Northern Colorado Day Trips/ July 4th festivities?
May 5, 2008 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Where should I go for a day/overnight trip around Estes Park, Colorado, in early July?

These may or may not be the same question, but I'm looking for two recommendations for an upcoming trip to northern Colorado.

My family will be in Estes Park the week of June 29th, and my boyfriend and I would like to take a day/overnight trip while we're there. What would you recommend that's within 3 hours or so of Estes Park? Fossils? Springs? Museums? Wacky rock formations? Things worth doing in Denver? Specific lodging recommendations welcome.

Part 2 is that we'll probably be there for the 4th of July, so any recommendations regarding where we can see (and ideally photograph) a nice fireworks display? Does Denver do anything interesting? Red Rocks maybe? Smaller towns with better scenery?

Thanks for any help!
posted by ultraultraboomerang to Travel & Transportation around Estes Park, CO (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are you pulling our collective leg? No mention of Rocky Mountain National Park? If you're looking to get "away" from your family, head over to the far side of the park; plenty of cabins and such, although it's likely expensive unless you don't mind car-camping.
posted by notsnot at 9:07 AM on May 5, 2008

I don't know if it's your thing, but you'd be near Central City/Blackhawk, which has more casinos than Atlantic City. Central City also has a great Opera, with West Side Story playing on July 4th.
posted by mattbucher at 9:14 AM on May 5, 2008

Go to Rocky Mountain National Park. Some of the most beautiful mountains and spaces in the world. If you go on an especially cloudy day, driving up Trail Ridge Road will be scary/an awesome experience.

Also, the Stanley Hotel is in Estates Park. It's haunted and the hotel that the Shinning is based on. If you have a chance, stay there.
posted by Stynxno at 9:20 AM on May 5, 2008

Response by poster: Ha, sorry, yes. We'll be spending pretty much the whole week in and around the Park, absolutely. My aunt and uncle have been rangers there for 25 years or so, so we spend most of our time there. This trip I have an extra day or two to see something beyond the Park though, and I'm just looking for any personal favorite towns or parks (tourist traps are fine as long as they're actually worth the trap!) or places off the beaten path.
posted by ultraultraboomerang at 9:24 AM on May 5, 2008

The Royal Gorge is pretty cool.
posted by nitsuj at 9:31 AM on May 5, 2008

If you've got a yen for weird art, the Swetsville Zoo just outside of Fort Collins is a fantastic way to kill an hour or two. You could also take a tour of the New Belgium Brewery. Delicious!
posted by MsMolly at 9:42 AM on May 5, 2008

This might be a bit... whimsical lets say... but I always enjoyed the Alpine Slides in Winter Park Colorado, and it is only about 2 hours from Estes Park. Now, I was much younger when I was there, but my older cousins and my parents had a lot of fun there too at the time.

You get the serenity of going up on the ski lift with the excitement (perhaps competition) of racing down the mountain on your little cart. And the Slides in Winter Park are much longer, more fun and as I recall cheaper than the ones elsewhere (like Estes).

There is other stuff to do too in Winter Park, but I can't recommend anything else specific off hand.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:48 AM on May 5, 2008

agreed with all the above, also - Breckenridge has a great 4th of July festival.
posted by joshgray at 11:42 AM on May 5, 2008

Breckenridge has a great 4th of July festival.

Oh yeah, absolutely. You can also go down and watch the fireworks over Dillon Reservoir. Here are all the places around the state that have fireworks celebrations.
posted by mattbucher at 12:29 PM on May 5, 2008

Pedant-filter: Although the Stanley Hotel "inspired" Stephen King to write The Shining, the scenes at the Overlook Hotel in the Kubrick movie were filmed at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon.
posted by lukemeister at 8:14 PM on May 5, 2008

Lyons. Boulder. Nederland. Allenspark.
If you haven't been to Boulder before, and even if you have, you can kill a very delightful day, evening and following day there. Wander the pleasant, though overrun with tourists, Pearl Street outdoor mall. Stroll along the Boulder Creek path (or rent bikes--it really should be mandatory to bicycle around Boulder at some point in your life because the bike paths are so incredibly amazing. It is like a roller coaster that never ends, especially at night when you are drunk riding back to your hotel from the bars, whenever you come to an intersection your path takes a sliding dip to the side and ducks under the imposing road in its own tunnel. Awesome!). Hike or climb in Boulder Canyon or in the Boulder Mountain Parks -- Flatirons area or Mt. Sanitas, etc. Great restaurants abound. CU has a lovely campus. I could go on.

Stamboat Springs might be a nice drive, too. Over to the other side of the park and beyond. I would try to time this when there is less traffic on Trailridge road (the one road that goes across the park) so maybe very early or very late otherwise you'll be stuck behind an RV.

Ft. Collins is cool, too.

Estes is great have a wonderful time. I used to live there (and surrounding areas) so MeFi mail me if I can help.d
posted by fieldtrip at 10:26 PM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

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