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Old 05-15-2016, 09:16 PM
2,514 posts, read 3,487,165 times
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You may want to consider the altitude change unless you know you are great at altitude.
Altitude Sickness
Sat. Sept 24th.
I suggest visiting Red Rocks Park on your first day in Denver and then spending the night at Denver altitude, perhaps in Boulder.
Red Rocks Entertainment Concerts | About | History Geology
The trading post has some nice history on the depression work program and how it was used to create the amphitheater. To me Red Rocks is more spectacular than Garden of the Gods and it has a good view over the city of Denver. However there is a 5 p.m. show there Sat. Sept. 24th so you want to perhaps go there first and then continue on.

If you want to grab a bite to eat in the Red Rocks area and like a casual quaint small town experience the Red Rocks Grill would be an excellent stop.

If you are still in the Morrison area come dinner time and want upscale CO unique dining The Fort is a good choice.

Perhaps spend the night in Boulder where you can have dinner and stroll the Pearl street mall. Hotel Boulderado is very historic and nice.
Boulder, CO Hotel - Hotel Boulderado
Visit | History of Pearl Street | Downtown Boulder, CO

If you aren't interested in Red Rocks or the weather is poor but like tea perhaps the Celestial Season's Tea tour Tea Tour | Celestial Seasonings. Or the Coors Brewery tour if that is more your thing. Tours | Coors Brewing Company | Breweries | MillerCoors But you have to be careful of the alcohol as it will contribute to altitude sickness.

A unique place to eat in Boulder is the Boulder Tea House. The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse – Boulder, CO
However there are many great places to eat in Boulder.

The next day take 119 to Nederland. Now if I wanted a mountain gambling experience at this point I would go south to Blackhawk/Central City.
City of Black Hawk
Central City, Colorado: Casinos, Hotel Lodging, Transportation, Maps & Information
From Blackhawk it is 7 miles to the Hidee Gold Mine Tour.
Hidee Gold Mine Tours and Panning Central City Colorado ~ 40 minutes out of Denver
Where you can pan for gold depending on weather.

Continue on to Estes Park. Seeing Rocky Mountain National Park on a week day will be less crowded. On the weekend you will be bumper to bumper.
N. on 119 to 72 N to 7 N to Estes Park. You want to be doing this drive in daylight and not the evening. The sun sets early when your up against the foothills/mountains and the scenery is fabulous. Sun sets around 7 p.m. at that time of year so take that into account when planing your drives. See Stanley Hotel and Rocky Mountain National Park. At Stanley Hotel you have regular tours during the day during that time of year so no ghost tour or illusions tour. Times are 10, 12, 2 and 4 so reserve in advance. Might want to have lunch in Estes Park, drive RMNP (consider the shuttle bus within the park) in the afternoon, stay at the Stanley hotel and then do the 10 a.m. tour the next day.
Stanley hotel tour 10 a.m. Best to know about the ghosts after you have spent the night. If both are feeling OK with the altitude head West over Trail Ridge Road on 34 toward Granby. Don't forget to be drinking alot of water and have some snacks with you as you will be going up to a very high altitude.

From there I would make my way toward Glenwood Springs. The only problem is I don't know the best route for this. Maybe stay the night in Winter Park or maybe Hot Sulpher Springs. I don't really have a recommendation for this. The reason I think you should take your time on Trail Ridge Road and spend the entire day is that the driver will probably want to stop alot to see the scenery. The drive is challenging and can make people a little sick. Stopping to take in the sights, sip some water, stretch your legs will make it much more enjoyable.
Head to Glenwood Springs. You want to drive through Glenwood Canyon on the way into Glenwood Springs during the day. The canyon is spectacular.

I highly recommend the cave tours at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. You take a skyway type ride to the top (very scenic) where the tours are. One tour was better than the other but I don't remember which was which. However they are both worth doing and the tickets are very reasonable.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park Cave Tours

Perhaps take in the Glenwood Springs hot springs pool to relax before bed.
Glenwood Springs Hot Springs - Pool, Lodge and Spa

Head to Aspen and Maroon Bells. Arrange to take bus tour to the Bells. No driving there at that time of year, too crowded.
(I've never been there so don't have any details.)

Perhaps continue on toward Colorado Springs after your tour and lunch. Or stay in Aspen for the night. Again, not having been to Aspen I don't have a good suggestion here.
Head to Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak Cog Railway, Garden of the Gods, Royal Gorge, Seven Falls as time allows (probably prioritize in that order.) I've never done the Pikes Peak Cog Railway so that may be the best item. Garden of the Gods was underwhelming to me but I've seen tons of red rocks formations so I could see how an out of state visitor would like it. Seven Falls was also underwhelming. Royal Gorge I can't see the attraction except if you are rafting through it which I have done but I've never seen it from the top.

