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  1. Default Summer Road - SD, Wyoming, maybe Colorado

    Hi all - I'm planning a 16 day, one-way road trip from Minneapolis to Denver, hitting Mt. Rushmore area, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, then Rocky Mountain National Park. We actually live on the East Coast, I plan to fly into Minneapolis and out of Denver. The 16 days do not include flight days.

    We'd like to do day hikes, auto tour, sight seeing, may car camp for a few days if weather is nice. What do you think of the plan below? Too many days in YNP/GTNP? Should we cut a few days from them and spend more time in the in-between areas, such as in between Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain NP?

    1 Flight to Minnesota, drive to SD
    2 Minuteman/Badland
    3 Rushmore/Custer
    4 Drive to Billings MT; visit Devil's Tower
    5 Yellowstone
    6 Yellowstone
    7 Yellowstone
    8 Yellowstone
    9 Yellowstone
    10 Grand Teton
    11 Grand Teton
    12 Grand Teton
    13 Grand Teton
    14 Drive to Rocky Mountain NP
    15 RMNP
    16 RMNP
    17 RMNP
    18 Flight Home

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,044

    Default To Be Honest...

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    First and foremost: The beauty of a RoadTrip is that you can customize it to be exactly what you want it to be. Personally, I'd do this a lot differently and yes, I think you're planning to spend too much time in too few places. But again, that's me.

    For example, you list one day for Custer/Mount Rushmore, but there's so much more to see in that area that I think you should at least look at spending another day or two there. Other national parks/monuments and attractions nearby include Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Devils Tower, the Crazy Horse Memorial, Deadwood, and even Wall Drug. It would not be out of the realm of reasonable alternatives to head from the Yellowstone area to southern Utah and see a couple of the Mighty Five or even just Dinosaur National Monument and/or the Black Canyon of the Gunnison before finishing up with Colorado NM, Rocky Mountain NP, and Denver. That would be more of a sampler type of trip, but you'd see a lot more for not too many more miles, and you'd see fewer other tourists.

    AZBuck

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,606

    Default

    Have you considered just flying in and out of Denver and creating a circular route ? It could possibly save you some money on a one way car rental. I agree with Buck, I would also like to explore a few more places with that amount of time but also agree, it's your trip and whatever works for you is the right choice.

  4. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Have you considered just flying in and out of Denver and creating a circular route ? It could possibly save you some money on a one way car rental. I agree with Buck, I would also like to explore a few more places with that amount of time but also agree, it's your trip and whatever works for you is the right choice.
    Great idea re circular trip from Denver. Will look into that.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,704

    Default

    I agree with both Dave and Buck.

    Doing a loop out of Denver is likely to save a lot of money, especially with car rental and really wouldn't take any more time.

    I also agree than 9 days for Yellowstone/Tetons and just 2 for the Badlands and Black Hills feels unbalanced. I'd give another day or two in South Dakota. The Badlands are farther away from the black hills than you might think, Minuteman does require reservations for the complete your, and Custer state park alone could easily use a full day of time.

    Overall, you've got a very good plan, but I think those small tweeks could make it even better.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    11,606

    Default

    Another thing to consider is that National parks get booked up quickly in the summer months, especially Yellowstone where booking should be a priority. Of course things are unpredictable in the present pandemic, but if the vaccines get out there and start to work, and restrictions are not in force, it could actually be busier than normal.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    5,576

    Default

    Yes, I'd agree that things are a wee bit unbalanced. A few years back, we did a trip that took in many of those sites, and here's how ours were balanced:

    Badlands and Wall Drug - better part of a half day. We did not do the Minuteman tour.

    Custer State Park, Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave - 1/2 day each at Mt Rushmore and WCNP. 1/2 day at Custer State Park on Iron Mountain Road Scenic Drive and the Needles Scenic Drive, and another 1/2 day on the Wildlife Scenic Loop.

    Day to drive from Black Hills to Billings with stops at Devil's Tower and Little Big Horn. Those two stops were last minute additions to the itinerary and made for a long day, one we've never regretted.

    Day to drive from Billings into Yellowstone, seeing the Beartooth Highway area (gorgeous!) as well as the NE section of YNP that day. Nice full day. Also stopped at Norris Geyser Basin before getting to our lodging in West Yellowstone, MT (west side of park).

    Two full more full days at YNP, though I wish we'd done a third. We'll go back sometime - we were supposed to go this past summer, then the pandemic hit.

    Another day seeing the southern end of YNP and Grand Teton. Frankly, we saw what we wanted to of GTNP in one day. If you are going to hike, boat, etc., maybe you want an extra day or so. We didn't hike, boat, or do anything except stop at the Visitor Center, then poked around Jackson. We did drive out to Mormon Row.

    If you want a more detailed about what we did on that trip, please go to this forum post and start at post #57.


    Donna

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