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  1. Default Rocky Mountains big loop tour - Denver, Yellowstone, Utah, Las Vegas, Colorado, Denve

    I am planning a road trip for next year (yes, I realise this is a long time in advance), probably end of September to October, for 3 weeks.

    Rough plan would be something like this:,19.753418&z=6

    Denver to Yellowstone, through Utah and the National Parks, to Las Vegas, back towards Colorado via Grand Canyon and other New Mexico sites, and doing the interesting places in southern Colorado.

    Is that do-able in 3 weeks? Google says 49 hours driving! I am happy to have long days driving, but regular no-driving days are a must.

    Any suggestions about what we should and shouldn't visit?

    cheers for any help

    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 08-19-2010 at 10:35 AM. Reason: Put map live.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO



    Here is how you translate Google driving times:

    Add 20%. This would make it 60 hours. Google never has to stop for food, fuel, or go to the bathroom, and is never delayed by traffic or construction. Then break that down to days on the road. If you are willing to just DRIVE 10 hours a day, that's 6 days of just driving. With 3 weeks, you have plenty of time to do it.

    I would reverse your direction of travel and head for Yellowstone first. Facilities start closing down for the season in September and roads start closing in October.

    I would try to work in the following parks:

    Rocky Mountain (on the way to Yellowstone)
    Bryce Canyon
    Zion (all on the way to Las Vegas)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I think that looks like an excellent loop for a 3 week trip?

    One question: what is the reason for the detour to Farmington, NM?

    If you do go that route, you could easily swing by Great Sand Dunes NP in southern Colorado. Another option would be to work up from Durango to Silverton along the Million Dollar Highway. You could also look at a stop at Arches NP, or working your way through the Rockies on US-50.

  4. #4


    In addition, I would stop at Petrified Forest NP as well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Good calls

    What a wonderful trip !

    I agree with glc and would definitely consider heading North to Yellowstone first off to try and beat the winter weather. Driving along the Trail ridge Rd in RMNP is a great experience and you could then head through Steamboat Springs to Craig and up through Rawlins. As your map is you are driving around the Grand Tetons to SLC, I would definitely drive through them !
    On the way to Vegas you can "catch" Bryce and Zion, and as glc mentioned, you could go to Moab for Arches and Canyonlands first, depending on your final route back.

    As Michael asked, why Farmington ? From Cortez [Mesa Verde NP] I would travel the San Juan Skyway up through Telluride and back down to Durango through the mountain towns of Ouray and Silverton on the stunning "Million dollar highway". Also mentioned by Michael was the Great sand dunes NP, another good "catch". You could head from there up to Poncha springs and East on US50 following the Arkansas river through the gorge to Canon City [Royal gorge bridge] and then to Colorado/Manitou springs from Penrose through Fort Carson. Manitou has Garden of the God's, Cave of the winds and is a short drive to the Pikes peak toll Road.

    You will find much info on the forums and Roadtrip planning pages above, but you will have to pick and choose, as there are just so many options [too many for 3 weeks] so have a good look around and when you have more questions just ask.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico


    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael
    One question: what is the reason for the detour to Farmington, NM?
    Just guessing -- they might be going to Aztec Ruins National Monument, and maybe the Salmon Ruins as well.

    The road from Hesperus, CO to Farmington is a nice little drive.

  7. Default Very helpful comments!

    Thanks for you comments. I am going to digest those slowly.

    Firstly, I agree - Yellowstone first to catch the last of the decent weather.

    Secondly, Farmington was for the Aztec ruins. I found a list of interesting places near Four Corners and added them to my route....

    60 hours driving.... that's a lot. I am going to work out a tour with timings, and see if it works. I know that one of my co-drivers likes cities, and the other likes geography, so there will be a balance between staying in the middle of nowhere and staying in the (few) big cities on route.



  8. #8


    Cities do not normally come to mind when travelling this Western area of the US but immediately it made me think of Denver, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. I have a city girl friend who does not like to be too far from a Nordstrom Store so I applied the Nordstrom test –and guess what they are only at these three places.

    Some food for thought on your trip.

    Stay a couple of nights in downtown Denver. There is the downtown to enjoy and you could also do a day trip to the Rocky Mountains Nat. Park.

    Rawlins WY. Wyoming Frontier Prison An interesting stop en route.

    Lander to Red Lodge, weather permitting, take the very scenic Beartooth Highway to Yellowstone via Cooke City.

    Jackson Hole. A sight for sore eyes with the Grand Teton Mountains and surrounding scenery.
    From Jackson to Salt Lake City – a city experience.

    Bryce Canyon Nat. Park. The hoodoos are an amazing sight.

    From Bryce Canyon to Las Vegas, including a visit to Zion Nat. Park can be done in a day if so minded.

    Las Vegas, a city which really comes to life at night.

    Grand Canyon south rim – a night stay is nearly a must, but accommodation has to be booked well in advance.

    Mesa Verde - a not to be missed National Park.

    Durrango – interested in train rides in old western locomotives.

    Million Dollar highway via Ouray a little gem of a place in the mountains.

    Black Canyon - No other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths offered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

    Aspen and Independence Pass to Leadville. A route full of interest and great scenery.

    Georgetown - gold rush history, old mines you can visit and a loop railway.

    And back to Denver. Hope this is of some help. Have a great trip.

  9. Default Cheers Eris!

    That's a number of places I wasn't aware of! Looks like I'll have to build this trip up (to a 5 week trip!) and then knock a few places out to come out with the final plan for 3 weeks.

    No shortage of things to do....


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