Welcome to Denver, the Mile High City. Spend the day recovering after your travels or visit the Denver Art Museum or Botanical Gardens before joining your Travel Director and fellow travellers this evening for a Welcome Reception.
The Rocky Mountains may seem larger than life, but your journey to Rocky Mountain National Park will see you come face to face with this extraordinary mountain landscape which snakes along western North America. Drive along the Trail Ridge Road, a designated national scenic byway and the highest continuous paved highway in America. Arrive at the charming Hotel Boulderado, your 'Stay with Story' and Colorado's top rated historic hotel, located one block from the city's hub for dining, arts, shopping and, of course, people watching. This evening you will have free time to explore on your own.
Your next stop is Colorado's oldest tourist attraction, the Georgetown Loop Railroad, completed in the late 19th century. Walk along the pedestrian-only streets of the picturesque Vail Mountain Resort. Continue on to Glenwood Springs, a resort city known for its hot springs, sitting in the rugged Rocky Mountains, surrounded by the vast White River National Forest. This evening, your 'Stay with Story' is the historic and iconic Colorado Hotel, fresh from a complete renovation, bringing the hotel back to its former glory and the Grande Dame of Glenwood Springs.
Head up Colorado's Rocky Mountains to Aspen, known for its high-end boutiques, bars and restaurants. Join your Travel Director for a walk through town. Then an exciting and exclusive experience awaits you as you will be taken by jeep up to the historic Burlingame Cabin located on Snowmass Mountain. There you can take an extended jeep tour, or just sit back, relax and admire the breathtaking views of the mountain ranges while the staff tends to all your needs. Enjoy a delicious lunch hot off the grill, a campfire, live music, and s'mores. Back in Glenwood Springs, the rest of the day is yours to do as you please. Perhaps, visit the renowned Glenwood Hot Springs, the world's largest mineral hot springs pool.
Head for Palisade, known as the 'Peach and Wine Capital of Colorado,' perfectly nestled along the Colorado River. Stop at a local family's orchards, 'Connect with Locals' as you meet with family members and learn about the history of this farming family. Meet the bee-keeper and sample some fresh honey from the beehives, fresh in-season produce, salsas, jams and preserves, pickled veggies, grilling sauces and salad dressings. In addition to ten varieties of the famous Palisade Peaches, a wide variety of other fruit and vegetables are also grown on property (production varies depending on seasons). After, we head on to Colorado National Monument, preserving one of the grandest landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. Experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles. This evening, stay in the heart of wine country and enjoy a Be My Guest dinner at the Colterris Winery. You will be hosted by the owners, Scott and Theresa High, who will escort you on a tour of the vineyards while sharing the history of their family and their vines. They will then host dinner set amongst the beautiful scenery and perfectly paired with the seasonal menu.
Head up the Western Slopes along the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway and stop in the must-see town of Ouray, nestled in some of the most rugged and towering peaks of the Rockies, and often referred to as the "Switzerland of America." From Ouray, ride along the famous "Million Dollar Highway," a designated All-American Byway and one of the state's most scenic drives with some of Colorado's most spectacular views as it spirals over Coal Bank Summit, Molas Pass, and Red Mountain Pass. Arrive in the mining town of Silverton, once a bawdy mining town, to board the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to Durango. Take a trip back in time as this coal-fired, steam-powered train chugs along rails that were originally laid at the end of the 19th century, winding through a wilderness which would be inaccessible by car. This evening, you'll enjoy a night at The Strater Hotel, one of the West's first iconic hotels and the centerpiece of Durango, your 'Stay with Story.'
Admire the ancient cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan people, carved out of the sandstone of the canyon walls, at the UNESCO-listed Mesa Verde National Park. Several hundred of these dwellings, in addition to thousands of known archaeological sites, are preserved in this protected area and you'll have an opportunity to see several during your visit to the park. Later, indulge in free time in Durango with options of activities, including a fun rafting excursion on the Animas River. This evening, the choice is yours with a selection of Durango's top three restaurants for a Your Choice Dining experience.
Today's highlight is the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, a sandbox of epic proportions-39 square miles (101 square kilometers) with the tallest dune towering 750 feet (229 meters) high, making it the largest sand dune in North America. Start at the excellent Visitor Center with a short film and various exhibits. Then meet your Local Specialist and Park Ranger and learn about this unique geographical phenomenon as you explore the dunes before heading for Colorado Springs, our next destination for a two-night stay.
Board the historic Pikes Peak Cog Railway, the world's highest cog railroad, for an unforgettable trip to the 14,115 foot (4,302 meters) summit of Pikes Peak. Ride past cascading streams and forests of aspen and pine, enjoy the striking panoramas and learn of Pikes Peak connection with the patriotic song "America the Beautiful''. Experience yet another natural wonder of Colorado as you visit the spectacular Garden of the Gods, a registered National Natural Landmark, boasting dramatic vistas and towering, jagged red-rock formations. Enjoy the magical town of Manitou Springs before heading to Olympic City USA, a 1.7-acre of land dedicated to Team USA. Visit the brand-new US Olympic and Paralympic Museum and Hall of Fame. You will be guided through the museum by athletes in training, giving you a unique insight into the daily lives and regimen of Team USA. The rest of the day is free before a unique and exclusive Farewell Dinner experience, paired with wine.
Our journey ends today as we say a fond farewell to new friends and depart Colorado Springs for Denver, but not before one last stop at the United States Air Force Academy for a glimpse at the daily life of a cadet in training. Then transfer to Denver International Airport. Airport arrival time will be approximately 12:00 p.m., please be aware when booking your flights.