Colorado Vacation

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MP173
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Colorado Vacation

Post by MP173 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:06 pm

Two years ago DW and I headed to Colorado for a week of vacation. We drove to and from and thru the state, staying at Rocky Mountain YMCA, Leadville, Panara, and Gunnison....basically a north central loop.

We are returning to Colorado and will be concentrating on south central area...we have two nights booked in Westcliffe, Co to use their observatory ( I am an amateur astronomer). It is a dark sky community.

What other recommendations do you have? We plan on arriving in the Colorado Springs area on Sunday morning/noon. Looking at the map, it seems a bit overwhelming with lots of mountains, small towns, etc.

We have booked a night at Mineral Hot Springs, which is south of Saluda and are thinking about staying in Creede.

Suggestions please?

Ed

Colorado13
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Location: Colorado

Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by Colorado13 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 1:11 pm

Hello Ed! Can you share a few more details about your interests in addition to astronomy? What time of year will you be visiting? Answers to those two questions will help us give you advice :-) There is a lot to do/see depending on your interests.

MP173
Posts: 1934
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by MP173 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 2:00 pm

Sorry for the lack of info.

Will be arriving first week of September, probably Sept 2nd.

Other interests - day trips with interesting towns or regions (yes, Colorado is covered with this), mineral hot springs, horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, antiques, wine, craft beer. No real adventures such as rock climbing, gliding, white water rafting, etc.

My wife and I did a 2 hour fly fishing with guide last trip and never caught anything, but she is interested. I like small streams, creeks, etc.

We mostly enjoy driving and exploring areas, small towns, etc.

Thanks for help.

ed

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fortfun
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by fortfun » Sun Aug 26, 2018 3:00 pm

MP173 wrote:
Sun Aug 26, 2018 2:00 pm
Sorry for the lack of info.

Will be arriving first week of September, probably Sept 2nd.

Other interests - day trips with interesting towns or regions (yes, Colorado is covered with this), mineral hot springs, horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, antiques, wine, craft beer. No real adventures such as rock climbing, gliding, white water rafting, etc.

My wife and I did a 2 hour fly fishing with guide last trip and never caught anything, but she is interested. I like small streams, creeks, etc.

We mostly enjoy driving and exploring areas, small towns, etc.

Thanks for help.

ed
Hi Ed,
The southern part of Colorado is in the middle of a drought right now. Fishing will probably not be good. It has been hot and no rain. Many creeks are dry. When in Creede, you should catch a play at the Creede repertory theatre. There is a lot of really good hiking in West Cliffe, Salida, Creede, (in the Sangre De Cristo's and San Juans). When in Colorado Springs, you might as well drive to the top of Pikes Peaks (since you are there). Mantiou Springs is a cool little town too. Garden of the Gods is worth a visit also. Salida has become a hip and upcoming place. Lots of microbrews, pizza places, etc. The Arkansas River is still running but way below normal. If possible, I'd recommend a drive down to Mesa Verde. The ruins there are amazing. If you make it, make sure to pay for the guided tours. Telluride and Ouray are amazing and can be visited on your way to Mesa Verde. Since you will be in the area, you might as well visit the Sand Dunes Ntl Park--it's really amazing! This is home for me, so feel free to private message if you want any specific information.

MP173
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by MP173 » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:21 pm

We stopped at Salida two years ago and our impression was the same - young and hip. It is on the list of possible places to stay. So far we have 2 nights in Westcliffe, and one at Mineral Hot Springs. My wife really wants to soak in the springs. She is searching for a more natural spring area.

Not sure if we will make it to Mesa Verde or not. The two nights of observing (hoping for clear skys) is taking up a chunk of location and time. We will have two days to work the area around Westcliffe.

I am also a railfan and am considering running down to Raton Pass to watch/photo the Amtrak thru the pass. We rode the Royal Gorge train last trip and while there are a number of scenic train rides in Colorado, that is something I really do not wish to invest time in.

Looking in the Nathrop area, but those look like minimum of 2 nights stay which doesnt fit our schedule.

Ed

mizchief
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by mizchief » Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:28 pm

There is a great wolf sanctuary near Westcliffe. Mission Wolf, http://www.missionwolf.org/ They give free tours and visiting is also free, but they run on donations . The place has a lot of solar power and greenhouses, so it is interesting beyond the wolves. You can camp there too. We volunteered for several hours, moving brush and cutting up meat for the wolves. We also camped. It was an amazing experience!

kayakprof
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by kayakprof » Sun Aug 26, 2018 6:10 pm

Maybe stop in Pagosa Springs for some hot soaking, Telluride for the views, and Durango for the all-around experience. Durango has a rafting river going through town with a 20ish mile flat bike trail following the river and a friendly downtown with lots to do. The Durango-Silverton railroad is a four hour ride through the back country on a steam powered narrow gauge train. Both Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon are 1.5 hour drives. You can horseback ride and fly fish near Purgatory ski resort, zip down to Navajo Lake for a day-long boat rental, downhill bike at Purg, or spend the day biking along the Durango river trail hitting the several local restaurants/pubs. Durango airport is great, and/or flights from Albuquerque (3.5 hours away) are inexpensive.

