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American West Road Trip Itinerary: Southern Utah, 6 National Parks

American West Road Trip Itinerary: Southern Utah, 6 National Parks

This is the ultimate American west road trip. Utah has five national parks in just the southern half of the state, so you could easily cover ground without covering an overwhelming amount of distance. Add a sixth N.P. to the trip by hitting up the less traveled north rim of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona!


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Tobey

State: 
Utah, Arizona, NEvada

Start/End: 
Las Vegas, Nevada

Total miles:
1,200 (1,900 km)

Suggested days: 
At least 12 – 16

Suggested season: 
All seasons, but spring and fall are best

Overview

The route that we have chosen for this American west road trip is a loop that leaves from and arrives back in Las Vegas, Nevada. It takes you to six national parks and multiple national monuments. This trip is ideal for people visiting the US for the first time, families with children, hardcore adventurers or honeymooners. There’s really no perfect itinerary–just follow the general route and make it your own! It can be adjusted to fit any need that your group is looking for.

Preparation

While you could technically take this American West road trip at any time of the year, spring and fall seasons have the most moderate weather, but larger crowds. If you choose to visit in the quieter summer or winter, just be prepared to deal with the heat or possibly the snow, and make sure you’ve brought appropriate clothing and gear. That being said, the desert looks incredibly beautiful when it snows!

Ideally, you would give yourself at least 14 days for this trip. There’s not a ton of driving, so it could be done in less than 14, but you might regret quickly passing through many of the stops. 

#1 las vegas, nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada sign

Unless you’re looking to win some money in Vegas and hit up a famous buffet in the morning–which is never a bad idea–it’d be best to arrive early, get your rental car and start driving to St. George, Utah. Flights to Las Vegas are usually fairly affordable from other major airports. Try to book your rental car as early as you book the flights, because those rates can be quite high. Now it’s time to hop on the I-15 North and get stoked!

#2 St. george

St. George, Utah

2 hours – 118 miles/303 km

St. George isn’t just known for its close proximity to Zion National Park. In fact, we suggest that you save Zion for the end of the trip when you stay in Springdale. St. George is a beautiful city nestled between red rocks in the heart of Greater Zion and there’s plenty of outdoor activities to burn your energy from that your flight and drive. There are over 668 mountain biking trails and the annual Red Bull Rampage, which is basically the Super Bowl of mountain biking. If you didn’t bring your bike, there are plenty of bike shops in town that rent them for a day rate.

Best short hike:

Red Reef Trail

Most unique hike:

Elephant Arch

Best experience for the whole family:

Horseback Riding at Snow Canyon State Park

Most unique advnture:

Spelunking at Bloomington Cave

#3 cedar city

Mountain biker on Lichen It trail in Cedar City, Utah.

1 hour – 53 miles/85 km

Cedar City is a beautiful stop for photographers, hikers, mountain bikers and skiers. It’s only a 30 minute drive from Cedar Breaks National Monument, a vibrantly red natural colosseum. Cedar City is also home to Utah’s two highest ski resorts–Brian Head and Eagle Point. 

For history buffs and Shakespeare fans, Cedar City is a good place to take a break from the outdoor adventures and experience some indoor culture, such as the annual Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Best short hike in Cedar Break NM: 

The Ramparts Overlook

Best long hike in Cedar Breaks NM: 

Rattlesnake Creek Trail

Coolest slot canyon:

Kanarra Creek Canyon

Best mountain biking trail:

Lichen It Trail

#4 panguitch & bryce canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park

1 hour – 66 MILES/106 KM

Finally, here’s where you’ll visit your first national park on the trip: Bryce Canyon. A 3-day itinerary for Bryce Canyon Country might be enough for you, but check out all the activities to decide how many days you’d like to stay. For an authentic western adventure, go horseback riding and then go out for a chuckwagon dinner.

Don’t miss this place:

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

Most popular hike in Bryce Canyon:

Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop

Best place to ride a horse:

 Panguitch Lake Horseback Trail

Point of interest: 

Rockin R’ Cowboy & Dude Ranch

#5 capitol reef

Capitol Reef, Utah

2 hours – 118 miles/190 km

Next, you’ll drive to Fruita and visit Capitol Reef National Park. This park is unique because of its rich history, one-of-a-kind geology, and the Fremont River, which supports plant and animal life that aren’t often seen in the desert. If you’re in Capitol Reef Country between April and October, definitely go fruit picking in the orchards that were planted by early Mormon settlers: cherries, peaches, pears, apples, and more. Also be sure to stop in Caineville and Hanksville on your way to Moab to get a taste of what an authentic western small town is like.

Best place to go fruit picking:

The Fruita Orchards

Point of interest:

Hickman Bridge in Capitol Reef

Most scenic drive: 

Cathedral Valley

For the adventurers:

 Canyoneer Pandora’s Box

#6 moab

Arches National Park, Utah.

2.5 hours – 144 miles/232 km

Ready to knock two more national parks off your list? Great, because you’ll want to spend a few days here in order to visit Arches NP and Canyonlands NP. Arches is known as being the park with more than 2,000 delicate, red-sandstone natural arches, while Canyonlands is known for its dramatic, expansive landscape that was carved by the Colorado River and includes rock pinnacles, remote canyons, and Native American rock paintings.

Best photo op:

Dead Horse Point State Park

Notable place to visit:

The Needles

Best place to see indigenous rock paintings:

Horseshoe Canyon

Most popular activity:

Mountain biking

#7 San juan county

Cliff dwellings "house on fire" in Bears Ears National Monument

1 hour – 55 miles/88 km

As you drive through the Four Corners area, you might be wondering what you can do next that isn’t hiking or mountain biking, as there’s a lot of that in Utah. The answer is rafting! Take a family-friendly three-day rafting trip on the San Juan River. There are three wonderful towns on along your route: Monticello, Blanding and Bluff, where you can grab food and set up base camp to explore the surrounding parks like Bears Ears National Monument. If you’re a climber, or someone who just loves desert towers, you won’t want to miss Indian Creek!

Best place for photographs:

 Goosenecks State Park

Well-known rafting outfitters:

Oars Rafting Guides

Best activity for all ages:

Edge of the Cedars State Park

Most classic spot to grab a bite to eat:

Shake Shack in Monticello

#8 Monument Valley

Monument Valley

1.75 hours – 93 miles/150 km

You can’t do an American west road trip without visiting Monument Valley–it’s iconic. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is quite possibly one of the most iconic destinations of the American wild West, located on the Navajo Nation and the border of Utah and Arizona. We recommend staying at least one night here to experience stars above the towers at night and hopefully wake up to wild horses roaming in the morning. There’s a lot of history to learn about this area of the country and much more to explore in Monument Valley than just what you’ve seen from Hollywood.

For the campers:

The View Campground, El Capitan Valley Campground, Mustang Valley Campground

For the hotel-stayers:

The View Hotel

For those in between:

Monument Valley Tipi Village or Thunder Bird Tipi

A must-do activity:

Horseback riding

#9 kanab

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

3.25 hours – 197 miles/317 km

The drive to Kanab will be your longest yet, but it also has some amazing stops along the way to break it up. About an hour outside of Kanab you’ll drive through Page, Arizona, where you can access Lake Powell, a large reservoir with slot canyons on the Colorado River. Although Kanab is a small town, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it’s been featured in hundreds of Western movies and was given the title “Little Hollywood” in the 1940s. You can visit the museum, attend their chuckwagon dinner, and view old movie sets. Another state park to check off your list: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Sounds amazing, right? It is.

Must-see landmark along the way:

Horseshoe Bend

Don’t want to miss:

Take a guided tour of Glen Canyon Dam

A worthy hiking/backpacking stop: 

Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area

Family-friendly roadside attraction:

Toadstools hoodoos

#10 Grand canyon national park

Grand Canyon National Park

1.5 hours – 80 MILES/130 KM

Want to visit the Grand Canyon National Park without all of the crowds or the heat of the summer? Drive to the north rim of the canyon and back, which is doable in a day if you’re staying in Kanab. There’s a visitor’s center, a scenic drive, and many hikes available to you. This entry point is closed during the winter months due to snow. 

Activity for everyone:

Mule rides through the canyon

Best hike into the canyon:

Bright Angel Point Trail

#11 springdale & zion national park

Zion National Park landscape.

2.5 hours – 121 miles/195 km

It’s your last and final stop before you head back to Las Vegas. Springdale, which is just outside the entrance to Zion National Park, is the perfect basecamp if you’re planning on spending a few days exploring Zion. The park is one of the busier ones, so be prepared with an itinerary before you become overwhelmed with options and people. 

Most popular hikes:

Angels Landing Hike and The Narrows

Too many people?

Hidden Canyon

Best place to learn about history: 

Zion Human History Museum

For the hardcore adventurers:

Guided Canyoneering in Zion National Park

From Springdale, Utah, it’s about a 2 hour and 45 minute drive back to Las Vegas, where you’ll catch your flight home after a long and adventurous road trip through the desert. Make sure you shake off all that red dirt before hopping on the plane!
 
 




National Parks Road Trip Itinerary: Utah to Yellowstone & Grand Teton

National Parks Road Trip Itinerary: Utah to Yellowstone & Grand Teton

In this national parks road trip itinerary we’ll take you from Salt Lake City up to a few of the most iconic national parks, but not without passing through a myriad of smaller, more quaint, less-traveled towns that Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho have to offer. 


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Tobey

State: 
Utah, Idaho, Wyoming

Start/End: 
Salt Lake City, Utah

Total miles:
940 (1,500 km)

Suggested days: 
At least 8 – 14

Suggested season:
summer, fall, late spring

Overview

What’s great about this national parks road trip is that it’s accessible and adjustable for all kinds of groups including first-timers to the US, families with children and grandparents, honeymooners, photographers, campers, van-lifers, and more. Our route has you flying in and out of Salt Lake International Airport. Rather than hitting the road right away, we recommend spending your first few days exploring Salt Lake City. Most people will be flying in from a lower elevation than SLC, and driving into Wyoming will take you even higher, so acclimating your body first will prevent sickness, which no one wants on road trips!

Preparation

This route is intended for a summer, fall or late spring season road trip. While most of the destinations on our itinerary are very popular winter ski destinations (Park City, Utah literally hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics), the roads between these places are not always open and can be dangerous with snow cover. It’d be best if you have about 10 to 12 days for this trip, but it could probably be done in eight days if you didn’t mind driving a bit every day.

#1 Salt lake City, Utah

Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

If you don’t know a lot about Salt Lake City, you might at least know these two facts: it’s known for being the city with nine ski resorts within an hour’s drive, and for being the world headquarters of the Mormon religion.

Save the skiing for winter, but don’t miss visiting Temple Square, whether you’re religious or not. It’s a 35-acre area in the heart of downtown with plenty of historical buildings, food, sights to see and activities. Right beside Temple Square, you can visit City Creek Center, Salt Lake’s unique shopping center.

Best family activity:

Visit the Natural History Museum of Utah

Best place to take the kids:

Ogden Adventure Park

Must-do hike to see the wildflowers:

Hike in Albion Basin

Most popular mountain biking trail:

Wasatch Crest Trail

#2 Cache Valley

Logan Canyon road in Cache Valley, Utah.

1.25 hours – 81 miles/130 km

About 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of SLC you’ll head into Cache Valley, which is home to the metropolitan area of Logan, Utah. 

We recommend spending a day and night here, as there’s a lot to see and do

Probably the most epically scenic drive is through Logan Canyon—September and October are perfect months to see the fall leaves changing colors. 

About an hour outside of Logan, and on your way, we recommend stopping to explore Bear Lake—often called the “Caribbean of the Rockies” because of its turquoise water and sandy beaches.

Best activity at Bear Lake:

Jet Skiing or Water Trampolines

Best spot for history:

 American West Heritage Center

What to do in the evening:

Go See a Show

Best hike:

Wind Caves in Logan Canyon

#3 Star Valley

Antler arch in Afton, Wyoming.

2.25 hours – 119 miles/191 km

On your way up through Idaho and into Wyoming, you’ll be passing through some authentically western, undiscovered small towns that are all worthy of a visit. The first is Montepelier, Idaho, which is just 35 minutes from Bear Lake. For a classic American breakfast and your “cup of joe”, we suggest starting your driving day off at Ranch Hand Trail Stop in Montepelier. Biscuits and gravy for $3? Count me in. Next you’ll head into Wyoming and drive through Afton, Thayne and Alpine. We suggest spending a night in Alpine before heading into the busyness of Jackson and the national parks.

Best place to stay in Alpine, WY: 

Flying Saddle Resort

Must-do hike in Afton, WY: 

Intermittent Spring

Best place for sweets in Afton, WY:

Star Valley Chocolates

Most western activity in Thayne, WY:

Visit & Tour Haderlie Farms

#4 Grand Teton National Park

Wranglers in front of the Grand Tetons, Wyoming.

1.75 hours – 84 MILES/135 KM

We said this was a national parks road trip, right? Well, park #1: The famous, jagged mountain peaks of the Grand Tetons are one of the reasons the park attracts so many visitors, putting it on the list for the top ten most visited national parks. We recommend that you first do a scenic drive through the park to take in the views and get acquainted with the area. 

Fishing and hiking are among the best activities here. If you want something more casual, wildlife viewing is a good option as animals are ubiquitous in the park, such as black bears, bison, moose, elk and more—just do not approach them. Ever!

Most scenic drive:

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive

Best place to view wildlife:

Oxbow Bend

Most adventurous activity:

Canoe to Your Campsite at Leigh Lake

Best place to stay: 

The Cabins at Togwotee Mountain Lodge

#5 Yellowstone National Park

Elk walking through meadows in Yellowstone/Teton/Idaho area

2 hours – 73 miles/173 km

Watching Old Faithful Geyser erupt in Yellowstone National Park? Time to check that one off your bucket list! Old Faithful erupts about 17 times a day and it’s one of six geysers that park rangers currently predict, out of nearly 500 geysers in the park. You’ve come all this way, so stay a few days. 

Yellowstone covers a lot of acreage, so it’s best to spend a night or two in the park. Other than sight-seeing, we recommend going horseback riding—you are in cowboy country after all.

Out-of-the-ordinary activity:

Soak in Natural Hot Springs

A must-do in cowboy country:

Go Horseback Riding

Activity for the whole family: 

Drive the Grand Loop

Best fishing hole:

Firehole River

#6 Pinedale, Wyoming

Downtown Pinedale, Wyoming.

3.25 hours – 160 miles/257 km

It’s time to head down to one of those small, undiscovered Wyoming’s towns we told you about. In Sublette County, bordered by three incredible mountain ranges, you’ll find the town of Pinedale, which the locals call “the real Wyoming.” 

With a population of under 2,000 people it’ll be a nice change of pace from the traffic in the parks. Pinedale really does have it all: incredible mountain views from town, glacially-fed lakes, great fishing in the rivers, and an awesome brewery. What more do you need?

Best place to get a drink:

Wind River Brewing Company

Best spot for photos:

Photographer’s Point

Most popular destination:

Cirque of the Towers (backpacking trip)

Casual activity in town:

Disk Golfing

#7 Flaming Gorge

2.5 hours – 163 miles/262 km

You’ll be heading back toward the desert, but the trip is not over yet. On the border of Wyoming and Utah is Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, a 91-mile long reservoir with stunning desert-red cliffs towering above. 

Between boating and water sports, hiking, and rafting, Flaming Gorge Country is stacked with fun things to do.

For the adrenaline seekers:

Raft the Green River

Best place to stay:

The Private Lake Cabins at Red Canyon Lodge

Best hike for the whole family:

Moonshine Arch

Most laid-back activity on the water:

Boat Camping on the Reservoir

#8 Vernal

Two people paddle boarding in Dinosaurland, Utah.

1.25 hours – 52 miles/84 km

Not far from Flaming Gorge Country is Vernal, Utah, the gateway to Dinosaur National Monument. Vernal is known as one of the best places in America to see fossils, and you can’t leave the western US without looking at fossils and petroglyphs! 

There are tons of other things to do in Vernal, in addition to visiting Dinosaur National Monument.

Best family hike:

Desert Voices Trail

Best spot to bike:

Yampa Bench Road

For a day inside:

Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum

Best spot for a picnic:

Steinaker State Park

#9 Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah

3 hours – 161 miles/259 km

Like we said, Park City held the 2002 Winter Olympics, so they’re kind of a big dea. To this day, the Utah Olympic Park is used as a training facility, and they allow visitors to join the fun as well. So, if you’ve never ridden a bobsled at 70mph (112kph) or been extreme tubing at speeds of 50mph (80kph) then Park City is the place for you! 

