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Destinations > Rocky Mountains > Across the Rockies
14 nights accommodation, 14 days car rental, meals as indicated and sightseeing as specified.
Mid May – mid Sep
Nestled in the USA lies a region that’s truly magical, packed with epic vistas and stunning natural beauty. Awe-inspiring outdoor adventure awaits visitors here coupled with an abundance of cultural activities. Hike legendary trails in the footsteps of world-famous explorers. Encounter a wide variety of majestic wildlife and experience the authentic and breathtaking beauty of national parks, monuments and memorials.
Back to Rocky Mountains Tours
Visit 7 National Parks, plus Tribal Parks, State Parks, Monuments and some of the most scenic drives in the United States.
Get a taste of history – from the Old West saloons and shoot outs, to the ancient rock art and cliff dwellings.
Stop at Four Corners monument, where 4 states collide.
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Denver is the natural starting point to visit the scenic and historic mountain states, filled with national parks, abundant wildlife, ancient rock art and much, much more.
Heading north, take some time to get a taste of Rocky Mountain National Park, which spans the Continental Divide and encompasses protected mountains, forests and alpine tundra. Continue to Cheyenne, known as the "Magic City of the Plains," which is located in southeast Wyoming - in the heart of the American West.
The name itself speaks of colorful legends and abundant history. Visit the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum & Store, the Cowgirls of the West Museum, the F.E. Warren Air Force Base Museum or the Wyoming State Capitol Building & Grounds, a National Historic Landmark with gleaming marble floors, beautiful woodwork and lots of stained glass. Take a ride in the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley or go on a Historic Downtown Walking Tour. Cheyenne is Western history at its best.
Today’s first stop is Laramie. History buffs can step into the past at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site, where the infamous outlaw, Butch Cassidy, was once held. Go back further in time at the University of Wyoming’s Geological Museum, Wyoming’s very own “Jurassic Park.” Be sure to explore Laramie’s historic downtown with a walkable brewery or mural tour; downtown Laramie features brilliant full wall murals created by local artists.
From Laramie travel along the Snowy Range Scenic Byway that crosses the Medicine Bow Mountain Range. The Byway route rises from 8,000 ft. on the valley floor to a height of 10, 847 ft. above sea level.
The evening will find you in Saratoga, one of the state’s hot springs destinations, offering a few options for those wanting to relax in these healing waters. Head to Hobo Hot Springs for a free experience in a natural setting near the North Platte River, or at Saratoga Hot Springs Resort to soak under teepee-covered pools.
Head north to Buffalo, tucked away between the rolling plains of the Old West and the towering peaks of the Bighorn Mountains.
Sit down for dinner at the Busy Bee Cafe, a name you might recognize from the hit book and television series, Longmire, which took much of its inspiration from the Buffalo area.
Afterwards, hang out at the Occidental Saloon - In the rip-roaring days of early Wyoming, the saloon at the Occidental Hotel was famous far and wide. In the barroom, the lawful and the lawless played faro and poker, flirted with pretty ladies, drank copious quantities of powerful spirits, and occasionally shot up the place. When you mosey up to the 25-foot bar, you will be standing in the exact spot where cowboys, sheriffs, desperados and cattle barons gathered. In your imagination, you might even hear shots ring out - and if you look around you and up at the ceiling, you can still count numerous original bullet holes!
Today you can pick from a couple of equally scenic routes that will lead you to Cody.
Bighorn Scenic Byway passes geological formations named Buffalo Tongue, the Fallen City and Steamboat Point before reaching Burgess Junction and 9,000 feet Granite Pass. The spectacular drive down Shell Canyon is highlighted by a stop at Shell Falls.
Medicine Wheel Passage begins at Burgess Junction and follows the Tongue River to its headwaters before crossing to the west side of the Bighorns at near-timberline elevations. The road passes within a few miles of the Medicine Wheel, built in pre-historic time by unknown people who departed the scene long before the first Plains Indian Tribes arrived.
Make sure you have time left to experience Cody, a picturesque little western town, gateway to Yellowstone National Park. A visit to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, widely regarded as America's finest Western Museum, is highly recommended if time permits.
Included this evening are tickets to the summer nightly Cody Rodeo, as well as reserved seats to watch the "shoot-out" in front of the historic Irma Hotel. (B)
Today is another day to choose your own adventure when it comes to driving routes, with no bad options.
