Denver, CO is the gateway to the Rockies. This high desert city sits in the eastern rain shadow of the great mountain chain that bisects the country. Denver is a major economic hub in the region, with a major airport for easy access to the city and surrounding areas. The lifestyle in this city, and Colorado in general, is focused on the great outdoors. Because of that, it is one of the healthiest places in the United States.
This also means there is a multitude of outdoor activities available to the public. Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is a great example of what a Denver lifestyle looks like. This amazing outdoor amphitheater is carved right from the red rock hillside and plays host to a lot of great entertainment throughout the year. The surrounding park is an extremely popular place for hiking and outdoor exercise.
There is a lot of history in the city too. The Larimer Square area in downtown is chock full of historic buildings. It's a great area to walk, shop and dine in the many businesses that now occupy the old structures. The Molly Brown House and Museum honors the brave woman who resided there. She survived the sinking of the titanic and convinced the crew of her lifeboat to go back and search for more survivors. The home was built in 1889 and is quite stunning, as are the artifacts inside which detail the life experiences of this Titanic survivor.
One fascinating government building is the Denver Mint, which has been making coins in the Denver area since 1906. The mint offers guided tours that allow you to see the coins being made, and the tour guides offer a lot of interesting background information on the minting process as well as the history of the facility.
Prospect RV Park is located on the northwest side of the city. This full-service RV park is highly rated and provides excellent access to the city as well as to I-25 north for our trip to Bozeman.
The trip to Bozeman is pretty straightforward and starts by taking I-25 north out of Denver. Take I-25 all the way to Buffalo, WY. There you'll transfer to I-90 west which will take you all the way to Bozeman. If you wish to go to Yellowstone, avoid the temptation to short cut this route by heading west from I-25 or I-90 via US-16, US-14 or US-212 (Beartooth Highway) if you are traveling by RV. Contrary to what the road signs may say, these are treacherous routes to attempt with a large vehicle. Instead, wait until you get to Livingston or Bozeman. The routes to the north or west entrances of Yellowstone are much easier.
Rocky Mountain National Park is a large wilderness park northwest of Denver. This park is one of the gems of the national park system, with natural beauty rivaling the big guns like Glacier and Yosemite. It's hard to find anywhere in the park that is not postcard perfect regardless of the time of year you visit.
If you just want to drive through, there are two scenic roads within the park, Old Fall River Road and Trail Ridge Road. Neither will disappoint. To truly experience the park at its best, get out and hike. A drive up to Bear Lake provides many great opportunities for beautiful hikes ranging in length from short excursions to multi-day backcountry excursions.
Estes Park is the closest city to the park, and Loveland is the closest access town off of I-25. Either makes for a good place to stay if you want to do an overnight.
Cheyenne Frontier Days is the major celebration of western culture held annually in July in Cheyenne, Wyoming. This event is part carnival, part rodeo, part live entertainment event, and a whole lotta fun. The live entertainment is generally world-class, with acts like Blake Shelton, Eric Church and Thomas Rhett taking the stage during the 2020 event. The Carnival Midway has hundreds of rides, games, and food vendors, and it's open daily from 10:30am to midnight.
The rodeo is part of the of the PRCA PRORODEO circuit with events taking place over a nine-day stretch. All your favorite rodeo events are held including bull riding, barrel racing, saddle bronc riding, and roping events. If you want to get a taste of the wild west, there is no better place then the Cheyenne Frontier Days. The event is exceptionally popular with places to stay booking solid for hundreds of miles around town months in advance.
If you'd like to go, make your reservations early for a place to stay. If it's available, the best place to stay is the AB Camping & RV Park on the south side of the city.
Hell's Half Acre is a rough geological formation about 45 minutes west of Casper, WY on US-26. Contrary to the name, the area is much larger than a half-acre, covering more like 325 acres. The terrain here is exceptionally rugged, more reminiscent of the Badlands than the grassy plains surrounding the site. In fact, the cliffs here offer such a sharp transition from the surrounding areas that the local native American tribes used them to drive herds of bison to their deaths.
Over the years people have attempted to make it a broader tourist attraction, but most of those attempts have failed. It has also been used as a movie set; the site was the used an alien planet backdrop in the 1997 SciFi action adventure movie Starship Troopers.
The land is currently owned by Natrona County and can be visited by the public.
