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Thread: Rocky Mountains

  1. #1

    Default Rocky Mountains

    Here's a new one for husband wants to do a road trip through the Rocky Mountains, Montana through Colorado.....looking for ideas for route options, sites to see and such! Dates he has off - August 22 to September 2 - so a good amount of days.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Start With the Obvious

    Clearly, any RoadTrip from Butte to Denver (guesses on my part as to where in Montana and Colorado you're traveling from/to) should include Yellowstone, the Tetons and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). By the same token, the basic route is US-191/US-26/US-287 down to Rawlins WY and then I-80/WY-130/WY-230/CO-125 to Granby and then US-34 through RMNP and US-36 into Denver.

    But what else is there in the way of routes and sites? Outside Fort Washakie WY is one of two possible graves of Sacajawea, one of America's truly underrated women. Even if she's not in the grave, pause and remember her incomparable contributions to America's westward expansion. A short detour eastward on WY-220 would bring you to several sites worth a visit including Devils Gate, Pathfinder National Wildlife Refuge, and a bit of Mormon history. As you proceed down to Rawlins, note that you will be passing through the Great Divide Basin, one of only three or so places where rainfall does not drain out to an ocean (Great Salt Lake and the Salton Sea are others). In Rawlins there's the Wyoming Frontier Prison, and in Saratoga there's the hot springs. In Colorado, on the west side of RMNP, be sure to take the short hike to the headwaters of the Colorado River, then on the east side take the tour of the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, the inspiration for Stephen King's The Shining. Then in Golden, just west of Denver, check out Buffalo Bill's grave.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    What does he have in mind, anything in particular?

    Off the top of my head......Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument, the Durango-Silverton Railroad, the Million Dollar Highway in that same region, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado Springs and the Red Rock much to see and do! Take a look at the area in the Map Centre here, and dig out a good map of the Western US and spend some time with it. From central MO, it's a day and a half drive to Denver.


  4. #4


    We're looking at maps tonight - I think we'll be starting in Glacier and working our way down to Durango since I can fly him into Missoula to start and out of Durango to end (I'll drive out and back with kids and gear) or vice versa, so we're not spending days getting to a starting point with his limited time off from work.

    In the past we've done RMNP, Mesa Verde, Dinosaur NM, all the Utah NP's, etc. - we're targeting some time at Yellowstone for sure, definitely want to see Glacier, then he said he'd like to see parts of the Rockies he hasn't seen since doing the hike he wanted to this year (San Juans, they were very dry this past winter, so water would be a potential issue he doesn't want to deal with) will have to wait for another time. We are looking at options to RV, car camp, hike, or other and are really just getting started with the planning!

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

    Default Some pointers.

    Part of our last trip took us through Missoula up to Galcier and back down to Yellowstone and the Tetons before making our way back into Utah via Flaming Gorge Res. Som enice stops included the National Bison range, Kerr Dam and Falthead Lake and into West Glacier before driving over the Going to the Sun road and to the 'Many Glacier' area of the park which is beautiful. After an overnight in Great Falls we spent a few days in Yellowstone and headed south through the Tetons to Flaming Gorge. From there you could head towards Fruita and the Colorado National Monument and down the 'Million dollar Highway through the lovely mountain towns of Ouray and Silverton where detours to Black canyon and Currecanti Nat rec area and/or Telluride wouldn't be out of the question. Allow at least 4 days for Yellowstone and the Tetons, not only is it wonderful it covers a huge area and the going is slow.

    You can see some highlights of our journey from Missoula by scrolling down this page here.

  6. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RahRah View Post
    I think we'll be starting in Glacier and working our way down to Durango
    That sounds great!

    FWIW I'd say don't just drive past the Tetons, instead drive into the park itself and if possible give it a full day. My choice, provided the weather cooperates, would be the boat trip over Jenny Lake and then the trail on the far side up to Inspiration Point and at least the start of Cascade Canyon - fabulous (IMHO).

