Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: The Deep South (Sussex)
A few months ago I posted that I was off to Denver and the Rockies receiving some good advice from Ppruners.
I'm back and here is a brief report in case anyone else is thinking of heading that way:
More of an adventure than a holiday. Temperature ranged from 26degreeF to 98 degree F. Altitude from 5,000feet to 14,300 feet. The three week drive covered 3,300 miles. Suggest you go for a decent sized car to get the engine size that will cope with altitude. Not the holiday for veggies as all they seem to eat is beef, pork, bison and the odd trout.
We arrived in Denver’s new airport with BA on Thursday. Inordinate delay awaiting bags then caught cab into city for flat rate of $55.
We stayed for three days at the downtown Sheraton (recommended) It's right next to the main street mall. Used the local bus (info from info centre on the Mall) to visit the Museum of Science and History.
Caught the free transit that goes up and down the main drag to Market street airbus station, then for $5 each (Senior rate), went up the airport to collect the hire car from Avis. The ‘bus stopped for a while at the staff car park so assumed that we were near destination...then still had a ten mile drive to the terminals!
Avis, just one of many hire firms, tell me that they have 1800 vehicles to rent from that location!
Then drive back into city, collect the bags from the hotel and onwards to an outlet store on Cofax Ave. (not brilliant).
Dropped by the Scenic lookout overlooking Denver and the final resting place of Buffalo Bill Cody.
Onwards to the Silver Queen B&B in Georgetown. Started to feel effects of altitude (8,500) in taking heavy bags up steep set of steps in old Victorian house. Georgetown is an old mining town so lots of old buildings and history.
Ate in Euro restaurant (good) Breakfasts in B&B were enormous and the inn keeper, Joyce, could not have been more helpful.
The bathroom contained both a steam shower and a jacuzzi.
Next day rode the Georgetown loop railway up to Silver Plume, but declined the silver mine tour option. On to Frisco and Breckenridge (9,600feet) for lunch...now really feeling the altitude!
Following day drove up Mount Evans (14,300 feet).Thankfully too windy to walk around. This is the tallest mountain in NAmerica we were told. (But we later found that it was around the 13th tallest)
Downhill to Red Rocks ampitheatre then up to Golden and back to the B&B.
Thursday 2nd September we drove back down the I.70 to the road to Estes Park. The road to Loveland was a Gorge and scenic. Don't bother with the Outlet at Loveland.
Stayed at the Comfort Inn (recommended).Had a quick drive into the park ($20 weekly ticket). Price alert: The fuel price in Estes Park is 60 cents a gallon higher($3.20) so fill up well away from the place. Eat in Smoky Daves Bar-b-Que(seems to use other names but is on the road towards the Park in Moraine. Ribs, steaks etc and very cheap. Discount coupons in the local papers.Expect to queue at peak times.
Friday, did the drive across the park to Grand Lake. Had lunch (very good) at the Grand Lodge overlooking the lakes. Recommended. It might be good to stay at the Lodge, but it seemed closed to bookings when we were there.
Drove back to Estes Park (48 miles) and had dinner at the Big Horn (Passable for Elk and Buffalo Burgers).
Saturday, now Labor weekend, drove down to Boulder. Very civilised. The main street is Pearl and is pedestrianised with art galleries, coffee shops and bookshops.
At night went into the park as it was getting dark to get some photos. This was really good as the sun setting showed the mountains to their best. Then to Dave’s for more ribs etc!.
The Buffalo Bill Museum is well worth a visit.
Sunday we visited another” outlet Mall” in Cody that was useless and then hit the road to Cheyenne, Laramie and Casper. North of Laramie, on an empty straight road through the plains we met a very pleasant Trooper from the Wyoming Highway Patrol. He felt that the speed of 83 in a 65 zone was a little fast so wrote me what he called a citation for some $94.
Now down to 5,000 feet, breathing is easier.
Casper is a wild sort of town. Some of the restaurants stay open 'till 9pm!
The drive through Thermapoulis is interesting and worth a stop.
Wind river reservation and Gorge very scenic to drive through.
