Depart London Heathrow – 16:05
Arrive Denver – 18:45
Journey Time – 9 hours 40 minutes
Arrival in Denver – “The Mile-High City” and the gateway to the Rocky Mountains. As the largest city in the state, Denver is the natural starting point from which to visit the scenic and historic mountain state of Colorado. A brand new 40 minute train service* takes you from the airport terminal to Union Station in the centre of Downtown and near to your hotel.
On arrival there is still time to check out the LoDo (Lower Downtown) Historic District – filled with turn-of-the-century warehouses which are now home to 90 brewpubs, sports bars, restaurants and rooftop cafes. Stop by Rockmount Ranchwear for a snap button Western shirt at the store where they were invented; browse at the Tattered Cover Bookstore; listen to jazz at El Chapultepec, one of Esquire Magazine’s 50 best bars, and dine in the vibrant Larimer Square.
Overnight – Denver
No visit to Denver is complete without a visit to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, located just 10 miles west of the city. This 9000-seat outdoor concert venue is a city park filled with hikers and sightseers during the day, while at night hosts over 300 concerts a year with two huge 100 foot tall boulders framing the stage and the distant lights of Downtown Denver as a backdrop. Over the years the venue has hosted ALL the big names, including the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and U2 (you may remember ‘Under a Blood Red Sky’ which filmed here) to name but a few and every band is immortalised in the fascinating hall of fame in the must-see visitor centre.
Denver is also the fourth most walkable city in the USA, so why not take a walking tour of LoDo, which includes the Denver Art Museum, Center for the Performing Arts, City Hall and the Blue Bear sculpture. For gridiron fans, you can also take a tour of the Mile High Stadium – home to 2016 Super Bowl Champions – the Denver Broncos.
That evening, see why Denver is often called the ‘Napa Valley of beer’ by taking a stroll round the Denver Beer Trail (www.denver.org/restaurants/denver-bars-clubs/denver-beer-trail/) to visit some of the 100 or so breweries and brewpubs that grace the city. One highlight is Denver’s original microbrewery, Wynkoop, located by Union Station and which was started by the now governor of Colorado.
Overnight – Denver
Denver to Boulder to Estes Park
An hour northwest of Denver, nestling in the foothills of the Rockies, is Boulder – a cosmopolitan university town which exudes a healthy lifestyle. Stroll down pedestrianised Pearl Street with its multitude of boutiques, and stop for a locally produced, farm-to-table lunch at The Kitchen (recently voted America’s ‘greenest’ restaurant) before taking the short 45 minute drive from Boulder to Estes Park – the Gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).
Visit RMNP visitor centre to pick up a park map and plan your day, then take a stroll down Elkhorn Avenue and drop into The Barrel – a ‘pop-up’ beer garden in the centre of town that serves over 60 different types of craft beers, including those from the local Estes Park Brewery.
For those after a more refined sundowner, head for an alfresco cocktail at the iconic Stanley Hotel, which served as inspiration for Stephen King’s classic novel ‘The Shining’.
Overnight – Estes Park
Estes Park to Breckinridge
Just four miles from Downtown Estes Park is the entrance to the jewel in Colorado’s crown, the Rocky Mountain National Park. Cross the continental divide as you drive the Trail Ridge Road** – America’s highest paved road at 12,000 feet – with spectacular mountain views, abundant wildflowers and wildlife, including elk, marmottes and moose. Park up and take a hike past crystal clear mountain lakes and panoramic photo opportunities at every turn. The RMNP is the United States’ third most visited national park so in peak season we recommend an early start to avoid the crowds.
**Please note a $20USD per car fee is payable at the park entrance.
From the exit of the RMNP to the laid back mountain town of Breckenridge is an easy 2 hour drive through the heart of the Rockies. Known as “Breck” to the locals, the town’s rich history dates back over 150 years when the gold rush brought droves of people seeking their fortune. Today, historic Main Street boasts a wide choice of charming boutiques, bars and restaurants, whilst the surrounding mountains are an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise with activities to suit all levels of ability.
