12 days in Colorado Itinerary

12 days in Colorado Itinerary

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Route & dates

12 days in Colorado Itinerary

Start: Joplin
Drive:  11​h
1
Estes Park
— 1 night
Drive + bus:  4​h 15​min
2
Steamboat Springs
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h 45​min
3
Aspen
— 2 nights
Drive:  4​h 15​min
4
Ouray
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
5
Mesa Verde National Park
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 45​min
6
Pagosa Springs
— 2 nights
Drive + Fly:  8​h
End: Joplin

1
night
Estes Park

Estes Park ©
More than just a convenient resting place for travelers on their way to the national park encompassing the Front Range of the Rockies, Estes Park is a popular place to visit in its own right.
Start off your visit on the 15th (Tue): indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas, then get advice or help at Estes Park Visitor Center, and then hit the best photo ops around with an inspiring photography tour. Keep things going the next day: take in the exciting artwork at Bear Necessities & Cubs, take a stroll through Downtown Estes Park, then view the masterpieces at Images of Rocky Mountain National Park, and finally trek along Emerald Lake Trail.

To see other places to visit, reviews, photos, and other tourist information, refer to the Estes Park itinerary maker tool .

Joplin to Estes Park is an approximately 11.5-hour car ride. You can also fly. You'll gain 1 hour traveling from Joplin to Estes Park due to the time zone difference. Expect a bit cooler evenings in Estes Park when traveling from Joplin in October, with lows around 39°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 16th (Wed) early enough to travel to Steamboat Springs.

Things to do in Estes Park

Outdoors Tours Wildlife

Side Trip

Emerald Lake Trail
Highlights from your plan
Emerald Lake Trail ©
Emerald Lake Trail
Estes Park Visitor Center ©
Estes Park Visitor Center

1
night
Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs ©
An internationally known ski resort, Steamboat Springs sits in the shadow of Mount Werner in north central Colorado.
Start off your visit on the 17th (Thu): trek along Yampa River Core Trail, then steep yourself in history at Tread of Pioneers Museum, and then fly down the slopes at Yampa River Botanic Park.

To see more things to do, where to stay, other places to visit, and tourist information, refer to the Steamboat Springs travel planning site .

You can do a combination of car and bus from Estes Park to Steamboat Springs in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Traveling from Estes Park in October, expect Steamboat Springs to be little chillier, temps between 59°F and 30°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 17th (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to Aspen.

Things to do in Steamboat Springs

Parks Outdoors Winter Sports
Highlights from your plan
Tread of Pioneers Museum ©
Tread of Pioneers Museum

2
nights
Aspen

Aspen ©
Known as a ski resort town, Aspen's history goes back to its roots as a silver-mining village tucked away in an isolated valley of the Rocky Mountains.
On the 18th (Fri), explore the landscape on two wheels at Rio Grande Trail, trek along Maroon Lake Scenic Trail, and then appreciate the history behind The John Denver Sanctuary. Here are some ideas for day two: take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Maroon Bells.

To see photos and tourist information, go to the Aspen day trip website .

Getting from Steamboat Springs to Aspen by car takes about 4 hours. Other options: do a combination of bus and flight; or take a bus. October in Aspen sees daily highs of 60°F and lows of 30°F at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 19th (Sat) to allow time to drive to Ouray.

Things to do in Aspen

Parks Nature Trails
Highlights from your plan
Maroon Lake Scenic Trail ©
Maroon Lake Scenic Trail
Maroon Bells ©
Maroon Bells
The John Denver Sanctuary
The John Denver Sanctuary

3
nights
Ouray

Ouray ©
Ouray is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Ouray County, Colorado, United States. Museum of the Mountain West and Ouray County Museum will appeal to museum buffs. You'll explore the less-touristy side of things at South Rim Road and Bear Creek Falls. Step out of Ouray to go to Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park and see Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, which is approximately 1h 30 min away. Next up on the itinerary: tour the pleasant surroundings at Perimeter Trail, contemplate the long history of Yankee Girl Mine, and explore the striking landscape at Yankee Boy Basin.

To see more things to do, other places to visit, where to stay, and tourist information, read our Ouray trip itinerary site .

You can drive from Aspen to Ouray in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus. Traveling from Aspen in October, plan for a bit warmer nights in Ouray, with lows around 37°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 22nd (Tue) to allow enough time to drive to Mesa Verde National Park.

Things to do in Ouray

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park, Museum of the Mountain West, Bear Creek Falls
Highlights from your plan
Perimeter Trail ©
Perimeter Trail
Yankee Boy Basin ©
Yankee Boy Basin
Museum of the Mountain West ©
Museum of the Mountain West

1
night
Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park ©
Whereas most national parks are primarily devoted to showcasing unique and special landscapes, Mesa Verde National Park focuses on ancient human habitation.
Start off your visit on the 23rd (Wed): explore the ancient world of Spruce Tree House, see the interesting displays at Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, then delve into the distant past at Balcony House, and finally delve into the distant past at Cliff Palace.

For where to stay, photos, maps, and more tourist information, you can read our Mesa Verde National Park road trip planner.

You can drive from Ouray to Mesa Verde National Park in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car, bus, and taxi; or do a combination of taxi and bus. Traveling from Ouray in October, you will find days in Mesa Verde National Park are somewhat warmer (69°F), and nights are about the same (34°F). Finish up your sightseeing early on the 23rd (Wed) so you can go by car to Pagosa Springs.

Things to do in Mesa Verde National Park

Historic Sites Museums
Highlights from your plan
Spruce Tree House ©
Spruce Tree House
Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum ©
Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum
Balcony House ©
Balcony House

2
nights
Pagosa Springs

Pagosa Springs ©
Pagosa Springs is a municipality that is the county seat of, and the only incorporated municipality in, Archuleta County, Colorado, United States. Start off your visit on the 24th (Thu): hike along Piedra River Trail, look for all kinds of wild species at Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park, and then take in the dramatic scenery at Treasure Falls. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: view the masterpieces at Two Old Crows and then indulge in some personalized pampering at some of the best spas.

To find photos, other places to visit, maps, and more tourist information, use the Pagosa Springs route maker .

Traveling by car from Mesa Verde National Park to Pagosa Springs takes 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and shuttle; or do a combination of bus and shuttle. While traveling from Mesa Verde National Park, expect little chillier days and about the same nights in Pagosa Springs, ranging from highs of 62°F to lows of 33°F. Wrap up your sightseeing by early afternoon on the 25th (Fri) to allow enough time to travel back home.

Things to do in Pagosa Springs

Parks Wildlife Trails
Highlights from your plan
Piedra River Trail ©
Piedra River Trail
Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park ©
Rocky Mountain Wildlife Park
Treasure Falls ©
Treasure Falls

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