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Trip List by StrandsDanville

Denver Loop-Black Hill, Badland,Yellowstone,Grand Teton,Rocky Mtn, NP In 16 days

12 May 2010  Share research and findings to assist fellow travelers with their planning.
5.0 of 5 stars based on 18 votes

This 16 day travel list provides maps, planning suggestions and narratives for a wonderful 2,800 mile drive starting and ending in Denver. The loop explores Badlands NP and Black Hills National Forest (Mt Rushmore & Custer State Park) in South Dakota, Little Big Horn in Montana, Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP in Wyoming and concludes with a drive and stays in Steamboat Springs, Rocky Mountain NP and the town of Boulder in Colorado!

Our Road Trip took place from August 31 to September 15, 2010. The original intent was to share my trip research to possibly give other travelers a jump start on their own plans. Overall, 98% of the trip went exactly as planned. We had a wonderful time and we highly recommend the route to everyone!

  • 1. Great Loop-Colo | S Dak | Mont | Wyo | Colorado

    What makes this LOOP GREAT?

    Even though the distances are long in some sections of this journey, the route offers a proper length of time, 15 full days, to really see these locations in-depth and it offers economic logistical savings by flying into and out of the same airport, Denver with no drop off fees for renting a vehicle. Plus the National Parks are awesome as well!

    While my interest in natural history has added very little to my sum of achievement, it has added immeasurably to my sum of enjoyment in life.
    -Theodore Roosevelt

    Aussies and US residents of the Western US find these driving distances to be quite enjoyable because they think nothing of a 100 mile (160KM) drive just to visit friends. While residents of the UK and Europe many times underestimate just how far these distances really are. When planning these trips it is easy to add destinations but an ordeal to drive to them. Just a heads up for planning and budgeting total days!

    Here is a Google Map showing the main destination points:

    tinyurl.com/GREAT-LO0P - Paste into browser. There is an option to switch to KM.

    Unfortunately Tripadvisor Traveler List's limit entries to no more than 25 characters. That is why there are NO hyperlinks but instead tinyurls. For each one you must paste the tinyurl in the browser to display the web page.

    HOW TO BEST USE THIS TRAVELERS LIST:

    The format for planning each day is ALL the same:

    First = ALL the things we would "like" to do: This running list is created from Tripadvisor Things To Do, reading forums and personal postings. Also part of this listing are identified great scenic drives. For example, as a priority, Beartooth and Chief Joseph Highways located very close to the Northeast gate in Yellowstone, changed the original route to include Little Big Horn and "unfortunately" made us "trade" an evening in Deadwood, SD. This actually turned about to be extremely lucky. We visited Deadwood in the late morning for 20 minutes and found it to be one of the worst places we have ever visited on the planet. For activities I truly want to do everything, except camp, so I believe the list for each area is pretty comprehensive. But reality is you must choose what to do given your time constraints and of course your personal "like" to dos!

    The next step I do is create a Google Map with ALL the things we would "like" to do, to include markers for scenic drives. This yields a terrific visual where everything is plus distances and travel times. Then with Google you can arrange these is in order for logistic efficiency. I provide an ALL Google Map in each section for you to see! This can be a starting point for your own planning. Add any gems you may unearth, delete what does not appeal and arrange in a nice flowing order to suit your own points of interest and how much time you can spend in these fabulous locals!

    Also I try and provide 2 reference sources that helped me the most in creating my "like" list.

    Second = So now with one day we must choose! After creating the comprehensive list I then discuss the day and attractions with the Mrs! Things then start to rapidly change. I give a brief narrative on what we considered and why we eliminated certain options. Most of it is too much to see and not enough time!

    Finally = Here's how we ended up for our day trip plan! I give what our plan will be for the day and a new Google Map showing just our plan (SD = StrandsDanville)

    Quotes - Added for "thought" are some quotes which I find germane or amusing!

    Use the Old Farmers Almanac for Sunrise/Sunset to plan your evening sunset toasts or early morning sunrises and also for next year's forecast to assess potential rainfall and probable temperatures! (paste into browser)

    tinyurl.com/EARTH-SUN
    tinyurl.com/EARTH-FUTURE

    Here are Trip Segments,Overnights and Elevations:

    3 Nights=Keystone, SD (4400FT/1340M)
    1 Nights=Sheridan, WY (3900FT/1190M)
    1 Nights=Cody, WY (5100FT/1555M)
    4 Nights= Yellowstone, WY (8000FT/2435M)
    1 Nights= Grand Teton, WY (6400FT/1950M)
    1 Nights= Jackson, WY (6200FT/1890M)
    1 Nights= Steamboat Springs, CO (6700FT/2040M)
    2 Nights= Estes Park, CO (7500FT/2285M)
    1 Nights= Boulder, CO (5400FT/1645M)

    Trip Ideas: Traveling almost exclusively through National Parks puts wildlife viewing, photography and picnics at a high level. The "higher" altitudes, even in summer can bring unexpected lows to include possible snow flurries in July. For packing, we are purchasing the Igloo Cooler (Vertical HLC 20) with easy access lid and removable, hard liner (12Hx13Lx8W) and taking 2 compressible day packs for hiking. The cooler will be used as a "carry-on" for the plane where we will store our netbook, binoculars, Garmin 265W GPS with bean bag mount, video and still cameras, connecting cables, battery rechargers and excess "overflow" "layers" of clothing to cushion the electronics. We will have the car (full size) for the entire trip. So the cooler will turn into our portable refrigerator with picnic supplies, drinks and room provisions. Note: this cooler also easily fits into the basket on any motorized golf cart!

    Naturally this "idea" was gleaned from a fellow tripadvisor. This negated the idea to stop at a Wal-Mart in Rapid City, SD to purchase a "disposable" cooler for this trip!

    Bear Spray: After much research and mixed decision-making, we decided to purchase 2 cans of Bear Spray with carrying holsters (boo). First it is very expensive (Counter Attack (brand) 8 oz with holster about $64). It is NOT allowed on the airlines, even in your checked luggage. We will stop at REI in Westminster (bought a week in advance and placed at "will call" for pickup) on the way to Keystone and then return only 1 set in Boulder (my debatable rationale of being "fair"). We will then send via UPS the other set to our home for probable use in Yosemite. The spray shoots a mist of "pepper" solution for 8-9 seconds out about 25-30 feet. You lose if you are downwind from the bear and the spray blows back at you. I would like to open a Bear Spray rental stand in Yellowstone. It would be quite the honey pot!

    Happy Planning!

  • 2. Black Hills National Forest - Keystone, Hill City or Custer 3 Night Base
    Black Hills National Forest, Custer, South Dakota

    The forum is filled with pros and cons on where to base while staying in the Black Hills National Forest. After reading many posts and viewing the logistical locations for each city we decided upon Keystone!

