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Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

Delray Beach...
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Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

We are visiting Denver for the 1st time from South FL.

32m 29f couple. We have 2 full days to spend in Denver area Dec. 11th & 12th before heading out to Vail (13th) for 4 days ski then returning on the 17th.

We are interested in Craft Beers & Hiking for our time in Denver. (staying at Best Western Plus East of Downtown). We'd like to visit New Belgium Brewery tour & Odells (Fort Collins), Oskar Blues Grill & Avery.

considering 2 options below. keep in mind that we are new to denver. not used to driving in mountains/winter.

1. start with New Belgium (11 am tour)/Odells first then via 34 still visit the Estes Park (Bear Lake) then via 36 to Oskar Blues to Lyons/Longmont. is this too much to fit in? perhaps not enough time in RMNP? or

2. start with RMNP first? Denver to Peak to Peak Byway (PTPB) visiting Wild Basin, Lily Lake on the way to Estes Park then to Bear Lake area. Can we still get to Fort Collins via 34 by 4/5 pm?

We plan to visit Boulder Area & Downtown area the next day. Avery, Great Divide Brewing is on our list. please recommand other must visit brewpubs. TY

Windsor, Colorado
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1. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

Dec. 11 Bear Lake "hiking" may very well be snowshoeing and at a minimum icy requiring traction devices assuming Mother Nature blesses us with more snow. Bear Lake Road is undergoing reconstruction and is a one lane dirt road in places. You can have an hour or more in construction delays although based on my experience and from talking to others, delays have been no more than 40 minutes total on the round trip. I would still skip Bear Lake for these reasons and time constraints.

No, you have not allowed enough time for RMNP. It is a full day trip to travel the Peak to Peak, tour RMNP and get back to Denver. Here is a link for this trip from the Top Questions in both the RMNP and Denver forums. There are time estimates in the narrative.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143048-i3489-k498…

The last tour of the day at New Belgium (voted #1 brewery tour in the country by TA) is 4:30 pm. You would need to leave Estes Park by 3:00 pm.

If you leave Denver at 8 am, you have 7 hours to work with.

Denver to Peak to Peak by way of Central City Parkway (exit 243 off I-70) to Estes--2 3/4 hours. I would do this route since you are planning Boulder for your other day. To save time, grab lunch to go in Estes at Peppers (intersection of 34/36) or Subway (same intersection in Stanley Village behind McDonalds)

Follow the day trip itinerary for RMNP up to paragraph 8 which begins "If you are ready for a lunch break." Skip paragraph 9--"Back in RMNP" entirely. You probably will have time for the loop through the road to the Fern Lake/Cub Lake Trailheads mentioned in paragraph 10. This is on the lower portion of Bear Lake Road and is not in the construction zone.

By 3:00 head down highway 34 and very dramatic Big Thompson Canyon to Fort Collins. Look for big horn sheep in the canyon.

You should have time for all the walks and stops mentioned.

Yes, I realize this can be confusing. It will help if you print the itinerary and if you look at the RMNP map at www.nps.gov/romo under park tools.

As the itinerary states, do check www.cotrip.org for up to date road conditions. You can view the roads in some locations by clicking on the camera icons on the map.

You can easily go to Oskar Blues in Lyons or do the tour at Oskar Blues Tasty Weasel in Longmont as part of your Boulder day. That would not leave much day time for Denver, but you would have the evening and night.

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2. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

Just a reminder that New Belgium -- you have to reserve a spot for their tours AND they fill up fast!

I just booked a last minute trip to Denver for next weekend! Trying to fit in a night at Estes Park on our 3 day/2 night trip!

If you want to give yourself some time and if it's not freezing, Ft. Collins has a free bike rental option where you can get the bike and bike to the various breweries in town -- kind of awesome. :-)

Delray Beach...
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3. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

Thank you so much! CHEERS!

Windsor, Colorado
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4. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

There are some closed areas in RMNP due to the Fern Lake fire. Even now, most of the route I outlined for you in reply #1 is open. With snow forecasted for this weekend, more of the park will most likely be open by the time of your trip.

nps.gov/romo/naturescience/currentfires.htm

Delray Beach...
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5. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

Thanks again for ur advices. few more questions. Q1 is Denver to Peak to Peak by way of Central City Parkway (exit 243 off I-70) to Estes--2 3/4 hours. faster or easier than Boulder - 119 - PTPB? Seems shorter distance via Boulder.

