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tim in wales
Hi - I live in the UK and am considering RV ing in the Colorado area next summer. I dont know anything about the place - which is half of the attraction.
Are there many RV sites to be found ? Is it posible to just park up anywhere if neccesary overnight ? Is it safe ? dry.gif
Where should we aim for ?
Starting at Denver (and ending there) - about 3 weeks.
Sorry this question is is broad. !


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John Blue
Tim,

Welcome to the group. You will find a ton of good information here. We have lots of people who live and play in CO. CO is on top of my travel list in USA. You could spend a year in that state and not see it all. You have tons of stuff to do and places to go west of Denver and Denver is also a great place to tour. State is full of RV campgrounds. It is very safe. We all will post a lot of great places to see and places to eat as soon as more people read this post.

Wife and I enjoyed Wales couple years ago. Some of the words were a mile long and fun to look at. I think one town had 97 letters in name. Very nice trip around the place and I hope to return soon and see more.
Texasrvers
We like the Colorado Springs area, just south of Denver. Be sure to see Garden of the Gods and the US Air Force Academy, especially the chapel. The nearby town of Manitou Springs has some interesting native American ruins and be sure to take the cog railway to the top of Pike's Peak. (You can also drive up.) The Royal Gorge isn't far away and since you will be there in the summer a raft trip might be fun. There are lots of outfitters in the area.

Toward the north and west of Denver is the town of Estes Park. The historic Stanley Hotel located there is reported to be the inspiration for Stephen King's The Shining. This is a good base camp for exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park.

There's lots more. You better change your visiting time from 3 weeks to 3 months.

Also John is correct about Colorado having tons of RV places. While this is a generally safe area I personally would not feel comfortable parking just anywhere for the night. I would recommend a campground of some sort. You will find a broad range of prices although they will probably be more expensive in the summer. You might want to check out state parks. Many are very nice, but don't generally have the amenities of private parks. But then that's exactly how many campers like it. I don't know if Colorado allows overnight parking at their highway rest areas, but this is again something I would not recommend. Start looking at the reviews for campgrounds in Colorado on this website, and you will get an idea of what is out there.

Hope this helps you get started. Sounds like a great adventure.
John Blue
Tim,

I agree with Texasrvers and all the places on post. We have been to all of them in past years. Look at Durango down in south/west part. From Durango you can tour Cortez and see Mesa Verde Nat Park. From Durango ride the steam train up to Silverton and back down, check web site on Durango & Silverton Railroad. Then travel north from Durango on Hwy 550 to Silverton, you will pass over 11,008 feet on the way to Ouray, Ridgway, Montrose, and on up to Grand Junction. The San Juan Mountains are beautiful. Look at Hwy 160 from Durango to South Fork. You will travel over Wolf Creek pass at 10,857 feet. From this point travel over to Hwy 285 and go north to Leadville then on to I-70. From Denver or Grand Junction travel on I-70 and see Vail and Vail pass at 10,666 feet over the Rocky Mountain range. The tunnel under mountain is 5.5 miles long if I remember right. At Estes Park you will find Rocky Mountain Nat Park.

In Denver you will find city full of items to look at and check out. Downtown has a free bus system to take you up and down the open mail. Museum all over the place to tour. At Golden Coors Brewing Co. has city and beer tours plus free beer to try. Golden also has lots of nice places to tour and lots of museums as well. Nice RV park in town. I think you will need months to check this all out.
abbygolden
I agree with the others with one exception. The road between Ouray and Silverton (CO 550) should NOT be travelled by rigs over 30' or by inexperienced RVers. It can be a very dangerous road. Definitely do take that road in a TOAD as the views are breathtaking. I prefer the western and particularly the southwestern part of the state from Durango west. In the Montrose area you can visit the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, go up and travel on the highest flat top mountain in the world, the Grand Mesa. Be sure to visit Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction. Visit Telluride to see the area, base in the Cortez/Dolores area and drive to Moab, Monument Valley and the historic sites of NM, UT and AZ, and absolutely be sure to visit Mesa Verde NP. There are several campgrounds in that area. If you are going to be there in the summer, it may be wisest to reserve ahead of time, particularly on the weekends. I recommend you check on this site for the following towns that have campgrounds: Cortez/Dolores, Durango, Mancos (for Mesa Verde), Montrose, Grand Junction, Ouray/Silverton. Western/southwestern Colorado is generally less crowded than the Denver area. If you are going to be there the first week in August, be sue to go to the Sweet Corn Festival in Olathe (near Montrose). They have top entertainers in addition to the sweetest corn on the cob you will ever eat!
MaineDon
Tim: Colorado is a great state to tour. Although we live in Maine, we spent time there last June. If you are spending time in Denver, try Chatfield State Park, which is very close. Large sites, all services, nice restrooms, walking/biking trails....and close to the city. Dilsea, our Welsh Terrier, loved the place (lol!), as did we. See the reviews on this web site. Happy travels.
Jerry S
In my experience , most of our visitors from Europe fly in and rent an RV (usually a Class C). They seldom have a car (toad) with them and must depend on the RV for getting everywhere. Unless Tim lets us know otherwise, remember that he will likely have driving limitations such as not being able to just leaving the RV at a base RV park and tour the surrounding area by car.

