36 days in Western US & Badlands National Park Itinerary

36 days in Western US & Badlands National Park Itinerary

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Route & dates

36 days in Western US & Badlands National Park Itinerary

Start: Chicago
Fly:  5​h
1
Denver
— 1 night
Drive:  1​h 45​min
2
Rocky Mountain National Park
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h
3
Cheyenne
— 1 night
Drive:  6​h
4
Badlands National Park
— 2 nights
Drive:  7​h 30​min
5
Cody
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 30​min
6
Yellowstone National Park
— 2 nights
Drive:  1​h 30​min
7
Grand Teton National Park
— 2 nights
Drive:  5​h 45​min
8
Salt Lake City
— 1 night
Drive:  4​h 45​min
9
Moab
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
10
Mesa Verde National Park
— 1 night
Drive:  5​h
11
Page
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
12
Bryce Canyon National Park
— 2 nights
Drive:  2​h 45​min
13
Zion National Park
— 1 night
Drive:  2​h 30​min
14
Grand Canyon National Park
— 1 night
Drive:  4​h 30​min
15
Las Vegas
— 2 nights
Fly + bus:  7​h 45​min
16
Yosemite National Park
— 3 nights
Drive:  4​h
17
San Francisco
— 3 nights
Fly:  18​h 45​min
End: Melbourne

1
night
Denver

Denver ©
Aptly nicknamed the "Mile-High City," Denver sits at an altitude of 1,600 m (5,280 ft) above sea level, located right where the Great Plains give way to the Rocky Mountains.
Kick off your visit on the 24th (Thu): take in the awesome beauty at Mount Evans, then steep yourself in history at Molly Brown House Museum, and then get a taste of the local shopping with Denver Botanic Gardens.

For where to stay, ratings, more things to do, and more tourist information, read Denver online trip itinerary builder .

Chicago to Denver is an approximately 5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of flight and bus; or drive. The time zone changes from Central Standard Time to Mountain Standard Time, which is usually a -1 hour difference. Expect slightly colder evenings in Denver when traveling from Chicago in September, with lows around 13°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 24th (Thu) so you can drive to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Things to do in Denver

Parks Museums Nature
Find places to stay Sep 23 — 24:
Highlights from your plan
Mount Evans ©
Mount Evans
Denver Botanic Gardens ©
Denver Botanic Gardens
Molly Brown House Museum ©
Molly Brown House Museum

1
night
Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park ©
Rocky Mountain National Park presents an ideal setting for recreation in the mountain range for which the park is named.
On the 25th (Fri), get interesting insight from Tours, take in the exciting artwork at Patterson Glassworks Studio & Gallery, then take a memorable drive along Trail Ridge Road, and finally appreciate the views at Many Parks Curve Overlook. Keep things going the next day: contemplate the waterfront views at Bear Lake, shop like a local with Images of Rocky Mountain National Park, then admire all the interesting features of Peak to Peak Scenic Byway, and finally trot along with a tour on horseback.

To see where to stay, maps, reviews, and tourist information, refer to the Rocky Mountain National Park trip itinerary planner.

You can drive from Denver to Rocky Mountain National Park in 2 hours. In September in Rocky Mountain National Park, expect temperatures between 32°C during the day and 11°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 26th (Sat) to allow time to drive to Cheyenne.

Things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park

Outdoors Tours Scenic Drive

Side Trip

Estes Park
Find places to stay Sep 24 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Trail Ridge Road ©
Trail Ridge Road
Off-Road Tours
Images of Rocky Mountain National Park ©

1
night
Cheyenne

Cheyenne ©
Cheyenne is the capital and most populous city of the US state of Wyoming and the county seat of Laramie County. Kick off your visit on the 27th (Sun): take an in-depth tour of Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, examine the collection at Cheyenne Depot Museum, and then get a taste of life in the country at Terry Bison Ranch.

For photos, where to stay, maps, and tourist information, read our Cheyenne trip planner .

You can drive from Rocky Mountain National Park to Cheyenne in 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus. Expect little chillier weather when traveling from Rocky Mountain National Park in September: highs in Cheyenne hover around 28°C, while lows dip to 10°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 27th (Sun) early enough to travel to Badlands National Park.

Things to do in Cheyenne

Museums
Find places to stay Sep 26 — 27:
Highlights from your plan
Cheyenne Depot Museum ©
Cheyenne Depot Museum
Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum ©
Terry Bison Ranch ©
Terry Bison Ranch

2
nights
Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park ©
Although Badlands National Park's name might not be the most inviting, its landscape of pinnacles, eroded buttes, spires, and an expansive, pristine mixed-grass prairie remain enticing.
Go for a jaunt from Badlands National Park to Murdo to see South Dakota's Original 1880 Town about 1h 25 min away. There's much more to do: cruise along Loop Road, explore the wealth of natural beauty at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, look for gifts at Wall Drug, and get engrossed in the history at Delta-09 Missile Silo.

