Originally Posted by mttdmrs
-Anything else I'm missing
What is a dream trip for you guys? What experience are you looking for?
Speaking just for places within 4hrs of Denver you can run across secluded places that define the mountain west to some, find places to float, find colorful tailwater beasts, etc. Some might call a trophy a heavily pressured fish that takes a technical presentation, some might call it the 18" wild football, some wouldn't call a trout a trophy unless it is both a beast and a picky technical fish.
Colorado can give it all to you, as I'm sure any of the other mountain states can.
Give us a narrower scope of what YOU are looking for, and the advice you will get will be a great deal better.
-What species would you target for a trip? I'd love a 'numbers trip' with some shots at trophy fish.
I would target wild fish that don't see a lot of pressure.
-What are some recommended rivers to start looking at? Any lodges you've had good experiences with? Best time of year?
Fall, it's pretty.
-What can I expect to spend on a trip like this? I'm hoping to keep it <$3,000, but willing to spend more for a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
I don't know what plane tickets cost, but $2k could probably land you four guided days. That is a wealth of fishing knowledge, and a smarter thing to do would be to match a guided day followed up with two unguided days on the same water.
-What would we need to bring on a guided trip? We have a few 4-5 wt fly rods, but guessing we might need something more adequate for this trip. Would a guide have everything we need?
They should provide everything you need. I wouldn't worry about bringing flies ahead of time, unless you tie, and just pick up what you need from the fly shop after your guided trip. When looking for guides, pay attention to who provides the flies, tippet, rods, etc at no extra cost. Two different shops might be listed at the same price but one might only ask that you bring your own license and sunglasses, while the other might have you buy flies, rent waders, etc....those things add up. When you get your area narrowed down, don't be afraid to call around to shops OUTSIDE where you have decided. Permits can be limited for certain waters, and shops with a good reputation might not have the paper to guide there but certainly will know who THE guide is for that water. A special rod investment is probably not needed.
-Anything else I'm missing or additional advice?
If you get overwhelmed with the choices, pick a state, throw a dart, draw a 2hr circle around it, and I am sure some great memories will be made.