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Best 3 National Parks to visit in CO

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Gunzz, May 10, 2012.

  1. davsco

    davsco

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    we took 2 weeks back in the 80s and did rocky mtn, grand teton and yellowstone. we car-camped (tent) and did long daily hikes (no backpacking). scenery and wildlife were just outstanding. forget the exact dates but believe it was mid-summer. definitely still snow at the tops.

    when i was down in colo springs on business i did the train up to pikes peak, wasn't all that big of a deal. lots of driving involved, but i'd suggest you go north from rmnp if you can.

    side story - we arrived very late in the day at rmnp, they wouldn't let us in as the campsites were full. the ranger pointed us to a place a few miles outside of the park where we could just head up a road and camp in the woods at the end of the road. we awoke to super brite blue skies and snow-capped peaks all around, very beautiful.
     
  2. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

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    I walk the dog in GOG park. It's better on foot or horseback than in a car, but even from the car, it's less than a 10 minute loop, it's free, and there are some great photo op spots.

    Just do a google images search.

    If you're already here for pike's peak, why wouldn't you go through the Garden of the Gods?
     

  3. G36's Rule

    G36's Rule Senior Member

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    Just an FYI, but last time I was in RMNP, 2009, Pinebark beetles had decimated the trees in the park. In some areas there were more dead trees than live ones.
     
  4. F350

    F350

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    If you are coming to the western slope for the Black Canyon you should come on up to Grand Junction and take a swing through the Colorado National Monument ($10) it is sort of a mini Grand Canyon of mostly red sandstone, in places the road is literally on the edge of a canyon.

    From Black Canyon you just about have to go through Grand Junction to get back north.
     
  5. mhill

    mhill

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    RMNP is awesome. Bring your hiking shoes. Stop in the Mountain Shop in Estes Park and ask for "V". She'll set you up with whatever you need for your adventure. They rent everything. Then go hike the 3 lakes starting with Bear then Emerald .... up the mountain. Awesome scenery without having to hike to far. Bring a camera and some water.
     
  6. Gunzz

    Gunzz

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    Well, thanks to everyone's feedback, I have a plan to basically visit the RMNP and tehn teh Black canyon of the Gunnison. I figure keeping it basic for 7 days is all I can do. I have to come back. I am glad to hear the Mesa Verde and the Sand Dunes can be saved for another time. GIven that I am starting on a Friday, and flying back out on the following Friday out of Denver, I amwondering if it makes sense to go to the Black Canyon First. THis way, I am trying to avoid the weekend crowds of 15-18 June at RMNP. I imagine the motels would be packed and the park traffic the same way. If I go back in the middle of the week, it wold be less, I hope. Any ideas? Also, are there places recommended to stay in GUnnison, better than others? Same with Estes Park? I plan on using 2 of my 7 days to drive, and then hike 2 days in Black Canyon and then 3 in RMNP. Are there preferred routes to get the most scenery when driving? I want to do the Durango Million Dollar Highway 550 on the next trip. I heard there is a good drive to see the 14,000 foot peaks? Is it faster to get to the Black Canyon on the weekend by going to Colorado Springs from Denver, then go West, or is it better to try to get there via Vail? Thanks again for all the suggestions!!!
     
  7. G36's Rule

    G36's Rule Senior Member

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    Hard to describe the route I take from RMNP to Black Canyon. I usually go over the pass/Alpine Center in RMNP and take 34 down to 40 then take that South to I70. Take I70 West past Frisco to 91 South then go South to Leadville.

    From Leadville take 24/285 South to Salida. Take 50 West out of Salida to Montrose. Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP is closer to Montrose than Gunnison.

    There are hotels and motels in Montrose.

    Something to think about here though, Black Canyon isn't that much of a hiking park, so you will drive to different spots to look at the canyon. You might spend a day there. Do yourself a favor and drive South to Ouray. Ouray is about the most beautiful place to put a town I've ever seen. And you can take several different tours up to Yankee Boy basin or other incredible high elevation scenic spots.

    Anyway, have fun.
     
