We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Itinerary Help

Level Contributor
65 posts
30 reviews
Itinerary Help

Sorry for yet another itinerary thread...I swear I searched first! haha. Buddy of mine and I are in Denver for a long weekend (Sat-Tues in July). We’re staying in an Airbnb in Denver, Capitol Hill area. Here is what we have so far, would love some input!

Saturday - Arrive 10am, pickup rental SUV, use city culture pass (rent bikes, botanical, nature and science), hit breweries, Skyline Garden, and find a live music spot(recommendation?).

Sunday - Drive to Colorado Springs, Garden of Gods, Pikes Peak, find a short hike (recommendation?), back to Denver by way of Red Rock Amp and Coors Brewery. With this short of a trip is it worth venturing there? Or should we another day in Denver/RMNP? Those rocks look cool tho...also thought about Zip Line or White Water rafting in place of some of this.

Monday - RMNP. Driving from Denver straight to Bear Lake trailhead. How early do we need to get there? Want to hike to Emerald Lake and not be overwhelmed by people (is that a thing?), then drive Trail Ridge and find another decent hike (Ouvel?).

Tues - Depart.

7 replies to this topic
Level Contributor
13,251 posts
16 reviews
1. Re: Itinerary Help

For your Monday trip to RMNP you need to get to the Bear Lake TH by 8:30 am at the latest. That means leaving Denver before 7 am. The earlier you can leave the better.

Are you going to drive all the way over Trail Ridge Road?

There is no "Ouvel". Do you mean Ouzel Falls? That hike would be on your way to RMNP at the Wild Basin entrance.

Fort Collins, CO
Level Contributor
642 posts
75 reviews
2. Re: Itinerary Help

For your other hike in RMNP, I would recommend going part of the way on the Ute Pass Trail, which starts at the top of Trail Ridge Road across the road from the Alpine Visitors Center. Stunning above treeline views. The Ouzel Falls trail is not one of my favorites. The waterfall at the end is nice but the entire trail goes through the forest with not a lot of sweeping mountain views compared to others. If you want a waterfall, Alberta Falls is more scenic, in my opinion. The Emerald Lake hike is always very crowded.

Do be aware that we get a lot of afternoon thunderstorms in July.

Level Contributor
65 posts
30 reviews
3. Re: Itinerary Help

Thanks for the replies!

Leaving Denver before 7 is not a problem, I was worried we’d have to be there at 7. And yes we do plan on driving all the way over Trail ridge. Oops, yeah Ouzel. Thanks Daba

I’ll add Ute trail to the list thanks Galxe.

Also we are nixing zip/whitewater.

So still just curious if folks think Sunday to Garden of Gods, etc. is worth it? And any good live music spots in Denver

Eagle, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,932 posts
4. Re: Itinerary Help



Couple sites with some music info.

Garden of the Gods is beautiful will also be very busy on a Sunday, earlier the better to find parking and get in easier. The rocks are cool.

Windsor, Colorado
Destination Expert
for Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park
Level Contributor
13,241 posts
140 reviews
5. Re: Itinerary Help

If you are going to hike to Emerald Lake before you drive Trail Ridge Road, you may not find parking at the Alpine Visitor Center by the time you get there. Rangers close that parking lot when it gets full and that happens frequently between 10 am and 3 pm. Hiking part of the Ute Trail may not be an option as a result.

If you want to both hike to Emerald Lake and drive all of Trail Ridge Road as a round trip from Denver, this is the quickest route option.


This is at least 6 hours of driving time. Just to stop for the many overlooks (assuming you can find parking) along Trail Ridge Road will add 2 hours to the driving time. Packing a picnic lunch will give you more flexibility. Country Market Deil at the corner of Moraine Avenue and Marys Lake Road in Estes Park makes great sandwiches and is on your way into the park. Your daytrip to RMNP from Denver will most likely be a 12 hour day so plan accordingly. Since the entire route from Estes Park over Trail Ridge Road over Berthoud Pass and along I-70 back to Denver is very scenic, you want to have daylight to drive it. Wildlife is more active at dusk and after dark and collisions happen. That is another reason to drive with daylight.

Level Contributor
791 posts
288 reviews
6. Re: Itinerary Help

Last July on a Sunday Bear Lake parking was full at 7:15 AM. Not sure if it was because it was a Sunday or what. This year we plan on getting there between 6/630.

Level Contributor
65 posts
30 reviews
7. Re: Itinerary Help

Thanks so much for all the help! Definitely planning on 12 hour day and packing sandwiches (thanks for the suggestion on spot to pickup food!).

I’m thinking we’ll get to Bear Lake early, 7ish, and then play it by ear on trail ridge road. Stopping where possible but making sure to leave time for southern portions.

So how about a road less traveled kind of hike? Whether it be Colorado Springs, RMNP, Red Rock area, somewhere to escape the crowds possible?

Reply to: Itinerary Help
Get notified by e-mail when a reply is posted