Western Colorado: Trip Planning Options

Now is a great time to explore the United States. Whether you have considered visiting Western Colorado before or not, it certainly has a lot to offer. From the scenic drives to rustic resorts, there are many sights to keep all types of individuals entertained. Driving around this area leaves a lot of options open for planning. Along with this, there are also a variety of airports that you can fly into. We visited Gateway, Telluride, and Dunton on our week long excursion. Minus a few glitches in my planning, which I will share below, this turned out to be a wonderful way to spend a week. This was how we spent a couples trip, but it could easily be configured for a family or solo traveler.

Our final itinerary left me looking into Grand Junction, Montrose, and Durango airports. The Telluride airport is also available for smaller jets and private flights. You could even go as far as Santa Fe if you don’t mind extra driving and want to extend your time. We decided upon the Grand Junction airport. Our connecting flight took us through Dallas and then into Grand Junction. The aircraft was a regional jet. This is a small airport, but it was extremely easy to get in and out of, especially if you are renting a car. After picking up baggage and then going on to the car rental line, in most airports you can easily suck up a lot of time just trying to leave. This was not the case here. We rented from Hertz due to having President’s Circle. Due to the small size, it did not offer the amenity of going straight to your car. Other than this, I definitely recommend this as a great airport for arriving and departing.

I want to outline the advantages and disadvantages of our itinerary below to assist in planning your next trip. In order to do so, here is our trip outline.

Day one: Fly to Grand Junction and drive to Gateway Canyons Resort (about 1hour)

Day two: Explore Gateway Canyons and drive to Telluride (2 hours 15 mins) for stay at Fairmont Telluride

Day three: Spend day and evening in Telluride

Day four: Drive to Mesa Verde National Park (1 hr 30 mins) and then on to Dunton Hot Springs (1 hr 20 mins)

Day five: Dunton with day trip to Sutcliffe Vineyards (1 hr 45 mins)

Day six: Relax at Dunton

Day seven: Drive back to Grand Junction (3 hrs 30 mins) for afternoon flight home

There are many different ways to configure your itinerary, but I will start out with the pitfalls in my plan. The last day left us with an extremely long drive back to Grand Junction Airport. If you do not have an afternoon flight, you will be leaving in the middle of the night because you have about 3.5 hours to the airport. This turned out to be a long day of traveling. I did look all of this information up ahead of time, but it ended up being longer than expected. Second, our trip was hefty in driving. There is a lot of incredible scenery and stops along the way. However, ideally, we would have spread this out over a longer time frame or covered less ground. Dependent upon the area you are planning to visit, Grand Junction may not be the best airport. It was extremely convenient up front for our first night stay at Gateway Canyons but very inconvenient leaving.

There is a lot to see in Western Colorado, and it even leaves you with options to travel into Utah for additional national parks. Prior to the trip, I wasn’t well educated on the area and what it had to offer. There was not a single stop that I felt was uninteresting or not worthy of the time spent. Despite the amount of driving, the scenery was lovely and even at times reminiscent of Icefields Parkway in Canada. I was so impressed with all of the pleasant surprises on this trip!

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