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Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

McMinnville, Oregon
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Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

My mother and I are planning a trip to Colorado/New Mexico in October and I'm beginning to get everything set.

We are attending the Ducks/Buffaloes football game on October 5th and then would like to be in Albuquerque by Wednesday evening, the 9th, to spend a few days at the balloon festival before flying home on Saturday the 12th.

So this is just a thought:

Saturday: Boulder

Sunday: Grand Junction

Monday: Mesa Verde

Tuesday: Taos

Wednesday-Saturday: Albuquerque

Mom likes history, I like great food and scenery. We both like the outdoors and will want a few short (easy) hikes.

Suggestions for a better itinerary? I would also consider putzing around the Denver area for a few days and then flying to Albuquerque on Wednesday if that's a better option. We do like road trips though. Neither of us has been to Colorado but my mother has been to NM once.

I appreciate any ideas!

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1. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

Aspen in October is the most stunning thing you will ever see...Maroon Bells and Aspen trees just about to turn. AMAZING. Glenwood Canyon is also stunning and very dramatic. Further south is the Great Sand Dunes (http://www.nps.gov/grsa/index.htm) Near the sanddunes there are many hot springs with stunning views. Buena Vista is also a local favorite.

Edited: 12:32 am, May 21, 2013
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2. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

No offense to Albuquerque but there isn't that much to do there. Hopefully you plan on spending some time in Santa Fe.

Personally I think going all the way out to grand junction then back basically is a lot of driving for that short of period.

Do you arrive in Boulder on Saturday? You are so close to Rocky Mountain National Park at that point you should do that. The elk will be in rut. It's the best time to go there in my opinion.

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McMinnville, Oregon
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3. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

The sole reason for including Albuquerque is for the hot air balloon festival. Since weather can affect when the balloons are able to launch, I don't want to hedge my bets with a shorter time frame there and miss seeing a mass ascension due to bad weather.

I think the reason for Grand Junction was just routing on an interstate - not necessarily to go there. Mesa Verde looks like a great stop on the way to ABQ - but I don't want to drive all the way to MV in one day. Is Hwy 82/133 a do-able route? Or is 24/285 better? Maybe we skip Mesa Verde...

We will actually fly into Denver on Friday - NCAA doesn't announce game times until closer to the game so flying in on Saturday might be too risky. I'll get us an early flight Friday and we can spend the day in RMNP - we're just coming from Portland so there are directs that will get us there early enough to sightsee.

Thanks both of you for the suggestions and help!

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4. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

That's right - forgot you were wanting to do the balloons.

As far as interstate...... I-25 is a straight shot south while Grand Junction is way west. Not even remotely on the way. Maybe I'm missing something..... From Boulder Grand Junction and Mesa Verde are not on the way to ABQ. I live just out of Boulder. When we go to Grand Junction it's pretty much an all day drive.

We've also driven to ABQ and it can be reached in a one day drive as well. Long day but can be done.

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McMinnville, Oregon
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5. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

Our final destination is ABQ but we don't have to take the most direct route. When I plan a road trip, I try to plan no more than 4 hours drive each day; the goal is to see interesting sights in Colorado with the most beautiful route possible. It's just hard to judge from a Google map which route might be the most scenic and/or navigable. Technically, Mesa Verde isn't on the way from Denver but it looked like a very interesting stop and worth the "scenic route" ...maybe it's not?

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Windsor, Colorado
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6. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

Friday, take this route to Estes Park and RMNP and then back to Boulder. Avoid E-470 around DIA in a rental car or pay a hefty daily surcharge from the rental company. You will travel through very dramatic Big Thompson Canyon on your way to Estes Park (between west Loveland and Estes) and then along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway and Boulder Canyon back to Boulder. You might want to spend the night in Estes Park on Friday night. It is during elk rut and they will be everywhere.

http://mapq.st/10j5FCK

This is a good itinerary for RMNP in one day. The Moraine Park Visitor Center mentioned will be closed. Old Fall River Road will depend on the weather. Trail Ridge Road up to the Alpine Visitor Center does not usually close for the season until around October 23 but can and often closes earlier due to weather. The Alpine Visitor Center is open until about the second Monday in October.

www.rmnp.com/RMNP-Things-RockyInADay.HTML

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7. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

Well, Boulder to Grand Junction is definitely more than a 4 hour trip. It is hard to judge by looking at a map. Keep in mind that because of mountain driving, it takes longer to get places.

If you want to go west on I-70 I would cut down on either route you asked about above. I wouldn't go to Grand Junction. Either route then going south would be very scenic, especially that time of year. Just keep in mind possible weather and once you get off I-70 your pace will also be much slower. Well frankly, traffic on I-70 seems to have gotten bad year around and weekends will be even worse.

Your original plan is just a lot of driving not leaving you much time to really see things.

Also, just in case you aren't aware - the weekend of that football game is also Family Weekend. So it will be packed in Boulder. The University is already telling families to make reservations now. So if you haven't done that yet, I'd get on that asap.

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8. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

With about a 4 hour driving time (not exploring time) interval between overnight stops, this is the scenic route through Colorado I would take.

http://mapq.st/12JyY10

Sunday - Boulder to Redstone by way of Glenwood Springs. Overnight Redstone. Check Avalanche Ranch or if you enjoy historic properties, Redstone Inn. In Glenwood Springs, take the Hanging Lake hike. Along I-70 (probably the most scenic interstate in the U.S.), there are numerous places to stop. Vail is great for a stroll.

Monday - Redstone along the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway, part of Curecanti, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park to Ouray (Little Switzerland of America). There are numerous short walks and a short hike at the end along the south rim of Black Canyon National Park. www.nps.gov/blca

Do not miss the overlook at Pioneer Point along the Curecanti.

www.nps.gov/cure/planyourvisit/maps.htm

There are plenty of lodging places in Ouray and the hot springs pool plus wonderful scenery and some short hikes from town.

ouraycolorado.com/ouray-activities/Hiking.php

Tuesday - Ouray to Mesa Verde along the San Juan Skyway and Million Dollar Highway considered some of the most spectacular scenery in Colorado. Overnight Far View Lodge Mesa Verde. www.nps.gov/meve

Wednesday - More time for Mesa Verde and drive to Albuquerque.

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McMinnville, Oregon
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9. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

Wow - thank you very much for the detail and taking the time to map it (and RMNP) for me! I'll get going on further research tonight when I'm not supposed to be working!

What is E-470? A toll road?

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10. Re: Boulder to Albuquerque Itinerary Help

Yes, E-470 is a toll road around DIA and people complain all the time about the surcharges rental car companies assess in addition to the toll. The route I gave you in the mapquest link from DIA to Estes Park avoids the toll road.

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