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Denver surrounding area tour :)

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Alabama
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Denver surrounding area tour :)

Well, we're headed to Denver in a couple of weeks with no real plans and are wanting to take in as much of the surrounding area and Rockies as we can. We have a week to look around, and we're thinking of trying to hit Boulder, Estes Park, Vail, Breckenridge, and Colorado Springs.

We're really looking to do alot of hiking while we're there and probably a horseback ride or two up in the mountains if the timing is right. So, here are some questions:

Are there some hidden gems not to be missed?

Areas that we aren't considering that you'd recommend?

Areas we are considering that you'd pass on?

Any "must-do's" in the area?

Roads to hit (I've seen the Colorado Scenic Roads map at the Colorado DOT so it looks like there's a ton)?

Hikes not to miss?

thanks for any info!

Denver, CO
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1. Re: Denver surrounding area tour :)

Hanging Lake is a good hike out near Vail. There are plenty of hikes available in Rocky Mountain National Park. It depends on how far you want to go, the weather, etc. Make sure to visit the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park - the hotel Stephen King got the idea for the Shining. Rather than taking 36 past Boulder to get to Estes, take Canyon Rd. (I think?) out of Boulder to Nederland, than I believe Hwy 7 to Estes Park. It's a much more scenic drive.

You may consider a visit to Leadville on your day to Vail or Breckenridge. While there's not a lot to see in the town, the drive can be nice. I believe it's the highest incorporated town in North America as well.

In the Springs, you have the Air Force Academny and Garden of the Gods.

Boulder requires a visit to Pearl St. Mall as well as hiking around the flatirons if you're into hiking.

Windsor, Colorado
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for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
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2. Re: Denver surrounding area tour :)

Since you are "looking to do alot of hiking" and some horseback riding, I would limit my visit to Breckenridge, Boulder and Estes Park/RMNP. You do not want to spend time on the road that could be spent on the trails. Colorado Springs has many attractions that make it a favorite with families.

The weather is a big if for the timing of your visit. Check NOAA weather before you come and be prepared for changing conditions. There may be ice and snow on some trails particularly ones above 9500 ft. Boot stabilizers are very helpful. If the snow is deep enough, you may want to go snowshoeing.

I am not the Breckenridge expert. For trails, see summitcountyexplorer.com/summithikingtrails.… There is plenty of info on that forum. See the top questions and/or do a search.

Terrel is correct about taking 119 through Boulder Canyon (stop at the falls) to Nederland and the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway (72 to 7) to Estes Park. On highway 7 near Estes, take the walk around Lily Lake in RMNP. To the right take the steps to the ridge for better views.

There are over 350 miles of trails in RMNP. Stop at the visitor centers to get trail condition information from the park rangers. They can also give you great ideas for trails to hike based on what you want to see and how far you want to go. http://protrails.com/state.php?stateID=CO This site will give you info on RMNP trails, Boulder trails and other areas of Colorado.

Horseback riding is available from Estes Park. www.estesparkcvb.com/activities.cfm… Some operations are seasonal. Sombrero Ranch has rides available year round.

It will be low season in Estes Park. Lodging rates are a bargain and are negotiable. Reviews here on TA are pretty accurate. Check both hotels and specialty lodging (condos and cabins). Restaurants will have converted to winter hours and many close earlier (8 pm). Check with your lodging hosts and/or the Estes Park Visitor's Center. A few restaurants close for winter but most do not.

Not to be missed in RMNP - Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, Alluvial Fan, Alberta Falls (especially if it has started icing over) drive Trail Ridge Road as far as you can. It will most likely be closed at Many Parks Curve.

Most popular hike in RMNP - Emerald Lake and take the side trip to Lake Haiyaha from Dream Lake

Dress in layers. Be prepared for wind. Average temps in Estes Park for the timing of your visit are low 50's and upper 20's but Estes is at 7500. Deduct about 5 degrees for each 1000 feet you gain in altitude.

Additional scenic drives from Estes, check out the St. Vrain and Big Thompson Canyon loops at www.estesparkcvb.com.transportation.cfm

3. Re: Denver surrounding area tour :)

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Windsor, Colorado
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4. Re: Denver surrounding area tour :)

The correct link for the scenic drives from Estes Park www.estesparkcvb.com/transportation.cfm

The edit feature was not working.

Nederland, Colorado
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5. Re: Denver surrounding area tour :)

The Hanging Lake trail is in Glenwood Canyon near Glenwood Springs -- an hour or so west of Vail: http://www.hikingincolorado.org/hang.html

Nederland, Colorado
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6. Re: Denver surrounding area tour :)

>>Are there some hidden gems not to be missed? <<

Hiking in Eldorado Canyon south of Boulder: …state.co.us/parks/…EldoradoCanyonHome.aspx

Denver, CO
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7. Re: Denver surrounding area tour :)

Thx Babalax for the link to Hanging Lake. I don't remember it being that far, so maybe not a good recco. But, I've heard great things about that hike. (never done it myself)

Alabama
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8. Re: Denver surrounding area tour :)

Wow - thanks everyone for all of the information. We'll consider maybe taking Colorado Springs out for this trip and just focus on north and west of Denver. Looks like there's alot of info to keep us busy until we leave.

Again, thanks for all the info and the links!!

9. Re: Denver surrounding area tour :)

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Removed on: 27 October 2012, 10:19