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Old 07-15-2017, 01:44 AM
 
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I will travel in Colorado for labor day weekend between Thursday and Monday. Thursday I will only have half day since flying in at noon. Then on Monday morning I am leaving. I know Colorado is a more of at least 1 week vacation but trying to figure out how to put best together my planned travel itinerary in that short amount of time. I am more into seeing than experiences. For RMNP, I just plan to see only a part of it that is shown on scenic pictures on the web by taking Bear Lake trail and seeing Sprague Lake, Glacier Jorge Junction and Bear Lake. I think one day should be enough for it. I was thinking about staying first night at Estes Park but when I arrive at the airport, I would like to little bit relax in the town at Larimer Square before I hit the road. Plus I would rather rent a car from the town than airport if that saves me money on airport fees and tolls and I noticed there is direct rail from DIA to Denver Union Station!

I plan to have a drink but only one pint of beer by checking out pubs. Because I want to taste some local beer. But I risk running out of time and staying after dusk so I think its best for me to plan first night either in downtown or Boulder. And of course I do not wanna risk DUI I read some advice online in order to prevent mountain sickness its best to stay first night in lower elevation. If I get up early enough in the morning between 6-7 am will I have enough time to get there and see the park? Or should I just skip the pubs and just check restaurants then plan to checkout pubs on my last day of vacation? Next day, after seeing RMNP, I was thinking of going to the Garden of the Gods. Then next day maybe to Royal Gorge. At the end of day I would return to Denver before my flight next day morning. Could I plan it better?
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Old 07-15-2017, 03:59 AM
 
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nwman2830 asked: "Could I plan it better?"

Indeed, you could.

If you are really wanting to "see" RMNP as the main focal point of your trip, then ditch all the other extended travels.

My suggestion: arrive in Denver, take the rail to Union Station and enjoy the pubs/restaurant of your choice in the area. Spend the night in Denver, which gives you a break to enjoy your evening and a chance to start getting acclimated to the altitude. Use the local public transportation, Uber, or a taxi to get around as needed ... or you can even walk the Larimer Square area. Don't deny yourself the pleasures of checking out the local beers due to a concern about driving under the influence ... you don't need to drive at this point in your journey.

Then pick up your rental car in the AM and head to Estes and RMNP. You've named some areas of interest there which are but a fraction of the vista's and attractions of the area. Take the time it takes to enjoy these without the pressure of having "been there, seen that" in a drive-by visit which doesn't give you much time to absorb or enjoy the area. Give yourself the benefit of Fri-Sat-Sun in the area, then ...

Return to Denver Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the Denver pubs/restaurant of your choice Sunday evening so that you can head back to DIA Monday morning without all the pressure to "get there" from an out-of-town location. All the more so in view of your off-airport car rental return which might complicate the morning events to turn the car in and then get to DIA with sufficient time to deal with check-in/security lines in a timely manner.

Enjoy this visit to RMNP. Plan on taking in the other sights on your next trips to Colorado.
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Old 07-15-2017, 06:39 AM
 
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
3,175 posts, read 7,004,609 times
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Many places in Estes require a 2 night minimum stay at that time of the year, check that first and then make plans. That is a busy weekend and there will be traffic in the park I think you are over estimating your ability to see things.

There are brew pubs in Estes with local beers, many smaller towns have great places to get some craft beer.

Trip Advisor has a Colorado forum with some great advice on doing the park and other areas of Colorado.
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:13 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Be careful with the alcohol at higher altitudes until you've acclimated a bit. Alcohol is dehydrating and it is impossible to predict who will get altitude sickness.
Altitude Sickness-Topic Overview
Altitude Sickness: Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis
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Old 07-15-2017, 08:45 AM
 
Location: In the house we finally own!
510 posts, read 252,680 times
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Sunsprit is right. Labor Day weekend in Estes Park will be very crowded, lots of traffic, and RMNP will be even worse. If you get there early you will probably be able to see the park. My suggestion would be to get lodging for 2 nights in Estes(if there is even anything available, you might want to reserve now if you can.) Spend your first night there, and your next day at RMNP. Spend the night there again, and explore Estes Park the next morning. Drive to Colorado Springs and get a hotel for two nights. See Garden of the Gods the next day, (it won't take more than a couple of hours to see it all) then drive to Canon City and see the Royal Gorge. Go back to your hotel and spend the night, get up early and head back to Denver to return rental car and get to DIA.

Keep in mind there will be lots of people everywhere due to the holiday weekend, and I-25 will be very congested as well, but it's a pretty drive once you finally get out of Denver, so you probably won't mind. You are sure going to be doing a lot of driving! Luckily you will be enjoying a lot of Colorado scenery on your drive.

This is what I would do if I wanted to fit in all sights you mentioned. Have a wonderful trip!
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Old 07-15-2017, 09:13 AM
 
825 posts, read 1,599,658 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katarina Witt View Post
Be careful with the alcohol at higher altitudes until you've acclimated a bit. Alcohol is dehydrating and it is impossible to predict who will get altitude sickness.
Second that. A beer or even two a day may well be tolerated, but alcohol is absolutely a contributing factor in altitude sickness. If you can, start an aspirin a day beginning Tuesday and continue until you depart. Carry water with you. A half gallon a day is not too much; more if you are hiking.

