I'm using my very first TA post to ask for a bit of help from the Colorado forum, please. :) This October I'm hoping to kick off a scenic driving tour of Colorado and I'd love some comments or suggestions. The end goal is actually Yellowstone, but CO is my priority and with it starting on the 4th Oct, I'm hoping Fall hasn't completely fallen, and that there's still some great tree colouring about. We're arriving from Australia and doing a family a trip around the Grand Circle, and I decided to leave that after the Grand Canyon (South) and continue on my own. Picking up a car in Flagstaff on the 3rd and doing the day long drive up to Cortez. Then it begins!
Things I love:
Scenic drives! Long hours in the car doesn't bother me. (Open road, and all that). Mountains/Lakes/Trees
Short hikes (under 2 hours or so)
Food / beer. :)
Things I could happily skip:
Long tours (more than a few hours)
I spent some time reading scenic drives forums and tried to find a nice way to link a good few of them together, whilst still letting me head towards Wyoming. The start date is fixed, but the end date is open until I book flights.
Day 1: Cortez to Ouray. Travelling the 550 section of the San Juan Skyway drive, and maybe detouring to do the quick Alpine Loop (near Tower Mt, at Silverton). Should I do a second day here and give Mesa Verde a proper viewing? Stay O/N at Ouray
Day 4: Top of the Rockies drive - from Leadville it's that loop north, then back and around. Then from Leadville thought about looping south and back north again to do Guanella Pass, or maybe just go to Breckenridge? Either way, I'd like to end up within striking distance of Mt Evans. (Stay at Idaho Springs?)
Day 5: Up and down Mt Evans! Followed by the Peak to Peak hwy, and stay O/N at Estes Park.
Day 6: Trail Ridge Road... Eventually ending up around Steamboat Springs. Or do I need a second night in Estes Park to do some exploring?
Day 7: Steamboat Springs north and into Wyoming, through Battle Pass, maybe to Saratoga or nearby for O/N.
And that's the Colorado leg! Lots of driving, to be sure, but I love it. :) I can slot in an extra day or two, and would be most grateful for some advice on where might be the best spots for that, if needed. Also trying to keep accommodation budget down, but if there are any places I absolutely MUST stay, please do let me know! Same with Natural must-see's.
(Also, just to round it out, this was my proposed run up to Yellowstone, getting there I guess on or around the 12th... no park amenities then, but fewer tourists! Please comment on that too, by all means. The whole trip is no doubt overly ambitious)
D8: Long haul drive to Cody
D9: Enter YNP from the East, head north, stay O/N at Gardiner
D10: South to West Yellowstone or Old Faithful (wherever I can stay)
D11: South to Jackson, and the Grand Tetons
D12: Long drive to Salt Lake City.
D13: Turn in the car, flight to LA in the morning, flight to Sydney in the evening!
Thanks again for any comments or suggestions! Be it drives, or accommodation, or food!