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fortfun
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by fortfun » Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:20 pm

MP173 wrote:
Sun Aug 26, 2018 5:21 pm
We stopped at Salida two years ago and our impression was the same - young and hip. It is on the list of possible places to stay. So far we have 2 nights in Westcliffe, and one at Mineral Hot Springs. My wife really wants to soak in the springs. She is searching for a more natural spring area.

Not sure if we will make it to Mesa Verde or not. The two nights of observing (hoping for clear skys) is taking up a chunk of location and time. We will have two days to work the area around Westcliffe.

I am also a railfan and am considering running down to Raton Pass to watch/photo the Amtrak thru the pass. We rode the Royal Gorge train last trip and while there are a number of scenic train rides in Colorado, that is something I really do not wish to invest time in.

Looking in the Nathrop area, but those look like minimum of 2 nights stay which doesnt fit our schedule.

Ed
Since you are a rail fan, I suggest a ride on the Cumbres and Toltec into Chama, NM. I think your wife would enjoy Chama.
https://cumbrestoltec.com/

RudyS
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by RudyS » Sun Aug 26, 2018 8:48 pm

About hot springs: Pagosa Springs have a sulfur content, Ouray and Glenwood Springs do not.

GuyInFL
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by GuyInFL » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:05 pm

Colorado Springs has a cool Hot Air Balloon festival over labor day weekend (1-3 Sep). I'd recommend that.
http://coloradospringslabordayliftoff.com/

That's also USAFA Parents weekend, so make sure you have reservations for lodging.

radiowave
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by radiowave » Sun Aug 26, 2018 10:28 pm

We just got back from a week get away in Grand Mesa, just east of Grand Junction. We loved it. Stayed in a cabin on a lake, hiked, went into GC for the day after a hike in Colorado National Monument, etc. Grand Mesa is at 10,000 ft and has 300 lakes with lots of fishing potential. There are several groups of cabins within a few miles of the Visitor Center. Temps in the low 50s at night and it never got above 75 while we were there. The Crag Crest trail is really nice about 7 miles total trip up to about 11,000 feet through spruce forest and alpine meadows. It's about 5 hours from Denver by I70. If you come via Colorado Spring, take the back way by Hwy 24 up through Buena Vista and over the pass via Aspen then to I70.

Note, it was near 100 degrees in Grand Junction last week and has been very smoky due to fires out west.
Bogleheads Wiki: https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Main_Page

Rob1
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by Rob1 » Mon Aug 27, 2018 12:33 am

I’ll second Telluride and Ouray, which is known as the Switzerland of America.

whiskeymike
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by whiskeymike » Mon Aug 27, 2018 7:05 pm

You're going to one of my favorite areas. I worked 4 summers on the Arkansas and everytime I drove through Westcliffe, I felt like I was home. It is probably my favorite valley in the US.
Given that you have done the northern loop and don't seem to mind driving, I would go to Westcliffe then to the Royal Gorge to see the bridge. The river will not be runnable, but the gorge is beautiful. From there to Salida for night. Then head to the Great Sand Dunes for a day trip. From there I would hike up one of the 14ers Princeton or Yale if the weather is good. I would then drive over Independence Pass to Aspen for a night. Probably go to the Glenwood Hot springs for an afternoon. After that if I had time I would visit the Black canyon (it's better kayaking it). Telluride is pretty far but this is the point where if you had time keep going because it's a very pretty box canyon in the the late summer.
Then make your way back to Colorado springs. Could hit Crested Butte and the Sand Dunes on the way back to Colorado Springs.
Enjoy. I am jealous.
wm

MP173
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Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:03 pm

Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by MP173 » Tue Aug 28, 2018 10:39 am

Thanks for all replies.

Here is tentative and definite itenerary:

Saturday - leave NW Indiana....overnight in North Plate, Nebr area
Sunday - NP to Colorado Springs to Salida area. Still working on accomodations. Places we want are booked. Looking for B&B or mountain inn.
Monday - explore area and stay at Mineral Hot Springs, Colorado.
Tuesday - open....trying to decide whether to return to Mountain Goat Lodge near Salida or venture south to Alamosa area.
Wed/thurs - Westcliffe - two days and nights. Observatory 2 nights. Hoping clear skys! Looking for day stuff to do.
Friday - open

Ed

baritone
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Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by baritone » Tue Aug 28, 2018 11:00 am

fortfun wrote:
Sun Aug 26, 2018 3:00 pm
MP173 wrote:
Sun Aug 26, 2018 2:00 pm
Sorry for the lack of info.