    What sold us is the K Bar S Lodge which is on the "outskirts" of the not overly charming town of Keystone. The location offers a view from our balcony of Mount Rushmore which we plan to visit in the evening and also in the morning two days later. Plus it is a closer starting point for our day trip to Badlands NP and when we depart for Devils Tower and beyond. IF we were campers, then we would have chosen from Custer's campgrounds hands down!

    Coming from Denver Airport there are 2 road options to get to the K Bar S Lodge:

    tinyurl.com/KEY-ROUTES Paste into browser

    One is a quicker route on highway 385, circling through Hill City. The other is along the
    Peter Norbeck's National Scenic Byway (Iron Mountain Road) Also, if time permits, this "second" route passes through Hot Springs where you may want to stop and visit the Mammoth Site!

    Since we are enduring a long day, we will take the most direct route. But on our day to visit Custer State Park, we will leave early in the morning for a drive down Iron Mountain Road and then along the Wilderness Loop. What forced this decision to morning from early evening is we want to enjoy a late dinner at the Blue Bell Lodge and we do not want to drive on Iron Mountain Road after dark. Probably because we cannot see anything and its teeming with hairpin turns!

    Keystone also offers The National Presidential Wax Museum (9 to 5) Unfortunately we will not have time to see this attraction!

    "I want, somewhere in America, on or near the Rockies, the backbone of the Continent, so far removed from succeeding, selfish, coveting civilizations, a few feet of stone that bears witness, carries the likeness, the dates, a word or two of the great things we accomplished as a Nation, placed so high it won't pay to pull them down for lesser purposes.
    -Gutzon Borglum, Mt Rushmore, Sculptor

    Here is a link tinyurl.com/KEY-ACTION for the town activities!

  • 3. Mount Rushmore National Memorial - Next Door Neighbor!
    Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone, South Dakota

    Mount Rushmore Memorial is an American Iconic site. 4 US President's (Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson & Teddy Roosevelt) with 60 foot granite portraits sculptured by Gutzon Borglum.

    "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth".
    -George Washington

    "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy".
    -Abraham Lincoln

    ALL the things we would "like" to do: Monument opens at 8AM. Join the ranger walk (30 min) at the beginning of the Presidential Trail, hear the Sculptor's Studio Talk (15 min), visit the Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota Heritage Village (10-30 min), tour through the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, sit in the amphitheater for the Evening Program (8 or 9 dependent on month), rent for $5 the audio tour (30-120 min) for narration as we explore the Memorial, view the carvings from Grand View Terrace and walk the complete circular Presidential Trail.

    Here are 2 excellent references for your planning:

    tinyurl.com/MRM-MAP (Paste into browser) Gives detail of Memorial with attractions and trail route. Actual page from National Park Service site.

    tinyurl.com/NPS-SITE (paste into browser) Home page of National Parks Service

    "Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty".
    -Thomas Jefferson

    "If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month".
    -Theodore Roosevelt

    Staying at the K Bar S Lodge makes Mount Rushmore our next door neighbor. Our plan the first evening of our arrival, about 6PM, is to have a simple dinner at Big Time Pizza and then head to Mount Rushmore for the 8PM evening program. We actually ate at 8:45 after the ceremony. The Russian beer is really good! We want to see the Memorial during the day as well. So our final day before heading to Devils Tower and beyond we will stop first thing, rent the audio player and take a walk on the Presidential Trail (this was better than the evening ceremony, by far). Our goal for these 2 visits is to do everything on our......we would "like" to do list!

    Note: On a tripadvisor forum I learned about the walkable route from K Bar S Lodge to Mount Rushmore...."A walk up Laferty Gulch is quite feasible and is only about two miles. (up hill all the way) The road into Laferty Gulch is about a quarter mile west of the entrance to the K-Bar_S, right across the road from a small railroad shed. You follow the gravel road about a half mile, passing a half dozen or so summer cabins. When the gravel ends, you follow the gulch up past the Mt. Rushmore waste treatment where the gravel starts again. Just bear right all the way up to Rushmore".

    There is a possibility, for some exercise, that we will walk through the woods to Mount Rushmore and have the limo pick us up after the evening light show from K Bar S Lodge!

    Reality about the hike from K Bar was I spent a lot of wasted planning time. The hike is NOT worth it. Way too steep. We did not even try once we saw the conditions. Instead park your car in the first covered garage you see after the "toll plaza" Grab one of the limited slots outside the covered garage if you can. When the evening ceremony ends you can easily beat the crowds and the parking garage bumper to bumper by parking at the lower "escape" level. This allowed us to make last pizza call at Big Time Pizza! Also the fee (ours was $10, it's probably $100 know) covers the entire year. So when you return in the AM, there is no additional fee.

  • 4. Badlands National Park - Day Trip From Keystone
    Badlands National Park, South Dakota

    Badlands National Park is primarily about overlooks of geological formations, fossils and just enjoying the beauty with some hikes, a picnic and a missile silo thrown in! The park is divided in 2 by Highway 44 which delineates the North Unit and the South Unit.

    "I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands".
    -Frank Lloyd Wright

    ALL the things we would "like" to do: See the sunrise from an overlook, stop in Rapid City at the Wal-Mart for an ice chest (dropped by buying a Igloo Cooler (Vertical HLC 20) which will serve as a carry-on for the plane), buy picnic foods, apples for the burros in Custer State Park and other room/road snacks at Safeway on Mount Rushmore Road, tour the South Dakota School of Mines free Museum of Geology (9AM to 5PM) in Rapid City, drive highway 44 along the Buffalo Gap Grassland for scenic vistas, explore in the South Unit White River Center and surrounding terrain, take the Ranger guided walk for Geology (8:30AM) and attend a Fossil Talk (10:30, 1:30 or 3:30), tour the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (1.5 hours, either 9:00AM or 1:30PM), hike several short trails (Door, Window & Notch), stop at all the overlooks along scenic loop 240 (photos> tinyurl.com/240-overlook (paste into browser and click on Badlands National Park), visit Roberts Prairie Dog Town down Sage Creek Rim Drive (gravel road), enjoy a picnic at one of the overlook sites, tour the Wounded Knee Museum (8:30AM to 5:30PM), stop in at Wall Drug (7AM to 7PM) to see the kitsch, enjoy dinner at the Red Rock restaurant, see the sunset from an overlook with a champagne toast and get back to Keystone not completely but almost exhausted!

    Here are 3 excellent references for your planning:

    tinyurl.com/BADLANDS-PLAN (Paste into browser) Offers suggested plans, maps, ranger tour times, science, just terrific!

    www.badlandsinfo.com/ Offers more information on all the Things To Do

    tinyurl.com/BADLAND-TRAIL Excellent trail photo and map site.

