Wow, our first long road trip with 4 kids! I thought it would be bad, but it actually went surprisingly well which is fantastic considering it is not exactly cheap to fly a family of 6 anywhere! We wanted to do a test road trip to see if we could handle a longer one because we just love our adventures.
My favorite thing about the road trip was getting to talk to my husband. Being in the car for over 24 hours total with little to do in the front seat we had some amazing conversation. The kids were busy with their activities (coloring, audio books, movies, games or sleeping) so we got quite a bit of quiet time in. Yes, there were a few tantrums along the way, but for the most part the kids were good.
Another great thing about Road Tripping is when the kids (Eloise) did have a meltdown we weren’t stuck on an airplane or in an airport. I didn’t feel the need to quickly shush her so that everyone around me could enjoy peace and quite.
The Route (without stops):
- Lenexa, Kansas to Colorado Border Welcome Sign – 414 miles – 5 hours 42 minutes
- Colorado border to Glenwood Springs – 336 miles – 4 hours 57 minutes
- Glenwood Springs to Carbondale – 23.3 miles – 37 minutes
- Carbondale to Maroon Bells, Aspen – 42.8 miles – 1 hour
- Aspen to Independence Pass – 30.4 miles – 58 minutes
- Independence Pass to Garden of the Gods – 135 miles – 2 hours 36 minutes
- Garden of the Gods to Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs – 13 miles – 21 minutes
- Colorado Springs to Lenexa, Kansas – 574 miles – 8 hours 11 minutes
- TeePee 1 night (Wednesday)
- Cabin 2 nights (Thursday & Friday)
- Great Wolfe Lodge 1 night (Saturday)
We did a big loop instead of stopping at one destination we wanted to explore a bunch of different places. It was pretty cool to go from the plains up into the mountains, down into a canyon, climbed up the canyon, hiked along the river, to the lake and past some waterfalls then across the continental divide and back out again.
Alright so here we go……on our adventure!
Day #1 : leave Kansas at 4:00 am
First stop 5 hours 42 minutes from Kansas City. Welcome to Colorful Colorado Sign! Yes, we pulled over on the highway to take a picture. There is a decent amount of space to pull your car over, but you need to keep a look out for it or you could pass it by. We didn’t get the younger two out of the car cause we didn’t want to break our stride, but Rowan & Quinn were into it so they got a picture.
Destination #1: Carbondale, Colorado Crystal River KOA Teepee.
Yes, we slept in a teepee for a night….no heat or running water, but OMG it was fun! The kids had a blast. we cooked all of our meals over the fire pit. There was a queen sized bed, a full futon and two twin sized sleeping pads. We brought our sleeping bags and the pac n play for baby Liam. The teepee had turf on the floor. I don’t think I could do more than one night though without electricity and water with 4 kids, but it was fun to “rough it” for a night. The bathrooms were right across from the teepee and were super clean. The cleaning people came twice a day. I was amazed at how clean it was…..it was cleaner than the boys’ bathroom at my house! It really was a gorgeous campsite for RV’s tents, the teepee and multiple cabin options. They also had a basketball area, bean bag toss, some other games, a pool table and little shop. I mean it completely changed my view of “camping”. Highly recommended.
There was a pool at the campground which was nice for the kids to jump in after a long day of driving in the car.
Day #2 We checked out of our Teepee and headed to Hanging Lake Trail for some hiking to the most beautiful little lake at the top of the Glenwood Canyon cliffs.
It was a straight up hike. We all made it 1/2 mile then Rowan and I hiked the rest of the way up the 1.8 mile trail. It was basically climbing rocks the whole way up. It was really fun and beautiful and steep. The whole trip took about 3 hours up and back down the trail.
Our cute little Cabin by the Crystal River
After our hike we went back to the Carbondale KOA and checked into our Cabin on the Crystal river at the same camp grounds as the TeePee. Heat & bathrooms, now we are talking luxury! As always we like to stay in “little houses” which is becoming harder to find little houses that allow us to cram 6 people in them. We just really like staying in little places on vacations. It makes me feel like a kid again in a fort playing house with my kids.
Day #3 : Aspen to hike the Maroon Bells Trail
This place is so beautiful and no wonder it is the “most photographed mountain in North America”. There was a moose sighting while we were there, but unfortunately, we did not see the moose. Quinn carried his stick to “fight off the moose” in case it was necessary.
The lakes in the mountains are so clear and the wildflowers so pretty and the Aspen trees are just unreal. We saw a beaver dam, but no beaver……Quinn had his stick though just in case a beaver tried to attack us.
After the hike we stopped in at a pizza place in downtown Aspen, which is a super cute little town, but um it’s fancy. As we walked past the Louis Vuitton store Liam ran up and stuck his face against the window and licked it, he licked the window……eeewwww! (seriously, the LV employee dressed in a tuxedo thought it was funny and so did I, but man I couldn’t get my kids out of that town fast enough). All I could think of was the Dumb and Dumber movie (which by the way is one of my all time favorites movies!!!). So after pizza we bolted before we broke something worth more than 900 Pesos (see Tulum, Mexico gift shop ordeal post about Eloise’s 3 legged jaguar). The town of Aspen would be a super fun place to visit without 4 young children in tow.
At the end of our daily hikes it was fun to come back to our cute little cabin and chill. We were right on the river so we tried to fish, but did’t catch anything. Made a lot of s’mores though. The kids love any new place and have so much fun exploring.
Day #4 checked out of our cute little cabin and headed for the treacherous roads of Independence Pass!!! OMG, panic attack alert…..this road is only open October-May. It is steep and narrow, but beautiful! When the speed limit says 10 miles an hour around the curves it MEANS 10 miles an hour! I was scared to even lean out the window to take a picture of the scary cliffs below.
We were dressed for summer down in Aspen, but when we got up to Independence Pass it was 43 degrees so I grabbed some sweaters for the kids and we jumped out of the car to look around. It was beautiful! Needless to say we didn’t get to stay long because we were freezing!! SO back in the car to continue on to Colorado Springs.
That is one curvy road!
The Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs
We took a stroll through the oh so beautiful Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. It seriously is super cool seeing these giant red rocks just sticking out of the ground with a city built up around them. The boys thought the “Kissing Camel Rocks” were gross!
I remember visiting the garden as a kid with my family and loved the adventure back then. So making new memories with my kids here was pretty awesome for me.
After the TeePee and Cabin we decided to stay a night at the Great Wolfe Lodge in Colorado Springs.
The kids were getting hiked out and the water park was a fun treat before heading back home.
We wanted to take the COG railway up to Pikes Peak, but it was a 3 hour trip and we had just gotten done with the cold of Independence Pass so we opted out on this trip. The kids would have just been too overwhelmed for it. Which is one of the most awesome things about road tripping….we didn’t have a set time schedule so we could change plans easily.
Sunday morning we played at the water park until checkout time at 11:00 then loaded back in the car and drove back to Kansas. We arrived home around 9pm, later than we wanted but we had to make 3 stops for bathroom breaks.
That’s a wrap! It was a great adventure and now that we know we can do a road trip, I’m sure there will be many more in the future……stay tuned!