Depart London Heathrow – 15:45
Arrive Denver – 18:25
Journey Time – 9 hours 50 minutes
Arrival into Denver where you will pick up your rental vehicle and travel towards your downtown Denver hotel, the perfect place to drop the bags catch your breath. Get a good nights sleep, tomorrow there is much to do and see.
Overnight – Denver
Take a full day to explore the mile high city. Denver is quite compact so lends itself well to exploring on foot. Denver has the tenth largest downtown in the U.S. – a bustling area centered around a mile-long pedestrian promenade that is lined with outdoor cafes and flower baskets. Down every street there are mountain views. The mountain panorama visible from Denver is 120 miles long and includes nearly 200 named peaks. Downtown Denver is home to three new sports stadiums, 300 restaurants, a restored historic district filled with 90 bars and brewpubs, a collection of museums, a variety of galleries and shopping, the second largest performing arts centre in the nation, three college campuses and even a unique downtown amusement park, Six Flags Elitch Gardens. The State of Colorado Capitoal Building is quite beautiful and definitely worth a visit.
Overnight – Denver
Denver to Estes Park
This morning you will follow I-25 North out of Denver and begin your journey to Estes Park, firstly visiting Boulder (home of the University of Colorado). Then begin a spectacular drive taking Route 119 from Boulder to Nederland and then the ‘Peak to Peak’ Scenic Highway to Estes Park.
Estes Park is the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park – and just four short miles away this natural wonderland it is a must see! You may also wish to drive up to the famed Stanley Hotel (Stephen King wrote a part of his novel, The Shining, while staying at this lodge), but note they do charge a parking fee for all non-hotel guests.
Overnight – Estes Park
Estes Park to Glenwood Springs
This morning head to the northeast entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Horseshoe Bend Park. Continue on to the Trail Ridge Road and follow this up and over the mountains through the center of the Park. You will find several excellent photo stops along this route such as rainbow curve, and others along the top of the pass. This route is the highest continuous paved roadway in North America at over 12000 feet above sea level. The walk to the top from the visitor centre/shop is nice, but take your time at this elevation.
The route then travels down the west side of the park to Grand Lake and Grandby. At US-40 we suggest to turn right and follow past Hot Sulphur Springs to Kremmling and then down to Silverthorne (Home of the largest outlet-shopping plaza in the American Rockies). You are now in the Colorado Winter Playground, here you will find Keystone, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain and then travel over Vail Pass and past the Vail Ski Resort. Just past Vail you will enter a wide valley (hole) before entering one of the most scenic drives along this entire route, the Glenwood Canyon. Sorry, no real good places to stop along this route, just the rest areas. Just as you exit the canyon you will enter the community of Glenwood Springs.
Overnight – Glenwood Springs
Take a full day to relax and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery. Go for a dip in the Hot Springs Pool, visit Doc Holidays grave, Fairy Caves, Glenwood Canyon, Hanging Lake, the National Forest or the latest area attraction, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. If you fancy venturing a little further afield we strongly recommend a drive south to the lovely town of Aspen. Whilst it’s more well known for the winter ski runs you will find a walk around the town a really pleasant experience – it’s also surrounded by abundant outdoor activity options. The drive to /from Aspen is also worth the effort alone.
Overnight – Glenwood Springs
Glenwood Springs to Moab
Today pick up Route I-70 West and follow the Colorado River to Grand Junction. Here we suggest you take the business loop through town and follow the signage for the Colorado National Monument. This detour will take you about 2 hours through this beautiful park and you will exit the west and pick up I-70 once again at Fruita. The route will take you on into Utah at this point. You will now begin to notice the stunning change from mountains to red rock scenery.
At exit 212, take the back route (most scenic) again along the Colorado River past the Fisher Towers and the back wall of Arches and into the Moab area. Moab is a bustling little town famous for it’s mountain biking trails; you are likely to see one or two bikes during your stay! Your hotel is located right along the main street. We suggest you take the evening to stroll the main street where there is a very good choice of shops and restaurants. For those keen on outdoor activities this would be the time to book yourself on one of the river rafting or mountain biking trips for tomorrow at one of the many outfitters located along the main street (Or of course you can pre-book your activity with us to avoid disappointment).
Overnight – Moab
When planning this itinerary a full day in Moab was an absolute must. This morning we suggest the short drive to Arches National Park, you will obtain a park map at the entry gate showing you all of the stops you can make in the park to view the stunning rock formations. Details on short walks and longer ikes are also provided and the higher elevation affords some quite spectacular views. Allow 4 hours to make most of the major stops and a short walk, longer if you wish to make a longer hike.
After lunch head for the park entrance to Canyonlands National Park. Travel north a very short distance on US-191 to US-313. This is a dead-end road but it will take you to the Canyonlands National Park-Island in the Sky District, quite beautiful. Here you must certainly stop at the Mesa Arch short loop trail….you will not be disappointed, but be careful for any climbing on the arch! The drop is incredible. Once again there are many stops and the map provided at the park entrance marks them all. 3-4 hours for this visit should be allowed.