    Here is a Google Map I prepared with ALL our "wish" destinations:

    tinyurl.com/BAD-ALL Paste into browser

    POINT D - POINT H = Highway 44 Scenic Drive & POINT E = South Unit White River
    POINT K = Prairie Dog Town

    "Life is a great adventure...accept it in such a spirit".
    - Theodore Roosevelt

    So now with one day we must choose: Sunrise for us is 6:16 and sunset is 7:29. Sunrise is too early, so we will stay for the sunset! The first destination to eliminate is the South Unit (BIA Hwy 2/BIA Hwy 27 on Google Map). Too far, not developed, used for WWII aerial bombing practice and still is littered with unexploded ordnance. Too bad there is only one ranger Geology Walk because it is too early for us to participate. We will substitute the Museum of Geology at the School. Set time priorities are the Minuteman Missile tour at 1:30PM (need to call (605) 433-5552 one week in advance for reservation. Make sure to call EXACTLY when the phone line opens. These tours book up very fast due to logistical constraints. You actually drive to 2 sites on I-90, caravan style, as part of the tour) then the ranger Fossil Talk at 3:30PM. Since we eliminated South Unit, we also eliminated the drive on Highway 44. After research and posting on the forum, the added time, potential construction delays and limited scenery pushed us to the interstate I-90!

    Here's how we ended up for our day trip plan: Leave Keystone at 7:45 to allow time for shopping and getting to the Museum of Geology when it opens at 9. Then drive to Wall and visit the Wounded Knee Museum (30 minutes) and spend 45 minutes at Wall Drug. Grab a fast food bite at Dairy Queen (prefer picnic but no time) before heading to the 1:30PM, 1.5 hour tour (just terrific, do not miss) of Minuteman Missile Historical Site and attend 3:30 ranger Fossil Talk at Fossil Exhibit Trail (up a ways on "overlook" road) inside the park. Head back towards park entrance to Ben Reifel visitor center then enjoy Notch trail hike (40 minutes) with its "suspension" ladder and rewarding end of trail vista. Follow scenic up hill 240 towards Wall, stopping to enjoy each overlook along the "Badlands Wall". Go off road to Roberts Prairie Town and continue along Sage Creek Rim Drive and follow Sage Creek Road back to Wall. Then have dinner at the Red Rock restaurant before returning to Keystone.

    Here is our final Google Map plan:

    tinyurl.com/BADLANDS-SD Paste into browser

    POINT J = Prairie Dog Town

    Happy Planning!

  • 5. Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
    Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Interior, South Dakota

    See review StrandsDanville

    "Extraordinary Tour!"

  • 6. Custer State Park & Attractions - Day Trip From Keystone
    Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota

    Custer State Park is a 71,000 acre recreational paradise, interspersed with fabulous scenic drives, teeming with wildlife to observe, geography to experience, Native American history and today's South Dakotan's whom make this a very special place to visit!

    "I would be willing, yes glad, to see a battle every day during my life".
    -George Armstrong Custer

    ALL the things we would "like" to do: take a slow drive around the Southern end Wilderness Loop road for the scenery, wildlife and an opportunity to feed an apple to a burro (best in early morning or evening before dusk offers more wildlife), travel the Needles Highway 87 from Legion Lake to Sylvan Lake, stop and see the Needles Eye and/or drive through it, near Sylvan Lake hike up Mount Harney Peak on trail #9 and/or lesser Little Devil's Tower trail #4 and/or the 3 hour Sunday Gulch trail, take a walk around man made Sylvan Lake, travel Highway 16A on the former Governor Peter Norbeck's National Scenic Byway - Iron Mountain Road, tour Jewel Cave National Monument (8:30 to 7:00 Summer Other 5:30, variety of tours every hour, call 605-673-8300 7 days in advance to reserve for "specialty (lantern, climbing) tours only, last 1.5 to 1.75 hours), visit in Hill City Black Hills Institute Museum (9:00 to 7:00), visit Crazy Horse Memorial (8:00 to Dark), tour and shop at Four Mile Old West Town, take 2 hour tour at The Wild Horse Sanctuary (9, 11, 1 and 3), tour Wind Cave National Park (8 to 6, variety of tours every hour, advanced reservations for specialty tours only (605) 745-4600, last 1.5 to 2 hours), enjoy a picnic at Sylvan Lake or on the trail, enjoy buffalo dinner at Blue Bell Lodge - Tantanka dining room, visit The 1881 Courthouse Museum (10 to 4), visit the National Museum of Woodcarving (9 to 7), visit the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs.

    Here are 2 excellent references for your planning:

    tinyurl.com/CUSTER-MAP (Paste into browser) Provides excellent detail for area!
    http://gfp.sd.gov/ South Dakota Game Fish & Parks website, locate Custer Park for history, fees, detail trail map, etc

    Here is a Google Map I prepared with ALL our "wish" destinations:

    tinyurl.com/CUSTER-ALL Paste into browser
    POINTS N TO P = Wilderness Loop
    POINTS J TO L = Needles Highway
    POINTS P TO Q = Iron Mountain Rd Governor Peter Norbeck's National Scenic Byway

    "A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky".
    -Crazy Horse, Sioux Chief

    So now with one day we must choose: We have one entire day and evening to see Custer Park so unfortunately our must sees will eliminate other attractions because of time and a desire to not over do it! First we want to drive on all the scenic byways, there is time to tour only one cave so for logistics and a desire to see the boxwork formations we chose Wind Cave, no time to picnic at Sylvan Lake but we can still hike around it (45 minutes) and adjacent Sunday Gulch trail (3 hours), visit the Crazy Horse Memorial and enjoy dinner at the Blue Bell Lodge. The Mrs, even though she rode equestrian in her youth, did not like the idea of the Wild Horse Sanctuary. She also poo-pahed the National Museum of Woodcarving but this is still unsettled in my mind! The Mammoth Site was lukewarm for both of us and bit out of the way. Our biggest dilemma is how to drive on the Iron Mountain Road because we want to enjoy a late dinner at Blue Bell Lodge. This will "force" our tour of the Wilderness Loop to the early morning from the preferred early evening.

    "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
    -Mick Jagger

    Here's how we ended up for our day trip plan: After an enjoyable hot breakfast at K Bar S Lodge, we will drive along the scenic highway via the Iron Mountain Road, hook up with with the Wilderness Loop at Legion Lake, then head to Wind Cave for the 1.25 hour, Natural Entrance Cave Tour at 11:00 (not our preferred tour), then for lunch we will enjoy Indian Tacos at the Laughing Water restaurant with its view of the Crazy Horse stone memorial, tour the facility, drive to Sylvan Lake and hike the Sunday Gulch Trail loop and circle the lake, then finish the Needles Highway heading for dinner at the Blue Bell Lodge then back via highway 385 to "home" at the K Bar S Lodge!

