After waiting three years to take a good vacation we decided on a mega road trip that would take 11 days and include, The Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Rocky Mountains, Grand Tetons and we spent a few nights in Cody Wyoming and Winter Park Colorado.
This would be the first major road trip we had taken in our new Jeep Grand Cherokee and we were looking forward to camping out in it a few nights in Yellowstone.
Our first stop was Badlands National Park which was a real treat, the area is very vast and pleasing to the eye full of rock formations and canyons often seen in western movies. The wife was really taken with all the little prairie dogs sticking their heads out of the ground and there were plenty of elk and moose running about, the park road winds down threw the canyons presenting many great photo opportunities and goes on for about 25 miles, I highly recommend checking this place out if you are in the area, it is well worth the drive through.
We moved on from there to Rapid City South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore, the drive over was awesome full of eye candy and tourist attractions, we spent most of the first day just touring the area, checking out all the gift shops and scenic views before stopping at Mount Rushmore.
The next day we left the Black Hills and headed for Wyoming and Yellowstone, this was probably one of the most scenic drives I have ever been on in my life, and now I know what the cowboys meant when they sang about being out on the range, I felt like I could see for miles. The landscape is completely uninterrupted by the typical mail box, power pole or fence post, and it is just wide open as far as you can see.
We decided to spend the night in Cody Wyoming before heading into Yellowstone, Cody is a very picturesque western town that sets about 50 miles out from the east gate of the park, and Wild Buffalo Bill Cody has a Hotel, Museum and old western town there.
Heading into Yellowstone was exciting, I had always wanted to go there and the road into the park was not a disappointment, the closer we got to the park the more I felt small and insignificant.
The first thing I was was taken back with was how freaking huge the park is, from the front gate to the Old Faithful geyser and the Inn it is 60 miles, and it is 140 miles around the loop road, with about about another 100 miles of intermediate roads.
The Old Faithful inn and geyser are truly amazing, the old Hotel inn is completely log and very rustic and it has a 5 story stone fire place and log cat walks all through the place, the rooms a primitive and the food is incredible, there are several hot springs and geysers ans well as Old Faithful.
Driving on around the park I could not help but think I was in gods country, the wide open beauty is hypnotizing and soothing to the soul, we spotted this elk all by it’s self, grazing in the valley where the fire had went through.
A little further up the loop road we saw this herd of buffalo
Heading out the back gate down to the Grand Tetons was much of the same, vast amounts of beautiful scenery and wide open space, the Tetons great you like statues as you approach the mountain range.
We took the back way down to the Rockey Mountains and it was well worth the extra days drive, I always love to travel off the main road and I was not disappointed in this county road trip at all. The road leading into Rocky Mountain State Park goes up hill at a medium grade for several miles and then steepens sharply as you inter the park.
You twist and wind up the mountain side for a good 40 minutes on a road that is narrow and has no guard rails, I could feel the Jeeps engine stating to adjust the fuel mix as we kept gaining altitude and you cannot image how it was even possible to build such a road.
After about an hour of twisting and turning on several switchbacks you finally reach a pull off view point and you are the CLOUDS
We left the Rockies headed out the back to a resort town called Winter Park, and after a full day there we started on the three days drive home, after the trip was over we had put 5600 miles on the Jeep and were dead beat tired, but I would not trade the experience for anything.
There is a complete photo gallery here –>