Suggestions - 1 Week in Colorado

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Suggestions - 1 Week in Colorado

Postby MuchosPixels » Mon May 09, 2011 7:44 pm

Honestly, The drive up Pikes Peak road is a MUST! The north side couloirs are an amazing sight and the view down the eastern slopes and down the bottomless pit is great.

Barr trail is also a wonderful hike. Its long but goes by quick for some reason even though it takes 8 hours to the top in ideal conditions. The alpine on the east face above treeline is an amazing sight and sleeping in the a-frame shelter is a great experience. There is about 5,500 ft of vertical releif from the a-frame down to colorado springs and it has a direct view of the city lights at night since its on a ledge. The whole route will most likely be snow free by july.

I would also consider the Sangres and also the peaks around Buena Vista.

As far as drives, Independence Pass and Loveland Pass are a must. A-basin might even have a bit of snow! (huge snow year in that area this year)
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Re: Suggestions - 1 Week in Colorado

Postby CarpeDM » Tue May 10, 2011 7:43 am

Mountainspirit wrote:Just my $.02, but once you're done with the Denver/Boulder thing, drive west. While those areas have some wonderful sights, there's really no need to hang out in Front Range/foothills areas when the mountains are calling...For mountains even more grand, get out to the San Juan's (Ouray, Silverton, Telluride, Lake City)...Another wonderful National Park is Mesa Verde - down near Durango.

It really does depend on what interests you, but I'd echo Mountainspirit (and Horace Greeley): Go west, young man! I still haven't been to Mesa Verde, but look forward to going (although I'm not sure if early July would be the best time - might be scorching). The San Juans are an awesome sight, and you will be able to find some hiking guides that will give you some ideas for dayhikes out there, and you might even climb an easy 14er like Handies (I hesitate to encourage you too much to hike any 14er without knowing what kind of experience you have with hiking or altitude, or if you will be with other people, etc). You could also ride the Durango-Silverton train - a popular, touristy thing to do, but still a nice experience. And Ouray is a really cool little town. You've got Dinosaur National Monument out there (another place I haven't been and want to go). There are places to do some whitewater rafting (the Yampa comes to mind quickly because I was thinking of Dinosaur).

As for the car, it sounds like you might want to just drive your CRV out here. It will give you more options for where to go than an economy rental (although if you get full coverage, you wouldn't have to worry about banging it up). Just take that as a limitation when planning your trip: where can my CRV get me? Then, check out the trailheads by road difficulty page here: Some of the comments on here have hyped the difficulty of some roads, IMO. While living here and climbing 14ers, I've owned a 1997 Nissan Sentra and a 2009 Honda Fit, and I think I've rented a vehicle about 4 times (and gotten rides a couple of other times) - and even then it's usally just to get me a couple of miles further up a road to make the hike a little shorter. As an example, I took the Sentra up several of the roads that are listed as "Easy 4wd" on the URL listed above. The Fit is even lower-clearance, and I'm pretty sure I could get to the Huerfano/Lily Lake trailhead (also "Easy 4wd") in summer conditions.
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Re: Suggestions - 1 Week in Colorado

Postby peter303 » Tue May 10, 2011 8:02 am

Colorado has so many things to see, that it should take MONTHS to all thing people have suggested in this thread.
It takes me THREE YEARS on monthly excursions to fully sample the state's areas before I revisit places.

So I suggest the famous highlights of Denver, Boulder, Rocky Mountain Park and Colorado Springs/Pikes Peak - all within three hours drive of each other. And one "deep mountain" excursion to Breckenridge/Quandry. This is more than enough for a week. Then come back next year to sample a couple more resort cities and mountain ranges.
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Re: Suggestions - 1 Week in Colorado

Postby edhaman » Tue May 10, 2011 9:04 am

I am jumping to the conclusion that you are interested in some general sightseeing, and not just hiking/climbing. I've driven a rental sedan to one 14er trailhead, and my CRV to 7 others. I would suggest not trying to see the entire state, since you'd spend too much of your precious time on the road (although just about anywhere you drive, the scenery is great). I would say Rocky Mountain National Park is a must. It is one of my favorite national parks. For a short hike there, I like Bear Lake to Emerald Lake. For longer hikes, I like Sky Pond, and the traverse from Bear Lake to Fern Lake Trailhead (you can ride a shuttle bus back to your car). And the drive over Trail Ridge Road is one of the most breathtaking drives in the nation. I usually find that if you get about half-a-mile from the parking lot, you lose most of the crowd. The number of people at the more popular places can be a down-side, but there is usually a reason that those places are so popular. Of those more touristy attractions, I'd say Garden of the Gods and the Royal Gorge are worth visits if you are in the Colorado Springs area.

Outside of the Front Range, a few days based in the Leadville/Buena Vista area would be good. I agree that Huron is a good, scenic 14er, but there are several others to choose from in that area. Buena Vista is also a rafting headquarters for the Arkansas River. You could also take a day trip to Aspen from there, over Independence Pass.

If I only had a week and it was my first visit to Colorado, I would not spend any of it in Denver, Colorado Springs, or Boulder; other than as an overnight on my way to somewhere else. I'd go straight to Rocky Mountain National Park for a couple of days, then head to some place like Buena Vista.
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Re: Suggestions - 1 Week in Colorado

Postby pw » Tue May 10, 2011 3:45 pm

mts4602 wrote:Coming to CO 4th of July week for the first time. Flying into Denver. I'd like to spend a day or less in Denver, maybe a day in Boulder, but other than that my plan is wide open. What would you do with a week? Anything I shouldn't miss? I'm willing to drive anywhere in the state if it's worth it. I'm up for anything other than class 5 or a snow climb, but a 14 should be in there somewhere.



Like Mountainspirit said, plan on one day at the Maroon Bells, which would probably include a drive over Independence Pass, that in itself is sort of cool. The road up to the Bells requires a bus ride, not sure on the times and cost, so check into that before getting there. Once there, if you are up for a hike, walk up to the top of Buckskin Pass, around 12,000' with a nice view of Snowmass.

There are enough fourteeners with easy trailhead access that you can probably skip the ones with a jeep road to them (Antero for one). Yale would be a good choice, Quandary is a good first fourteener - easy access, straightforward hike, pretty much straight up and not that long.
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Re: Suggestions - 1 Week in Colorado

Postby Craig Cook » Tue May 10, 2011 9:48 pm

First of all, as someone who has vacationed in Colorado twice, and is planning on moving there next year, this thread has given me a plethora of wonderful ideas as well - so thanks everyone!

Apart from the hiking, my wife and I went whitewater rafting through the Royal Gorge last year, which was an amazing experience. The place we used had half-day and full-day trips.
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