    Note: Based on how the day is going, we may have time for The 1881 Courthouse Museum, a brief stop at Four Mile shops and of course the National Museum of Woodcarving!

    Here is our final Google Map plan:

    tinyurl.com/CUSTER-SD Paste into browser

    What is truly AMAZING, without too much of a stretch, is our route forms the shape of a BISON!

    Happy Planning!

  • 7. Scenic Drives-Keystone to Deadwood, Spearfish Canyon, Devils Tower, Sheridan
    Devil's Tower National Monument, Devils Tower, Wyoming

    Time to transition towards Yellowstone via Little Big Horn and Cody. Our primary goal, for 2 driving days of around 315 miles each leg, is to tour the most scenic drives. We will include attractions along the way with some time taken for picnics and/or a hike!

    Originally we were going to spend one night in Deadwood. But given our days and a "high" priority to drive Beartooth Summit Highway 212 and Chief Joseph State Highway 296 in Northeastern Yellowstone, we skipped Deadwood (thank goodness) and added Little Big Horn as a stop along the way!

    "Close Encounter of the Third Kind - Contact. WE ARE NOT ALONE "
    -ET

    "I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown."
    -- Woody Allen

    ALL the things we would "like" to do: After breakfast before hitting the road take a morning tour of Mt Rushmore with an audio tour and hike around the Presidential Trail, stop in Deadwood and tour Adams Museum (9 to 5) and/or Adams House, visit Saloon #10 and have lunch at the Deadwood Social Club or picnic on trail hike in Spearfish Canyon, drive scenic Spearfish Canyon Highway 14 stopping for short hikes near Spearfish Canyon Lodge, hike Roughlock Falls (1.25 miles, 1 hour or drive past parking lot down gravel road to trailhead for shorter time, site for Dances With Wolves scenes) and/or Little Spearfish Falls (.5 hour loop), take the scenic drive towards Belle Fourche to hike the Tower Trail around the base of Devils Tower National Monument (1.25 miles) and see the prairie dog town, drive to Sheridan for the night at the Wingate By Wyndham and dinner at 1893 Grille & Spirits.

    Here are 2 excellent references for your planning:

    Paste into browser:

    http://www.trails.com/ Excellent subscriber site with interactive trail detail. Under Trail Finder, just click on the State (South Dakota) and zoom in for lists!

    tinyurl.com/DEVIL-TOWER US National Park site for Devils Tower

    Here is a Google Map I prepared with ALL our "wish" destinations:

    tinyurl.com/DEVIL-ALL Paste into browser

    So now with one day we must choose: With at least 320 miles of driving, this day is dictated by our desired arrival time in Sheridan. We are targeting 7:00 with dinner around 7:45. Working backwards and being at Mt Rushmore until 10:00 and arriving at Devils Tower National Monument at 2:00 leaving at 4:00, it really compressed the afternoon window of things we wanted to do. At a minimum we want to at least drive through the town of Deadwood with one stop and enjoy a picnic on one of the trail hikes around Spearfish Canyon Lodge. The drive time alone from Deadwood to Devils Tower is around 2 hours making the final choices difficult!

    "When people want to know about you and your life it invariably means that bad things have happened to you rather than good things".
    -Calamity Jane

    Here's how we ended up for our day trip plan: Enjoy a final hot breakfast at K Bar S Lodge, arrive at Mt Rushmore at 8:30, leaving at 10, travel to Deadwood to only see the interior of Saloon #10 (HUGE mistake, avoid Deadwood at all costs), drive to upper trailhead for Roughlock Falls and enjoy a picnic before the short 30 minute hike (fantastic), drove up dirt road to see Dances With Wolves film site (okay), then the almost 2 hour drive to Devils Tower for a walk around its base (fantastic) and a visit to Prairie Dog Town, followed by the traverse across northeastern Wyoming to Sheridan in time for a nice dinner (1893 Grille & Spirits = Pass on this establishment) to end another adventure filled day!

    Here is our final Google Map plan:

    tinyurl.com/DEVIL-T-SD Paste into browser

    Happy Planning!

  • 8. Wingate By Wyndham Hotel
    Wingate by Wyndham Sheridan, Sheridan, Wyoming
    CHECK RATES!
    Avg price: $208

    See review StrandsDanville

    "Beacon On The Hill!"

  • 9. 1893 Grille & Spirits
    1893 Grille & Spirits, Sheridan, Wyoming

    See review StrandsDanville

    "Overpriced Compared To Quality!"

  • 10. Scenic Drives-Sheridan to Little Big Horn, Northeastern Yellowstone, Cody
    Little Big Horn Battlefield, Crow Agency, Montana

    The main objective of today's route is to take a scenic driving tour, before the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone, from Red Lodge along the Beartooth and Chief Joseph Highways with an earlier stop at Little Big Horn National Monument and ending in the town of Cody for the 8PM rodeo (June to August) or a visit to Old Trail Town and the next day visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

    "If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man, he would have made me so in the first place".
    -Sitting Bull

    ALL the things we would "like" to do: visit Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument for 2 hours starting at the visitor center (8AM to 6 or 8PM), watch the 17 minute orientation movie, attend 2 ranger talks (Battle Talk/Contested Ground & Indian/7th Cavalry Memorial Walk), walk up the hill overlooking the battlefield, take the extended drive through the battlegrounds and definitely walk to the Native American Memorial called the "Spirit of the Plains", stop at Pompey's Pillar National Monument and walk the "boardwalk" to learn more about explorer Captain Clark (where's Lewis?), stop for lunch in Red Lodge at Sam's Tap Room to enjoy an IPA and a fancy sandwich, travel the Beartooth Scenic Highway, stop at Rock Creek Vista Point (20 miles from Red Lodge), at West Summit, the entrance to Shoshone National Forest, take the short road for views of the Absaroak Range and the famed Bear's Tooth, stop at Clay Butte Forest Service lookout tower (up 2.5 mi gravel road, 2 miles beyond Beartooth Lake), visit Crazy Creek Falls 2.5 miles from Chief Joseph Highway junction or with time permitting visit Cooke City, stop down gravel road (Wyoming 7GQ) at Sunlight Bridge for a view into Sunlight Gorge & Basin, stop at Dead Indian Overlook (summit) for wonderful panoramas, then reach The Cody (Do NOT stay here!) hotel in time for the rodeo or a stop at Old Trail Town (open until 8PM through Mid-September) and with dinner at the historic Irma Hotel. The next morning, before heading to Yellowstone via the East Entrance, tour The Buffalo Hill Historic Center for around 3 hours.

