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october trip trying to see all 3 national parks south of den

Saint Louis...
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october trip trying to see all 3 national parks south of den

We are looking at a trip leaving on octboer 13, flying home on the 21. We would be flying into Denver.

I realize that at this time we do risk snow, but hoping no snow, want to see mesa verde, Gunnison, and great sand dune np;

My youngest is a train fanatic, are there trains running that late in October? My oldest wants to sand board at great sands. My kids love to hike

My questions are, what way would you start? Any must do things in nearby towns for young kids? We don't mind moving hotels, where would you suggest as base towns for staying.

thanks!

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Thornton CO
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1. Re: october trip trying to see all 3 national parks south of den

When we went to Mesa Verde we stayed in Durango at Purgatory Resort: https://www.purgatoryresort.com/. It's not terribly far to Mesa Verde (1.25 hours), plus there are other things to do in Durango (including trains:https://rezeast.net/durango/default.aspx). It's difficult to get much closer to Mesa Verde without staying in the park because there just isn't much out there.

After Durango/Mesa Verde we went to Great Sand Dunes and stayed in Alamosa. There is a hike near the Sand Dunes to Zapata Falls that is nice: https:/…

Also, the gator farm is fun near the sand dunes: http://www.coloradogators.com/

I'm afraid it's been years since I've been to Gunnison so I don't know much about it. But I would go from Denver to Gunnison to Durango to Alamosa to Denver if I were you.

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2. Re: october trip trying to see all 3 national parks south of den

Purgatory Resort is not in Durango it is twenty five miles north of town, not the best place to base for a trip to Mesa Verde. There is plenty of lodging available in Durango. Or you can stay closer to MV in Cortez. You are coming in mid October. Some tours in MV may be closed for the season when you are here. Check the MV website for details and schedules. The Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad runs in October but not necessarily all the way to Silverton.. Check their website for details and schedules. You mention Gunnison. I think you mean the Black Canyon Of the Gunnison NP. If so staying in Montrose makes sense.

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Saint Louis...
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3. Re: october trip trying to see all 3 national parks south of den

yes thank you!

WestSlope,CO
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4. Re: october trip trying to see all 3 national parks south of den

What time does your flight arrive? If early in the day you could go ahead and set out on your road trip. Or you may want to go to the Colorado Railroad Museum first thing (they have a short train ride--Ride the Rails--on Oct 13 plus lots of trains to see and explore http://coloradorailroadmuseum.org/timetable/ ) and then stay the night in Golden or the West Denver area.

What time is your departure?

A week sounds like quite a bit of time but you have 3 national parks and a lot of miles to cover, so it would be helpful to know your arrival and departure times to figure out workable itineraries and routes.

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park south rim drive-- with a couple of nice hikes and walks to overlooks plus the East Portal road to the Gunnison River at the bottom of the canyon at the shallower (ha!) end-- is just east of Montrose. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison refers to the Gunnison River rather than the town of Gunnison so when you are looking for info, be sure to look up Black Canyon of the Gunnison rather than just "Gunnison." The town of Gunnison doesn't make the best base for visiting the Black Canyon.

Ouray is a picturesque mountain town not far from Montrose & Ridgway, where there's a great hot springs pool (fun for the whole family) and hiking. Your train lover would like to explore the Ridgway Railroad Museum, open daily in October from 10-3. http://www.ridgwayrailroadmuseum.org/

Depending on the route you take, you might also want to include Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction/Fruita, which many of us think should be granted National Park status, and will give you entirely different red rock scenery and good hiking at that time of year.

The Georgetown loop railroad has some runs in October. Depending on your arrival time you could take that train ride on the 13th, or wait till the 14th. Or, if you start your loop in the other direction, you might schedule it at the end of your trip. https:/…index-responsive.cfm https://www.georgetownlooprr.com/

The Royal Gorge Route train runs daily in October. The boys might also enjoy the adventure rides at the Royal Gorge Park and Bridge( but tickets are kinda pricey unless you plan to spend a good bit of time there.) Depending on the route you choose and how many train rides you want to do, you might make this the last stop prior to returning to Denver, or stop for a good part of the day then drive on to Colorado Springs. (Lots to do in or near Colorado Springs, too, such as Cave of the Winds, Garden of the Gods and lots more. It is within a fairly easy drive of the Denver airport unless you have a very early flight, in which case you'd want to spend the night before departure closer to the airport.)

https:/…

https:/…

As mentioned, the Durango Silverton narrow gauge steam train does run through October. It is considered by many to be the top train ride in the state, if not the country. They do go all the way to Silverton in October but some of the adventure combination packages are not available that late in the year. You can still do the Train/jeep tour combo, I believe. That's fun and a good use of time. (Just fyi, there is a fire near Durango right now and the train has suspended operations for the time being, but I would imagine the schedule will be back to normal by the time of your visit. Always good to check, though.)

My route would probably be:

Day 1, Oct. 13. Arrival, Rail Museum, maybe Dinosaur Ridge.

14th. Denver>Glenwood Springs>Grand Junction/Colo Natl Monument

15th. Grand Junction>Montrose>Black Canyon and then to Ouray

16th. Ouray (hiking this morning or maybe a morning jeep tour)> back to Ridgway (rail museum) >Telluride >Mesa Verde (stay at Far View Lodge in the park for best use of time. Looks like Balcony House will be one of the tours still available at the time of your visit.)

17th. Mesa Verde most of the day, then to Durango

18th. Durango train ride

19th. Durango>Great Sand Dunes

20th. Great Sand Dunes to Canon City(maybe Royal Gorge Park? Or train?) > Colorado Springs. Might need to go to Denver if early flight.

21. Back to airport for departure.

Edited: 08 June 2018, 06:41
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