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  1. #1
    Senior Member m00ch's Avatar
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    Advice needed on where to stay in Colorado for a week

    This is a bit off topic from hammocks but is backpacking related.
    My wife and I will be going to Colorado in the summer of 2020 for 10 days and we are looking to day hike most days and camp 1 of the nights, the rest of the nights we would like to be in some type of city renting a place. She would like to take a drive and also experience 1 or 2 of the bigger cities for a half day or so.
    Can anyone suggest an area to make a base camp (the rental) where day hiking is easily accessible but there is a nice coffee shop in town?

    Yes, I do understand it is a huge state and my request is fairly vague but we have never been to the area and we are just trying to narrow things down a bit.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Estes Park

  3. #3
    Senior Member Karla "with a k"'s Avatar
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    In 2016, my friend and I got to spend some time in Colorado. We first headed to Rocky Mountain National Park (there are 4 tent campgrounds in the park). We stayed at Moraine Park Campground. There were two trees in our spot so I could hammock. My friend is a tent camper. The first day we hiked right from our site. The second day we drove up Trail Ridge Road (it finally opened up) to the Visitor's Center. Not many hiking trails, but well worth the views.

    We then drove down to Colorado Springs with a stop at Red Rocks Canyon. Wish we could have taken in a concert there, but we were able to walk around a hike a bit. Outside of Colorado Springs we stayed for a night at Mueller State Park (a smaller park in the shadows of Pike's Peak). Take a naturalist led hike if you can. We were glad we did. We spent one day driving to the top of Pike's Peak and then the afternoon visited Garden of the Gods.

    We then had two nights at The BroadMoor. You can visit for free and stroll around their lake. I had already visited The Broadmoor Seven Falls, but that's also beautiful. I didn't make time to see Royal Gorge Bridge, but I'd love to go back and zipline there.
    ◘ July 18-21: 2nd Annual Boat in Hang @ Tommy Thompson S.P. ◘ Oct. 24-27: Winter Camping Symposium @ Sturgeon Lake, Minnesota ◘ May 15-17: BACONFEST 2020 @ Lake Wissota S.P. ◘ YouTube: karlawithak216 ◘ Instagram: i.am.karla.with.a.k ◘ 43 months ◘

  4. #4
    Senior Member joe_guilbeau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhunter View Post
    Estes Park

    Never, ever summer... YMCA of the Rockies (back in the mid-'90s) Great cabins, had reasonable prices back then.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=...56551763927152

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Re..._Colorado.html

  5. #5
    Herder of Cats OutandBack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by m00ch View Post
    This is a bit off topic from hammocks but is backpacking related.
    My wife and I will be going to Colorado in the summer of 2020 for 10 days and we are looking to day hike most days and camp 1 of the nights, the rest of the nights we would like to be in some type of city renting a place. She would like to take a drive and also experience 1 or 2 of the bigger cities for a half day or so.
    Can anyone suggest an area to make a base camp (the rental) where day hiking is easily accessible but there is a nice coffee shop in town?

    Yes, I do understand it is a huge state and my request is fairly vague but we have never been to the area and we are just trying to narrow things down a bit.

    Thanks
    18 months from now? Buy a tourist book then use it so you know where not to go. In summer well heck almost anytime except between seasons it is a zoo out here anymore.
    Between the mtns, micro brews, 300days of sunshine and rec pot you have to make reservation a year in advance and everywhere in the tour guides there are lines of peeps trying to get their rocky mtn high on.
    When you get closer to your trip day post again with a few more details and I suggest a couple things I like doing that time of year.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by m00ch View Post
    This is a bit off topic from hammocks but is backpacking related.
    My wife and I will be going to Colorado in the summer of 2020 for 10 days and we are looking to day hike most days and camp 1 of the nights, the rest of the nights we would like to be in some type of city renting a place. She would like to take a drive and also experience 1 or 2 of the bigger cities for a half day or so.
    Can anyone suggest an area to make a base camp (the rental) where day hiking is easily accessible but there is a nice coffee shop in town?

    Yes, I do understand it is a huge state and my request is fairly vague but we have never been to the area and we are just trying to narrow things down a bit.

    Thanks
    Hmmm . . . could you be a little more vague, m00ch? Just kidding - this far in advance you should have plenty of time to narrow down your wish list.

    Since I grew up on the Front Range and now live on the western slope, I can suggest what I believe are things you might want to consider. For example, the front range is essentially the eastern slope of the Rockies from Cheyenne, Wyoming to Pueblo in southern Colorado, but most people who use the term in Colorado are referring to the densely populated urban corridor from metro Denver down through metro Colorado Springs, give-or-take.

    If that's where you want to spend the majority of your time, be sure to make your arrangements well in advance. Summertime in Colorado is wall-to-wall people, especially in metro Denver and the nearby mountain areas. If your idea of fun is enjoying a beautiful area with thousands of your new best friends, then that's the area for you.

    If, however, you'd prefer it a little less crowded, then getting out of the metropolitan Denver area is a necessity. Or you could spend just a short time in the Denver area and travel elsewhere for the majority of your time in the state.