When it’s not snowing, Park City is a great place for mountain biking, ziplining, golfing, hot air ballooning, and more.

Must-do year-round activity:

Bobsled at Utah Olympic Park

Don’t want to miss:

Flying Ace All-Stars Freestyle Show

Most unique adventure: 

Hot Air Ballooning

Activity everyone will enjoy:

Food Tours Park City

Salt Lake City is just a 45-minute drive from Park City. Take some time in SLC to unwind after a packed trip, or catch your flight home and start planning when you’ll return for your winter ski trip! Cheers!
 
 




Yellowstone Road Trip Itinerary: The Black Hills Route

Yellowstone Road Trip Itinerary: The Black Hills Route

Ultimate Western Colorado to Yellowstone road trip pin

The Great American Road trip awaits! Travel through the American West and see everything from high plains to mountain peaks. From the sacred Black Hills to the splendor of Yellowstone, welcome to the American west.

Map of our Yellowstone road trip


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Erika

States: 
Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming

Start/End: 
Denver, Colorado

Total miles:
2,000

Suggested days: 
At least 14

Type: 
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers

Suggested season: 
Spring through Fall

Overview of the yellowstone road trip route

This route is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of the open road and some of America’s most untamed areas. Your Yellowstone road trip can include so much more than just national parks! Experience a true American road trip with old western towns, intriguing culture, and unbelievable scenery. Arrive at Denver International Airport, and depending on your preferences, spend a day in Colorado’s capital city either at the start of your trip or at the end. From Denver, head north for a quick stop in the “Craft Beer Capital of Colorado,” in Fort Collins. It’s a fun, happening town that will get you excited to explore everything else to come. Later, head further north to Wyoming. Stop in Cheyenne, one of the most well-known western towns in the world. Afterwards, head towards South Dakota to see the Black Hills. Return to Wyoming and visit Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Devils Tower, and more! After all the excitement of Jackson and the parks, slow down and enjoy the small towns of southern Wyoming.

How to Prepare for your yellowstone road trip

We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling rushed. With so many miles to cover, we suggest spending a couple of days in the Black Hills and a couple of days in and around Yellowstone National Park. This itinerary is full of suggestions for some of the best places to stop during a Yellowstone road trip especially during the longer days on the road. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. If you want to avoid crowds we suggest traveling at the end of spring or the beginning of fall. If you are visiting at peak season in the summer, we suggest visiting the smaller towns on the weekends and the national parks, monuments, and larger towns on the weekdays. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, many roads are closed and you cannot drive into some of the parks. Always check for road closures if visiting in winter.

DAY 1: arrive in Denver and head to Fort Collins

Sunrise in Denver during our Colorado to Yellowstone road trip

1.5 hours/72 miles

We suggest arriving early into Denver and renting your car from the airport. Head north on I-25 towards Fort Collins, Colorado. It is the perfect town to get prepared and excited to start your road trip! Don’t worry, you will have a chance to explore the mile high city at the end of your trip if you choose!

Travel Tip: drink tons of water! The elevation in the Rocky Mountain West is real, and if you’re heading from lower elevation, increased hydration will help you stave off altitude sickness.

Fort Collins, Colorado
This vibrant town is full of activities, but offers the tranquility of nature just a few miles away. If you want to walk on cobblestone streets next to historical buildings, you will love Old Town Fort Collins! Boutiques, pubs, galleries, events, local eateries abound in this downtown area.

Best short hike:

Kimmons Trail

Best place for breakfast:

Silver Grill Cafe

Best place to watch the sunset:

Cathedral Tree Trail

Best place to stay:

Old Town Ft. Collins

Best swimming hole:

Cache La Poudre

Best place for local brew:

New Belgium Brewery

DAY 2: Fort Collins to Cheyenne

Cheyenne boot, statehouse, and indoor garden during the Yellowstone road trip

50 minutes/47 miles

Grab breakfast and get an early start towards your first stop in Wyoming. Cheyenne, Wyoming is the perfect town to get a real feel for the American west. It is famous for its cowboy culture, rodeos, and trains. After you take in all the entertaining events, historic museums, steam engines, and western-themed attractions, take a day trip east on I-80 to nearby outdoor recreation areas like Vedauwoo and Curt Gowdy State Park. Here you will discover beautiful views, world class climbing, mountain biking, and hiking. Cheyenne is also known for its art and the beautiful botanic gardens.

Read more here.

Best experience for the whole family:

Terry Bison Ranch

Can’t miss it:

Cheyenne Depot and Museum

Must see it:

Big Boy Steam Engine

Best place for a hike:

Curt Gowdy State Park

Best burger in town:

2 Doors Down

Best morning grab and go:

Mort’s Bagel

DAY 3: Cheyenne to Hot Springs, South Dakota

Historical sign in Hot Springs, South Dakota during our Yellowstone road trip.

3 hours/240 miles

Today is going to be a longer travel day, so rise and shine, grab your morning bagel, and hit the road. Head north on I-25 for a little over an hour until you reach Wheatland. This small Wyoming town is a good rest stop filled with quaint shops and murals. Then head northeast on Highway 26 towards Guernsey. Another very interesting part of American history lies just a ½ a mile south of the town, where some of the best examples of the Oregon Trail ruts are still visible. After a bit of American history and a relaxing picnic in Guernsey State Park, head northeast for about 2 hours toward Hot Springs, South Dakota. If you make it before 8pm, go end your day in the relaxing hot springs of Evans Plunge, the oldest attraction in the Black Hills.

Best place for a picnic:

Guernsey State Park

Best place to stay: 

Historic Log Cabins in Hot Springs

Can’t miss it:

Oregon Trail Ruts

Where to soak:

Evans Plunge Mineral Springs

Best place for dinner

The 1891

Best place for a hike:

JH Keith Park and Whitney Preserve

DAY 4: Hot Springs to Rapid City

Mammoth bones in South Dakota hot springs as seen during a Yellowstone road trip.

2.5 hours/100 miles

Today you are going to have an action packed day exploring the gems that surround the Black Hills! Evans Plunge opens early if you want to get some relaxation in before the day begins. If you have time in the morning, visit the Mammoth Site, which boasts the largest concentration of mammoth fossils in the world, and the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. Afterwards drive up north toward Wind Cave National Park. After the visiting this unique national park, head up the quintessential old west town of Custer. Grab a bite to eat and then head to Custer State Park to explore granite peaks and rolling hills. It’s a great stop if you want to hike, bike, swim or see the buffalo herd. After some time in the park, come face to face with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln at Mount Rushmore. This national monument teaches the story of America’s birth, growth, and development. Venture northeast for a night in Rapid City. Here you will find a vibrant town with great places to eat, drink and stay.

Read more about Hot Springs, South Dakota here.

Can’t miss it:

Mount Rushmore

Must see:

Mammoth Site

Great tour:

Wind Cave National Park

Best hike:

Wind Cave Canyon Trail

Best photo op:

Jewel Cave National Monument

Great place to go:

Fort Hays Old west Town Square

DAY 5: Rapid City to Gillette Wyoming

Devil's Tower during our Yellowstone Road trip

3.5 hours/220 miles

Rapid City is a fun bustling town, so wake up to enjoy a walk through downtown with a coffee in hand. Then head up Highway 90 towards Spearfish. It doesn’t matter when you visit, this town has year round adventure. There is an abundance of hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, climbing, and biking. The art and history surrounding the area is an attraction in and of itself. If you want some final Black Hills views, drive through Spearfish Canyon to Interstate 90 towards Gillette, Wyoming. When you hit Highway 14, go north towards Devil’s Tower National Monument. This landmass is America’s first national monument for a reason: it is one of the most striking, naturally-formed landscapes in the country. After seeing Devil’s Tower, make your way to Gillette. This town will get your taste buds buzzing with all their delicious culinary options.

Read more about Gillette, Wyoming here.

Best scenic drive:

Spearfish Canyon

Best history:

Crazy Horse Memorial

Can’t miss it:

Devils Tower National Monument

Best place to get dinner:

Pizza Corrello

Best place to stay:

Arbuckle Lodge

Best place to grab a local brew:

Gillette Brewing Company

DAY 6: Gillette to Cody

4.5 hours/250 miles

As you make your way across eastern Wyoming there are a few quiet stops before reaching the bustling eastern gateway of Yellowstone National Park. Your first stop is Buffalo, a cute town nestled in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains. A dozen historical buildings, ice cream shops, art galleries, and restaurants line Main Street. Head towards Ten Sleep, a unique, small western town that hippies, hunters, cowboys, and climbers alike call home. Next, stop in Worland, home of the Washakie Museum. Now it’s time to head for the lively western adventure town of Cody, Wyoming. The best way to get a taste of the Wild West is by watching bucking broncos and fearless cowboys at one of the nightly rodeos. For more country western culture, walk around Sheridan Ave and follow the noise of live music and dancing boots. Before you leave for your official Yellowstone road trip in the morning, don’t forget to learn about the man that the town is named after, Buffalo Bill Cody, at the Buffalo Bill Museum of the American West.

Read more about Cody here

Best place for a local brew:

Ten Sleep Brewing Company

Best hike:

Gooseberry Badlands

Best place to take the kids:

Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracks

Best spot for a steak:

Cassie’s

Best scenic byway:

Cloud Peak Skyway

Best night out:

Cody Stampede Rodeo

DAY 7-9: Yellowstone road trip

Two bison from our Yellowstone road trip.

Wake up early and hop on the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway that connects Cody to Yellowstone National Park. Called one of the most beautiful drives in America, the rushing Shoshone River, amazing rock formations, and the mountains views abound. If you want to get out and stretch your legs, there are multiple scenic vista pullouts along the highway. Once you reach the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park, don’t forget to grab a park map! Remember, Yellowstone covers a huge tract of land. If you want to get the best experience without a lot of driving, we suggest staying one night within Yellowstone National Park.

YELLOWSTONE road trip attractions:

LAKE BUTTE OVERLOOK
FISHING BRIDGE VISITORS CENTER
YELLOWSTONE LAKE
MUD VOLCANO
SULPHUR CALDRON
VIRGINIA CASCADE
BERYL SPRING

Best place for wildlife:

The Lamar Valley

Best hike:

Storm Point Nature Trail

Best place to ride a horse:

Lodges of East Yellowstone

Best point of interest:

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Best iconic American landmark:

Old Faithful

Can’t miss it:

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Emerald Pool

DAY 10-11: Grand Teton National Park and Jackson

Grand Tetons during our Yellowstone road trip

3.5 hours/165 miles

We hope that you explored all you wanted during your Yellowstone road trip because it’s time to leave the geothermal natural wonders behind and head south. For a more relaxed experience, Grand Teton National Park is a gorgeous paradise. You really aren’t prepared for the beauty until you actually experience these mountains up close. Explore crystal clear lakes, flowing rivers, and great spots for photography all with the rugged Grand Tetons next to you. If you really want to enjoy Grand Teton National Park you can avoid the crowds and bike some of the many trails (map attached below!). Post Grand Teton Grandeur, head towards Jackson Hole. As you approach the famous tourist town of Wyoming, look left towards the National Elk Refuge, which offers tons of activities to explore if you want to get up close with the herd. Once you get to Jackson it’s time to enjoy the art culture, cowboy bars, delicious restaurants, and vibrant vibes! If you want to see it all from above we suggest taking a ride up the Aerial Tram! It really doesn’t matter what time of year you are in Jackson, you will definitely have a great time!

Best road for photo ops:

Signal Mountain Summit Road

Best hike:

Colter Bay Lakeshore

Best museum:

National Museum of Wildlife Art

Best place to shop:

Downtown Jackson

Can’t miss it:

Carriage Ride through the National Elk Refuge

Best local brew:

Snake River Brewing

DAY 12: Jackson to Lander

Take your time and enjoy your morning in Jackson Hole. Then it’s time to go back to the Wyoming roots and explore a few more small towns. As you begin to see the Grand Tetons disappear in your rearview mirror you will reach the town of Dubois. This charming hidden gem is one of the last real Old West towns. This small town is surrounded by outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, ATV riding, kayaking, and much more. If you are here in the winter you can’t miss out on the snowmobiling! Afterwards it is time to get to know the Wind River Mountain Range. Drive along the mountains toward Riverton, one of the most underrated towns in Wyoming. This small mountain town is worth an overnight stay, so you can learn all about the local Native American culture. If you are lucky you may just be here for one of the many events that take place over summer. For an outdoor adventure, head to the next town over, Lander. Discover the beauty of the untamed Wind River Mountains, starting with the fascinating Sinks Canyon State Park.

Best comfort food:

Cowboy Cafe

Can’t miss it:

Sinks Canyon State Park

Best place to try your luck:

Wind River Hotel and Casino-Riverton

Best hike:

Popo Agie Falls Trail

Best scenic drive:

The Loop Road

Best night out:

The Lander Bar

DAY 13: Lander to Denver, Colorado

Hiking in the Medicine Bow Mountain range during our Yellowstone road trip

6.5 hours/385 miles

Today you are going to explore some of America’s best kept secrets in Southern Wyoming. It is a long trip so break it up however you like. Your first stop is the town of Rawlins. There is particularly interesting history here, as it is home to the Wyoming Frontier Prison Museum. After you have stretched your legs in Rawlins, it’s time to hit Saratoga. Your drive down will have vast open spaces and the towering peaks of the Snowy Range. Saratoga will be a good stop for lunch before you head west on Highway 130 for Medicine Bow National Forest. This area is full of lakes and peaks with many spots to sit by the water and relax. After you have enjoyed one of the best outdoor areas in Southern Wyoming head for Laramie. Laramie is an idyllic American town with rich history, fun local happenings, and tons of outdoor recreation. If you didn’t get a chance to visit Vedauwoo the first time, this is your second chance. Take some time to walk around downtown Laramie where you will find great restaurants, art shops, souvenirs and more. For some this may be the last stop of your trip before heading back to the airport. For others you may be heading down to Denver, Colorado for a taste of the city life.

Great Coffee:

Deb B’s Family Espresso & Ice Cream-Rawlins

Can’t miss it:

Hobo Hot Springs-Saratoga

Great Museum:

Saratoga Museum

Best hike:

Lake Trails

Can’t miss it:

Wyoming Territorial Prison-Laramie

Best outdoor recreation:

Vedauwoo Recreation Area

DAY 14: Denver

Exchange your country boots for your city shoes because you are now in the Mile High City. Denver is known for its foodie paradise, vibrant neighborhoods, music scene, thriving beer culture, amazing art, and sporting life. During your visit you may hear many expressions such as LoDo, SoDo, RiNo and many more. That is because Denver is broken up into ten different neighborhoods. So whatever you are looking for during your vacation, you will find it within one of the neighborhoods, each with its own unique style and flair. Find out more about Denver here

Historic neighborhood:

Larimer Square

Best museum:

Denver Art Museum

Haven for Art Lovers:

The Art District on Santa Fe

Shopper’s Paradise:

Cherry Creek

Can’t miss it:

Union Station

Best hotspot for food and culture:

South Pearl Street and Old South Gaylord



Nevada’s Hidden Treasures

Nevada’s Hidden Treasures

With about 85 percent of their total land space firmly in the public domain, Nevada is one of the few states in the United States where you can roam free. In this itinerary, we are going to show you the whole of the state, from North To South, East to West, and a few hidden gems in between.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States: 
Nevada

Start/End: 
Las Vegas, Nevada

Total miles:
1,600

Suggested days: 
At least 14

Type: 
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers, Ghost Hunters
Suggested season: 
year round

Overview

This route is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of the open road and some of America’s most untamed areas. In other words, you will get to experience a true American road trip that includes old western ghost towns, intriguing American culture and unimaginable scenery, and of course, Vegas, Baby!  You will begin by arriving at McCarran International Airport. The bright lights of  Las Vegas and the myriad of fun things to do here will tempt you……but don’t be pulled by the seductive Siren Call of the Strip. Save it for the end of the trip, when you have a chance to unwind and relax after your epic Nevada road trip. Besides, you don’t want to take the chance that you gamble away all your gas money. On this trip many of the drives between towns will be around three hours, but when you get to the western part of the state, we would recommend finding a place to stay either in Reno or Carson City, and spending the next few days exploring the Sierra Towns of Virginia City, Silver City and the Lake Tahoe Region. Through the course of this trip you be travelling through some of the most vast expanses of the Lower 48. Eastern Nevada is a place of sun drenched stretches of rocky, rolling hills and flowering desert plains. It is a unique beauty, and one that will build lasting memories. So get in, buckle up and shift that car into drive. You are about to experience some of the best the United States has to offer.

