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Rocky Mountains And The Great Plains: VIRTUAL ROAD TRIPPIN' USA

Get on the open road and explore six wild, wild states on this epic U.S. adventure. Take in big cities, deep canyons, lush parklands, and more with the 'Rocky Mountains And The Great Plains' road trippin' journey.

Get on the open road and explore six wild, wild states on this epic U.S. adventure. Take in big cities, deep canyons, lush parklands, and more with the ‘Rocky Mountains And The Great Plains’ road trippin’ journey.

The “Rocky Mountains and The Great Plains” itinerary will have you stepping back in time and reconnecting with the power of the natural world, in all its glory.

This trip will see you taking in the scenery and getting ready for your next national park hike, history lesson, museum experience, or hot springs dip.

Cruise through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska and prepare to be ‘wowed’ by the dramatic landscapes and fascinating stories this part of the world has to offer.

Explore all of Brand USA’s 31 Amazing Self Drive Road Trip itineraries here.

Rocky Mountains and The Great Plains: Route Highlights

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1. Denver, Colorado

BUSA_Little Man Ice Cream, Denver
Little Man Ice Cream, Denver

Start your journey in Denver, a city that boasts a outdoor beauty, big-city charm and all the craft beer you could possibly dream of.

If the thought of craft beer makes you happy, be sure to check out the Denver Beer Trail and Wynkoop Brewing Company.

For shops, restaurants, bars, and clubs, head down to Denver’s Larimer Square and for something a little boutiquey and artsy, take a wander to LoDo, where you’ll also find the Colorado Rockies baseball stadium.

Art lovers can explore the Denver Art Museum, Denver’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Golden Triangle Museum District and keep an eye out for the 300 pieces of public art, including sculptures, murals, and sound- and light-based works scattered around the city.

2. Denver > Cañon City, Colorado

Red Rocks Park Amphitheatre, Morrison
Red Rocks Park Amphitheatre, Morrison

Make sure you’re camera is charged for stop at Garden of the Gods Park, Colorado Springs, which features dramatic sandstone formations set against the breathtaking backdrop of Pikes Peak.

Another must-see natural attraction is Seven Falls, which is a series of spectacular waterfalls cascading 181 feet through a box canyon.

Lunch at the fabulous Broadmoor luxury resort and then continue on to Royal Gorge Bridge & Park just outside of Cañon City.

In addition to seeing one of the world’s highest suspension bridges (not for the faint-hearted!), take in the stunning scenery and catch a thrill on the Cloudscraper Zip Line or Royal Rush Skycoaster.

  • DRIVE TIME: 186kms: 2 hours and 3 mins drive time

3. Cañon City, Colorado > Vail, Colorado

Rocky Mountains sunset, Vail
Rocky Mountains sunset, Vail

Depart Cañon City via the Gold Belt Byway, and experience spectacular views of deep canyons and lush parklands.

Stop at the charming ski destination of Breckenridge and explore its unique boutiques, restaurants and quaint historic buildings.

Next up, the treat that is Vail. Vail is an upscale city located at the base of Vail Mountain. In the winter, it’s a haven for skiers and snowboarders and in the summer, the city buzzes with mountain bikers, hikers and golfers.

If you’re there for summer, don’t miss the annual Hot Summer Nights Concert.

  • DRIVE TIME: 214kms: 2 hours and 39 mins drive time

4. Vail, Colorado > Grand Junction, Colorado

Glenwood Hot Springs Pool
Glenwood Hot Springs Pool

Drive west to scenic Glenwood Springs, known for its hot springs and caves. And who doesn’t love a hot spring and caves?

Springs such as Glenwood Hot Springs Pool and Iron Mountain Hot Springs are said to have healing powers, so get in and soak all your troubles away.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, get your adrenaline roaring with a whitewater-rafting trip on the Colorado and Roaring Fork rivers, followed by more fun activities at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Continue west to Grand Junction, where you will overnight and can enjoy a truly immersive food and beverage experience. Stroll through local vineyards and stay for a wine tasting at places such as gorgeous Grande River Vineyards and Plum Creek Winery in Palisade.

Just a few minutes outside the city, take in the stunning, panoramic views of the red rock canyons at Colorado National Monument on the 23-mile Rim Rock Drive. Keep an eye out for wildlife such as desert bighorn sheep or collared lizards.

