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  1. Default Denver, Wyoming, Montana, Utah Roundtrip

    Dear Fellow Travellers,

    I'm planning a 14-15 days roadtrip next summer (just enjoying the scenery) and would appreciate all your kind advice if my itinerary is good (not too hectic) and how best to cut off 2 days from below itinerary without missing too much:

    Day 1. Arrive in Denver (from Germany)
    Day 2. Denver - Estes Park 70 miles / 112 km
    Day 3. Estes Park - Cheyenne 85 miles / 136 km
    Day 4. Cheyenne-Rapid City 310 miles / 496 km
    Explore Badlands, Custer NP, Mt Rushmore, Blackhills from here.
    Q1 : Should I stay in different hotels to explore these places or stay put.
    Q2 : If staying put is a better alternative, is Rapid City a good choice? Someone said Deadwood is lovely (more western town, more authentic).
    Day 5. Exploring above
    Day 6. Rapid City - Deadwood - Devil's Tower - Little Big Horn Battlefield - Sheridan
    Q3 : Is this drive too stressful? I don't know the mileage between each nor total mileage for Day 6's tour.
    Q4 : If not Sheridan, where would be best to lay down for the night before continuing to Cody and onward to Yellowstone NP.
    Day 7. Sheridan - Cody 200 miles / 320 km
    Day 8. Cody - Yellowstone NP 100 miles / 160 km
    Day 9. Yellowstone NP
    Q5 : Where is a nice place to stay?
    Day 10. Yellowstone NP - Grand Teton (stay in Jackson Hole)
    Q6 : Mileage???
    Day 11. Grand Teton
    Day 12. Grand Teton - Salt Lake City
    Day 13 Salt Lake City
    Day 14. ???
    Day 15. ??? - Denver
    Day 16. Denver - Frankfurt
    Day 17. Arrive home

    Thank you in advance. I appreciate all help I can get. Last year I did a 14 days roadtrip Phoenix, Az - Apache Trail - Holbrook - Painted Desert - Hubbel's Trading Post - Canyon de Chelly - Mesa Verde - Mexican Hat - Canyon (?) - Kodachrome - Zion - Bryce - Grand Canyon North & South Rim (2 nites) - Monument Valley - Sedona (2 nights) - Phoenix. It was a brilliant trip - not overtaxing for me at all and I got to see everything I wanted to without rushing.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Once around Wyoming

    Willkommen! - Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    While you certainly keep up a steady pace in your travels, I wouldn't call your itinerary hectic. (By the way, the phrase "Fellow Traveller" means a Communist sympathizer in American political slang.) So let me try to answer some of your specific questions:

    1) Anytime, I'm going to be in an area for more than a single night, I try to find a convenient place to stay, and preferably, this is something other than a standard motel room. Staying at a Bed & Breakfast, or renting a home if I'm going to be a week or more, not only saves me from unpacking each night and packing each morning, but lets me get a better feel for the countryside I'm visiting, especially if my hosts are willing to share their local knowledge - and most are.

    2) Rapid City is certainly centrally located for your 2 nights in this area, but there are plenty of other options that would offer a quieter setting. You should also look into what's available in Custer, Deadwood, and other nearby towns.

    3) This could be a bit much. You'll have to drive about 380 miles (depending on where you end up staying in the Rapid City area. The problem is that the Little Bighorn is well (70 miles) past Sheriden, so you'd have to backtrack to spend the night in Sheriden. But if you see Deadwood before this day's drive, then your two stops at Devils Tower and the Little Bighorn can make for some nice quiet and contemplative rest breaks along the way.

    4) There are few good options here, but what you might consider is pulling up in Sheriden for the night before, and going on to the Little Bighorn the next morning (Day 7). You could then either backtrack down I-90 to Ranchester, WY before turning west to Cody, or you could continue west on I-90 to Laurel, MT and then heading south on US-310/MT-72/WY-120 to Cody.