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending at minimum, a day at each stop.  This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to fully experience the area, with overnight stops in the towns along the way. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, because Nevada is a high desert climate, the chances of inclement weather making road driving dangerous is high.. On the other hand, summertime temps in these places can often exceed 100 degrees, so take that into account as you decide your travel dates. A good portion of this trip will be spent in the western and southern parts of the state, but don’t be in too big a rush to get there, take the time to enjoy all the amazing places that you have traveled so far to see, especially the unique mining and ghost towns. Though this itinerary is a day to day guide, it is only a guide and you should feel free to adapt it however you want, taking as much time as you need to fully experience this wonderful part of the world

DAY 1: land in Las Vegas, travel to Caliente

2.5 hours/130 miles

This is a shorter day for a good reason. We suggest arriving early into Las Vegas and renting your car from the airport and setting out east toward your first stop, Caliente. Caliente is the only incorporated town in Lincoln County and is a great first stop for you to acclimate to the splendor of Nevada. We would recommend one stop you make before you get into town is to stop for a selfie at the Extraterrestrial Highway where you turn onto U.S. 93. It will definitely be a talking point for your trip. 

Best place to stretch your legs:

Cathedral Gorge

Best museum:

Caliente Railroad Museum

Best place to soak your cares away:

Panaca Hot Springs

Best place to learn about Nevada:

Basin and Range National Monument

Can’t Miss It:

Delmar Ghost Town

Best place for dinner:

The Side Track

DAY 2: The Great Basin National Park and Ely

2 hours 13 minutes/130 miles

With Ely as your ultimate destination, you are going to make a right hand turn at the intersection of Highway 50 and head to one of the United State’s most remote and rarely visited National Parks, Great Basin National Park. Based around Nevada’s second tallest mountain, Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park is a vast expanse of desert ecology which does not exist in this capacity anywhere else in the world. To get the most out of your trip, your first stop should be to the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. They will help you on your way. After Great Basin, when you get into Ely, head to the Prospector Hotel and Gambling Hall. Along with a great night’s rest, you can test out your skills for Vegas.

Most unique experience:

Ward Charcoal Ovens

Can’t miss it:

Ely Renaissance Village

Shop local:

Garnet Mercantile

Best museum:

Northern Nevada Railway Museum

Eat a steak in an old jail cell:

The Cell Block

Have a drink and maybe sing a little karaoke:

Corner Tracks

DAY 3: Wendover Will and the bonneville Salt Flats

2 hours/120 miles

Have you ever seen a bullet-shaped race car hit 482.646 mph? Would you like to? The Bonneville Salt Flats would be the place to do it. First opened in 1911, the salt flats are located northeast of West Wendover and are a sight to behold. Stretching over 30,000 acres, the flats are exactly what the name says, straight, flat and staggeringly beautiful. Before heading out there, however, stop first at the West Wendover Visitor and Convention Bureau. They can give you all the information you need. One thing you must do while in West Wendover as well, is get a selfie with Wendover Will.  It’s a famous landmark with visitors from all over the world taking a selfie and then posting it to the West Wendover website.

To read more about West Wendover, click here.

Best hike:

Leppy Trails

Best summit: 

Pilot Peak

Can’t miss it:

Horizonic Viewpoint

Best Mueum:

Wendover Airfield

Best place for dinner:

Pancho and Willies

Best place to unwind with a cocktail and maybe play a little blackjack:

Peppermill Poker Room

DAY 4: Elko

2 hours/120 miles

We know you are going to be hungry this morning, so one last thing we recommend you  do before leaving West Wendover is grabbing a bite to eat. And there is no better place to do it than the Copper Kettle Cafe. Hunger satiated, hit the road for your next stop, Elko. Elko is the largest city in and county seat of Elko County, Nevada, United States. Straddling the Humboldt River, Elko is the principal city of the Elko Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers two counties  and a population of around 20,000.  First stop to make in Elko is the Downtown District. It’s a great way to get a taste of the town and orient yourself before heading out into the wider area.

Get outside:

Humbldt-Toiyabe National Forest

Must see:

California Trail Interpretive Center

Git ya some Cowboy duds:

JM Capriola Co.

Best scenic Byway:

Lamoille Canyon Scenic Byway

Most Known For:

Basque Food at the Star Hotel

Where the locals go for fun:

Good Time Charlies

DAY 5: The Dusty Winnemucca Road

7 hours/160 miles

The easiest way to get to Winnemuccca is to head straight down I-80. But this is an epic road trip, and it’s never about the easiest way, its about the most fun way. That’s why today you are going to head north out of Elko along Highway 225, over the Independence Mountains on Highway 789 and through two classic western ghost townsTuscarora and Midas. At 7 hours this is a long drive day, so we recommend starting early, the distance is short, however, right around 160 miles, so take that into account for gas consumption. Any car should be able to make it 160 miles on a full tank, but just in case, you might want to think about taking some spare fuel. Once you get to Winnemucca, head to the Bodie Howard Memorial Pool to cool off

Best place for a hike:

Winnemucca Mountain

Can’t miss it:

Winnemucca Sand Dunes

Best place to shop local:

Northern Nevada Trading Company

Best place to try lady luck:

The Model T Casino

Best place for dinner:

Chihuahua’s Cantina

Best place for pancakes:

The Griddle

DAY 6: Down Lonely Highway 121 to Fallon

2 hours 45 minutes/127 miles

Fill up your fuel tank, and head south out of Winnemucca on Highway 121. They don’t call Highway 121 the “Loneliest Road In America” for nothing.  According to NDOT’s records, a mere 10 cars travel this 127-mile stretch of road on a daily basis. And you will have the pleasure of being one of them.  Once you get into Fallon, you will start to notice that you are heading out of the desert and into the Sierras. After your lonely road to Fallon, we would recommend heading to the Slanted Porch and grabbing a cocktail. It’s the perfect place to wash the trail from your throat.

Best place for a hike:

Grimes Point

Best photo op:

The Shoe Tree

Best museum:

Churchill County Museum

See some wildlife:

Stillwater Wildlife Refuge

Visit a distillery:

Frey Ranch Distillery

Best place for dinner:

Vn Pho

DAY 7: Carson City

1 hour 14 minutes/62 miles

So! The next few days are going to be a slight departure from how the earlier week has gone. Today this itinerary is going to take you to Carson City, the capital of Nevada and your home for the next four days. From Carson City, you will be within striking distance to Reno, the mining towns of Virginia and Silver City and Lake Tahoe, all without having to move hotels. And speaking of hotels, one place you should definitely consider staying is the Deer Run Ranch Bed and Breakfast. It’s a great place and the breakfasts are spectacular. When you get to Carson City, your agenda is going to be all about the things to do within City Limits. 

Best place to learn about the Great State of Nevada:

Nevada State Museum

Best way to see the area:

Train ride or railbike

Pretend you’re Willy Wonka:

Chocolate Nugget Candy Factory

Best place for a stroll:

Downtown Carson City

Best place for dinner:

Red’s Old 395 Grill

Try Lady Luck:

Max Casino

DAY 8: The eastern shores of Lake Tahoe

Roughly split down the middle, Lake Tahoe has shoreline in both Nevada and California. The majority of our suggestions are going to take place along the Nevada side, but it’s okay with us if you want to hop the border and check out the California side as well. South Lake Tahoe is a great resort town, so feel free to wander where your desires want. A good place to stop to orient yourself to the crystal blue waters and Lake Tahoe would be the Carson City Culture and Tourism Authority.

To read more about the California side of Tahoe, click here.

Best hike:

Horsetail Falls

Can’t miss it:

Skunk Harbor

Best place to go for a swim:

Nevada Beach

Best photo op:

Logan Shoals Vista Point

Best place to shop and stroll:

Incline Village

Best cowboy bar:

The Desert Rose

DAY 9: Reno and the Donner Pass Tragedy

Before you head to head to Reno for the day, we are going to take you on a little detour across the border into California  to experience one of the most famous and tragic incidents in American History. Located about 95 miles northwest of Carson City is Donner Pass, named after the ill-fated Donner Party. The Donner Party was a group of American pioneers that set out for California in a wagon train in May 1846. Departing from Independence, Missouri, they were delayed by a series of mishaps and mistakes and spent the winter of 1846–7 snowbound in the Sierra Nevada. Some of the pioneers resorted to cannibalism to survive. Directly before the pass is the Donner Memorial State Park, which is located on the site where the snowbound emigrants spent that winter. The park contains the Emigrant Trail Museum and the Pioneer Monument dedicated to the travelers of the Emigrant Trail. From Donner Pass, head back through Truckee, CA towards Reno. It’s time to relax a bit and the Reno Riverwalk District is just the place to do it. Located in the heart of Reno along the Truckee River, this area has plenty of things to keep you entertained. Want to put some money on Lady Luck instead? Reno has you covered. There is any number of sublime casinos in the area, most of which have free shuttles. 

Best photo op:

Rainbow Bridge

Best hike:

Milk Lake Trail

Can’t miss it:

Donner Lake Interpretive Trail

Best place to get some Souvenirs:

Reno eNVy

Best steak:

Atlantis Steakhouse

Best night out:

Death and Taxes Provisions and Spirits

DAY 10: The quest for Silver

3 hours 45 minutes/244 miles

The mid 19th century was defined in the United States by the discovery of gold. It led to a mass exodus from the Eastern parts of the U.S of hopeful miners  looking to strike it rich in the goldfields of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Nevada is no different, with one small exception. Mining in Nevada began not for gold, but silver. The discovery of the Comstock Lode in 1859 is considered one of the most important mining discoveries in US history; it virtually ended the California Gold Rush, as prospectors flocked to Nevada in search of the silver “mother lode.”  Your trip today will take you to some of these historical mining towns: Silver City, and Virginia City .  While your goal is to explore these two towns, there are great little towns like DaytonGold Hill and Mound House to visit as well.

Best place to see a ghost:

The Washoe Club

Best place to get a photo:

Silver Terrace Cemetery

Best place to shop:

Virginia City Mercantiles

Best tour:

Chollar Mine

Best place to grab lunch:

Red Dog Saloon

Most unique experience:

Silver City Cemetery

Best place to explore a ghost town:

Gold Hill

Best place to get a taste of the Old West:

Virginia City Outlaws

Best museum:

The Way It Was Museum

Best place for local brews:

Virginia City Brewery and Taphouse

DAY 11: Tonopah and the Big Smokey Valley

3 hours 45 minutes/220 miles

Today your drive is going to take south along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. There are going to be some pretty good places to take some scenic photos, so make you stop to fill up your camera. Once you get into Tonopah, our recommendation would be to first get a room for the night at the Clown Motel. We aren’t sure if you have heard of this motel, but it has become world famous over the past few years, if for nothing else than being quite unlike any motel anywhere, ever. We won’t go into too much detail here, but a quick Google Search will tell you everything you want to know. It will be an experience you won’t soon forget. From Tonopah, head north on 376 into the Big Smokey Valley for a great scenic drive and the small near-ghost towns along the way. When you get to Spencer Hot Springs, take a well deserved soak before you turn around and head back again to your room at the haunted Clown Motel.

Best lunch in the Great Smokey Valley:

Blitz Creek

Best museum:

Tonopah Historic Mining Park

Visit your neighbors from the Clown Motel:

Old Tonopah Cemetery

Best BBQ and Beer:

Tonopah Brewing Company

Best place to train for Vegas:

The Mizpah Club

Best sway to see the stars:

STARGAZING PARK

DAY 12 through 14: Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada

3.5 Hours /210 miles

It’s Vegas, Baby! Man oh man, where do we even start? Las Vegas is an internationally renowned destination. You could arguably spend a month here and still not do all the things there are to do. We are going to do our best to give you a number of places to go, divided up into different areas of interest, because Las Vegas is way more than just casinos. But speaking of casinos, each casino has a specific theme or individual concept and we will explore those, but at the heart of a casino is undoubtedly gambling, so here is a comprehensive guide to help you research where you want to go. As far a place to stay, you should also stay in a casino. They are the height of luxury and offer great packages and deals. But which one? Well that is up to you as well. As far as all the other great things to do, perhaps the best place to start would be the Las Vegas Visitors Information Center.  They have everything you need to help you make the most of your stay.

GET OUTDOORS

Visit a waterfall:

Mary Jane Falls Trail

Go for a swim:

Gold Strike Canyon

Best scenic drive:

Red Rock Canyon

Best hike to a great view:

Turtlehead Peak Trail

GET some culture

Learn about the Mafia in Las Vegas:

The Mob Museum

Best place to take the kids:

Discovery Children’s Musuem

Best place to learn some history:

Nevada State Museum

Most eclectic museum:

The Liberace Museum

GET an experience

Cant miss it:

Las Vegas Big Bus Tour

One of a kind experience:

The Hoover Dam

Take a gondola ride:

The canals at the Venetian

Get a bird’s eye view of Las Vegas:

Vegas Balloon Rides

GET some tickets

Best place see acrobatics-themed rock and roll:

Beatles-Love at Cirque du Soleil

A Vegas Icon:

Barry Manilow at the Westgate

Best tribute show:

All Shook Up-A Tribute to the King

Get ready to laugh:

Penn and Teller

GET some food

Best sushi in the state:

Kabuto

Best buffet:

The Buffet at Wynn Hotel

Best place for seafood:

The Oyster Bar at the Palace

Eat a  Michelin meal:

Rose. Rabbit. Lie.

GET some fun

Best place to dance:

Omnia

Can’t miss it:

The Strip

Best way to get wet:

Cowabunga Bay

Go ride a go kart:

Las Vegas Mini Grand Prix



Rocky Mountain National Park and the Colorado Plateau

Rocky Mountain National Park and the Colorado Plateau

The Colorado Plateau is an amazing geographical wonder, stretching through four states, it is a vast area of wind-scoured deserts, red sandstone cliffs, tumbling rivers stunning wildlife and soaring mountain peaks. With this trip, you will get to experience everything it has to offer, with a little Rocky Mountain exposure thrown in for good measure.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States:
Colorado
Start/End:
Denver, Colorado

Total miles:
1,100

Suggested days:
At least 14

Type:
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers

Suggested season: 
Spring through Fall

Overview

This Colorado route is perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of the open road and some of America’s most untamed areas. In other words, you will get to experience a true American road trip that includes old western towns, intriguing American culture and unimaginable scenery. You will begin by arriving at Denver International Airport.  Denver is an amazing town, and you should plan on spending a few days here, but not until the end of your trip. The reason why is because after your epic road trip, you’ve earned the right to spend a few days pampering yourself in style in this oasis of the mountains. But we would recommend getting your trip started by hitting the road and heading straight to Rocky Mountain National Park. After your trip through this amazing place, you will begin working your way down along the western slope of the Rocky Mountains to the Colorado Plateau. The Colorado Plateau is largely made up of high desert, with scattered areas of forests and tumbling rivers. Get in, buckle up and shift that car into drive, this is going to be the trip of a lifetime.

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, but we suggest spending at least one day in each stop. This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to stop, especially during your longer days on the road. Leave some days unplanned as you’ll want to spend extra time in the places that you find most interesting. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are lots of events and the weather is beautiful. If you want to avoid crowds we suggest traveling at the end of spring or the beginning of fall. If you can’t make that happen, then we suggest visiting the smaller towns on the weekends and the National Parks and bigger towns on the weekdays. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, many roads are closed and you cannot drive into some of the parks. One thing to keep in mind as well, is that in the Four Corners region, the summertime temps can often exceed 100 degrees.

#1 arrive in Denver, explore the front range

The Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado.

We suggest arriving early into Denver, renting your car from the airport and setting out east on Highway 7 towards Boulder, Colorado. This area of Colorado, known as the Front Range, can get congested. We recommend leaving the city and heading out to explore smaller towns like Boulder, Longmont and Loveland. Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to roam in Denver at the end of your trip if you choose.

Boulder is well known as a laid back college town with plenty to do and lots of eclectic shops and restaurants. Tucked into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, acres of vast open space roll into Boulder’s quaint cityscape. Explore pine-scented trails, taste the flavors of “America’s Foodiest Town,” tour 24 craft breweries, stroll historic Pearl Street and soak up this creative community’s lifestyle.

