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Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

Oakham, United...
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48 posts
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Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

I am trying to plan a trip in September for 3 weeks, flying into and out of Denver from UK. We want to go North to mount Rushmore, then, roughly, across to West Thumb in Yellowstone, then back to Denver via The Tetons. (I'm aware that Yellowstone is already partly booked up.)

My husband is 70, but still a very good driver. Could anyone please help with places we must visit en route? We're happy to move on each day, unless there's something worth an extra night's stopover, until we reach Yellowstone, then stay there 3 nights, followed by 2 in Grand Teton, before returning to Denver. Any motels, lodges, ranches, things to see would all be greatly appreciated. (and where to avoid!)

Definitely don't want more than 150 miles per day once off the Interstate.

West Yellowstone...
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for Flagstaff, West Yellowstone
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1. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

Others are better at this than I, especially on the east side of the park, since we're always coming from the south or west, but here are some things to get you started researching and thinking -

-Custer State Park is very near Mt. Rushmore

-Jewel Cave National Monument

-Devil's Tower National Monument (interesting in and of itself, but also a major highlight if you were a fan of Close Encounters of the Third Kind from the 80s)

- Cody, WY (small Western town)

-Beartooth Pass Highway, called the most scenic highway in America

Keep checking for cancellations at the park. They happen all the time. Splitting up your nights around Yellowstone will help you enjoy it more. If you can get one at Roosevelt or Mammoth, one at Canyon or Lake and one at Old Faithful, that would be ideal for 3 nights (if you don't mind moving around each night).

edit: Just looked back at your original and realized we're talking September. Depending on the timing, Roosevelt will likely be closed, but Mammoth will be open. Beartooth Pass will, I believe, be open. I think it doesn't close due to weather until October, but I am not the expert on that highway. Hoping to drive it this summer!

Edited: 1:13 pm, April 04, 2013
Bemidji, Minnesota
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for Yellowstone National Park
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2. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

You might want to rethink the "not more than 150 miles per day" as the areas you are planning to travel are sparsely populated with good highways and minimal traffic. As a 60 year old driver, I wouldn't hesitate to plan on a 400 mile day outside the parks.

Moose, Wyoming
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for Wyoming, Jackson, Jackson Hole
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3. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

>Definitely don't want more than 150 miles per day once off the Interstate.

Things tend to be pretty spread out here in Wyoming, especially after you leave the Interstate. To give you a better idea, Wyoming is roughly the size of the UK, but with 99% fewer people. There are many places in Wyoming where 150 miles won't get you to the next gas station, the next restaurant or the next motel (saloons, on the other hand, are plentiful - just a matter of priorities). So you're best to remain flexible on how far you need to drive each day.

Philadelphia...
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4. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

Here's a suggestion for part of the trip

Day 1 Denver to lusk WY - Overnight at Best Western Pioneer - Lusk, WY 275 Miles via I-25; US 26; & US 85. Stops along the way - Oregon Trail Sites - Trail Ruts State Park; Register Cliff at Guernsey WY and Fort Laramie. http://www.nps.gov/fola/index.htm

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60479-d33…

Day 2; Drive US 85 & US 18 to Hot Springs SD about 95 miles; Stop at Mammoth Site Fossil Dig:

http://www.mammothsite.com/

Lunch; drive US 18/US 385 to Wind Cave National Park - Least strenuous tour is Garden of Eden 1 Hr with elevators Starts at 2:40 PM, Visitor Center; http://www.nps.gov/wica/index.htm

then drive North to overnight stop at Custer SD.

Day 3 - Custer State Park (Wildlife Loop - but not necessary since you will see more than your share of Bison in Yellowstone) Senic Drives - Needles Hiway and Iron Mtn Road to Mt Rushmore

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60865-d14…

tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60865-d50…

http://www.nps.gov/moru/index.htm

Arrival at Mt Rushmore by mid afternoon? Evening Program and lighting of Memorial worth it.

Overnight in either Keystone SD - few minutes away or Hill City about 30 minutes.

Decide if you want another day in Black Hills to leave for Yellowstone:

Day 4: Drive Keystone/Hill City to Devil's Tower National Mon

http://www.nps.gov/deto/index.htm

Drive back to I-90 West to Buffalo, WY; US 16 over Bighorn Mtns thru Tensleep Canyon to Worland; north on US 16 to Greybull then west on US 16/20.14 to Cody for Overnight Stop;

Cody - Buffalo Bill Museum; Buffalo Bill's Irma Hotel/Restaurant (Good Prime Rib) wih it's bar that was a gift from the Queen of England;

http://www.bbhc.org/

http://www.irmahotel.com/

yellowstone-lodging.com/wapiti_valley.html

When you decide to leave Cody drive US 16/20/14 west through beautiful Wapiti Valley to the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park

That's a Start

Oakham, United...
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5. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

Hi,

Many thanks for your helpful reply. I'll look all these places up and feel sure we'll use some of them.

KInd Regards,

Margaret.

Oakham, United...
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6. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

Thank you so much for the advice. After I'd written the request, I realised that 150 miles a day was hopeless! I'm sure my husband would drive further on good roads. (We did 250 miles a day near Monument Valley and were then ready to look round the local area for a day.) I thought the roads would be crowded and poor near to approaching Yellowstone and Grand Teton - hence, my reduction in the mileage for his sake. 3 hours would be about right.

Regards,

Margaret.

Oakham, United...
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48 posts
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7. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

Hi,

It's kind of you to teply. I think we will have to travel further than anticipated each day. We drove further than 150 miles near Moab and Monument Valley once and encountered next to no traffic, but I assumed the roads would be narrow and crowded near Yellowstone. I'll have a rethink.

Regards,

Margaret.

Oakham, United...
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8. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

Wow! Thanks so much. You've given me lots to look up and think about. I'm sure we'll have a great time.

Kind Regards,

Margaret.

Billings, Montana
Destination Expert
for Yellowstone National Park
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9. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

Just a little tidbit about distances and driving in Wyoming and Montana......even though I live in the largest town in Montana (100,000 people) I think nothing of driving 55 miles to another town to eat lunch, take a short hike, and drive back home a couple hours later. While there are interstates in Wyoming and Montana, the majority of roads are two lanes. They are kept in good condition and are well-traveled.

Deb

Oakham, United...
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10. Re: Denver to Denver via Yellowstone

Thanks so much, Deb.

Amazing that you travel 55 miles for lunch! It would be impossible on UK roads.

I realise that I'm going to have to drive further each day than I'd hoped. I've been in Greenpeace for 40 years, so hate to use more fuel than necessary, but one does have to take holidays, so I'm not perfect. Also, fuel in UK is extortionate, so I plan routes very carefully these days.

Anyway, you've been very helpful.

Thanks again.

Margaret.