Beartooth Highway Scenic Byway is perhaps North America's most spectacular alpine highway. This above-timberline drive takes travelers among towering peaks and glacier-fed lakes, then into the beautiful Clark's Fork Valley, dominated by Pilot and Index Peaks, before reaching Yellowstone's northeast Silver Gate.
Chief Joseph Scenic Highway leads over Dead Indian Hill, switchbacks down into Sunlight Basin and then follows the Clark's Fork River to a junction with the Beartooth Scenic Byway. The road follows the escape route used by Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce tribe as the U.S. Army pursued them.
The most direct route is the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway which follows the North Fork of the Shoshoni River west from Cody. Buffalo Bill, Cody's founder and namesake, called this road, "The most beautiful 50 miles in the world."
Today’s highlight is of course Yellowstone National Park. The nation's first national park remains primarily a wilderness area with 97% of the park's 3,400 square miles (2.2 million acres) remaining undeveloped. While Old Faithful, the most widely recognized geyser, serves as the park's signature steam, there are more than 10,000 other geothermal features in Yellowstone including geysers, hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles.
Explore more of the park while traveling from the North Entrance to the West Entrance of the park. Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyer Basin, Artists Paint Pots – there is so much to see, including wildlife. Yellowstone is known for its buffalo, bears, wolves, moose – just make sure you give them all the distance to make if a safe encounter for everybody.
West Yellowstone is the park’s busiest gateway and home to the educational Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, which offers the chance to safely get close to bears and wolves. (B)
More opportunities to explore Yellowstone! The most famous stop today might be Old Faithful, home to the namesake geyser.
Continue to Grand Teton National Park, an ethereal mountain landscape where jagged peaks tower more than a mile above the Jackson Hole valley.
The afternoon finds you in Jackson, a quaint little Western town surrounded by beautiful scenery. A visit to Jackson is not complete without a stop in the Million Dollar Saloon.
Traveling along Bear Lake and through the Rocky Mountain range you'll reach the host city of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Salt Lake is nestled in a valley at the foot of two mountain ranges the Wasatch to the east and the Oquirrhs to the west.
Salt Lake City is a great city to explore by foot. Start at Temple Square. The centerpiece of this beautifully landscaped 10-acre plot of ground in the heart of downtown is the 6-spired Salt Lake Temple. Also located on the Square is the domed Tabernacle, home of the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The public is invited to the Tabernacle Choir rehearsals on Thursday evenings. Within a few blocks of Temple Square, the city's best-known attraction, there are several major Mormon historical sites and pioneer era buildings.
Note: For those short on time, you can end your journey here in Salt Lake City, otherwise, continue on to discover so much more.
Make your way to Moab, the mountain biking capital of the world, with two beautiful National Parks at its doorsteps: Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. In the evening check out the shops, galleries, and restaurants of this unique little town.
A full day to explore the many natural wonders that surround this town.
Arches National Park is of course famous for the red sandstone arches that occur there in great profusion.
Canyonlands National Park covers a vast area of rock wilderness in southeast Utah, centered around the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers. Over millions of years, the rivers and their small tributaries have carved the flat sandstone rock layers into many amazing forms with a great variety of colors.
Furthermore, awaiting your visit are the Island in the Sky and Deadhorse Point State Park.
This evening’s experience begins two miles north of Moab. Enjoy a cowboy-style Dutch oven dinner overlooking the Colorado River. Then, head upriver on a flat-bottomed boat with a knowledgeable and entertaining guide who will point out things of interest and ignite everyone's imagination. Once darkness settles in, the formal part of the evening begins with 40,000 watts of light illuminating the canyon wall. Lights, shadows, music, and narration make the stories of the canyon’s formation, creation, and history come to life on the walls above the river—as learned from the early settlers of the area. (B)(D)
In the morning continue to Monument Valley, contained entirely within the Navajo reservation, occupying both Utah and Arizona. This is one of the most remarkable, beautiful, and famous landscapes in the world, early recognized by Hollywood as a stunning background for western films.
We recommend a stop at Gooseneck State Park, overlooking a deep meander of the San Juan River– impressive like its big sister, Horseshoe Bend near Page, but a lot less crowded.