Don’t head towards Estes Park without checking out Longmont and Loveland. Everything you love about Boulder will be similar in these communities, except with less people. You may even want to spend a night in one of these towns, as there’s limited lodging near Rocky Mountain National Park during the busy seasons.

Best Short Hike-Boulder:

First and Second Flatiron Loop

Best place to shop-Boulder:

Pearl Street Pedestrian Mall

Best place to watch the sunset-Longmont:

Union Reservoir

Best place to stay:

Little Red Treehouse Airbnb

Best place for dinner-Loveland:

Door 222 Food & Drink

Best place for breakfast-Longmont:

Lucile’s Creole Cafe

#2 estes park & Rocky Mountain national park

1.5 HOURS – 72 MILES/115 KM

Estes Park is a quintessential Colorado Mountain town with stunning views of Rocky Mountain National Park, which it borders. Spend some time in Estes Park itself, visiting the City Center and the river walk along the Big Thompson River. Estes Park is full of festivals in the summer, so plan your trip accordingly. Later, hop back in your car for a tour through Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding Arapahoe National Forest. Driving through the park will give you views of the majestic Rocky Mountains, tumbling streams and towering ponderosa pines. If you’re able, we recommend going on a long hike in the park to one of the many alpine lakes. Plan on spending a night in Estes Park before continuing on. There are many options (you can never go wrong with camping), but for a more comfortable experience, we recommend Nicky’s Resort or The Stanley Hotel.

Best short hike:

East Meadow

Can’t miss it:

Hike Mt. Ida

Best scenic drive:

Trail Ridge Road

Take a road, not for the faint of heart:

Old Fall River Road

Best place for a little history:

Holzwarth Historical Site

Best place for a picnic:

Hermit Park open space

#3 Silverthorne & Dillon

2.5 HOURS – 107 MILES/172 KM

After exploring the park you’ll head southwest and go for a scenic tour through the Arapahoe National Forest to another town on a lake, Silverthorne and the Dillion Reservoir. Silverthorne is going to be your base to explore some of the most famous resorts in the world. Silverthorne is within striking distance of world famous towns like Breckenridge, Vail, Copper Mountain and Keystone. Silverthorne itself is a great town, as are the sister cities that hug the shores of Dillon Reservoir, Frisco and Dillon. In fact there is so much to do in this area, that you may want to seriously consider a few days here.

Best hike:

Lilly Pad Lake

Best Shopping:

The Outlets

Best place to get a little history:

Sally Barber Mine Trail

Can’t Miss it:

Dillon Farmer’s Market

Best place for dinner:

Sauce on the Blue

Best Local Beer:

Dillon Damn Brewing Company

#4 Glenwood Springs & Aspen

1.5 HOURS – 90 MILES/145KM

The road to Glenwood Springs can either be a short direct route (taking about an hour), or a longer, much more scenic route through Leadville, over Independence Pass and through Aspen. It is up to you, but both routes have their benefits. If you want to take advantage of all the fun things there are to do in Glenwood Springs, then take the more direct route. If you want to stand on the Continental Divide at 12,000 feet and get a great view of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks, then take the pass. This route, at 3 hours, will still give you plenty of time in Glenwood Springs, or allow you to roam the streets of Aspens if you so desire. If you do take the Aspen route, take time to see the majestic Maroon Bells, and afterward grab a bite to eat at the White House Tavern. Regardless of when you arrive in Glenwood Springs, your first stop should be to the Visitor’s Center. They can help you on your visit, and even tell you where notorious gunslingin’ lawman, Doc Holiday, is buried.

Best place to ride a roller coaster:

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Best place to get some history:

Glenwood Springs Frontier Museum

Best place to go for a hike:

Hanging Lake Trail

Best place to soak your muscles:

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

Where the locals go for dinner:

The Pullman

Drink local:

The Brew Garden

#5 Grand Junction and the Colorado National Monument

1.5 HOURS – 87 MILES/140 KM

From Glenwood Springs, it’s a very short drive into Grand Junction. Which means you will have plenty of time to explore the wonders of Colorado National Monument. This is an area of desert high land on the Colorado Plateau, with pinion and juniper forests. Sheer-walled canyons cut deep into sandstone and granite–gneiss–schist rock formations. The park hosts a wide range of wildlife, including red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, ravens, jays, desert bighorn sheep, and coyotes. Nearby are the Book Cliffs and the largest flat-topped mountain in the world, the Grand Mesa. Before you head off, however, you need to make two stops in Glenwood Springs. The first is to Jilbertitos to get the best breakfast burrito on the plateau, and the second is to Deja Brew to get your morning coffee fix. Then, it’s time to lace up your hiking boots.

Best place to start:

Saddlehorn Visitor Center

Best photo op:

Window Rock

Best short hike:

Canyon Rim Trail

Best scenic drive:

Rim Rock Drive

Best place to shop in Grand Junction:

Historic Downtown Grand Junction

Best place for dinner:

Rockslide Restaurant and Brew Pub

#6 Delta, Montrose and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

1.5 HOURS – 88 MILES/141 KM

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the most underrated national parks in the US, which makes it a great place to enjoy solitude. First we recommend finding a place to stay. Both Delta and Montrose are within striking distance to the Black Canyon, and both are great towns that are each worth a visit. If you choose Delta, a great place to stay would be the Riverwood Inn—it’s right along the river. If you are in Delta for the night, grab a burger and brew at Needle Rock Brew Pub. If Montrose is your huckleberry, a great little overnight is the Black Mountain Motel. Grab a steak at Ted Nelson’s Steakhouse. When you get to the Black Canyon, you can make the day as strenuous or as moderate as you choose, but the first place you should stop at is the South Rim Visitor Center to get you acquainted with park.

Best hike in the Black Canyon:

The Painted Trail

Best scenic drive:

The South Rim of Black Canyon

Challenge yourself:

Hike into the Canyon

Best hike in the Black Canyon:

The Painted Trail

Best slightly scary drive:

East Portal Road

Best place to watch the sunset:

Sunset View

#7 The Million Dollar Highway

colorado

1.5 HOURS – 75 MILES/120 KM

To hit the next stop on the itinerary you’ll want to head toward Ridgeway, then keep going toward Ouray. Walking around this small town you’ll feel like you’re in Switzerland, with beautiful snow-capped mountain peaks. Ouray also has amazing hot springs. There is one brewery that is famous for its “Ouray Beer.” Keep heading south and take the famous Million Dollar Highway, a narrow and steep mountain road that connects Ouray with Silverton. It is one of the most scenic mountain roads in North America, with great views into the majestic San Juan Mountain range. When in Silverton, take a quick walk throughout the mining town and explore an old western town that is still connected via the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. When arriving in Durango, enjoy the downtown area and experience the Old West by staying overnight at the Strater Hotel.

Best place to shop local:

Ago Gallery

Best hike:

Spud Lake Trail

Best photo spot:

Red Mountain Pass

Best point of interest:

Old Hundred Gold Mine

Best way stretch your legs:

Animas River Trail

Can’t Miss it:

Chimayo Stone Fired Kitchen

#8 Canyon of the Ancients and the cortez

Canyon of the Ancients National Monument

2.5 HOURS – 118 MILES/189 KM

Next you are going to see the amazing Canyon of The Ancients. The monument contains the highest known archaeological site density in the United States, with rich, well-preserved evidence of native cultures. Before you head here, we would recommend finding a place to stay in Cortez for the night. There are a number of great options, but the Retro Inn is just the about the coolest place to stay in the four-corners region. From Cortez, it’s a short drive to the monument, and you should plan to spend most of your day there, as there is a number of things to see. This cultural landscape contains more than 6,355 recorded sites that reflect all the physical components of past human life: villages, field houses, dams, reservoirs, great kivas, cliff dwellings, shrines, sacred springs, agricultural fields, petroglyphs and sweat lodges. Some areas have more than 100 sites per square mile—so don’t forget your camera! After getting your fill, head back to Cortez and check out The Farm Bistro for dinner.

Must stop:

Canyon of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum

Can’t miss it: 

Lowry Pueblo

Archaeological Wonder:

The Great Kiva

Best place to stretch your legs:

Sand Canyon Trail

Best place for photography:

Sand Canyon Pueblo

Where the locals go for breakfast:

Beny’s Diner

#9 South Fork and the San Juan Mountains

3.5 HOURS – 174 MILES/280 KM

From Cortez, you will head back through Durango to the little western town of South Fork. First, you should get some coffee—and Fahrenheit Coffee Roasters in Cortez has some of the best. As you work your way along Highway 160, you’ll be driving through some of the most quintessential Colorado Plateau landscape. Upon entering the town of South Fork, nestled on the banks of the Rio Grande, you will notice one thing: this is an outdoorsy town. There are a lot of things to do here, both inside the city limits and in the surrounding mountains, so perhaps your best stop will first be the South Fork Visitor’s Center. From here you can get all the info you need to make the most of this charming Colorado mountain town. As always, there are a number of places to stay in South Fork, but the Foothills Lodge and Cabins is be our #1 pick.

Best short hike:

Treasure Falls

Best outdoor recreation:

Rio Grande National Forest

Great place to stock up on gear:

8200 Sports

Catch some white water:

Mountain Man Rafting

Best place to learn about Colorado gold mines:

Last Chance Mine

Best place for beer and a burger:

The Old Firehouse

#10 Alamosa and the Great Sand Dunes National Park

colorado

1 HOUR – 48 MILES/77 MILES

This may seem like a very short driving day, but with good reason. After the short drive, your day will be spent traversing the enormous sand dunes in Great Sand Dunes National Park. In order to get to the sand dunes you will pass through Alamosa, which will give you a chance to find a place to stay and drop off your gear. Our recommendation would be to get a room at the Alamosa Inn. From Alamosa, it’s a 40-minute drive to the park. One not-to-be missed experience in the park is to take a ride down the dunes. It’s called sandboarding or sand sledding, and there are a number of places you can rent boards and sleds from. Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa is one local place to rent from and they’ll give you all the advice you need.

First stop:

Visitor’s Center

Best short hike:

Mosca Pass Trail

Can’t miss it:

Zapata Falls

Go for a swim:

Mendano Creek

Best kept secret:

COLORADO GATOR FARM

Best place for dinner:

San Luis Valley Brewing Company

#11 Colorado springs

3 HOURS –  165 MILES/265

Colorado Springs is a beautiful city just south of Denver. The town is nestled near the base of Cheyenne Mountain and Pikes Peak, which the highest summit in the southern Front Range. Colorado Springs is also known for the Garden of the Gods—a geological wonder that resembles dinosaur backs coming out of the ground. You don’t want to leave town before at least taking a stroll through the park. Since Colorado Springs will be your last stop before hitting the big city of Denver, we recommend that you take a float down some rapids, if you haven’t done so already. The Royal Gorge on the Arkansas River is just the place to do this. There are many outfitters waiting to take you down the river, but Raft Masters is among the best. Don’t feel like rafting? That’s okay, there are numerous other activities for your stay in Colorado Springs.

Best place for a hike:

Pikes Peak via Barr Trail

Best kept secret:

The Broadmoor Seven Falls

Best place for a stroll:

Garden of the Gods

Catch the sunset:

Mesa Overlook

A must-do adventure:

Local Via Ferrata

Best place for dinner:

Restaurant 1858

back to Denver

colorado

1.5 HOURS – 70 MILES/112 KM

Exchange your country boots for your city shoes because you are now in the Mile High City. Denver is known for its foodie paradise, vibrant neighborhoods, music scene, thriving beer culture, amazing art and sporting life. During your visit you may hear many expressions such as LoDoSoDo, RiNo and many more. That is because Denver is broken up into ten different neighborhoods. So whatever you are looking for during your vacation, you will find it within one of the neighborhoods, each with its own unique style and flair.

Historic neighborhood:

Larimer Square

Best museum:

Denver Art Museum

Haven for Art Lovers:

The Art District on Santa Fe

Shopper’s Paradise:

Cherry Creek

Can’t miss it:

Union Station

Best place to find amazing food:

South Pearl Street and Old South Gaylord



A National Park, the Rocky Mountains and Back

A National Park, the Rocky Mountains and Back

This is a road trip of epic proportions as you travel from sea level to 10,000 ft.  and back again. From the pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains, and through a national park or two,  this trip will give you an experience of a lifetime.

national park


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States:
Washington, Montana, Idaho

Start/End:
Seattle, Washington

Total miles:
2,000

Suggested days:
At least 14

Type:
epic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers

Suggested season: 
Spring through Fall

Overview

This trip will not only take you from the rain-soaked Pacific Northwest to the high desert beyond the Rocky Mountains, but also through a beautiful National Park or two. This will be an epic road-trip that will start in the mists of the Pacific Northwest and head east to the sun-soaked sage-brushed flats of Idaho, before turning back west and ending back in Seattle. The trip will take you from sea level to 6,000 ft or more, so be prepared for a little acclimatization. Seattle is one of the world’s great cities, and there is so much to do here, from the expansive parks to the piers where you can fresh fish right off the boat. Our recommendation would be to fly into Seattle, immediately get your luggage and car, and then head out on the road to explore a National Park. The reason being, this is going to be a unbelievably fun trip, but there is so much you are going to see and do, that to “unwind” for a few days in Seattle before you head back home would be a great way to end your trip.

How to Prepare

We recommend at least three weeks to encompass all of the possible offerings that are suggested in this itinerary, including a National Park. A lot of distance is covered here, so it would be ideal to spend a couple of days in, say, North Cascades National Park or Mount Rainier National Park, driving many hours to and from there. (Of course, the drives themselves are wonderfully scenic, so it won’t feel long at all! The journey is the destination, as they say.) Many of the drives are relatively short – many are only around three road hours between stops – while at least two of the drives will take a good portion of your day, so plan accordingly. (These longer drives could be broken up into segments, too.) The weather in the region is generally predictable: somewhat chilly in the early spring, quite hot in the peak summer months, crisp and cool in the fall. In Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, it can occasionally snow in the later fall months, so pack intelligently. This trip could be done almost any time of year, but possible heavy snow in November through February can make driving in those more mountainous areas rather dangerous. Aside from frequent rain in the winter, the coastal regions would be fine at any time.

DAY 1: arrival in seattle

Fly into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and pick up your rental car. The city is relatively easy to navigate by car, though it may be best to avoid driving in the late afternoon, as the freeways and roads can be horribly gridlocked around rush hour. We know you might be itching to explore Seattle, but our recommendation would be to head toward your first destination, North Cascades National Park and save the wonders of Seattle for the end of the trip where you can treat yourself to a few days of Rest and Relaxing in this great American city. As you head North on Interstate 5 towards Cascades, here are some suggestion for you to stop along the way to start your trip off in style.

Best place to stock up on gear:

REI-Flagship Store

Best place to stock up on supplies:

Whole Foods Market

Stop to Stretch your legs-Delta:

Langus Riverfront Park

Grab a taco on the road-Arlington:

La Hacienda

Best place to stay for the night-Marblemount:

Buffalo Run Inn

Must stop-Marblemount:

North Cascades Visitor Center

DAY 2: North Cascades national park

3.5 hours/186 miles

North Cascades National Park is one of the most singularly beautiful places in the world. Ice Capped Granite spires rise to meet the sky and blue-tinged glaciers slowly work their way down to become tumbling mountain streams in moss covered banks. It is also one of the least visited Parks in the lower 48, for one very specific reason. While staggeringly beautiful, it is also very remote. The only way into the park is on foot or hoof, and once you get inside the borders, there are no amenities, ranger stations or structure of any time. But there are a few ways into the park and you can spend a few on the outskirts as your base camp while exploring the fringes of the park, or head in, but you will need to be prepared for self-sufficiency for the duration of your stay.

Best short hike:

Thornton Trail

Best long Hike:

Sourdough Mountain

Grab a bite on the road:

5b’s Bakery in Concrete

Pedal your way around the valley:

Stehekin Discovery Bikes

Best place to grab some dinner:

Stormy Mountain Brewing

Best place to stay:

Cambells Resort

DAY 3: Beautiful Coeur D’Alene

national parks

3.5 hours/182 miles

Your next stop as you head east is the lovely Idaho town of Coeur D’Alene, nestled on the banks of the massive 25-mile-long lake of the same name. The town’s proximity to two major ski resorts and generally tranquil natural setting has made it a destination for outdoor-oriented travelers. Camping, hiking, kayaking and skiing are all within a short trip from the center of town. As this city is on the edge of the Pacific Northwest, there are the usual quality-of-life perks, even in this relatively small town: fine coffee, plenty of microbrews and a wide array of stellar places to eat.