Independence Rock is a Wyoming State Historic Site located about an hour southwest of Casper on US-220. This large sandstone hill measures in at 130 feet high, 1900 feet long and 850 feet high, protruding from the otherwise flat surrounding prairie. Its immense size allowed it to act as an important landmark for those headed west during the pioneer days.
Legend has it that it was understood that you needed to make it to this rock on your way west to California by July 4th in order to have any hope of making it over the Sierra Nevada Mountains before getting snowed in. It was customary to inscribe your name in rock as you passed by and over 5,000 people did so. Many of those names can still be read on the rock today.
The site has hiking trails around the rock that allow you to see the names inscribed upon it. There is also a replica of a covered wagon which is similar to the ones which would have passed by here during the pioneer days.
The Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as “Custer's Last Stand” occurred on this site on June 25 and 26, 1876. The battle was waged between the US 7th Calvary Regiment and a conglomeration of warriors from several local Native American tribes. The US forces were decimated and it was one the worst defeat of the Great Sioux War. Today, the battlefield stands as a national monument with a visitor's center detailing the events of the battle and those leading up to it
The battlefield itself is known for its natural beauty and is worth a look on its own. Reenactments of the battle are also a common occurrence here and you may be able to catch one if you are lucky.
The 7th Ranch RV Camp is located just 12 minutes from the battlefield. This highly-rated park makes for a perfect place to stay in the area.
Along I-90 between Billings and Bozeman lies the small, but historically significant town of Livingston, MT. This quaint little town is known as the “Gateway to Yellowstone”. The north entrance to the park is about 50 miles to south on US-89. If you wish to visit the park, this one of the better paths to take.
The town earned its nickname because it was the location of the train station that brought visitors to the park from the east during the early days. There is a really neat historic downtown section, and the railroad depot is still there.
To catch up on the history of the town and area, a stop at the Yellowstone Gateway Museum is a lot of fun. This museum features exhibits and artifacts related to the town's importance in the development of tourism to Yellowstone National Park.
Osens RV Park and Campground is a great little park on the south side of the town. It's quiet, easy to access and provides a good base camp to explore Livingston or to head down US-89 to Yellowstone.
Yellowstone National Park is perhaps the most significant park in the US. As the country's first National Park, it hard to overstate the importance of this area of the country. It also harbors the highest concentration of thermal features in the world, providing an amazing place for education and research into how the earth works.
The park has a loop road which is split into a northern and southern section by a connecting road between canyon village and the west entrance road. The best way to see the park is to take your time and drive this road, stopping at points of interest along the way. Doing so will likely take more than a single day to see most of the locations. In addition to the large number of designated thermal areas to explore, there are also a large number of hiking trails throughout the park in general. Many of these can be used for anything from day hikes to multi-day back county journeys. The park is so large it is best that you try to plan ahead for what you'd like to do when you arrive. It's easy to get overwhelmed once you're there.
If you want to stay the night, the best RV park is Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park just outside the west entrance gate in West Yellowstone. You can get there via US-191 from Bozeman, MT.
Bozeman, MT is a small Montana City in the heart of the Rocky Mountains which is known as the “Fly Fishing Capital of the World”. There are several excellent fishing spots surrounding the city and several great guides in the area that can help you get hooked up with some great fish. Bozeman Fly, Montana Angler, and Montana Troutfitters are all highly rated companies for an area fly fishing trip.
Bozeman also offers some great dry activities as well. The American Computer and Robotics Museum traces the evolution of man-made computing devices over the last 20,000 years, including everything from the Abacus to modern supercomputers. The Museum of the Rockies takes an in-depth look at the major sciences including a detailed history of the Rocky Mountains. They have an excellent planetarium and one the world's most extensive collections of dinosaur fossils on display, many of which have been found in the local and surrounding areas. This includes some of the best T. Rex examples anywhere. The collection is really something to see.
Downtown Bozeman has an excellent walkable shopping district with great shops, restaurants, and some art galleries. There is something downtown for everyone to enjoy.
The Bozeman Hot Springs Campground is a good place to stay in the area. It is located south of town on US-191. They offer RV and tent sites as well as cabins, all in a beautiful rustic environment. Staying here also gives you a trip to the hot springs across the street where you can soak in the warm healing mineral baths.