For a civilised introduction to the outdoor pursuits on offer, we recommend taking an organised bike tour along the river to the Broken Compass Brewery to try their legendary Coconut Porter Bomber or Raspberry Habanero Pale Ale!
Overnight – Breckenridge
We feel we should warn you that once you visit Breckenridge during the summer you might not leave.
When it comes to summers in Breck, the days are longer, the sun shines brighter and the list of activities is endless. Breckenridge prides itself on the variety of adventures on offer that are suitable for all ages. Choose from fly fishing in the Colorado River, hiking in the backcountry, mountain biking the many trails that criss-cross the valley and mountain sides (of course, what is splendid for skiing in winter is wonderful for walking and biking in winter), golfing on a Jack Nicklaus designed course, horseback riding, white water rafting, stand-up paddle boarding or even summer dogsledding on your very own ‘diggler’!
Overnight – Breckenridge
Breckenridge to Grand Junction via Glenwoood Springs
The drive from Breckenridge to Glenwood Springs is an easy 90-minute drive west along I-70 past the famous ski town of Vail and through the 12 mile long Glenwood Canyon. The scenic road winds along the banks of the mighty Colorado River with 400 metre-high cliffs towering above you. Glenwood Springs is home to the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool and one that has been attracting visitors to its healing waters for over 100 years. But if a soak in one of the two open air hot springs pools or vapour caves does not appeal, then take the gondola to the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park with several thrill rides await perched atop of the canyon edge!
Depart Glenwood springs for a 90-mile drive west on I-70 through breathtaking red rock scenery and you will reach Grand Junction, the largest town on Colorado’s Western Slope, as well as the heart of Colorado’s Canyonlands and Colorado’s wine country.
Overnight – Grand Junction
Visit Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction based activities, bike tour of a vineyard
Just 6 miles from Downtown Grand Junction is one of state’s unsung treasures – the Colorado National Monument. If you simply want to enjoy the views then take the morning to drive the breath taking Rimrock Drive** – a circular route that takes you along the rim of the colourful, deep, sheer sided canyons and high rock towers. If you fancy some exercise then there are many well marked hiking and walking trails accessible from the road.
**a $10 per vehicle charge applies
For those wanting some adventure why not whitewater raft, Grand junction is a haven for rapid seekers, or relax on a float trip, a great way to soak up the stunning views Colorado river has to offer. Alternatively if you want to keep feet on the ground there are plenty of options whether it be four-wheel driving, off road motorcycling or hiking one of the many trails Grand Junction has to offer.
What better way to work off lunch than a bike tour of the surrounding vineyards and lavender farms. Grand Junction is home to 22 wineries so the toughest part of a visit might be picking which one is your favourite! If beer is more your thing then don’t miss the local breweries such as Rockslide, Kannah Creek, Edgewater, Copper Club, Peach Street, Suds Brothers, Palisade Brewing and many, many more.
Overnight – Grand Junction
Grand Junction to Ouray via Black Canyon of Gunnison NP
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park exposes visitors to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. The best place to see this 2 million year old canyon is via the South Rim Road which offers many picture-perfect stopping points from which to enjoy a scenic picnic and where can you peer 2,000 feet below over the rail-less edge.
An hour south of the canyon and you enter ‘The Switzerland of America’, Ouray, via the San Juan Skyway. Ouray is a charming Victorian mining town known as the ‘Gem of the Rockies’ and is actually the jeeping capital of the world. Spend the afternoon on a guided tour of the old mining roads and ghost towns before taking a restorative dip in Ouray’s sulphur-free hot springs.
Finish you day with a refreshing beer watching the sunset from the rooftop bar of the Ouray Brewery on historic Main Street.
Overnight – Ouray
Ouray to Mesa Verde
The 24-mile long Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Silverton is one of the USA’s great drives. Not for the faint hearted, the road passes along the vertiginous cliffs of the Uncompaghre Gorge and over the hairpin ‘switchbacks’ of the Red Mountain Pass before largely following the route of the Durango to Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – originally opened to take gold and silver to Durango and now a popular day-long round-trip scenic train journey.