Best place to shop local:

Kootenai County Farmers’ Market

Best place for a swim:

Couer D’Alene City Park

Best secret trip:

Seven Stars Alpaca Ranch

Best place to stretch your legs:

Tubbs Hill Nature Trails

Best place for dinner:

Crafted Tap House

Best Night Out:

Downtown Coeur d’Alene

DAY 4: Missoula

3.2 hours/168 miles

Go Grizzlys! Today you head to the fantastic university town of Missoula. Missoula is a really fun town and you are going to have to make a choice if you want to do all the outdoor activities, all the indoor activities or a mixture of both. A great place to start your decision making process though, would be to head to the visitor’s bureau; Destination Missoula. They wil be able to help you fine tune your trip, but in the meantime, here are a few suggestions.

Great place for a hike:

Blue Mountain Recreation Area

Best Missoula thing ever:

A Carousel For Missoula

Best place to grab a quick bite:

Five on Black Brazilian Cafe

Can’t miss it:

Brennan’s Wave-a man made kayaking wave in the heart of downtown Missoula

Best place for a picnic:

Caras Park

Where the locals eat:

The Depot

Drink local:

TAke your Pick-Missoula has 10 breweries, 2 distilleries and one cider house

Best place to catch a show:

The Top Hat

DAY 5: Missoula to Butte via Phillipsburg

national parks

2 hours/119 miles

Today you head out through the Lolo National Forest to Butte. Its a relatively short drive, but this will give you a chance to have a lazy breakfast at the best breakfast joint in Missoula, Paul’s Pancake Parlor. After that, head south to little mining town of Phillipsburg. Stop at Montana Gems to mine for precious stones before spending an hour or so at the Granite County Museum. From Philipsburg, its just a short drive into Butte. Butte is the county seat of Silver Bow County, Montana and has a long and fascinating history with mining and the mining industry. There are numerous tours and museums dedicated to this rich history, but one not-to-be-missed tour is the Old Butte Historical Adventure Tour. Two hours in length, the tour takes you through some of the more interesting and quirky aspects of Butte, including a tour through the old jail.

Great place for a hike:

Big Butte Open Area

Best historical visit:

The Dumas Brothel

Other best historical visit:

The Mai Wah

Best place for a quick bite:

Front Street Market

Best place to cool off:

Ridge Waters Park

Best place to have a upscale dinner:

The Uptown Cafe

DAY 6: Rexburg, Idaho

3 hours/150 miles

From Butte its off into Idaho and the town of Rexburg. This town of nearly 26,000 has plenty of things to see and do but there are two not-to-be-missed experiences that you should make time for. The first is the BYU-Idaho Campus and the magnificent Rexburg Idaho Temple located right near by. The second is Yellowstone Bear World, a phenomenal wildlife attraction, this park is essentially a drive through North American wildlife in their natural habitats including rocky mountain elk, bison, white-tail deer, rocky mountain goats, moose, and of course, American black bear, grizzly bear and gray wolves.

Best place for a stroll:

Porter Park

Best place take a lazy float down a river:

Warm Slough

Best place to learn about bears:

Yellowstone Bear World

Best place to grab a bite:

The Hickory on Main

Most unique experience:

Heber Hatchets Axe Throwing

Best coffee in the morning:

June’s Place

DAY 7: rexburg to Pocatello

national parks

1 hour 15 minutes/78 miles

The drive from Rexburg to Pocatello will be fairly short, but this will give you a full day to explore the surrounding area, including Craters Of The Moon National Monument and Preserve. Craters of the Moon formed during eight major eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2000 years ago. Lava erupted from the Great Rift, a series of deep cracks that start near the visitor center and stretch 52 miles to the southeast. During this time the Craters of the Moon lava field grew to cover 618 square miles. Our recommendation would be to head to Pocatello and get settled for the day, gather a picnic together, then head out to Craters of the Moon. The best place to start your adventure is at the Robert Limbert Visitor Center. The center will be able to provide you with maps and information, as well as an exquisite exhibit center and bookstore.
After Craters of the Moon, head back to Pocatello and get ready for a great night. There are a number of different things to do in Pocatello, but we would recommend heading right to the heart, Old Town Pocatello. From specialty shops to fine dining, Old Town Pocatello is a magnet for people looking for a unique experience.

Great breakfast:

Frontier Pies

Best Coffee on the go:

June’s Place

Best Hike:

Wilderness Trail

Can’t miss it:

Exploring the caves

Best place to catch the sunset:

The Sunset Cone

Best place to get some dinner:

Uncle Jim’s Family Dining

DAY 8: Pocatello to Twin Falls via Massacre Rock State Park

1 hour 58 minutes/115 miles

From Pocatello you turn west to Twin Falls and the Gateway to the Snake River Canyon. But first you will take a little detour into Massacre Rock State Park. Massacre Rocks were a well known location along the Oregon Trail where the trail passed through a series of narrow rocks where ambushes from Native Americans were expected. Though this actually happening was extremely rare, it is an interesting historical park and well worth a visit. Upon arriving in Twin Falls for the night, we would recommend heading to the Blue Lakes Inn for a great family-style hotel.

Can’t miss it:

Perrine Coulee Falls

Best hike:

Shoshone Falls

Best museum:

Herrett Center for Arts and Science

Great photo op:

Evel Knievel Snake River Canyon Jump Site

Where the locals eat dinner:

Elevation 486

Drink local:

Koto Brewing Company

DAY 9: Spectacular Sun Valley

From Twin Falls your road heads North and into the resort town of Sun Valley. This is a short drive, but that’s okay because it will give you plenty of time to explore this great little town nestled in the Sawtooth Mountains. There is a plethora of outdoor activities here, but being a resort town, there is plenty of civilization for you to enjoy. Sun Valley and more specifically Ketcham, is known as the last home of the famed American writer Ernest Hemingway. A memorial pays homage to this father of contemporary American prose. It is well worth a visit.

Best place for a stroll:

Sawtooth Valley Botanical Gardens

Best hike:

Bald Mountain Trail

Best place to ride a horse:

Sun Valley Stables

Most unique experience:

Fly Sun Valley

Best place for dinner:

Enoteca

Cant’s Miss it:

The Casino Bar-Where Hemingway Drank

DAY 10: Through the Sawtooth National Forest and Boise

national park

4 hours/198 miles

The trip into Boise will take you through the beautiful Sawtooth National Forest on the Highway 75 Sawtooth Scenic Byway to the junction of Highway 21 Ponderosa Pine Scenic Route at Stanley. This road will wind its way through the Sawtooth Valley and up over the mountains. Traversing this road in the early spring or late fall, however, could lead you into some snowy conditions, so keep up to date on the road conditions. A great stop along the way is Redfish Lake, just outside of Stanley. This is the largest lake in the Sawtooths and can make for great stop to snap some photos.  Once you pick up the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Route in Stanley, the road will follow winding canyons and mountain peaks, so make sure you plan plenty of time for stops before ending for the night in Boise.

Best place for a quick bite:

Stanley Baking Company

Can’t miss it:

The Springs at historic Idaho City

Best place for a hike in Boise:

Hulls Gulch

Best trip into history:

Old Idaho Penitentiary

Best way to see Boise:

Boise Scavenger Hunt

Best spot for dinner:

The Barbacoa

DAY 11: to Lewiston and Washington

national parks

5 hours/270 miles

Today will be a longer driving day, but will take you through some of America’s most pristine examples of the High Desert. So sit back, plug in your favorite playlist and enjoy the road. There are plenty of little towns along the way, so feel free to stop at your leisure and explore. One thing not to be missed, however, is the Nez Perce National Historic Park and Scenic Overlook. Its a beautiful area and a great place to stop and stretch your legs. From here its down into the valley of the Clearwater River and your stop for the night, Lewiston.

Great place to learn about the Corps of Discovery:

Lewis and Clark Discovery Center

Can’t miss it:

Hells Gate State Park

See a ghost:

Lewiston Ghost Tour

Stock up on gear:

Follettt’s Mountain Sports

Great place for a stroll:

Historic Downtown Lewiston

Best local burger and brew:

MJ Barley Hoppers

DAY 12: walla walla washington

national park

1 hour 45 minutes/95 miles

Welcome to wine country! When you get to Walla Walla, you will officially be in the Columbia River Valley and some of Washington’s best vineyards. With only a two hour drive from Lewiston, you will have plenty of time to visit the valley’s numerous winery’s. There are plenty to choose from, but perhaps the best way to see them is to take a few different tours. Here are some options.

Walla Walla Wine Tours

Imbibe Wine Tours

d’Vine Wine Tour

Can’t miss it:

Whitman Mission

Best outdoor recreation:

Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake

Visit Walla Walla’s oldest mansion:

Kirkman House

Best place to buy local cheese:

Walla Walla Cheese Company

Best place to get some culture:

Sheehan Gallery

Where the locals eat breakfast:

Maple Counter Cafe

DAY 13: Yakima and the Yakima Reservation

2 hours 19 minutes/134 miles

Today you are heading to Yakima and the Yakima Indian Reservation. Our recommendation would be to first find a place to stay before heading into the Reservation for the day. A great place right in the heart of Downtown Yakima is the Hotel Maison. After dropping off your gear, explore some of the towns of the reservation and get a feel for the traditions and culture of the Yakima people. A great place to start would be the Yakima Nation Cultural Center located in the town of Toppenish. After exploring the reservation, head back to Yakima and the bevy of things to do in this city.

Find more Information on the Yakima Reservation here.

Shop local:

Downtown Yakima Farmer’s Market

Best museum:

Yakima Valley Museum

Best place for a stroll:

Yakima Area Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Shopper’s Paradise:

Downtown Yakima

Can’t miss it:

Johnson Orchards

Where the locals eat dinner:

Cowiche Canyon

DAY 14: Mount Rainier National Park

national parks

2.5 hours/103 miles

Your next stop of this journey is to Mount Rainier National Park, which, at 14,410 feet is an iconic feature of the Washington landscape. This active volcano is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States and spawns six major rivers. Visit the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center to get some orientation around the park and decide if you want to spend a full afternoon here or even longer. (As with all of the national parks, you could spend a day or a week at Rainier, so it’s largely up to you to figure this out.)

Best road for photo ops:

Circle Mount Rainier Drive

Best hike:

Shadow Lakes Trail

Can’t miss it:

Narada Falls

Take in mountain wildflowers:

Paradise Valley

Best place for dinner:

The Snorting Elk Cellar

Best place to stay:

Crystal Mountain

DAY 14: Back to seattle

2.5 hours /80 miles

Congratulations on completing the Great American Road Trip! You deserve a little Rest and Relaxation and Seattle is just the city to provide it.  Like many West Coast cities, Seattle is fairly spread apart, so it’s best to pick a few neighborhoods and explore from there. Downtown has the iconic Pike Place Market, as well as the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Aquarium and the first ever Starbucks Coffee, all within easy walking distance. Other great walkable neighborhoods worth checking out include the Ballard, Fremont and Capital Hill districts.  Spend a few days here. You’ve earned it and the memories will last a lifetime.

Best place for a stroll:

The Seattle Waterfront

Can’t Miss It:

Pike Place Market

Best architectural wonder:

Seattle Space Needle

Best city view:

Kerry Park

Best place for seafood:

Elliot’s Oyster House

Best place to stay:

Inn at the Market



The National Parks of Canada

The National Parks of Canada

The great land up north is full of amazing scenery and beautiful landscapes interspersed with some great cities and a kind and welcoming people. In this epic road trip we will take you from the pacific to the atlantic, including all the great stops in between.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Matt

States:
British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia

Start:
Vancouver, British Columbia
End:
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Total miles:
3,800

Suggested days:
At least 18

Type:
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to Canada, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers

Suggested season: 
Spring through Fall

Overview

This coast-to-coast road trip will take you on an unforgettable vacation across Canada, exploring many national parks and other wonderful natural locales along the way. You will begin by flying into Vancouver and, after enjoying all that the city has to offer, drive through the town of Kamloops en route to Glacier National Park. After your stay there, you will head to the famous mountains and lakes of Banff National Park. Then you will shoot north to Jasper National Park for a couple of days and then begin to head straight east towards Prince Albert National Park, stopping in the busy city of Edmonton on the way there. Next, you will drive southeast until you get to Riding Mountain National Park. After your time in the park you will stop in cosmopolitan Winnipeg en route to Pukaskwa National Park, many miles away. You will then toll into Ontario and hit the popular Algonquin Provincial Park. The province of Quebec is next, where you will visit La Mauricie National Park, stopping in Montreal and Quebec City on the way. You will then stop at Kouchibouguac National in New Brunswick, where you will savor the natural coastal beauty. Your penultimate stop will be at Prince Edward Island, where you can enjoy outdoors activities and culture alike, before heading down to Nova Scotia and flying out of Halifax.

How to Prepare

We recommend at least two-and-a-half weeks to encompass all of the possible offerings that are suggested in this itinerary. The national parks in this trip are all worth spending at least a couple of days in, perhaps more. Many of the drives are several hours long – with some very long stretches between towns – so plan accordingly. (Remember that Canada is, as a whole, a very rural country.) The weather throughout this region is somewhat predictable, though variable depending on the season. In the summer, it will be quite hot everywhere, muggy in most places. In the autumn, it will be much more pleasant everywhere, but it could definitely snow in the more mountainous regions. In the fall it will certainly rain quite a lot in British Columbia. Follow the forecasts before travelling.

DAY 1: arrival Vancouver

national parks of canada

Fly into Vancouver International Airport and rent the car that will carry you clear across the country. The most populous city in the province of British Columbia and the third most populous in all of Canada, Vancouver is a fantastic city with no shortage of things to do. As a major metropolitan area nestled between ocean, mountains and forest, Vancouver has enough nature and culture to occupy visitors for many days. The best way to experience the city would be to do a little bit from each of those categories, whether that would be shopping at the Granville Island Public Market or on Robson Street, going to the world-class Museum of Anthropology or the Vancouver Aquarium, and wandering around the lush woods of Stanley Park.

Best urban island to explore:

Granville Island

Best place for a swim: 

Kitsilano Beach

Can’t miss it:

Clayoquat Sound

Best place for a stroll:

Butchart Gardens

Best place for dinner:

The Flying Pig

Best district to spend some time:

The Olympic Village

DAY 2: Glacier National Park of Canada

6.5 hours

Your next day of driving is a long one, just over seven hours to reach your national park destination. Atop the Manitoba Escarpment, Riding Mountain National Park is the rare forested parkland among the surrounding prairie farmland of the province. There are three separate ecosystems within the area: grassland, upland boreal and eastern deciduous forest. Bison can be seen roaming through the park and wolves, moose, elk and hundreds of bird species make their home here as well. The whole park is set within the larger Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Biosphere, which seeks to preserve this unique wilderness for future generations.

Recommended Hike:

Glacier Crest Trail

Best stroll:

Hemlock Grove Trail

Must see it:

Rogers Pass

Best place to hike in for an overnight stay:

Rent a back country hut

Best waterfall:

Bear Creek Falls

Best morning grab and go:

Muir’s Bakery

DAY 3: Banff National Park

Canada national parks, national parks in Canada

3 hours/240 miles

Your next leg of the trip will take you to Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park and the third in the world. Its origins can be traced back 1883, when three Canadian Pacific Railway construction workers accidentally found a hot spring flowing through a cave on the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Today, the park contains over 2500 square miles of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers, with 1000 miles of trails weaving through it all. Plan on spending at least a few days at Banff. It’s worth it!

Best historic site:

Cave and Basin Historic Site

Best place to soak your cares away: 

Radium Hot Springs

Best hike:

Sundance Trail

Where to shop:

Banff Avenue

Best place for dinner

The Bison

Best night out:

Park Distillery

DAY 4: the wonders of Jasper

3.5 hours

Not far from the glories of Banff is another naturally fantastic place, Jasper National Park, a mere three or so hours north. Jasper is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, encompassing 4200 square miles of a pristine wilderness that includes the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield, hot springs, lakes, waterfalls and towering mountains. Elk, moose, mountain sheep and bears are often seen in the park, so you may have the chance to spot some real Canadian wildlife in their natural element. Hiking, mountain biking, boating and fishing are all popular sporting options in the park, but the town itself is also a renowned mountain town with a laid-back atmosphere and plenty of fine shopping and dining. A few days here would be a relaxing choice.

