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Old 05-25-2021, 09:10 AM
 
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This is admittedly a strange "versus" question, but here goes. We're a mid 40's couple taking our 8 year old daughter on vacation the last week of August, and are looking for someplace outdoorsy and beautiful. We enjoy light hiking, seeing wildlife, and all varieties of scenic beauty generally. We have taken her to 5 national parks already, and are going to the Smoky Mountains next month, and she loves nature-oriented vacations, but we don't do any super strenuous hiking and stay in hotels instead of camping.

Based upon where we've already visited, and our interests, we're considering doing a week in either northern Michigan or Colorado. Although hugely different, both places look very pretty and obviously outdoorsy, and seem kid friendly. For Michigan we can fly into Traverse City, and would divide a week among the area between Traverse City/Sleeping Bear Dunes up to Mackinac Island and Pictured Rocks. For Colorado we can fly into Denver, and spend a week probably split between Estes Park/Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado Springs. We're not looking to drive endlessly, but a 5 or 6 hour driving loop would be absolutely fine.

Any thoughts? My impression is that Colorado is probably more dramatic/spectacular, but that Michigan is wonderful, too, and would likely be less expensive based upon flight and car rental prices. Any suggestions would be enormously appreciated. Thanks so much!

Last edited by BD1978; 05-25-2021 at 10:17 AM..
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Old 05-25-2021, 09:40 AM
 
Location: Aurora, CO
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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.
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Old 05-25-2021, 10:05 AM
 
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Thank you so very much Blue! This is super helpful and I really appreciate it.
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Old 05-25-2021, 10:40 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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As a previous Estes Park resident.... I would choose upper Michigan for August. Likely Apostle Island area. Probably closer to fly into WI or MN. Capstone the visit with MN or WI State Fair!!!!

RMNP is much better in late Sept (aspen colors, elk bugling, less people, less chance of fires.

RMNP is instituting a reservation only / limited access policy this summer. You could be disappointed if denied access.

Late August is great in PNW, and AK.... several NPs. Fresh wild berries and salmon / steelhead.

For an 8 yo.... Consider something memorable... Dude ranch, horses, raft / kayak trips, hot springs. ~12 yo + consider backpacking, mtn climbing, bike trips
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Old 05-25-2021, 11:11 AM
 
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Thanks Stealth!! For Michigan we'd fly into and out of Traverse City - do you think we could make a good vacation out of the northern section of the Lower Peninsula, i.e., Sleeping Bear Dunes, Mackinac, Charlevoix, etc.? We're trying to avoid a ton of driving if we can.
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Old 05-25-2021, 11:20 AM
 
Location: DMV Area/NYC/Honolulu
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Northern Michigan is what I call God's Country (at least in the summer time . . . you won't catch me there during the winter ). I lived in Petoskey for three summers and absolutely love it there. I've traveled throughout other parts of Northern Michigan, too, to include Traverse City, Charlevoix, etc. I do not think you'd be disappointed in Northern Michigan.

I'm biased as I have not been to Colorado, but I will say that there is a relative limited period to truly enjoy the beauty of Northern Michigan.
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Old 05-25-2021, 11:21 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
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Your personal interests will determine how much time and events you will need. (I would arrange a boat!)

I do nearly all my driving at night while most people and kids are sleeping. It is not uncommon for me to drive all night and arrive at a beautiful destination for sunrise. I nap while kids swim and play. (Ex-truck driver w/ 800+ mile daily route in Colorado, WY, SD, NE.). I really dislike burning daylight driving, when I can do that process at night. View stuff ...(Beartooth Highway, or similar), I will drive at dawn or dusk (prior to traffic arriving). As is the case with all my national park driving. Between dawn and 10am, and between 5 pm and dark. More wildlife fewer gawkers.
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Old 05-25-2021, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Gilbert, AZ
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Northern Michigan is one of the most beautiful places in our country. Super kid friendly and plenty to do. The beaches at Lake Michigan are just like being at the ocean, minus the salt and huge waves. Colorado is amazing too, but as far as beauty and summer "things to do" as a family, you can't beat Michigan.
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Old 05-25-2021, 12:00 PM
 
Location: DMV Area/NYC/Honolulu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sno0909 View Post
Northern Michigan is one of the most beautiful places in our country. Super kid friendly and plenty to do. The beaches at Lake Michigan are just like being at the ocean, minus the salt and huge waves. Colorado is amazing too, but as far as beauty and summer "things to do" as a family, you can't beat Michigan.
I was STUNNED when I saw many of the Lake Michigan beaches. They are exactly as you write. I would not miss living next to the ocean at all if I was in Northern Michigan.
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Old 05-25-2021, 12:35 PM
 
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OP here. So many great responses. Thank you!
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