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Valerie
Burnsville

Valerie from Burnsville asked

Choice between Steamboat Springs area or Vail for summer hiking and scenery

Not sure which way to head for my one week driving tour through the Co. mountains (never been before)...I love nature and easy hiking.  Not sure if I should head to Steamboat for the hot springs or Vail and Glenwood Springs area?  I'll be driving through Denver from MN.  I want to circle through the mountains and see some sites, maybe a little easy rafting trip then stop at Pikes peak area and Co. Springs to end my trip.   Is Telluride a must see?  Thanks!

Colorado   Steamboat Springs   Vail   Denver   Telluride   Glenwood Springs

8 Answers
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top answer by
Kim from Colorado

I would choose Steamboat Springs.   It has a very small town feel.  It is a short drive to Oak Creek a very rural town outside of Steamboat. There is Taco stand on Main street called Lupita's Cantina. Tacos voted for best Taco Stand in the state. The tacos sell out by 3:30pm.  While you are there, go have a beer at Elk's Tavern and say hi to Shirley. Shirley is the owner of the local bar for 32 years.  If you are looking to get to know people from a true mountain community, interested in local mining history, it's worth a stop.

 


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Valerie
Thanks...this is the kind of thing I wanted to know!
 
 
 

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  2. Oak Creek (city)
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answered by
Jen from Denver

Telluride is a must see!  It is a 6-7 hour from Denver, so plan for that.  It is the most amazing town in the country--you will be blown away by the scenery.  I have been going there 2 times a year for 4 years and discover new things every single time. Skip Vail--it is not a historic town at all and is right off I-70.  The scenery doesn't even come close to Telluride's in southwest Colorado and it is very pretentious. All the hiking you will need is in Telluride with the highest waterfalls in Colorado, Wilson Peak, Bear Creek Trail, Sneffels Range, wildflowers, 4x4-ing, mountain biking, small historic town with fun little local shops and great food scene.  I would spend 3 days there minimum if you want to get some good hikes in and see the town.  www.visittelluride.com has a list of all the best hikes and where the trailheads are.  The drive to Telluride via hwy 24 to hwy 50 is gorgeous too!  Skip I-70.  You can also visit nearby Ouray and drive the Million Dollar Highway.  That is where you will get a serious feel of driving through the mountains! Once back in the Denver/Colorado Springs are, I would recommend driving up Mount Evans instead of Pikes Peak--unless you plan on taking to cog rail up Pikes. You will see mountain goats and more beautiful tundra landscape on Evans than Pikes--and Evans road is paved, so if you aren't used to high altitude driving, this would be a better bet for you.  Good luck!  Would love to know what you decide!


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Valerie
This is awesome information and you have inspired me to go to Telluride....I wanted to but thought it might be too far. I am going to head there right after my drive through RMNP down hwy 24 as you suggested. Thanks for the tip on Mt. Evans instead of Pikes Peak too!!
 

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Jen
You won't regret it!! Enjoy and take lots of photos!
 

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Valerie
one more question...should I drive over Independence pass on my way to Telluride? Is that a must see? I may want to stop somewhere for the night between Grand Lake and Telluride, suggetions on that?
 

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Jen
There is now real way to get to Telluride (without going at least 150 miles out of your way) from Independence pass. But if you want to go over the pass, then I recommend staying in Aspen and visiting the Maroon Bells Mountains- the most photographed mountains in the world. You would hit hwy 82 from Hwy 24 south of Leadville, go over the pass stay in Aspen, then return back over the pass to continue onto Telluride. You can always hit I-70 north of Aspen then travel west to Grand Junction, then South to Montrose, then Telluride...but that is going way north to go way south.
 

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Jen
Halfway between Grand Lake and Telluride would be Gunnison and a good place to stop for a quick over night. Its a tiny college type town, so not a whole lot to see, but you could always drive about 45 minutes north from Gunnison to Crested Butte (beautiful) and spend the night there and the return down to Gunnison to continue on your way. Both Crested Butte and Aspen/Maroon Bells are worth an over night and the little bit of the "out of the way."
 

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Brew
Agree with this. The Ouray/Million Dollar Highway drive and area is pretty incredible.
 
 
 

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  1. Telluride (city)
  2. Denver (city)
  3. Vail (city)
  4. Wilson Peak (park)
  5. Bear Creek Trail (attraction)
  6. Sneffels Range (attraction)
  7. Ouray (city)
  8. Million Dollar Highway (attraction)
  9. Mount Evans (attraction)
  10. Pikes Peak (attraction)
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answered by
Jane from Golden (Colorado)

Both Vail and Steamboat Springs are great to stay and for hiking.  Steamboat is more down to earth.  Telluride is amazing.  If you go stop and or stay Ridgway and there is a beautiful state park just out of town with easy hiking and amazing views.


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answered by
Brit from Denver

Steamboat Springs is a personal favorite, so I'm pretty biased. Although, Vail is great for hiking, too. Steamboat (the town) has a much chiller vibe than Vail.

Hiking Rabbit Ears Pass or the Devil's Causeway are great hikes in Steamboat (there are plenty more). And visiting Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs is always a great time.

Telluride is fantastic, but depending on how long your road trip is, it can definitely be out of your way. If you head into Colorado from the north end, you could hit up Steamboat first, swing down to Denver (about a three-hour drive), then make your way down to the Springs. Telluride is around a seven hour drive from Denver and is in the SW corner of the state -- something to keep in mind.


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Valerie
thanks...lots of good info to consider...we will drive through RMNP from Boulder stopping in Grand Lake for the night. I could head to Steamboat from there. I would love to see Telluride but maybe on another trip!
 
 
 

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  1. Steamboat Springs (city)
  2. Vail (city)
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  5. Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs (attraction)
  6. Telluride (city)
  7. Denver (city)
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answered first by
Wayne N Karen from Irvine

Vail is just off I-70 so the access is quick and easy. Steamboat is quite a distance from I-70. I would choose Steamboat because it is more remote. If you are driving along I-70 stop by our favorite bakery/cafe The Columbine Bakery in Avon, the west side of Vail for a meal and/or baguette sandwich for the road.


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Valerie
thanks....I will check out the Columbine Bakery!
 
 
 

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answered by
Kim

Travel the I-70 west.  If you want an easy hike to the most popular scene in Colorado, then go to Aspen, head up the Maroon Creek Road watershed on the bus system, then hike west to view the Maroon Bells.  Other scenic opportunities include other 14,000-foot summits, including Mount EvansMount BierstadtGrays And Torreys Trailhead, Mount Evans; Mount Bierstadt; Grays and Torreys Peaks; Belford, Oxford, Missouri, Huron, Yale, Harvard, Antero, Princeton, Tabeguache, Shavano, Kit Carson.  There is a great hot springs resort on Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort.  Tellurideis not much, other than an over-run tourist town in a box canyon.  However, drive southwest into the Lizard Head or Mesa Verde National Park if you wish.  


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  2. Aspen (city)
  3. Maroon Creek Road (attraction)
  4. Mount Evans (attraction)
  5. Mount Bierstadt (attraction)
  6. Grays And Torreys Trailhead (attraction)
  7. Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort (attraction)
  8. Telluride (city)
  9. Lizard Head (attraction)
  10. Mesa Verde National Park (park)
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answered by
Martin from Colorado

Steamboat Springs hands down.  Cooler town, more to do, tube the river, its off the I-70 corridor.


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answered by
Jeffrey from Los Angeles

Easy, Steamboat Springs it's amazing in the summer and the winter!  Telluride is nice for sure and there are hot springs down there also. 


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