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  1. #1
    eganders Guest

    Default Western Road Trip(Yellowstone, Rocky Mtn Nat. PK, Mt. Rushmore, Moab)

    I am planning a road trip in mid-May that will take in Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park) and the Grand Canyon. The trip is about 3300 miles and is about 18 days. Six days are just driving locally (less than 100 miles). Most of the driving days are 150 to 300 miles. There are two days that are almost 400 miles. One of these 400 mile days is from Rapid City, SD to Estes Park, CO which concerns me somewhat.
    Although none of the driving days have overwhelming miles in themselves, I am concerned about the total of 3300 miles in 18 days. I would like some thoughts on this,

    Also, we are looking for interesting places to stay. I am OK on Las Vegas. I am planning on staying at the following locations:
    Ruby's Inn (Bryce Canyon)
    Antler Inn (Grand Tetons)
    Old Faithful Inn (Yellowstone)
    Country Inns & Suites (Mount Rushmore) (any more interesting suggestions?)
    Pine Haven (Estes Park )
    Cascade Resort & Spa (Vail) (any more interesting suggestions?)
    Ramada (Arches National Park/Moab)
    Hampton Inn (Monument Valley area)
    Bright Angel Lodge (Grand Canyon)

    I would like any alternative suggestions.
    Any other thoughts about this area, how long to stay at each location, any special rental vehicle and any other suggestion would be appreciated.
    Last edited by eganders; 01-15-2010 at 11:16 AM. Reason: More specific title

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    Quote Originally Posted by eganders View Post
    .......One of these 400 mile days is from Rapid City, SD to Estes Park, CO which concerns me somewhat.
    This is doable, in fact I did it last October, albeit the reverse. Make sure you leave fairly early, so that you do not run out of daylight on that last leg along 34, from I-25 to Estes Park. It is very scenic through the canyon there, and quite slow going. But then, you would not want to fly through such stunning countryside.

    The quickest way would be to take 79 to Hot Springs - a good dual carriage way - and then 18 - a good two lane highway - through Edgemont and Lusk to I-25. An alternative is to go through Custer, and whereas that is incredibly scenic, it is also very slow going.

    Enjoy that day.

    Lifey who fondly remembers that trip

    Just reread your post.... If you have some spare time while in Rapid City, you may like to take a drive out to Belle Fourche, where you can see the monument to the Centre of the Nation. The actual centre is about 20 miles north of there, on old rte 85. One of those spots you just have to see. Not touristy, or anything else, just the survey point in a farmer's field, a cairn and the flag. There is a sign on the barbed wire fence, noting the Centre of the Nation. This was apparently put there by a visitor, and the authorities decided to leave it there. If you look carefully, you will see some wire hooks on the barbed wire fence, so that you can make an opening large enough to get through. (Just make sure you put it back, so the lifestock does not escape.)
    Last edited by Lifemagician; 01-15-2010 at 12:48 AM. Reason: added info

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

    Default Whatever you are comfortable with.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    The miles are not so much the issue, it's more about how long you want to stay at some of these natural wonders. If you are happy with a quick overview and to keep on the move it will be quite comfortable. If on the other hand you wanted to spend a couple of day's in each of the NP's of Yellowstone, RMNP, Arches and Grand canyon [which you could quite easily] plus time at your other points of interest you are going to have some day's where you need to rack up those miles.

    It really is about what you are comfortable with but when rested in between long days at the wheel, 4-500 mile days are within what we would recommend as a maximum distance per day.

  4. #4
    eganders Guest


    Made my first reservations for our Western road trip at Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone (2 days). Talked to Bob there and he highly recommended Cody and the Buffalo Bill Museum. I did not have Cody on my list. I would like to cut one or two of the following stops: Cody, Wy, Billings, Mt or MT. Rushmore. What are your recommendations?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia


    If you leave Yellowstone by the eastern entrance it is a nice drive through Cody and Lovell, along alt 14 over the Big Horn Mountains. Spectacular area for wildlife. There is the Big Horn Canyon and a short walk will take you to the Medicine Wheel. Pick up I-90 again just north of Sheridan. Buffalo would make a good half way stop.

