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Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

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Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

I need help with my itinerary. I have been going back and forth for weeks about what to do and where to go. My husband will be getting his vacation picks from the fire dept any day now and I have to know if this will work. We are late 30's with a 14 yr old daughter and are used to long road trips. We will be coming in the summer, hopefully late June early July. We are driving from Cincinnati, Ohio with our pop up tent camper.

Day 1 & 2 - Driving to Colorado Springs hotel

Day 3 - Early Pikes Peak Cog Rail, Lunch?, Drive though Garden of the Gods on the way to Great Sand Dunes National Park hotel

Day 4 - Sand Dunes until gets to hot, Lunch?, Drive to Silverton campground with a short stop in Durango

Day 5 - Silverton & Ouray

Day 6 - More time in Silverton or Ouray then drive to Mesa Verde with maybe another short stop in Durango

Day 7 - Mesa Verde

Day 8 - Drive to Monument Valley with a short stop in 4 Corners - have most of the day in Monument Valley

Day 9 - Spend a bit more time in Monument Valley, drive to Moab, maybe with stop in Gooseneck and Hole in the Rock

Day 10,11,12 - Moab, Arches, Canyonlands and the state park there (the name escapes me right now)

Day 13 - Drive to Glenwood Springs, maybe going through Colorado National Monument. (while in Glenwood, maybe hanging lake hike, hot spring pool and maybe zipline/ropes course)

Day 14 - most of day Glenwood Springs, drive to Idaho Springs

Day 15 - Idaho Springs, Mt Evans, Casa Bonita (did both as a kid and wanted to show my kid)

Day 16&17 - Drive Home

This is still a work in progress. If this is insane, please let me know. Should I add or take off anthing? Any suggestions campground wise, meals, activities would be appreciated. I've done a lot of research and I keep confusing myself. Thanks for all your help. I will probably post this on at least a few forums for my route. Thanks again, Rhonda

Cincinnati, Ohio
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1. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

Unfortunately, I can only help with Day 3 of your plans, but they do sound good! I was in Colorado Springs with my kids this past summer. We did the Pikes Peak Cog in the morning, which is actually the best time to go. You can call the railway directly and make a reservation. 1-800-745-3773. We did lunch in Manitou Springs (right near the cog station) right after our trip to the top and back. Manitou Springs is a quaint little town with lots of lunch options. If you like Mexican, I highly recommend The Loop! I took my boys there (11 & 13) and the loved it too.

Garden of the Gods is definitely do-able in the afternoon. The only thing I would caution you on is that there were afternoon thunderstorms in Colorado Springs in July during the entire week that we were there, and I've heard this is common. If there are storms in the forecast for the day you are there, definitely get to Garden of the Gods as early in the afternoon as possible.

Enjoy your trip! I am from Ohio too and the boys and I absolutely fell in love with Colorado and can't wait to go back. I actually did a trip report when we got back, and you are welcome to read it under my profile if you are interested. Have lots of fun!!

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2. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

You are cramming it in a little on days 3 & 4 but doable.

The big question for you is how hot is too hot for you. I noticed that you said you would stay at the Sand Dunes until it became too hot.

My concern would be the temps later on when you get to Utah (Monument Valley and Moab). 1st week in July, 2011, Moab temps for a high were 100, not much humidity but still 100.

If you are looking for some cooler temps I could see amending the trip and taking your time a bit more:

Day 3 & 4 the same but going onto Pagosa Springs.

Day 5- Pagosa area (hot springs, beautiful area, hiking) onto Durango

Day 6- Mesa Verde NP, back to Durango or camp in Mesa Verde since you have a pop-up

Day 7- Silverton and up to Ouray

Day 8- Ouray area- probably the most scenic small mtn. town in Colorado. Jeep tour highly recommend (there is some good ones out of Silverton where you can go Silverton over to Lake City and back).

Day 9- to Black Canyon of the Gunnison, explore rafting in afternoon or following morning

Day 10- into Moab and continue like you planned or skip Moab and head up to Grand Mesa (spend a night up top especially if you like hiking)

Day 11- onto Glenwood via I-70 or Carbondale if you go towards Carbondale directly from Gunnison. Glenwood Springs area

Day 12- Aspen area

Day 13- over Independence Pass and onto Grand Lake

Day 14, 15- Rocky Mtn NP area and up and over to Estes Park

Day 16- drive home.

Just a thought on an alternative if you want to avoid the heat that you will find in Monument Valley, Moab, Grand Junction in early July.

Otherwise, itinerary looks fine since you said you don't mind driving.


Colorado Springs...
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3. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

I'll just comment on your Day 3 in Colorado Springs. I think it is quite reasonable. After the Cog, I'd also suggest lunch in Manitou. There are plenty of options, and you'll enjoy wandering around town a bit. From there, you can spend as much or as little time as you'd like in Garden of the Gods, before heading down to Great Sand Dunes.

If you haven't already, you may want to post your question on the general Colorado board to get responses from TAers in other parts of the State who might be able to provide you with some insight on the rest of your itinerary.

Sounds like a fun trip!

Fort Collins...
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4. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

I think your itinerary looks pretty darn good!! A few suggestions....