    Here are 2 excellent references for your planning:

    Paste into browser:
    tinyurl.com/NPS-BIG-HORN National Park Service site for Little Big Horn
    tinyurl.com/BEARTOOTH-HWY Description of Highway and points of interest

    Here is a Google Map I prepared with ALL our "wish" destinations:

    tinyurl.com/C0DY-ALL Paste into browser

    "It was because of my great interest in the West, and my belief that its development would be assisted by the interest I could awaken in others, that I decided to bring the West to the East through the medium of the Wild West Show".
    -William Fredrick "Buffalo Bill" Cody

    So now with one day we must choose: The Google Map for the entire day's scenic drive estimates 379 miles or close to 8 hours of driving. Sunset for us is 7:25PM, so we want to be in Cody before dusk. Unfortunately the Rodeo closes the end of August, so we will miss it. Instead we will visit Old Trail Town before checking into our Cody accommodation. For better pacing, we are eliminating a visit to Pompey's Pillar National Monument and a short visit to Cooke City. This brings the estimate to 324 MILES or just over 6 hours. With 2 hours at Little Big Horn, 1 hour for lunch in Red Lodge and leaving Sheridan at 8:00AM, this "should" easily make for a comfortable arrival in Cody by 7:00PM following a tour of Old Trail Town.

    Here's how we ended up for our day trip plan: With a early start around 8:00AM, we will arrive at Little Big Horn and spend 2 hours, then around 12:30PM enjoy lunch in Red Lodge at Sam's Tap Room before heading out for our 130 mile scenic drive with multiple stops to Cody. Before Cody we will visit Old Trail Town and then check into The Cody (Do NOT stay here). Dinner will be enjoyed at historic Hotel Irma. The next morning we will leave the Buffalo Bill Historic Center around 11:30AM and enjoy a very late picnic at beautiful Nez Perce Ford picnic area in Yellowstone before reaching Mud Volcano!

    Here is our final Google Map plan:

    tinyurl.com/CODY-SD-TOUR Paste into browser

    Happy Planning!

  • 11. Little Big Horn battlefield
    Little Big Horn Battlefield, Crow Agency, Montana

    See review StrandsDanville

    "Phenomenal Ranger Talk!"

  • 12. Sam's Tap Room
    Sam's Tap Room, Red Lodge, Montana

    See review StrandsDanville

    "Perfect Luncheon Stop Before Beartooth Summit!"

  • 13. The Cody
    The Cody Hotel, Cody, Wyoming
    CHECK RATES!
    Avg price: $254

    See review StrandsDanville

    "Don't Be Hoodwinked!"

    Do not stay here!!

  • 14. Yellowstone NP - 4 Nights= 2 Canyon,1 OF Snow Western Cabin,1 Lake
    Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

    Yellowstone National Park is America's first National Park! The Park is enormous covering 3467 square miles (8980 sq km) and intersects 3 States (Wyoming, Montana & Idaho - Of note: Park boundaries were established before State boundaries). "A National Park is a district controlled by the Government and preserved as far as possible in its wild and natural state, and that the wild animals, native to this territory, are permitted to roam at will over miles and miles of country".

    Our approach for this 4 night visit is primarily to gain a comprehensive overview of the Park, focus heavily on the geysers, observe the wildlife and gain some "education" of the Park's geology and history!

    "Yellowstone means many things to many people: bears and bison, geysers and colorful pools, hikes and horseback rides, distant vistas and the stillness of the backcountry. It can also mean clear dry western air, spectacular sunsets, and night skies so full of stars you think you're seeing to the end of the universe"
    - Janet Chapple

    Full planning credit goes to Janet Chapple, author of Yellowstone Treasures. Paste into browser: tinyurl.com/YNP-TREASURES = Buy this guidebook for Yellowstone - Superb! This is the finest guidebook I have ever read. You will be very impressed!

    The TREASURES link is to a map of Yellowstone. The park is extremely easy to plan your routes once you conceptualize its "simplistic" layout. The park is almost a large square with a large figure 8 in the middle. The figure 8 is the Upper and Lower Grand Loop highways. There are 5 entry points (West, North, Northeast, East & South) around the "square" to reach the figure 8. There is a "junction" where the entries meet and at the center "waist" there are 2 more internal "junctions" totaling 7. The guidebook explains in wonderful detail each "segment" of these intersecting points.

    We have 4 1/2 days starting from Cody. Our daily routes cover 5 "segments" and all of the figure 8.

    Here is a Google Map displaying our entire 5 "segment" route:

    tinyurl.com/YELL-5SEGS Paste into browser. We have it covered!

    For ALL the things we would "like" to do, we list from her book the "TREASURES": ** Don't Miss and * Worth The Time plus ALL the Less Known Beautiful Places: ** Great Fountain Geyser, Old Faithful Geyser, Grand Geyser, Riverside Geyser, Midway Geyser Basin Loop Walk (Grand Prismatic Spring Area), Inspiration Point, Artist Point, Old Faithful Inn, * Castle Geyser, Daisy Geyser, Fountain Paint Pot, Firehole Lake Drive, Crested Pool, Punch Bowl Spring and Black Sand Pool, Black Sand Basin Walking Tour, West Thumb Geyser Basin, Mud Volcano, Dragon's Mouth, Norris Geyser Basin, Porcelain Basin Vista, Mammoth Hot Springs Lower and Upper Terraces, Firehole Canyon Drive, View in Front of Lake Hotel, Grand View Stop Along North Rim Drive, Dunraven Pass and its trails, Tower Fall, Lake Hotel. Chapple Beautiful Places: Apollinaris Spring, Brink of Lower Falls, Firehole River behind Old Faithful Geyser, Floating Island Lake, Lake Butte, Lamar River Valley (Buffalo Ranch, evening light), Moose Falls, Nez Perce picnic area, Yellowstone River from Chittenden Bridge.

    So many places (36) and Google has a limit of 25 destinations! Here are the 2 maps to give a visual of the "treasure" locations:

    tinyurl.com/CHAPPLE-MUSTS The Grand Loops Locations
    tinyurl.com/CHAPPLE-OTHER The Grand Loops Locations

    "You can see a lot by just looking."
    -Yogi Berra

    From the following segment maps with details, I grouped Chapple's Treasures by tour day:

    FIRST DAY - Cody, East Entrance, Canyon Village

    Treasures: Vista from Lake Butte overlook, Mud Volcano which includes Dragons Mouth Spring (Boardwalk only 1 mile), Chittenden Bridge via South Rim Drive to Artist's Point, North Rim Drive to Brink of Lower Falls (Dest K), Grand View Stop for photos then Inspiration Point.