To find ratings, more things to do, and more tourist information, read our Badlands National Park trip itinerary maker app .

Traveling by combination of shuttle, flight, and taxi from Cheyenne to Badlands National Park takes 5.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of shuttle, flight, and car. When traveling from Cheyenne in September, plan for a bit warmer days in Badlands National Park, with highs around 32°C, while nights are about the same with lows around 11°C. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 30th (Wed) so you can travel to Cody.

Things to do in Badlands National Park

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Wall, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, South Dakota's Original 1880 Town, Badlands National Park
Find places to stay Sep 27 — 30:
Highlights from your plan
Loop Road ©
Loop Road
Big Badlands Overlook ©
Big Badlands Overlook
Badlands National Park ©
Badlands National Park

2
nights
Cody

Cody ©
A genuine cowboy city, Cody is famous for its nightly rodeos and its proximity to the protected wilderness areas of the world's first national park, now designated as one of the country's World Heritage Sites.
Kick off your visit on the 1st (Thu): see the interesting displays at Cody Dug Up Gun Museum, then take an in-depth tour of Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and then see the interesting displays at Cody Firearms Museum. Here are some ideas for day two: steep yourself in history at Old Trail Town, practice your aim at Cody Firearms Experience, LLC, then see human ingenuity at work at Buffalo Bill Dam, and finally stop by Cowtown Candy Company.

To find other places to visit, photos, and other tourist information, refer to the Cody road trip website .

Traveling by combination of taxi and flight from Badlands National Park to Cody takes 6 hours. Alternatively, you can drive. When traveling from Badlands National Park in October, plan for a bit cooler days and about the same nights in Cody: temperatures range from 16°C by day to 3°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 3rd (Sat) early enough to drive to Yellowstone National Park.

Things to do in Cody

Museums Historic Sites Parks
Find places to stay Sep 30 — Oct 3:
Highlights from your plan
Cody Firearms Experience, LLC ©
Cody Firearms Experience, LLC
Buffalo Bill Center of the West ©
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Cody Firearms Museum ©
Cody Firearms Museum

2
nights
Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park ©
An exceptionally diverse landscape and varied wildlife have made Yellowstone National Park one of America's most popular parks.
Yellowstone National Park is known for nature, wildlife, trails, historic sites, and nightlife. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: take in breathtaking views at Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, witness a stunning natural landmark at Mammoth Hot Springs, cruise along Lamar Valley, and hike along Artist Point.

To see reviews and tourist information, go to the Yellowstone National Park road trip planner.

You can drive from Cody to Yellowstone National Park in 2.5 hours. Traveling from Cody in October, expect Yellowstone National Park to be a bit cooler, temps between 9°C and -4°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 5th (Mon) early enough to go by car to Grand Teton National Park.

Things to do in Yellowstone National Park

Parks Nature Outdoors
Find places to stay Oct 3 — 5:
Highlights from your plan
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone ©
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Old Faithful ©
Old Faithful
Grand Prismatic Spring ©
Grand Prismatic Spring

2
nights
Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park ©
The peaks of Grand Teton National Park aren't the highest in the world, but they sit atop what might be nature's archetypes for mountains.
Start off your visit on the 5th (Mon): explore the striking landscape at Glacier View Turnout.

For reviews, traveler tips, where to stay, and tourist information, read Grand Teton National Park driving holiday planning website .

Traveling by car from Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park takes 1.5 hours. Traveling from Yellowstone National Park in October, you will find days in Grand Teton National Park are a bit warmer (15°C), and nights are about the same (-2°C). Wrap up your sightseeing on the 7th (Wed) early enough to travel to Salt Lake City.

Things to do in Grand Teton National Park

Parks Nature Wildlife
Find places to stay Oct 5 — 7:
Highlights from your plan
Grand Teton ©
Grand Teton
Glacier View Turnout ©
Glacier View Turnout

1
night
Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City ©
Utah's capital and most populous city, Salt Lake City boasts a small-town feel, big-city amenities, and plenty of nature on its doorstep.
Start off your visit on the 7th (Wed): view the masterpieces at Art at the Main Gallery, then tour the pleasant surroundings at Temple Square, and then take in the spiritual surroundings of Salt Lake Temple. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: test your problem-solving skills at popular escape rooms, then get a sense of history and politics at Utah State Capitol, and then take in breathtaking views at Big Cottonwood Canyon.

For reviews, other places to visit, traveler tips, and more tourist information, read Salt Lake City trip planner .

Getting from Grand Teton National Park to Salt Lake City by flight takes about 3 hours. Other options: do a combination of car and flight; or drive. Traveling from Grand Teton National Park in October, things will get a bit warmer in Salt Lake City: highs are around 23°C and lows about 9°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 8th (Thu) early enough to travel to Moab.