Q2 is Fern Lake/Cup Lake area trails worth a visit with recent fires? any areas we should skip due to recent fire?

Q3 is 34 open from Estes Park to Ft. Collins?

This is for Tuesday 12/11/2012 Day trip. TY

so far we planning Wild Basin, Chapel, Lily Lake stops to Estes Park. Explore Fall River area then 1hr horseback riding at O'Dells (*livingsocial $19/person). Leave Estes Park by 2 or 2:30 pm for our New Belgium Brewery Tour @4pm. Feasable so far?

We are visiting Odells Brewing then Oskar Blues Liquids & Solids on the way back to Denver for our 1st day in Denver.

colorado
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6. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

Fern Lake area trails are closed. The fire is actually still burning (88% contained) Bear Lake road is closed. There are many good trails in the Northern portion of the park around EndoValley. Driving peak to peak will take about 3 hrs. Defintely not faster but really pretty. Hwy 34 is open down to Loveland but then you need to drive north about 20-30 minutes to Ft. Collins. Hwy. 34 does not go into Ft. Collins. Sounds like too full a day for me. I

Windsor, Colorado
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7. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

There is little time difference going 36 to Boulder and 119 through Boulder Canyon to Nederland and 72/7 to Estes Park as opposed to taking the Central City Parkway. There will be much more traffic going through Boulder and since you were planning to visit Boulder your next day, I thought would like a different scenic route. There was significant snow along the Peak to Peak between Nederland and past Ward this weekend. At www.cotrip.org you can see highway 72 at Ward by clicking the live camera icon on the road conditions map.

Bear Lake Road is closed for the Fern Lake Fire and you can not get to the Fern Lake/Cub Lake loop right now.

There is not that much to see at Wild Basin without doing some walking. Since the road has reverted to winter status, it is now 1.3 miles one way to Copeland Falls. I am not sure you will have time for this.

If it is not icy and I do not think it will be due to sun exposure (there was snow at Lily Lake over the weekend), take the Lily Ridge Trail for some great views. Benches at the top help mark the trail.

Do not miss the Alluvial Fan in Endovalley. Trail Ridge Road is open to Many Parks Curve and is definitely worth the drive. Both are mentioned in the itinerary as part of the Fall River Entrance directions. Lumpy Ridge is also easily accessed from Fall River Road/highway 34 bypass. Make a right hand turn onto MacGregor Avenue past the Stanley. The short drive to the trailhead has impressive views of these massive boulders. Note the balanced rocks from the parking lot. You could take this brief detour on your way to the Fall River Entrance to RMNP.

Yes, highway 34 down through very dramatic Big Thompson Canyon is open. This is not part of RMNP and is not impacted by the fire and there was no snow along this route.

Windsor, Colorado
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8. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

Route I would take to New Belgium from Estes Park--less traffic than 34 all the way to 287(College Avenue)

http://mapq.st/T18x1z

Edited: 11:00 am, December 10, 2012
Windsor, Colorado
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9. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

kadeycat is correct about you planning too much for one day. Adding the horseback ride, I would leave Denver by no later than 7:00 am. You can take highway 36 all the way from Denver to Estes Park and it is much quicker than the Peak to Peak but you sacrifice the great scenery.

Peak to Peak with stop at St. Malo church and walk at Lily Lake. 3 3/4 hours

Lumpy Ridge then Fall River Entrance to Alluvial Fan (walk to waterfall) and Trail Ridge Road to Many Parks Curve then back through Beaver Meadows Entrance to Estes Park. 2 hours

Delray Beach...
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10. Re: Please Help with Day trip to Estes Park & RMNP from Denver

TY so much. we do believe it might be too much for one day so decided to sacrifice PTPB. Revised plan: highway 36 all the way from Denver to Estes. Lumpy Ridge then Fall River Entrance to Alluvial Fan (walk to waterfall) and Trail Ridge Road to Many Parks Curve then back through Beaver Meadows Entrance to Estes Park. 2 hours. 1hr horseback riding O'Dells. Leave Estes Park by 2 or 2:30 pm via 34 for our New Belgium Brewery Tour @4pm. Odells Brewing then Oskar Blues Liquids & Solids on the way back to Denver.

Looking foward to our 1st Day in Denver! Appreciate all the advices you all are TA Angels, CHEERS!

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