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DURATION: 7 days / 6 nights
LEVEL: Easy / Moderate
TERRAIN: Flat / Steep
Colorado National Parks feature mountainous splendor of alpine lakes, towering peaks, rolling meadows, and captivating wildlife at Rocky Mountain National Park; red rock canyons in Colorado National Monument; 2,000-foot deep, sheer-walled canyons at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park; and rugged mountain vistas and massive dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park. We will explore each of these national parks including fantastic scenic drives and lacing up our boots to get a closer look at the highlights of each park on many of the iconic trails.
Discovery Lodge or lodging nearby - 1 night
Located a short distance from the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. This lodge is situated around beautiful pond and each room features views of the mountains, cable tv, wifi, and a mini fridge. The lodge also has a hot tub on site to relax after a day of hiking.
Gateway Inn or lodging nearby - 1 night
Situated just above Grand Lake, this casual, lodge-style hotel has unassuming rooms, most of which are lakeside, feature cable TV and free Wi-Fi. The hotel’s location just south of Rocky Mountain National Park means you will be surrounded by the beauty of nature and mountain vistas.
Comfort Inn, Fruita or lodging nearby - 2 nights
Right at the doorstep of Colorado National Monument this hotel provides simple rooms that feature comfortable beds, tv, wifi, mini fridges. The hotel also has a pool and hot tub and is located just a couple blocks from the Colorado Welcome Center.
Inn at Tomichi Village or lodging nearby - 1 night
This hotel features tastefully appointed furnishings, luxurious bedding, and large flat screen TVs. Unwind in the atrium enclosed pool and hot tub offering panoramic views of the area. Sit out and relax in the beautiful, tree lined courtyard.
Palace Hotel or lodging nearby - 1 night
The Palace Hotel is Salida, Colorado’s, premier historic boutique hotel established in 1909. Uncompromised elegance and “Old West” charm create a bastion of comfort and class deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Here, vintage chic meets the modern amenities, located in Historic Downtown Salida.
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Day 1—Arrival and Estes Park
This morning you will be picked up from your Denver airport hotel and head west to Estes Park, the gateway community to Rocky Mountain National Park. We will stretch our legs this afternoon on a short hike to acclimatize to the elevation before relaxing over dinner in town.Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Day 2—Rocky Mountain National Park
We start off the day with a hike in the park before traversing the famed Trail Ridge Road, which forms the highest continuous highway in America. This celebrated “Roof of the Rockies” offers views of massive peaks and rugged canyons as you cross the continental divide. In the afternoon we explore one of the many trails on the west side of the park.Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 3: Grand Lake to Grand Junction
Another scenic drive is on tap for this morning before a hike near Frisco, CO the halfway point of our drive to Grand Junction. After lunch in Frisco we continue west through White Mountain National Forest and cross the Colorado River numerous times arriving in time to relax before dinner near our hotelMeals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 4: Colorado National Monument
Just west of Grand Junction is a hidden gem of the National Park System, Colorado National Monument. Spend the day exploring the towering monoliths, red rock canyons, and larger-than-life vistas. We start with a 23-mile scenic drive along Rim Rock Drive where we may see some resident bighorn sheep and golden eagles and of course stop at many of the scenic overlooks along the way. Several short hikes will give us an even deeper look into some of the highlights of the park including Window Rock, the Canyon Rim, and Coke Ovens. Depending on how much time we spend in the park we may visit the Museum of the West in downtown Grand Junction before a relaxing evening.Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 5: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park & Curecanti National Recreation Area
We head to the southern entrance of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Established in 1999 for its deep cultural history and natural beauty. The park features two scenic drives, the South Rim Drive which is 7 miles and has 12 overlooks. Also, the East Portal Road which brings us down to the Gunnison River where due to step, close-set walls, some parts of the river only get 33 minutes of direct sunlight each day. Along the way we will get out to explore on foot as well and walk amongst a variety of plant life from sagebrush and Gambel oak to pinyon pine and Utah juniper. In the afternoon we will follow the path of the Gunnison River as it passes through Curecanti National Recreation Area which offers fantastic views of the river and an opportunity to hike to the Dillon Pinnacles. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 6: Great Sand Dunes National Park
This morning we introduce you to the newest of the four National Parks in Colorado. Like Black Canyon of the Gunnison, this area had been designated a national monument decades before it became National Park in 2004. In it are the tallest sand dunes in North America, set against the dramatic alpine peaks of the Sangre de Cristos Mountains. We will venture up the dunes to get amazing views of the mountains and dunes that stretch farther than they eye can see. Our destination for this evening is the town of Salida situated along the banks of the Arkansas river. Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 7: Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and Departures from Denver
On our way back to Denver we will make a stop at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. The park has one of the richest and most diverse fossil deposits in the world including petrified redwoods stumps and thousands of fossils of insects and plants. From there we will drive through Colorado Springs to Denver International Airport for evening departures. Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch
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Length: 7 days
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