  • DRIVE TIME: 237kms: 2 hours and 20 minutes drive time

5. Grand Junction, Colorado > Rock Springs, Wyoming

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

It’s time to channel your inner Ross Geller at the Dinosaur National Monument, where you can visit the quarry and see dinosaur bones and fossils encased in rock.

Pretend you’re in Jurrasic Park and hike into the mountains and canyons, where you may see elk and mule deer, or view the ancient petroglyphs at McKee Springs.

When you’re done discovering Dinos, stop at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, and marvel at views of its crystal reservoir and red
rocks.

Wind down at Rock Springs, and take a late arvo visit to the Bureau of Land Management wild horse viewing area. If you have a 4WD, take the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop.

  • DRIVE TIME: 409kms: 4 hours and 43 minutes drive time

6. Rock Springs, Wyoming > Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho

Yellowstone, Wyoming. ©Talia Salem
Yellowstone, Wyoming. ©Talia Salem

Drive north to the Jackson Hole valley and stop for lunch in the small town of Jackson. The Town Square is famous for four large arches made from elk antlers collected at the nearby National Elk Refuge. In the winter, you can even take a sleigh ride at the refuge to view the majestic elk.

Continue through Grand Teton National Park to Yellowstone National Park along the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Highway. No trip out West would be complete without a visit to Yellowstone National Park. This enormous park sits atop a volcanic hot spot that creates impressive geothermal activity.

After a good sleep, take a full day to explore the wonders of Yellowstone National Park. Bring a picnic and eat while you wait for the next eruption of Old Faithful, a geyser that spews hot water high into the sky throughout the day. After lunch, have a ramble and you’ll be treated to many other natural wonders.

A visit to the historic Old Faithful Inn is a must, too. Built in 1904 from local materials, it is believed to be the world’s largest log structure.

Love animals? Yellowstone is home to a large selection of wildlife, including wolves, elk, bison, bear and moose, some of which you are likely to encounter during a day hike or mountain bike ride on one of the park’s many backcountry trails.

Keep an eye out for Yogi and his friends too.

  • DRIVE TIME: 415kms: 4 hours and 49 minutes drive time

7. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho > Billings, Montana

Yellowstone, Wyoming. ©Talia Salem

Head north out of Yellowstone through Gardiner toward the eclectic railroad town of Livingston. Stop at this picturesque destination, browse art galleries, and go to the Livingston Depot Center, a museum where you can learn about railroad history.

Follow the Yellowstone River Valley east to Billings, the state’s largest city. Surrounded by seven mountain ranges, you can explore the Montana wilderness and discover a wealth of wildlife.

In Billings you can discover the many museums, the Moss Mansion, and experience the excitement of a rodeo.

  • DRIVE TIME: 323kms: 4 hours and 17 minutes drive time

8. Billings, Montana > Medora, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park

On the way east to Medora, take a slight detour to pay your respects at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and Custer National Cemetery.

Then, continue your journey into North Dakota and to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Take the Scenic Loop Drive to experience the Northern Great Plains and the Badlands, where bison still roam.

  • DRIVE TIME: 452kms: 4 hours and 9 minutes drive time

9. Medora, North Dakota > Rapid City, South Dakota

Rapid City
Rapid City

Start your day at Painted Canyon Visitors Center, taking in spectacular views of the Badlands from its scenic overlook before traveling south into South Dakota.

Feel like you’re in a real life Western, as you journey through Spearfish Canyon, then head to the historic mining town of Deadwood, site of one of the Old West’s most famous gold rushes.

A stop at Mount Moriah Cemetery, the final resting place of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, is a must.

Continue through the stunning scenery of the Black Hills to Sturgis, home of the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.

Ironically, take time to chill at Rapid City. While you’re there, check out Main Street Square, for life-size bronze statues of past U.S. presidents, as well as many galleries, museums and restaurants.

  • DRIVE TIME: 378kms: 3 hours and 55 minutes drive time

10. Rapid City, South Dakota > Hot Springs, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Get an early start for Keystone, avoid the rush and marvel at the sunrise over Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

The famous hand-carved monument, jutting from the granite of the Black Hills of South Dakota, depicts the faces of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.

While there, stop in the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center to learn more about the monument’s creation.

When you’re done, continue to Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park. Explore the history, nature, wildlife and sheer beauty of this park, the state’s largest.

The next destination is Hot Springs, where you’ll adore taking some R&R soaking time in the Evans Plunge Mineral Springs.

