I do have a question. Denver being the only airport that I can get to for a reasonable price. What route would you locals advise? I know I'm in for a bit of a haul but we have all day Friday to make the drive.
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From the airport, take the road leaving the airport (Pena Blvd) down to I-70. Stay on I-70 as it takes you clear across town towards the mountains. Get over in the left lane and stay there for your trip across the city.
On the west side of town, as I-70 starts to climb toward the mountains, exit (on the right) onto C-470 (the sign says east for Colorado Springs but you'll be headed south). Once on C-470, go past the Alameda and Morrison exits.
The next exit is Highway 285. The sign indicates Fairplay. Take this exit (on the right) and stay on 285 for a very long time, going through Bailey, over Kenosha Pass through South Park valley, Fairplay and beyond. It's about a minimum 3.5 hour drive to Johnson Village from the airport.
At Johnson Village, right after a bridge over the Arkansas River, you'll come to a junction with Highway 24. Turn left (south). Watch your speed on Highway 24. It is a 30 minute drive to your next junction.
At a junction in Poncha Springs, go right (west) on Highway 50 bound for Gunnison. Drive over Monarch Pass, drive through the long Gunnison valley, arriving in Gunnison. Mario's
on the south (left) side of Main Street in Gunnison would be an awesome lunch stop! It's right near the center of town.
Beyond Gunnison, resume your track on Highway 50, bypassing impressive Blue Mesa Reservoir, and several passes enroute to Montrose. During the drive from Gunnison to Montrose, you are north of the very large San Juan range, but you won't see much of it until you pull in to Montrose. With lunch, it's a two hour drive to Montrose.
In downtown Montrose is the junction with Highway 550. Turn left (south) and drive 550 through Ridgway and Ouray (welcome to the San Juans!). The highway is winding and narrow going over Red Mountain Pass. Have your camera handy. Be prepared to stop often for pictures. Be prepared for a wrenched neck after gawking at all of the mountains around you. With stops, it's a minimum 2 hour drive to Silverton from Montrose.
550 will take you to Silverton. At a junction, turn left (north) to go into town.
From the airport, Silverton is an 8 hour drive, perhaps longer depending on how much you stop to take pictures of Colorado's mountains, particularly of the San Juans. Since you have all day Friday, you'll be good, although somewhat burnt out upon arriving in Silverton. Nothing a good night's sleep breathing fresh San Juan air can't cure. Believe me, this is a trip you guys won't forget. You're going to be blown away by the San Juans!
It'll be nice to see you and Robin again!