    If you're primarily interested in hiking, then I'm pretty sure you mean traveling on foot in the mountains. And if by "some type of city renting a place" you mean staying in a motel in a much less densely populated urban area of, say, less than 50,000 people, then you'll have much more to choose from. On the western slope, Grand Junction is the largest city at about 60,000 in the city with about 150,000 in Mesa County. Interstate 70 passes through it, connecting it directly to Denver about 240 miles east through the Rockies.

    I-70 will allow you easy access to much of the best of the Colorado mountain experience, of course, but it also allows that convenience to all the other visitors to the state, too. For that reason, the more popular mountain attractions can be quickly overwhelmed by throngs of tourists.

    All that's a long way of saying that you can avoid the crush of people if you really want to, yet take in some of the state's most spectacular beauty by visiting the southwestern quadrant of Colorado. US550 connects Durango to Montrose over Red Mountain Pass and allows access to some of the most spectacular hiking options you could ever want. The San Juans are the more well-known mountains in SW Colorado, but there are many other ranges that are equally beautiful. Montrose is about 60 miles south of Grand Junction, and it's another ~110 miles to Durango, passing through Ridgway, Ouray and Silverton.

    Montrose has about 19,000 people, Durango has about 18,500, Ridgway and Ouray each have about 1000, and Silverton has about 650. There are so many hiking opportunities conveniently located in the area from Montrose to Durango that I doubt a person could take advantage of all of them in a lifetime. Just hiking some of the area around Ouray could easily consume an entire summer.

    There is a vast array of hiking trails of all levels of difficulty, and if getting to the summits of 14,000'+ peaks is your thing you won't have to travel too far afield to find plenty of those. If 13ers are good enough, you'll almost never run out of options. Of course, this is pre-supposing that you're already at a decent level of fitness and that you aren't just popping up from sea level to hike Mt. Elbert the next day.

    So if your wife wants to enjoy some time in a really large city, then I'd suggest you start in Denver. It'll be a long drive through the Rockies to the area I'm recommending in SW Colorado, but you could make any of the small cities and towns mentioned above your base and easily find excellent hiking and camping a short drive away.

    As you refine your plans, m00ch, update this thread and I'm sure you'll get lots of detailed advice.

    TJ

  7. #7
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    You may want to consider what type of terrain you are interested in hiking. I live in California but have been to Colorado several times to visit my aunt until she died in 2011. She lived all over Colorado at various times. My favorite area was near Steamboat Springs. It was very pretty there.

    She also owned property (and my uncle's family still live) near Durango in the Ignacio area. The Durango area was my least favorite. Coming from California I really like trees. One time when I was 14 my aunt told me to go tie a cow to a tree. I asked her "What tree?" I don't know what the plants she was referring to were called but although they were the tallest plants around they were shorter than I was, and I'm 5'3". It looked like a desert to me. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My husband was born in the desert and would probably like it there. HYOH.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SutterButtes View Post
    You may want to consider what type of terrain you are interested in hiking. I live in California but have been to Colorado several times to visit my aunt until she died in 2011. She lived all over Colorado at various times. My favorite area was near Steamboat Springs. It was very pretty there.

    She also owned property (and my uncle's family still live) near Durango in the Ignacio area. The Durango area was my least favorite. Coming from California I really like trees. One time when I was 14 my aunt told me to go tie a cow to a tree. I asked her "What tree?" I don't know what the plants she was referring to were called but although they were the tallest plants around they were shorter than I was, and I'm 5'3". It looked like a desert to me. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My husband was born in the desert and would probably like it there. HYOH.
    There's no doubt that once you travel the ~25 miles from Durango to Ignacio, you are in a virtually-treeless desert. Of course, all of Colorado is technically a desert, since the average annual precipitation for the state is only about 16". Durango gets ~20" annually and Ignacio gets ~19", not all that much different than Sacramento's 18.5" or most of California, actually, once you move inland from the coast.

    If, instead of traveling 25 miles SE from Durango to Ignacio a person were to head 25 miles north on 550, he/she would be half way to Silverton at about 8500' elevation and already well into the San Juan National Forest. The popular narrow gauge railroad from Durango to Silverton accesses this beautiful terrain very well.

    For a great mountain-town experience, Ouray has a lot to offer. It's long been known as "The Switzerland of America," and for good reason. Sitting at about 7800' and surrounded by incredible mountain terrain, Ouray would make an excellent base camp for the sort of vacation m00ch has described. In addition to hiking, climbing and camping in the summer, it is also the site of a world-renowned ice park for (extremely strenuous) wintertime ice climbing.

    Because it's such a beautiful mountain town, though, it attracts a lot of tourists in the summer. And while Ouray has plenty of nice places to eat and drink well, those places tend to cater to tourists and can be a bit pricey. As small cities, Montrose and Durango will have much more to offer in the way of meeting day-to-day shopping needs as well as more economical lodging. They can also absorb lots of tourists without ever feeling overrun.

    TJ

  9. #9
    Senior Member m00ch's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone for taking the time to reply, this is some great information

    Quote Originally Posted by TaoJones View Post
    If you're primarily interested in hiking, then I'm pretty sure you mean traveling on foot in the mountains. And if by "some type of city renting a place" you mean staying in a motel in a much less densely populated urban area of, say, less than 50,000 people, then you'll have much more to choose from.
    TJ
    That, I would say, sums it up pretty well.

    I am going to digest all this information and would expect I will have a few more questions along the way. Thanks again for your time everyone.

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