Summer fun in Colorado?!

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Bill Balcziak, May 24, 2003.

  1. Bill Balcziak

    Bill Balcziak Supporting Actor

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    We're thinking about a two-week summer driving trip to Colorado, and although we've been there before (about 10 years ago) the details are fuzzy. We'd like to start the trip in Denver for a few days, followed by a couple of nights near Rocky Mountain National Park. That's all well and good, but what we do after that is entirely up to the members of this forum. [​IMG]

    Please make some suggestions for places in Colorado to visit. Draw upon your own experiences (according to the guidebooks, everything is "fabulous", "amazing" and "breathtaking"), and point us toward locations that are:

    1) Family friendly (kids aged 6 and 8)
    2) Scenic
    3) Interesting

    And most importantly:

    4) Steer us away from the duds, tourist traps and overrated waysides.

    Is Aspen the bomb? Is Winter Park a dead zone in summer? Is Vail overrated? Is the Coors factory tour a snooze? Can our old minivan make it all the way up Pikes Peak?

    What are the CAN'T MISS destinations in Colorado? Thanks in advance for your good advice! [​IMG]
     
  2. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    Though I've never been, i assume there would be some nice mountain bike trails in the ski areas during the summer (at least there are in Whistler...)
     
  3. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Hey, Bill. I grew up in Colorado and live about 30 miles from Rocky Mountain National Park. I suppose you might as well go there, if you are already planning to, but it would not be one of my first choices. Estes Park, home of the famed Stanley Hotel, inspiration for The Shining, has gotten unbelievably congested and commercial, and that goes for RMNP as well. About the most interesting part of RMNP for me is Fall River road, which is a one way (up the mountain) alternative to Trail Ridge, but it is a bit rough and there are not many places to pull over and stop. It might be a nightmare at the peak of summer tourist season.

    While you're in Denver, I would try to get tickets to a concert at Boettcher concert hall, if there is something decent. We're talking classical music here, so it may not be your cup of tea. Boettcher is just an interesting hall. You'll see what I mean if you go there. No seat is more than something like 80 ft. from the stage and it is in the round. Neat place. The sound is pretty outstanding.

    Not sure I would waste time doing the Coors tour or Pikes Peak. However, you could combine Pikes Peak with a trip to The Garden of the Gods, both of which are just outside Colorado Springs.

    I actually think several of the ski resorts are a lot of fun in the summer. The Aspen area in particular. Be sure to see the Maroon Belles just outside Aspen. The second most photographed mountain in the US. Care to guess what is the most photographed? You could stop for a day or two in Vail on the way there. There are some pretty nice condos for rent at a not too outrageous price. Sitting in a hot tub under the mountains on a clear night is a real joy. You might finish up after Aspen, continuing south to Telluride or Ouray. There are some neat jeep tours out of Ouray. I understand Telluride has gotten quite commercial and congested, so Ouray might be better.
     
  4. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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    Which direction are you coming from? This is helpful for planning purposes.

    Do your kids ride bikes? There's a great bike path that runs along I-70 through Glenwood Canyon from just west of Dotsero to Glenwood Springs. There are bike rental and shuttle services available in Glenwood Springs. There's also the hot springs pool and Glenwood Caverns. They were building a tram up to the cavern entrance last summer.

    The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park near Montrose provides some of the most amazing deep canyon views in the state. In that area there are many scenic drives.

    If you make it to Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods is a favorite destination of most tourists. The rock formations there are really interesting, and you can usually see some rather crazy people climbing all over them.

    Can your minivan make it up Pikes Peak? Maybe. It isn't a small hill climb, though. So be prepared to pull off and head back down if you get signs of overheating.

    You can't really go wrong with Rocky Mt. National Park, but I'd suggest that you enter from the Grand Lake side and work your way East. The east entrance through Estes Park can be a real tourist trap in the summertime. This would give you a chance to visit Winter Park first, although I don't know how many more weeks it will be before they transition to a summer resort. We had a sizeable snowfall this winter. Also be prepared for RMNP to be very crowded. Parking lots and campsites will be full. Call ahead for reservations if you plan on doing any camping during your trip.

    And don't forget, Arapahoe Basin still has 69 trails open for skiing. [​IMG]

    Brad
     
  5. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    BTW, I think going to the CS area for Pikes Peak would take too much time out of your schedule. I would go right to RMNP and West/South from there to some of the places I mentioned or else catch the CS area on the way back. south a little and then East out of Ouray to I-25 and then North through CS for a look.

    Assuming you are coming from East of here. If you aren't, the plan would be different.
     
  6. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    OK, so Brad is directing you mostly North and I am directing you mostly South. The southwest part of the state is easily my favorite, so there.


    FWIW, going more by my directions, I think it would make most sense starting with RMNP from the East (Estes Park) continuing west through Grand Lake, down to I-70 annd then west to Vail, Aspen, etc. I think you could incorporate the Black Canyon that way between Vail and Aspen. I have done basically this trip myself on vacation, and it is a lot of fun.

    One thing to remember, no matter what month it is, you are at high altitude and it gets cold at night. It can hit freezing even in July in some of these areas. So, be prepared.
     
  7. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Psst. Bill. Over here.



    Secretly, between you and me, those guys in Boulder are known for their "sniff, sniff, puff, puff" if you know what I mean. Don't tell Brad I said that.


    The entire route Brad laid out is probably not over 1000 miles, spread out over what, 10 days? There is probably no leg over 250 miles with plenty of non travel days in between. He actually lays out a very nice trip. the only thing I would do differently is I would try to stay in Ouray for one night at least instead of Durango. Ouray is a very small, mountain town, but a nice sight.
     
