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Help with itinerary

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San Francisco
posts: 56
Help with itinerary

Hi. My husband and I are going to be staying in Colorado Springs for three nights. We will have Friday, August 29, Saturday, and a partial day on Sunday, as we are traveling to Granby on Sunday. Would really like some help with our itinerary. We will be arriving fairly late on Thur evening. Things we are most interested in are Pike's Peak (cog or driving?), Garden of the Gods with a bit of hiking, Seven Falls and perhaps visiting Manitou Springs. Also interested in Royal Gorge but a bit confused because have seen some people do not seem to enjoy it. Would also be interested in the Olympic Training Center but not as high on the list as above. Read that perhaps we should see Red Rocks SP and Mt. Evans on way to Granby. Trying to figure out the best way to map this out. I appreciate your suggestions! Thanks.

12 replies to this topic
Destination Expert
for Wisconsin, Colorado Springs
posts: 5,266
reviews: 102
1. Re: Help with itinerary

If you're interested in a special treat and can stay Sunday morning and enjoy the Broadmoor's Sunday Brunch that might be something you'd enjoy.

There are perks to driving Pike's Peak and to riding the cog. Obviously both have varying vantages/viewpoints/scenery. You can stop along the way as you want by driving. With driving the driver misses some enjoyment naturally just from the driving. The cog is great if you don't mind sharing your experience with others on the cog. It has great viewpoints. The three seat side affords the better overall views and will afford for better pictures, especially if the windows are up that side still has an opportunity for unobstructed pictures. The cog has a short stop at the top which is a drawback for some who would like to stay longer. We enjoyed the cog very much. We're not opposed to doing it the other way but found this way enjoyable and to our liking not worrying about driving. If you do the cog go for the morning one from eight to eleven AM for most wildlife, better weather (afternoons are known for passing through storms), and the rest of the day to do other stuff.

You have some good ideas already planned. The Garden of the Gods is great. You can even horseback ride through it or some do at the Stables at Broadmoor for a different but equally nice location.

http://royalgorgebridge.com/park-info/ After the fire the park is slated to reopen in August so check for full updates. We loved the bridge and park. Many think it's just touristy or about rides but there are many unique features with the incline railway which is very unique and affords a different viewpoint going down/below, the tram which gives you yet another vantage of the bridge to experience. We enjoyed the helicopters diving down into the canyon, the bridge itself and just walking the park. We had young kids with at the time and the "amusement park" as many deem it was not our focus. In fact after nearly four hours there we did no rides just took in the tram and the railway and walked the rest. Paying for a drive over the bridge would be pointless as you miss so much of the whole thing. There is a free vantage point you can take in. I'm all about free too in a big way and yet we got discount coupons and just enjoyed the full park. Don't go on an excessively windy day I've heard this can be a problem, it was not a problem for us when we went.

Other Colorado Springs and surrounding areas ideas: Mollie Kathleen Mine in Cripple Creek, Florissant Fossil Beds in Florissant, Wolf Center in Divide, the neat town of Woodland Park (scenic area). In the Springs: Red Rock Canyon.

For rainy days: Pro Rodeo Museum, Money Museum, Figure Skating Museum, and Pioneers Museum (Free and in an old ornate courthouse).

We enjoyed the Air Force Academy--(short visit, enjoy the scenic backdrop, take in the lobby area which has exhibits/history, a gift shop and dining area, and check out the chapel).

Cave of the Winds the cave tour was ok but I loved the drive up/scenery at the top.

Edited: 12:23 am, July 22, 2014
Destination Expert
for Colorado
posts: 8,252
reviews: 120
2. Re: Help with itinerary

Great information from hatchpal!

With the amount of time you have, I don't think you really have time to go to the Royal Gorge, but if it is something you really want to see, then it would make a good "middle of the day when it is too hot or too rainy for hiking" drive. However, due to fire damage, the Gorge Park has not been fully reopened and has been open for guided tours on a bus, weekends only. Before you go, call them to see what tours & times are available, because there are days they cancel tours due to the construction schedule. By the time of your visit, they could be open again.

If you feel like you do have time for a day trip, the drive up to Cripple Creek would be something to consider. Tour the Mollie Kathleen, take in a couple of the museums, photograph the donkeys, maybe put a quarter or two into a one armed bandit or ride the Cripple Creek-Victor narrow gauge train.

As far as I know, Seven Falls is still closed due to flood damage. Maybe you could go to Helen Hunt Falls instead. (I read that North Cheyenne Canon is open)




As far as Red Rocks, you can skip it because you're going to Garden of the Gods.

My opinion is to ride the cog railway up Pike's Peak.

Depending on your arrival time, you might visit Garden of the Gods that evening, or go to Helen Hunt Falls. Or take a drive up to the Cave of the Winds, just for the views. You might plan your hiking at Garden of the Gods for the next morning before it gets hot. Then you'd have the rest of your day to have lunch, sightsee, take in a museum and the Air Force Academy.

On Saturday, ride the cog railway, visit Manitou Springs, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

On Sunday, make a day of the drive to Granby, taking Hwy 24 through Woodland Park, then to Fairplay (stop at South Park City?) and Breckenridge. Leave in time to get to the Wolf and Wildlife Center for the 10 am tour if this is something you want to do, or leave early and drive to Cripple Creek for the scenery and spend a couple of hours exploring town if you didn't already do this on Friday or Saturday. Another option would be the Florissant Fossil Beds. Then head on toward Granby via Breckenridge. An alternate route and also very scenic would be to go on to Johnson Village>Buena Vista and then a slight detour to see Twin Lakes, then to Leadville. At Leadville you could take Hwy 24 if you wanted to see Vail and Vail Pass, or take Hwy 91. Frisco would be the next stop, then on to Granby.

