Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. Default Las Vegas to Denver (13 days, National Park focus)


    We're a group of 4 (all around 30 years old) and currently planning a trip from Las Vegas to Denver over 13 days. We'd like to see many National Parks on the way and like to do 2-5 hours hikes in many of them. Currently we're envisioning the following route. Given that it's quite a full agenda we're wondering if there are specific items you would recommend to leave out or cover quicker (e.g. by having a more driving-heavy day) in order to have more time for other things / stay longer at other places. The trip is planned for mid-September so in case anything isn't ideal during that season and should be avoided that would also be great to know.

    Thanks so much for your help!

    Day 1: Arrive in Vegas in the morning, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead; Stay: Las Vegas Strip; 150 Miles
    Day 2: Grand Canyon NP (West); Stay: Las Vegas Strip; 250 Miles
    Day 3: Zion NP (The Narrows hike); Stay: Springdale; 160 Miles
    Day 4: Bryce Canyon NP (short hike), Capitol Reef NP (mostly drive through); Stay: Torrey; 185 Miles
    Day 5: Arches NP, hike; Stay: Moab; 140 Miles
    Day 6: Canyonlands NP, hike, drive to Cortez in evening; Stay: Cortez; 125 Miles
    Day 7: Mesa Verde NP, visit Durango, drive to Gunnison; Stay: Gunnison; 200 Miles
    Day 8: Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP in the morning, Great Sand Dunes NP, drive to Pueblo; Stay: Pueblo; 260 Miles
    Day 9: Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods; Stay: Colorado Springs; 45 Miles
    Day 10: Explore Denver, drive to Estes Park; Stay: Estes Park; 140 Miles
    Day 11: Rocky Mountain NP hiking; Stay: Estes Park; 0 Miles
    Day 12: Rocky Mountain NP hiking, Boulder; Stay: Boulder; 40 Miles
    Day 13: Explore Denver; Stay: Denver; 30 Miles
    Day 14: Return flight

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default A little tweaking and maps will help you.

    Hi, and Welcome to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    Day 2. You need to be aware that the GC west rim is not the National Park, and is nowhere near as spectacular as what you have got used to from photos and movies. The west rim is on Indian land, and as such is horrendously expensive to visit, and you will not be allowed to take any photographs. The GCNP is a five hour drive from LV, and as such not a day trip. I would highly recommend you go see the NP, stay a night in the park (accommodation is very difficult to get, but start trying now on, or nearby, experience a sunset and/or sunrise over the canyon and marvel at the glorious colours of the canyon walls.

    You would then go to Zion, via the east entrance of the GC, Cameron trading post, maybe sunset crater, antelope canyon and horseshoe bend. The spectacular US89 with its many attractions - Escalante Staircase, Big Water Ranger Station, Navajo Bridge Lees Ferry (where you can walk into the Colorado River, and much more - will then take you to Zion, and up to Bryce, whence you will head along UT12 to Capital Reef, and go on the rest of your itinerary from there.

    Do you actually have good detailed maps for planning this trip. That would be a smart idea, as you will see all the other wonderful attractions along the way, and which are the most scenic routes. Your itinerary bypasses some other great sites, which I am sure would interest your party.

    Through CO you have so many choices, and won't possibly be able to do them all. But don't be left at the end with "if we had known......." They are all marked on good maps, you will end up seeing so much more than on a little screen.

    Maps are invaluable during the planning stage, and absolutely essential when on the road Don't be tempted to rely solely on your electronics. Many have done so at their peril - some fatal.


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

    Default North rim. [?]

    Don't bother with the west rim, visit the National park as suggested above. If you go to the south rim you could simply visit the Hoover dam on the way. However what I would suggest is that from Vegas you go to Zion NP and then to the North rim and then to Bryce canyon and on as planned. From Durango to Black canyon you will drive through the mountain towns of Silverton and Ouray on the spectacular 'Million dollar Highway' and should allow time to enjoy it. If I wanted to slow the pace just a little the only place I would consider dropping is the Sand Dunes. It's a nice place but you may get more out of Utah's parks with a little more time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    I think you've come up with a good first draft, but I have a feeling that you are underestimating how much time it will take to enjoy the National Parks you want to visit. There's no leg that would be impossible to do, but pretty much every day you are trying to do a few hours of driving and a few hours of hiking, and that won't leave much time to explore the other features of a park. I think it will also get a little more tiring than you are expecting.

    As others have mentioned, You should adjust your plan to visit Grand Canyon National Park, instead of the west rim. Not only is it far more interesting, $80 will get you admission to GCNP, as well as every other National Park on your list if you buy the annual pass. The west rim on the other hand will cost you about $80 each just for that one attraction, assuming you did the skywalk (It's still almost $50 without the skywalk). BTW, a minor correction on what Lifey said, Photography is allowed at the west rim, but it is not allowed on the skywalk.