Things to do in Salt Lake City

Historic Sites Parks Nature
Find places to stay Oct 7 — 8:
Highlights from your plan
Temple Square ©
Temple Square
Big Cottonwood Canyon ©
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Room Escape Games

2
nights
Moab

Moab ©
The gateway to Utah's popular canyon country, Moab sits engulfed in the middle of desert wilderness.
Start off your visit on the 9th (Fri): take in the dramatic natural features at Double Arch and then take your sightseeing to a higher altitude at Arches National Park.

To see ratings, photos, reviews, and more tourist information, use the Moab road trip planner.

Do a combination of flight and car from Salt Lake City to Moab in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or do a combination of train and car. In October, daytime highs in Moab are 25°C, while nighttime lows are 6°C. Cap off your sightseeing on the 10th (Sat) early enough to go by car to Page.

Things to do in Moab

Nature Outdoors Parks

Side Trip

Double Arch
Find places to stay Oct 8 — 10:
Highlights from your plan
Arches National Park ©
Arches National Park
Double Arch ©
Double Arch

1
night
Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park ©
Whereas most national parks are primarily devoted to showcasing unique and special landscapes, Mesa Verde National Park focuses on ancient human habitation.
Start off your visit on the 10th (Sat): delve into the distant past at Spruce Tree House, then delve into the distant past at Balcony House, then contemplate the long history of Cliff Palace, and finally explore the ancient world of Far View Sites. Here are some ideas for day two: trek along Nordenskiold #16 Trail and then explore the ancient world of Long House.

For where to stay, photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, use the Mesa Verde National Park trip planning tool .

Traveling by car from Moab to Mesa Verde National Park takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and bus. Plan for a bit cooler nights when traveling from Moab in October since evenings lows in Mesa Verde National Park dip to 1°C. On the 11th (Sun), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can drive to Page.

Things to do in Mesa Verde National Park

Historic Sites Outdoors Parks
Find places to stay Oct 10 — 11:
Highlights from your plan
Long House ©
Long House
Balcony House ©
Balcony House
Cliff Palace ©
Cliff Palace

2
nights
Page

Page ©
Originally little more than a simple camp constructed to house workers who built a nearby dam on the Colorado River, Page is now a popular stop for travelers preparing a trip to Arizona's canyon country.
Start off your visit on the 12th (Mon): see human ingenuity at work at Glen Canyon Dam Overlook, take in breathtaking views at Antelope Canyon, then explore the striking landscape at Horseshoe Bend, and finally enjoy some diversion at Gunfighter Canyon.

To see where to stay, ratings, more things to do, and other tourist information, go to the Page attractions site .

Drive from Mesa Verde National Park to Page in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi, bus, and car. Traveling from Mesa Verde National Park in October, expect somewhat warmer with lows of 12°C in Page. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 13th (Tue) so you can go by car to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Things to do in Page

Parks Nature Fun & Games
Find places to stay Oct 11 — 13:
Highlights from your plan
Antelope Canyon ©
Antelope Canyon
Horseshoe Bend ©
Horseshoe Bend
Glen Canyon Dam Overlook ©
Glen Canyon Dam Overlook

2
nights
Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park ©
You can find hoodoos--rock pillars formed by erosion--all around the world, but those of Bryce Canyon National Park remain the standard bearers thanks to their bright red color, tall stature, and arrangement in large amphitheaters.
Bryce Canyon National Park is known for trails, nature, shopping, scenic drive, and wildlife. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: tour the pleasant surroundings at Navajo/Queens Garden Loop, stop by Ruby's Inn Canyon Rock Shop, trek along Navajo Loop Trail, and explore the stunning scenery at Sunset Point.

For other places to visit, reviews, photos, and tourist information, read Bryce Canyon National Park itinerary planner .

You can drive from Page to Bryce Canyon National Park in 3 hours. Another option is to do a combination of shuttle and car. When traveling from Page in October, plan for slightly colder days and colder nights in Bryce Canyon National Park: temperatures range from 19°C by day to -1°C at night. On the 15th (Thu), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can drive to Zion National Park.

Things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park

Parks Outdoors Trails
Find places to stay Oct 13 — 15:
Highlights from your plan
Navajo/Queens Garden Loop ©
Navajo/Queens Garden Loop
Navajo Loop Trail ©
Navajo Loop Trail
Inspiration Point ©
Inspiration Point

1
night
Zion National Park

Zion National Park
Towering cliffs of red, white, and pink Navajo sandstone, stream-carved slot canyons, and big blue sky all characterize Zion National Park.
To see ratings, other places to visit, more things to do, and tourist information, read Zion National Park trip itinerary planner .