    Other Stops: Buffalo Bill Historic Museum, Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center, Vista of hoodoos in Shoshone National Forest, Wapiti Ranger Station, Pahaska Tepee (Buffalo Bill's hunting lodge), Corkscrew Bridge Viewpoint, Picnic Sylvan Lake, Steamboat Point Overlook

    tinyurl.com/YELL-1ST-DAY Paste into browser. Google Map of Segment Drive

    Confusion Clarification Notes: Canyon Village is where Canyon Lodge is located. Canyon Lodge has 2 "newer" properties named Dunraven & Cascades. The adjacent "Canyon" cut by the Yellowstone River can be viewed by driving on North Rim Drive or walking along North Rim Trail. It terminates at Inspiration Point. The South Rim Drive, other side, is reached by car over Chittenden Bridge and it terminates at Artist Point.

    The South Side also offers Brink of Upper Falls accessed by Uncle Tom's trail. Then later a short drive down Brink of Upper Falls Road.

    For the Google Map, switch between Terrain and Satellite modes to see these roads and vista points. (It took me a long time to figure this out, these clarifications may save you some time).

    We booked 2 nights at the Canyon Lodge with a preference to stay in the Dunraven property. Dinner first night in Canyon Village and second evening roadside with fancy picnic and champagne spotting wildlife in Hayden Valley.

    SECOND DAY - Upper Grand Loop Counter-Clockwise, Start & Finish Canyon Village

    Treasures: Tower Fall hike to overlook, overlook for Floating Island Lake, Mammoth Hot Springs Lower and Upper Terraces, Apollinaris Spring and Norris Geyser Basin which includes Porcelain Basin (spend 3 hours),

    Other Stops: Early morning highway viewing and hike on Lamar Valley Trail at the confluence of Soda Butte Creek and Lamar River for sighting bison and other wildlife and/or a hike to the second meadow on Slough Creek trail with fantastic scenery and whooping crane nesting sites, turnout panorama of Antelope Creek Valley, Hellroaring Creek Overlook, IF time permits see the Yellowstone North Entrance Arch (why? I am not exactly sure), Historic Fort Yellowstone (Albright Visitor Center) lunch at Mammoth Hot Springs Dining Room and check out wood map OR picnic at Lava Creek.

    Planning Notes: Based on forum research and private messages with wildlife spotting experts, we will approach wildlife "safari" day like fishing! The chances of seeing wildlife are best early in the morning or late afternoon / early evening. The 2 main spots are Lamar and Hayden Valleys. We will check with the rangers to best determine where the best current action can be found? Then stop along the highway when we see groups of "professional" spotters with scopes and "wait" at these locations for the wildlife to appear. We opted for the Lamar Valley in the morning because we do not want to return to Canyon Village over Dunraven Pass in the dark.

    Then in the early evening we will stop at the Hayden Valley overlooks first spotting the "professional" spotters then asking to look through their scopes in exchange for a glass of champagne. This may speed up the process!

    tinyurl.com/YELL-2ND-DAYB Paste into browser. Google Map of Segment Drive

    THIRD DAY - Brink of Lower Falls, Dunraven Pass Hike, Drive via Madison Junction to Old Faithful Village

    Treasures: Dunraven Pass hike on the southern Mt Washburn trail for the best views, Firehole Canyon Drive, Nez Perce picnic area, Firehole Lake Drive (Stops At Great Fountain Geyser & Fountain Paint Pot Loop Walk), Walk Upper Geyser Basin Route 1, 3.5 Miles Round Trip (Old Faithful Geyser with walk across bridge to Firehole River, Grand Geyser, Riverside Geyser Plus Geyser Hill Loop) Route 2 (Castle Geyser, Crested Pool, Daisy Geyser, Lock Bike & Walk to Punch Bowl Spring & Black Sand Pool) Continue On To Biscuit Basin Walk then along Grand Loop Road to Fairy Falls Trail and Lower Geyser Basin.

    Other Stops: 9:30AM At Lower Falls Near Artists Point For Rainbow Photos, Madison Information Station To Pickup Geyser Predictions, Fountain Flats Drive For Picnic At Nez Perce, Evening Before Dinner Walk Observation Point/Solitary Geyser Side Loop

    tinyurl.com/YELL-3RD-DAY Paste into browser. Google Map of Segment Drive

    Trip Experience: Terrific day! We got up early and hiked down to the Brink of Lower Falls (trailhead first stop on one way North Rim Road = spectacular do not miss), then a stop at Grand View to see and photograph the mid-morning rainbow. Fortification buffet breakfast at Lodge before doing Mt Washburn summit hike from "southern" parking lot. Drive to Madison Junction (30 minute construction delay) to pick-up Geyser eruption schedule at visitor center (really not needed for practical geyser touring). Approach drive down Firehole Canyon Drive stopping to see swimmers in 70 degree heated water, then drive with stops "up" one way Firehole Lake Drive, we passed on Capple recommended picnic at Nez Perce picnic area (not as nice as "expected"), checked into Old Faithful Snow Lodge (western cabin, recommend booking in lodge), toured visitor center, watched OF erupt, hiked to Observation Point around sunset for vista, ate dinner at wonderful OF dining room. Great day in the life!

    Biking Note: I spent a lot time deciding on whether to rent bikes for touring the geysers and traveling to the Mid Geyser basins. We opted to pass and it is NOT worth it for both logistics and roadside safety reasons!

    FOURTH DAY- Old Faithful Village, Tom Thumb Junction to Lake Yellowstone Hotel
    Treasures: Guided Tour of Old Faithful Inn, From Old Faithful Village Drive to parking areas for Black Sand Basin and Midway Geyser Basin Loop for walking tours, lakeview lodging and dinner at the Lake Hotel.

    Other Stops: Early morning bike ride to Lone Star Geyser, see "Two Ocean" lake or Isa Lake where one end flows to the Pacific Ocean and the other flows to the Atlantic via New Orleans, then a picnic stop at East Divide and take in the panorama at Lake View, early evening round trip stroll along Lakeshore trail to Fishing Bridge Visitor Center, cocktails in the lounge listening to Lake String Quartet before dinner and sunset (7:30PM)

    tinyurl.com/YELL-4TH-DAYB Paste into browser. Google Map of Segment Drive

    FIFTH HALF DAY - Lake Hotel, Southern Entrance to Jackson Lake and the Grand Tetons

    Treasures: West Thumb Geyser Basin (1/2 mile boardwalk), Moose Falls (South Entrance)

    Other Stops: Breakfast At The Fishing Bridge General Store

    Note: Fairly early start to enjoy Grand Teton National Park and take a hike at Jenny Lake. See Grand Teton National Park section for details!

    tinyurl.com/YELL-5TH-DAY Paste into browser. Google Map of Segment Drive

    Here are 2 excellent references for your planning:

    tinyurl.com/YNP-TREASURES Per above, Janet Chapple's Yellowstone Treasures is a MUST purchase for Yellowstone! You will not be disappointed!

    tinyurl.com/NPS-YELL National Park Service - Yellowstone Site Use for ranger programs and educational locations

    1-866-439-7375 Xanterra direct line for Park Lodging. The on-line system is always sold out. You need to talk to a Homo Sapiens for consolidating your accommodations and dining reservations. Although I was very persistent in continually "refreshing" the web site for an Old Faithful Snow Lodge night which did come "momentarily" available. This is a pain in the you know what but we eventually got the sequence and in-park reservations we wanted. Good Luck!