    5) If you can, stay in the park, either camping or at one of the lodges. I've usually stayed in West Yellowstone which is a small town with a funky feel. I've never much cared for the larger cities to the north on the Interstate which strike me as too commercialized and standardized.

    6) Yellowstone to Jackson (The town is Jackson, the valley it sits in is Jackson Hole) is an easy and scenic 100-150 miles, depending on where you stay in/near Yellowstone. Jackson, while not cheap, will be your last place for good accommodations for a while going south.

    7) Given the pace you've set for the rest of the trip, I'd think you would definitely want to budget two days for the drive from Salt lake City to Denver. One possibility is to leave Salt Lake City on I-80 east to Green River, WY and then take WY-530/UT-44 south through the Flaming Gorge NRA. Then US-191 would continue south to Vernal, UT and Dinosaur National Monument. Finally US-40/CO-64/CO-139 would take you to Grand Junction, CO for the night. You could see nearby Colorado National Monument either that evening or the next morning before returning to Denver on I-70.

    You're clearly in for a great trip. Have fun!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Blackhills Suggestions

    I recently did a trip that included parts of your itinerary.

    AZBuck suggested that I stay in Custer, SD when in the Blackhills area and it was a very good suggestion. I was in the dead middle between all the attractions. I highly suggest the Crazy Horse Memorial. It was one of the highlights of my trip. But, I wasn't that impressed with Deadwood, personally. It was a pretty town, but didn't look much different than many small southern towns from the same era. Also, I was put off by all the gambling. However, that could just be me so take my observations with a big grain of salt.

    (By the way, the phrase "Fellow Traveller" means a Communist sympathizer in American political slang.)
    That's a new one on me. I learn something new on this board everyday.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Cut days


    You asked about how to cut days from the trip. Without knowing exactly why you've chosen some of the places, here is one way to get the number down to 15.

    Day 1. Arrive in Denver (from Germany)
    Day 2. Denver - Rocky Mountain National Park - Estes Park (via Idaho Springs and Winter Park) 147 miles / 236 km
    Day 3. Estes Park - Rapid City 395 miles / 632 km
    Explore Badlands, Custer State Park, Mt Rushmore, Blackhills.
    Day 4. Exploring above
    Day 5. Rapid City - Devil's Tower - Little Big Horn Battlefield - Billings 373 miles / 600 km
    Day 6. Billings - Cody - Yellowstone 200 miles / 320 km
    Day 7. Yellowstone NP
    Exploring Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden Valley, Norris Geyser Basin, Old Faithful and other area geysers, etc.
    Day 8. Yellowstone NP - Yellowstone Lake/Geyser Basin - Grand Teton (stay in Jackson) 115 miles / 185 km
    Day 9. Grand Teton
    Day 10. Grand Teton - Salt Lake City 302 miles / 486 km
    Day 11. Salt Lake City
    Day 12. Salt Lake City - Arches NP - Moab 230 miles / 370 km
    Day 13. Moab - Denver 350 miles / 563 km
    Day 14. Denver - Frankfurt
    Day 15. Arrive home


    Day 2 - Getting to Estes Park, you have a option of taking the long way around, seeing more of the mountains and entering Rocky Mountain National Park from the west, or going directly there and spending more time within the park. Either way you traverse Trail Ridge Road and should have time to explore some of the other roads within the park. Whichever route you take, staying in Golden, west of Denver, will put you on or near interesting roads (Hwy 6 west or Hwy 93 north) to get to your destination, and Golden itself is a charming, historical town.

    Day 3 - Be sure to leave Estes Park heading directly east down Hwy 34 (Big Thompson Canyon). If you hurry along, you might be able to tour the Badlands the same day. The area is wonderful to see late in the afternoon into early evening. If it is getting too late then go through Custer State Park on the way to your lodgings, just keep in mind that it is a slow drive with lots of animals and rock formations to see.

    Day 6 - There are accommodations available in several parts of Yellowstone, Canyon being the most centrally located.

