Author Topic: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)  (Read 2326 times)

patch45

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Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« on: March 05, 2017, 02:09:12 PM »
I'm trying to figure out the cheapest way to regularly get from the mountains to Denver. Maybe someone here could help?

I just moved here, I got a job as a software dev downtown, and I'm planning on living within at most 5 miles from the office. I plan on biking to work/grocery store/gym/any regular trips, and on the few days a year that's not feasible, I'll do public transportation.

The reason I moved out here is for the mountains; I love backpacking and hiking, and I want to get into some of the other stuff that is available out here like climbing and rafting. So I'm trying to figure out what makes the most sense to get me out to the mountains most weekends.

I broke it down like this (assuming 40 weekends per year in the mountains):

Bustang Bus
20 round trip rides to Idaho Springs - $150
10 round trip rides to Frisco - $108
10 round trip rides to Vail - $153
$411 total

Probably the cheapest, downsides would be sticking to someone else's schedule and only being able to go along the I70 corridor unless I wanted to hitchhike, which would take even more time

buy car
car - ~$4000
gas - ~$1000 (40 weekends * 200 miles per weekend / 25 mpg * $3/gal)
insurance + registration - ~$1500 (not exactly sure on this one.)
$6500 total

So over 10x the cost, but with the benefit of being able to drive anywhere. I also looked into renting a car over the weekends, but since I'm under 25, that cost nearly what buying a car would.

I'm also thinking about in the next 2-3 years converting an old cargo van and living out of that while working remotely, so I'm not sure about making the long term decision to purchase a car.

I'm new in town, and I'm obviously planning on making friends who share similar interests and who may have cars, but I also don't want to mooch, and would like to be able to get a solo weekend in every now and again.

Does anybody have any input, great ideas that I haven't thought of, or insight? Thanks!


etselec

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2017, 03:01:00 PM »
Don't buy a car. Start out using the bus presumably it'll be a while before you get sick of what's available along the I-70 corridor, and by then, you may be old enough to rent a car, or you will have made friends you can go with sometimes to change things up.

Also, Zipcar has a minimum age of 21 it may be more expensive than regular car rentals, but again, if it's just an occasional substitute when you want to go somewhere the bus can't take you, you'll probably still come out ahead.

Plus, 40 weekends a year is a LOT. It probably makes sense to wait a bit and see if you actually have the appetite to travel that often or if you settle into a pattern of, say, every-other-week trips, which would only be 26 weekends. That would tip the financial scale in favor of renting/bus/etc.

Put another way, if you try out taking the bus/carpooling/Zipcar/renting, you can always change your mind and buy a car if it's really not working for you. But once you've bought the car, you have no incentive to figure out whether those other, cheaper options really WOULD satisfy you.

canyonrider

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2017, 10:31:38 PM »
OP, I would first reevaluate your plan here. 40 weekends on I-70 in any vehicle, assuming you are limited by a typical M-F work schedule, will be a special kind of traffic hell that is highly unadvisable. And unless you really like the Tommyknocker brewery or want to ride your bike up Mt. Evans a bunch of times, why spend 20 of those weekends going to Idaho Springs??

What exactly do you want to do in the mountains once you get there, and for how long? Overnights or day trips? Skiing/snowboarding as well? Frisco and Vail are certainly worthy destinations in the winter and good in the summer for day hikes and some backpacking, but you will be limiting yourself to some of the busiest areas of the state.

Depending on the above, I would research car share services a bit more. I think there are others in addition to Zipcar. If I were in your shoes, I would probably try a combination of car sharing and bus trips to start. I think the bus alone will quickly become too geographically limiting, there is a lot to do (especially hiking and backpacking) that is beyond the reach of bus and other transit options.

Also, don't overlook options closer to Denver (e.g. world-class rock climbing in Boulder is better than any climbing you'd find in Frisco or Vail).

