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Old 05-25-2021, 02:56 PM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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Late August in CO seems like there'd be an unduly high chance of wildfires affecting things in a bad way.
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Old 05-25-2021, 04:45 PM
 
Location: NC
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So I am going to be even more specific. While I LOVE Colorado, I love upper Michigan even more. Consider flying into Traverse City, driving to Charlevoix and taking the ferry over to Beaver Island for the week. Plenty of walking, hiking, fishing, swimming and beautiful beaches. If you don't have a vehicle, they have a vehicle rental company, taxi service or you can rent bicycles. It's kind of a once in a lifetime type of trip in my biased opinion (we camped on our lot up there for 6 weeks every summer while I was growing up). When you head back to the mainland, rent a car and drive over to the ferry to Mackinac Island. No cars allowed on the island, but it's so pretty and the Grand Hotel is spectacular.

https://www.beaverisland.org/

https://www.mackinacisland.org/


Edited to add: If I ever won lotto, I'd buy a summer home on Beaver Island. I don't want to winter there (they are pretty brutal some years), but to have a place to summer there would be wonderful!
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Old 05-25-2021, 05:09 PM
 
Location: Upland, CA
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Western Michigan in the summer is quite lovely. I have family in the Muskegon/Grand Haven area and its really great
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Old 05-25-2021, 06:35 PM
 
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Knowing both areas you are considering very well with a sibling in Estes and me, a Michigan native, I would choose Michigan. I am looking at it from the viewpoint of an 8 year old. In Estes there are the mountains and seeing Elk, but the shops are expensive and walking a lot through tourist shops might not impress an 8 year old, and as someone mentioned, there are the forest fires. Last year right outside of Estes was a huge forest fire that left my sister in Fort Collins inside with the windows closed and still smelling constant smoke. Hiking steep mountain trails or white water rafting just isn't for 8 year olds.
The areas you speak of in Michigan are fabulous. The sand dunes are great, just know ahead of time that it takes about an hour and a half to walk those couple miles to the water, and it can get very hot in the sun. Visit the lakefront from other parks. Go to the Point Betsie lighthouse which is very close. Swim in the lakes without fear of anything deadly. All the towns along our "coast" are quaint with ice cream shops and salt water taffy for some strange reason! Frankfort is a sweet small town nearby that has a small wonderful public beach which you can walk out down the concrete breakers to the lighthouse at the end.
After you've toured the northern coast of the lower penninsula, drive up into the upper penninsula and visit Tahquanamon state park and see the spectacular waterfalls. It's a pleasant hike down a path along the river that an 8 year old can do easily, and so can you. Stay the night at Two Hearted River campground on Lake Superior. It's a 4 hour drive from Traverse City.
Then yes, Mackinac island will thrill you child with a buggy horse ride in this town with no cars. There's Fort Mackinac and tandem bicycles to rent, it doesn't take long to bike around the entire island.
Both states are absolutely beautiful, but from the view of an 8 year old, I think the child might have more fun swimming in lake Michigan (or Superior brr!) and hunting for Petoskey stones along the sand dunes shore, they are found nowhere else in the world, and easily found along the shore by the Point Betsie lighthouse. Agates too, and other colorful stones.

Last edited by NoMansLands; 05-25-2021 at 06:49 PM..
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Old 05-26-2021, 05:56 AM
 
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So many wonderful suggestions! Thank you very much from the OP!
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Old 05-26-2021, 09:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluescreen73 View Post
I'm not a fan of RMNP or Estes Park during peak tourist season (Memorial Day-Labor Day). There are WAY too many people, and, at least for me personally, it's not the least bit enjoyable. Plus you need a timed entry permit to get into RMNP now.

I would suggest a South-Central or Western Colorado swing. Think Great Sand Dunes NP, Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, Colorado National Monument, Telluride/Ridgway (or Ouray), and/or Mesa Verde. As an outlier - Dinosaur National Monument (visitor's center is in UT).

If you're set on the Front Range, I'd go to the top of one of the two passenger car-accessible 14ers - Pikes Peak (drive or Cog Railway - preferred, but more expensive) or Mount Evans (reservation needed, drive only). The Mount Evans drive requires a short, 1/4 mile hike on a tourist trail to get from the summit parking lot to the true summit. You could also make side trips to Great Sand Dunes, Salida, and/or Buena Vista.

I loathe heat and humidity so, while it's picturesque, Michigan in August is a hard pass for me.
But they need to know getting to southwest Colorado is not for the faint-of-heart given the high-elevation passages. I've heard way to Ouray can test one's fear of heights for sure.
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Old 05-26-2021, 09:29 AM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
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Originally Posted by walker1962 View Post
But they need to know getting to southwest Colorado is not for the faint-of-heart given the high-elevation passages. I've heard way to Ouray can test one's fear of heights for sure.
It depends on how you go to Ouray. US550 between Durango and Ouray is an adventure (really it's only bad for a 6-mile or so stretch just south of Ouray), but US550 from Montrose to Ouray is not. In the summer, Red Mountain Pass isn't that bad unless you're in an RV or you're driving like a jackass, but you can go from Great Sand Dunes->Black Canyon of the Gunnison->Ouray (or Telluride) without having a white knuckle drive.

Last edited by bluescreen73; 05-26-2021 at 09:44 AM..
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Old 05-26-2021, 11:33 AM
 
Location: Niceville, FL
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At this point, wherever you can get lodging that meets your needs well. If you plan to camp, any really good site that requires reservations is probably well booked because so many folks planned their outdoor summer trips around covid concerns and you need to research how to get first come-first served options.
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Old 05-27-2021, 07:58 AM
 
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OP here. Thank you again for all of the amazing insight! Michigan it is!

With 7 nights, and flying into and out of Traverse City, where should we aim to stay? We don't want to drive an inordinate amount, but want to visit the highlights (Mackinac Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes, maybe waterfalls on the UP.). With an 8 year old daughter, should we stay in one "base" for 7 nights, or maybe do a 4/3 split? Looking at Petoskey, Charlevoix, and Traverse City as possible places to base ourselves, but not sure what's best. Would it make sense to do 3 nights in Traverse City and 4 nights in say Petoskey? Hugely appreciate any further help - thank you!
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Old 05-27-2021, 08:41 AM
 
Location: NC
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Originally Posted by BD1978 View Post
OP here. Thank you again for all of the amazing insight! Michigan it is!

With 7 nights, and flying into and out of Traverse City, where should we aim to stay? We don't want to drive an inordinate amount, but want to visit the highlights (Mackinac Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes, maybe waterfalls on the UP.). With an 8 year old daughter, should we stay in one "base" for 7 nights, or maybe do a 4/3 split? Looking at Petoskey, Charlevoix, and Traverse City as possible places to base ourselves, but not sure what's best. Would it make sense to do 3 nights in Traverse City and 4 nights in say Petoskey? Hugely appreciate any further help - thank you!
Charlevoix is in the middle of the two other towns. As a kid I loved visiting Charlevoix, watching the ferry pull in and out, walking in the downtown area and buying fudge (!) and salt water taffy, wandering the different stores, though watching the ferry and people was one of my favorite things to do. Maybe because I was anticipating our trip over to the island. Really any of the towns would be great, I'd think. My dad used to have a second home in Traverse City, but I've never been there.
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