Driving Through the Rockies

A mix of  national parks, the wild west, and artsy towns.

Sometimes it’s nice to get out in nature. Not all the time, mind you — I don’t have quite the appreciation for natural beauty as others might. When I’m exposed to such sites, I am thrilled, but it doesn’t last very long — after staring at the Grand Canyon for 15 to 20 minutes, I’m ready to hit the road. (I’ve been there, and it was a spectacular 15 minutes.)

Still, we decided to do a trip to the National Parks, because, well, I wasn’t doing anything special for a week or two, and I almost felt a responsibility to make the visit, and to do so sooner rather than later before the whole thing disappears in one big volcanic blast, seeing how Yellowstone is overdue for an eruption.

Given my propensities, just seeing the National Parks wouldn’t be enough. So I built in a few towns and other sites to spice things up a bit. Our total trip was about 1,600 miles, ending in Las Vegas — whenever I travel out west, I make that my final destination, because it suits my nature.

What follows is an itinerary that provides a nice mix of things that are not that accessible as individual destinations. For sure, you don’t have to go all the way to Vegas. You can cut the trip off at Jackson Hole, for a total of 1,000 miles. I know that sounds like a lot, but if you do it over 7 – 10 days, it’s not that much driving per day. Just a minor point: plan your trip for the summer, and no later than September. The roads can get a little dicey beginning in the fall, and you don’t want to end up like the Donner party.

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