    Buffalo to Mt Rushmore would take you through Spearfish, whence it is only a short way to Belle Fourche and the Centre of the Nation.

    Lifey who met a moose on Big Horn Mts

  6. #6
    eganders Guest


    I see some posts telling of snow situations in spring and that DOES worry me somewhat. I have been to Denver/Estes Park both in winter and spring. I was in Estes Park in April about 50 years ago. I remember a mixture of snow and spring mountain climbing.

    NOW. We are expecting to rent a standard front wheel drive full sized car, not an SUV. I am hoping that I will be seeing mostly spring flowers in Colorado. We will be there May 20 through May 22. I hope to not see much snow. I am in Michigan and by that time I will have enough of snow. We are setting reservation dates, especially for the Parks. I originally wanted to do it without making reservations to give us more freedom, but if I want to stay at the Park Inns, I need to make them now. I am just getting under the wire reserving places now. I have a reservation at Bright Angel in Grand Canyon and Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone. I don't know what my conclusions will be after this trip is over. I hope I don't wish I had not been so ridgid.

    I am pretty locked in now for an 18 to 20 day trip from Las Vegas up 15 through Utah (Salt Lake City), visit Tetons, Yellowstone, across Northern Wyoming to Rapid City, SD; down I25 to Estes Park across Colorado into Utah, down to the Grand Canyon and across to Las Vegas again. Where should we take guided tours? If I can find some days where someone else drives, that would be great. I'm thinking the trip from Rapid City to Mt. Rushmore might be one. Any others?

  7. #7
    eganders Guest


    Here is my road trip in detail. There have been some changes from when I put this together, but the only important one is that I have dropped Billings, MT in favor of going through Cody and staying in Buffalo before going to Rapid City.

    I have made reservations at Antler Inn in Jackson, WY, Bright Angel in Grand Canyon, Occidental Hotel in Buffalo, Ruby's Inn in Bryce Canyon and Old faithful Inn in Yellowstone.

    Any other suggestions would be welcome.

  8. Default

    Last summer I did a trip from LAs Vegas to Grand Canyon to Moab/Arches to Yellowstone to JAckson Hole. I stayed at the Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon and thought it was great. (wife and two teenagers). Small but adequate cabin. Let's face it, it's what's outside the cabin that really matters. Food was good.

    At Arches/Moab we stayed at the Red Cliffs Lodge at mile 15 on Route 128. UNBELIEVABLY beautiful location. The drive up there from Moab is stunning looking up at 1000 foot cliffs right along the rushing Colorado. IT's a bit pricey but well worth it as far as we were concerned.

    In Yellowstone we stayed at the Roosevelt Cabins which was just perfect for what we were looking for. My son and I shared a cabin as did my wife and daughter. Very simple, yet charming. And right at the start of the Lamar Valley which was amazing...saw tons of bison, deer, black beers and a Grizzly.

    Good luck!

  9. #9
    eganders Guest


    Tell me more about Red Cliffs. I asked for a quote for one night. Have not received a reply yet, but it is a little pricey. I am staying at Bright Angel in Yellowstone for about $111. Red Cliffs is about $160.
    Last edited by AZBuck; 01-30-2010 at 08:42 AM. Reason: Quote of entire previous post removed

  10. #10
    eganders Guest

    Default Best place to stay between Estes Park, CO & Moab, UT

    In our May road trip this spring, I am staying in Estes Park, Co and driving to Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab (about 400 miles). Originally I was going to stay in Vail just to have a layover on the way. I could alternatively stay in Grand Junction. Where would be the most interesting and at the same time make the second day to Moab as short as reasonably possible. I would like to spend as much time at the Red Cliffs Lodge as I can in an overnight stay.

    Also could use any suggestions on place to stay in Estes Park. I am planning on staying at Pine Haven. It was once owned by my choir director and I am thinking of staying there for old times, but i am up for suggestions.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 02-17-2010 at 07:50 PM. Reason: Merged - Please keep all questions about this trip in the same thread.

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