Will be arriving first week of September, probably Sept 2nd.

Other interests - day trips with interesting towns or regions (yes, Colorado is covered with this), mineral hot springs, horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, antiques, wine, craft beer. No real adventures such as rock climbing, gliding, white water rafting, etc.

My wife and I did a 2 hour fly fishing with guide last trip and never caught anything, but she is interested. I like small streams, creeks, etc.

We mostly enjoy driving and exploring areas, small towns, etc.

Thanks for help.

ed
Hi Ed,
The southern part of Colorado is in the middle of a drought right now. Fishing will probably not be good. It has been hot and no rain. Many creeks are dry. When in Creede, you should catch a play at the Creede repertory theatre. There is a lot of really good hiking in West Cliffe, Salida, Creede, (in the Sangre De Cristo's and San Juans). When in Colorado Springs, you might as well drive to the top of Pikes Peaks (since you are there). Mantiou Springs is a cool little town too. Garden of the Gods is worth a visit also. Salida has become a hip and upcoming place. Lots of microbrews, pizza places, etc. The Arkansas River is still running but way below normal. If possible, I'd recommend a drive down to Mesa Verde. The ruins there are amazing. If you make it, make sure to pay for the guided tours. Telluride and Ouray are amazing and can be visited on your way to Mesa Verde. Since you will be in the area, you might as well visit the Sand Dunes Ntl Park--it's really amazing! This is home for me, so feel free to private message if you want any specific information.
I endorse this and add Cripple Creek.

MP173
Posts: 1934
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:03 pm

Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by MP173 » Tue Aug 28, 2018 9:17 pm

We will be coming across from Limon to Colorado Springs and then to Salida and considered Cripple Creek as a side stop. Thanks for advice.

Ed

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wabbajack
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Location: Indianapolis

Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by wabbajack » Wed Aug 29, 2018 8:22 am

I've been on-and-off planning a trip to Colorado from Indianapolis. Flights to Denver are cheap, but rentals are expensive. The drive there is also brutal, but I would make it if I wanted to bring the dog along. Some questions I have for others who are experienced are:

- How long would it take to cover the highlights of the state? I'm thinking of Rocky Mountain all the way to Ouray, Mesa Verde, etc.
- I'm thinking of a trip late fall/early winter (Say November/December). What should I know about the weather and driving?

Edit: I just saw OP post that they're leaving from Indiana. How do you plan on managing the drive?

MP173
Posts: 1934
Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2007 6:03 pm

Re: Colorado Vacation

Post by MP173 » Wed Aug 29, 2018 10:17 am

wabbajack:

I can offer a little bit of advice regarding travel of the state and more advise regarding getting there.

First, my wife and I drive to all vacations. I hate to fly and as you mentioned, the cost of rentals is HUGE. Also, more important for us is we can take all the stuff we want to take and just cram it in the SUV. This includes my telescope, two and possibly three work briefcases (I still need to work), and luggage.

Second - we like to be in the car together and talk, or listen to radio, particularly Dr. Laura from 1pm - 5pm. Seriously, we can have pretty good discussions in the car. Often we will get on a subject and discuss it, using wikipedia for reference. Weird stuff, such as the kidnapping of distant relatives in the 1950s (which made national news) and how that kidnapping became the basis for Jim Morrison's (The Doors) song "Riders on the Storm". Or what key is that song in and it sounds like there are jazz components to it...are there any Major 7th chords in it? I recall one such conversation on James Taylor and his life and musical history and how he simply stopped writing meaningful songs and how it correlated with his heroin addiction.

Third - I have been in sales the last 28 years and driving is (was) part of the job. I break up the drive into small portions and monitor progress vs Google Maps. I will drive 12 hours the first day, knocking off the large portion and then have a 4 hour second day. My wife thinks this is too much driving for me, but this is the way I function. On the road by 6am and in North Platte, Nebraska by 530pm. You would take I70 across to Denver, which is a pretty good route. I have taken I70 on return trip to Kansas City then across on US24 (four lane) to Illinois.

Fourth - stops are at a minimum, usually every 5 hours to fuel up and grab and go. Gotta control the liquid intake to stretch those breaks to 5 hours.

Driving home is always a letdown, it usually becomes a grind to arrive home - often I end up on a 15 hour return.

Second part of your question - how long to cover the highlights? Colorado is an amazing state west of the Denver - Pueblo front range. If one had a month, there would still be stuff to do. That is why we are concentrating only on a small portion of the state this trip....and probably future trips.

Many of the mountain passes are closed in the winter. That should tell you enough to know. I would not want to be out there in November or later unless snowing, but that is just me. Locals will probably disagree with me, but I have dealt with enough lake effect snow to understand that driving in it is not what I want to do, unless it is cross town.

Good luck!

Ed

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