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  1. Default Denver to Las Vegas 16 Nght Roadtrip

    Hi, i'm new to the forum and my first US road trip (we are from the UK) and planning this for September.
    We will be hiring a SUV and only have hotels booked for Denver & LV, and we are planning to stop in motels/hotels without pre-booking, therefore leaving a lot of flexibility with locations, is this the best thing to do?
    Would anyone kindly help with the following itinerary to see if it looks achievable or if i am missing anything obvious out?
    Many thanks.

    Denver (arrive pm) - 1 night
    Colorado Springs - 1 night
    Rock Mountains NP - 1 night
    Cheyenne -1 night
    Rapid City -1 night
    Cody - 1 night
    Sheridan - 1 night
    Yellowstone NP - 2 nights
    Jackson Hole - 1 night
    Salt Lake city -1 night (or alternative?)
    Canyon lands NP -1 night
    Zion NP - 1 night
    Grand Canyon NP - 1 night
    Las Vegas - 2 nights

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Looking rushed through the National parks.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    When you divide the mileage by the days it would suggest your trip is doable, but with so many stops you will find you won't have enough time to enjoy the highlights, whatever they may be for you. Where you have one night in Canyonlands, Zion and Grand canyon and have to drive between them, it will leave little time to actually enjoy these wonders of the world. Spending 5 to 6 hours to get to Rapid city and then 7 to get to Cody makes me wonder if it's worth the time and effort for one night. Sometimes less is more and personally speaking I would leave Colorado Springs and Rapid City out of the mix and take a more direct route to Cody and add a couple of longer driving days. This would then give you extra time in the National parks where you can actually relax and enjoy them. (2 nights in Yellowstone is really not enough but as you are staying fairly close either side of your visit it does give a bit more time to explore)

    Not booking lodgings is certainly an option but in and around the National parks this could be problematic and add miles to your travel days as nearby options will probably be booked out or very expensive.

    From Jackson Hole you could take a more scenic route by heading south down US191 past Flaming Gorge Res, unless you want to see Salt Lake city. If you free up some time you may also be able visit Arches NP and possibly Bryce canyon by taking UT24 and scenic 12 to Zion. Of course these are just suggestions and how you want to spend your time is the all important thing but if you have any other questions just ask.

    Enjoy the planning !

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    My thoughts are a lot like Dave's - you've got a good start, but all of those 1 night stops, usually with fairly significant drives between them, can really add up and make for a pretty exhausting trip. Having more places where you have 2 nights - so you can actually have an entire day dedicated to seeing an area without worrying about covering miles - can help things feel less overwhelming.

    Like Dave, I would also recommend dropping Colorado Springs. It's a great place to explore, but it's a couple hours heading in the opposite direction of everything else and I think your time would be better spent elsewhere.

    The other place that doesn't make much sense in your trip plan is Sheridan - you've got it between Cody and Yellowstone, which perhaps was just a mistake and you were planning to stop there between Rapid City and Cody? Either way, I think that's another spot that could be skipped and instead spend 2 nights in Rapid, and then head straight to Cody and into Yellowstone from there.

    Utah is the last spot I think you should make some changes. 3 nights total split between Canyonlands, Zion, and the Grand Canyon isn't much time, especially when you factor the driving. I think I would probably do just two of those - or alternatively, do as Dave suggested, and skip Rapid City and the Black Hills to give yourself more time for the Utah portion of your trip.

    One final thought, while I also try to limit my reservations as much as possible to give myself maximum flexibility, lodging in and around National Parks can be quite limited and can fill up. If you don't make reservations for places like Yellowstone, you may have a very hard time finding a place and/or having to stay an hour more from the park.

  4. #4


    Very exciting trip lots planned! Lots of driving but it can be done, I would recommend being a little casual with the scheduled.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the comments and suggestions, really appreciated. Think ill drop Colorado Springs & Sheridan and look at adding to the later part of the trip

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Less = More

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul K
    Think I'll....look at adding to the later part of the trip.
    I think you may have gotten the wrong impression from the previous comments. It is not just the 'side trip' to Colorado Springs that is making us think you've taken on too much. And you certainly should not be actively seeking to add to what is already too much driving and too little actual enjoyment over a two week trip. Rather than adding to your itinerary, I'm going to strongly suggest that you take a meat cleaver to it and cut it in half. Do either the northern parks (Mount Rushmore, Wind and Jewel Caves, Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons) OR the southern parks (Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients), but certainly not both. Rocky Mountain National Park and Colorado National Monument can be part of either a northern or southern loop, and there are plenty of smaller national monuments, forests, grasslands and wildlife refuges along either route to flesh them out. I think you and your family would be far better served by driving less and actually seeing more. Cutting down on the driving will also allow you to take other bits of advice you've already been given such as spend two or three nights in one place to get a break from, if nothing else, having to unpack and pack every single day of your 'holiday'.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-08-2019 at 06:21 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Could not agree more.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    Do either the northern parks (Mount Rushmore, Wind and Jewel Caves, Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons) OR the southern parks (Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, Grand Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients), but certainly not both.
    As a relatively frequent visitor to the US for family reasons, and one who stays for months, not weeks, I would put your itenirary in my four or five months. You just do not have the slightest conception of how large the place is, the distances between attractions, and the traffic on the road. Even in Sept there will be quite a lot, and of course much truck traffic. You could try to rush through all of it, but what if you see something along the way which you had not anticipated. Will you put it on the list for *next time*? Or will you take the time to check it out?

    Sometimes it is a local or another person at a hotel who may alert you to an attraction which you just must check out. Would be a pity not to because your schedule is too tight. Staying flexible is not just about booking your accommodation on the fly, it is also about being able to check out the unexpected.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Australia

    Default Could not agree more (2)

    I have to agree with AZBuck and Lifey. There is so much to see and part of what you see is talking to the locals. You learn so much from all these friendly people and its hard to get going again. I remember before we did our first trip, we had a full size map of USA on the wall and we marked all these places we wanted to see. I posted on here our plans and it was suggested we cut the trip in half and then in half again. Best advice we got hehe. After spending a total of 90 days over 3 trips, we still havnt seen all we originally planned. The advice we have received from this site has been fantastic. Made some great friends and cant wait to hopefully get back again. I am sure you will have a great time. Wish it was me.


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