Edited: 11:23 am, July 22, 2014
San Francisco
posts: 56
3. Re: Help with itinerary

Wow. Thank you both so much for all the info! I will have to do some more research into your suggestions, but they really give me something to work with, and I so appreciate it. So much to do and consider. Thanks again. I may have more questions after I delve into all of this.

Colorado Springs...
Destination Expert
for Colorado Springs
posts: 4,076
reviews: 79
4. Re: Help with itinerary

So much great advice already. My only addition would be to add another vote for the cog. Unless you really enjoy that type of drive, you'll likely find the cog much more relaxing and enjoyable.

San Francisco
posts: 56
5. Re: Help with itinerary

Ok. Now have done a bit more research, so hoping for more advice on how to group activities and some choices of activities - so hard with so much to choose from. So we arrive late Thur night, flight to Denver arrives at 9:30 p.m. Will try to be rested so we can hit the ground running on Friday. We have Friday and Saturday, then leaving for Granby Sunday. Don't mind being a bit busy. We love to hike but want to see a lot so we may not have time for longer hikes, and we can do more hikes from Granby. Also, this is Labor Day weekend, so we maybe have to keep that in mind. So thinking of Garden of the Gods Friday a.m., as you had advised and will plan to do the cog up Pikes Saturday morning and having lunch in Manitou Springs afterwards. The other things we really want to do are Airforce Academy, seeing the Broodmoor, North Cheyene Canyon and Helen Hunt Falls, drive to Cave of the winds and two of their rides but not cave tour. Not sure how much time and where to hike/walk in Garden of the Gods and North Cheyene Canyon with our schedule. Could you possibly give me an idea of how long these things should take?

We are also considering on Sunday driving Phantom Canyon Road to Cripple Creek, touring the mine and doing the train there, then continuing drive to Granby. I have read about the road, and this type of thing does not make us nervous. Is this really worthwhile? It looks great but not sure how much better than the other way, 24 to 9 North to I-70 for scenery. Then going through Breckenridge, are there places we should stop to see? How to experience a bit of Breckenridge? I imagine we would not have time to do the Wolf and Wildlife Center tour if we do this route, but if you think so, we would be interested. I so appreciate the advice!

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
posts: 6,811
reviews: 97
6. Re: Help with itinerary

I just drove Phantom Canyon Road last summer and there are many better canyons along paved roads in Colorado in my opinion. If you are in a rental car, it violates your contract to drive on unpaved roads.

Going through Breckenridge and continuing on highway 9 to highway 40 to Granby, you will go through Byers Canyon between Kremmling and Hot Sulphur Springs. As for getting a taste of Breckenridge, you could take the free gondola up Peak 8. Even if you are not planning to go to the Fun Park, the gondola parking and the gondola ride are free.


Here is the route for your Sunday plans.


Across the street from the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine is the Cripple Creek Heritage Center. This 3 story free museum is really well done.

I don't know what other places you plan to visit in Colorado but canyons abound. We could suggest some if you tell us more about your plans.

San Francisco
posts: 56
7. Re: Help with itinerary

Thanks! Well, I plan to stay in Granby 6 nightsafter staying in Colorado Springs (have timeshare), and I have a pretty good idea what I want to do around there, including RMNP. But thought we would also drive Trail Ridge Road after our last day in Granby (having driven it once prior during our stay) and ending up in Boulder for our last night. Have not done any research on what we want to do in Boulder yet. But we would stay the night in Boulder Saturday night, I think, and drive to Denver that Sunday and catch our flight home that Sunday, a 7:35 p.m. flight. So we would have one afternoon, evening in Boulder and a partial day the next day before catching our flight. But I am open to suggestions. Thanks again.

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
posts: 6,811
reviews: 97
8. Re: Help with itinerary

Be sure you allow plenty of time to drive and explore along Trail Ridge Road. There are numerous overlooks and short trails along the way. I routinely post info about the many short (and some a little longer - 4 miles or less total) trails along Trail Ridge Road. See my reply #4 at this link for a recent Trail Ridge Road post.


You want to go all the way to Estes Park and back on your Trail Ridge Road day. The dramatic mountain views for which RMNP is famous are east of the Alpine Visitor Center and on the east side of RMNP. Exit RMNP through the Beaver Meadows Entrance but reenter RMNP through the Fall River Entrance.

When you drive to Boulder, you have a choice of 2 canyons on the way - Boulder Canyon and South St. Vrain Canyon. Boulder Canyon is between Nederland and Boulder on highway 119. South St. Vrain Canyon is on highway 7 between Allenspark and Lyons. The 2 canyons are very different. Since it is easy to drive Boulder Canyon from Boulder (only takes 1 hour round trip), you might want to take the highway 7 route to Boulder. Here is the link from Granby, over Trail Ridge Road taking highway 7 and then 36 to Boulder.


You also travel part of the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway along this route. The route bypasses downtown Estes Park by using Mary's Lake Road. The Long's Peak Scottish Irish Highlands Festival is September 4-7 in Estes Park. Scotfest brings thousands of visitors to Estes Park - a good time to bypass downtown. Also because of Scotfest, you might want to plan your Trail Ridge Road day, on Tuesday (9/2) or Wednesday (9/3).

San Francisco
posts: 56
9. Re: Help with itinerary

That is fantastic info I did not even know I needed. Thanks so much! Things are really starting to come together, and I am very excited about the trip.

San Francisco
posts: 56
10. Re: Help with itinerary

Oh, one more question: If we decide to do the brunch at the Broadmoor as suggested, we would probably do that at 9:00, earliest seating. Do you think on that Sunday of the holiday weekend we would be getting too late a start as far as traffic is concerned on our way to Granby? And this is keeping in mind we want to stop in Cripple Creek a bit. Thanks again.

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