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Old 08-06-2014, 08:17 AM
 
Location: South Tampa, Maui, Paris
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Hi. I will be flying into Denver in mid October. I have never been to Colorado or Utah before. I will be in that area 10 days. I would like to see the following places:

Colo.
Rocky MNP
Aspen
Great Sands NP
Utah:
Arches NP
Canyonlands NP

I have consulted TripTik, Google maps and I can't seem to get a good loop route planned.

Can you suggest a driving itinerary that would be best?

Thank you!
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Looking over your shoulder
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You might enjoy visiting the Mesa Verde Natíl Park in the southwest part of the state where the visitors can tour Native American cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

While in the southwest part of CO you can enjoy the narrow gauge train ride from Durango to Silverton. Beautiful scenery in the fall season with aspen trees changing color. The train provides a way to enjoy viewing the area without having to drive your car and watching the road. Take your camera as there are many pictures to take along the route.

Official Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train

Overnight lodging was available at the Mesa Verde Natíl Park at a reasonable price and was very comfortable the last time we stayed there. If you book a ride on the train, be sure to book a seat inside the car; you can always leave the inside and go out to the other cars for observing special views. Itís nice to get back inside the car at times to get away from some of the smoke and soot from the engine.
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Old 08-06-2014, 08:54 AM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
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If you're coming in mid-October be prepared for extremely variable conditions in the high country. Snow is a very real possibility, and there's a good chance that Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park will be closed for the season when you get here. I'll give you a route when I get to work, but I saw your post and wanted to give you a heads up.
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:36 AM
 
Location: Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sinatras View Post
Colo.
Rocky MNP
Aspen
Great Sands NP
Utah:
Arches NP
Canyonlands NP

I have consulted TripTik, Google maps and I can't seem to get a good loop route planned.
That's because those places are situated in a way that is not much like a loop, especially in that order.

Go this way: DIA > RMNP > Aspen (via I-70 & Hwy's 24 - 82 *** but research "Independence pas" first and make sure you're up for it, especially if your vehicle is large) > Arches (Via I-70 & Hwy 191) > Canyonlands (via Hwy 211 and back) > Sand Dunes (via Hwy 491, 184, 160 -- will take you through Durango and Pagosa Srpings. You'll want to stop, if not stay, in both) > DIA (via I-25, etc)

= 1186 miles (20 hr, 44 min) according to G-maps
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:55 AM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by otterprods View Post
That's because those places are situated in a way that is not much like a loop, especially in that order.

Go this way: DIA > RMNP > Aspen (via I-70 & Hwy's 24 - 82 *** but research "Independence pas" first and make sure you're up for it, especially if your vehicle is large) > Arches (Via I-70 & Hwy 191) > Canyonlands (via Hwy 211 and back) > Sand Dunes (via Hwy 491, 184, 160 -- will take you through Durango and Pagosa Srpings. You'll want to stop, if not stay, in both) > DIA (via I-25, etc)

= 1186 miles (20 hr, 44 min) according to G-maps
And if the OP likes breathtaking roads (and won't be in a large vehicle like an RV), a trip up or down the Moki Dugway in SE Utah should be added to the itinerary.

Mokee (or Moki) Dugway
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:24 AM
 
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I have been wondering about Great Sands. Is it worth the trip? Perhaps OP should just stick to Rocky, Arches and Canyonlands.
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Old 08-06-2014, 11:35 AM
 
Location: Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anhinga3 View Post
I have been wondering about Great Sands. Is it worth the trip? Perhaps OP should just stick to Rocky, Arches and Canyonlands.
It depends on how much they like Sand Dunes. I would personally recommend it for the variety, assuming they don't mind the extra driving (as opposed to just RT via I-70). And, with he route I suggested mesa Verde and several other options become pretty doable. Mesa Verde is really something special, IMO, esp. if you like anthropology/history combined with geology.

Last edited by otterprods; 08-06-2014 at 11:51 AM..
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Old 08-10-2014, 12:59 AM
 
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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Me, I'd can Utah for a 10 day trip and do it earlier Here's what I'd do (get a map) Denver to Rocky Mt. National Park, but stop in Boulder. Take Trailridge road through the park to Granby. From there to GLenwood Springs and then a side trip to Aspen. Back to Carbondale through Paonia via Wilkerson Pass. Then to Montrose and from there, there's a couple of routes to Montrose. From there go to Ouray and Telluride on your way down to Durango. Then head west to Mesa Verde National Park. From there, it's a long haul to Albuquerque. Then to Santa Fe and up to Taos and North Salida, CO and then on to Vail, Breckenridge and back to Denver.

There's plenty to see and lot's of side trips, because you'll have the time.

See the Rockies.
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Old 08-10-2014, 08:59 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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If you can't do Colorado earlier, do Utah (only) in mid Oct
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Old 08-10-2014, 04:03 PM
 
Location: New Zealand
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I lived in Colorado for over 10 years and used to visit Moab 1-2 times a year. What kind of trip are you thinking of? Mostly car-based sightseeing, or will you be doing some hiking/biking? I'm going to assume the former...

Personally, I'd skip RMNP -- yes it's pretty, but IMO it is a bit out of the way and there are better views to be had elsewhere for easier. Instead, I'd say take I-70 (Highway 6 over Loveland Pass is a must) and spend a day or two exploring Summit County (e.g. Boreas Pass Road, Panorama Point off Swan Mountain Road). From there you can either drive through Leadville to Aspen (if Independence Pass is open) or take I-70 (quite stunning through Glenwood Canyon).

From there, take I-70 to Moab (definitely take Highway 128 off I-70 towards the end). You can explore the Moab area for many days and not get bored (Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point, so much BLM land). From Moab you could return the way you came or go south and cut over to Colorado and go through Durango, Pagosa Springs, etc.

As mentioned, mid October can be quite variable weather-wise. The trees at elevation will have lost their leaves, most of the grass is brown and there may be snow on the ground. Frankly, Colorado isn't at its prettiest in mid October. Some/Many restaurants and shops in the mountain towns shut down or have limited hours during this period (between the end of summer and the start of ski season usually in early November).

October 7: October weather -- some snow, dead grass (Loveland Pass) -- the sky can be clear or completely grey:


October 14: It can be beautiful (Lake Dillon):


October 14: Or it can be snowy (Summit County, just north of Lake Dillon):
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