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Package tours are simply a way to buy the airfare, accommodations, and other elements of your trip (such as car rentals, airport transfers, and even activities) at the same time and often at discounted prices. Many of the hotels in Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs offer specific packages, like the Broadmoor and golf or Hotel Teatro and theatre, and many offer packages involving outdoor recreation in the Rockies. Ski packages are available from all the major resorts, and there is often significant savings available if you bundle lift tickets, lodging, and airfare.

Escorted General-Interest Tours

Escorted tours are structured group tours, with a group leader. The price usually includes everything from airfare to hotels, meals, tours, admission costs, and local transportation. Below are some of the better companies that offer escorted tours in the Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs areas.

Gray Line, 5855 E. 56th Ave. (P.O. Box 646), Denver, CO 80217 (tel. 303/289-2841; www.coloradograyline.com), provides traditional bus and van tours to the U.S. Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, and historic sites of Denver.

Maupintour, 2688 Rainbow Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89146 (tel. 800/255-4266; www.maupintour.com), offers a variety of tours, including well-planned multiday tours of Rocky Mountain National Park and other scenic and historic areas.

Despite the fact that escorted tours require big deposits and predetermined hotels, restaurants, and itineraries, many people derive security and peace of mind from the structure they offer. Escorted tours let travelers sit back and enjoy the trip without having to worry about details. They take you to the maximum number of sights in the minimum amount of time with the least amount of hassle. They're particularly convenient for people with limited mobility and they can be a great way to make new friends.

On the downside, you'll have little opportunity for serendipitous interactions with locals. The tours can be jam-packed with activities, leaving little room for individual sightseeing or adventure -- plus they often focus on the heavily touristed sites, so you miss out on many a lesser-known gem.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.