Return back to the main street in Moab for a well-earned rest, something to eat and drink and an opportunity to look back on a fabulous day of sightseeing. We recommend the Moab Brewing Company for good American Style food (located at the south end of Moab).
Overnight – Moab
Moab to Mesa Verde National Park
Today we suggest an early start, we want to get you up into Mesa Verde National Park for lunchtime so that you have the afternoon to book onto one of the Ranger guided tours into one of the amazing cliff dwelling villages that make this National Park quite unique. Traveling south on US 191 then US491 is the quickest route and the whole journey to the visitor centre atop Mesa Verde National Park should take you about 2 hours 30 minutes. This is where you buy a ticket for one of the cliff dwelling tours, they run roughly ever hour. The Rangers at the visitor centre can advise you on which one suits you best as some are more strenuous than others but it’s an absolute must!
Like the other National Parks Mesa Verde offers many mapped stops as you drive around the park where you can view remains of the Pueblo Indian cliff dwellings.
Overnight within the Park. We highly recommend you have dinner at the Far View Lodge, arrive early and put your name down on the waiting list for a table next to the window. Dinner with the view is worth the wait!.
Overnight – Mesa Verde
Mesa Verde National Park to Chinle (Canyon de Chelly)
Rather than travelling directly to Canyon de Chelly you might like to take a detour to see Monument Valley which might add a couple of hours to your journey. Once you reach Canyon de Chelly stop by the Visitor Centre for information on the Canyon before you drive along the rim where there are many pull out points for viewing. If you have limited time we recommend driving the South Rim.
Overnight – Chinle
Chinle (Canyon de Chelly) to Albuquerque
On leaving Chinle, travel south to Ganado (Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site) and then to Window Rock, the “capitol city” of the Navajo Reservation where you can view the Tribal Council Chambers. Continuing into New Mexico to Gallup where you pick up the route of I-40 East, the route that replaced the better known “Route 66”. Between Gallup and Grants you will see remnants of an ancient volcanic flow. Just south of I-40 is one of the more beautiful of the New Mexico Pueblos, Acoma Pueblo sitting atop the Mesa. In Albuquerque we suggest to visit the Old Town Square (near to the lodge), Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the Sandia Peak Tram–into the mountains to the east and offering an excellent v
iew of the Rio Grande Valley below.
Overnight – Albuquerque
Albuquerque to Santa Fe
The route from Albuquerque to Santa Fe is short, and there are two options, The Turquoise Trail, a slower, more scenic route that winds north on the East side of the Sandia Mountains or take the I-25 Route, where we highly recommend stops at the Coronado State Monument and Park (Bernalillo). On arrival you will need to check out the Town Square for Santa Fe with the Inn of the Governors Museum (former Spanish Rulers residence), historic churches, and western art galleries.
Overnight – Santa Fe
Full day in/around Santa Fe to visit the many museums (Pass to allow you to enter several can be purchased at your first stop). But we also recommend a drive to Bandelier National Monument, one of the lesser known, but superb park service areas in this region. Like very few places, present day Santa Fe is a living link to its past. Tracing the city’s history is as easy as walking the picturesque streets of this 400 year old village. The area’s Native American culture goes back thousands of years and is alive in the city’s art and traditions just as the Hispanic heritage lives in Santa Fe’s customs, foods and people.
Overnight – Santa Fe
Santa Fe to Colorado Springs
From Santa Fe you will travel north to Taos, the only multiple level (two story) pueblo that is still being used to this day. You will then pass over the Rio Grande Gorge just to the west of Taos and north into Colorado. Near the community of Alamosa is one of the newest National Parks in the USA – Great Sand Dunes National Park. Proceed north through the San Luis Valley to Salida and follow the Arkansas River to Canon City. Near here you will find the Royal Gorge Bridge, the world’s highest suspension bridge and the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway traveling along side the Arkansas River at the bottom of the canyon. Continue north to Colorado Springs for a two night stay.
Overnight – Colorado Springs
Take a full day to enjoy Colorado Springs, not as well known as some of the other destination on this visit but it’s a great town with some excellent places to visit today. Pikes Peak (drive or cog-railway to the top of a 14,000 foot Colorado Mountain), Garden of the Gods Park, towering sandstone rock formations that sit against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and often brilliant blue skies. Visit the US Olympic Training Center, Broadmoor Hotel and Will Rogers Shrine, Seven Falls Park, Manitou and Old Colorado City shopping areas, there is certainly lots to keep you busy for a day.
Overnight – Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs to Denver International Airport
As you travel north to Denver for the afternoon flight, you may wish to stop at the US Air Force Academy, the beautiful chapel (not open to the public on Sundays) is just a short walk from the Visitor’s Center. As you near the Denver International Airport watch for the rental car return signs as they will then shuttle you to the departure terminal. Safe travels home.
Depart Denver – 20:15
Arrive London Heathrow – 12:10 (Next Day)
Journey time – 8 hours 55 minutes