Can’t miss it:

Athabasca Falls

Must see:

Jasper Sky Tram

Test your courage:

Glacier Skywalk

Best hike:

Maligne Canyon

Best Dinner:

Downstream

Great place for morning coffee:

Wicked Cup

DAY 5: Edmonton

4 hours

Your next park destination, Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan, is a long drive away, so a midway stop in booming Edmonton is a wise idea. As you’ve been in scenic parks and mellow mountain towns for about a week, perhaps you’ll be craving some city stimulation and this is a good place to do it. The capital of Alberta and the fifth-largest city in Canada, Edmonton is a truly thriving city that acts as a cultural, governmental and educational center for the region. The city is home to North America’s largest mall, the West Edmonton Mall, and the largest living history museum in Canada, Fort Edmonton Park. Whatever you might be wanting after your time in the wilderness, Edmonton will provide for you.

Can’t miss shopping:

West Edmonton Mall

Best historical experience:

Fort Edmonton Park

Get some science:

TELUS World of Science

Best place to get dinner:

Woodwork

Try your luck:

Grand Villa Casino

Best place to grab a local brew:

The Canadian Brewhouse

DAY 6: Prince Albert National Park

6 hours

An entirely different ecosystem than the Canadian parks you’ve visited thus far, Prince Albert offers visitors a preserved environment of northern coniferous forests and diverse wildlife. There are a number of small lakes dotting the park and backcountry canoeing is a popular recreational activity. Perhaps the main natural attraction, the massive Waskesiu Lake is open for many boating, swimming and sunbathing on the beach. It also the location for the only town in the park, Waskesiu, where one can do some shopping and dining, if needed. Spending a couple of days here would be a nice way to unwind before moving on to your next park destination.

Best place for a glimpse of local history:

Grey Owl’s Cabin

Best canoe trip:

Bagwa Paddling Route

Best unique experience:

Rent a yurt at Nesslin Lake

Best spot for a swim:

Waskesiu Lake

Best place to grab a bite:

Pete’s Terrace

Best coffee in the morning:

Evergreen Coffee

DAY 7: Riding Mountain National Park

6.5 hours

Your next day of driving is a long one, just over seven hours to reach your national park destination. Atop the Manitoba Escarpment, Riding Mountain National Park is the rare forested parkland among the surrounding prairie farmland of the province. There are three separate ecosystems within the area: grassland, upland boreal and eastern deciduous forest. Bison can be seen roaming through the park and wolves, moose, elk and hundreds of bird species make their home here as well. The whole park is set within the larger Riding Mountain Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Biosphere, which seeks to preserve this unique wilderness for future generations.

Best place for a swim:

Clear Lake

Best hike:

Deep Lake

Best place to see a buffalo:

Lake Audy Bison Enclosure

Best place to get Ice Cream:

Lakehouse

Best place to grab a brew:

Farmery Estate Brewery

Cant’s Miss it:

Find a Red Chair

DAY 8: Winnipeg and the wild plains of Ontario

2.5 hours

Your next park destination at Pukaskwa National Park is at least a few days away, over twenty hours of driving from Prince Albert. The best way to break this up would be in two stages. The first stage would be a stop in Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital and largest city, considered Canada’s “Gateway to the West”. There is plenty of culture, shopping and dining to be found here, so it wouldn’t be too hard to spend a full day touring around the city. As this is the last city for many days, Winnipeg should be your last chance to “stock up” before you head out into the remote regions of Middle Canada.

Best place for a picnic:

Assiniboine Park

Best hike:

Kings Park

Best museum:

Fort Gilbraltar

Best place to eat:

The Forks

Can’t miss it:

Old Market Square

Best local brew:

Little Brown Jug

DAY 9 & 10: Ontario’s Remote Regions

national parks of canada

7.5 hours

Your next drive will be a long one to reach the stunning Pukaskwa National Park. Aim to stay the next day in Thunder Head, a decent sized town on the northwestern banks of Lake Superior, where you can rest and dine before your somewhat shorter drive the following morning. Drive the remaining few hours until you reach remote Pukaskwa National Park, full of rugged beauty, wild northern forests and wonderful views of Lake Superior. This is the only national park in all of Ontario and the longest protected shoreline anywhere on the Great Lakes, so it’s a deservedly special place. Spend a full day relaxing here, if you can.

Best place for a stroll:

Sleeping Giant Park

Can’t miss it:

Fort William Historical Park

Best place for dinner:

The Keg Steakhouse

Best hike:

The Pukaskwa Coastal Trail

Best scenic view:

White River Suspension Bridge

Best place for dinner:

Catz Family Restaurant

DAY 11: Algonquin Provincial Park

9.5 hours

Your next drive is another full-day long one, as you wind along the eastern shores of Lake Superior to eventually reach lovely Algonquin Provincial Park in Central Ontario, the oldest provincial park in the country. Encompassing a total of nearly 3000 square miles of wilderness, Algonquin is one of the most popular parks in the province, and in all of Canada, due to its relative proximity to both Toronto and Ottawa. The park can also boast having 2400 lakes and 745 miles of rivers and streams within its border. At the border of Northern and Southern Ontario, the park’s wilderness shows an area of transition between northern coniferous forests and southern coniferous forests.

Great park museum:

Algonquin Logging Museum

Can’t miss it:

Highway 60 Corridor

Watch the Northern Lights:

Anywhere in the park

Best hike:

Lookout Trail

Can’t miss it:

Algonquin Art Centre

Best place for dinner:

3 Guys and a Stove

DAY 12: Viva Quebec!

national parks of canada

7.5 hours

Next, you will head into Quebec, the Francophone province of the country and home to two of the country’s major cities, Montreal and Quebec City. As both are already on your route, you may wish to stop in one, or both, of them. You could even spend the night in each, on your way to and from the park. It’s up to you, really. Montreal is a very cosmopolitan city with an international feel, home to some of the country’s finest arts and eating. Quebec City is the capital of the province and the historical center of this French-speaking region of the country. Both are stunning and endlessly entertaining cities to enjoy at your leisure.

Visit Quebec:

Everything you need to know

Visit Montreal:

Everything you need to know

DAY 13: La Mauricie National Park

2 hours

Though close to two booming cities, La Mauricie National Park feels like genuine wilderness far removed from any civilization. Covering over 200 square miles and 150 lakes, the park is set within the Eastern forest-boreal transition ecoregion, popular for hiking, backpacking and boating. The latter should definitely be on your list of things to do in the park, as a float along either the Matawin or Saint-Mauricie Rivers would be an unforgettable experience.

Best place for a swim:

Edouard Lake

Can’t miss it:

Deux-Criques Trail

Best canoe trip:

Wapizagonke Lake

Beautiful Waterfall stroll:

Les Cascades

Best dinner:

Union Station

Best night out:

The Musee POP

DAY 14: Kouchibouguac

national parks of canada

8 hours

A full day of driving – though a beautiful one, as you’ll move up the side of the St. Lawrence River to leave Quebec – awaits you as you leave one province to reach another. On the Acadian coast of New Brunswick is Kouchibouguac National Park, where mixed-wood forest meets marshland and beaches. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has declared the park a Dark Sky Preserve, so the starry views at night in Kouchibouguac are just as breathtaking as the ocean vistas during the day. Plan on spending a couple of days here to unwind from your driving and absorb the wonderful landscape.

Best place for a swim:

Kellys Beach

Best hike:

Osprey Trail

Best canoe trip:

Ryans to Major Kollock Creek

Can’t miss it:

The Visitor’s Center

Best dinner:

O’Donaghue’s Irish Pub

Best morning coffee:

Creative Grounds Coffee

DAY 15: To the shores of Prince Edward Island

2.5 hours

Your penultimate day will take you to beautiful Prince Edward Island, both the National Park and the province proper of the same name. The park is, effectively, 37 miles of the island’s north shore along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, protecting the marshes, wetlands and beaches. It’s a nesting habitat for the endangered piping plover and has been designated a Canadian Important Bird Area. This area is an excellent place to relax on a sunny day by taking a hike or a bike ride. The province as a whole is nicknamed “The Garden of the Gulf” for its pastoral scenery and farmland. Both the capital city of Charlottetown and the smaller Summerside have plenty of dining, shopping and lodging options.

Best place for a stroll:

Victoria Park

Best way to get some culture:

Confederation Centre of the Arts

Best place for a swim:

Cavendish Beach

Can’t miss it:

St. Dunstan’s Basilica

Best dinner:

Water Prince Corner Shop

Best night out

Victoria Row

DAY 16: Halifax

3.5 hours

The final stretch of your trip will be in Halifax, the capital city of the province of Nova Scotia, located a few hours south of Prince Edward Island. Halifax is considered one of the economic centers of Atlantic Canada and is also thought to be one of the best cities to live in the world, according to a recent quality of life study. There are a few universities in the Halifax and a fair amount of culture to keep residents and tourists busy throughout the year. Spend a day or two here to fully enjoy what the city has to offer. Reward yourself for finishing your incredible voyage across the span of Canada by going out to one of Halifax’s excellent restaurants and stay in a deluxe hotel before you head back home.

Best place for a stroll:

Halifax Public Gardens

Best place to people watch:

Halifax Waterfront District

Be a soldier for a day:

Halifax Citadel Historic Park

Can’t miss it:

Fisherman’s Cove

Best seafood in Halifax:

The Pressgang

Best place to stay:

The Prince George



National Parks and the Colorado Peaks

National Parks and the Colorado Peaks

Colorado has some of the most staggeringly beautiful landscape in the world, and you will be seeing all it has to offer as you travel the state along the spine of the Rocky Mountains, then down into the desert basin, before heading North again to Pikes Peak.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
Florian

States:
Colorado

Start/End:
Denver, Colorado

Total miles:
1,260

Suggested days:
At least 14

Type:
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers

Suggested season: 
Spring through Fall

Overview

This route is for outdoor and road trip lovers in the heart of the Rockies. Colorado’s iconic national parks and monuments are true gems highlighting Colorado’s most diverse landscape. It covers the state’s 4 national parks — Rocky Mountain, Black Canyon, Mesa Verde and Great Sand Dunes — as well as the famous Colorado National Monument and the iconic 4,300m Pikes Peak. You will start in Denver, then drive above a 3,500m high tundra over the Continental Divide, the highest paved mountain pass in North America. Be prepared to shoot the best photos, including elk, mountain peaks, alpine lakes, lush forests, desert flowers, natural hot springs, colorful canyons following the Colorado & Gunnison rivers. It continues through the colorful “Southwest” with its vast high country desert landscapes, local arts and native American roots.

How to Prepare

We recommend around 8-14 days to really explore what Colorado has to offer during the warm seasons between May and October. Also, there will be lots of amazing photography spots and short hikes. Be aware of thunderstorm and changing weather patterns as the Rocky Mountains are known for snow, rain, heat and frost just within one day. Bring plenty of water as the majority of this trip will be in the high desert where you should drink at least one gallon per day to stay hydrated.

DAY 1: arrival in denver

1 hour 40 minutes/97 miles

Arrive at Denver International Airport and take the shuttle to pick up your rental car. You can drive into downtown and enjoy the famous “Mile High City” where the capital building is exactly 1 mile above sea level (1,609m).

Best quick bite:

Adelitas Cocina y Cantina

Best place to see Denver:

Mile High Stadium

Best people watching:

16th Street Mall

Best place to stock up on gear:

REI Flagship Store

Best place to grab dinner:

Anywhere in LoDo

Best place for a local brew:

Wynkoop Brewery

DAY 2: The Front Range

2 hours

When you wake up the next day, you should make a quick visit to the Capitol, then drive along the “Front Range Mountains” toward Loveland. Explore local arts there in the sculpture park and try one of Colorado’s local beers. We recommend getting the Loveland Craft Beer Passport for beer tasting. If you are into shopping, you might want to check out the Centerra Outlets as this offers one of Colorado’s best bargains. Otherwise, the Devil’s Backbone is a unique one hour hike along an impressive red canyon ridge. Later in the afternoon, drive through the Thompson River Canyon and arrive in Estes Park. Stay overnight in downtown and explore the local restaurants.

Best place to grab a quick bite:

Cafe Athens

Best place to get outside:

Devil’s Backbone Open Space

Best place to shoot photos:

Sculpture in the Park

Best place to shop:

The Promenade at Centerra

Best place for dinner:

Door 222

Best place to get a breakfast burrito:

Tata’s Burritos

DAY 3: Rocky Mountain National Park

4 hours

In the morning check out one of Estes Park’s local coffee stores and bakeries. Also, you might want to do a quick visit at the famous Stanley Hotel, where Stephen King wrote his book “Shining”. Then, head towards the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, the fee is $20 per vehicle. Right at the beginning, watch for the famous Rocky Mountain Elk or some bighorn sheep. It is one of the best places to shoot wildlife on your entire trip. You might want to do one of Colorado’s best day hikes, such as the 5km hike to Emerald Lake. As an alternative you can also do a ghost tour at the Stanley Hotel. In the afternoon, take the Trail Ridge Road, it is the highest pass in North America. Take lots of scenic photos above the tree-line and continue over the Continental Divide to Grand Lake. You might see a moose in that area so watch out. You can see the Colorado River as a little creek, the water lifeline for the Southwestern U.S.. Continue on Hwy 40 toward Steamboat Springs. Stop in Hot Sulphur Springs and enjoy the mineral Hot Springs during the evening. You can stay here overnight or keep going toward Steamboat Springs.

Best short hike:

East Meadow

Can’t miss it:

Ouzel Falls

Grab a bite on the road:

Mustachio’s On The Lake-Granby

Best place to stretch your legs-Kremmling:

Radium Hot Springs

Best place to soak your muscles-Steamboat Springs:

Strawberry Park Hot Springs

Best place to grab a drink:

O’Neil’s Tavern and Grill

DAY 4: Down the colorado River

2.5 hours

During the morning it is the best time to take scenic photos from the Colorado River Headwaters outside of Kremmling. When in Steamboat, enjoy a good mountain breakfast at one of the local restaurants along the Yampa River. If you like adventure, this is your chance to do some of the finest downhill mountain biking in Colorado, right at the Steamboat ski resort base. During the afternoon, continue following the Colorado River until you enter the Glenwood Canyon. Instead of mountain biking, you can do the 5km Hanging Lake trail inside the canyon, one of Colorado’s top 3 scenic waterfall trails. Stay overnight in Glenwood Springs and soak in the Hot Springs next to the Hotel Colorado.

Best place to take a photo:

Rabbit Ears Pass

Best scenic drive:

Colorado River Headwaters Scenic Byway

Best place to go for a hike:

Hanging Lake Trail

Best place to soak your muscles:

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

Where the locals go for dinner:

The Pullman

Drink local:

The Brew Garden

DAY 5: Aspen and White river National Forest

3.5 hours

Try to get up early today and experience one of Colorado’s true gems: Maroon Bells in Aspen. You might need to take a shuttle from Aspen into the narrow valley given that there are so many visitors during the summer, but it is worth it. After that do a quick walk through Aspen and experience the life of millionaires shopping in Aspen’s most expensive boutique. When time permits, keep driving to the top of Independence Pass where you can take some of the best photos of Colorado’s 14ers. Later in the afternoon, drive back to Glenwood Springs, then head to Colorado’s Wine Country, Grand Junction.

Great place for a hike:

Maroon Bells

Best place to shoot a photo:

Independence Pass

Best place to grab a quick bite:

White House Tavern

Can’t miss it:

Grand Mesa

Best place to see a wild horse:

Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Area

Where the locals eat:

The Ale House

DAY 6: Colorado National Monument and the Black Canyon

2.5 hours

Get a cup of morning coffee in downtown Grand Junction, then head toward the Colorado National Monument. When entering the monument, stop by at the viewpoints of the edge to see Colorado got its name, from the red colors. These amazing colors are part of the famous “Colorado Plateau” that is the entrance to Southwest covering a desert further south toward the Grand Canyon. You can do a quick hike along the Window Rock to get the best views. When back in Grand Junction, experience some wine tasting at one of the local wineries. Along the Colorado River it is ideal to grow grapes and other fruits, such as Peaches. Head toward Montrose a true mountain town in Western Colorado, then enter the Black Canyon National Park on the north rim. Take the best photos from the suggested view points. If you have time left, you can take Hwy 50 toward the best view point to get both rims on the photo. When you return, stay overnight in Montrose.