    If I were you, I think I would cut off Sand Dunes and the Colorado Springs area - instead go from Gunnison directly towards RMNP. That's going to save a lot of miles and would free up a little more time for the other spots on your trip.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Mesa Verde tickets.

    When you say you are flying into Las Vegas, flying in from where?

    Mesa Verde is one of those parks mentioned by Michael. To really get the best out of this park, it is essential to partake of the ranger tours. The main features of the park are not accessible other than by tours. There are two main tours, Balcony House and Cliff Palace. You need to book into these tours at least a few days beforehand, especially if you want to do both tours on the same day.

    Those tours really explain what the park is all about, and will help you appreciate the rest of it, if you choose to do a short hike to the other attraction.s

    If the Trail Ridge Road through RMNP is on your agenda, be sure to check if it is open when you plan to drive that. At 12000' it can be affected by a blizzard any day of the year, and close at a moments notice. (Took me five attempts to finally drive up there, but well worth waiting for.)


  6. Default

    Great, thanks so much for providing so much good advice so quickly.
    The recommendation on Grand Canyon is definitely a very helpful one - we'll make sure to actually add a night there instead of visiting only the West. Also considering dropping Colorado Springs and Sand Dunes in order to have more time in other places is something we'll look into. Are there specific parks or parts of our route where you think it would be better to add more time / a second night in order to cover more in detail? I know we could easily spend 2-3x the time in all of them but I was just wondering if there are any particular ones where you think 1 days is really too short and an extra day would add a lot to the experience?

    Regaring the questions on where we're flying in from - we're flying in from San Francisco, so should be able to arrive early in the morning on the first day.
    Last edited by luke55; 03-10-2016 at 11:05 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    I would make sure you have a day and a half in Zion as there are many hikes other than the Narrows. You could spend a couple of nights in Springdale depending on what time you arrive at the park, or you could stay the second night at your next port of call and arrive in the evening to explore the next day. Jacob Lake is a pretty cool place to stay for the North rim.

  8. Default

    Hi all,
    As we're continuing our planning we wanted to see if people have any good advise on how to best spend our last 5 nights of the trip in Colorado.

    Right now we've planned our trip until Durango where we'll stay after visiting Mesa Verse NP. After this we have 5 more nights that we could spend in places like Glenwoods Springs, Breckenride, Boulder, Estes Park or Denver. Still, given that it's the end of our trip we'd prefer to avoid changing hotels each day and better find 1-2 places to finish the vacation.
    Any recommendations on how to best finish our trip? Ideally we can spend the days with some good hikes (maybe a 14'000er) and other outdoor activities during the day plus some good breweries and small live music venues in the evenings... Timing is the last week of September.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Warning: I-70 between Dillon and Denver is under construction which is supposed to last until mid-October. Lots of major delays. Plan accordingly if your trip is taking you through this area. We just went through it a few days ago, and it delayed us over an hour getting to our destination!


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    From Durango I would certainly recommend driving up the Million Dollar Highway [US550] through Silverton and Ouray. Just north near Montrose is the Black canyon of the Gunnison. You could then continue to Glenwood Springs via Carbondale or head towards Fruita and check out the rim drive around Colorado National Monument. Estes park is a wonderful gateway town to the east side of Rocky mountain NP and gives easy access to the Bear lake corridor of lakes with everything from easy walks to strenuous hiking. To get to Estes park you should certainly consider driving through the park on the highest continuous paved road in America, the Trail Ridge road [US34]. Check conditions before travelling though as weather can do anything at that elevation even in the summer.

    These are just a few suggestions based on the places you listed but you have many options so do your homework.

Similar Threads

  1. Las Vegas to Sequoia National Park
    By RobWILLI in forum Fall & Winter RoadTrips
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-24-2015, 04:04 PM
  2. 10 days touring National park around Las vegas
    By jean6805 in forum Going to Las Vegas!
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-10-2015, 02:40 AM
  3. Las Vegas - Death Valley - Sequoia National Park
    By Matson in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 04-08-2009, 12:02 AM
  4. Denver - San Francisco - LA - Las Vegas - Denver in 9 days?
    By @10121548 in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 04-07-2009, 03:49 PM
  5. Las Vegas to Arches National park
    By msbhat in forum Planning Summer RoadTrips
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 06-04-2005, 01:40 AM

Tags for this Thread


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  • Find the Perfect Hotel
    Search RoadTrip Motels
    Enter city name