A couple months back, we were invited to Denver for Thanksgiving, but upon checking out flights, it proved to be too costly to fly on relatively short notice. Naturally the first thing we thought of was to turn the invitation into a post-Christmas road trip instead. By driving, we figure we won’t be tied to any potential airport delays and we’ll also have a few hour head start by leaving from Iowa (where we’ll be spending Christmas) rather than Chicago. We could always get held up by a snow storm, but we’re preferring to remain flexible with our travel dates. Tentative plans are to head west on December 26th and arrive back in Chicago late the following week.
The 865 miles from Dubuque, Iowa to Denver should take 12-13 hours of driving time. We’ll most likely be following our limit of 8-9 hours in the car which would put us in North Platte, Nebraska for a night, leaving 4-ish hours left to Denver the following morning. We’ll check out hotels on Hotwire and Hotels.com as the date gets closer. With an iPad and an iPhone along for the ride, we may even decide to book from the road, because even if you book the same day, you get much better rates online than if you just show up at a check-in desk.
While we’re in town … North Platte just happens to be the site of the Bailey Yard, the world’s largest train maintenance and switching yard (8 miles long by 2 miles wide) and the Golden Spike observation tower that overlooks it all. It might be the kind of dorky, road trippy thing we’d enjoy seeing, but we have three weeks to decide if it fits the timeframe. On our way home, we’ll most likely repeat our 2009 plan with an overnight stop in Omaha.
The real planning to be done is for our time in Denver. Skiing will definitely be on the agenda and we’re looking into the possibility of snowshoeing as well. Rocky Mountain National Park is just an hour and a half north of Denver, so we’ll make at least a day trip out of that. I’m personally looking forward to spending some quality time with Denver as I’ve never gotten a good feel for the city on previous visits. I’ve always just been passing through on the way to the mountains. On our 2009 trip to Colorado, we spent most of our time in Boulder. Luckily we both have some great friends in Denver to show us around. Can’t wait!