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Re: Colorado 11 Day Trip with our Group of 11 (Part 1) (Part 2)

Day 8 - St Mary's Glacier
We wanted to break up the drive from Denver to Avon and this seemed to be a popular spot not too much out of the way. The hike is about 1.5 miles RT with constant elevation and lots of rocks. The view of the lake and glacier once we were up there were beautiful. There is no snow or ice on the actual trail to the glacier so you should be able to avoid injury assuming nothing foolish is done. Here too, on a hot Sunday, there were lots of interesting people that were dressed accordingly. Bring exact change ($5) for parking. There was a cop giving tickets to people parked on the street.

We checked in later that night to the Wyndham Avon. We got a beautiful 3 bedroom Condo for $300 a night (plus $15 parking). Pool was closed. Game-room was open. They had a great patio to make BBQ as well as a fire pit for a good chill at night (as some of my kids call it). Concierge as well to help with trip ideas.

The Chabad in Vail allowed us our first Mincha/Maariv in about a week with a Minyan. They seemed okay with anyone coming in as long as masks were being worn.

Day 9  - Glenwood Cavern Adventure Park -
The $60 entrance fee was too steep for our party of 11. So I contacted group sales ahead of time and they asked me if anyone in our group had a birthday the month of our arrival as that would be their best rate. That entitled us to a $40 entrance fee per person and a pizza party.  They allowed us to trade in our pizza for a $10 gift card per person to use just about anywhere in the park. I think the minimum for the “birthday party” is 8 people. We officially went on a slower day and still had to wait about 30 minutes per ride. Great Alpine Slide.

This isn’t too important for future travelers, but it definitely added a twist to our trip. After about 3 hours there, the power had gone down on the mountain. Shortly thereafter we saw smoke billowing up from a mountain a short distance away. It seems a forest fire had broken out a short distance away (the locals later claimed that a forest fire of that scale hasn't happened there since 1974) and we were asked to descend the mountain and leave the park. By the time we got down, highway 70 had been shut down going Eastward and our 50 minute drive turned out to be a 5 hour drive as we took the scenic route (Rifle, Craig, Steamboat Springs) fearing that it could be many hours or potentially days for the roads to reopen. In the end, the park refunded us 75% of our visit. So considering that the other 25% we paid was a gift card to buy souvenirs, we did okay. I was very impressed in how they handled things. Three days later, I-70 is still closed. It's a good thing we didn’t wait.

Day 10 - Ford Park, Botanical Garden, Vail Village, Lionshead Village
The ADHD in me has a hard time with a chilled out day, but I needed to leave a day open in case bad weather (or a forest fire!!!) would require a schedule change for our Glenwood Canyon or Rafting day. I also knew my wife would appreciate a day like this. Parking was free. The park and gardens were nice (if you appreciate that stuff). The window shopping in the villages are seemingly trying to resemble European architecture (the Alps?) and nice.

Day 11 - Piney River Ranch
In the end, they cancelled our rafting trip due to the forest fire earlier in the week. I have had this dream of taking my kids rafting on the Colorado. I had done extensive homework to get the most bang for our buck (they offered us like 20% off since we were eight) for rafting on the Colorado and we had chosen Defiance Rafting to do the Shoshone rapids twice,, but it wasn’t meant to be. They gave us a full refund.

So we needed an activity for the day. My younger ones had been hiked out from the week before so we needed an easier day. The concierge in Wyndham suggested Piney River Ranch. It’s only 8-10 miles from Vail but on a dirt road and a bit nauseating for my passengers (we took Bonine). Once up there, a beautiful lake and background. They rent canoes for $30 an hour and you can put up to 3 people in each. He gave us an extra 20 minutes and it was beautiful. They also have horseback riding, but with pricing at $105 per person and needing to weigh less than 220 pounds, that counted that out one way or the other. They seemed to have a hike as well which we skipped. On the drive out, there’s a small bridge that you cross that has a small camping area right there. We pulled over there to have lunch and then went down to the stream down below and the kids had a real nice quiet place to put their feet in the water. We saw a moose on the way out.

Day 12 - Lake Dillon, Loveland Pass
Tomorrow is our last day. We have a 6PM flight so we figured we’d take a short stop by Lake Dillon and drive by Loveland Pass to get a picture by the continental divide since it’s just 10 minutes out of the way. Then stop for some pizza before heading towards the airport.

Final Thoughts - Colorado is a beautiful State and we only touched what was within 2 hours driving from Denver or Vail. On top of that, the idea that kosher food and minyanim (under normal circumstances) are available make it an obvious place to visit. I would have loved to have hit some spots like the Sand Dunes and the Grand Canyon of the Gunnison but with our age groups, it would have been too much driving at this stage in life.

Vail is a beautiful place. And if you have the time, it’s definitely worth stopping here for 3-4 days as a base to hit places like Glenwood Canyon, Hanging Lake, Colorado River Rafting, Piney River Ranch along with Vail Mountain and shops. Most of the people that I met in the Vail area only come to Vail to visit. Some for 10 days. I think it would be a shame to make the trip to such a beautiful state for so long, and miss out on many places that are too far from Vail when they could have done it if they were based in Denver (or any other place for that matter).

I hope when the kids are a bit older to return and hit some of those places I couldn’t reach, as well as get my Double Shoshone Rafting.

I hope this helps.

August 12, 2020, 09:43:16 PM