  8. MulletLoad

    MulletLoad

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    On a related note, what's the best mountain or Park to visit on a day trip out of Denver?
     
  9. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

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    Rocky Mountain National Park is not far at all.

    OP - If you're going to Black Canyon and you stay in Montrose, you're so close to Telluride, it would be a shame not to visit.

    A few pics from last year when I went to the Bluegrass fest:

    [​IMG]

    Might recognize this from your last can of Coors - Mt. Wilson:

    [​IMG]

    Telluride is tucked back in that valley...

    [​IMG]

    The more I think about it, the more I think that with your limited amount of time, you should just stay around Black Canyon - spend a day hiking around Telluride, Box Canyon falls in Ouray, et cetera. You don't have enough time to do the whole state. Just my opinion.
     
  10. rideco

    rideco

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    define "visit". Do you want to hike a 14er. Drive up a mtn and see a great view of the plains. Drive up a mtn and see lots of mtns?

    COS is less then 1 hour drive to Denver so that brings pikes peak and Garden of the Gods into the discussion. Longs Peak near Boulder. Lookout mtn near golden, Red Rocks amphitheater, Loveland pass (including keystone & breckenridge). Really from Denver you have so many options its more of what do you want to see.

    As far as people saying that Garden of the Gods takes 10 mins. You ppl need to get out of the car and walk around the park. I am not taking about the little BS trail by kissing camels. GO up to the start of Rampart Range Road and if I remember correctly there is a parking lot and trail head. I like to play on the rocks a little but I would never go past the signs to stay off unless your are registered. :whistling: Anyway really there is so much to do around here its up to you. Denver zoo is not too bad and much better then the mtn zoo in COS. Also there are uncountable trails and hikes including many day type hikes which are awesome.

    As far as the nation parks go I have not been to the dunes or Black canyon but I have been to RMNP and Mesa. I would do RMNP and the Black canyon as must sees. Who ever said to check out the million dollar hwy and Ouray/Durando put out a really good idea as I have heard countless storys about how nice that area is. Let us know more about specific type activities you are looking for and we can provide more info and ideas.
     
  11. rideco

    rideco

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    yep. give us details on what you want to do and we will help you out.
     
  12. rideco

    rideco

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  13. tongix

    tongix

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    I advise if you go high country driving, make sure you have new brake pads installed and tires with good threads. I was at Yosemite and Sequiao i was thankful i did before going there.
     
  14. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

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    ...and make sure you're not riding them down Independence Pass or anything. Engine brake as much as possible. If you can smell your brakes, you're doing it wrong.

    :supergrin:
     
  15. rideco

    rideco

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    hint take over drive off coming down passes for automatics.
     
  16. MulletLoad

    MulletLoad

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    (define "visit")

    -renting a car, leaving downtown Denver around 9am, go check out cool looking "sheet" in mountains, return to downtown Denver around 6pm.

    Parks, scenic views, drives, cool small town areas, ect. Mild hiking. No free climbing or serious extreme sports.
     
  17. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

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    Come on down to Colorado Springs. An hour drive from Denver, another 20 minutes up the pass to Pike's Peak (you can drive up it or take a cog railway), go through Garden of the Gods and hit up the Mt. Cutler Trail in North Cheyenne Canyon. Only a mile up + 400-500 feet of elevation gain. Probably my favorite hike in the area for panoramic views to the west, east (overlooking the city) and south.



    PM me if you decide to go this route... I might do the hike with you, and I can certainly point you to good eats.

    http://www.coloradophotohikes.com/mt-cutler-hike.html
     
  18. Haldor

    Haldor Formerly retired EE.

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    Mesa Verde is worth an overnight stay. That way you can take a tour of one of the cliff dwellings (the tours often sell out).

    Cortez is very reasonable and not a bad place to stay the night.

    The drive up to Mesa Verde is almost as cool as the park is. Be sure to stop at the fire lookout on top for an incredible view of the surrounding area.

    Sorry for the shaky-cam, not my footage.

    [ame]http://youtu.be/jnOMz6hHn64[/ame]
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2012