26 July 2014

(long) weekend trips in the Rockies

I am currently taking a long weekend in western Wyoming, but thanks to the magic of modern technology, I am able to simultaneously post while (I can only hope) I am drinking excellent local brews or hiking in amazing places. Once you're in the area, there are so many great road trips you can create for yourself; I'll fill you in on our excursions when we return, but here are some of the ideas we tossed around. If you notice a lack of world-famous attractions listed here, I'll warn you that we like to get off the beaten path, and I figure you don't need me to tell you how to get to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ouray, "Switzerland of America", CO

Colorado: Drive from Denver south on US-285 through the Pike and San Isabel Forests to Salida. Head East on US-50 to the Curecanti National Recreation Area and on to Montrose, then South on US-550 down to beautiful Ouray, Colorado. OR, you can head West on I-70 out of Denver all the way to funky Grand Junction, stopping in Glenwood Springs for some local beer and a dip in the hot springs, then head South on US-50 to Montrose and on to US-550 to Ouray.

Visit the Travel section of this blog for more ideas in Colorado.

Ridiculously picturesque Helena, MT.

Montana: Go from the real, live Western city of Billings to the charming college town of Bozeman by heading West on I-90. From there you can head South on US-191 to West Yellowstone in Idaho. OR head North on US-287 from Bozeman to Helena and the Helena National Forest. We haven't ventured here yet, but it's next on the list.

Wind Cave National Park, SD.

Black Hills/Badlands, South Dakota: You can easily spend a pleasant day in Rapid City, and the local brew pub is pretty good. From there, you can head South on US-16 to the amazing, and enormous, Custer State Park and further south to Wind Cave National Park for a very fun and informative tour of the caves. By the time you get all the way down there, the hot springs of aptly named Hot Spring, SD are not far, so you might as well go. OR, head East on I-90 for otherworldly Badlands National Park, stopping on the way at Wall Drug for that terrible coffee they advertise on billboards as far West as Jackson, WY. Oh yeah, Mt. Rushmore really is awesome. Go there, too.

Sinks Canyon State Park, WY.

Wyoming: I've already posted about Saratoga and its lovely free hot springs pool, charmingly slow-moving Lander and nearby Sinks Canyon State Park, and everybody's favorite, Jackson.  This weekend, we're headed up from Cheyenne to Casper on I-25, where we leave the interstate and head West on US-26 to Boysen State Park and then north on WYO-789 to the Hot Springs Park in Thermopolis (have I mentioned how much I like hot springs?). Then we'll catch WYO-120 up to Cody through breathtaking Wind River Canyon, visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and hit Buffalo Bill State Park west on our way to Yellowstone. Haven't decided how to get home, but if it drops us off in Rock Springs, at least we know there's some good beer.

And some helpful links to plan your trips:

Colorado Tourism Board

Montana Tourism Board

Western South Dakota Travel Info

Wyoming Tourism Board