When you're in the Silverton/Durango area, I would highly recommend the railroad...it's really fun! It leaves Durango and goes to Silverton, but I'm pretty sure you can catch a trail in SIlverton, ride it to Durango and back as well. Also, if you plan on camping near Silverton, I know of a great spot! Leave Silverton on Hwy 550 and head towards Ouray. About 1-2 miles up the highway will be a left hand turn onto County Rt. 7/Forest Rt. 585 (dirt) and go 4.4 miles to campground sign. Turn left into South Mineral campground. It's incredibly beautiful here! Along the dirt road to the campground, there are several "dispersed" camping sites where you can camp for free.

Also, when you're driving back into CO from UT, you'll pass through a town called Palisade. They have some really fantastic wineries here and there are fruit stands where you can stop and buy peaches.

And on Day 15, make sure you go up Mnt. Evans early. Afternoon thunderstorms are NOT something you want to experience on top of a mountain.

Have fun!

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5. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

Having lived in Grand Junction, the Colorado Monument was one of my favorite spots to take visitors - but if you only plan to "drive through", no stopping or hiking, I would say drive onto Glenwood Springs. Your daughter will love the huge hot springs pool and it's slide. Just be sure to take your sunscreen and apply it often. I got my worst sunburn ever when we were up there in March - temp's in the 40's and snow still on the ground! The amusement park up the hill in Glenwood is a lot of fun too.

Have to agree with the earlier post on Moab and Arches - beautiful spots, but they are in the desert and HOT in June and July. Inside the park you have to drive quite a distance between the different arches, and then have to hike a ways to get close to them. It can easily be over 100 that time of year. If you really want to see this area be there as the sun rises, because you won't want to be out there after noon.

Palisade is a very quaint little town, the wineries are wonderful (and unlike wineries in CA most still do tastings for FREE!), but you will be there too early for the local fruit stands. Their prime time for peaches is mid-August.

In Colorado Springs may I suggest you add the USA Olympic Training Center to your list? The tour is Free and it is very interesting. Athletes are there year round training - you may even see one of your favorites! At the base of Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs is such a pretty little town. The natural springs are located all around town and it is fun to take a little paper cup with you to taste the different naturally carbonated spring waters (another free activity - pick up a map of the town and where the springs are at the visitor center). Fill an empty water bottle with your favorite spring water!

I could go on and on about all the wonderful things to do here in Colorado - you will have a wonderful time!!! :) Enjoy!

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6. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

Just my opinion here, but it seems as though you are spending most of your time just driving from place to place, and very little time doing things. I think Mesa Verde needs more of your time than one day. There are some amazing things to see there, but they can not be seen and appreciated by driving by them. You met get out of the car, walk to them, and take a guided tour with the rangers.

Columbia, Maryland
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7. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

This is my opinion from when we took a road trip through CO, UT, and AZ.

You can't go to Durango/Silverton without riding the train. The scenery is beautiful and cannot be seen without taking the train. You can ride one way and bus the other or combine a train/jeep tour. In my opioion, it is a better trip going from Durango to Silverton by train. Sit on the right side of the train. If you go from Silverton to Durango, sit on the left side. Check out the web site for options. http://www.durangotrain.com/

In one day you can take in plenty at Mesa Verde. You can cover one of the 2 mesas. There are 2 mesas - Chapin and Wetherill. Pick one, get tickets for one of the ranger guided tours at one of the sites on whichever mesa you choose, then drive the loops stopping at the identified sites as you drive around the loop. We covered Chapin mesa in one day and had plenty of time to stop at everything and take a few short hikes to sites. Chapin Mesa also has a museum. http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm

With all you are going to see, you can skip Garden of the gods. You will see plenty of rock formations and colored rocks in your roadtrip. You may even feel "rocked" out by the end you will see so many colorful formations and varying geolgy. IMO Garden of the gods is a good place to go if you are not going further west and staying in the Denver/Colorado Springs area. But if you are going further west, you can skip it, particularly if you are going to take in the Colorado National Monument. A drive trip through the monument stopping at the various viewpoints is worth it on a road trip like yours.

Edited: 9:09 am, February 08, 2012
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for Wisconsin, Colorado Springs
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8. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

True you'll be seeing a lot but I do think as long as you're there Garden of the Gods is a must see for Colorado Springs. If you only even take a ten minute drive through it you've gotten an idea what it's all about. If you have some more time you can get out here and there, take pictures and hike.

Colorado Springs...
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9. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

It's not a good idea to go to 14000 ft on your first day in Colorado, let your body adjust to 6500 ft for a couple days.

Uden, The...
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10. Re: Itinerary - Am I completely crazy?

Your trip is well planned but I agree with the previous poster going up to 14000' is tricky coming from the lowlands. Also 2 days for the drive between OH and CO is pushing it (depending on where you come from in OH) with a pop up trailer.

I also would not want to miss the Durango Silverton rr. Train first and bus back.

Don't forget to climb Moki Dugway between Monument Valley and Moab via ut261. One full day for Mesa Verde was enough for us. Don't miss Cliff Palace and/or Balcony House.