Best Road Trips: From Denver Pt. 1
Settled in the heart of the Rocky Mountain range, Denver is surrounded by countless options for gorgeous and scenic road trips. Although the options are nearly endless, I’ve narrowed it down to a number of spots that are within a few hours of Denver and provide stunning views with plenty to do.
Stunning and picturesque, Telluride is about a six-hour drive from Denver and a great weekend destination. Enjoy the views as you traverse from the Foothills just outside of Denver, through the winding roads of the Rockies, and the beauty of the Western slope before settling into the heart of the mountains. The view from downtown Telluride appears as if it is directly out of painting, blending the charm of an old mining town with the prestige of a world-class ski resort. If skiing or snowboarding isn’t of interest, enjoy the breathtaking landscape by snow biking, ice skating, snowmobiling, or even dog sledding. If you find yourself in a town outside of the winter, try one of the many hikes or golf courses in the area or scratch your adventurous itch with off-roading on ATVs, horseback riding, or fly fishing. No matter when you visit, be sure to stroll through the intriguing shops and restaurants in town and look into other year-round offerings such as nearby hot springs and gondola rides to take in the views.
Similar to Telluride, Aspen is a lovely ski resort town settled in the heart of the Rockies but is closer to Denver, only requiring about three and a half hours of driving. In addition to offering many similar experiences and views to other mountain towns, Aspen sets itself apart with the Maroon Bells (a series of distinctively bell-shaped, wine-colored peaks towering 14,000 ft. above elevation) and has hosted the X Games for the last twenty years, bringing elite athletes and spectators to town from around the world.
If you’re looking to venture out of Colorado, there are a number of places worth checking out that don’t require a cross-country drive. One of these nearby destinations is Moab, situated just on the other side of the Colorado-Utah border in the Beehive State. Just over five hours from Denver, Moab is the gateway to Utah’s beauty and is highlighted by Arches and Canyonlands National Parks offering some of the best of red rock landscapes in the world. With the Colorado River passing through and the quaintness of its downtown, Moab is a premier destination for anyone looking to escape the city for a weekend.
Black Hills, SD
Many travelers tend to venture west from Denver but don’t forget about the beautiful north of the Centennial State. Less than six hours from Denver, the Black Hills, and Badlands in western South Dakota combine stunning landscapes with a rich history. Highlighted by Mount Rushmore National Memorial, this region showcases diverse wildlife and mystical landscapes featuring buttes and spires, unlike anything you’ve seen before. Explore caverns and caves, unearth prehistoric fossils, or ride your motorcycle just up the road for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
This abbreviated list only showcases a handful of the incredible views and experiences at your fingertips if you’re looking to venture out from Denver for a long weekend or road trip with your favorite travel buddies.
There is one thing that is always at the top of people’s minds when they go to buy a used car. What has the certain vehicle been through in its life? The best way to find this out is to look at its history report.
Why is this important? Well, first it can tell prospective buyers if the vehicle has been in an accident. While this type of information is not always displayed based on a few things (if the accident was reported to the correct authorities if the person involved was able to fix the issues themselves, or simply the severity of the accident didn’t reach a certain threshold.) However, a vehicle history report is the best place to find out the story through the different owners.
There are pretty much the big three when it comes to history reports, Carfax, AutoCheck, and an up-and-coming report company named Bumper. Carfax is the oldest name in the market, but that doesn’t always mean they catch everything.
You can find links and purchase a vehicle history report by clicking on the button below.
The history of the electric car dates back nearly 200 years, which may be a surprise to some. Certainly, the first model electric cars were far more primitive than their current fully electric passenger car counterparts today, but the last few decades have greatly expanded the capabilities and demand for electric vehicles.
The first model electric vehicles began popping up around Europe in the 1830s with electric locomotives ramping up around the same time. It wasn’t until a couple of decades later in the 19th century that the first full-scale electric vehicles began to take form, eventually expanding in their manufacturing just before the turn of the century. The popularity of electric vehicles grew quickly in the United States at the start of the 20th century as they offered a handful of advantages over their competitors, including the avoidance of requiring gear changes and manual effort to start. The turn of the century saw 40 percent of automobiles being powered by steam, 38 percent by electricity, and 22 percent by gasoline.
