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Old 02-12-2010, 02:27 PM   #1
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Dallas to Durango? Colorado Springs? Estes?

Hey gang. We're headed Northwest from Ft. Worth in July and have about 15 days to kill hiking, biking, sleeping and generally doinkin' around.

Since this is our first trip past the state line in the Tuna Can, would love any suggestions for routes, things to see, etc. We're thinking a three day stop over in Durango is a must (friends), but otherwise open. We considered Yellowstone, but a little too much driving for such a short jaunt.

Prefer tall trees and streams...any suggestions would be appreciated!
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Old 02-12-2010, 02:43 PM   #2
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Mesa Verde National Park, west of Durango is a must see. Also, ridding the train to Silverton is a adventure. If you want to ride the train reservations well in advance may be needed as July is prime tourist time.
Drive on up to Ouray and spend some time too. A beautiful little town. Take a jeep tour while there if time permits (lots of info on the web). In fact, a really good trip would be to ride to the train to Silverton and have your friends pick you up there and go on to Ouray. The train ride back from Silverton was long and hot when we took it. The morning trip up was great but I was ready to be off the train by the time we go back to Durango.
Finally, Durango Mountain Resort is pretty. When we were there the chair lift was open and it was a great ride to the top of the mountain and down. Good hiking/mtb biking along Hermosa creek in that area.
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Old 02-12-2010, 02:55 PM   #3
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Durango trip ideas

As a long time train and scenery fan, may I suggest riding the Durango and Silverton train from Durango to Silverton and back. It's an all day trip, with a 2 hour lunch break at Silverton, thru some stupendous IMHO country. I'd also recommend hiking in the Silverton area but remember, there's no air up there. Also, please consider the longer train trip from Chama, NM, to Antonito, CO. My favorite trip on this steam railroad is from Chama to Osier (lunch stop, I recommend Mexican) and return. This trip takes a day, and does not include a bus trip to return to Chama as the trip from Chama to Antonito would. I have enjoyed staying in the Rio Chama campground in Chama. It's right next to the depot and is in a nice setting. I have no financial connection with any of these companies. Please check web sites to book CG's and train rides in advance.

Haven't been in this area for some time, but remember 2 CG's in Silverton if that were an option.

Enjoy
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:05 PM   #4
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I would suggest working your way toward Walsenburg, CO. It's on I-25. Then take US 160 to Durango. It is very scenic with varied views. For a side trip on the way, turn north on COLO Hwy 149 to Creede. It is an historic old mining town. It is where Bob Ford ("the dirty little coward who shot Mr. Howard and laid poor Jesse in his grave") was himself killed in a like manner. You will find a lot of fellow Texans there. We stayed in a very nice RV Park ( Mountain Views at RiversEdge RV Resort, Creede, Colorado) there once and were 1 of only 2 Coloradans there.
While in Durango, I recommend a ride on the Durango Silverton narrow guage railroad. It is a not to miss adventure. There is a lot of scenery and history in southwestern Colorado.
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:09 PM   #5
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In addition to the previously mention areas, a stop in Santa Fe or Taos, NM would be well worth the time. Wonderful art galleries, museums, Native American culture, and beautiful scenery.
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:12 PM   #6
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68...Ouray looks beautiful! Had a little trouble with the elevation in Crested Butte last time we were out that way, but sure looks inviting. Guessing best to park the Tuna in Durango and drive up to Ouray. I saw a campground (dry) at 10,000 feet. Wow!

Any things to catch on our way between Dallas and Durango?

Elvie, great ideas, and good point. I need air and lots of it. Altitude and I don't get along, but maybe this time! They say just because you have trouble once doesn't mean you'll have it again. Good thing we'll be on wheels ... cuz we can just move on down the road.
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Old 02-12-2010, 03:46 PM   #7
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Other Places to Visit IMHO

Guadalupe National Park, Great Hiking, not that high (plenty of air) maybe too warm that time of year.

Carlsbad Caverns-Great place if you like caves, which I do. Cool (almost cold) in the caverns all the time.

I second Taos and Santa Fe, great food if you like Mexican, and fantastic art galleries.

Is the Grand Canyon out of the question? There is a nifty aircraft museum about half way from the Grand Canyon and Williams, AZ. Also, another great train ride from Williams to the GC.
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:25 AM   #8
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Also, along the way:

* Rockhound State Park, near Demming (I think) -- A little ways off the road, but a great campground. Easy hiking, and you can pick up 20 pounds of geodes per person (if you can find them). It'll be hot in the summer, but they have electricity, so you can use your air conditioner there. Also, it cools off quickly when the sun goes down. There's a couple of old geazers that live just outside the park that have geodes by the pound, if your luck is like ours. Look for the photocell arrays near a low building with rocks piled all over, about a mile or so from the park entrance.

* White Sands National Monument -- Unusual and beautiful area for hiking, but may be hot in the summer. Plan on more than just a couple of hours, but no camping inside the monument.

* White Sands Missile Range -- Outdoor display just inside the main entrance to the Air Force Base is free. There is a small museum, but it always seems to be closed when we are there.