That said, I certainly agree with most of the suggestions so far. Personally, I would consider the three "must see" areas to be Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park, northwest of Denver), Colorado Springs, and Durango/Cortez. Doing all 3 in 3 weeks might be a bit ambitious, but can be done. I would suggest Rocky Mountain NP first, then I70 west to Grand Junction, US 50/550 south to Durango, US160 east to I25, I25 north tho Colrado Springs, and I25 back to Denver. 3-4 days in each area plus a week or so of driving days would pretty much eat up your 3 weeks. If that's too much driving (about 1200 miles for that route), don't go as far west as Grand Junction or as far south as Durango.

I be drooling and getting jealous if I hadn't been to most of those places in just the last few years. Do your planning and enjoy your trip.
tim in wales
Thanks everyone who replied - some fantastic ideas I am sure. Perhaps 3 weeks is a bit short but it's the best I can do.

I was hoping to get to Rushmore, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon (I know not in Colorado !!) but you are going to tell me I can't do that - aren't you ??? blink.gif

Yes to the query - I would rent an RV. I previously toured New England in a national branded 29 foot RV - but these can be expensive I am hoping someone can suggest a local company that can rent and under cut the nationals ??

unsure.gif

Thanks again everyone. All of your comments have been noted.
pianotuna
Hi Tim,

If you start and end in Denver taking the quickest possible route to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon is 4266 kilometers (2650 miles). If you can average 90 kph (hard to do, given the terrain) the driving alone will take around 48 hours. That leaves little time to sight see.

Leaving out the Grand Canyon brings the trip down to 2366 kilometers (1470 miles).

Leaving out Rushmore and Yellowstone clocks in at 2423 kilometers (1505 miles).

In your shoes I'd abandon the Grand Canyon and keep Rushmore and Yellowstone.

QUOTE(tim in wales @ Dec 7 2008, 04:47 PM) *

Thanks everyone who replied - some fantastic ideas I am sure. Perhaps 3 weeks is a bit short but it's the best I can do.

I was hoping to get to Rushmore, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon (I know not in Colorado !!) but you are going to tell me I can't do that - aren't you ??? blink.gif

Yes to the query - I would rent an RV. I previously toured New England in a national branded 29 foot RV - but these can be expensive I am hoping someone can suggest a local company that can rent and under cut the nationals ??

unsure.gif

Thanks again everyone. All of your comments have been noted.

Jerry S
Tim,

Sorry, I misunderstood your intitial post to mean that you would be spending the entire 3 weeks in Colorado. I agree with Pianotuna about doing Yellowstone and Rushmore but skipping Grand Canjon. That is best done by flying into Phoenix, Arizona or Salt Lake City, Utah and and doing the sights (of which there are many) in those 2 states. Those 2 states are also really hot in the summer months.

You can make it from Denver to Mt. Rushmore in a day and from there to Yellowstone in a day and then back to Denver in a day but would NOT recommend that you try any of these drives in one day. There is a lot of non-Interstate, two lane, and mountain driving involved in travelling this itinerary. While you may be able to go 200 miles on an Interstate Highway in under 4 hours, that same distance on a two lane and/or mountain road may take 5+ hours. I would plan on 2 days of travel for all 3 legs of your trip. You might even want to make that 3 days so that you can stop and see things enroute from D to Mt. R to Y and back to D. And there is plenty to see between those major points.

The Black Hills (where Mt. Rushmore is located) in southwestern South Dakota has much to offer besides Mt. R. There are the Black Hills themselves, Chief Crazy Horse Monument, Wind Cave National Park, Custer State Park, Deadwood, Badlands National Park (50 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota - the biggest (100,000 population) city in area), and more. Unfortunately, because the Black Hills are is a major tourist attraction, there are a lot of commercial "touristy" attractions also.