Sales of electric cars peaked in the early 1910s but dwindled in the coming decades due to a lack of power infrastructure and the growing desire for a greater range than that offered by electric cars. Many companies began expanding their experiments and innovations in electric cars throughout the 1960s and in 1971 an electric car received the unique distinction of becoming the first manned vehicle to drive on the Moon. The energy crises of the 1970s and 1980s brought about renewed interest in the perceived independence electric cars had from the fluctuations of the hydrocarbon energy market with a number of companies making battery electric vehicles converted from existing manufactured models. Throughout the 1990s, consumers in the United States began preferring larger, truck-based vehicles, causing U.S. automakers to adjust their product lines to sport utility vehicles instead of the smaller cars that were preferred in places like Europe and Japan.
Tesla began the development of its Roadster in 2004 before delivering it to customers in 2008, which introduced the widespread use of lithium-ion battery cells. This sparked increased consumer demand as well as renewed innovation and production efforts by automakers throughout the 2010s and the sales of electric cars continue to expand today. The Tesla Model 3 is the world’s all-time best-selling plug-in electric car. Sales of electric vehicles are at an all-time high and with the improving power infrastructure as well as concerns for the environmental impact of vehicles, they don’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.
There are a number of vehicles that stand out in their time and last in the minds of car enthusiasts long after for a number of reasons. The Ford Pinto and its fuel tank placed in the back of the car, resulting in several deadly fires after rear-end collisions. The Chevrolet Nova and its struggles in Spanish speaking markets as its translation is “no go”. The Ford Bronco can’t be mentioned without someone saying “The Juice is loose!”. But the first car I ever drove is one that is easily recognizable and brings a smile to my face any time I see it. The Geo Tracker.
My first time in a driver’s seat found me in an old Geo Tracker at my neighbor’s house. They had two Trackers, one they drove around town and the other for bopping around their property as they owned a number of acres with horses and offering a mix of marshy swampland at the back side of their property. So there I sat at 13 or 14, never having driven a vehicle before and behind the wheel of a Geo Tracker in the middle of a marsh. I had driven a go kart before and this felt similar enough but was still noticeably different considering it was an actual vehicle. The control of its compact frame but off-road capabilities allowed us to scoot, glide, and drift through the mud, much to the chagrin of my over-bearing mother (although I never told her I did this until much later in life at the risk she wouldn’t allow me back to this friend’s house).
As I grew up and got my license I would occasionally drive other friends’ cars for a variety of reasons but nothing stuck with me quite like that Geo Tracker. I remember driving it at a time when cars were getting bigger and bigger, and yet here was this almost petite SUV. Looking the car up again, I learned that the Tracker was actually certified as a light truck due to its off-road capabilities and body on frame construction. If I could purchase any car now as a secondary vehicle or work vehicle of some kind, I would certainly look into finding a Geo Tracker to bring it back and offer others the same smile that sneaks across my face when encountering this unique and diminutive dynamo.
I didn’t buy my first car until I was 25. I was able to use one of my parents’ old cars throughout college (they usually came to me as they were falling apart and I attempted to extend their life as long as I could before they’d collapse) and I lived in cities with good public transportation following college so it was easier not to have a car. However, around my 25th birthday I moved across the country and was going to need my own vehicle so they time had finally come to dive into the world of car shopping. Not having my own vehicle to test drive others made it challenging but I had friends nearby that graciously offered to shuttle me between dealerships one cloudy Saturday. I scoured used car websites for a couple weeks leading up to the day I was test driving them and saw dozens of cars come and go through the websites. I planned ahead and called the dealerships the day before I was going to test drive the different vehicles to ensure they were still there and mapped out the most efficient route to hit four different dealerships in the span of a few hours.
I had narrowed down my choices to a handful of different SUVs/crossovers. I looked at a Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Equinox, Jeep Compass, and Ford Escape, all ranging from 3-8 years old at the time. The experience at each dealership was different in their approach but I was able to drive away from the dealership with my “new” 2013 Ford Escape. Disappointingly, my first ride in my own car was through a torrential rain storm so it wasn’t much of a joyride but I was still excited to have made it through the process and have my own car.
