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road trip from Southern California to Colorado

Aliso Viejo...
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road trip from Southern California to Colorado

My girls and I (10 & 13) are planning a road trip from Southern California to Colorado traveling through Vegas this summer and wondering if anyone knew some fun places to stop on the way.

Actually on the way there we will be stopping in Vegas then heading straight in to Canon CIty, Colorado to visit with family (don't have time to stop really on the way into Colorado). On the way home back to Southern California we can go any way we want (doesn't have to be through Vegas) and will have time to stop and explore.

Would love some suggestions of some fun places to stop with the kids. Since it is just me (mom) and the girls we need to think safety too. The girls love adventurous things but obviously we have to think of budget too. We did rafting and horseback riding through rocky mountain national park our last road trip so I think I need to make sure there is something fun planned for this trip =)

Any ideas would be MUCH appreciated.

Thanks so much.

Fort Worth, TX
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1. Re: road trip from Southern California to Colorado

How about heading east on 50 when you leave Canon City and stop by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. You could see this in 2-3 hours. Then head into Ouray, see Box Canyon Falls (amazing!), maybe spend the night, and soak in their fabulous hot springs pool. There are lots of hotel choices in town, but our favorite is the Hot Springs Inn. All rooms have king-sized beds and all have a balcony facing the river that runs right behind the hotel. Free breakfast is included. I would feel completely safe taking my girls there by myself.

Then the next day take 550 south all the way to Durango (80 miles). It is some of the most breathtaking scenery I've ever seen. In Durango they have zip lines, alpine slides, all kind of things if you wanted to stop for a night here. Or you could continue on and see Mesa Verde. We are doing this trip in August and staying a night at the Far View Lodge within the park. One night would be sufficient. You can see most of the highlights and do a few of the trails in a day, day and a half. This is a "must see" if you are going through the area. The ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings are amazing.

Then how about Grand Canyon? They have lodging within the park and food halls with what I thought were very reasonable prices. I don't know how much time you have, but you could spend a night or two and maybe take one of the trail rides down into the canyon.

These are my initial thoughts. Of course, if you wanted to do rafting again,

Buena Vista/Salida is a great area for that, which maybe you could make your first stop on your way back home.

Hope you all have fun!

Destination Expert
for Colorado
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11,378 posts
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2. Re: road trip from Southern California to Colorado

I like jkshel's route suggestions!

The Black Canyon is one of our family favorites. My grandkids love to stop and walk to all the overlooks. Makes them tingle, they say!

When you said the girls like adventure, I thought of San Juan Mountain Guides Family Adventure Day. They offer expert instruction and fun for all levels. http://ourayclimbing.com/pages/show/Adventure+Day

The Million Dollar Highway -Hwy 550 south to Silverton- and on to Durango can be a little intimidating if you are nervous about driving with steep dropoffs. If you are, consider a jeep tour in Ouray, and of course, hike to Cascade Falls & go to the hot springs & take a carriage ride. You could then drive to Ridgway and Telluride to ride the free gondola and go for a horseback ride (Ride With Roudy). From there to Mesa Verde National Park with a stop at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores and maybe the Indian dances at the Cortez Cultural Center.

It's not far from Mesa Verde to Durango if you wanted to visit there for all the fun activities and maybe the Durango-Silverton train ride but decided not to do the Ouray to Durango drive. I like to recommend the train-jeep combo tour as a good use of time and the opportunity to see Animas Forks ghost town without having to drive there yourself, although since you are in your own vehicle, you could do it.

Have a great trip and have fun planning. You might check in with the Road Trip forum, as well.

Charleston, South...
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for Charleston, South Carolina, Telluride
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3. Re: road trip from Southern California to Colorado

The free gondola in Telluride has awesome views that you would not see any other way. There is also a small museum that focuses on the mining history of the area. There is a bank in town that was robbed by Butch Cassidy. Some wonderful hikes that are not too difficult, Bear Creek comes to mind and it leaves right from town.

The small town of Ridgway (between Ouray and Telluride) is where the original John Wayne film "True Grit" was filmed.

Here are a few links for more info.









Aliso Viejo...
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4. Re: road trip from Southern California to Colorado

Wow...thanks. It all sounds awesome. Can't wait to go online and read more about all you suggested. The zipline sounds like something the girls would LOVE! Haven't looked on map yet, but is all that you suggested leading me back home to So Cal or further in to Colorado?

Can't wait to start exploring options...thanks for the help. Traveling with the girls by myself can be a daunting task by itself and not knowing the area makes it hard. I want to be safe but create some really fun memories. =} I feel like your suggestions get me started at that. Thanks!

Ouray, Colorado
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5. Re: road trip from Southern California to Colorado

All of the suggestions are headed west and make for a good trip back to So Cal.

In Ouray, you could also think about horse back riding and as Miss P said, the hot springs could be fun too.

Durango Mtn Resort is doing zip line rides this summer too.

6. Re: road trip from Southern California to Colorado

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