor
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:19 PM
Location: Ned CO @ 8300'
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Posted earlier in the Boulder forum - Boulder Canyon reopened late this afternoon. Thank you CDOT! Flood-damaged Boulder Canyon re-opens to traffic ahead of schedule - Boulder Daily Camera
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Old 10-07-2013, 09:27 AM
Location: Monument,CO
352 posts, read 292,768 times
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Thanks everyone. Yes, I see that 119 has been reopened, saving me a lot of time on this trip. While I'd like to take some of the more scenic routes up to Estes Park, my six year old doesn't agree, and the extra couple of hours in the car with her can be awful with nowhere for bathroom breaks, etc.

Thanks again. Your advice is invaluable.

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Old 10-11-2013, 08:38 AM
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Default Driving to Estes Park - 10/19

Coming from KC and wondering if route 66 from I25 to Lyons is open, and from Lyons to route 7 on into Estes Park?
I'd appreciate any input.
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Old 10-11-2013, 09:08 AM
Location: Ned CO @ 8300'
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Not open. You'll have to go to Boulder then up Boulder Canyon (hwy 119) to Nederland and take the Peak to Peak hwy (72) to 7.
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