Help us plan our day trip in the CO Rockies.
May 5, 2009 11:39 AM   Subscribe

I live in Denver and my parents are coming to town in a few weeks. We thought it would be nice to take them up into the mountains. We don't want to drive for more than a couple of hours and we'd like to bring our labrador retriever. Does anyone have a suggestion of a nice city/area we can visit that is dog friendly?

We were thinking of maybe the Dillon area--we've been to Conifer with them a couple of times and would like to go further up into the mountains.
posted by Kimberly to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have in-laws from Denver and all I hear about is Estes Park. Disclamer - I know nothing about it.
posted by notned at 11:56 AM on May 5, 2009

Golden Gate Canyon State Park near Golden. Lots of beautiful not too hard hikes and great views of the mountains.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:12 PM on May 5, 2009

Silver Dollar Lake Trail is challenging hiking but really worth it.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 12:14 PM on May 5, 2009

I probably should have mentioned that my step-dad has knee issues, so we're looking less for hiking opportunities and more for small town site-seeing, grabbing a bite to eat, maybe going into some local shops (although not bringing the dog into the shops) opportunities.
posted by Kimberly at 12:25 PM on May 5, 2009

Consider Georgetown, an old mining town. I haven't done the tourist thing there in a long while, but when I was younger you could still ride an old mining train through the mountains. Not far at all from the city. Maybe an hour or so?
posted by pkphy39 at 12:31 PM on May 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tough time of year -- in late May, probably anything above 9000' will have patches of snow (or more) and mud.

Sourdough Trail at Brainard might be alright by then. If the parents aren't that into hiking, you could just walk up the road from the winter closure gate to Brainard Lake (3-4 miles roundtrip, snow melts/blows off the road far earlier than normal ground). Very impressive views. Dog-friendly.

Estes might be natural, except RMNP is not dog-friendly.

Maybe Garden of the Gods or something else down near Colorado Springs? Not exactly the mountains, but very pretty.
posted by genug at 12:33 PM on May 5, 2009

Seconding Georgetown. Also, not being a Coloradan I can't say whether it's even open yet, but the top of Mount Evans is a scary and nifty place to see not too far from the city. I was wowed when my Denver friends took us there.
posted by scratch at 1:16 PM on May 5, 2009

I'll second Garden of the Gods--looks like you're in the mountains but you're only at the foot of them. Beautiful! You can also drive to the top of Pikes Peak (if the time of year is right).

Dillon is great. So is Georgetown. If you're thinking about going that far in you might want to think about Grand Lake (it was made for Labradors).

Estes Park is gorgeous and very accessible. Fairplay is kinda an old mining town (with gambling). The Great Sand Dunes might be a whole lotta fun ('specially with your dog!) but might be a little far.

You all might be able to see some buffalo at Gennosee (sp?) Park near I-70 just as you get into the mountains--very cool!

If you don't mind some late season snow still on the ground, a lot of ski resorts would be fun with a lab--Winter Park, Mary Jane, Vail (3-4 hrs from Denver), Breckenridge.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 1:53 PM on May 5, 2009

Thirding Georgetown.

Also check out Bear lake in RMNP, it's a 1/2 mile on very flat ground. It'll be crowded as hell on Memorial Day though.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:55 PM on May 5, 2009

Breckenridge has all the charm and a few museums, lots of shopping and food. Plus you are in a valley with great gorgeous views of huge mountains all around you. Not sure how friendly some of those things are for dogs but it is excellent.
posted by mmascolino at 2:49 PM on May 5, 2009

Also I should add that outside of ski season traffic Breck isn't that far from the west side of Denver.
posted by mmascolino at 2:51 PM on May 5, 2009

Estes is good for small-town site-seeing. There is a charming (but very touristy) downtown area with lots of shops, places to eat, walking areas.

This is also a nice small lake in the town, just down the street from the downtown area. You can fish off the side of the lake, take a small boat out, or just walk around it. Might be a nice place to get out with a dog.

Georgetown is also nice, but it has a smaller downtown. I remember it having more antique shops than Estes. Estes has those as well, but also has a mix of other interesting stores. We drove to Georgetown once over the Guanella Pass to see the autumn foliage, which was breathtaking. The route passes high above Georgetown before winding down toward it. You can stop at an overlook, which has a picture of Georgetown during its mining days. Hilariously, it looks exactly the same now.
posted by jeoc at 3:03 PM on May 5, 2009

Manitou Springs is Colorados oldest tourist trap and pretty fun, if you have a sense of irony. The train up Pikes Peak is a classic (don't know about the dog though), and really seconding Garden of the Gods. It's spectacular and accessible.
Eldorado Springs and the canyon are also funky and interesting. The canyon has an easy road/trail on it's south side that can give great views of the cliffs and climbers. It's 10 minutes from Boulder.
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 5:01 PM on May 5, 2009

If you want a quaint mountain town, there's Evergreen. I lived there 25 years ago. I recently went back to visit with my family, and the town looks pretty much the same. There's a few more paved roads, but the restaurants and shops are mostly the same (we went to the Baskin Robbins I ate at when I was 5). There's cute galleries and shops, places to walk, things to see, etc.
posted by rybreadmed at 8:54 PM on May 5, 2009


We went to Georgetown and had a lovely time. Our puppy was a huge hit and there were lots of nice stores that everyone enjoyed.

We're hoping to go to some of the other places suggested in this thread another time.

posted by Kimberly at 12:33 PM on May 27, 2009

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