    Day 8 - Yellowstone is at least twice as large as Grand Teton so leaving some attractions, especially in the southern part of Yellowstone, to see on your way out will allow you to make good use of your time there.

    Day 9 - The lodgings at Colter Bay or Jenny Lake are a good alternative to Jackson, though Jackson has nice shops and galleries. The good thing about staying north is that on your last day you can drive through the park one more time on your way south. In both Yellowstone and Grand Teton, you never know when the weather and the wildlife will treat you to a spectacular scene, so the more opportunties you take to see something special the better. Note: Early mornings in Grand Teton is the best time to take pictures since the face of the mountain range looks east.

    Day 12 - This itinerary doesn't give you a lot of time in Arches, but any time is better than none. You can drive to many of the main formations, and even take the hike to Delicate Arch for sunset before bedding down in Moab.

    Day 13 - If you want to pack the day full, take some extra time in Arches, or stop for a look at Cayonlands, or ride the gondola at Vail ski area, or take the drive to the top of 14,000+ foot Mt. Evans (paved road to the top) near Denver.

    Using Google's mapping, this trip measures about 2,260 miles / 3,637 km (not counting touring days and side trips.) That looks like a perfect pace with lots of time to enjoy the ride.

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  5. Default

    I was afraid to write too much on my first “thread” but so you can advice me better, let me give you more information about myself.

    Firstly, my apologies for being ignorant about a lot of things. I also do not always get my history / English right. No, I’m not a communist sympathiser lol. That was a faux pas. I am quite blessed and very grateful for my good health and the luck and opportunity to work hard to earn and save good money to satisfy many of my dreams e.g. travelling. I also go on volunteer vacations too, to give something back.

    I am in my mid 40s, up with the sun and raring to go. I am a connoisseur type of person and like to have some time to enjoy things/moment/view/smell the roses (despite time restraints) and also impatient to get going once I’ve had my fill – all very objective I guess. I am more a country person and I usually do not stay out late at night unless I get into a nice conversation with someone I meet on my travel.

    I do my best to reach my accommodation before dark as I get easily disoriented. RV is not an option at 5ft ¼ in, 110 lbs – also slow and not always convenient on unpaved roads.

    I like Americans and the USA very, very much. I have been to many parts of the USA on holiday and on business. I enjoy meeting people and getting to know the culture of the people I meet and the country I visit. I also enjoy history, architecture and unique landscape of each country I visit.

    I don’t usually shop when I travel, but in the USA, I usually will stop at outlets esp if I need new sneakers/sportswear for running, gym etc.

    Having grown up watching Western movies with my father and Gone with the Wind with my mother, I also take a great deal of interest in Pow Wows, rodeos, antebellum houses, etc. I have only missed out on Pow Wows.

    I usually pick budget hotels for 1 night stay (e.g. Best Western, Day’s Inn etc) that’s clean, nice, and in safe areas (as far as I can see on the internet & visitor reviews). Location is important – either along the way from point A to B or smack in some place I want to be the next day (e.g. lodge in the Park). I also splurge at least 1-2 nights in-between for rest each road trip if there’s a hotel I like e.g. last yr at Enchantment Resort in Sedona or the historical lodge in Grand Canyon North Rim (also like staying in quirky hotels like the Wig Wam in Holbrook).

    I stole some of the itineraries and stops here from some self-drive tour arrangement. I haven’t yet researched/worked on the nicest route to get from A to B and I have yet to order the respective driving maps and would appreciate all your tips and advice. I still have 9 mths to prepare/research and have only drawn up a frame itinerary. Didn’t know you are all sooooo on top of things – really wonderful! Thank you all sooooo very much!!! I will buy you all a couple of good beers if you are ever in the Frankfurt (Germany) area and show you around my hometown along the River Rhine.

    Day 2 : Craig, I really appreciate your tip to drive via Idaho Springs and Winter park. Would I still get to take Trail Ridge Rd and What is the long but nice drive to Estes Park?