I was never one for naming my cars, but I decided to call this one Murphy if anyone asked for two reasons. First, it seemed like a simple, reliable vehicle and was a few years older but still pretty steady. This reminded me of my neighbor’s dog when I was a kid, an old golden retriever named Murphy. She was calm and steady, just like my Escape. Second, are you familiar with Murphy’s Law? It states anything that can wrong, will go wrong. Well my vehicle wasn’t a complete lemon, it had a number of issues that kept popping up every time I brought it in for a simple oil change. I finally had to cut my losses and sell the vehicle when I was told I’d have to replace the transmission but I still appreciated everything Murphy had done for me. That vehicle was the first I had to myself and represented a major transition in my life, literally carrying me across the country. I’m glad I reflect on that vehicle with a positive lens, despite the headaches and hits to the bank account Murphy provided. We always remember our first love.
Having older siblings, I missed the excitement of having a “new” car when I turned sixteen. Instead, I got to join the rotation of sharing the car once I was able to drive on my own. Although I didn’t get to experience the freshness of a car that was new to the family, I appreciated knowing what vehicle I had coming my way (two cars actually). When I was coming of age into my driving years, my family had a pair of older Mazda 626’s. The older one was a 1991 white 626 and the other was a 1997 forest green 626. Growing up in Minnesota, they were great little cars to zip around in the summer but became a very different experience in the brutal northern winters.
The cars were very light and easy to maneuver, which made them nice cars for learning to drive. I remember sitting in a gravel lot with my dad as I put the car into gear and the surprise of an idling engine inching the car forward. It didn’t take me long to get comfortable and I started to enjoy driving. I always liked driving other vehicles like snowmobiles, ATVs, and go-karts and the 626 felt closer to a go-kart than a pickup. I didn’t know much about the specifics of the car like horsepower, torque, or engine details, but I knew the feeling of freedom that access to the car offered me and that was enough.
Shortly after turning sixteen, the older white Mazda began breaking down on us so we were forced to sell it to a recycler but the little green sedan held on with us for a couple more years. I’ll always have fond memories of those first vehicles and the impact that having access to my own car had on me.
In this “Ear To The Pavement” segment, we are going to share our thoughts on the Automotive market for 2023.
With the predicted improvement in the chip supply, we expect 2023 to bring back relative normalcy to the market.
Most retailers are predicting a significant improvement in supply this year and the production of new vehicles to be both greater in numbers and more predictable for the future. Will we have an immediate return to pre-2020 new vehicle inventory and production levels? No, and we may not see those supply levels for some time, if ever again.
The supply chain improvement and potentially tightening economic factors will bring back more pricing competition between new and late-model used cars and the reduction of dealers willing to overpay for your used car. Because it will be easier to obtain a new unit directly from the manufacturer and the manufacturers will support dealers with selling tools such as rebates, cash back, and low-interest rates, which have been largely absent the past couple of years, it will make selling your used own car more like 2019 instead of ’21 and ’22.
To thrive in this new environment we just have to remember not only how we sold in 2019, but more importantly how we will sell in 2023 and beyond.
We will utilize all of our resources and take an organized tactical approach to listing your vehicle. We research the current value, and the best market, and make a detailed first-class presentation of our car that is in ready-to-sell condition, and have a step-by-step guide of how to complete the transaction at our fingertips.
Everyone remembers their first car and the stories of freedom it created. When you grow up the son of an Automobile dealer, the excitement is magnified due to all the neat cars coming and going, always wondering, “Is this the one?”
Each time a cool car would come into the dealership you would hover around it hoping to hear “this one is yours” However, after many Trans Ams, Datsun Z cars, Camaros, Broncos, Blazers, and a multitude of other social life-changing machines came and went, I never heard those words! One day a very nondescript 1980 White Datsun 4X4 Pickup truck was parked around the side of the dealership and I was asked to take it and haul some boxes and other items over to another facility.
I climbed in the truck and started it up, which fortunately was only a few years old and reasonably clean. It was pretty hot that day so I reached for the AC to find that this truck didn’t have that feature, no problem I thought I will roll the windows down and listen to some tunes, the windows were manual crank so that took a trip around to the passenger side to get the 235 air conditioning going, for those younger than boomers and early Gen Xers, 235 AC is 2 windows down and 35 miles per hour to create airflow! Once back in the driver’s seat to find one of the great Rock N Roll stations of the 80’s only to find this radio was AM only, once again it is likely many aren’t familiar, so a quick web search will yield some cool American Radio history and how large of a part the great FM radio stations of the era were a critical part of a teenager life find and that AM radio wasn’t what you wanted after the 1960s!