* Space Museum & IMax in Alamagordo, NM. -- Very interesting; lots for kids to see and do. The Trinity Site (first atomic bomb) is close by, but it is only open one day a year, in the spring, I think. You can check the Internet for more info, if interested. Also, the city park has a miniature railway; worth stopping for lunch and letting the kids run a little bit.

* Ruidoso, Cloudcroft, Roswell -- Ruidoso & Cloudcroft are in the mountains. Ruidoso has a horse track and ski area nearby, so it's cool there in the summer. Roswell (touristy UFO museums) is a short drive away in the eastern foothills.

* Valley of Fires State Park -- Great campground with showers, electric and water, and a dump station. Buildings are only a few years old and everything is still clean and new. Interesting boardwalk goes out over the lava field. It will be hot in the summer.

* Very Large Array (the dish antennas in the movies 2010 and Contact) -- Small museum and walking tour; worth the drive. We didn't camp here, but I seem to recall national forest campgrounds near by. In same general area, Silver City, NM is interesting small town. Also, there is an state park called "The Cat Walk" that is a beautiful area for hiking.

* Old 100 Gold Mine Tour in Silverton, CO -- Great fun, highly recommended. Lots of old mine equipment, including demonstrations, and funny old miner stories, too -- Ask about the exploding toilet. There is free gold and silver panning at the end of the tour; fun for the kids.

* Great Sand Dunes National Park, near Del Norte, CO (I think) -- Great hiking, if you like sand. Lots of interesting stuff in the NP Visitors Center. Lots of shallow water to cool off. The locals take shade covers and folding chairs and sit in the river (only a few inches deep, but wide). Great, safe fun for kids and adults.

* Pike's Peak and Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs area -- Drive to the top or take the cog railway. You can get discount tickets on the railway in the late afternoon for the last run up and back and avoid making reservations in advance. Significant savings, but you only have about 30-45 minutes at the top, which is long enough for most people to take pictures and get a cup of hot chocolate. Not much to do up there but enjoy the view, but that's OK -- there is also very little oxygen. I seem to recall vending machines for pure oxygen, if you need it.

* Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, CO -- Beautiful area, lots of wildlife. Not as green and wet as Yellowstone, but well worth the visit; and it's a lot closer. Also, lots of touristy stuff to do in Estes Park.

* Lots of mountain towns/ski resort areas west of Denver (e.g., Breckenridge, Aspen, etc.) -- Hiking, fishing and fine dining in the evening.
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:36 AM   #9
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I'd have to second that recommendation on the old 100 mine tour, have a look at the original mine buildings way above the opening, imagine going to work!

I'd like to add that if one stays in Silverton and the TV can do it, there usually is snow along the old mining roads. Stupendous scenery makes it worth it. There are several dirt road passes at or near 11,000 feet in the area.

There's a lot of great scenery in Southeastern Utah also.

Ain't planning fun?
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:48 AM   #10
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All great suggestions, we've been on most of those roads. Make sure your brakes are in tip-top shape. We would not be without this book. There are some "OMG" grades in that neck of the woods.

Welcome to Mountain Directory
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Old 02-13-2010, 10:57 AM   #11
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Sorry, ran out of time editing. Here are a couple of extra notes:

* The Great Sand Dunes has clean, convient campgrounds inside the park, but no hookups.

* Near Pike's Peak, Manitou Springs has lots of RV parks, and there's lots to do in the Springs area. Don't miss the city/state park and visitor center there. Sorry, can't remember the name, but it's right in the center of town. Big rock formations.

Comment on mountain grades: The worse one we have been on was in Utah, I think south of Flaming Gorge somewhere called the Devil's Backbone. It was a ridge with sharp drop offs of both sides, and I think it was a 14% grade. We were in first gear and still riding the brakes all the way down. I stopped to take photos, but they looked scenic instead of scary. The sheer drop offs on both sides just weren't as impressive as in person. Talk about "white-knuckling". Yikes!

And, yes, we had our Airstream behind us...
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Old 02-13-2010, 11:35 AM   #12
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If I were in the proximity of Durango/Mesa Verde, I would definitely take in Canyon De Chelley in Chinle, Az. It is spectacular. Plus, I would go north and enjoy Moab and Arches National Park. It is a spectacular drive along Hwy 50 to Gunnison, coming or going from/to Colorado Springs. Sorry, not many big trees and streams. Washington, Oregon, and Calif. is good for trees and streams, as in Redwoods, Douglas Fir, and Sequoia.
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Old 02-13-2010, 12:55 PM   #13
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Avoid the drop from Cloudcroft, New Mexico to Almagordo; you're on the brakes all the time: other than the wiring catching fire, brakes burning is the worst smell there is.
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Old 02-13-2010, 01:14 PM   #14
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If it's the forrest and lakes you like. Head north Ouray is great with the hot springs. Head up to the Grand mesa for all the trees and lakes you can handle There is an RV park up there but it fills up fast for people living there all summer. Frost RV . There are plenty of other camp grounds with no hook ups. From there you can head down through Crawford to blue mesa. From there Gunnison and south again to Alamosa and sand dunes NP. Great loop with lots to see.
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