I've never been to Colorado and would really appreciate suggestions to help make the most of every day of this trip for a nature loving mom and 2 boys - 14 and 8. We are flying into Denver on a Monday morning in mid August and renting a car, have 6-7 days on the ground and take a later afternoon flight home.
About us: we like nature. Nature centers. Easy hikes with picnic lunches (2 miles max). We will be winded by altitude since we are east coasters. Don't need "activities" just simple pleasures of gorgeous outdoors. Seeing animals is a major plus. Trying to catch crawfish or frogs or small fish with a net-our speed. Mom loves wildflowers. Teen loves photography and vlogging.
Ideally I'd like to have 2-3 "home bases" where we could stay for 2 nights rather than packing and moving every day. I'd also like to show the boys several types of biomes. Most excited about the alpine/Tundra personally but think the mountain/lake is lovely and then considering some red sandstone/cliff Indian villages and some hotsprings.
I know that's a tall order so I need help vetting it:
Day 1 - arrive Denver 9 am and drive to Estes park as home base. Or Boulder? Not sure which to do. Staying in boulder would add an hour to RMNP. Sounds like staying closer to the park may be smarter. Any motel/hotel/cabin ideas appreciated. Visit park in the afternoon To get oriented and do an easy hike to start acclimating to altitude. Any suggestions for an easy intro to RMNP? Bear lake?
Day 2 RMNP-TRR: Want to see alpine areas and boys would get a kick out of cold in the summer, marmots, elk, sheep, etc. do some small hikes along the way. Bring picnic lunch and hang out all day in the park.
Day 3 - maybe one last morning in the park? Drive to garden of the gods. See it in afternoon. Overnight in Colorado Springs.
Day 4 - check out manitou springs cliff dwellings maybe pikes peak?
Day 5 - either head south to great sand dunes NP (not sure how wild fires would affect this possibility by mid August) and spend day 6 there and drive back to Denver on day 7
Day 5 Loop back from Colorado Springs to mount Princeton hot springs- stop by Florissant on the way there? Chill late afternoon in hot springs.
Day 6 do something near mt Princeton? Hike? Not sure if this is an affordable place to stay for more than a night.
Day 7 return to Denver for 4 pm flight