    Happy Planning!

  • 15. Dunraven Lodge
    Dunraven Lodge, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

    See review StrandsDanville

    "What's Not Too Like?"

  • 16. Old Faithful Inn Restaurant
    Old Faithful Inn Restaurant, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

    See review StrandsDanville

    "Wonderful Evening!"

  • 17. Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins
    Lake Yellowstone Hotel and Cabins, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

    See review StrandsDanville

    "Venerable Indeed!"

  • 18. Grand Teton National Park - 2 Nights = 1 Jackson Lake Lodge, 1 Jackson
    Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

    The controversial Grand Teton National Park 40-mile-long mountain front includes eight peaks over 12,000 feet (3,658 m), including the Grand Teton at 13,770 feet (4,198 m). Seven glacier lakes run along the base of the range and more than 100 alpine lakes can be found in the backcountry. The John D Rockefeller, Jr Memorial Parkway lies between Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. The town of Jackson resides in Jackson Hole (french term roughly meaning a depression or area among mountain ranges) just South of the Park. The mountain scenery, wildlife, lakes, river settings and the Art Festival with "non-park" dining in Jackson are to be experienced!

    "I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."
    -John D. Rockefeller

    ALL the things we would "like" to do in the Grand Teton National Park: Before exiting Yellowstone's South entrance take a short hike to Moose Falls, travel scenic drive through John D Rockefeller Jr Memorial Parkway, visit Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum, visit Grand Teton Visitor Center, enjoy lunch at the Trapper Grill on the deck beside Jackson Lake at Signal Mountain Lodge or a picnic, take ferry and hike to Inspiration Point / Hidden Falls / Cascade Canyon at Jenny Lake, stay one night in the park at the Jackson Lake Lodge, drive early evening to Oxbow Bend turnout, enjoy sunset dining (7:30) in the Mural Room at Jackson Lake Lodge

    Here is a Google Map showing the targeted activities for Grand Teton NP:

    tinyurl.com/GTNP-SD Paste into browser.

    ALL the things we would "like" to do in Jackson: Drive to Jackson via the Snake River Overlook (made famous by Ansel Adams), see the Chapel of the Transfiguration and Mormon Row, breakfast at Dornan's Moose Chuckwagon, browse the shops and galleries during the Fall Arts Festival (9/9 to 9/19, we are there 9/10 for the Studio Tours 10-12 and the "free" Gallery Walk, 5PM-8PM, includes food & wine), fortify with some carbs and a smoothie at Pearl St. Meat & Fish Co before taking an afternoon 8-Man whitewater rafting trip down the Snake River (South of Jackson towards Alpine), stay one night in Jackson at the Wyoming Inn, hopefully enjoy an excellent dinner at the Blue Lion at 8:15 (rack of lamb specialty) with lead up appetizers enjoyed during the Gallery Walk to celebrate the Mrs birthday!

    Here is a Google Map showing the targeted activities for Grand Teton NP:

    tinyurl.com/JACKSON-SD Paste into browser.

    "The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance."
    -Ansel Adams

    Here are 2 excellent references for your planning:

    tinyurl.com/NPS-GT-JDR National Park Service - Grand Teton & John D Rockefeller Memorial Parkway Site.

    tinyurl.com/JACKSON-FUN Paste into browser Comprehensive Jackson Chamber of Commerce site with links to Fall Arts Festival

    Happy Planning!

  • 19. Rocky Mountain National Park Via Steamboat Springs - 3 Nights
    Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

    Rocky Mountain National Park became the nation's 10th National Park in 1915 under President Woodrow Wilson. It contains 359 square miles of majestic mountains with no elevation point under 7500 feet. Longs Peak is the highest elevation at 14,259 feet (4,346M). Trail Ridge Road was constructed in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps ushered in under President Roosevelt. Eight miles of the road are above 11,000 feet in elevation. There are 3 visitor centers, Beaver Meadows, Kawuneeche and Alpine to stop in for educational films and literature covering the treasures of Rocky Mountain NP. Also, with 355 miles of trails and an excellent "hikers" shuttle bus system from the town of Estes Park and inside the Park, it offers a great way to take long "one way" day hikes to really experience a true Rocky Mountain High! tinyurl.com/RMNP-SHUTTLE (paste into browser)

    We are approaching the Park from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The Park entrance at Grand Lake is nearly 485 miles away from Jackson, WY (Grand Teton). Choosing a scenic Rockies route, we will stop (400 miles) for one night in Steamboat Springs with a stay at the Rabbit Ears Motel (tinyurl.com/JACK-TO-SS). We will rejuvenate with a short drive and walk to Fish Creek Falls overlook, a brief tour of the Yampa River botanical gardens and a soak in the Strawberry Park Hot Springs. Then a nice all you can eat salad on the deck at Ore House at the Pine Grove!

    The next morning after a Sunday brunch at the Creekside Cafe & Grill, we drive 85 miles to the start of Trail Ridge Road and its 50 miles of horseshoe curves and 11,794 foot elevation pass to Estes Park. After extensive research we are staying 2 nights at Estes Park Condos in the Creekside Suites and Condos. They offer fishing tackle and bait to ply the waters of their creek for our evening dinner. We "hope" to enjoy some nice BBQ trout on the deck of our unit overlooking the creek! IF the great Bwana is unsuccessful then we head to Trout Haven Ranch Trout Pond for a "guaranteed" catch!

    "I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this.
    I was thinking the same thing. That John Denver's full of crap (dumbed down), man."
    -Harry & Lloyd From Dumb and Dumber

    ALL the things we would "like" to do in RMNP: Drive the very scenic Trail Ridge Road, visit the Kawuneeche and Alpine Visitor Centers, catch our dinner trout in the creek outside our condo, explore the town of Estes Park, picnic at Sprague Lake, hike the Bear Lake trail to Nymph, Dream, Emerald Lakes with a return via Lake Haiyaha OR picnic along an all day route, mostly downhill from Bear Lake Trailhead via the Two Rivers route to Fern Lake Trailhead by using the shuttle bus to reach the Bear Lake Trailhead after parking at Fern Lake Trailhead, delight in a massage at Riverspointe Spa, enjoy a nicer dinner at Twin Owls Steakhouse or Marys Lake Lodge or simply enjoy some Smokin' Dave's BBQ with an ale or two after a long days trek!