Best photo op at dawn:

Window Rock

Best short hike:

Canyon Rim Trail

Grab a quick bite:

The Camp Robber

Best hike in the Black Canyon:

The Painted Trail

Best scenic drive:

The South Rim of Black Canyon

Best place to grab coffee:

Cimarron Roasters

DAY 7: The Million Dollar Highway

2.5 hours

During the morning after breakfast, head toward Ridgeway, then keep going toward Ouray. Walk around this small town, you will feel like in Switzerland, with beautiful mountain peaks. Ouray also has amazing hot springs. There is one brewery that is famous for its “Ouray Beer”, which is a good place for lunch. Keep going south and take the famous Million Dollar Highway, a narrow and steep mountain road that connects Ouray with Silverton. It is one of the most scenic mountain roads North America, with great views into the majestic San Juan Mountain range, the most southern 14ers in the United States. When in Silverton, take a quick walk throughout the mining town and explore an Old West mining town that is still connected via the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. When arriving in Durango, enjoy the downtown area and experience the Old West by staying overnight at the Strater Hotel.

Best place to shop local:

Ago Gallery

Best hike:

Spud Lake Trail

Best photo spot:

Red Mountain Pass

Best point of interest:

Old Hundred Gold Mine

Best way stretch your legs:

Animas River Trail

Can’t Miss it:

Chimayo Stone Fired Kitchen

DAY 8: Mesa Verde National PArk

Ancient Pueblo dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park show the true history of national parks is that of all people.

1.5 hours

When being in downtown Durango, check out the Jean-Pierre Bakery, it is a true french bakery with great coffee, breakfast and the finest pastries. One of Southwest Colorado’s true gems is Mesa Verde National Park, a preserved indian village in the rocks where you can explore how native Americans lived in the high desert country. It is unique to see the rock southwestern desert rock formations and we recommend taking a guided tour throughout the villages to learn everything about the southern Ute tribe. The region called Mesa Verde Country is famous for the native americans and their local arts and crafts, so when driving along the highway, stop at their stores and shop for local crafts. If you have an extra day, we also recommend checking out the Durango – Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, it is a true Old West Colorado experience, to take this historic trail in a very scenic setting, looking at the 14er peaks of the San Juan Mountains. As an evening experience, check Durango’s local food restaurants along main street, where live music and events are very popular year around. As an alternative, we recommend heading east toward Pagosa Springs and staying overnight at the Springs Resort, one of the best hot springs experiences in Colorado.

Best place to shop ultra local:

Notah-Dineh Trading Company

Best hike:

Petroglyph Point Trail

Can’t Miss it:

The Cliff Dwellings

Best way to see the dwellings:

A ranger led tour

Can’t miss it:

Pagosa Springs thermal pools

Best local brew:

Riff Raff

DAY 9: Great Sand Dunes National Park

2.5 hours

Check out one of Pagosa Spring’s coffee places like the River Pointe Cafe, then head further east over to Wolf Creek Pass. Stop on the mountain pass and take a photo of you standing on the continental divide. Then head toward South Fork and then Alamosa, toward the entrance of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. This national park is so amazing that it is a must to hike on one of the dunes to get the best views of sand dunes and the 14ers in the back. If you have a snowboard, you can ride the sand dunes as well. It is an amazing place to take one of Colorado’s most unique photos. Later, head toward Buena Vista. You can plan here an extra day if you are interested in Colorado’s best rafting on the Arkansas river. You can either do this from Salida or in the Royal Gorge Canyon. The Royal Gorge Canyon is famous for its rapid waters that will provide you a thrill experience on the water. Stay overnight either in Buena Vista with a barbecue and local beer next to the Arkansas river.

Best short hike:

Mosca Pass Trail

Can’t miss it:

Dune sledding

Best kept secret:

Colorado Gator Farm

Catch the sunset:

Royal Gorge Bridge

Can’t miss it:

Royal Gorge Sky Coaster

Best place for dinner:

Brown’s Canyon Riverside Grill

DAY 10: pikes Peak Country

2 hours

Check out one of Pagosa Spring’s coffee places like the River Pointe Cafe, then head further east over to Wolf Creek Pass. Stop on the mountain Get an early morning coffee and head on Hwy 24 toward Colorado Springs and enjoying the high country Pike National Forest and the scenery of Pikes Peak, the iconic Colorado 14,114 foot mountain. You should stop by in Cripple Creek to see a true 10,000 foot mining town community where some casinos resemble the story of Colorado’s Old West. Then head toward Manitou Springs and take the Cog Railway to experience a train ride to the top of Pikes Peak.
Take lots of photos from the peak and the train experience. If you have some time left of the day, check out the Garden Of The Gods outside of Colorado Springs, it is an absolute must see in Colorado. If possible, you can do the Garden Of The Gods Loop trail during evening or early morning the next day to get the best colors of the red plateaus. A great place to experience is the Garden Of The Gods Trading Post for some more shopping about local arts and crafts in the area. Enjoy the downtown dining in Colorado Springs. If you have a special partner, we recommend staying one extra night at the Broadmoor Hotel, it is one of America’s finest hospitality experiences, with great views on Cheyenne Mountain

Best short hike:

Garden of the Gods

Hike boldly:

Summit Pikes Peak via Barr Trail

Get to the top in style:

Pikes Peak Cog Railway

Shop local:

Garden of the Gods Trading Post

Can’t miss it:

Cripple Creek

Best place to stay:

The Broadmoor

DAY 11: Colorado Springs

2 hours

If you have an extra day, you can explore the iconic attractions in Colorado Springs: Pikes Peak, the US Olympic Training Center which offers free admittance and tours, Airforce Academy, Garden Of The Gods or the Royal Gorge Bridge near Canon City. We recommend visiting all of those attractions as they resemble well the Colorado experience and a great connection between the Old Colorado and the New Colorado. There are some good German restaurants in Colorado Springs, such as Edelweiss German Restaurant or Uwe’s German Restaurant. Ideal for hiking is the Cheyenne Mountain State Park as well as the Red Rock Canyon Open Space.

Best short hike:

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Can’t miss it:

United States Air Force Academy

Unique walking tour:

Haunted Evergreen Cemetery

Shop local:

North Tejon Street

Can’t miss it:

Glacier Homemade Ice Cream

Fun place for dinner:

Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub

DAY 12 through 14: Denver

Exchange your country boots for your city shoes because you are now in the Mile High City. Denver is known for its foodie paradise, vibrant neighborhoods, music scene, thriving beer culture, amazing art and sporting life. During your visit you may hear many expressions such as LoDo, SoDo, RiNo and many more. That is because Denver is broken up into ten different neighborhoods. So whatever you are looking for during your vacation, you will find it within one of the neighborhoods, each with its own unique style and flair. Find out more about Denver here.

Historic neighborhood:

Larimer Square

Best museum:

Denver Art Museum

Haven for Art Lovers:

The Art District on Santa Fe

Shopper’s Paradise:

Cherry Creek

Can’t miss it:

Union Station

Best place to find amazing food:

South Pearl Street and Old South Gaylord



A Yellowstone Trip that Includes Utah and Idaho

A Yellowstone Trip that Includes Utah and Idaho

This trip will take you through four states and two national parks and one superb national monument. You travel along the Rocky Mountains and down into the high plains in this classic western road trip.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States: 
Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming

Start/End: 
Salt Lake City, Utah

Total miles:
2,000

Suggested days: 
At least 14

Type: 
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers

Suggested season: 
Spring through Fall

Overview

This trip takes you in a loop that will start and end in Salt Lake City, Utah. The trip takes you through some of the best untravelled small towns in the Mid Rocky Mountains as well as some of the more famous destinations like Jackson and Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park.
You will travel through the outdoor Utah towns of Layton, Ogden and Logan before crossing the border into Wyoming to hit Afton, Jackson and the National Parks before crossing into Montana and the park border-town of West Yellowstone. From there you will head south through the Idaho towns of Rexburg and Pocatello before heading back into Salt Lake City. We would recommend spending a few days here to soak up the city’s culture before heading back home.

How to Prepare

We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending a couple of days in the Black Hills and a couple of days in and around Yellowstone National Park. This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to stop, especially during your longer days on the road. So plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. If you want to avoid crowds we suggest traveling at the end of spring or the beginning of fall. If you can’t make that happen then we suggest visiting the smaller towns on the weekends and the National Parks, Monuments and bigger towns on the weekdays. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, many roads are closed and you cannot drive into some of the parks.

DAY 1: arrival in Salt Lake City, Utah

1.5 hours/87 miles

Salt Lake City is a great town, and one that we would recommend spending some time in, but not today. That will come at the end of the trip. For the start of your trip, we would recommend landing in SLC, gathering your bags and getting your car. After this head up north on the 15 to the northern suburbs of Layton, before reaching your overnight stop in Ogden. Both Layton and Ogden are full of great little restaurants and shops and we would recommend taking the time to stop for a few hours in Layton before spending the night in Ogden. It’s a great chance to acclimate yourself to the American West before heading out onto the road. When you arrive in Logan, don’t just make it a one night stop. Stay through the next day and enjoy the Bear River Mountains

Best Short Hike-Layton:

Adams Canyon Trail

Best place grab a quick bite-Layton:

Cafe Sabor

Best place to stay in Ogden:

The Alaska Inn

Best short hike-Ogden:

Ogden River Parkway

Best place to take the kids-Ogden:

Ogden High Adventure

Best place for a stroll:

25th Street Historic District

DAY 2: Logan

Cache Valley, Logan Downtown

1.5 hours/65 miles

Logan, Utah is an amazing place to spend some time. From the outdoor adventures to be had to the great downtown experiences, you can have any kind of time you want in this amazing town nestled at the foot of the nearly 10,000-foot high Bear River Range. Logan’s setting is beautiful in any season. There are many places to fuel up for the day, but a breakfast in Logan wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Angie’s. It is the classic American breakfast menu, done with great food and great service all in a downtown locale. From there, pick your fancy. You can head up into White Pine Lake trail system or check out the unsurpassed Wind Caves and Crimson Trail in Logan Canyon. Or stay in town and visit the local history with a downtown tour. Stop in at the Cache Valley Visitor’s Bureau for more information about all the things to do both in-town and out.

Best scenic drive:

Logan Canyon Scenic Drive

Best place to grab a quick bite:

Jack’s Wood Fired Oven

Best place to see a wolf:

Zootah at Willow Park

Best place to get a little history:

Daughters of the Utah Pioneers

Best taco:

La Chispita Bakery

Best local brew and burger

The Beehive Grill

DAY 3: Logan to Afton, Wyoming

2 hours 18 minutes/117 miles

This is going to be a short driving day but packed with a bunch of activities along the way. The first thing you are going to need is coffee. Head to Cafe Ibis to get a healthy start to your day and in-house roasted coffee. Afterward hop in your car and get ready for some beautiful scenery. The route to Afton, takes you up Hwy 89 to Bear Lake through Logan Canyon. Logan Canyon is a National Scenic Byway and has plenty of great photo ops. About 40 miles into your drive you will hit Garden City and Bear Lake. Well worth a stop to stretch your legs, Bear Lake is known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its unique turquoise-blue color, which is due to the refraction of limestone deposits suspended in the lake. A great place to stop is Bear Lake State Park. After that head to LaBeaus Drive Inn for a Raspberry Shake. You won’t regret it. After Garden City, Hwy 89 will cut through a corner of Idaho before entering Wyoming. In Wyoming you will enter the Bridger-Teton National Forest, one of the most beautiful National Forests in the US, eventually ending up in the Star Valley and Afton. Afton is a great place, and we recommend staying the night in this quintessential western town.

Best hike:

World’s Largest Intermittent Stream

Best local shopping: 

Mountain Valley Gallery

Best sugar fix:

Star Valley Chocolates

Best Place to stay:

Kodiak Mountain Resort

Best place for dinner:

Rocky Mountain Seafood

Best after-hours fun:

The Cowboy Bar

DAY 4: Afton to Jackson

1 hour 23 minutes/70 miles

Our recommendation for Jackson is to find a place to stay and head out on the town. There is so much to do in this western town, you will not be let down.

Best place to shop for new clothes:

Wyoming Outfitters

Best place to shop for old clothes:

Forget Me Not Thrift Store

Best place to people watch:

Jackson Town Square

Best way to eat farm to table:

Local

Best sushi in the state:

King Sushi

Best place to have a drink while sitting on a bar stool shaped like a saddle:

The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar

DAY 5 through 6: Grand Teton National Park

We hope that you explored all you wanted to Jackson because it’s time leave the city behind and head north for a nature-focused experience in Grand Teton National Park. You really aren’t prepared for the beauty until you actually experience these mountains up close. Today you are going to explore crystal clear lakes, flowing rivers, and great spots for photography all with the rugged Grand Tetons next to you. If you really want to enjoy Grand Teton National Park you can avoid the crowds and bike on the many trails throughout the park.  After you have been blown away by the Grand Tetons let’s head north towards Yellowstone. 

Best road for photo ops:

Signal Mountain Summit Road

Best hike:

Colter Bay Lakeshore

Best museum:

National Museum of Wildlife Art

Best place to hike:

Colter Bay Lakeshore

Can’t miss it:

Carriage Ride through the National Elk Refuge

Best scenic drive:

Jenny Lake Scenic Drive

DAY 7 through 9: Yellowstone National PArk

Wake up early and if you didn’t have time the day before then try to hit the Buffalo Bill Museum of the West before you leave. Hop on the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway that connects Cody to Yellowstone National Park. One of the most beautiful drives in America you will experience the rushing Shoshone River, amazing rock formations and the mountains views. If you want to get out and stretch your legs there are multiple spots along the highway. Once you reach the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park don’t forget to grab a park map. In that map you will be able to see anything and everything that may spark your interest during your park journey. Remember, Yellowstone covers a huge area of land. If you want to get the best experience without a lot of driving we suggest staying one night within Yellowstone National Park.

SOME ATTRACTIONS IN YELLOWSTONE:

LAKE BUTTE OVERLOOK
FISHING BRIDGE VISITORS CENTER
YELLOWSTONE LAKE
MUD VOLCANO
SULPHUR CALDRON
VIRGINIA CASCADE
BERYL SPRING

Best place for wildlife:

The Lamar Valley

Best hike:

Storm Point Nature Trail

Best place to ride a horse:

Lodges of East Yellowstone

Best point of interest:

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Best Iconic American Landmark:

Old Faithful

Can’t Miss it:

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Emerald Pool

DAY 10: West Yellowstone, Montana to Rexburg, Idaho

3 hours/150 miles

From the splendor of Yellowstone National Park to the wild and woolly border town of West Yellowstone, day 9 is going to be all about man-made adventure. At almost 7,000 feet above sea level and almost exactly halfway between the equator and the North Pole, West Yellowstone is a great place to get some civilization after your sabbatical in the wilderness. Located in Gallatin County, Montana, West Yellowstone is a great place to stay and experience many of the great museums, historical centers, an Imax and, of course, zipplines! From here its off into Idaho and the town of Rexburg. This town of nearly 26,000 has plenty of things to see and do but there are two not-to-be-missed experiences that you should make time for. The first is the BYU-Idaho Campus and the magnificent Rexburg Idaho Temple located right near by. The second is Yellowstone Bear World, a phenomenal wildlife attraction, this park is essentially a drive through North American wildlife in their natural habitats including rocky mountain elk, bison, white-tail deer, rocky mountain goats, moose, and of course, American black bear, grizzly bear and gray wolves. 

Best place to grab coffee and breakfast:

RUNNING BEAR PANCAKE HOUSE

Best store-ever:

Eagle’s Store

Best place to learn about wolves

Grizzly And Wolf Discovery Center

Best place to grab a bite:

Canyon Street Grill

Best place to stay:

Stage Coach Inn

Best attraction:

Yellowstone Aerial Adventure

DAY 11: rexburg to Pocatello

1 hour 15 minutes/78 miles

The drive from Rexburg to Pocatello will be fairly short, but this will give you a full day to explore the surrounding area, including Craters Of The Moon National Monument and Preserve. Craters of the Moon formed during eight major eruptive periods between 15,000 and 2000 years ago. Lava erupted from the Great Rift, a series of deep cracks that start near the visitor center and stretch 52 miles to the southeast. During this time the Craters of the Moon lava field grew to cover 618 square miles. Our recommendation would be to head to Pocatello and get settled for the day, gather a picnic together, then head out to Craters of the Moon. The best place to start your adventure is at the Robert Limbert Visitor Center. The center will be able to provide you with maps and information, as well as an exquisite exhibit center and bookstore.
After Craters of the Moon, head back to Pocatello and get ready for a great night. There are a number of different things to do in Pocatello, but we would recommend heading right to the heart, Old Town Pocatello. From specialty shops to fine dining, Old Town Pocatello is a magnet for people looking for a unique experience.

