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HELP with itinerary on June trip our West

Guntersville...
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HELP with itinerary on June trip our West

After a hard year, losing both our Mother's within six months and me having by-pass surgery, my husband and I are planning a trip out West, which has been my dream for years. We live in Alabama and have NO idea what we are doing - some input from someone who knows would be helpful please:

Planning on flying into Denver, CO - most economical flights - renting a car - Want to see an old friend who lives in Evergreen, CO...1 to 2 nights in CO> Want to leave from Denver and head to Jackson Hole and don't have a clue which way to go or what to do. We have no set number of days and are flexible on time spent on trip. Are NOT going to fly back, we are going to drive back...questions:

Dates - flexible - Planning a first-of-June flight around June 2 or 3 - have not booked

1. Need help with itinerary from Denver to Wy, to Montana, to South Dakota and home to Sweet Home Alabama

2. Need suggestions on lodging - would love to do lodge in mountains, but need some comfort after by-pass surgery and don't mind paying a little more for it!

3. How many days should we plan in each destination - I told you I was green about this :)

4. Want to see - A)Rocky Mts., possibly stay in lodge somewhere in mountains, B)Tetons C) Yellowstone/Jackson Hole, D)Boot Hill, F)Black Hills, G)Devil's Tower H) Little Big Horn I) Mt. Rushmore

Edited: 9:08 am, February 12, 2014
N. Idaho
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1. Re: HELP with itinerary on June trip our West

Welcome to Trip Advisor!

First thing to do is to check on the drop off fee for renting a car in Colorado and dropping it off when you get back home. That might be a shocker.

The second thing is that early June can still be a little wintery in Yellowstone. If you can possibly push that to the 3rd week of June you might have better weather. All of us have experienced wonderful weather the end of May and early June and all of us have experienced cold, snow and icy conditions. Last June, 3rd week, I was standing outside the Old Faithful Inn watching snow flurries drift down. THey did not stick, but it was pretty chilly.

The next thing is to plan how many days you will need at each stop. Since you have some flexibility, you might want to consider 3 or 4 nights in Grand Tetons (which would be 2 or 3 full days), plus 5 or 6 nights (4 or 5 full days) in Yellowstone. I am not a Black Hills expert, but I think they usually recommend 3 full days for there, so 4 nights. If you have the time, you might want to include a night in Cody WY for the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and/or rodeo. It will be a full day's drive from Cody to the Black Hills area.

So far:

Day 1 fly to Denver

Day 2/3 Evergreen

Day 4 drive to Jackson (you may want to break up this drive and stay somewhere along the way which would add a day)

Day 5/6/7 Tetons

Day 8/9/10/11/12 Yellowstone

Day 13 Cody

Day 14 Drive to Black Hills

Day 15/16/17 Black Hills area including Badlands

Day 18 start back to AL

This plan also works well as a loop out of Denver if the car rental drop off is too high. If you do a loop, people usually suggest doing Black Hills area first and finishing up with Yellowstone and GRand Tetons.

Have fun planning! Sorry you all have had a hard year. It gets better, I promise you.

Pam

Edited: 10:10 am, February 12, 2014
Atlanta, Georgia
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2. Re: HELP with itinerary on June trip our West

Agree with Pam. The car rental will be the problem. If that does not work then fly in and out of Denver and enjoy time in CO, SD, and WY.

We've done several trips in the past few years flying in and out of Denver. In fact we were just in the parks last September.

Rock Springs...
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3. Re: HELP with itinerary on June trip our West

Depending on what you like to do, the Black Hills could be done in a day or three or four. Devils Tower is worth a couple hours - the trail around it starts out steep, but is fairly easy once you get to the base and there are many benches with nice views of the tower and out into the Belle Fourche (foosh) valley. It is about 3400 feet, which is nearly the lowest point in Wyoming. If you're into slightly rustic accomodations, the KOA at the tower's gate is very nice and they show "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" every night on an outdoor screen. It really is a lovely place.

South Dakota's side of the Black Hills has several cute little towns with some gambling, lots of shopping and a very themed feel. There are caves to climb in if that is what you like. We never miss the reptile museum or the 1880 train. And, of course, there is Mount Rushmore. It also has a nice walking trail - not as well groomed as Devils Tower, and a little longer.

Because you are going to Yellowstone and will drive through the Big Horns on your way to the Black Hills, you may consider going across the bottom of Wyoming to see the Red Desert and Flaming Gorge which are a different kind of landscape. The drive between Cheyenne and the Black Hills is also different, including Medicine Bow National Forest and Thunder Basin National Grassland (the biggest, wide open space you will ever see in your life).

It would be a LONG drive to Jackson/Yellowstone from Evergreen so you'll definitely want to break that up. There's a nice B&B in Rawlins, the Ferris Mansion. Or nice hotels in Rock Springs if you decide to see the desert and gorge.

In the northeast corner, you might also consider the Occidental Hotel in Buffalo. Especially if you are there on Thursday when they have open mic night in the restaurant. When we go to South Dakota, we escape the bustle of that area by driving the 40 miles back to Newcastle, Wyoming. The Pines Motel is affordable, clean and comfortable. And we woke up with mule deer eating the lawn by our car for breakfast - that was nice.

And now that I've thrown a bunch of information at you...

Have a nice trip. It sounds like you've earned it.

Tacoma, Washington
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4. Re: HELP with itinerary on June trip our West

fly into Denver

Days 1-2 visit friend

Day 3 drive to Black hills area of South Dakota

Day 4-6 Black Hills area---Custer SP, Badlands NP, wind Cave NP, Mt rushmore NM

Day 7 drive from SD to Billings, MT--stop by little big horn. Stay in red Lodge, MT

Day 8 enter Yellowstone.explore Lamar Valley, Mamouth Hot springs, stay in Gardiner.

Day 9 Mamouth hot spprings, then south to Old faithful area stay in west yellowstone

Day 10 Old faithful AM, explore Yellowstone Lake and hayden Valley area...night in Flagg ranch , Grant, or Jackson

--with Yellowsonte---may be difficult to get park lodging and may be out of budget. Look at Garinger and west yellowstone for lodging along with Flagg Ranch just south of Yelowstone.

day 11 Grand Teton

Day 12 Grand Teton...after dinner head start on driving back to colorado either to Rock

---with grand teton their is park lodging and a ton of hotels in Jackson and Teton village.

Day 13 drive to Coloado to Glenwood Springs

day 14 drive through Aspen to independence pass then up through breckonridge and stay for the night in Doillon, CO

Day 15 enter Rocky Mountain national park for the west then to Estes Park.

Day 16-17 rocky Mountain National Park--at night drive back to Denver for an airport hotel

Day 18 fly home.

5. Re: HELP with itinerary on June trip our West

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