We are a European couple (and a bit Malaysian) travelling for 2 weeks in July. It was our first trip to the US last Oct (Las Vegas - Death Valley - Mammoth Lakes - Yosemite - Carmel - San Francisco) and we loved it so much we've just booked our flights to return this summer.
We have friends in Denver so will start and end there. We love hiking and nature so that's our main focus but also interested in seeing some American culture in the area (reading through other forums watching a rodeo sounds like fun).
We've already booked our accommodation in Yellowstone so that part of the trip can't be changed but everything else is flexible so totally open to suggestions.
1. Ideally we would not drive more than 4 hours. There are 2 big (8hr+) drives in our current itinerary - Rocky Mountain NP to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons to Moab. We are looking for somewhere to spend the night and break up the journey. Casper and Salt Lake City look like the obvious in-between stops on googlemaps - is there much to do in these cities? Or please suggest alternative mid-way stops - would be very happy with interesting small towns - I thought it would make sense to drive late afternoon to arrive for dinner so no great activities required at these mid-stops.
2. Please suggest any resources for or even better, favourite hikes in any of our destinations (Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Rock Mountain NP, Arches NP). I am currently totally overwhelmed by the choices!
3. Is there was a way to avoid the very long drives and keep Denver, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, (2 x 8 hour drives seem inevitable despite all the alternatives I've looked at - Utah, Black Hills/Badlands)? Are there any worthwhile nature/wildlife stops in between to "fill" a round trip to Denver to Yellowstone and back?
4. We love food so any restaurant/diner suggestions also very welcome!
Date Area Driving Time Activity
29/6/14 Denver - Rocky NP 1.5 hours
30/6/14 Rocky NP- Casper 4 hours "Hike during day, 4pm drive to Casper? At Casper: Rodeo? Line dancing?"
1/7/14 Casper - Yellowstone 5 hours
6/7/14 Yellowstone -Grand Tetons 1 hour
7/7/14 Grand Tetons
8/7/14 Grand Tetons to Moab 8 hours Mid-Way stop suggestions please! Salt Lake City??
9/7/14 Moab Rafting?
10/7/14 Moab Arches NP / Canyonlands NP
11/7/14 Moab-Denver 5.5 hrs