An hours’ drive west of Durango is the Mesa Verde National Park – America’s premier archaeological wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Mesa Verde offers a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home from AD 600 to 1300. Today the park protects nearly 5,000 known archaeological sites, including 600 intact cliff dwellings. These archaeological sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States. Please note a $15USD entrance fee per vehicle applies.
Relax and reflect on your day by watching the sunset at the Far View Lodge, a peaceful retreat located inside the National Park.
Overnight – Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde National Park to Durango
Depart Mesa Verde and head to downtown Durango that encompasses all that is the Wild West. Immerse yourself in the town’s vibrant heritage and take a walking tour through historic downtown, why not explore Durango’s museums and art galleries. Durango’s vibrant art scene varies from fine arts to public murals or Western jewellery.
Be sure to check out whether any special events are happening during your stay, Durango hosts a variety of food, wine and arts as well as outdoor adventure events including biking, rafting and all the unique things you can do in Durango.
We recommend an early evening drink at the Diamond Belle Saloon, which features mock gunfights at 7pm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through the summer. Alternatively, enjoy an evening of culture or music at The Henry Strater Theatre – one of National Geographic’s top ‘theatres to visit’ in the USA.
Overnight – Durango
Take a day trip on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, relive the sights and sounds on the historic steam train that has been running since 1882, taking in views of Colorado’s southwest and San Juan Mountains.
You have the choice of taking the Round Trip Silverton Train Tour – exploring the Animas River wilderness which is largely inaccessible by road, or switch up the sights and take the Skyway Tour where you will travel back via coach taking in the scenic San Juan Skyway. Both trips allow time to explore the historic mining town of Silverton, a perfect stop midway for some lunch and shopping.
On arrival back into Durango keep up the rail theme and enjoy a beverage and something to eat at the lively Steamworks Brewing Company.
Overnight – Durango
Durango to Alamosa
Stop by Chimney Rock, one of America’s newest National Monuments – a place of mystery, a sacred place, a celestial observatory and seasonal calendar for the Ancestral Puebloans over 1,000 years ago. Chimney Rock is a place of unparalleled natural beauty sitting on a high mesa at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains.
Then take some time to relax and pamper yourself “Pagosa Style”. Discover the life-enriching, soul-soothing, spirit elevating and enduring effects of a soak in one of Pagosa Springs’ Downtown hot springs facilities. You may even have time for a quick visit to the San Luis Valley Brewing Company before hitting the hay – but do remember, you have a big day ahead of you tomorrow!
Overnight – Alamosa
Alamosa to Colorado Springs
30 minutes’ drive from Alamosa will find you in Great Sand Dunes National Park – home to the tallest dunes in North America. The brave (and fit) can scale and sledge down these 700 foot high sand dunes or simply sit with your feet in Medano Creek and wonder at this natural marvel with the 14,000 foot Sangre de Cristo Mountains as their backdrop. Next stop is Canon City which is home to the world famous Royal Gorge Bridge – an amazing 1,053 feet above the rushing Arkansas River. From here you will travel onwards to Colorado Springs.
Overnight – Colorado Springs
There is so much to do in and around Colorado’s second city, as Colorado Springs is often referred to as. First, head to the 14,000 foot summit of nearby Pikes Peak by taking the cog railway from the charming town of Manitou Springs or, if you are feeling adventurous, drive the route of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb all the way to the top! No trip to Colorado Springs is complete without visiting Garden of the Gods (voted by TripAdvisor as the number 1 city park in the USA in 2014) or the iconic Broadmoor Hotel for a game of golf, a horseback ride or even some zip lining.
Be sure to end on a high note with a visit to the ‘buzzing’ Golden Bee Pub where you can enjoy beers from Colorado Springs’ 25 craft breweries.
Overnight – Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs to Denver
End your visit to the Centennial State with some retail therapy at The Cherry Creek Shopping Centre, conveniently located in South Denver, before heading to DIA for your flight home.
Depart Denver – 19:40
Arrive London Heathrow – 12:35 (Next Day)
Journey Time – 8 hours 50 minutes