If you are looking to just stay the night north of Amarillo, you might consider Dumas. They have a very nice city park with hookups and you can make a donation for the night's stay. The park is on the north side of the road just about two blocks after you turn west to go to Dalhart on Hwy 87. That is a fairly easy run from Dallas on the first day and gets you on your way easily.
I would agree that your trip has a lot of travel in it and not many days for relaxing and fishing/hiking. Any way you go, we wish you safe and happy travels.
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If my final destination was Denver , I would get up to CO as fast as possible. If you live in Dallas, you are close enough for a long weekend trip to the Amarillo area and could do that some other time.
Just high tail it up thru Amarillo , thru Raton and on north from there.
The area around Salida and Buena Vista is awesome with the Arkansas river being there and the trout fishing can be great (depending on run off. You could head over to Gunnison and fish the Gunny and it's tributaries
You could also head on up to Breckenridge/Frisco area and stay at Tiger Run or the NF service campground close by. Good fish around there also.
Of course we love CO and usually spend several months there in the summer , so I'm prejudiced. If you had a couple of weeks , I would take in SW CO , but unless you want to spend more time driving than enjoying the outdoors , then I would pick a general area and enjoy it for a few days.
Have Fun !
Mark and Priscilla
98 HR ENDEAVOR 37 WDS Diesel
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I'm rethinking the route and it's probably best to run up thru Raton over to Cimarron canyon thru Taos and up thru Chama - or go to one place in upper area of Taos and camp out. this way I stay at the top of the state and work my way thru Colorado. Probably up thru Salida ( I think, I have no idea where yet)
Sounds like a great idea--but for July, not May. Sorry to rain on your parade, but Wolf Creek Pass and Cumbres Pass get some of the heaviest snowfalls in Colorado. Even the Chama to Antonito Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad doesn't begin running this year until May 26 (maybe, depending on snow) and they will have to run their rotary snowplow first. As mentioned by others, the highway over Cumbres Pass is steep, very winding, and slow, and could also be icy and snowpacked in mid-May. May and June are our wettest months and I have been snowed on during the second weekend in June, July 4, the first weekend in August, and Labor Day weekend in the nearly 50 years I have lived in Colorado. So don't leave Dallas expecting summer weather in the Colorado mountains!
On the "glass half-full" side however, once you get to Antonito, the roads are flat, straight, and fast (and not very scenic) all the way to Salida (except for the last few winding miles over Poncha Pass). US 285 through South Park is also fast, straight, and not very scenic. It's the Trout Creek Pass, Kenosha Pass, and Platte Canyon portions of US 285 that are steep, winding, slow, and very heavily trafficked, even during the week. So, if you need to be in Denver at a specific time, leave plenty of time for those portions of the route. They always take longer than you would estimate by looking at the mileage and the speed limit (too many trucks, trailers, and motorhomes with toads (!) to stay at the speed limit for any length of time on the hills and in the curves). It is probably the most frustrating road in the state (besides I-25 between Fountain and Fort Collins at rush hour) for locals to get home on time for dinner.
But, other than that good news, enjoy Colorado!
PS--most of the Forest Service campgrounds around Salida and all around Breckenridge are closed until the end of May!
* This post was
edited 01/23/12 01:14pm by fanrgs *
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Not to rain further on your parade, but last May there was great camping at San Angelo State Park and Lake Meredith NRA (north and south of Amarillo), however, both lakes were bone dry! Newbie to camping and want to make a bee-line to/from Denver without finding a campsite? Check out freecampgrounds.com and also the Colorado highway rest areas at CDOT.Com. Texas also has some great rest areas to overnight, probably on TDOT or TexasTravel or some website.