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  1. Default Western States and Canada

    We are an Australian couple planning a 9 week trip next year. I have planned extensively but would like to hear any suggestions regarding our route. We have been to The Grand Canyon and Monument Valley on a previous trip. We plan to hike National parks,hire bikes and cycle where possible, and take 4 white water rafting trips. We will start in Vegas and spend 5 days in Utah parks. From Moab we will head to Mesa Verde via Million Dollar Highway, then on to Taos and Santa Fe. Santa Fe to Canon City and Rocky Mt National Park (Trail Ridge Road) to Denver. We will then fly to New York for 2 weeks and back again to Denver. Denver to Badlands, South Dakota, (where we hope to cycle "The Mickelsen Trail Trek"), then to Yellowstone via Cody and Beartooth highway. We then head north to Glacier National Park and will drive the "Going To The Sun road" and then on to Banff and Jasper, Canada. Heading south from Kamloops we plan to take the inland route to Portland via Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Kennewick and Mount Hood. From Portland we will drive to the coast and take the coast Highway to Eureka where we will head inland again to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite and then either back to Las Vegas through Death Valley or staight back to Los Angeles. Looking forward to any suggestions, especially Santa Fe to Canon City and Glacier National Park to Banff.
    Cheers KenG

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    777

    Default

    Glacier->Banff.

    Note: I'm about to start a Grand Teton-Yellowstone-Glacier-Banff-Jasper-Vancouver three week road trip in a week.

    Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump is an interesting site just outside of Fort McLeod on the way from Glacier to Banff; I would recommend it if you find First Nation history interesting. Figure a couple hours max.

    Also between GNP and BNP is Waterton Lakes; the Canadian 'twin' to Glacier. It's going to be a full day between Glacier and Banff (my planning indicates 300 miles and 6 hours of driving... not counting stops), so you should choose between Waterton and Head-Smashed-In; but not both. There also is a RCMP museum in Fort McLeod that is worth checking out, if you are visiting when they do the full horse show thing... I'm going too late in the season (this time) to catch it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    This sounds like a great trip. When do you plan to go? You put it in the fall/winter section, which would have me a little concerned about when you'll be getting to all the northern parks you're planning to visit.

    If money is an object, then I think you'll find that it may make more sense to do the New York at the start or at the end of your trip. By breaking up your trip in Denver, you're going to be looking at two separate one-way drop fees, and you could also loose out on some of the discounts on long term car rental rates.

    There are always choices that have to be made, but I did notice you left off Crater Lake in Oregon which is a stop I think you'd really like. There is also some great whitewater in that area, but fitting it in with the coastal part of your trip can be a bit of a puzzle.

  4. Default

    Wow! Two replies already. Thanks to Midwest Michael and CalOldBlue.
    Firstly to MM.We are planning to start the trip early to mid August which will allow us to drive the mountain passes except "Going to the sun" but we will be able to drive to Logan Pass. Being an artist I want to be in New York early September because the new gallery season opens on the 1st. We plan to leave the car in Denver and pick it up on our return. If we decide not to cycle The Mickelsen Trek (The weekend of the 21st September) then we might start early August so we can drive the whole of "Going to the sun" road. I will check out Crater Lake and see if we can fit it in.
    To OldCalBlue. Thanks for the tips. Will check out both those routes. We have a year to fine tune our trip and I'm sure there will be some changes. If the finances are sound we might extend the trip by another week.
    Cheers KenG

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default A few ideas.

    That's quite the trip !

    Some other ideas between Mesa Verde and Canon City, which I already presume Taos Pueblo and Royal Gorge bridge are on your radar, would include Pagosa Springs, [natural hot springs] and Rio Grande Gorge bridge and rest area on US 64 on route to Taos. Keep an eye out for the 'Earthship community' of eco friendly homes north of the highway before the bridge when heading east. From Taos you could drive the 'Enchanted circle', or a good part of it from Taos to Questa.

    If you head north from Questa you will be close to Great Sand dunes NP, but before you get there you will go through the small town of San Luis, the oldest in Colorado and where you will find an unusual 'attraction', 'The Stations of the Cross' which I found interesting.