A word of caution: During the first 2 weeks (approximately) of August, the Black Hills area is innundated with motorcycle enthusiasts attending the gigantic Sturgis (South Dakota) Harley Davidson Rally. This event has, in past years, drawn over 500,000 visitors from a week before the actual rally until days afterwards. Many local bussinesses raise their prices substantially during this period. I have seen campgrounds triple their rates during this period. So, in addition to excessive crowds on the roads, at the attractions, and hard to find lodging, you will pay a premium price for just about everything.

Well, it is getting a little late. I"ll end this here an hold additionalny other thoughts until later or until after I see what others have to say or you give more specifics as to your plans .

One last thing: I was in both Yellowstone and the Black Hills each of the last two summers. That is in addition to numerous visits to both over the last 30+ years.

pianotuna
Hi Tim,

What Jerry S. means by "really hot" is say 53 degrees C (129 F). In the night it "cools off" to a mere 44 C (110 F). Location Phoenix AZ.
Texasrvers
Tim,

I too thought you meant you were only going to Colorado. But I do agree with what the others have said. We were in the Mt Rushmore area in Sept. and stayed at the Rafter J Bar Ranch Camping Resort. It is very centrally located in Hill City.

We saw and enjoyed everything Jerry mentioned. Be sure to see the Mt Rushmore lighting ceremony held each night. If you want to see buffalo be sure to drive the wildlife loop in Custer State Park. Also check with one of the visitor centers or ranger stations and ask where the buffalo are that day. The herd does not stay put, but the park staff usually keeps tabs on them.

Given your short timeline I think I would leave out the Badlands. They are interesting, but Yellowstone is far better. Also you might add a trip to Devils Tower. It is in north eastern Wyoming and just a short side trip off the main highway to Yellowstone. If you are lucky maybe a spaceship will land during your visit. laugh.gif (If you don't get the joke, this is the monument that was in the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind.")

I would avoid the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at all costs!! Not that these aren't good people; it's just that crowds and higher prices are not my thing.

Again, I hope this helps.
denbroncs
If you do skip the Grand Canyon, Colorado has canyons of its own: Colorado National Monument & the Black Canyon of the Gunnison are 2 of the best kept secrets in our country! The Black Canyon is actually deeper than the Grand Canyon.

There is a castle in Glen Eyrie built by the guy (General William Palmer) that founded Colorado Springs. I know the Welch appreciate a nice castle.

You can drive to the top of Pike's Peak - known as "Americas Mountain" where the hymn "America the Beautiful" was inspired - or take a train to the top. Our last trip out (mid-November) we saw bighorn sheep, fox, deer, & elk. Garden of the Gods is between the base of Pike's Peak and Glen Eyrie. Cripple Creek is a old mining town about 45 minutes from Colo. Springs. Now, there are a few casinos. Don't be surprised if you see mules in the middle of the town.

Yeah, you could easily stay in Colorado the entire time.
Jerry S
Hi again Tim,

I see no one has added to this for a couple days, so I resume with my thoughts on your trip.

First, let's get back to the Black Hills. If you picture Mt. Rushmore as the center of a circle and draw a 50 mile radius from that center, you will pretty much have all the aforementioned Black Hills attractions. This area has dozens of RV parks/campgrounds and probably over 1,000 RV sites. Check the reviews on this website for the parks - there parks are listed under at least 15 towns, including, but not limited to Rapid City, Sturgis, Custer, etc. Each park listing will show the parks' facilities and amenities plus reviews and ratings from customers. Only you know what kind of parks will suite your wants and needs for your stay. Do you want to stay in just one park and use as a base for touring? Do you want all the amenities (Cable TV, WIFI, a pool)?

The park mentioned by Texasrvers is centrally located (very close to Mt. R.) and, thus, would reduce the to and from various attractions commuting time during your stay. It also has most of the amenities of a resort. There is also a very highly rated park (Elkhorn Ridge) in the northern part of the area listed under Spearfish. Staying here is a bit expensive ($40+) and would increase your daily commuting time if used as a base camp. Your option are almost unlimited - from just a place to park and sleep for the nights to a resort.

