I last left you as were were leaving RMNP on day 5 in early October. We left Estes Park planning to avoid Denver and have a more scenic drive. We estimated that we’d have about a 7 hour drive to Moab, but also hoped to stop at Glenwood Springs and Colorado National Monument. I was concerned that we’d add a lot of driving time taking my husband’s proposed route of CO HW 36 west of Denver through Boulder. But I was wrong, and he was right-- it was a good mix of highway speeds, some small towns and lots of pretty scenes. I was pretty much the navigator, but as he was doing 70% of the driving there had to be compromises.
One nice consequence of this route is you sort of skirt the mountains but just outside Boulder you turn and suddenly have the Rockies in front of you. There was still snow, so we could see the ski trails of the Aspen and Vail areas. My husband teased me as we drove through the Eisenhower Tunnel, approximately 1 ½ miles long, but it was more interesting than disconcerting. The road follows the Colorado River at times, and we actually saw the train that had left the Denver area, arriving in Glenwood Springs.
The night before we met a couple at dinner in Estes Park that were taking the train, we joked that we’d meet them at the station in Glenwood. The funny thing was, the train pulled in right across the street just when we arrived at the pool--no we didn’t go over, but it’s one of those incidents that make travel so enriching.
We debated about using the pool, I’m the swimmer, but hubby seemed more interested than I was. We figured that’s what vacations are for, spending $26.00 for swimming 20 minutes! Seriously, when else would we have a chance like this. Well, we enjoyed it so much, we were there over two hours. The sun was glorious, there were snow-topped mountains in the distance and we kept meeting friendly, interesting people. We even ate at their coffee shop which was quite good with a very helpful, cheerful staff.
Unfortunately, this excursion prevented us from stopping at Colorado National Monument, but on the plus side it had us arriving at Scenic Route 128 near Moab around 4:30--perfect timing. When you first get on the road, you’re driving through Open Range, with mountains in the distance; interesting, but not too special. Then you get further in. I know you all said it was beautiful, but nothing prepared us for it. Even after a very long day of driving with several stops, it was breathtaking with red cliffs on both sides, with the Colorado in between. It probably took us about 90 minutes to get to our apartment from there, as we kept pulling over. This is the area where you’ll find the recreation areas and river trip bases.
The drive to the apartment was a bit tricky, we forgot to print off the map. The visitor’s center helped us find it on the outskirts of town, up a hill behind some businesses and homes. We had booked through Moabutahlodging.com and the place was called Overlook Apartment. It’s actually like a mother-in-law apartment on top of the owners place, it was wonderful. There was a wrap around porch/deck with a view of the mountains all around you, a large bedroom with a king sized bed, small kitchen with stove-top, fridge, microwave, bathroom with shower, eating area and living room. I would guess it was about 900 sq ft. and we had the whole place to ourselves for less than most hotels.
We ate at Paradox Pizza only about 10 minutes away; the Brew Pub next door had a very long wait. It was very good and we enjoyed the atmosphere. I joked that the average person seemed to be a 27 y/o male off-road biker. That’s when we learned about how popular the area is for biking and ATV’ing.