Then join a Navajo guided tour of Monument Valley. A complete package of 30+ miles secluded off-roads lets you discover the restricted area in the backcountry of Monument Valley. This land is a notable sacred site for the Dineh - the Navajos who are the Keepers of Monument Valley - a sacred unforgettable homeland and motherland to them. The special character of the area is further strengthened by the history of the Anasazis, the "Ancient Ones", and well known for their imaginative ability, by way of concealed or secret illustration, such as, petroglyphs, pictographs and ruins known as cliff dwellings. The "Off the Beaten Track" tour solicits the delicate, breathtaking arches that withstand the contrasting, massive buttes.
Afterwards continue to Cortez, gateway to Mesa Verde National Park, with an optional stop at Four Corners Monument where the four states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico come together in this little spot in the middle of nowhere. The Cortez Cultural Center provides a glimpse into current Native American culture with free dances occurring six nights a week during the summer months – an event not to be missed! (B)
Mesa Verde National Park offers a unique chance to walk in the actual footsteps of the vanished Anasazi civilization. Little has changed since 600AD, when Ancestral Puebloans thrived in this mysterious collection of cliff dwellings. Mesa Verde has been designated a World Cultural Heritage Site by the United Nations.
Explore everything from simple, one-room berths to villages of more than 200 adobe buildings. The ceremonial houses, or kivas, reveal thousands of well-preserved artifacts. Along with ancient petroglyphs, the kivas help tell the story of the Anasazi people. Mesa Top Loop Road winds past archaeological sites and overlooks, including Sun Point Overlook with panoramic canyon views. Petroglyph Point Trail has several rock carvings.
Join a guided tour (season permitting) - you will be taken through a chronological journey starting with the earliest recorded Pithouse villages in history to the classic Pueblo era of cliff dwellings dated from the 13th century. Cliff Palace, the largest of cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, is viewed as one of the top ten places to visit in a lifetime.
In late afternoon continue to Durango, an old mining town, which flourished during the gold and silver boom of the 19th century. Durango was founded in 1880 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, when they extended their line from Durango to Silverton in order to haul precious metals from high country mines. Enjoy your stay in this picturesque Western town.
Note: If time permits, you can add an extra night to your stay in Durango to enjoy a ride on the famous Durango-Silverton Railroad. (B)
The canyon-clinging stretch of spectacular roadway between Silverton, Durango and Ouray is called “The Million Dollar Highway” either because it cost so much to build, the amount of gold ore that remained in the roadway’s fill or the figurative price for those amazing San Juan Mountain views.
The little mountain town of Ouray is called the Switzerland of America by some, as it’s situated in a river valley at nearly 8,000 feet, surrounded by the snow-capped San Juan Mountains. Named a National Historic District, it includes beautifully preserved buildings. The Box Canyon Falls, Ouray's own wonder of the world, is the culmination of Canyon Creek narrowing and spilling thousands of gallons a minute of water over the falls. It is truly a dramatic scene, and one that you can enjoy from both above and below the falls.
Travel to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, where the Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile through the entire canyon, making it the 5th steepest mountain descent in North America. The main attraction of the park is the scenic drive along US Highway 50 and Colorado Highway 92, as well as the south rim.
The evening finds you in Gunnison, locally known as “Gunny”, just thirty minutes south of Crested Butte in the heart of the Rockies. The historic downtown is lined with unique shops and nice restaurants, inviting you for an evening stroll. (B)
On your drive today, you’ll pass by the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park with an opportunity to walk across the gorge on America’s highest suspension bridge.
When it comes to magnificent scenery and natural beauty, Colorado Springs has it all. It's the home of America's fabulous mountain, Pikes Peak, one of Colorado's highest mountains at 14,110 feet. Colorado Springs enjoys a rich Western heritage as well. The Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy offers visitors a rare opportunity to learn about the champions and the history of America's original sport. And don't miss a visit to the Garden of the Gods Park. The 1,364-acre park features magnificent rock formations, including the famous Balanced Rock, Steamboat Rock, Kissing Camels and Three Graces. (B)
Spend some more time exploring the Colorado Springs area this morning, or return to Denver for some sightseeing and last-minute shopping. Then it’s time to wave good-bye to the Rockies as your feature packed road trip ends.
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