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Driving RMNP west side on late january

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buenos aires
posts: 20
reviews: 24
Driving RMNP west side on late january

hi. I`m going to Denver on january 26. I`m novice driving on winter conditions, is it doable with a rented car?. Thanks

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
posts: 6,308
reviews: 98
1. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

Is there a particular reason you want to go to the west side (Grand Lake side) of RMNP? January 26 is a Saturday. The ski traffic on I-70 and along highway 40 to Winter Park ski resort will be very heavy. Many people do find the drive over Berthoud Pass on highway 40 intimidating in winter. Weather is always a factor when driving in Colorado in the winter. At www.cotrip.org you can check road conditons at any time and even view live cameras for some areas. There are 2 cameras along highway 40. http://mapq.st/UZ28WE

I think you would enjoy a trip to the eastern side (Estes Park side) of RMNP much more and there will be no ski traffic. Here is a link from the Top Questions in both the Denver and RMNP forums for a winter day trip to RMNP/Estes Park. There are several routes for this trip as discussed in the itinerary. I can almost assure you one of these routes will have better road conditions than the route to Grand Lake. Again, check road and weather conditions before you make the trip.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143048-i3489-k498…

buenos aires
posts: 20
reviews: 24
2. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

thanks a lot fv1989 ¡¡¡¡. I`m arriving to Denver (from Buenos Aires-Argentina) late on january 26. I`ll start my trip from Denver to Los angeles (my flight back is from LAX). I was looking pages about RMNP and was wondering about how to do all around RMNP. Perhaps I`d stay a couple of nites at Denver, and starting on monday, do the RMNP, what do you think about that?. Thanks again fort your time ¡¡¡

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
posts: 8,167
reviews: 112
3. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

Yes, stay a couple of nights in Denver, then head for Estes Park and the East side of Rocky Mtn Natl Park.

How much time do you have, and what does the rest of your itinerary look like?

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
posts: 8,167
reviews: 112
4. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

I'm linking your other post so as not to duplicate what's already been discussed: tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28927-i252-k59992…

I see from the previous post that you were not planning to ski, but mainly interested in scenery/sightseeing.

What route did you want to take to Los Angeles? Through Grand Junction, maybe to Moab, and on to Las Vegas? Or perhaps through Southwest Colorado --Ouray, Telluride or Durango, Mesa Verde to Monument Valley to Flagstaff with a visit to the Grand Canyon?

buenos aires
posts: 20
reviews: 24
5. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

Thanks! Missp. I'll stay for one week at Colorado

Didn't plan the route to LA yet, could be Any, and yes, my interest is mostly sightseeing. We've been at Grand canyon on 2010

Thanks again for yogur time!

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
posts: 8,167
reviews: 112
6. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

The reason I ask about the rest of the route is to help you with a route through Colorado, planned to exit the state on the route you choose.

If you want to spend two nights in Denver, then a day and night in Estes Park/RMNP, then you'd have three or four nights to work with to travel through the state, correct? With only that much more time, I wouldn't try to drive back north to Grand Lake and the west side of RMNP. Trail Ridge Road through the park is closed in the winter time. IMO it would be better to start west or west/southwest after visiting Estes Park.

buenos aires
posts: 20
reviews: 24
7. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

thanks again Missp. That`s correct. So you suggest to do first Estes Park and east side of RMNP, then go to southwest/north to reach Lake Granby and from there go south again and take route 70 to the west to continue my trip?

I can stay up to 8 or 9 nites at Colorado, but what i wonna know is if on this dates, is it doable and worth to do west side of RMNP or perhaps is better to skip the west side (i mean about trouble driving on winter weather)

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
posts: 6,308
reviews: 98
8. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

Missp will not mind my answering your question. Skip Granby, Grand Lake and the west side of RMNP. That is what Missp is telling you in the second paragraph of reply #6.

buenos aires
posts: 20
reviews: 24
9. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

Thanks fv ¡¡

WestSlope,CO
Destination Expert
for Colorado
posts: 8,167
reviews: 112
10. Re: Driving RMNP west side on late january

Thanks, fv! My internet's been down since last night. :(

I'd suggest two nights Denver, two nights Estes Park, then you'll need to decide where to go next. One option would be Frisco, Glenwood Springs, Redstone and/or Avalanche Ranch Hot Springs and/or Aspen, then Grand Junction and Colorado National Monument. Then a couple of days in Moab if you haven't been there before.

Another option would be to go to Colorado Springs after Estes Park, then to Buena Vista/Nathrop/Mt Princeton Hot Springs. Then to Gunnison/Crested Butte, then to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park just east of Montrose. The road is closed in the Park past the visitor center but you can still get some good views of the canyon and try snow shoeing or cross country skiing on the road past the visitor center if you wish. Then head for Ouray or Telluride. Next stop would be the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, then Cortez and Mesa Verde National Park. Some of the ruins/sites in Mesa Verde are not accessible in the winter, but it is still worth a visit. If you have time, drive on east to Durango for the night, then ride the winter Cascade Canyon narrow gauge train ride. Then you could go to Monument Valley, on to Flagstaff or Sedona, and then on to Los Angeles.

Another route to Durango would take you to Colorado Springs, then to Alamosa and the Great Sand Dunes Natl Park, then Pagosa Springs, Durango, Mesa Verde etc. This route would be the one with the fewest mountain passes, so might be the best option if the weather is stormy.