Not to over use an earlier post -- but this will provide you with just a few of many things to see an do in Colorado;
Will pose this as another option to the easy straight forward drive to Moab, or Mesa Verde NP
Colorado, and the many options for a trip.
Let me start off by saying that IMHO Colorado offers as much Adventure and Beauty as any part of the country – add to that that is very close to the center of the US and it’s exceptional weather make it a great destination vacation.
In my first dozen plus trips to Colorado I usually traveled to RMNP and Colorado Springs. Having spent most of my life either on the left coast or the right coast I actually only did the touristy drive through when going from one coast to the other. I never really was able to spend much time just being immersed in the culture or the people and land of the state. Having seen the Coors commercials I was under the impression that Golden was a town located deep in the Rockies – not just 15 minutes from downtown Denver. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered this and so much more about the state when my son moved there in 2002.
With my truth in a very limited -knowledge, on the state of Colorado I will move forward with my personal suggestions for a week or two in Colorado – a sort of 7-17 days to see the state.
As I write this the price of fuel is at an all time high so the thought is to try to park the RV or create a Base Camp and travel out from there in the Toad/TV.
Most people will start in Rocky Mountain NP – I am sure most are aware of the Pine Beetle Kill – it has decimated the beautiful green forest of RMNP – making it a very different trip from what it was just 5-6 years ago. Still it is RMNP and it does have some very impressive natural features and hikes to offer. IMHO Estes is (the east side of the park – where most visit) just not that attractive in the tourist season. The Camp Grounds leave much to be desired and the town is much to crowded for my personal taste. With that said I love to visit and spend time on the other side of the park – WEST- at Grand Lake a smaller town with still a sort of quaint feel about it, much more family oriented and not nearly as crowded. The drive from one side of the park to the other over Trail Ridge is not to be missed – the many hiking areas away from the crowds are many and varied – from Longs Peaks- 14,000’+ to many of the hikes to lesser known peaks and lakes, more than enough to spend the entire trip on and only scratch the surface.
Peak to Peak drive is the next thing I would insist that you experience – for me I would base camp in Golden and make this drive a couple of times, or make the loop across Trail Ridge and Berthoud Pass – not a drive for the faint of heart as both offer switch backs and areas free from guard rails on some very impressive grades to get over and down from these Passes.
With Golden Clear Creek CG as my base you could option to go into the town of Denver or Boulder both are full of adventures on there own. Leaving Golden I would head out Rt 6 to I-70 getting off at Rt 91 and heading to Leadville, Highest incorporated Town in the US 10,000’and home of Quincy’s Steak House for a Leadville dinner. Turquoise Lake, 4X4 trails, historic town, and base for a day trip over Independence Pass and a dash to Maroon Bells in Aspen. This trip is good anytime the pass is open but is truly spectacular in the last week of September when the Aspen turn GOLD.
From Leadville down to Buena Vista – home of the Arkansas River Rafting adventures – great in the early summer with the snow melt. If you have missed the rafting at it’s peak not to worry as the trails and drives in the Collegiate Peaks are again very special, you can get all the way over to Crested Butte – a very neat little ski town – by 4X4 or gravel road.
Just a note here – the beetle kill is starting to leave its mark in this part of the state – so my advice is to see it NOW, before it changes forever.
Now for some difficult decisions – Gunnison area – Lake City – Ouray – Silverton – if you have the time all of the afore mentioned areas are special.
Gunnison – Crested Butte – Gunnison lake – Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP – Fly fishing – hikes -- 4X4ing.
Lake City – Just a special little town that still has a western charm that is hard to match – 4X4 trails to die for – hikes – lakes – 14ers – fish – Creede and on and on – its is just located in something close to an unspoiled paradise. JMHO.
Ouray – would be the logical base camp choice – central location – hot springs – CG – Near Silverton – more trails – Telluride just over the mountain – Hikes -- 4X4 trails just a great location and neat little town.
Silverton – in the middle of it all – if you are really into the back country this might just be for you – they have CG’s in town but you can easily Boondock in the NF – train – 4X4 trails – quaint – beautiful – but isolated.
Now if the weather is really cool you can always bounce over to Utah and warm up if its great and you need more Colorado head up to Delta and Rt 133, catch Marble and Redstone before getting back on I-70 two interesting areas with neat little history’s. If you did not get over to Maroon Bells catch it now – this is a great treat that I will never visit too often.
Now if you are headed west just follow the route into Moab – if you are headed back to Denver just take I-70 back – the over and under highway along the Colorado River just East of Glenwood Springs is considered one of the most beautiful parts on the Interstate Highway system and it will head through Vail and right back into Denver – If you can remember to get off at the exit just east of Idaho Springs you can take Rt 6 back to Rt 58 into the City.
Map did not print.
Keys to the map;
1- Golden Clear Creek CG 2 – Rt 6 3 – Nederland 4 – Estes Park 5 - Central City/Blackhawk 6 – Exit 244 to I-70 7 – Exit 195 to Rt91 to Leadville 8 – Leadville 9 – Twin Lakes to Rt 82 Independence Pass to Aspen/Maroon Bells 10 – Maroon Bells 11 - Buena Vista/Arkansas River Rafting and Collegiate Peaks 12 – Gunnison 13 – Lake City 14 – Near Cimarron access to Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP 15 – Ouray 16 – Silverton 17 – Delta access to Rt133 18 – Marble 19 – Redstone 20 – Exit 116 I-70 21 – Exit 133 Over Under Highway on I-70 22 – Exit 214 to Rt 128 and the Colorado River in Utah 23 - Moab
Hope this is of some help of some of the many options in Colorado. If you want to see even more -- you will need a lot more TIME.