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First Colorado Trip Advice

Sussex, WI
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First Colorado Trip Advice

We are planning out first Colorado trip driving out from WI. I want to spend some quality time in RMNP and we do some camping . I would like a quick look at Denver and also GSDNP. I would also like to see Mesa Verde and the SW part of the state.

I would like opinions on other areas in the NW to see and if Mesa would be biting off more than we should considering we are driving there and back from WI. We are seasoned travelers and have done 2 week trips, though I would like to keep this one to 12 days or so. Also any RMNP tips are appreciated. I am considering Mesa Verde, and Utah for another trip, but the the Durango area looks enticing.

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for Wisconsin, Colorado Springs
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1. Re: First Colorado Trip Advice

2 nights in RMNP/Estes

3 nights in SW CO

NW--consider Glenwood Springs and drive through the Colorado National Monument.

You could do a night here.

a few days in the other end of the state to see GSDNP--2 maybe

Consider Colorado Springs and Canon City areas as part of the loop there's lots to see all depending on your interests. Other ideas are the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. You could start with Great Sand Dunes, head to Mesa Verde/SW CO then to the Black Canyon, Colorado National Monument, Glenwood Springs and back up towards Denver or vice versa.

There are some good itineraries to find on TA already laid out. Some of the seasoned in state travelers will give you good itineraries and suggestions, I just threw out some basic thoughts to give you some ideas.

Edited: 12:11 pm, February 12, 2013
Destination Expert
for Colorado
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2. Re: First Colorado Trip Advice

About 7 to 9 days is, IMO, just about the minimum needed for a loop trip through Colorado that includes RMNP and the Southwest corner of the state with scenic drives as the main activity, so 10-12 days is a pretty good amount of time for a loop that will allow a little more time for activities, exploring, or relaxing. But going to the SW part will add mileage to your trip, about 6 or 7 hours each way. Of course you don't have to drive it all in one day if you prefer to break it up a little bit.

How many days will it take you to get to Denver? From a quick look at Google maps, it looks like you'd have a day and a half to two days transit time between WI and Denver in each direction, so that would leave you 9 or 10 days for your loop.

I plotted a typical loop trip and I come up with close to 1000 miles and about 20 hours of driving starting in Denver, looping through RMNP, then to the Black Canyon, then to Telluride/Cortez/Mesa Verde, then to Durango and on to the Great Sand Dunes, ending in Colorado Springs. There are many routes and possible stops along the way, but that gives you an idea of the time.

Two nights at the Great Sand Dunes would give you a full day there, and many people find that a shorter stay is plenty...we didn't want to hike the dunes, so we spent about two hours. Depends on what you want to do there. You'd probably want to allow two nights at Mesa Verde, or at least an afternoon, evening, overnight and half day the next day, then move to the next location on the itinerary. Two to three nights at Rocky Mountain National Park. Two hours to a half day at the Black Canyon, which would be along your route in most cases...

So, I don't think it would be biting off too much to include Mesa Verde, but I'm not the one doing the driving! If you prefer to spend more time in RMNP and a few locations along the way to the Great Sand Dunes (Grand Lake, Breckenridge, Buena Vista, for example) then you would find plenty of things to see and do, I'm sure!

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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3. Re: First Colorado Trip Advice

You did not say when you were coming. The park service aims to have Trail Ridge Road open all the way between Grand Lake and Estes Park by the Friday before Memorial Day - May 24.

camping in RMNP--Moraine Park campground is the favorite.


Hiking in RMNP


Plan much of a day to drive and explore the trails and overlooks along Trail Ridge Road.

There is a separate forum for RMNP here on TA and there is a ton of information.


If you have any specific questions, just ask.

4. Re: First Colorado Trip Advice

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