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9-day plan around Colorado

Leeds, United...
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9-day plan around Colorado

My husband and I plan to see as much of the highlights in Colorado as we can in the 9 days which we have (we are from the UK). We have worked out a schedule of our intended trip and will like to seek the opinion/advice from the locals/regulars out there on TA. Do you think our plan here is do-able or is it too hectic? Your feedback on this is much appreciated. We intend to rent a motor home from Day 2 onwards to do this trip :

Day 1 = Explore Denver and recover from jet lag

2 = Denver to Boulder

3 = Boulder to Rocky Mountain National Park

4 = Rocky Mountain National Park to Leadville

5 = Leadville to Aspen

6 = Aspen to Arches to Canyonlands

7 = Canyonlands to Ouray

8 = Ouray to Telluride to Durango

9 = Durango to Denver

If you think it is too hectic, we can leave out Rocky Mountain National Park but is the place too beautiful to be left out? Any suggestions for alternatives is much appreciated.

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1. Re: 9-day plan around Colorado

When are you coming?

At first glance, too hectic. You will be just more or less going from place to place.

Also, are we talking a huge motorhome or something smaller as might be hard to get around in some of these places? Going over about 3 BIG passes along the way. Wondering between the cost of a motorhome, increased gas expense of a motorhome, cost for wherever you park the motorhome, not as ez to get around...if it would be easier to rent a car, stay in KOA cabins or something equivalent and have more ease to drive around these places.

Also, let others know if your touring preference is getting out and hiking...or do not mind car sightseeing (longer drives) with less outdoor time.

I would also drop day 2 as gives you more time to get around the state in a limited amount of time.

Day 5- why is Leadville your destination? Just curious as it is not necessary the norm for a tourist destination. If you keep this route and head to Aspen, I would just go all the way to Aspen.

Not much time in Moab to explore. Seem like 1/2 day in the afternoon and 1/2 day in the morning before leaving for Ouray.

Without knowing your preference for how much you want to be outside vs in the car, maybe something like

Day 1- Denver or up to Boulder to walk around

Day 2- up to Frisco/Breckenridge area. (drive time. 2-2.5 hours) If coming in the summer, can ride the ski lifts up (fee) for great views. Can ride down or do an ez walk back down. Lake Dillon water activities or take the water taxi across the lake from Frisco to Dillon and back for great views.

Day 3- drive to Aspen going via Independence Pass (drive time: 2.5 hours)

Day 4- Aspen to Grand Junction: 2.5 hours (drive the Colorado National Monument, hikes along the way), Stay in palisade if you like to explore the wine country. If not, drive down to Ouray (additional 2 hrs drive)

Day 5- Ouray area, to Telluride that evening (about an hour)

Day 6- Telluride most of the day. To Durango in the evening (2.5 hours)

Day 7: Mesa Verde national Park: back to Durango in the evening

Day 8: Back to Denver: 6+ Hours

Yes, I know I am a day short but this would give you an extra day if you really liked an area and wanted to stay a day longer (guessing Aspen, Telluride, Ouray would be the leading contenders). If not, then break up your trip to Denver on the way back and maybe shoot for a place like Buena Vista (4 hrs). Hot springs in the area or if you want to do some rafting, drive to Buena Vista on Day 8, raft morning of day 9 and then back into Denver that afternoon.


point pleasant
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2. Re: 9-day plan around Colorado

my advice is i would set aside one day for Vail. the Village is great.

Leeds, United...
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3. Re: 9-day plan around Colorado

Hi Matt,

Thanks so much for your very detailed and in-depth suggestions. Yeah, upon further consideration, we have decided to rent a car instead after finding out the REAL cost of renting a RV (even a compact one!) We didn't know there were so many "extras" which needed to be added on and in the end, the cost is way too high!

Our planned trip will start from the second week of August. We plan to do more of sight-seeing on this trip instead of hiking/trekking due to our time constraint. You are good in noticing the "unusual" stop we planned to make at Leadville :-) My husband will be running the Leadville 100 on 16 Aug and wants to train by running a particular demanding part of the course there. We will most probably just stop by to do that before heading to Aspen as you have suggested as we will be back in Leadville again 3 days before the race anyway.

Looks like we will have to take out Rocky Mountain National Park after all and dedicate more time for Ouray/Telluride. Will study more on your suggestions and re-plan our schedule.

Thanks again so much for your valuable input!

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4. Re: 9-day plan around Colorado

Leadville 100...wow. That is a big time endurance race at serious elevation. Has he run this before?

That is some serious elevation difference coming from the UK (going off your avatar)...Since you are coming in Aug., I would drop Moab, Ut for no other reason than it is HOT there (typically mid to high 90's) and I would think you would want to stay at higher elevations to altitude adjust.

Best of luck.