Great breakfast:

Frontier Pies

Best Coffee on the go:

June’s Place

Best Hike:

Wilderness Trail

Can’t miss it:

Exploring the caves

Best place to catch the sunset:

The Sunset Cone

Best place to get some dinner:

Uncle Jim’s Family Dining

DAY 12 through 14: Salt Lake City

Temple Square

In 1847, when Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, LDS Church president Brigham Young selected a plot of the desert ground and proclaimed, “Here we will build a temple to our God.” Attracting 3 million to 5 million visitors a year, Temple Square is the most popular tourist attraction in Utah, bringing in more visitors than the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park. Contained within Temple Square are the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle, Salt Lake Assembly Hall, the Seagull Monument, and two visitors’ centers. The square was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964. Located in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City, Temple Square has a rich history, gorgeous gardens and architecture, vivid art and culture that pulls you in, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable experience.
2 hours 34 minutes/165 miles

Get ready for some city life. But first, you need to get there. The route to Salt Lake City from Pocatello will take you straight through the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Its a beautiful area and definitely worth a stop. Upon arrival in Salt Lake City, the first you are going to want to do is find a pace to stay. There are plenty of options, but our suggestion is to head downtown and stay at one of the
great hotels. From there, Salt Lake City is your oyster. SLC is a great town, and there are thousands of things to do here, so after getting your hotel, you should head to the Salt Lake Visitors Center in the Salt Center. The people there are friendly and eager to make your visit the best it can be.

Best place to shop:

City Creek Center

Best way to see the city:

Trolley Tours of Salt Lake

Best downtown nightlife:

Broadway District

Best cultural experience for families:

Foothill Cultural District

Best place to shop local:

The Downtown Salt Lake City Farmer’s Market

Can’t miss restaurant:

Valter’s Osteria

Best Mexican food in Utah:

The Red Iguana

Can’t miss outdoor experience:

Great Salt Lake State Park or Big Cottonwood Canyon



The Best Trip to Montana and the National Parks

The Best Trip to Montana and the National Parks

Montana has some of the most staggeringly beautiful landscape in the world, and you will be travelling this state from the very top to the very bottom, before slipping into Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park.


#thisismyroute

Prepared by:
James

States: 
Montana, Wyoming

Start/End: 
Bozeman, Montana

Total miles:
1,600

Suggested days: 
At least 14

Type: 
scenic road trip

Recommended for: 
First-timers to the United States, honeymooners, photographers, road trippers

Suggested season: 
Spring through Fall

Overview

This trip takes you in a loop that will start and end in Bozeman Montana. The trip takes you through some of the best untravelled small towns in the Northern Rocky Mountains as well as some of the more famous destinations like Missoula, Helena, Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
You will travel mainly through the beautiful state of Montana before crossing the border into Wyoming the National Parks before crossing back into Montana and the park border-town of Gardiner. From there you head back to Bozeman before you fly back home.

How to Prepare

We recommend at least 14 days to accomplish everything there is to do in the trip. This trip takes you through two states and you will have a lot of driving. The bigger towns are well worth the stops and can offer you many opportunities for nightlife, but the smaller towns have a western charm to them that is well worth an overnight stop and will add a uniqueness to your trip. This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to stop, especially during your longer days on the road. So plan your trip accordingly so that you can experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. If you want to avoid crowds we suggest traveling at the end of spring or the beginning of fall. If you can’t make that happen then we suggest visiting the smaller towns on the weekends and the National Parks and bigger towns on the weekdays. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, however, many roads are closed and you cannot drive into some of the parks.

DAY 1: arrival in Bozeman Montana

1 hour 40 minutes/97 miles

Bozeman is a great town, and one that we would recommend spending some time in, but not today. That will come at the end of the trip. For the start of your trip, we would recommend landing in Bozeman gathering your bags and getting your car. From Bozeman you will begin to head north to Helena on your great Montana road trip. Helena  is the state capital of Montana and the county seat of Lewis and Clark County. There is a wealth of things to do here and you should take full advantage of your stay here by visiting the numerous cultural and historical points located through this city of nearly 30,000, but you’ve had a long flight and we would recommend heading to Mt. Helena Park and getting some of that fresh Rocky Mountain air. Take the 3 mile round-trip 1906 Trail to the top of Mt. Helena for amazing views of Helena and the surrounding mountains. After your hike, head back into town and enjoy the many things to do in Helena.

Best quick bite:

Karmadillos

Best shopping and history lesson:

Reeder’s Alley

Best people watching:

Last Chance Gulch

Best place to shop local:

The Base Camp

Best place to grab dinner:

Silver Star Steak House

Best place for a local brew:

Blackfoot River Brewing Company

DAY 2: Helena to Great FAlls

1.5 hours/90 miles

Leaving Helena, you will be traveling up the 15 as it winds its way along the bank of the Missouri River. Before you get to Great Falls, however, take the time to stop at Tower Rock State Park. Located about halfway between Helena and Great Falls, its a great little park and the perfect spot to get some some photos of the Wide Missouri. Great Falls is the largest town in Montana and has a myriad of things to do, but your first stop should be the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. Located on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River in Giant Springs Heritage State Park, this visitors center provides information and exhibits about Lewis and Clark’s famous journey, including their infamous portage around the “Great Falls of the Missouri”. Great Falls is a city of museums, and there at least a dozen to choose from, but the Malmstrom Air Force Base Museum is definitely not too be missed. Free to the public, this museum is the largest collection of model military aircraft displays in the Northwest and a reconstruction of World War II barracks. Other parts of the museum include uniforms, a section of a module from an early Minuteman launch control center, a cutaway of a Minuteman silo, and several displays that preserve the history and heritage of the base.

Best place to grab a quick bite:

5th Street Diner

Best way to stretch your legs:

River’s Edge Trail

Best place to cool off:

Electric City Water Park

Best place to get a drink while also watching women dressed as mermaids swim in a pool behind the bar:

Sip and Dip Bar

Best place to stay:

Murphy’s House

Best place to for coffee and breakfast:

A Family Affair

DAY 3 through 6: Great Falls to East Glacier Park


2 hours 18 minutes/117 miles

Today you are leaving the Missouri behind and striking west to Glacier National Park and the border town of East Glacier. There are two ways to get to Eat Glacier, but we would recommend taking the more scenic route of Hwy 89, instead of I-15.
East Glacier Park is a small village amid spectacular scenery. You’ll find motels, several restaurants, grocery store and deli, picnic supplies, car rentals and shuttle services, horse rentals, historic lodge, nine-hole golf course, the east entrance to Glacier National Park, bars, gift shops, laundromats, ATM, Catholic Church, and filling station. 
What you will NOT find here are banking, health care, prescription pharmacy, beauty salon, automotive mechanic, big-chain hotels, fast-food or nightlife, so keep this in mind as you prepare to spend a few day here. Why a few days? Because Glacier National Park is an experience of a lifetime and to not spend at least three days here would be a mistake. On the third day you will drive through the park to the Our recommendation would be to arrive in East Glacier, find a room in one of the many great motels, and head into the park.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is a 1,583-sq.-mi. wilderness area in Montana’s Rocky Mountains, with glacier-carved peaks and valleys running to the Canadian border. It is at once a transformative experience. The towering granite spires and crystal clear alpine lakes crossed by the mountainous Going-to-the-Sun Road highlights the 25 active glaciers in the park. With more than 700 miles of hiking trails, Glacier National Park, has plenty of elbow room for you to sound your barbaric yawp, but there are plenty of road turnouts and parking areas for photogenic masterpieces. One of the great hikes of the park is to Hidden Lake. The hike to Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park begins from the west side of the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Other activities include backpacking, cycling and camping. Diverse wildlife ranges from mountain goats to grizzly bears. Our advice for forays into the park would be to first head to the East Glacier Park Chamber of Commerce for information and maps about the area. After acclimating yourself to the area, head north on to the Saint Mary Entrance and Visitor Center. From here, the whole of the park is at your fingertips.

Can’t miss it:

Going to the sun road

Best hike to see the glaciers: 

Garden Wall Trail

Best short hike:

Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail

Best picnic spot:

Avalance Creek Picnic Area

Classic National Park eatery:

Ptarmigan Dining Room

Best hike in for an overnight stay:

Granite Park Chalet

Best place to take a selfie:

Logan Pass

Quick stroll to a waterfall:

Running Eagle Falls

Best overlook:

Goat Haunt

Best place for home-made huckleberry pie:

Nell’s at Swiftcurrent

DAY 7: Kalispell

1 hour 23 minutes/69 miles

It’s back to civilization today and the big west town of Kallispell. Depending on how long you spend going over Going To The Sun Road, you will most likely be getting into Kallispel in the afternoon. The first thing you should do is grab a bite to eat, find a place to stay and head out to explore all the great things there are to do in this city.

Best place to stock up on gear:

Snappy’s

Best taco:

Red’s Taco House

Best place to go for a hike:

Wayfarers State Park-Flathead Lake

Best place to see wild horses and big horn sheep co-habitate:

Wayfarers State Park-Flathead Lake

Best place to shop local:

Kalispell Farmer’s Market

Where the locals go for dinner:

Desoto Grill

Drink local:

Kalispell Brewing Company

Dance local:

Blue Moon Nite Club

DAY 8: Kalispell to Missoula

2 hours/122 miles

Go Grizzlys! Today you head to the fantastic university town of Missoula. But on your drive down Flathead Lake you will go through the small lake town of Polson. In Polson, there is a museum called the Miracle Museum of America. Stop here. It is one of the craziest, most interesting and slightly alarming museums that you will ever go to. There really isn’t any way to describe it so we will let it describe itself. “The Miracle of America Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of one of the largest collections of American history.” Make time for this museum, you will not be disappointed. Missoula is a really fun town and you are going to have to make a choice if you want to do all the outdoor activities, all the indoor activities or a mixture of both. A great place to start you decision making process though, would be to head to the visitor’s bureau; Destination Missoula. They wil be able to help you fine tune your trip, but in the meantime, here are a few suggestions.

Great place for a hike:

Blue Mountain Recreation Area

Best Missoula thing ever:

A Carousel For Missoula

Best place to grab a quick bite:

Five on Black Brazilian Cafe

Can’t miss it:

Brennan’s Wave-a man made kayaking wave in the heart of downtown Missoula

Best place for a picnic:

Caras Park

Where the locals eat:

The Depot

Drink local:

TAke your Pick-Missoula has 10 breweries, 2 distilleries and one cider house

Best place to catch a show:

The Top Hat

DAY 8: Missoula to Butte via Phillipsburg

2 hours

Today you head out through the Lolo National Forest to Butte. Its a relatively short drive, but this will give you a chance to have a lazy breakfast at the best breakfast joint in Missoula, Paul’s Pancake Parlor. After that, head south to little mining town of Phillipsburg. Stop at Montana Gems to mine for precious stones before spending an hour or so at the Granite County Museum. From Philipsburg, its just a short drive into Butte. Butte is the county seat of Silver Bow County, Montana and has a long and fascinating history with mining and the mining industry. There are numerous tours and museums dedicated to this rich history, but one not-to-be-missed tour is the Old Butte Historical Adventure Tour. Two hours in length, the tour takes you through some of the more interesting and quirky aspects of Butte, including a tour through the old jail.

Great place for a hike:

Big Butte Open Area

Best historical visit:

The Dumas Brothel

Other best historical visit:

The Mai Wah
 

Best place for a quick bite:

Front Street Market

Best place to cool off:

Ridge Waters Park

Best place to have a upscale dinner:

The Uptown Cafe

DAY 9: Butte to West Yellowstone via Virginia City

3 hours/150 miles

As you pull away from Butte you are going to take a little trip back into time s you head towards Yellowstone National Park. Virginia City Montana was born with the discovery of gold in AlderGulch in 1863. A boom town of the post Civil War era, Virginia City served as the Montana Territorial Capital for 10 years, until the gold ran out. Just a mile away lies Nevada City, a western town created from a collection of buildings from other ghost towns. Both towns have been largely restored and preserved and have become living examples of the real Old West. These two towns are definitely worth your time, so plan on spending at least a few hours here. At almost 7,000 feet above sea level and almost exactly halfway between the equator and the North Pole, West Yellowstone is a great place to get some civilization after your sabbatical in the wilderness. Located in Gallatin County, Montana, West Yellowstone is a great place to stay and experience many of the great museums, historical centers, an Imax and, of course, zipplines!

Best way to fly through the air:

Yellowstone Aerial Adventure

Best store-ever:

Eagle’s Store

Best place to learn about wolves

Grizzly And Wolf Discovery Center

Best place to grab a bite:

Canyon Street Grill

Best place to stay:

Stage Coach Inn

Best place to grab coffee and breakfast:

Running Bear Pancake House

DAY 10 and 11: Yellowstone National PArk

You can’t come all the way to Wyoming and not spend at least four days exploring these two amazing parks, there is so much to do and see, to try to do it in one day would be depriving yourself of a truly grand experience. . Once you reach the eastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park don’t forget to grab a park map. In that map you will be able to see anything and everything that may spark your interest during your park journey. Remember, Yellowstone covers a huge area of land. If you want to get the best experience without a lot of driving we suggest staying one night within Yellowstone National Park.

SOME ATTRACTIONS IN YELLOWSTONE:

LAKE BUTTE OVERLOOK
FISHING BRIDGE VISITORS CENTER
YELLOWSTONE LAKE
MUD VOLCANO
SULPHUR CALDRON
VIRGINIA CASCADE
BERYL SPRING

Best place for wildlife:

The Lamar Valley

Best hike:

Storm Point Nature Trail

Best place to ride a horse:

Lodges of East Yellowstone

Best point of interest:

Lake Yellowstone Hotel

Best Iconic American Landmark:

Old Faithful

Cant’s Miss it:

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Emerald Pool

DAY 11 and 12: Grand Teton National Park and Jackson

Grand Tetons during our Yellowstone road trip

We hope that you explored all you wanted to in Yellowstone National Park because it’s time leave the geothermal natural wonders behind and head south for a more relaxed experience in Grand Teton National Park. You really aren’t prepared for the beauty until you actually experience these mountains up close. Today you are going to explore crystal clear lakes, flowing rivers, and great spots for photography all with the rugged Grand Tetons next to you. If you really want to enjoy Grand Teton National Park you can avoid the crowds and bike on the many trails throughout the park. We have attached a map below of the park so you can plan your trip to its full potential. After you have been blown away by the Grand Tetons let’s head towards Jackson. As you approach the famous tourist town of Wyoming, look left. That is because the National Elk Refuge is right here, which offers tons of activities to explore if you want to get up close with the herd. Once you get to Jackson it’s time to enjoy the art culture, cowboy bars, delicious restaurants, and vibrant vibes! If you want to see it all from above we suggest taking a ride up the Aerial Tram! It really doesn’t matter what time of year you are in Jackson, you will definitely have a great time!

Best road for photo ops:

Signal Mountain Summit Road

Best hike:

Colter Bay Lakeshore

Best museum:

National Museum of Wildlife Art

Best place to shop:

Downtown Jackson

Can’t miss it:

Carriage Ride through the National Elk Refuge

Best local brew:

Snake River Brewing

DAY 13 and 14: Back to Bozeman

2.5 hours/142 miles

Ahhh Bozeman, Montana! This is a really fun town and a great way to finish off your trip. It is a university town, and has all the fun that goes along with that, but it is also a great cultural and artistic city with a myriad of outdoor recreation opportunities. Once you get into town, find a place to stay. There are many places but we would recommend you get a room at the The Lark. Located near all the great things there are to do in Downtown Bozeman, the Lark was voted “Loved by Guests-Most Wanted” award from hotels.com. It’s a great hotel with the added bonus of having one of the best taco trucks, Victory Tacos located right on the property. From here, Bozeman is at your fingertips. The staff at the hotel are trained and immensely helpful in providing you with all kinds of information on things to do, so just ask.

Best short hike:

Grotto Falls Trail

Best place to catch the sunset:

Peets Hill/Burke Park

Most eclectic shopping:

East Main Trading Company

Best place to catch a live show:

Rialto Bozeman

Best place to get some history:

Gallatin History Museum

Stock up on gear:

Crazy Mountain Outdoor Company

Best place for a stroll:

Downtown Bozeman

Best place for dinner:

Anywhere on Main Street

Best night out:

Bozeman Spirits Distillery

Where the locals get breakfast:

CatEye Cafe