It is reasonable to say the trip to haul boxes of files to another facility was uneventful and unfulfilling in a 1980 White Long Bed 4 Speed base model (no power equipment with vinyl floor and seats) Datsun truck with an Aluminium Camper Shell. After running multiple errands with this truck through the week I learned this would be the vehicle designated mine, admittedly there was some disappointment, but most importantly I had gained transportation, freedom, and hopefully, an instantly improved social life, plus my dirt bike would fit in the bed and I liked to hunt, fish, and camp and this wasn’t the worst vehicle for those pursuits. I expressed huge appreciation and in return became the designee for anyone who needed anything hauled.
It wasn’t until later I began to realize my Father’s genius, a son with a pickup truck who could and would haul anything asked, the ability to only haul one passenger, and a truck so slow the football team running back could run faster than the truck in the 40-yard dash, with a manual 4 speed had a top speed of 72 MPH. How could I get into trouble with these limitations?
Well, somehow I found a way!
In October of 2018, I was in a fender bender, yielding my 2008 VW Jetta “Totaled.” I had been living in Colorado for just over a year and needed to find a new vehicle. In Denver, the mountains are an hour away, and snow threatens half the year. The vehicle choice became obvious to me: a Toyota 4Runner. The big problem with Toyota 4Runners in Colorado is cost, you could call them “bricks of gold.” In the winter of 2018, (maybe the worst time to look for a 4×4 in Colorado) I started searching for a 4runner that would fit my criteria. I ran into a market that was not kind to someone with a tighter budget and limited time to spend driving to see those that were available.
I thought I might take a chance and started looking in the midwest for a prized 4Runner. What I found was shocking. Plenty of stock, and 20-30% less cost than what I found in Colorado. One that caught my eye was a 2004 4Runner Sport Edition with 147k miles, for $7800! A true bargain compared to anything I had found locally.
Being from the Midwest, I had made the drive across I80 a few times, so that didn’t scare me. Plus, I was used to a little surface rust that could be found on the frame of a midwest vehicle, so that didn’t phase me, either. What concerned me was the transaction. How could I: make the deal, get a loan for an out-of-state car, handle the DMV issues, figure out logistics after the sale, and ultimately—Am I ok with buying a car I had not put eyes on other than the listing? With all those questions still running around my head, I pulled the trigger and bought the 4Runner sight unseen. Still, the stress during the whole adventure held over my head. Am I making the right decision? What if I get there and it doesn’t run properly? Can I make it back to Denver safely?
The 4Runner ended up being a gem, but I kept asking myself, why can’t this be easier? Is there some type of tool I could have used, especially in the world of modern technology, to simplify this process? This is when I thought if it doesn’t exist and it could help someone, let’s make it! I still have the paper napkin where I scribbled the first few ideas for CheckDrive. Yes, there is the truth behind the stories of scribbles on napkins starting businesses. So in 2022, we finally made it happen. We started CheckDrive.
CheckDrive is driven to make a transaction between two people as easy as it is to buy from a dealership. We welcome all people to share in the world of cars, whether it is a story of how you felt to get your first wheels or a road trip that makes you feel connected to the world and the people around you. This is not a place for car people, this is a place for people with cars.
1994 Isuzu Rodeo
I turned 16 when I was going into my Junior year of high school, a little later than my friends, and with much less cash than their summer jobs have yielded them. My two best friends have some pretty cool cars: One had bought a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the other had just bought his uncle’s 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse. The owner of the jeep, well his dad owned an auto body, so a sweet cherry flake over black base paint was sprayed on as soon as he got it. The Mitsubishi was a silver bullet, and it soon received 12” subs to give it the ultimate class of 2007 sound system.
My car? A 1994 Isuzu Rodeo, or “Row-Day-oh” as we affectionately called her. She was red everything. Red paint color, red dash, red seats, red on red on red. I can still imagine pushing in the heating controls like I just had the car 4 months ago, although it has been 17 years since I last saw her. I can still smell that car sometimes, mostly like a gas can spilled out in the back. I can still hear her when I think about it. There had been a “Cherry Bomb” muffler added by my father, so that car would seem “cool.”
Looking back it wasn’t the cherry bomb that made her cool, it was the freedom of the road as a 16-year-old, the thought of having your whole life in front of you. Sure I may have wanted a new car, a cool car, but 4 wheels and a dream is all someone needs at that age. Besides, you can’t get in much trouble in a 1994 Isuzu, but we sure tried.