Charleston, South...
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5. Re: 9-day plan around Colorado

I too wondered about the run. High altitude makes a HUGE difference.

Destination Expert
for Colorado
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6. Re: 9-day plan around Colorado

I'm glad to hear you've decided against the RV. We like RV camping but it really isn't suited for road trips where you're staying in one place only a night or two, and also not great for mountain driving. Plus, very unwieldly for the narrow roads and limited parking at overlooks in national parks. (That's why you see so many RV owners towing a small vehicle...they park the rig and hook it up, then take the car to sightsee and go to the grocery store.)

So when is the race? The 16th? I'm not clear about why you're ending up back in Denver if you're to be back in Leadville 3 days before the race. I, too, am concerned about trying to do that race with only 3 days at that elevation. Have you thought of doing the Leadville 10K as a training run? (on the 10th) I'm no distance runner, but I have friends and a couple of kids who are, and they spend lots of time at altitude before a race, hiking and trail running.

I guess your time in Telluride could be part of the acclimation...maybe get your lodging at Mountain Village to take advantage of the higher elevation, but it seems like you'd want to spend some time hiking/running at altitude rather than just driving and sightseeing. Okay, I've said my piece and it's your trip, after all!

I think an evening and a morning is okay in the summer for getting a sample of Arches Natl Park/Moab area but it doesn't allow much time for Canyonlands. Since you'll have lots of daylight, you might spend afternoon till sunset in Arches, then get a very early start to drive out to Island in the Sky District to see Mesa Arch at or near sunrise. Watch the sun light up the canyons from there. Or go to Dead Horse Point State Park. Or you could drive out County Rd 133 to the Needles Overlook, see my review. (Inca Inn is a good budget friendly place to stay in Moab IMO...see my review of that, too.)



And I'd take the road (Utah 46/CO 90) from La Sal Junction and head to Telluride first instead of Ouray, then to Durango (were you going to try to see a bit of Mesa Verde Natl Park? Get a very early start so you'll have a good part of the day in the park, then overnight Durango) then north on 50 and the Million Dollar Highway to Ouray, then back to Denver (or Leadville) from there via Montrose, then Hwy 50 east. You'll have time for a quick stop at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison Natl Park. Or were you going to Ouray first then looping back around to Telluride to avoid driving the Million Dollar HIghway?

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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7. Re: 9-day plan around Colorado

Considering you said this was more of a road trip, here is a possible itinerary which includes your trip ideas as well as some of the other ideas suggested above.

Day 1 - Denver

Day 2 - Denver through Boulder up the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway over RMNP Trail Ridge Road to Frisco. Overnight Frisco. Driving time 6 hours. Add 2 hours or more for scenic overlooks along Trail Ridge Road.

Day 3 - Frisco along the Top of the Rockies Byway through Leadville over Independence Pass to Aspen, visit Maroon Bells and on to Glenwood Springs. Overnight Glenwood Springs. Driving time about 4 hours taking the more scenic highway 24 route as opposed to 91.

Day 4 - Glenwood Springs to Moab for Arches. Overnight Moab. Driving time 3 hours.

Day 5 - Moab to Canyonlands and on to Mesa Verde. Overnight Mesa Verde. Driving time about 4 hours including getting to the Needles district in Canyonlands.

Day 6 - Explore Mesa Verde then to Telluride along the San Juan Skyway (145). Driving time 1 3/4 hours. Overnight Telluride.

Day 7 - Telluride to Ouray (about 1 hour) jeep tour Ouray, then drive along the San Juan Skyway and Million Dollar Highway (550) to Pagosa Springs. Enjoy the hot springs. Overnight Pagosa Springs. Driving time about 3 hours - not including the 1 hour between Telluride and Ouray.

Day 8 - Pagosa Springs to Nathrop for Mount Princeton Hot Springs or Buena Vista for afternoon rafting trip. Driving time to Buena Vista is about 3 hours. August is later in the rafting season but so far our snowpack is running above normal. If that continues, rafting season will last longer. Overnight Buena Vista or Mount Princeton Hot Springs.

Day 9 - Buena Vista to Fairplay to Denver with a drive along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway to over 14,000 ft. Mount Evans. 5 1/2 hour drive time including Mount Evans.

Here is the mapquest link outlining the route for this trip.


Leeds, United...
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8. Re: 9-day plan around Colorado

Wow!!! Thanks all, for the in-depth suggestions and alternatives!

That's a lot to digest, we will study them all before making our final plan.

We have to return to Denver to pick up a few runner-friends from the airport before heading out to Leadville again. My husband is an experienced ultra-endurance runner but we agree with all that ALTITUDE will be a big challenge in this race. We will try to stay as 'high' as possible in our trip before the race to acclimatize.

Thanks again. Truly appreciate all the comments here.

9. Re: 9-day plan around Colorado

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