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Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

Raleigh, NC
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Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

I will be travelling from Mt. Rushmore / Rapid City in early October to the SouthWestern part of Colorado. Is is worth the extra time to drive across Wyoming before I plunge South? Are there scenic areas that I should go through? I am not in a big hurry, but don't want to waste time either.

Any concerns from Winter weather this time of year?

Thanks in advance.

Uden, The...
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1. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

Hi Wincherr

Saw your post on the SD forum too.

How far do you want to drive. All the way to Yellowstone NP? (visit or no visit?) and how long do you have?

Tet{:o)-

Raleigh, NC
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2. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

I really just have the full day to get across the state of WY or CO - no plans to do Yellowstone this trip.

Thanks.

Uden, The...
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3. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

Rapid City-Durango is 13-14 hours drive fastest way. Colorado is a large state. Are you going from RC to Durango?

Raleigh, NC
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4. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

Sorry I haven't been very clear.

I am going from Rapid City to Moab, UT then to Durango. After I leave RC, I plan to spend two nights en route to Moab - very flexible. Looking for the scenic route - not in any hurry. Overall my trip looks like this:

Fly into Denver, rent a car, spend two nights in Estes Park, drive to RC, spend two nights there (or one on the way there and one there), start heading to Moab (two nights on the road), two nights in Moab, then Durango for two nights, and then three nights making my way back to Denver (Pike's peak, etc.).

Any and all suggestions welcome. I haven't booked anything yet, but looking to start that this weekend.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Uden, The...
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5. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

Hi

This is a great trip and you have planned it good.

I won't mention the weather. It can be snowy, it can be fine. We had snow in september and 75 in october. Not to predict.

2 nights RMNP: great!

I would drive to SD in one day (about 7 hours) and stay in Hill City first night.

Next day visits to Mount Rushmore, Custer SP and Badlands NP staying for the night in Rapid City. Will be a long day, so better start early.

I also would drive Rapid City-Moab in 2 days. Yes, it's a long drive (14-15 hours) through Buffalo-Lander-Rock Springs-Vernal-Grand Junction but I would advice to stay one day longer in SD or Moab, maybe Durango. First day try to make it to Rock Springs (8-9 hours) Fill your tank here. Cheap fuel! Next day a beautiful drive along Flaming Gorge, Vernal (Dinosaur NM is closed) and the scenic drive to Grand Junction on 139.

Moab will be the highlight of your trip. Arches NP and Canyonland NP are must visits (and also Dead Horse Point).

If you want to visit Mesa Verde NP near Cortez and ride the Durango-Silverton RR, you'll need two days. Maybe start from Moab early and visit Mesa Verde in the afternoon (minimum stay 3-4 hours).

From Durango I advice, especially if you have done the Railtrip, to drive to Pagosa Springs (HOTsprings!) and to Alamoso. You have to drive Wolf Creek Pass (10.000 ft) . Be sure the pass is open.

On your way to Colorado Springs, a visit to Great Sand Dunes NP is highly recommended and I could not think of a CS stay without

visiting Pike's Peak and Garden of the Gods.

And in this time of year: Wing it!Q

Tet{;o)-

Raleigh, NC
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6. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

Tet:

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your advice. I know nothing about this part of the country. I will update you with my revised itinerary for any last advice.

I will have a 4WD - so weather should not be too much of a problem. I will be prepared.

Again, thank you!

Raleigh, NC
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7. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

Tet:

Here is my overall schedule. Any input is welcome:

RMNP (Lodge in Estes Park?) for 2 days

Hill City, SD for one night, next day at area Parks

Rapid City or Gillette for one night (Gillette gives me a head start)

Rock Springs for one night

Moab, UT for three nights (really only two days - will arrive late)

Durango, CO for two nights

Gunnison, CO for one night

Colorado Springs for one night

Denver/surrounding area (maybe Bolder for two nights-fly back early)

Any suggestions for lodging or dining or 'things to see along the way" would be great.

I varied from your route from Durango to Denver suggestion so that I could drive the "million dollar highway" and a few other things I wanted to see on that leg.

Again, THANKS!

Uden, The...
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8. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

Yes, the Million$hw is a great mountaindrive, recommended.

Maybe visit Mount Rushmore on your first afternoon in the Black Hills. Doesnot take that long. Next day first visit to Custer SP (at least 3 hours) and drive to Badlands NP (1.5 hours drive). From Wall (short stop) to Gillette 3 hours. Many other sights like Spearfish

Canyon (foliage!) and Devils Tower but it will be a long day as it is.

Rock Springs isnot a scenic stay but it has ample lodging and it's centrally located. I'm familiar with your route except for the stretch between Buffalo and Thermopolis (Hotsprings). South of Lander is a great overlook. Worth a stop.

Tet

Lincoln, NE
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9. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

If you do Wolf Creek pass make sure you have VERY good brakes, as your descent is rapid, more so than some other passes which are more gradual.

Raleigh, NC
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10. Re: Travel from Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore back to Colorado

Thanks Tourist2!