16 days in Badlands National Park & Colorado Itinerary

16 days in Badlands National Park & Colorado Itinerary

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Route & dates

16 days in Badlands National Park & Colorado Itinerary

Start: Madison
Drive:  10​h
1
Badlands National Park
— 1 night
Drive:  7​h 45​min
2
Estes Park
— 3 nights
Drive:  4​h 30​min
3
Steamboat Springs
— 3 nights
Drive:  3​h
4
Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park
— 1 night
Drive:  3​h 30​min
5
Durango
— 1 night
Drive:  1​h 30​min
6
Mesa Verde National Park
— 3 nights
Drive:  5​h
7
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
— 3 nights
Drive + Fly:  8​h 30​min
End: Madison

1
night
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.
Your day-by-day itinerary now includes Badlands National Park, Ben Reifel Visitor Center and Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. On the 17th (Sat), explore the striking landscape of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, then get answers to all your questions at Ben Reifel Visitor Center, and then explore the striking landscape of Badlands National Park.

To see other places to visit, photos, and more tourist information, read Badlands National Park trip planner .

Madison to Badlands National Park is an approximately 7.5-hour combination of flight and taxi. You can also do a combination of bus, flight, and taxi; or drive. The time zone difference when traveling from Madison to Badlands National Park is minus 1 hour. Traveling from Madison in August, you will find days in Badlands National Park are somewhat warmer (87°F), and nights are about the same (58°F). Finish your sightseeing early on the 18th (Sun) so you can travel to Estes Park.

Things to do in Badlands National Park

Nature Parks Scenic Drive

Side Trips

Badlands National Park, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Highlights from your plan
Loop Road ©
Loop Road
Badlands National Park ©
Badlands National Park
Badlands Wall ©
Badlands Wall

3
nights
Estes Park

Estes Park ©
More than just a convenient resting place for travelers on their way to the national park encompassing the Front Range of the Rockies, Estes Park is a popular place to visit in its own right.
Your list of things to see and do now includes Rock Cut Brewing Company, Enos Mills Cabin Museum, Estes Park Visitor Center, and other attractions. Bring the kids along to Alluvial Fan and Estes Park Ride-A-Kart & Cascade Creek Mini-Golf. Get out of town with these interesting Estes Park side-trips: Rocky Mountain National Park (Trail Ridge Road & Bear Lake). And it doesn't end there: get your game on at Tiny Town Miniature Golf, view the masterpieces at The Studio Fine Art and Framing, and look for gifts at Rocky Mountain Gateway Gift Shop.

To see other places to visit, reviews, more things to do, and other tourist information, use the Estes Park travel route planner .

You can fly from Wall to Estes Park in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of car and flight; or drive. Expect a daytime high around 89°F in August, and nighttime lows around 56°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 21st (Wed) so you can travel to Steamboat Springs.

Things to do in Estes Park

Nature Parks Scenic Drive

Side Trip

Rocky Mountain National Park
Highlights from your plan
Trail Ridge Road ©
Trail Ridge Road
Bear Lake ©
Bear Lake
Peak to Peak Scenic Byway ©
Peak to Peak Scenic Byway

3
nights
Steamboat Springs

Steamboat Springs ©
An internationally known ski resort, Steamboat Springs sits in the shadow of Mount Werner in north central Colorado.
Kick off your visit on the 23rd (Fri): enjoy some diversion at Howelsen Ice Complex and then take in the natural beauty of Strawberry Park Hot Springs.

To find photos, other places to visit, ratings, and tourist information, refer to the Steamboat Springs trip planner .

Traveling by combination of car and bus from Estes Park to Steamboat Springs takes 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Plan for little chillier temperatures traveling from Estes Park in August, with highs in Steamboat Springs at 79°F and lows at 46°F. You'll have a few hours on the 24th (Sat) to wrap things up before traveling to Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park.

Things to do in Steamboat Springs

Nature Fun & Games Parks
Highlights from your plan
Holy Name Catholic Church ©
Holy Name Catholic Church

1
night
Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park ©
The Gunnison River has been hard at work over the past two million years, carving out the sheer cliffs and towering spires that today make up Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
Your day-by-day itinerary now includes Pulpit Rock Overlook as well as Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Start off your visit on the 24th (Sat): explore and take pictures at South Rim Road, then take in the awesome beauty at Pulpit Rock Overlook, and then explore the wealth of natural beauty at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

To see maps, ratings, other places to visit, and tourist information, read Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park day trip website .

You can drive from Steamboat Springs to Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park in 5 hours. In August, Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park is a bit warmer than Steamboat Springs - with highs of 85°F and lows of 56°F. You will have some time to spend on the 25th (Sun) before leaving for Durango.

Things to do in Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park

Nature Parks Scenic Drive
Highlights from your plan
Pulpit Rock Overlook ©
Pulpit Rock Overlook

1
night
Durango

Durango
Originally a frontier mining town, Durango is known today for its scenic setting, outdoor activities, and the 1880s steam-powered railway that takes visitors through sections of the mountains where roads don't reach.
Kick off your visit on the 25th (Sun): witness a stunning natural landmark at Pinkerton Hot Springs.

To see photos, reviews, maps, and tourist information, go to the Durango road trip site .

Getting from Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park to Durango by car takes about 3.5 hours. Traveling from Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park in August, expect slightly colder with lows of 51°F in Durango. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 26th (Mon) so you can go by car to Mesa Verde National Park.

Things to do in Durango

Outdoors Parks Tours

3
nights
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.
Your day-by-day itinerary now includes Mesa Verde National Park as well as Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center. You'll find plenty of places to visit near Mesa Verde National Park: The Anasazi Heritage Center (in Dolores), Shiprock Rock Formation (in Shiprock) and Four Corners Monument (in Teec Nos Pos). Next up on the itinerary: explore the ancient world of Long House, steep yourself in history at Balcony House, see the interesting displays at Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, and hike along Petroglyph Point Hike.

To find other places to visit and tourist information, go to the Mesa Verde National Park tour itinerary planning site .

You can drive from Durango to Mesa Verde National Park in 1.5 hours. Other options are to do a combination of bus and taxi; or do a combination of shuttle and taxi. In August, daytime highs in Mesa Verde National Park are 86°F, while nighttime lows are 53°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 29th (Thu) to allow time to travel to Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.

Things to do in Mesa Verde National Park

Parks Nature Historic Sites

Side Trips

Four Corners Monument, Shiprock Rock Formation, The Anasazi Heritage Center
Highlights from your plan
Mesa Verde National Park ©
Mesa Verde National Park
Petroglyph Point Hike ©
Petroglyph Point Hike
Shiprock Rock Formation ©
Shiprock Rock Formation

3
nights
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve ©
Explore the numerous day-trip ideas around Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve: Bishop Castle (in Rye), Mission: Wolf (in Gardner) and Fort Garland (Los Caminos Antiguos, Fort Garland Museum, & more).

To find traveler tips, more things to do, ratings, and tourist information, use the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve trip itinerary planner.

Use the Route module to find suitable travel options from Mesa Verde National Park to Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. Traveling from Mesa Verde National Park in August, things will get a bit cooler in Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve: highs are around 80°F and lows about 45°F. You will leave for home on the 1st (Sun).

Things to do in Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Parks Trails Outdoors

Side Trips

Fort Garland, Bishop Castle, Mission: Wolf
Highlights from your plan
High Dune Trail ©
High Dune Trail
Mission: Wolf ©
Mission: Wolf
Bishop Castle ©
Bishop Castle

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