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Old 08-19-2011, 02:54 PM
 
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Me, my wife and my friend are planning on driving from Dallas to Aspen during the Labor day weekend. Google tells me it will be a 15 hr drive which we intend to split between me and my friend. Start on Sep 2nd evening and be back by Sep 5th midnight.

We have never made a trip this long so I was wondering what can I expect? Anything worthwhile to see along the way? Which will be best places to take breaks, maybe a local diner worth checking out? Anything essential that we should not leave the home without?
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:23 PM
 
Location: Hougary, Texberta
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What route are you using? 287 up through Amarillo, or the Interstate to Salinas and across?

There's really not a whole lot to see until you hit Denver. My advice would be to leave the Metroplex as early as possible in the morning (3/4a.m.) and switch drivers every two hours. It seems silly, but you can keep fresh and drive pretty much indefinitely with that rotation. 2hrs is more than enough time to cat nap, recharge and re-focus for the next leg.
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:55 PM
 
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Yes, we are taking the 287. I think we wont be going through Denver.

Unforunately, office on Friday means that we cannot start until after 5:30PM. And yeah, 2-3 hrs rotation with lots of breaks in between is the plan.
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Old 08-19-2011, 04:21 PM
 
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I hope you have something so very important to do in Aspen to justify a trip of this magnitude.

Let's see ... leaving Friday evening with an estimated 15 hour drive ahead puts you in to Aspen around mid-day Saturday ... and similarly, an evening arrival back home on the 5th means you must leave Aspen in the very wee hours of Monday AM at the latest. Figure on another couple hours of the trip travel time with fuel stops & breaks ... Essentially, you get a Saturday afternoon through Sunday late to enjoy your destination, not much time ....

Not sure how you are planning on avoiding Denver by driving Northward on 287 ... which goes through a fair number of little towns in SE Colorado where the highway route is diverted (intentionally) through the main streets of those towns, causing you to hit traffic lights and lower speed zones from the 65 mph max of 287 for awhile. Anyway, 287 leads you to hook up with I-70 at Limon, where you continue Westward to Denver and thence up I-70 to Glenwood Springs and then to Aspen. There's other routes to get to Aspen from the Front Range, but all will take you on scenic routes that are longer in time to reach Aspen than I-70 routing. I-40 to Colo Hwy 82 would be such a route, but on a major holiday weekend you may expect to encounter a lot of RV'ers and slower traffic, hence a longer travel time even with your planned late night travels ...

IMO, with such a long distance to accomplish in such a short overall travel schedule, there's not a lot of opportunities for stops other than necessities. The 287 route to I-70 will give you (limited) opportunities along 287 as you pass through the small towns on the SE Plains ... where there's not a lot of interesting places to stop enroute ... and then there's places of opportunity along the I-70 corridor with quick access.

If you haven't done such a long trip previously, I'd suggest that 2-hour driver rotations, while desirable ... aren't the panacea that they appear to be for keeping drivers alert and fresh on a trip of this duration. 2 on/2 off can still get physically tiring in the wee hours of the night if you haven't gotten acclimated to this type of schedule in the past. I've done it with folk who weren't, and the results were less than satisfactory when it was their turn to drive and they simply couldn't get alert enough to drive when awakened from a deep slumber ....
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Old 08-19-2011, 04:27 PM
 
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When you put it this way, this sure seems daunting.

To answer the first question, Aspen is something we decided upon at the spur of the moment. We want to get out of Dallas during the long weekend but flying to NYC (where I have my cousins) or Las Vegas or Key West all seem very costly.

The only option left is driving some place. With the oppressive heat here in Dallas, a place like Aspen seems heavenly, which is why we zeroed in on it. Frankly, if there is some place cooler which we can get to in a shorter time, we would gladly opt for that.
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Old 08-19-2011, 05:34 PM
 
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Dallas is certainly a fair stretch from areas of higher elevation with less humidity and lower temps ...

