Hi, fellow 'trippers. I thought I had posted about this but I have no idea where it went (along w/my trip report of last year's PNW adventure), so I'm trying again.
We are a NYC family of 3, 2 adults (mid-40s) and our 9 1/2 year old, finishing 4th grade son (who gets us into National Parks free this year, b/c of the every 4th grader in a park initiative).
At the end of August (8/25), we are heading out from NYC to Salt Lake City and then driving to Jackson Hole (2 nights), Grand Teton, Yellowstone, SD (my little guy LOVES presidents) and ending in Denver, Colorado (he also loves sports - Rockies game tickets already purchased to continue our "see all ballparks" mission). I have secured lodging everywhere, 2 nights in Jackson Hole, 1 night in Grand Teton, 3 nights in Yellowstone (1 night at Mammoth, 2 at Old Faithful Inn, slightly backwards in my planning but I had to work w/the availability), 1 night in Buffalo, WY (Occidental Hotel President Suite), 1 night in Rapid City, 1 night in Custer State Park, and 2 final nights in Denver, flying home to NYC on 9/5.
En route from Yellowstone to Buffalo, we'd like to head into Montana to see Little Big Horn (and I've read so much about the Beartooth Highway, that it sounds not-to-be-missed). Then we'd like to hit Devils Tower, en route to Rapid City (Presidents are us). Thankfully, I found a car rental option that does NOT have any 1 way drop off fees.
I realize there's a LOT of driving (esp. for us non-car-owner City folk) but we've successfully done a few long road trips (PNW last year, AZ the year before), so we know what we're in store for and are really looking forward to the adventures.
My questions: I'm wondering if we can hit Beartooth Highway (or if that's just too ambitious given that we want to see Little Big Horn en route to Buffalo), when would be best to get to Jewel and/or Wind Cave and drive the Badlands Loop. Because of the way the hotels in Yellowstone worked out, we will be heading out of Yellowstone from Old Faithful (unless there is a miraculous cancellation that perfectly aligns with my nights) - was thinking we head out at West Yellowstone and drive north to get to Little Big Horn, but I'm not sure what the best route for that would be. We're planning to go white water rafting in Jackson, horseback riding somewhere in there, see the rodeo, attend a cookout, and generally enjoy some time away from the concrete jungle. Any recommendations for specific providers of activities are most welcome.
We've successfully turned our son into travel lover and he's very excited about this trip, and so are we.
Appreciate any advice/guidance.