    If you want something a bit different, Hungry Horse Dam near the town of the same name on the west side of Glacier is most impressive but I don't know if tours of the inside of the dam are still available.
    Last edited by John259; 05-14-2014 at 05:42 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Speaking of Hungry Horse....

    In 2007 when I was there I found the ranger at Hungry Horse most helpful and informative in directing me to some of the more out of the way, lesser known areas. It resulted in a spectacular trip. If it weren't for the fact that the paper work for all of it is 12000 miles away, I would be able to be more specific.


  8. #8


    I have done most of the drives or at least portions of what the others have posted. I would like to add the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wy. is one of my favorite places to visit, and a person can easily spend 2-3 days going through all the different areas of the museum.

  9. #9

    Default And now for something COMPLETELY different............

    ....with apologies to The Monty Python.

    Take US 93 south from Missoula to Lost Trail Pass, topping your fuel by Hamilton or Darby, MT, thence east on MT 43 at Lost Trail Pass to Wisdom, entering the Big Hole Valley at Big Hole National Battlefield. At Wisdom, south on MT 278, over a divide, into the Grasshopper Valley. Take the turn-off for Bannack State Park, a wonderfully-restored ghost town which was Montana's first capital (for all of 18 months). Take the gravel Bannack Bench Rd south from Bannack to MT 324. Go west a few miles to Lemhi Pass Road (gravel). Ascend to Lemhi Pass, where Lewis and Clark first reached the Divide. Backtrack to MT 324, go east of Bannack Bench Rd to the Big Sheep Creek Backcountry Byway. Turn south there and enjoy a 55 mile excursion through high plains, canyons, and mountains, emerging on I-15 at Dell, MT. Take I-15 south to Lima, get fuel, and on to Monida, MT. There take South Valley Rd 50-some miles through the spectacular Centennial Valley, passing Upper and Lower Red Rock Lakes, to Red Rock Pass, passing into ID, to Henry Lake. Take ID 87 at Henry Lake to US 20, thence the few miles back to "civilization" at West Yellowstone, MT.

    From Darby, MT, expect fuel and services ONLY at Wisdom, Jackson, and Lima, MT. There may be fuel at Dell and Monida, but I'm not sure. By all means, don't enter the Big Sheep Creek or the Centennial Valley low on fuel. Might want to re-top in Wisdom or Jackson just to be sure, even though you will have gone but 50 or so miles from Hamilton or Darby.

    It would be easy to spend 2 days reaching West Yellowstone from Missoula via this route. Doing it in an SUV or 4wd pickup would be preferred, but I believe most any reasonably high-clearance vehicle would be OK. A SMALL Class C can reach Lemhi Pass, but the last couple of miles could be a handful. If you're car-camping and don't want to overnight in the high desert, consider camping or grabbing a cabin at Jackson Hot Springs Resort. Nice restaurant and bar, and the hot spring waters are piped into an outdoor swimming pool. Check ahead for the cleaning schedule--the water is too hot to enjoy for about 48 hours thereafter.

    Oh, and make sure you have plenty to eat and drink and know how to change a flat tire. See the "no services" notation above.

    From about Lost Trail Pass all the way to Red Rock Pass, this route parallels the Continental Divide Trail. The zombified backpackers you'll see are enjoying a very remote stretch of the CDT. Give them a ride, some water, or call 911, whichever they prefer.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default If bleeding... probably not a zombie

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    ....The zombified backpackers you'll see are enjoying a very remote stretch of the CDT. Give them a ride, some water, or call 911, whichever they prefer.
    I've seen some of these guys.... Actually, I've been one of these guys -- in a different state, on a different highway -- and I'm sure the kind folks who picked me up considered calling 911 -- a tumble just before the tarmac -- produced bloody legs -- so.... I guess I wasn't capable of being a zombie...

    Still, a funny post!


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