Need moar cold/snow!
January 21, 2011 5:48 AM   Subscribe

Looking for road trip suggestions for the end of Februrary! Looking to drive up to ~15 hours from DFW for the perfect destination. Could possibly be a relocation prospect in the future. Difficulty: SNOW, mountains, Colorado?

As a former Pennsylvanian gone Texan, the transition has been rough for me. I miss cold, snow and terrain. In an attempt to take a vacation from this sweltering heat (70 degrees in December.. seriously!??) my fiance has agreed to check out other areas north of here that we might both enjoy.

My thoughts immediately went to Colorado. It seems a perfect state from my outside view but my searches on which cities to possibly visit have turned up an overwhelming amount of information. My first thought of course, was Denver, but I realize I am probably missing a lot of the smaller, more interesting places.

We are in our 20's/early 30's and would like to be closer to a large city to visit, but while also staying off of the beaten path. Definitely not looking to stay/live in a more expensive city (Boulder, Aspen from what I've read). Mountain views, open spaces, hiking trails, nature in general would be great. Perhaps a cabin in the middle of the woods? Not really looking to ski or board, but maybe snowmobiling? My idea of nature trails is not a paved sidewalk with emergency phones and lights every half mile :)

Thanks for any ideas!
posted by phox to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Fort Collins, CO, might suit you.
posted by mareli at 6:12 AM on January 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Might I suggest Durango, CO?

Lots of trails in the area, and you can easily pop over to the Four Corners region for some beautiful scenery. A day trip on the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge railroad will give you some beautiful sights. And the town has lots of nice shops and restaurants to visit.
posted by i less than three nsima at 6:46 AM on January 21, 2011

Ft. Collins and Durango are both great suggestions. The Arkansas valley might also be another place to check out. Salida and Buena Vista are two quirky, relatively inexpensive, smallish towns about 2.5-3 hours from Denver, with access to just about every outdoor activity under the sun.
posted by partylarry at 7:35 AM on January 21, 2011

I'd also recommend Salida. It's a lovely little town with plenty of mountains and even some hot springs near by. And if you are considering Salida and don't mind hostels, I'd recommend the Simple Lodge.

Ft. Collins is also a great place if you appreciate good beer. The breweries there are worth a visit, especially New Belgum and O'Dell's
posted by ghostiger at 7:43 AM on January 21, 2011

Not sure you can drive to the CO Rockies in 15 hours. It will take you forever to get out of Texas ;)

How about Taos, NM? - High and cold in winter. There's skiing etc. And it's a couple of hours drive from Santa Fe where there is a ton of interesting stuff, great museums, etc.
posted by life moves pretty fast at 7:45 AM on January 21, 2011

Oh, my mistake - Google maps says you can get there in 15 hours. Taos is 12 hours.
posted by life moves pretty fast at 8:31 AM on January 21, 2011

I would recommend Northern New Mexico.

Santa Fe is a fantastic small city (population of maybe 60,000). Mountains all around, skiing in the winter, not too hot and not at all humid in the summer. Lots of places to go hiking. Taos is nice too, but it is VERY touristy.

The area around the Raton Pass is gorgeous, and there are two smaller towns that border it - Raton, NM and Trinidad, Colorado.

I haven't spent much time in Los Alamos, but it's worth checking out too. It's close to Bandelier National Monument, which is an excellent place to go hiking.
posted by helloknitty at 8:31 AM on January 21, 2011

I suggest new mexico as a Colorado native--southern CO is beautiful but no big city near Durango. Santa Fe is lovely.

Except if you want to go forthe Colorado Springs area, specifically Manitou Springs is charming, garden of the gods, etc. Downtown C. Springs near Colorado College is cute.

Very DFW style sprawl, though.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:38 AM on January 21, 2011

Oh and lots of little houses to rent in that area . Cabins not really in northeastern style woods as there tend to be fewer trees around. Can't check if within driving distance, sorry.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:40 AM on January 21, 2011

Well, as a Chicago native who lived for six years in Albuquerque and did a fair amount of exploring I can tell you that Denver is my favorite option of what you've said. While it's very much a real city, it feels very homey and is pretty much in the center of everything you want to do. An 60-90 minutes to snow in the mountains, within 30 minutes of great hiking in all directions, accessible to Northern New Mexico should you want to take a weekend trip to Taos, Santa Fe, Bandalier, etc.

Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs are growing on me, but I really couldn't see myself living there.

The great thing is that CS/MS are on I25, so you can check them out on your way to Denver!

If you really don't want to be in Denver proper, there are suburbs as well as some towns further afield that would keep you within easy driving distance. Places like Louisville or Broomfield (between Denver and Boulder). Golden is at the foot of the Rockies.

The problem with getting that shack in the middle of nowhere in the mountains is that it REALLY snows up there. Like feet at a time. It's gorgeous, but you really have to understand that you can wind up stuck up there with the chance of getting down the mountain for days at a time. But there are some places with more accessibility, but they are also more touristy - places like Winter Park.

How much time do you have?
posted by FlamingBore at 9:20 AM on January 21, 2011

Yes, the I-25 corridor has, from south to north. Pueblo, C. Springs, Denver, Ft. Collins.

I lived in Colorado Springs for 4 years and Denver for about 1. Grew up 20 minutes from Ft. Collins.

C. Springs has many problems but also has incredible natural beauty. Lots of very cheap housing. Stark rich/poor divide.

Denver has a lot of suburbia which I despise but there are a lot of smaller areas that are nice. Fancy shopping/eating, sports teams, all that.

Golden is very charming. Many friends went to school there.

Ft Collins is really livable. I enjoyed it very much growing up. Don't know what the job situation is like, though.

So I think visiting all these spots if you have the chance could be worthwhile.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:21 PM on January 21, 2011

Especially for relocation, FlamingBore is right on - Louisville, Broomfield, Golden, and several other small towns (Morrisson, Idaho Springs, Loveland, etc.) are very close to Denver, generally not as expensive as Boulder, and often provide great access to I-70 (i.e., mountain country) and lots of great outdoor spaces. But if you're just looking for fun places to visit now, look to Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco, Leadville, Glenwood Springs, and other towns in the mountains on the I-70 corridor, or someplace like Estes Park. You still get relatively easy access to Denver, but much more direct access to the snow, the mountains, and all the fun outdoorsy stuff here.
posted by dilettanti at 12:25 PM on January 21, 2011

Also: you can find some really great places to stay in the mountains on VRBO, though there are also a good number of nice little bed and breakfasts up there, too.
posted by dilettanti at 12:27 PM on January 21, 2011

Thanks for all of the responses! I am really liking the Northern New Mexico suggestions as well :)

FlamingBore: Going to have about a week or so to explore. Yea, and getting stuck in the mountains because of snow is probably less than ideal at this time, but it still sounds nice (as a vacation point of view, not a trying-to-get-to-work pov)! We are also planning on taking our 35mpg Corolla vs our 17mpg 4WD SUV.

life moves pretty fast: I was surprised about Denver being so close as well considering PA was a days drive :)

I took a quiz over at FindYourSpot and Loveland, CO was my number one result.
posted by phox at 3:21 PM on January 21, 2011

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