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One Tank Trip for Colorado Camping
Total mileage / average drive time:
90.2 miles – 2 hours, 26 minutes
With the highest mean elevation of any state and with over 1,000 Rocky Mountain peaks, Colorado was once a primarily agricultural and mining state. Where most states dread those winter months and the onslaught of snow, Colorado quickly turned all that white wet stuff into an opportunity to become one of the most popular tourist destinations for winter travel.
Tucked between the plains and the mountains, Fort Collins will start us off today. As the last city on I-25N before you hit Wyoming, Fort Collins started off as little more than a trading post, instead of a Fort as its name implies. American Indians and traders met on the banks of the Cache la Poudre River to indulge in a little friendly (for the most part) trading. There’s still some trading going on here, but a more modern version in the many bookstores, restaurants and galleries located here. The Old Town Historic District is filled with historic buildings easily seen on a self-guided walking tour, or if your legs just don’t have it in them, take the old trolley around to see the sights. Just make sure you get off to see both the Fort Collins Museum and the Avery House which both contain some history on the town and the area or to take a tour at one of the local breweries. Being outdoor-oriented like much of the rest of the state, there are ample opportunities for the outdoor lover to indulge in a wide variety of activities, where your only limitation is the hours in a day! It’s been said some of the best rafting in the country can be done on the Cache La Poudre River, so hire a local outfitter to take you out for a full or half day trip, it will be a trip you won’t soon forget!
13.5 miles – 21 minutes
From Fort Collins, make your way to US 287 heading south for about 14 miles to Loveland. Just a stone’s throw from the Rocky Mountains, Loveland is known as Colorado’s Sweetheart City with a small town feel. Those who travel frequently through this area know Loveland makes an exceptional gateway city into the Rocky Mountains and beyond, but there is plenty within the city to fall in love with, as well. The arts play an important part of the fabric of Loveland, and the city contains two of North America’s largest foundries, two sculpture parks and a variety of art shows throughout the year. Get an up close and personal look of great art displays at the Chapungu Sculpture Park. Set on 26-acres, the park focuses on Zimbabwe stone sculpture and is home to around 80 monumental sculptures hewn by hand from solid pieces of Zimbabwean rock. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, shopping is indeed a sport and Loveland has the perfect array of outlet stores, boutiques and exceptional restaurants to keep you fueled up and moving to your hearts content!
30.2 miles – 44 minutes
Grab your bags, we’re heading to Estes Park, around 30 miles away via US-34W. Estes Park is a spectacular destination with the Rocky Mountains at the back door and some of the most pristine scenery in the country. If you’ve been dreaming of crystal waters, aspen groves and a good place to cast your fly, you’ve found it! There are several exceptional opportunities at any of the lakes and streams surrounding Estes Park, with Big Thompson River being a favorite for its larger water runs and abundance of Rainbow, Brown and Cut-bow trout. Depending on the season, guided hikes or snow shoe tours should be on your list of things to experience, with over 35 miles of trails in the area, there is enough to plan for an easy day hike or more challenging week long adventure in the solitude of the backcountry. You’ll also discover the area contains many scenic drives, like the Glen Haven Half-Day Loop, which deposits you back in time to the beautiful hamlet of Glen Haven. A few treats on your route include the Continental Divide, Longs Peak and the Twin Sisters.
46.6 miles – 1 hour, 21 minutes
From Estes Park, we’re heading to Grand Lake by returning to US-34W for the 47-mile drive in. Touted as the Snowmobile Capital of the World, Grand Lake is a historic mountain town in the heart of the Colorado Rockies with a Wild West feel. Rustic architecture, hitching posts and historic boardwalk are focal points of this charming town. With more than 60 shops, galleries, bars and restaurants, the boardwalk is a good place to indulge in a stroll, a bite to eat or window shopping. For the outdoor adventurer, Grand Lake is overflowing with crisp mountain air and outdoor fun. Accessible by a 3.3 mile hiking trail, the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout offers a jaw-dropping 360-degree view of Arapaho National Forest, Rocky Mountain National Park and Grand Lake from the three story rustic stone and wood tower built in 1930. It’s a heck of a hike, but the view is worth it! Now, if only they had a gondola to save you from the hike down.
Check out the 2011 One Tank Trip For Colorado
Check out the 2010 One Tank Trip For Colorado
Woodall's Recommended Campgrounds in Colorado
Back to One Tank Trips for 2012