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14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

England
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14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

Hi,

We are planning 2 week touring holiday starting from Denver in late June 14 and have outlined the following areas. We previously visited Vagas,Zion,Bryce, Grand Canyon and thought the route below would take us to new areas.

Denver,Black Canyon of Gunnison Telluride and Ouray, Durango, Mese Verde National Park Monument Valley, Arches,Moab, The Canyonlands, Aspen,

Based on this route can you offer any additional areas we could visit.

We both enjoy the national parks,scenic and historic sights.

Thanks for any suggestions or help get the most from our 14 days

Axima.

WestSlope,CO
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1. Re: 14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

Welcome to the Colorado forums! You've come to the right place for lots of great suggestions, as there are plenty of Colorado lovers who have made similar trips. There is also a road trip forum. What you have outlined looks like a good trip to me, and you won't have time to add much else! Maybe visit Redstone while you're near Aspen. But when you start mapping your drive times and things you want to do and see, you'll find that you may even need to cut back a little. Will you have 14 days plus your arrival day and departure day so 14 full days to travel? Or will it be 12 days plus arrival day and departure day? On a "perfect" trip, how long would you prefer to drive in a day? If you can fill in that information, I (and others) can help you fill in your itinerary with suggested stops, things to do, and how much time you'll need at various spots. Reading through some forum posts is also a great place to get ideas, as you probably already know.

There's lots of great scenery and history all along your route. Because of the drive time from Denver to the area you want to visit, one suggestion would be to consider flying in to Grand Junction (or possibly Albuquerque, Montrose, or Durango) to start your loop. But Denver is a good starting point if you want to see some of the city for a day or two, and you like scenic drives. It is often the least expensive flight option. It will take you approximately 6 hours (and a full tank of gas or more, depending on what kind of car you get) to get from the airport to Montrose, depending on traffic and how many times you stop to sightsee.

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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2. Re: 14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

14 days not including flight days, plenty to see and do along the loop you have planned.

1 - arrive Denver. Stay in Denver that night

2 - Denver to Buena Vista/Salida area. Stop in Fairplay to see South Park City a restored mining town/museum. See St Elmo ghost town. Either stay that area for the night, nice hot springs Mt Princeton there as well. OR afternoon drive to Gunnison CO.

3. To Black Canyon of Gunnison and on to Ouray for the night

4. Ouray day

5. Day trip to Telluride, back to Ouray for night

6. Drive to Durango via Silverton, stay in Durango

7 Take train to Silverton if you want, or do rafting, fishing etc or skip this and add a day at the end to Denver.

8. Mesa Verde all day. Try to get lodging inside the park at Farview Lodge, or stay in Cortez.

9. To Monument Valley. Stay there or head up into UT toward Moab. Bluff or Blanding???

10. To Moab. See Arches for sunset

11. Arches

12 Canyonlands

13 To Aspen

14 Aspen to Denver

15 Depart

WestSlope,CO
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3. Re: 14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

I often recommend a combination trip on the Silverton train for good use of time...in roughly the same amount of time it takes to ride the train to Silverton and back to Durango, you can ride the train one way and take a jeep tour, which includes a ride out to Animas Forks ghost town and awesome mountain scenery and mining history.

The whole San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway loop is full of awesome scenery and western US history.

You might consider reversing the order of your trip, going to Aspen then to Moab first, then Monument Valley, and then back through SW Colorado and the Black Canyon then back to Denver. A jeep tour in Ouray (or Telluride) is almost mandatory, and visiting toward the end of your trip would give you a better chance of viewing some wildflowers in the high country.

One thing to note and plan around would be the Telluride Bluegrass Festival June 19-22, I believe. It draws a huge crowd and is lots of fun if you are attending, but not so much fun if you are just a casual visitor trying to see the town. Book early to attend; avoid if not. telluride.com/telluride-bluegrass-festival

As CasaAzul notes, staying at Far View Lodge in Mesa Verde is very convenient so that you can make the most of your time and attend a ranger program in the evening. It is a bit of a drive up on to the Mesa. You need to allow a full day there, or at least a few hours one afternoon and a full morning the next day. If you don't stay in the park, there's lodging in Cortez, a few places in Mancos, and lots of people choose to stay an extra night in Durango...but if you're going on to Monument Valley, it would be backtracking too much to go back to Durango, IMO.