  9. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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    1000 miles of driving is nice for senior citizens like John ( :p) ), but you'd better find something to keep those kids entertained. Get a DVD player and screen for the back seat. And John is right, you can probably score some good drugs here in Boulder if you're into that sort of thing. Don't ask me where though. Those neighbors of mine moved away a few years ago.

    We'd better stop this now or Bill will take his family to Utah instead. [​IMG]

    Brad
     
  10. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Senior Citizen?


    That's it Porter, I'm coming over to Hippieville and kicking some ass.




    Now that you mention it, southern Utah is a pretty remarkable place. :p)
     
  11. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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  12. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Exactly how old do you think I am, Brad?

    Not that difficult. Check my profile. I'm an ancient 38.





    Still, he is right about not getting carried away. Sometimes people don't realize they are 5,000 ft high before they even head into the mountains. If you take a jeep trip out of Ouray, you will likely end up over 14,000 ft in elevation. You run out of steam very fast, Brad should know.
     
  13. Bill Balcziak

    Bill Balcziak Supporting Actor

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    You guys crack me up (and thanks for the tips)! [​IMG]
     
  14. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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  15. Craig S

    Craig S Producer

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    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the drive to Mt. Evans. It's the highest paved road in the US (including Alaska), and takes you almost to the top of one of Colorado's famous 14,000-foot peaks (there's a short hike from the parking lot to the summit). I did the drive with my brother & his family 1999 and the kids loved it. The views at the top are stupendous.

    Here's a picture of my nephews (ages 10 & 7 at the time) on Mt. Evans - gives you an idea of the view.

    It's easy to get to - drive west from Denver on I-70 about 25 miles. The turnoff is well-marked. There's a visitor center about a mile in - be sure to stop and check on the weather at the top (and get those bathroom breaks in for the kids). The drive takes another hour or so after that. We did it in a regular van, so your minivan should be able to handle it. Be sure to bring warm clothing - it's chilly at the top.

    On the same trip we visited Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods is the highlight here. This IS a big tourist draw, but it won't be a disappointment. My nephews loved it because of the very climbable rocks on one of the trails (OK, my brother & I also loved that too - just big kids, I guess!).

    A couple of people have mentioned Ouray. We stayed there a few days back in 1997 and it's a nice, quiet town in an unbelievably gorgeous setting. We used it as a base for several activities in Southwestern Colorado - the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is about 90 minutes to the north, Silverton about an hour or so south, and there's great hiking all around the area. We also took one of the jeep tours out of Ouray and it was an absolute blast!!
     
  16. Philip_T

    Philip_T Supporting Actor

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    Bill,
    If you find yourself around Grand Junction area, I would suggest touring some of wineries in the area (there are some nice ones in Palisade). I also believe there is a dinosaur park in Fruita not too far away that would be fun for the kids. If your there for more than a day, check out some of the B&B's for lodging. The hot springs in Glenwood is a must for the family. While in Glenwood, check out the Underground Italian (or is it the Italian Underground? can't remember).

    Phil
     
  17. Jacinto

    Jacinto Second Unit

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    Good suggestions. I'll second (or third) Garden of the Gods, Glenwood Springs, and Mount Evans. Since you're an HTFer, perhaps you could arrange a tour of each local member's home theater! I've got kids, so we're stocked with age appropriate material...
     
  18. Michael Were

    Michael Were Stunt Coordinator

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    As an archaeologist at mesa verde national park, I take offense to the suggestion that kids would be bored at my park. Cortez, Colorado (closest town) will be boring but not Mesa Verde.

    The real question is, do you want the rockies/eastern city feel, or do you want the colorado plateau/southwest feel??

    Michael
     
  19. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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  20. Michael Were

    Michael Were Stunt Coordinator

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    Brad,

    It's ok I should have used the wink face, I don't take offense. Sorry for that, I often find my humor doesn't transfer well (especially in this case where I seemed a little short and caustic, sorry).

    As far as the visiting public:

    I didn't have experience with the visiting public in the three years I've worked at MEVE, until last week. I had surgery and instead of taking leave, I worked the Park Point Fire Lookout (which sounds romantic, but in actuality I talked to tourist the entire week). It was a great experience. I got to dispell some of the rumors that interpretive miguidedly tell tourists. But most importantly, I got to tell them about my groups projects, which is partially funded by fee demo money (entrance fee).

    There has been so little modern research in MEVE. This coupled with the fact that the research division of the park can't interact with the visiting public (mainly because we spend our time in the backcountry), makes for a less informative visit. I wish that we could get funded to provide a weekly lecture/presentation, but money is tight and research is usually the first thing to go.

    A few observations on tourists:

    Europeans seem to be some of the highest educated on the archaeology (this probably due to the high cost of arriving in US which translates to higher interest).

    People have mixed opinions on the recent wildfires, the majority have a hard time thinking outside of the human lifespan. It turned into an uphill battle to explain the life-cycle of the climax pinyon and juniper forest.

    Kids (I had a school group (5th graders)from Englewood, Colorado about 20 of them packed in the fire tower) seem more interested in the archaeology than most adults. I think this might be due to the fact that they still have inquisitive minds (until standardized test take their toll). Most adults (that I interacted with) were there to check off a park and made a morning or afternoon of the park.

    I might be a little jaded, because of my love of the archaeology, but I think an entire day really scratches the surface.


    Michael
     

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