Labor Day Weekend really complicates your itinerary. I-25 traffic between Colorado Springs and Ft. Collins from about 3:00 pm Friday will be something to tell your grandchildren about. Saturday traffic will be heavy both south and north bound from Denver before noon, but you can beat it with an early start - say before 7:30 am. Returning to Denver Sunday night should be at least manageable, but give yourself plenty of time even then.

Friday will be your best time to see RMNP. Can you even get lodging in Estes Park for Labor Day Weekend at this late date? The place will be an absolute zoo Saturday and Sunday. You certainly can hit the high spots in a single day, but it would be nice to be able to have the option to stay over. Be aware that food options inside RMNP are limited and are likely to be overwhelmed. I would get a picnic lunch somewhere and eat at... well, any number of spots.

I personally would not bother with Royal Gorge given the time available. Consider going to Garden of the Gods on either Saturday or Sunday. You can substitute the drive or cog rail up Pikes Peak for Royal Gorge. That will still be a full day.

If it wasn't for the brew-pub experience, I'd take the contrarian approach and drive up to Granby on Thursday afternoon, and enter RNMP on Friday morning going the opposite direction of 80% of the visitors. You can make your way across the park in a leisurely fashion and catch the bus to Bear Lake by mid-afternoon. Sprague Lake is a nice 45 minute hike. At that point you may well have had what you came for.
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Old 07-15-2017, 10:18 AM
 
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Estes Park for sure, or somewhere between Boulder and Estes Park.
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Old 07-15-2017, 11:05 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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You have a VERY short trip... do the stuff you CANNOT easily replicate soon or elsewhere / i.e. enjoy the Park!!!

so... I vote...overnight in EP
I LOVE the smell / air / sunlight of waking up in Estes Park (Grew up there). really is a refreshing way to awake, what a great start to a great day!

EARLY mornings are the best in almost ANY NP. Don't miss early mornings in the park!!! (Don't be waiting in line at some cafe / coffee shop or transit center. Be IN THE park, preferably at a vista or lake (With condensation rising / classic pics)

You can eat and nap later in the day, under a nice shade tree next to a stream.

Evenings are superb in the park as well, (When families are eating) Much more wildlife and QUIET in Mornings and evenings and far less traffic)

Plenty of brews in EP
Plenty of brews @ DEN while you WAIT to depart. (not many in early AM!) but you will likely be in DEN on evening before departure.
Never risk DUI or impaired driving. Destination drinking only.

Consider driving to Garden of Gods area during the darkness of night. It also is a MUST SEE at Dawn / sunset. (cooler then too). Those places are not too near, and plenty to add at each, so consider another trip, rather than rushing between them.
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Colorado
1,022 posts, read 507,758 times
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I would stay in Estes. Specifically, I would stay right outside of Estes at the YMCA camp, which is a huge facility with all kinds of lodging, at reasonable prices. This includes single rooms, like a motel, tho' IIRC they don't have TV's or phones. They are cheap though, in a beautiful place & convenient to RMNP. Esp if you want to drive Trail Ridge Rd in addition to checking out some hikes, you really need all day. Plus best chance of spotting animals is dawn & dusk.

The only downside to the Y camp is that it is often booked. I know when I've rented houses in it, those were only avl on a lottery system. I can't remember if you can just call & book a room or if it has to be on the lottery.

Estes used to have a big art fair on Labor Day weekend. Not sure if it still does, after the flood, but that can REALLY slow things down, as it's a 1 road town basically & the holiday can really back things up.

No matter what you do, you will enjoy! If you go to the Royal Gorge, I would highly recommend the RG train ride in the bottom of the canyon & Skyline Drive if you're not afraid of heights, the train ride is a couple of hours, Skyline is about 20 minutes.
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Old 07-16-2017, 01:53 PM
 
262 posts, read 150,693 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsMetal View Post
I would stay in Estes. Specifically, I would stay right outside of Estes at the YMCA camp, which is a huge facility with all kinds of lodging, at reasonable prices. This includes single rooms, like a motel, tho' IIRC they don't have TV's or phones. They are cheap though, in a beautiful place & convenient to RMNP. Esp if you want to drive Trail Ridge Rd in addition to checking out some hikes, you really need all day. Plus best chance of spotting animals is dawn & dusk.

The only downside to the Y camp is that it is often booked. I know when I've rented houses in it, those were only avl on a lottery system. I can't remember if you can just call & book a room or if it has to be on the lottery.

Estes used to have a big art fair on Labor Day weekend. Not sure if it still does, after the flood, but that can REALLY slow things down, as it's a 1 road town basically & the holiday can really back things up.

No matter what you do, you will enjoy! If you go to the Royal Gorge, I would highly recommend the RG train ride in the bottom of the canyon & Skyline Drive if you're not afraid of heights, the train ride is a couple of hours, Skyline is about 20 minutes.
I decided to go to Estes but not YMCA,

YMCA camps require membership and non-members get charged higher rates. I was able to find some inns that charge less than YMCA charges non-members and offer more amenities.

I just made it in time because the place where I booked had last room left.


I booked for two nights so I don't have to stress about early morning ride or late night drive. I still plan to arrive first in downtown Denver to get lunch at Larimer Square and rent a car nearby. Since I will arrive in DIA at 12pm, I think it should give me plenty of time to make it to Estes before sunset.

On Saturday I plan to go to the Garden of the Gods. Don't know if this will give me enough time to also see Royal Gorge before I have to go back to Denver at Sunday evening. It kind of trek and only one way to this place. If RG does not work for me I will look at other things to do at Colorado Springs area.
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