    "Now he walks in quiet solitude.....the forest and the streams
    Seeking grace.....in every step he takes
    His sight has turned inside himself.....to try and understand
    The serenity.....of a clear blue mountain lake"
    -John Denver

    Here are 2 excellent references for your planning (paste into browser):

    tinyurl.com/NPS-RMNP National Park Service - Rocky Mountain NP Site.

    tinyurl.com/RMNP-TRAILS Excellent site for hiking trails, descriptions and photos. Use the "Trail Map" to launch another excellent interactive map of the trail paths as well as the notable sites throughout the entire park!

    Here is a Google Map I prepared with ALL our "wish" destinations in Steamboat Springs, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain NP:

    tinyurl.com/RMNP-SD Paste into browser

    Note: We are opting for the longer 10 mile Bear Lake Trailhead via the Two Rivers route to Fern Lake Trailhead hike and using the Park shuttle buses.

    Happy Planning!

  • 20. Boulder - 1 Night
    Boulder, Colorado

    Boulder, home of the Colorado University Buffaloes, located at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills at 5,430 feet. Some foothill! The University, established in 1876, is the main focal point with its 29,000 students. The town is known for its education, bike trails, nearby hiking trails and college town microbreweries. There is also Pearl Street with long rows of galleries, stores and famed street performers (primarily on the weekends) entertaining the passersby.

    We will be arriving from Estes Park around 10:30AM and leaving the next morning for our 11:30AM flight at Denver International around 9AM. So we do not have a lot of time. But we will try and make the most of it. The enjoyment of a college town is its students, all striving to increase their knowledge while having great times in a beautiful setting for learning and socializing. Naturally each student allocates their time a little differently making for a "diverse" atmosphere! Our experience will be to see the settings with a bike tour, sample some local micro-brews along with unique appetizers and be part of the social scene as "wiser" faces in the crowd!

    "Houston, we've got a problem here."
    -Jack Swigert, Apollo 13 astronaut, Colorado University Alum

    ALL the things we would "like" to do: Drive the Peak To Peak Scenic Highway from Estes Park to Boulder stopping at the Longs Peak East Face overlook and at Camp Saint Malo to see the Chapel On the Rock, then arrive in Boulder around 10:30, we chose Quality Inn & Suites for the night because it offers a great price for a somewhat central location, full breakfast and free bicycles, including helmets & locks, in America's "bike" town, where we plan to ride everywhere starting with art galleries and street performers along Pearl Street, then a deli stop at Salvaggio's Deli for picnic supplies and a ride out the Boulder Creek Path to the canyon area and Eben Fine Park, UP to Chautauqua Park for our picnic, back DOWN with a stop at the Boulder History Museum, then a short cruise and "bike walk" through the CU campus, a look inside the Dushanbe Tea House, culminating with a well deserved ale at Mountain Sun Brewery, followed by some unique appetizers, to start our very own progressive dinner, at the "famed" happy hour at The Mediterranean (3 to 6:30). Back to the Inn to freshen up and conclude with an evening walk back to Pearl Street for a margarita at Tahona Tequila Bistro and some small plates, aka tapas, at Salt. IF the full breakfast does not fit our desires we will head to Luciles for breakfast and then to Denver International "avoiding" the toll road because rental cars are fined if they cannot pay via a transponder (cannot make this up) to catch the silver-bird back to the Bay Area!

    "So don't let me wait.
    Come to me tenderly in the June night.
    I stand at your gate
    And I sing you a song in the moonlight.
    A love song, my darling, a moonlight serenade"
    -Glenn Miller, Colorado University Alum

    Here are 2 excellent references for your planning:

    tinyurl.com/GO-BOULDER Paste into browser. Excellent site for interactive biking, walking other transportation maps. This town talks the talk while walking the walk and biking the bike!

    tinyurl.com/GO-BOULDER Paste into browser.

    Here is a Google Map I prepared with ALL our "wish" destinations:

    tinyurl.com/B0ULDER-SD Paste into browser

    Here is a Google Pedometer map of our intended bike ride, provided by fellow tripadvisor Belizeeee (many thanks):

    tinyurl.com/BOULDER-BIKE Paste into browser Note:The huge HILL, not a leisure ride!

    --on the bike path going up-canyon you'll cross a ped/bike bridge into Eben Fine Park. Take the first right on a sidewalk after this bridge (you'll end up "looping" the park). Follow it until it 'T's into another bikepath and go L, then go R at the next 'T' (the main bikepath). About 100' past this the bikepath will go under Arapahoe Ave bridge. I'd suggest parking/locking your bikes here, then take the non-bike dirt path upstream right next to the creek, that starts under the bridge. This section is the "whitewater" (not) kayak park section. It goes right next to the creek and is a nice short stroll up to a dam and then back down to your bikes. I suggest 'cause it's a nice "Boulder" place.
    --after this you backtrack a bit, but go straight on the main bikepath bordering the right (South) edge of Eben Fine. This will curve around and put you back at the ped/bike bridge you went across to get into the park initially. Then backtrack to the 6th St. bridge, and get on 6th St.
    --The route goes into Chautauqua and does a loop where you can look for the best picnic spot.
    --After your visit to the History Museum, I re-routed you directly towards campus, then going south to the west of the Student Center. This is a dismount zone--many dense areas of campus are here, be sure to walk because they do give tickets!. I routed you through the "old" area of campus. You'll go to the left of a fountain that's the normal meeting place on campus, then go through the Norlin (library) quad and right by Old Main, the oldest building on campus, I think. Then off to Varsity Pond. Google doesn't show a sidewalk where I routed you, but there is!
    --Just after this, after crossing University and going downhill on a mixed ped/bike sidewalk/path, there's an optional short detour/stop. If you look at the map around where you do a 180 degree turn on the bikepath there's a little "pocket" arboretum (http://tiny.cc/lz9zf). Certainly not a must-see, just a possibility if you want to sit for a bit. Also, BE CAREFUL around this curvy part of the path, it's well-used, tight, and curvy.
    --Past this part, I put you back on the main Boulder Creek Path. If you see where I have you make a hard right, then a hard left at 13th street, where you "T" into 13th is the Dushanbe Tea House. You would almost run into it if you didn't take a left on 13th.
    --I then routed you to Mt. Sun (Pearl bet. 15th & 16th), then The Med., then back down to the bike path and home.

    Happy Planning!

  • 21. Black Hills, Badlands,Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, NP's in 16 days

    "We were so excited about this 16 day trip and it literally fulfilled every expectation and more. Enjoy!"
    -StrandsDanville