Arrived in Cody, stayed at the Cowboy Village a sort of log cabin, pretty new and clean with minimal breakfast. Ate at Cassies. Don’t order the Prime ribs as they are beef and I could only eat three out of the seven supplied!
We drove through the park from the eastern entrance then up to the north eastern exit seeing loads of Buffalos and one grizzly in the distance. Came back to Cody via the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. Very twisty!
Wednesday drove though the park seeing more buffalo and two Elk. The Old Faithful Geyser was a tad disappointing but the hot springs made up for it.
Now in the One Horse Motel in West Yellowstone park Montana. The usual enormous meal at the Outpost Restaurant. More than enough on each plate for two people provided they were really hungry and three if they were simply ravenous.
The One Horse is a simple but clean and comfortable place with very helpful owner.
Dress around the Park: Stetson or Baseball cap (usually military in badging) T shirt, jeans with large belt buckle, trainers and an anorak in inclement weather. This applies to both sexes and all ages. Others tend to dress down!
It takes around three days to see most of the park.
Friday departed West Yellowstone and headed south through Utah. After three days we no longer stop to see buffalos at extreme range. Instead we sit in long tail back because the stupid animals are blocking the road and complain!
Drove through Grand Teton NP. Snow above 7-8000 feet so very pretty but view obscured for much of the day by low cloud.
On through Jacksons hole (actually a valley) and to Jackson. Drove back to Teton Village later clutching money off voucher for the gondola to find it running on test for free. It took us well above the snow line to a closed restaurant at 9,095 feet.
The Comfort Inn aka the 49'er was rather scruffy and no bargain.
Long drive down to Rock Springs en route stop to Colorado.Passed the marker for where the Oregon trail crossed our route. Stayed at the Comfort Inn This one excellent and new.
Another long drive to Glenwood Springs 280 miles through Utah and then into Colorado where the scenary improves. Staying at the Marriot Residence hotel. Again just six months old.
For much of our driving the air was crystal clear with no visible haze and the horizon always visible . The sun is bright and harsh. They suggest a large fluid uptake to allow for altitude dehydration and the protect against the sun.
13th Sunday. Drove the I70 to Eagle. Fantastic Gorge through which the road, a railroad and a river that is later to carve up the topography of Arizona runs...the Great Colorado River. Great coffee shop called the Yurt or something similar in Broadway street. Then onwards to Glenwood Springs (where Doc Holliday is buried).
Long drive today from Glenwood Springs to Durango. We chose to go the "scenic" route where, with road blocks and dynamiting the drive took eight hours. The route was Route 133 south, Redstone, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Montrose, Ouray and Silverton. Incredible views of mountains, gorges etc with plenty of places to get out and take piccies.
Ate in French resturant near the railway station. Jean Pierre. A welcome change to smaller portions.
Visited the Animas museum. Read about the big gunfight between two locals outside a saloon at the turn of the century. Embarrassingly the opponents were the Town Marshall who died and the Town Sheriff who lived.
Travelled to Silverton, a mining town up in the hills, and back on the Durango and Silverton Railroad. The ticket choice selection is horrendous and more like trying to deal with M.O'Leary. To travel de luxe will cost you up to $140 each, each way.. Try to travel one sector in the cabin and one in the panoramic car. I takes 31/2 hours each way and will leave you knackered and smoke cured. Sensational views both ways including where Butch Cassidy and Sundance jumped from the cliff. Films made on the track include Around the World in eighty days, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid and How the West was won.
Drove the scenic route to Colorado Springs to stay a couple of days in the Marriott Residence near the Air Force Academy. Again pretty new and good value.
Ate in the Colorado Brewery near the cinema. Excellent with long queues.
Drove up Pike’s Peak to another 14,000 foot viewpoint. Delayed on the way up while the NTSB recovered a helicopter that had crashed a couple of days earlier. Don’t forget the throat pastilles for your passenger. Mrs Scannon screamed all the way up and down about how close we were to the edge and needed them
Drove the 70 or so miles to the airport, taking care to avoid the toll roads, and departed.