If you’d like to reconnect with your caveman roots, don’t miss the Mammoth Site, an ancient sinkhole, where the fossilised remains of more than 61 mammoths have been discovered. Pretty cool.

  • DRIVE TIME: 92kms: 59 minutes drive time

11. Hot Springs, South Dakota > Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska

Scotts Bluff National Monument
Scotts Bluff National Monument

Say hello to Nebraska and stop in Chadron to tour the Museum of the Fur Trade at the James Bordeaux Trading Post.

Continue to Fort Robinson State Park, where Crazy Horse died in 1877 and the Cheyenne Outbreak happened in 1879.

Next, visit Scotts Bluff National Monument, take steps on parts of the original Oregon Trail and then end your day with a drive to the summit of the bluff for AH-MAZING valley views of the North Platte River.

  • DRIVE TIME: 234kms: 2 hours and 28 minutes drive time

12. Scotts Bluff National Monument, Nebraska > Estes Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park

Get ready to experience Old West charm in Wyoming’s capital, Cheyenne. Here, you can visit the Cheyenne Depot, a 19th-century railroad station that now houses a visitor centre and interactive museum.

Take a walking tour of downtown, making sure to stop at one of the many western wear shops to make your childhood dreams come true, because who hasn’t dreamed of being a cowboy/girl in the American frontier?

Fill your tums before departing for Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.

  • DRIVE TIME: 294kms: 3 hours and 7 minutes drive time

13. Estes Park, Colorado > Denver, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park

Save the best until last. Here’s what you came for and what the itinerary name is inspired by.

Enter Rocky Mountain National Park and explore the wilderness.

In the summer months, take the Trail Ridge Road. Start at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and follow the trail to the Alpine Visitor Center; see spectacular views of Sundance Mountain and Tombstone Ridge along the way.

The Grand Lake is a great spot for lunch. Then, your journey will continue along the shores of Lake Granby.

Travel to the beautiful Winter Park Resort, and hike trails through meadows bursting with flowers. Make sure you bring a couple of extra memory cards for your camera!

When you’re legs have turned to jelly and you have a big goofy grin of amazement, return to Denver to discover anything you missed at the start of your journey.

And hey, why not just do it all again?!

  • DRIVE TIME: 103kms: 1 hours and 21 minutes drive time

Download the complete Rocky Mountains and The Great Plains‘ itinerary here!

Get the Road Trip Playlist

This playlist will have you rockin’, roaming and Wyoming your way through those dusty desert roads.

Groove to tracks such as North Dakota, Colorado Trail, Little Nebraska Town, and more as you step back in time and journey through the wild, wild west.

Agents: Download, Escape and Explore GoUSA TV

GoUSA TV is a free premier travel entertainment channel. Watch full episodes, documentaries and films, told from the diverse perspectives of real people across America. 

Discover the Queens area of New York City through the diversity of the Latinx diaspora in the series, Americanos, available on GoUSA TV. Explore how Latinx culture brings American cities to life through the stories of those who embrace their roots and shape the future.

With more than 400 authentic and short format videos featuring destinations from all 50 states, 5 territories, and the District of Columbia, there’s never been a better time to get online and enjoy some incredible travel entertainment!

Available for download in the App or Play store and on Apple TV.

More info here.

Agents: Join the USA Discovery Program

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The USA Discovery Program is Brand USA’s official trade training platform for the USA. The Rocky Mountains and The Great Plains itinerary features six destinations with training badges.

Get clicking and complete your Colorado, Denver, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota badges and skill up in a fun and interactive way.

Click here to register and get all the knowledge for the USA.

PLUS! Design your own Road Trip with the USA TRIP PLANNER

The Visit USA Trip Planner is an amazing (and free!) tool that matches your personal travel preferences and style.

With over 230 million data points including the best places & times to visit, reviews and hidden gems, this is one smart piece of travel tech.

This little travel genius optimises your itinerary to minimise travel time, checks when attractions are open and even recommends how much time to spend at each stop off. Brilliant!

Finally, it lets you share & collaborate with your fellow road trippers and is easy to add or revise points of interest as you go.

Find out more: Trip-Planner.VisitTheUSA.com

Get all the tools on Brand USA’s TRAVEL TRADE SITE

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From Trip Planners to Itineraries and the USA Discovery Program and Destination information, Brand USA’s Travel Trade Site for agents has you covered.

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