My alternative suggestion would be to go to Great Sand Dunes National Park to see the dunes and the visitor center.
While there I would do the short easy hike to Zapata Falls. You get your feet wet but will feel like you have had a grand adventure and not become a tourist trap victim.
Stay the night at the Great Sand Dunes Lodge.
Sat. head back to Denver and catch your flight home. if flying home on Sat. If not on Sat. I would go to Colorado Springs for the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad and Garden of the Gods.
Sun. Head to Denver for flight home.

If there are any other specific items (like the gold mine tour) let us know and I'm sure someone can make a suggestion. Wasn't sure if you wanted Cripple Creek for the gambling so I put in Blackhawk/Central City for gambling because it kept you out of RMNP on the weekend and gave you close proximity for the gold mine tour and gold panning. Some gold mine tours are not open after labor day. This one is because it is an active mine.

For instance the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine Tours in Cripple Creek appear to end Sept. 11th.

Last edited by mic111; 05-15-2016 at 09:44 PM..
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Old 05-16-2016, 01:03 AM
93 posts, read 74,690 times
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Thank you mic111, all the time it took you to write that is appreciated. Do you have any suggestions of anywhere to stay while in Estes Park? I have tried the Comfort Inn, but they do do not answer their phones, so that was a red flag to me right away, we would like to stay right in Estes Park, we would also like to have breakfast included. I think we want to stay at a motel Saturday night, do the Hotel Stanley tour Sunday, and whatever else,then stay at the Stanley Sunday night, and tour RMNP, that Monday. We do want to stay at the Stanley one night, either they are already booked for Saturday night, or they have a 2 night minimum stay, but they do have rooms available Sunday night the 25th. So any suggestions on an Estes Park hotel to stay that first night is appreciated, as long as it is clean and has breakfast included. again, thank you.
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Old 05-16-2016, 02:42 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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I have found great romantic hotels on the Fall River Rd. Between Estes and fall river entrance (north), Check hotels.com, bookings, or agoda. Get something with a view, or a creek. There are many nice hotels / small motels in Estes Park that will be much more fun than a chain hotel. There are several guest homes in Estes, Look at evergreen or affordable travel club. $20/ night worldwide has been a great way for me to travel for 25 yrs, staying with locals is a real plus, and make your vacations memorable and NICE. I will have over 200 nights in guest homes this yr alone, it was superb training for our children! Colorado has plenty of places.

I would still consider Route 7 and 72 to Estes on saturday afternoon, your car will take less than one hour, so you will have 6 hrs to get to Estes, (about 2.5 hrs drive the long way) You can still fit in Red Rocks and Black Hawk. I would get out of Denver AsAP, saturday is a good time to get through Denver quickly. If you feel short on time, you can drive to Lyons, H 36, then turn left and head to Allenspark instead of directly to Estes Park on 36 (not too spectacular). 34 through Loveland is much more scenic, tho if aspen are good, take the route through Allenspark.

BTw, I grew up in Big Thompson Canyon (rte 34) and on a ranch near estes. (Glenhaven). I took my bike many times on scenic rte 72 and 7, and did my first 100mile day over Trail Ridge (I was young and foolish)

Drink lots of water, get up early and enjoy the crisp mornings and great lighting for pictures.
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Old 05-16-2016, 04:04 AM
93 posts, read 74,690 times
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Thank you stealth rabbit, we are planning on taking your route 72 and 7 drive up to Estes. My problem seems to be finding a motel that we can stay at for just that Saturday night, most places I call will only book a two night minimum stay, Stanley is booked for Saturday night, so the plan was to do the Stanley tour first thing Sunday morning, then move unto RMNP,spend the rest of that Sunday, but stat at the Stanley Sunday night, as they still have rooms left, then tour RMNP all day Monday before driving down toward Golden State Park and Colorado Springs.
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Old 05-16-2016, 10:06 AM
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If you're taking Rt 7 up to Estes Park, you'll pass a beautiful small stone church on your left (St. Malo's) that is worth a stop. It was damaged during the floods but it's still breathtaking. You can go in if you want. A little farther north is a lake (Lily Lake?) with a parking lot and picnic tables. It's a favorite picnic spot of ours and there's a trail around it that is approx a mile long. When you get to Rt 36, go east a ways to the other side of the lake so you can take a picture of the Estes Park sign at the entrance of the town. It's a very touristy thing to do and we force all of our visitors to take pictures with us there. It's a pretty view.

After two extensive trips to CO and living in Denver for almost two years, my favorite places are RMNP, Maroon Bells and Sand Dunes. I'm not a hiker so my favorites are places are accessible by vehicle. My husband would add Hanging Lake, but that's a real hike. I understand skipping Maroon Bells because it's a bit out of the way if you aren't interested in the town of Aspen, but it's spectacular. I like Garden of the Gods because it's so easy to get to and it's something people of all ages can experience, or those in wheel chairs. I often go down from Denver during the week just to spend a leisurely couple of hours walking around there. It never looks the same.

Just be careful what you do the first couple of days. My husband got bad altitude sickness once when he went right from the airport to walking around Red Rocks. Take it easy.
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