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Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

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Marion, IL
posts: 10
reviews: 13
Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

I am trying to plan our drean Colorado vacation. This is something I have been hoping to do for many years. We plan to start in Colorado Springs then head up to Estes Park. After much online review (I think I will go crazy trying to plan this) I am thinking we should skip Colorado Springs and stay in Maitou Springs instead. We will be coming from Illinois so traveling from the east, if that matters. Anyway, my plan is arrive July 5th but tour The Broadmoor first, then Helen Hunt Falls, on the 6th it's the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and hang around town. Stay the night again and head to Estes Park on the 7th, maybe through Denver? Check in at the Stanley for 1 night, then not sure of a place after that, but planning to go horseback riding one day and the Trail Ridge Road to Continental Divide another day.

Since we are staying only a short time in Colorado Springs area, would Manitou Springs be better to stay in? Feeling pretty overwhelmed by all of it because I don't want to miss a thing!

13 replies to this topic
Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
posts: 6,488
reviews: 98
1. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

I would travel from Colorado or Manitou Springs to Estes Park by way of one of the more scenic routes to Estes Park. Take highway 24 and 9 to Breckenridge and then I-70 to highway 40 over Berthoud Pass to Winter Park or Grand Lake for the night. That way you will be fresh for your trip driving and exploring Trail Ridge Road over to Estes Park. Here is the link for the route from the Springs to Grand Lake.

http://mapq.st/1bgii8T

The week you are planning to visit RMNP and Estes Park may be the busiest of the year. Driving Trail Ridge Road from the Grand Lake side will be less congested. Do not underestimate the time it takes to drive and explore Trail Ridge Road. In the RMNP forum in the Top Questions, see a Trail Ridge Road timeline in the question - "How long does it take to drive Trail Ridge Road?"

On your Trail Ridge Road day, get an early start. In Grand Lake, ask directions to RMNP Adams Falls. It is only .3 miles to the falls and if you go beyond the falls to the meadow, moose are often seen here. Stop at Cy's Deli in Grand Lake and get a picnic lunch. Also stop at the RMNP Kawuneeche Visitor Center and get the $2 guide to Trail Ridge Road. All the many overlooks are worth seeing.

Short trails along Trail Ridge Road traveling west to east (Grand Lake to Estes Park) -

Coyote Valley Trail - 1 mile level loop which could have elk and walks along part of Colorado River

Holzwarth Historic Site - 1 mile round trip to 1920's dude ranch and moose and elk frequent this area plus you cross the Colorado River

Lake Irene - short trail to lake at the picnic area and beyond to a nice meadow overlook

Alpine Ridge Trail at the Alpine Visitor Center - 1/4 mile straight up steps known as the huff and puff trail - great views. The Trail Ridge Store next door to the visitor center has some nice merchandise at decent prices and a small cafe.

Tundra Communities Trail near Rock Cut - 1 mile round trip interpretative trail for views, wildlife, tundra and mushroom rocks (do not miss this one).

Ute Trail - only walk part way for views

http://www.protrails.com/trail/461/

Hidden Valley Nature Trail - .5 mile interpretative loop through 300-700 year old Spruce/Pine forest along a creek

Beaver Boardwalk - very short trail to a meadow with nice views

There are many great places to stay in Estes Park - hotels, cabins, condos, B&B's, vacation rentals. In the peak summer season, lodging businesses often have minimum stay requirements of at least 2 nights. You will find all kinds of helpful information on the RMNP forum from lodging to hiking and more. Here is the link to that forum.

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g143048-i3489-Rock…

The Colorado Springs folks can address your questions about there.

colorado springs,co
Destination Expert
for Colorado Springs
posts: 1,377
reviews: 16
2. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

Manitou Springs is like 5-7 miles from downtown Colorado Springs.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
Destination Expert
for Santa Fe, Mesa Verde National Park, Boulder, New Mexico
posts: 18,627
reviews: 38
3. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

Manitou Springs is actually part of the Colo Springs metro, only a few miles to the west of downtown CS. Find lodging that works for you, any driving will be minimal.

Marion, IL
posts: 10
reviews: 13
4. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

Uh oh, now I am worried we should book for a different week, maybe later in July. I thought maybe the weather would be just warm enough at this time. I definitely want warm weather for our trip.

Maplewood, NJ
posts: 417
reviews: 8
5. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

I think weather will be perfect that week. I would stay in Mantou Springs over Colorado Springs (Mantou Springs is really just a part of Colorado Springs). As others said head west from there on 24 and then on to 9. We loved staying in Frisco which is past Breckenridge. In Breck take the gondola (free) up mountain. from there you can take a chair lift up to the top and there are other activities - we just jumped on a chair lift and hiked around. On 9 you can stop in Fairplay - which is also called South Park and where the tv cartoon is supposed to be.

Near Pike's Peak is Cripple Creak - a town which is a favorite of my teen son. He goes to camp nearby and loves the mine tour there. He claims Cripple Creak has best ice cream and that mules are free to wander the town and you are NOT allowed to mess with them (spoken obviously by a boy who tried to mess with a mule!).

Columbia, Maryland
posts: 950
reviews: 4
6. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

Manitou Springs is an interesting place with an eclectic mix of interesting people. The motels are mostly the type from the 60s and 70s with a few newer and some quaint places with cabins. Some are nice and some look a little tired. There are some neat shops and eateries downtown and there is an arcade there that must have at least one of every type of arcade game going back to penny games (from when they truely were penny arcades). They work and are playable. They also must have one of every one of the kiddie rides ever made - the type where you put in a coin and your kid rocks on a horse or rocket ship, etc. It's like a museum except you can play with the stuff.

Colorado Springs...
posts: 46
7. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

You're correct that that is an abundance of things to see and do in the Colorado Springs/Manitou area. As far as a place to stay, it all really depends on what you prefer. Manitou has many B&B's as well as the historic Cliff House at Pikes Peak. Thankfully, Colorado Springs' downtown is only 10 minutes east of Manitou, so even if you're spending most of your time there, but find somewhere you'd prefer more in COS, you're not losing a lot of time. There's definitely a lot going on during July 4th including various fireworks shows and fun events. Other popular stops around the area include Garden of the Gods Park (which you can also horseback ride through), the U.S. Olympic Training Center and U.S. Air force Academy. Also, if you're a hiker and have time, check out the Manitou Springs Incline Trail.

Marion, IL
posts: 10
reviews: 13
8. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

Wow, you all have been great help. The Colorado forums have been a blessing helping me with this vacation since we plan to visit several different areas. Now that I know how close they are, it makes my decision easier. Thank you!

colorado springs,co
Destination Expert
for Colorado Springs
posts: 1,377
reviews: 16
9. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

One place I often recommend if you prefer to stay in Manitou is The Avenue Hotel B&B. There are several of these type places in the area which would be preferrable to most hotel/motel types. The Cliff House being an exception.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
posts: 1
reviews: 17
10. Re: Skip Colorado Springs and go straight to Manitou Springs?

We arrive from the Midwest (Wisconsin) on July 5th as well! We're doing a loop but ending in Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs, as opposed to starting there.

I agree with the theme of a lot of the other posters - they are so close that it doesn't really matter where you stay - it's just about hotel style/B&B preference.

Our route is going to be 1st night Boulder, 2nd night Vail, 3rd night Glenwood Springs, 4th night Breck, 5th & 6th Colorado Springs, final night Denver. It's a lot of traveling but all the drives are around 2 hours or less and then drives are SO scenic that it's very enjoyable. I figure we'll get up first thing in the morning and drive, and then spend the day in the towns.

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