I'm currently planning a vacation that we would like to take this summer or early fall. We would really like to go see the Banff area, but after investigating, we would really prefer to drive rather than fly. The trip would be my husband and I, and our dog. We would like to try to camp when we can. I think we can take up to 15 days for this trip.
I've made a preliminary plan (12 days) and I think although we are used to driving very long distance (multiple times a year we do 1,000 miles from Iowa to Austin, Texas with usually 5 days in between driving days; and have always done it in one-go; but it is exhausting on the way home from vacation, so I don't want quite that long any one day with so many days of driving planned! The dog is used to the 15-17 hour day in the car.) the driving days, especially on the tail end of the vacation are too long (I'm okay with 'sprinting' TOO Banff, but I think we need less time in the car on the way home; but I am open to suggestions wherever on the trip.)
Day 1: Drive North Liberty, Iowa to Kenmore North Dakota. (No particular interest in Kenmore, just selected as a bit more than halways to Banff, we wanted Day 1 to be longer than Day 2 to allow a bit more time for border control.) 850 miles, I suspect just under 14 hours in the car.
Day 2: Drive from Kenmore to Banff National Park area (Probably Canmore) 715 miles, again, probably a 14 hour day
Day 3-6: Enjoy Banff
Day 7: Drive to Glacier National Park: 350 miles (7 hours?)
Day 8: Enjoy Glacier National Park/ Going to the Sun Road (Need to find a dog friendly activity to get us out of the car! Any suggestions for a state park or national forest?)
Day 9: Drive from GNP to Custer State Park 800 miles (15 hours?) <-- Any suggestions for a midway point to make this a two day drive and give us a little something to do between?
Day 10: Enjoy Custer State Park (hope to get a peak at Mount Rushmore, but I can't stop there because it is not dog friendly)
Day 11: Drive through the Badlands to return home from North Liberty (800 miles) (13-14 hours?) <-- This is one I think adding a day to would REALLY help; as it would be nice to be able to stop to photograph stuff.
The main purpose of the trip is landscape photography and a chance to camp and do a few easy hikes. With the extra days I think we would love to stop and spend more time in some areas, or add new destinations, but I think some of the driving days do need to be broken up.
I greatly appreciate your advice!
(For anyone who wants to suggest totally alternate vacations: I haven't been to N. Dakota, S. Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, or Washington. I'd really like to get SOME of those things checked off the list. Also Alaska and Hawaii, but I hear the Hawaii roadtrip from Iowa is just brutal!)