In Monument Valley, I highly recommend taking a tour or even two...maybe a sunset tour and a morning tour, with an overnight in between at The View or Gouldings. You can get good views just by driving by on the highway, but you can't take a rental car in to Monument Valley due to the road conditions. (I personally would not take my own passenger car in, either. On our tour, our driver had to call for help for someone who was stuck in the sand.) And taking a tour will give you so much more information about the history and culture. We don't often take organized tours, but I can tell you that the tour I took in Monument Valley was one of the best experiences of my life. We did a sunset tour with Navajo Spirit Tours. I'm sure some of the other tour operators provide good service, as well, but I can personally recommend Navajo Spirit and they are well reviewed here on Trip Advisor.

Edge of the Cedars State Park and Museum is well worth a stop if you have time as you pass through Blanding.

…utah.gov/park/edge-of-the-cedars-state-park…

If you have time, (and physical ability to walk up and down a bunch of steps to get to where the boat docks) the Morrow Point Boat Tour is a nice introduction to the Black Canyon. You'll definitely want to do the South Rim drive, stopping at several overlooks. There are short walks to overlooks and a couple of nature trails suitable for most everyone (along with some only for very experienced hikers).

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

www.nps.gov/blca/planyourvisit/things2do.htm

In the Moab area, Dead Horse Point State Park provides some awesome views into the Canyonlands area. (We've stayed at Inca Inn, which is a very good budget option, and also Red Cliffs Lodge, which is further from town and would be a nice place to stay for a night on your way out of Moab. Be sure to see the small movie museum there even if you don't stay the night.) You need at least two nights in Moab and 3 is usually recommended.

There are a number of good small museums in the area, and Ouray & Telluride are National Historic Districts. Montrose has the Museum of the Mountain West, the Montrose Historical Museum, and the Ute Indian Museum. Ridgway has a Railroad Museum, there's a Ranching Museum at Colona, and history museums at Ouray and Telluride. If you are a western movie fan, the area around Ridgway has been in several films, most notably the original True Grit with John Wayne and How the West Was Won with Debbie Reynolds. At Ridgway, I always recommend a stop to see the magnificent eagle statue at the Dennis Weaver Memorial Park. The Ridgway State Park visitor center is worth a stop if you have time, if only for the beautiful views of the San Juan Mountain range to the south.

ridgwaycolorado.com/business-directory/…

http://mountainwestmuseum.com/

http://ridgwaycolorado.com/things-to-do/

historycolorado.org/museums/ute-indian-museu…

Sounds like you might be driving through Grand Junction at some point in your trip, and that's where you'll find Colorado National Monument, another historical museum, dinosaur digs and museum (for a little ancient history!) and wine and fruit country at Palisade, plus a nice downtown with Art on the Corner.

http://www.nps.gov/colm/index.htm

http://www.palisadetourism.com/

A few more links for the Aspen/Redstone/Glenwood and North Fork Valley area:

http://www.redstonecolorado.com/

http://hotelcolorado.com/history

http://marbletourismassociation.org/

allaspen.com/history_museums/ashcroft_ghost_…

http://paoniachamber.com/

Ummm, did you say you have a month of vacation? ;)

I've jumped around a bit as I thought of things....but maybe some of this will get you started on narrowing down the things that are "musts" and the things that are "maybes" for your interests and the time you have.

Edited: 12:32 pm, January 06, 2014
England
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4. Re: 14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

Many thanks for the information and suggestions.

As we have visited Denver before and also arrive late from UK we thought stay one night near airport and depart next morning.

The Telluride-bluegrass-festival is something we would endevour to get to, our first experience of blue glass was the Galax festival, we happened to be close by when it was on. Good fun.

Thanks

Edited: 2:43 pm, January 07, 2014
WestSlope,CO
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5. Re: 14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

Here's ticket information:

http://www.bluegrass.com/telluride/

And you'd need to be booking lodging fairly soon.

Edited: 6:51 pm, January 07, 2014
England
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6. Re: 14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

Thanks for the good ideas, we have reversed our route, so now have planned the first part of the trip and now in Ouray for 2/3 days, after Ouray we have 3/.4 days to get back to Denver. We thought may be via Montrose / Salida route, again we welcome any ideas to complete the final leg.

Have arranged to stop in Moab and Monument but miss out on Tellride festival, just visit the town after the event.

Many thanks

Axima

Denver, Colorado
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7. Re: 14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

Even as a local, I'm envious of your itinerary and the amount of time you have to explore. :)

As a side note, if you wish to stop and visit with a fellow countryman, may I recommend a stop for breakfast or lunch in the tiny ghost town of Como (along Hwy 285 toward Fairplay and Salida). The Brit expat owner/manager/restorer of the Como Depot B&B and restaurant was a wonderful host during our one night stay last October. And the "English Breakfast" option was hearty and quite tasty!

8. Re: 14 Day drive tour from Denver to Utah

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