I know this is a lot to pack into an 9 day trip and have considered flying into Rapid City and out of Denver but the extra expense doesn't justify the 7 hours of drive time savings to me at this point.
My 26 year old daughter and I will be making this trip in mid-September and want it to be a great American Road Trip (minus the long drive from Wisconsin). She really wants to do the SD part and we don't mind driving. My daughter is a zookeeper and we love to spot wildlife. I am a photographer and hope to get some nice shots during good times of light.
Arrive in Denver at 7:30 am
Drive to Keystone, SD area via Crazy Horse
Mount Rushmore evening lighting ceremony
Overnight – Near Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park, Needles Highway
Drive to Sheridan via Spearfish Canyon and Devil’s Tower
Overnight – Sheridan, WY
Drive to Cooke City via Red Lodge (lunch) and the Beartooth Highway (evening)
Overnight – Cooke City, MT
Lamar Valley wildlife watch early AM
Mammoth area, Indian Creek, Mount Washburn hike (part of it), Tower Fall
Evening wildlife watch at Lamar Valley
Overnight – Cooke City, MT
Early morning wildlife watch at Lamar Valley
Area east of Fishing Bridge, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone , Yellowstone Lake, Norris Campground
area (Elk in rut), Norris basin at sunset
Overnight – Old Faithful Lodge
Geysers at sunrise, Firehole Lake Drive, hike to Fairy Falls, Gibbon Falls
Drive to Grand Teton in the afternoon
Oxbow Bend at sunset
Overnight – GTNP
Schaubacher Landing at sunrise
Moultons Barn, Snake River Overlook
Jenny Lake and Signal Lake hike
Drive to Rock Springs
Overnight – Rock Springs, WY
Drive to Morrison, CO. Go via Steamboat Springs and Rocky Mountain NP if time
Jason Mraz at Red Rocks Amphitheater
Overnight – Denver
Depart DEN at 10:00 am
Any feedback will be welcomed!
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