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  1. #1

    Default Three weeks in National Parks

    Hi, I am new to this site and am looking for some advice.
    Next year I have 3 weeks available in September for a tour. I found this itinerary on another site for 2 weeks.
    Denver, Rocky Mountain NP, Yellowstone NP (1 full day), Grand Teton NP, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Bryce Canyon, Zion NP (1 full day), Lake Powell, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon.

    As I hope to have an extra week should I spend longer at some of these locations or can I include some extra locations. Any comments would be welcome.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There's certainly never anything wrong with looking at other people's ideas to get started, but I'd really encourage you to do a little extra work yourself - you may find there are many other places in this area you'd like even more.

    Having said that, this is certainly a fine starting point - but I'd say that's already a pretty full 3 week trip to fit all of that in. Nearly all of the parks on this list deserve at least 1 full day, and Yellowstone is so big that is requires 2-3 days just to get to all of the main attractions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    I agree that you have a good starting point and with 3 weeks, a nice trip to look forward to. You would save some time altering your route so that you go from the Tetons to Bryce, to Zion, to Lake Powell, to Grand canyon south rim [or visit the North rim before Lake Powell] to Monument valley to Arches and Canyonlands, then back to Denver. If you wanted to drive the Trail Ridge road across RMNP and it is open, you could take US40 to 191 passing Dinosaur NM and Flaming Gorge Res.

    Look at the maps and search around the forums for ideas and when you have more questions, just ask.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    I would definitely agree with Michael -- Yellowstone really deserves more than one day. If you don't get that extra week that you want, you might want to take Yellowstone and Grand Tetons off this trip and put them onto another trip. That way you can enjoy the rest of the parks a little longer.

    Yellowstone is HUGE. The speed limit is about 30 mph. There are four major geyser areas, and they all have several miles of boardwalks that just call you to walk them, gaze into the hot water and look at what's under it, watch the steam rise, and take gorgeous pictures. We were in Yellowstone this past summer and took 3 days: Day 1 was the northeast quadrant, Day 2 was the southern Grand Loop Road, Day 3 was the northern Grand Loop Road, and everything that was along those roads. Day 4, we left Yellowstone and spent that in Grand Teton, another place that deserves at least a full day. If you want to hike, it takes time to even do a mile-long nature trail. The basin where Old Faithful is, has over 6 miles of boardwalk. You also have to have the time to wait for Old Faithful to erupt. It's about every 90 minutes now, and if you arrive right after it went up, you'll have an hour and a half to wait for the next one.


  5. #5


    I agree with Michael and Donna; if you have never been to Grand Teton or Yellowstone, save them for another trip - and you might include Glacier National Park in that one. Allow at least a week for those three parks to fully enjoy them.

    Here is a Four-day trip that I've taken, which, while it starts and ends in Las Vegas, could be helpful in your planning for the parks in southern Utah and Arizona. It covers a multitude of possibilities, and has several options.

  6. #6

    Default Colorado

    Be careful of rocky mountain NP and driving alone the trail ridge road US 36 and US 40. It is usually bad during winters, I would however not able to comment how it looks like during September. It should not be that bad. So do your H.W. I went in May the there was a snow blizzard so we couldn't go to Rocky in Trail ridge road. If CO is on your wish list I would suggest Hanging lake and halt in Glenwood springs.

    Also look at the route you would like to take, and then ask specific questions, it may help people to give you more useful tips. CO is beautiful, if you go to Rocky mountains I would also go to maroon bells which is about 4 hours form Rocky. It is the most photographed place in U.S.
    Last edited by Shilpa Krishnan; 05-18-2015 at 10:53 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Never guaranteed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shilpa Krishnan View Post
    Be careful of rocky mountain NP and driving alone the trail ridge road US 36 and US 40. It is usually bad during winters, I would however not able to comment how it looks like during September. It should not be that bad. So do your H.W.
    The Trail Ridge Road is not guaranteed to be open at any time of the year. A blizzard can close it without notice even at the height of summer. In 2001 during an August heat wave, it was closed by a blizzard when I got there. Some years later it was in a September when I was assured it would be open the next day for me to drive it. Less than two hours later it was closed due to a blizzard.

    If you want to drive across the highest continuously paved road in the country, best call and check if it is open when you get to the area.... and even that is no guarantee, as I found out.

    I did get to drive it a week later.


  8. #8

    Default National Parks Circle

    I have tried to take on-board your suggestions and have come up with a new itinerary and am asking for your thoughts.

    With my wife, we will be taking our road trip next September and are looking to sort out our route nice and early so we can make our bookings as soon as possible. You may think we are trying to do too much but this may well be our one and only trip to this part of the world so have tried to include everything..

    Fly into / out of Denver
    Estes Park 2 nights. Rocky Mountains NP
    Rapid City 2 nights. That's a long drive so suggestions for stop off's along the way would be welcome. Visit Badlands NP, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse.
    Sheridan 2 night. Devils Tower on route.
    Cody 1 night. Little Big Horn on route.
    Yellowstone 2 nights.
    Jackson 1 night. Grand Teton NP
    Vernal 1 night. Dinosaur NM
    Moab 2 nights. Arches and Canyonlands NPs
    Bryce 1 night.
    Zion 2 nights.
    Page 1 night. Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon
    Grand Canyon 2 nights.
    Monument valley 1 night
    Durango 1 night. Mesa Verde on route
    Colorado Springs 2 nights. Pikes Peak.

    Then back to Denver and home. On the map it looks ok but realise driving the route may well be something else.

    [Moderator Edit: Please keep all new comments about this same trip in one thread -- makes it easier for members of this forum community to keep track of new posts]
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-18-2015 at 06:27 AM. Reason: merged threads

  9. Default

    You have packed a lot of places into a short time. I would only spend on night in Sheridan and use it either for Yellowstone, Moab or Mesa Verde. Two days in Yellowstone gives you enough time to do the upper and lower loop of the park. It will be hard to do both Arches and Canyonlands justice in just one day. Doing Mesa Verde on route from Monument Valley to Durango won't give you much time in the park.

    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 07-20-2015 at 06:55 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Mesa Verde.

    To see the best this park has to offer you really need to do the ranger guided tours. You need to book into these, especially if you want to do both tours on the one day.

    There is no access to the most significant parts of the park outside of the tours.


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