    From Canon City you could head to Manitou/Colorado Springs where you will find the lovely 'Garden of the Gods' and 'Cave of the Winds'. You could venture up Pike peak by rail, or by road. From that area you could then head towards Granby/ Grand Lake CO and drive the Trail ridge road from west to east into Estes park before heading back to Denver. From Woodland Park [Pikes peak] you could drive through the Pike National forest to Idaho Springs or through Breckenridge and avoid Denver on the way. Check the status of Trail Ridge road before setting out.

    Another suggestion I would recommend, [time permitting] would be to go from Moab to Mesa Verde and then from Cortez drive through Dolores to Telluride [lovely mountain town] to Ridgway and then south down the 'Million dollar Highway' to Durango, perhaps stopping in Ouray or Silverton for the night. This loop that includes the 'Million dollar Highway' section of US550 is known as the San Juan Skyway.

    At the end of your trip I would opt for driving over Tioga Pass [CA120] and through Death Valley to Vegas, providing the pass is still open.

    Note: I'm about to start a Grand Teton-Yellowstone trip -
    Don, I will keep an eye out for you. ;-)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

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    I can't see why you couldn't drive the whole GTTSR - this year it will be open till September 22, and I would expect the same or close to it next year.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by glc View Post
    I can't see why you couldn't drive the whole GTTSR - this year it will be open till September 22, and I would expect the same or close to it next year.
    If the plan is to spend the first part of September in NYC, and then heading onto SD and Yellowstone, it looks like they won't be getting to Glacier until early October. That's why they would have to change their plan to be able to fit in all of GTTSR.

  8. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    If the plan is to spend the first part of September in NYC, and then heading onto SD and Yellowstone, it looks like they won't be getting to Glacier until early October. That's why they would have to change their plan to be able to fit in all of GTTSR.
    Hi Everybody and thanks!
    If we stick to the plan and ride the Mickelsen Trek we will get to Glacier NP at the end of Sept. To Southwest Dave, thanks for the suggestions about Colorado. We will probably change our plans and do the full loop from Cortez if time permits, and from Durango head straight to Santa Fe and do Taos on the way to Canon City as You suggested. We plan to hot air balloon and white water raft at Taos and at Canon City we will take the Royal Gorge Railway and raft back. The Enchanted Circle looks a must as does the cog railway to Pikes Peak. We had planned to drive Pikes Peak but the railway looks a definite starter, thanks! We will also add Pagosa Springs and the Rio Grande bridge to the itinerary. Does anybody have any suggestions for the Denver to Kadoka (Badlands) SD leg of the trip? To Midwest Michael, I doubt we could get to Crater Lake unless the weather is foul on the coast and we decide inland Oregon would be a better option.
    Cheers KenG

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KenG View Post
    Hi Everybody and thanks!
    If we stick to the plan and ride the Mickelsen Trek we will get to Glacier NP at the end of Sept. To Southwest Dave, thanks for the suggestions about Colorado. We will probably change our plans and do the full loop from Cortez if time permits, and from Durango head straight to Santa Fe and do Taos on the way to Canon City as You suggested. We plan to hot air balloon and white water raft at Taos and at Canon City we will take the Royal Gorge Railway and raft back. The Enchanted Circle looks a must as does the cog railway to Pikes Peak. We had planned to drive Pikes Peak but the railway looks a definite starter, thanks! We will also add Pagosa Springs and the Rio Grande bridge to the itinerary. Does anybody have any suggestions for the Denver to Kadoka (Badlands) SD leg of the trip? To Midwest Michael, I doubt we could get to Crater Lake unless the weather is foul on the coast and we decide inland Oregon would be a better option.
    Cheers KenG
    Hi Everybody and thanks in anticipation.
    I have not received any tips about the leg between Denver and The Badlands. Our original plan was to drive to Kadoka SD and then drive through the Badlands to Custer. However because Hot Springs SD is close to the start of the Mickelsen trail and I found The Mammoth Site Museum on the net, we thought of taking the1-25 and US-18E to Hot Springs and the following day doing a loop through The Badlands via Bia Highway 2 and Curry Table road. Can anybody advise us on these routes?
    Cheers KenG

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