Traveling by car from Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park takes 3 hours. Traveling from Bryce Canyon National Park in October, things will get a bit warmer in Zion National Park: highs are around 27°C and lows about 2°C. On the 16th (Fri), you're off toGrand Canyon National Park.

Things to do in Zion National Park

Outdoors Parks Nature
Find places to stay Oct 15 — 16:

1
night
Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park ©
The size, shape, and color of Grand Canyon National Park combine to leave an impression on visitors as deep as the canyon itself.
Start off your visit on the 16th (Fri): take in breathtaking views at Grand Canyon South Rim and then hike along Bright Angel Trail. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the next day: get great views at Mather Point and then hike along South Kaibab Trail.

To find reviews, more things to do, maps, and more tourist information, use the Grand Canyon National Park online trip planner .

The Route module can help you plan travel from Zion National Park to Grand Canyon National Park. Plan for little chillier temperatures traveling from Zion National Park in October, with highs in Grand Canyon National Park at 22°C and lows at 0°C. Finish your sightseeing early on the 17th (Sat) to allow enough time to drive to Las Vegas.

Things to do in Grand Canyon National Park

Parks Outdoors Trails
Find places to stay Oct 16 — 17:
Highlights from your plan
Grand Canyon South Rim ©
Grand Canyon South Rim
Bright Angel Trail ©
Bright Angel Trail
South Kaibab Trail ©
South Kaibab Trail

2
nights
Las Vegas

Las Vegas ©
Nicknamed the "Entertainment Capital of the World," Las Vegas sits in the middle of a desert in the southern section of Nevada.
Start off your visit on the 18th (Sun): take in panoramic vistas at Stratosphere Tower, then admire the local landmark of Fountains of Bellagio, then admire the natural beauty at Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, and finally explore the stunning scenery at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Here are some ideas for day two: examine the collection at The Mob Museum, take in panoramic vistas at High Roller, and then shop like a local with The Strip.

For reviews, photos, ratings, and tourist information, read Las Vegas holiday maker tool .

Traveling by car from Grand Canyon National Park to Las Vegas takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can take a shuttle; or do a combination of bus and flight. The time zone changes from Mountain Standard Time (MST) to Pacific Standard Time (PST), which is usually a -1 hour difference. Traveling from Grand Canyon National Park in October, expect nights in Las Vegas to be warmer, around 18°C, while days are somewhat warmer, around 32°C. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 19th (Mon) to allow time to travel to Yosemite National Park.

Things to do in Las Vegas

Neighborhoods Historic Sites Parks
Find places to stay Oct 17 — 19:
Highlights from your plan
Fountains of Bellagio ©
Fountains of Bellagio
The Strip ©
The Strip

3
nights
Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park ©
Massive granite mountains, towering waterfalls, groves of Giant Sequoia trees, and wilderness as far as the eye can see distinguish the landscape of Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite National Park is known for nature, trails, scenic drive, wildlife, and museums. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: take in the dramatic natural features at Glacier Point, stroll around Mariposa Grove, take some stellar pictures from Yosemite, Tunnel View, and don't miss a visit to Washburn Point.

To find other places to visit, reviews, where to stay, and other tourist information, you can read our Yosemite National Park road trip app .

You can do a combination of flight and bus from Las Vegas to Yosemite National Park in 8 hours. Other options are to do a combination of flight, taxi, and bus; or do a combination of bus and train. When traveling from Las Vegas in October, plan for little chillier days and cooler nights in Yosemite National Park: temperatures range from 22°C by day to -2°C at night. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 23rd (Fri) to allow time to drive to San Francisco.

Things to do in Yosemite National Park

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trip

Panum Crater
Find places to stay Oct 19 — 23:
Highlights from your plan
Glacier Point ©
Glacier Point
Sentinel Dome ©
Sentinel Dome
Mariposa Grove ©
Mariposa Grove

3
nights
San Francisco

San Francisco ©
San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
Spend the 26th (Mon) on a tasty journey with a beer tour and tasting. And it doesn't end there: take in the views from Golden Gate Bridge, go for a walk through Fisherman's Wharf, wander the streets of SoMa, and take in nature's colorful creations at Japanese Tea Garden.

For ratings, more things to do, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our San Francisco trip itinerary planner.

Getting from Yosemite National Park to San Francisco by car takes about 4 hours. Other options: do a combination of car and flight; or do a combination of bus and flight. Traveling from Yosemite National Park in October, you will find days in San Francisco are somewhat warmer (26°C), and nights are much hotter (15°C). Finish up your sightseeing early on the 26th (Mon) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in San Francisco

Parks Neighborhoods Historic Sites
Find places to stay Oct 23 — 26:
Highlights from your plan
Golden Gate Bridge ©
Golden Gate Bridge
Alcatraz Island ©
Alcatraz Island
Fisherman's Wharf ©
Fisherman's Wharf

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