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Colorado/Estes Park

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Question
Steve,

I am flying into Denver on 12/4 and out on 12/8 for business. I land at 100pm and will be lodging in Fort Collins. I am hoping to make a run up to Estes Park from the airport then to FC after.

The following days I have training and will be in FC.

1-Any thoughts on going to Estes? I would like to go do something outdoors after the flight/drive etc but I see the sun is down at 430 +/-. Is it worth it to just check the scenery from the town?

2-Any thoughts on things to do in FC area after business hours? I will hit the breweries in the evening but not sure what else to do?

3- The last day I have no training and a 400 flight anything to do that morning that is worthwhile?
I thought about flipping it and doing estes park on the last day, head there in the morning, explore then head out to the airport around noon, that should give me daylight.

Any thoughts, I don't want to be so close to some cool things and find that I spent my time after work with food and beer. Mildly active person, skiing is not an option for me.

Thanks for your time

Answer
Hi Mark!

If your plane lands at 1pm, it will be at least 2pm by the time you get your bags and your rental car, so if you drove straight to Estes Park, you would probably get there by about 3:30-4pm.  You are right--the sun is setting around 4:30pm or so this time of year, so it would be too late to do much outdoors at that point.  We do have a gorgeous phenomenon known as "alpenglow" though, where the sun has set in the valleys, but is still catching the tops of the mountain peaks--that tends to spread a unique type of twilight into the towns, and can be really gorgeous depending on the day.  Plus, Estes Park will be lit up for the holidays, so if you are into just walking around a really nice little downtown area, that can definitely be a beautiful sight to see.  Also, the historic Stanley Hotel (www.stanleyhotel.com) is pretty special when it is all lit up for the holidays.  There is also an elk herd that lives in the valley there during the winter months, and sunset is the best time to see them.  Whether that is worth driving up after your flight depends a little on how exciting all of this sounds to you.

You could also just head up to Boulder if you don't want to go all the way up to Estes Park that day.  Just be aware that traffic between Denver and Ft. Collins can be quite heavy during rush hour.  There are a lot of folks who live in Ft. Collins but work in Denver.

You are right about the microbreweries--Ft. Collins is famous for its variety and quality of beer.  Old Town is THE place to "hang out" in the evenings (http://www.visitftcollins.com/things-do/old-town), so you should definitely plan on spending at least one evening there (although it is obviously more active in summer than in winter).  I checked to see what was happening at the Budweiser Events Center, and it is Sesame Street Live, so I would assume that is probably not of interest to you!  I am not as familiar with the nightlife around Ft. Collins itself, but the Convention & Visitors Bureau web site is www.visitftcollins.com, so that might be a good place to look.  If you are finished with your meetings before it gets TOO dark, you could also just head up CO Highway 14 to Cameron Pass for a bit of a scenic drive--that is also one of the areas that had a major wildfire this summer, so you will probably see some burn scars.

I like your idea of heading up to Estes Park on your last day--that would give you some daylight to head into Rocky Mountain National Park, etc.  The main road through the park closes during the winter (Trail Ridge Road crosses the Continental Divide at 12,100 feet, so it is tough to keep that open in winter......), but you can still get to some scenic areas right at the entrance to the park.  You can access some gorgeous areas along Bear Lake Road, and that is open year-round.  If you want to do this, make sure you leave REALLY early in the morning, as you do NOT want to be running late at Denver's airport--it is HUGE, and can take extra time to get around....especially if you are not familiar with it.  For a 4pm flight and turning in a rental car, you probably want to plan on being there around 1-2pm at the latest.

A lot of this will depend on the weather--we can get some pretty significant storms at that time of year, and if it is snowing, you probably don't want to be driving up to Estes Park.  Visibility will be limited, meaning you won't be able to see the mountains, and the roads can be "interesting" if it gets icy.  Definitely check with www.accuweather.com (they tend to be the most accurate up here in the mountains), and also check road conditions at www.cotrip.org (or go.cotrip.org on a mobile device)to make sure that the roads are clear.  If you can be a little flexible, you can decide your specific itinerary as we get a little closer--choose the nicest days for your Estes Park trip.

Does that make sense?

Hope that helps, but please let me know if you have further questions.

Enjoy!

Colorado

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Steve Collins

Expertise

I am very familiar with the resort areas of the Central Mountains of Colorado. I have worked in the resort industry here since 1988, and have first-hand knowledge (as a resident or former resident) of Aspen, Snowmass, Summit County (Breckenridge/Keystone/Copper Mountain), and now South Park, Colorado (yes....it does exist).

Experience

I have worked in the resort industry in Central Colorado since 1988, including local coordination work for inbound tour operators. I have extensive knowledge of the Aspen/Snowmass and Summit County resort areas as well as South Park, but I have also worked with groups in Winter Park, Crested Butte, and Steamboat as well.

Publications
Successful Meetings Magazine, Association Meetings Magazine, the Meetings Industry Megasite web site

Education/Credentials
Unfortunately I found the travel industry after college, so my education does not necessarily match up with this field. I have a bachelors degree in Industrial Engineering from Stanford University.

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