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  1. Default Denver to Badlands National Park

    I'm visiting Denver this weekend to see a friend. I've 4 days. I planned to go Rocky Mountains and Badlands National Park / Mt. Rushmore and touch Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and South Dakota in this trip (I want to visit all 50 states). However, I did not check weather while booking flights and looks like Rocky Mountains is very cold during this time and so is Badlands. Looks like there is not pretty much to see in Rocky at this time - I'm not sure. Can some one please advise how I could plan this trip ? Since the flight is only $85, I'm also considering to cancel it and plan at a later time during good weather. Appreciate any help. This would be by first solo trip!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Welcome to RTA!

    In RMNP, the Trail Ridge Road is closed, most likely for the winter. However, it shouldn't be too bad in the Badlands. Do be aware that it's a full day's drive from Denver to the Badlands, most of which is not on Interstate highways. I'd do it if you want to cross 4 states off your bucket list, taking different routes to and from. You may have time to take a quick trip up to Estes Park and at least see some of RMNP if you only spend one day in the Badlands area.

    Check the weather when you get to Denver to help you with decisions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default "Very Cold" is a State of Mind

    Temperatures in the RMNP area are expected to be in the 50s during the day this weekend, getting down to around freezing at night. That can feel like good, crisp fall weather if you are prepared and have adequate clothing. Certainly the park will be free of most tourists, giving you a chance to explore it at your leisure. It will, however, only be getting 'up' into the low to mid 40s in the Rapid City by the middle of next week. It's up to you whether such temperatures will make it uncomfortable for you to be out and about. Personally, I love the colder, but not frigid, temperatures that come with fall at the higher latitudes or elevations, but I do realize that their not for everyone. As noted - the benefit of that is that you can have these natural treasures almost to yourself at such times.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default One State at a time.

    Since you say this is your first solo trip, I take it your friend in Denver will not be accompanying you.

    Forget about trying to hit all those States. They will all be still there when you have more time. Why not just hit the road in CO and see just how much that State has to offer. There is much more to CO than RMNP. Be sure to carry a good detailed map of the State.

    Rather than just driving a few miles through many States, spend your days in CO so that you can truly say that you have 'seen' that State.


  5. Default

    Thank you all for the replies.

    I've prepared a rough plan like below. I'm planning to get this done in 3 days if I can find a Monday cheap flight.

    Day 1:
    DIA - 10:30
    Estes Park (Peak to Peak Scenic Drive) - 3:00
    Sprague Lake - 4:00
    - Cheyyanne, Wyoming - 7:00 - $100 hotel

    Day 2: 6:00

    Mt. Rushmore - 11:00

    Badlands - 3:00
    Exit Badlands - 5:00

    Rapid City - 7:00 - $100 hotel

    Day 3: 6:00
    DIA - 2 PM
    Return Monday night.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    It's a trip that won't afford you much time in any one place but if you are happy with the drive you should be OK. You should head straight to Sprague lake and then through Estes park on route to Cheyenne to save a little time. If you feel you have the time I would go to Bear lake a little further down the road to get a better feel of the Rockies.

    They should be quite some rooms for $100 per night ! On the top right of this page you will see the 'Search Roadtrip motels' box, I would look there and do a little price comparing.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default best cases

    That looks like a pretty rushed trip to me, and what you've listed looks a lot like a best case scenario.

    Think of it this way, you've got about a 1200 mile drive planned over here. That means you're going to be on the road for 22-24 hours, not including your air travel times, and the payoff is that you'll have about 6 hours of exploration split between 2 National Parks and 1 National Monument. It's not impossible by any means, but there also aren't a lot of people who would consider that to be enjoyable or worthwhile.

    Personally, If I were in your shoes, I'd focus either on South Dakota or RMNP, but that's me.

    One thing you might consider doing is moving Mount Rushmore towards the end of the trip, and make the Badlands your first stop in SD. That will make it easier to also include Nebraska into your plan, if you approach the Badlands from the south and come up through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. That was if things take longer than you've planed at the Badlands, you could visit Mt. Rushmore on Monday morning. Actually, that could also let you see Rushmore both at night and again in daylight.

    Although, I'll also warn, if you're planning to wake up in Rapid City on the same day you fly out, you're going to have to really find a late flight. I would make sure you are departing Rapid a minimum of 10 hours before your flight time.

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