Good Times Travel
17132 Magnolia St., Fountain Valley, CA 92708
Featuring All Four Colorado National Parks, Durango & Silverton Railroad, Denver, Colorado Springs
Activity Level 4
Pace Level 4
Welcome to Colorado – home to a diverse landscape including Rocky Mountains, spectacular red rock cliffs, ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings and high plains where the American cowboy came of age. This comprehensive itinerary travels across the Centennial State with visits to the state’s four spectacular national parks – Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain National Park. We’ll cross the Rocky Mountains that run through the state – forming the Continental Divide – and travel aboard the historic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Optional transfers from home or our departure points this morning will have us at the Los Angeles International Airport for our scheduled non-stop flight arriving in Denver this afternoon. Those guests not taking advantage of the optional group airfare should arrive at the Denver International Airport by 1:00 p.m. if they want to be included on the complimentary transfer to Colorado Springs. Upon arrival, we’ll board a deluxe motorcoach and travel south to Colorado Springs. Here, we'll visit the United States Air Force Academy, situated in the shadow of the mountains and overlooking the open spaces of the western plains. The 35,000 square foot Visitor Center here features films and exhibits on cadet life and Academy history. Before we begin a two-night stay in Colorado Springs, meet your fellow travelers this evening at an included welcome dinner at a locals’ favorite. (Dinner)
After an included breakfast, we’ll visit the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center, the place where Olympic & Paralympic dreams begin and talented athletes live and train. On a docent-guided walking tour we’ll see this world-class facility that provides housing, dining, recreational facilities and other services for almost 600 coaches and athletes at one time. We’ll see the training complex, including the weightlifting and wrestling facilities, the Aquatics Center and the Sports Center Gymnasiums. See the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame Rotunda, shop at the Team USA Store and check out the ever-changing art exhibitions. Enjoy time at leisure for lunch on your own and browsing in historic Manitou Springs, an artist enclave featuring time-honored art galleries, street performers, creek-side restaurants and boutique stores. We continue to Garden of the Gods, where spectacular sandstone formations tell a unique geological story that’s 300 million years old. A local guide will showcase this unique 1,300-acre park that is a biological melting pot where the grasslands of the Great Plains meet the pinion-juniper woodlands of the American Southwest and the mountain forest in the shadow of 14,115-foot Pikes Peak. (Breakfast)
Following an included breakfast, we’ll travel south to Great Sand Dunes National Park, home to the highest mountains of sand in North America. A sandbox of epic proportions, the dune field encompasses 30 square miles and the tallest dune towers 750 feet high. Nestled in a spot where the Sangre de Cristo Mountains buckle inward, the dunes within the borders of Great Sand Dunes National Park have been building and sifting for eons — the result of the San Luis Valley's unique wind patterns. We’ll stop at the Visitor Center and enjoy an included picnic lunch in the Park. This afternoon we continue west through the fertile San Luis Valley and then climb to the summit of the Rockies at Wolf Creek Pass. As we cross the Continental Divide you will know that you are in the “Heart of the Rockies.” We arrive in the historic old west town of Durango this evening and begin a two-night stay in a premier downtown hotel. (Breakfast, Lunch)
After an included breakfast this morning, we’ll travel to Mesa Verde National Park, home to some of the most notable and best-preserved cliff dwellings in the United States. Ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi) Indians lived here for more than 700 years between AD 600 to 1300. We’ll stop at the Visitor Center, view the cliff dwellings from several scenic overlooks and visit the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. We return to Durango this afternoon with time at leisure to explore historic downtown Durango with a variety of restaurants within walking distance of our hotel. (Breakfast)
Following an included breakfast, we’ll board the legendary Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This is the last scheduled, narrow gauge railroad in the U.S. and it connects the old, romantic mining towns of Durango and Silverton. “All aboard” for a 3 ½ hour journey to re-live the sights and sounds of yesteryear as we travel through the Colorado Rockies between Durango and Silverton. The rugged peaks, alpine meadows and crystal lakes take us back to the early days of the West, when mountain men searched this untouched land for traces of bear and mountain lion. This afternoon we continue by motorcoach on a scenic drive north on the miraculous “Million Dollar Highway.” Mid-September to early October offers the best opportunity to enjoy the rich fall color tapestry carpeting Colorado’s Ironton and Red Mountain corridor. This time of year, it’s not uncommon to see thick Aspen foliage including breathtaking red and gold aspens clinging to the steep canyon walls. Further north, we’ll visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, featuring some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. We’ll stop at the Visitor Center and then continue along South Rim Road, stopping at several scenic viewpoints to peer down 2,000 feet below to the Gunnison River which along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky. We continue north to Grand Junction, arriving at our downtown hotel this evening. (Breakfast)
Following an included breakfast, we’ll embark on one of the grandest scenic drives in the American West – the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive through Colorado National Monument. Take in the views of red rock canyons made up of rock layers that are nearly two billion years old. Extraordinary forces of erosion and time carved these layers to make this a rugged land of determination and toughness. We continue to Vail, one of the premier mountain resorts in the world. Enjoy time at leisure for lunch on own and browsing in Vail Village. This afternoon we continue east through the heart of the Rocky Mountains and once again cross the Continental Divide at Loveland Pass. In all directions are vistas of rugged canyons, pristine wilderness and deep gorges. As we descend out of the Rockies, we arrive in the “Mile High City” ofDenver hotel to begin a two-night stay. Enjoy the balance of the evening at leisure. Our upscale hotel is ideally located on Denver's popular 16th Street Mall, a mile-long pedestrian promenade brimming with shopping, dining, nightlife and entertainment. (Breakfast)
After an included breakfast, we’ll join a local guide and travel to Rocky Mountain National Park. We’ll stop at the Visitor Center and then continue along the highest paved road in the United States for breathtaking views in all directions. Magnificent snow-capped peaks, plunging valleys, and the potential for waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife will send your senses reeling. As we ascend to the rooftop of the Rockies via Trail Ridge Road, known as the “highway to the sky,” we’ll reach an elevation of over 12,000 feet. Along our route today is the Estes Park resort area, Grand Lake and glacial-formed Lake Grandby. Enjoy an included picnic lunch along our journey. We return to Denver this evening with an included farewell dinner at a locals’ favorite. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Following an included breakfast, we’ll visit the golden-domed Colorado State Capitol, one of the prominent features of Denver’s skyline. This Neoclassical building, which sits at exactly one mile above sea level, serves as a sort of museum to Colorado history. We continue to the Molly Brown House Museum for a docent-guided tour of this restored Victorian house that tells the story of Titanic survivor Margaret “Molly” Brown. We continue to the Denver International Airport for our scheduled, non-stop return flight to Los Angeles arriving this evening. Those guests not taking advantage of the optional group airfare, should depart the Denver International Airport no earlier than 2:00 p.m. Back in Los Angeles, those with pre-arranged transfers will be returned to their respective drop-off locations with many incredible memories of our time in Colorado indelibly set in our minds. (Breakfast)
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