Your closest access to the Rocky Mountain region would be to head over to the Las Vegas/Santa Fe area of New Mexico. That will get you into 6,000' + elevations and much lower humidity ... typically, in the 30-40% range with low-mid 80's for daytime highs now instead of the Dallas 90%+ humidity and close to 100F temps. There's a lot of mountain regional state and federal public lands there for outdoor recreation, and it's one heck of lot less expensive for lodging/restaurants as a tourist than Aspen while still having some very good restaurants and attractions. It would still be a 10 hour drive to reach this area from Dallas, but that's a whole lot less total driving in your holiday weekend than heading all the way into mid-Colorado.

One major difference you'll feel immediately at the higher elevations ... after sunset, the temperatures plummet very quickly. It's not uncommon for a 30-40F drop in the evening from the daytime high, with the coldest hours in the time before dawn, and the air temperature is noticeably cold for someone acclimated to the heat of Dallas. You'll be needing a jacket at night ....
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Old 08-19-2011, 05:37 PM
 
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
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If you are concerned with cost Aspen during Labor Day weekend, which is also a huge festival weekend for Jazz Aspen Snowmass it's not going to be a cheap vacation. Jazz Aspen Snowmass | Labor Day Festival (http://www.jazzaspensnowmass.org/p-Labor-Day-Festival-18.html - broken link). Something else to note the very last couple hours, when you are ready to drop will be spent going over Independence Pass, a two lane, twisty, technical drive best not done when you're tired.

If you still want the mountains, they are blissfully cool right now, Breckenridge and Vail may be more affordable, but they will still be the same amount of driving time.
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Old 08-19-2011, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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There are a couple of really nice diversions on funky back roads. It's always a pleasure to get off the speedways for a while along the way, and get a leisurely view of the scenery.

1. Take Colo-165 between Colorado City and Westcliff, which will add about 30 minutes to the total drive.

2. Take NM 72/325 through Folsom, on the section between Des Moines and Raton, which will add about 20 minutes.

3. Continue west on I-40 through Amarillo to exit 65, go north on 335 and left on FM-1061, rejoining the highway at Channing. A chance to see what the Panhandle is really like, up close and personal. You can blaze along pretty fast on that road, and only add a few minutes to the total length.

All those roads are on the RMcN road atlas, except Texas 335.

Folsom NM is an archaeological site of huge and controversial importance, if you're interested in that kind of thing.
http://www.folsommuseum.org/ (click on Folsom Man Archaeological Site, Worth reading about, even if you don't stop.)

As sunsprit pointed out, Aspen is probably not a good choice, unless you really want to go to Aspen for something in particular. If you just want to see Central Colorado and don't particularly care to be mixing it up with spoiled rich crowds, you'd probably enjoy Leadville just as much, and for a fix of lively action, drive to Aspen or Vail for a daytrip during your stay.

Last edited by jtur88; 08-19-2011 at 07:40 PM..
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Old 08-19-2011, 08:42 PM
 
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Pretty much by the time you get there and get rested, you'll be headed on turning right around and going home.

If you are going to go, fly to Denver and drive up to Summit County or something.

Aspen is a bridge too far.

Even I-70 is no place for tired drivers, it might be 4-6 lanes wide, but runs over a lot of elevation changes and varied corners.
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Old 08-20-2011, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,663 posts, read 74,212,583 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
Pretty much by the time you get there and get rested, you'll be headed on turning right around and going home.

If you are going to go, fly to Denver and drive up to Summit County or something.

Aspen is a bridge too far.

Even I-70 is no place for tired drivers, it might be 4-6 lanes wide, but runs over a lot of elevation changes and varied corners.
Fifteen hours is not a long drive for two people sharing the driving. Not everyone can pop for three RT plane tickets from Dallas to Denver plus all the fees and hassles,plus car rental, which is why they are driving. Getting off work at 5:30, they'll still be on a late night arrival at Denver and won't see Aspen until the next morning, so what is gained for the extra thousand dollars in air fares and car rental?

If you wanna fly, go ahead. The OP wants to drive. I don't blame him. It's a nice trip.
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