Now, back to some general comment on your trip. As previously noted, I would suggest taking 2 days getting from Denver to the Black Hills. I think 5 days in the Black Hills area would allow you to see most of the major sights at a reasonable pace. Fom there, take 2 days (3 if taking a side trip to Devil's Tower) getting to Yellowstone. Enroute, Buffalo, WY has several nice parks and Cody, WY (about an hour east of Yellowstone) has a number of parks and several hundred RV sites. Some folks use Cody as a base for Yellowstone, but that is really a lot of driving back and forth. Staying in the park (limited RV sites) or West Yellowstone, MT (about 5 parks and several hundreds of RV sites) is much more convenient and will make your daily commute time in and out of the park much shorter. In case you did not know, the main road system in Yellowstone is basically a figure 8. Just driving (no stops) the entire park road system would take 8-10 hours. The speed limit is 45mph with many sections lower (lots of curves, mountain climbs, and congested areas (not to mention the occasional "buffalo jam) and there are always on-going consturction delays somewhere in the system. In order to see the major sights in the park, I would plan on seeing no more than 2 or 3 sights a day. This will allow you an hour or two at each attraction with time to hike, lunch, and just plain enjoy. Again, 5 days should give you enough time to see the "biggies" and not be worn out. From there head south to Grand Teton National Park and spend a day enjoying this magnificent mountain range. Finally, head south or southeast from the Tetons to Interstate 80 that crosses southen Wyoming from east to west. Rawlings, WY has 3 nice RV parks. It is an easy (all interstate) drive from Rawlings to Denver.

That should fill you 3 weeks.
tim in wales
Thanks everyone for you comments - all fantastic and taken on board. Apologies for not responding earlier - too much Christmas shopping etc !!

Looks pretty definite to miss out Grand canyon but there seems loads to see anyway.

Now all I need is a vehicle !!

Merry Christmas to you all from a wet Wales.

Nadolig llawen i gyd. unsure.gif


tim
Texasrvers
Hi again Tim,

I had meant to add this earlier, but I got hung up with Christmas "duties" also.

Jerry is right on about Rafter J. It is about 12 miles from Mt Rushmore and very much in the center of things. We used it as a base camp and then drove to all the surrounding sights. The good thing about Rafter J is they have several different types of areas--from fairly open sites to heavily wooded. Their hookups also vary--from tent sites to full hookup with cable. However you like to camp, it should meet your needs. (And no, I do not own stock in Rafter J.)

When we were there we had a car, and actually if you plan to rent a large RV you might consider renting a car when you get to the area. If you do have a car drive the Needles Highway. (I don't think anyone else has mentioned it.) It is right by Mt R and has spectacular scenery, but it also has some very tight one lane tunnels that a motorhome cannot go through. I even saw a large SUV bring in its mirrors just in case. For most areas you will do OK driving an RV, but a car would make sight seeing a lot easier (not having to unhook, finding a place to park, etc.).

We also stayed at the Elkhorn Ridge Resort that Jerry mentioned. It's very nice, but very different from Rafter J. It is much more of a park/resort than a campground, but it has large sites and nice amenities. We were there in the off season so the cost was quite reasonable. We used this as a base camp to see the old historic town of Deadwood, Spearfish Canyon scenic drive, and Devils' Tower. Looking back I wish we had taken the motorhome over to Devil's Tower and stayed at the KOA there. This is another expensive place, but the views of the tower are amazing.

The itinerary Jerry worked up sounds great. You should have a good time.

TX
cheerfulkim
Wow! What a wonderful trip you have planned! If you are going to be going from Mt. Rushmore to Yellowstone, you might want to make a stop in Sheridan, Wyoming. Although we're from California, my husband was born in Sheridan, so we go every summer. There is a wonderful downtown area that is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places (did I get that right? smile.gif ) and an authentic western feel that you don't find in many places. There are several battlegrounds nearby (the Fetterman Battlefield and Wagon Box Fights are two of them), several museums such as the Bradford Brinton, the Kendrick Museum and the superb free museum behind King's Saddlery on Main Street. You also won't want to miss the historic Sheridan Inn, at one time considered to be one of the finest hotels west of the Mississippi!
Now for Colorado. We spent several nights at the KOA in Ouray several years ago and it was a highlight of our trip. Ouray is surrounded by high mountains and is just beautiful. We were there for the Fourth of July and saw an unforgettable fireworks show. The hot springs are a lot of fun also. The KOA was a great base camp. My husband and I enjoyed great BBQ on the patio one night while listening to the camp bluegrass band. I can highly recommend this spot!
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