    Q2.1 : I’ve heard of & read about Boulder and Aspen (who hasn’t) but is it worth making detours there for the view & feel of the atmosphere there? The rich and the beautiful people are not interesting to me.

    I was afraid to add Arches and Moab to my itinerary because of the distance. Q2.2 : Won’t it be too rushed? I missed Arches, Moab, Durango on my trip last yr due to time & distance but went as far as Mexican Hat.

    Q2.3 :What about (alternatively):
    Day 12 : Salt Lake City – Grand Junction (what to see/do there)
    Day 13 : Grand Junction – Denver

    Read online from travellers on casinos in Deadwood, I’ll skip it. Tks to your advice Laura/Craig, I will stay in Custer instead of Rapid City.
    Q2.4 : Any hotel recommendation there?

    I’m thinking of skipping Devil’s Tower after seeing it in the internet. After my US trip last year, it doesn’t look so impressive (corrections welcome).

    Q2.5 : Is Fort Laramie worth a visit. Visited Fort Verde in Az – quite disappointed as its so “lifeless” to me.

    Q2.6 : Can any of you kindly give me any tips on what not to miss in Grand Teton & Badlands?

    Q2.7 : Would like to see Montana (view as in the movie Brokeback Mt) one day. Any suggestion where to go? Might hop over 1 wk next mth, stay in one place and just enjoy the peace and quiet.

    Thank you all and Auf Wiederhören (till we hear “from each other” again),

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Devils Tower/Fort Laramie

    I really enjoyed Devils Tower. You can't appreciate the beauty of the place until you've seen it yourself. It's massive and is literally out in the middle of nowhere. I think part of its attraction for me were all of the Native American legends that surround the site. I took the hike around the tower - very serene landscape.

    Fort Laramie was cool, but I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to see it. Yet again I found it to be a serene and calming place. It's so isolated that I almost stepped on a wild rabbit while walking through the grounds. I enjoyed because I had played Oregon Trail too many times as a kid and this put a real image in my head. However, I will say that the Wagon Ruts and Register Cliff were nearby attractions that added to the Fort Laramie saga. Really odd to think that I was able to drive to these two locations in under 30 minutes, but they were general the next two nights worth of camping for pioneers after leaving the fort.


  7. Default Danke schön!!!

    I'll keep your experience in mind Laura and see if I can arrange around it.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Keithville, LA

    Default Bitte!

    Let us know if you have any more questions.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Ich heise Judy

    OK...that's about all I remember from my 3 years of German back in junior high. That and counting to 10. If you don't use it, you sure do lose it.

    Q2.1 : I’ve heard of & read about Boulder and Aspen (who hasn’t) but is it worth making detours there for the view & feel of the atmosphere there? The rich and the beautiful people are not interesting to me.
    I don't think so. You're already driving through the same type of impressive scenery you'll see in Boulder and Aspen. I think you have many other fun things planned that you wouldn't want to miss just to go to those places.

    I was afraid to add Arches and Moab to my itinerary because of the distance. Q2.2 : Won’t it be too rushed? I missed Arches, Moab, Durango on my trip last yr due to time & distance but went as far as Mexican Hat.
    If you're going from Salt Lake City to Denver via I-70, Moab isn't all that far to go. It's only about 30 miles from I-70. It's a lovely place. Arches is fantastic. It's really just on the way to Denver so, imho, worth the short detour to go to.

    Q2.3 :What about (alternatively):
    Day 12 : Salt Lake City – Grand Junction (what to see/do there)
    Day 13 : Grand Junction – Denver
    I would go to Moab for the night and drive through Grand Junction. Grand Junction has some cool dinosaur stuff. But since you like the outdoors, I think Moab is going to offer you a far more fulfilling experience. But do stop at the visitor center in Grand Junction. It's a real good one.

  10. Default Danke Judy und Laura

    Will come back once I've absorbed all the advice and redo my itinerary. Happy to help back if you need advice on European/Asian trips.


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