 

patch45

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2017, 08:10:31 AM »
I was mostly thinking overnight backcountry trips, and reflecting on it now, 40/year may be more than I could or would want to pull off. Which I guess further swings the pendulum to the pay-per-trip options like bus and carshare.

And that's what I was worried about, being limited to the I70 corridor and quickly running out of trails I haven't done before. I could always hitchhike up the minor highways to get to more remote trailheads but that takes so much more time and adds a lot of time uncertainty when I already only have the weekend.

I'll look into carshare options, and I've heard a little bit about the climbing near Boulder, which would be an easy trip or even bike ride on the bikeway!

Thanks to both of you!

Iplawyer

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2017, 08:23:32 AM »
I think you should go  to Craig's list and post that you are looking for a ride to X and are willing to pay Y and you will get rides no problem.  Denver is a city where everyone wants to get out hiking on the weekends and many of those are college students who would probably love to have their gas paid for.  There is great bus service to Boulder - and many other places.  And it is affordable.  Have you looked into bus service?  There are also shuttles to all of the ski places that are reasonably priced.  Just Google for them.  Generally speaking, I think you could do just fine without a car.

ketchup

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2017, 08:29:42 AM »
If you have a AAA membership, Hertz waives the under-25 charge ($27/day or some BS) for car rentals.  You could look into that if you have a Hertz nearby. My (24yo) GF does that all the time for work (just the other day she rented a car for a total of $34 and drove it 993 miles in two days).

Cranky

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2017, 05:32:13 AM »
Join a hiking club and go on those excursions?

Jacks flunky

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2017, 06:41:07 AM »
Two quick thoughts. First, I have hitchhiked several times in rural Colorado, and each time was offered a ride within fifteen minutes (traffic passing every minute or two). Use your smarts if you go this route, but remember that most people are good. Second option: do you bike and do the buses take bikes? You can get pretty far in a couple hours on a bike, even in the mountains. Take a bus part way, then use a bike to get away from the crowds.

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patch45

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2017, 07:55:57 AM »
All great ideas thanks! I'll probably try some mixture of all of these and see what works best

JoJo

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2017, 11:22:13 AM »
Join meetup.com hiking/camping groups and work out rideshare.  Don't cheap out on paying your fair share of gas/maintenance/insurance to the driver.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 12:40:16 PM by JoJo »

Miss Tash

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2017, 04:31:01 PM »
Join the Colorado Mountain Club then take light rail out to Golden where some of the trips start from.  Also, a number of CMC trips start from the park and ride on i-70/Morrison exit and you could easily get there by bus (RTD).  They're way into carpooling, too, so wouldn't mind at all if you can't drive.

patch45

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2017, 10:28:02 PM »
Quote
Do cheap out on paying your fair share of gas/maintenance/insurance to the driver

This is either innovative financial advice, or a typo. I'll go with the latter :)

And CMC would be a great idea, I've been wanting to try some mountaineering as well. Maybe I can get the company to pay for it too, they offer reimbursement for a gym membership and what are the mountains but the world's greatest gym

PDXTabs

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2017, 10:52:00 PM »
I would double check that you don't qualify for this: https://www.enterprise.com/en/car-rental/deals/partners/access-weekend-rates.html

JoJo

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Re: Cheapest Option to Get to Mountains (Denver)
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2017, 12:42:27 PM »
Quote
Do cheap out on paying your fair share of gas/maintenance/insurance to the driver

This is either innovative financial advice, or a typo. I'll go with the latter :)

And CMC would be a great idea, I've been wanting to try some mountaineering as well. Maybe I can get the company to pay for it too, they offer reimbursement for a gym membership and what are the mountains but the world's greatest gym

Fixed!   Don't cheap out!   I've been the driver sometimes and really got shafted.  Once I had 4 other people in the car.  I had to stop and buy a $5 pass for the parking plus drove nearly 2 hours each way, alot on gravel.  Of the 4 people, I got $6 TOTAL for driving and the pass.  Really?