21 days in South Dakota & Colorado Itinerary

21 days in South Dakota & Colorado Itinerary

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Route & dates

21 days in South Dakota & Colorado Itinerary

Start: Kansas City
Fly + taxi:  7​h 15​min
1
Badlands National Park
— 3 nights
Drive:  1​h 45​min
2
Custer
— 3 nights
+2
taxi + Fly + taxi:  5​h 45​min
3
Mesa Verde National Park
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
4
Ouray
— 3 nights
Drive:  4​h 15​min
5
Aspen
— 3 nights
Drive:  5​h
6
Rocky Mountain National Park
— 2 nights
Drive:  3​h
7
Colorado Springs
— 3 nights
Fly:  5​h 30​min
End: Kansas City


Learn more about your trip

3
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.
Popular historic sites such as Sage Creek Wilderness Area and Wounded Knee Massacre Monument are in your itinerary. Escape the urban bustle at Loop Road and Badlands National Park. The adventure continues: take in the dramatic natural features at Badlands Wall, explore and take pictures at Yellow Mounds Overlook, stroll through Notch Trail, and explore the wealth of natural beauty at White River Valley Overlook.

To find other places to visit, traveler tips, ratings, and more tourist information, use the Badlands National Park trip planner .

Kansas City to Badlands National Park is an approximately 7.5-hour combination of flight and taxi. You can also drive; or take a bus. You'll gain 1 hour traveling from Kansas City to Badlands National Park due to the time zone difference. Traveling from Kansas City in June, Badlands National Park is slightly colder at night with lows of 54°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 4th (Thu) so you can go by car to Custer.

Things to do in Badlands National Park

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Wounded Knee Massacre Monument, Badlands National Park
Highlights from your plan
Loop Road ©
Loop Road
Badlands National Park ©
Badlands National Park
Badlands Wall ©
Badlands Wall

3
nights
Custer

Custer ©
Generally considered to be the oldest town established by European Americans in the Black Hills, Custer began as a mining town.
Escape the urban bustle at Black Hills National Forest and Wildlife Loop Road. Spend the 7th (Sun) exploring the underground world of Jewel Cave National Monument. And it doesn't end there: explore the striking landscape at Needles Eye Tunnel, take a memorable drive along Iron Mountain Road, take in the pleasant sights at Breezy Point Picnic Area, and explore the activities along Sylvan Lake.

To see photos, more things to do, where to stay, and other tourist information, read our Custer sightseeing planner .

Traveling by car from Badlands National Park to Custer takes 2 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and taxi. Traveling from Badlands National Park in June, expect Custer to be a bit cooler, temps between 73°F and 48°F. Wrap up your sightseeing on the 7th (Sun) early enough to travel to Mesa Verde National Park.

Things to do in Custer

Parks Nature Scenic Drive

Side Trip

Breezy Point Picnic Area
Highlights from your plan
Needles Eye Tunnel ©
Needles Eye Tunnel
Black Hills National Forest ©
Black Hills National Forest
Wildlife Loop Road ©
Wildlife Loop Road

2
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.
Kick off your visit on the 8th (Mon): hike along Nordenskiold #16 Trail, tour the pleasant surroundings at Petroglyph Point Hike, then steep yourself in history at Balcony House, and finally explore the ancient world of Cliff Palace. Here are some ideas for day two: explore the ancient world of Spruce Tree House, then explore the ancient world of Long House, and then hike along Prater Ridge Trail.

To see reviews, maps, and other tourist information, use the Mesa Verde National Park trip itinerary website .

Getting from Custer to Mesa Verde National Park by combination of taxi and flight takes about 6 hours. Other options: do a combination of car, flight, and taxi; or drive. While traveling from Custer, expect somewhat warmer days and about the same nights in Mesa Verde National Park, ranging from highs of 89°F to lows of 46°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 9th (Tue) so you can drive to Ouray.

Things to do in Mesa Verde National Park

Historic Sites Parks Trails
Highlights from your plan
Cliff Palace ©
Cliff Palace
Balcony House ©
Balcony House
Long House ©
Long House

3
nights
Ouray

Ouray ©
Ouray is a Home Rule Municipality that is the county seat and the most populous city of Ouray County, Colorado, United States. Get outdoors at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Perimeter Trail. Your inner history buff will appreciate Ouray County Museum and Yankee Girl Mine. And it doesn't end there: hike along Yankee Boy Basin, take in the dramatic scenery at Bear Creek Falls, head outdoors with Imogene Pass, and see the interesting displays at Ouray Alchemist Museum.

For where to stay, ratings, reviews, and more tourist information, read Ouray trip itinerary app .

You can drive from Mesa Verde National Park to Ouray in 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi, bus, and car; or do a combination of taxi and bus. Traveling from Mesa Verde National Park in June, you will find days in Ouray are slightly colder (72°F), and nights are about the same (49°F). Wrap up your sightseeing on the 12th (Fri) early enough to drive to Aspen.

Things to do in Ouray

Parks Nature Outdoors

Side Trips

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Bear Creek Falls
Highlights from your plan
Yankee Boy Basin ©
Yankee Boy Basin
Bear Creek Falls ©
Bear Creek Falls

3
nights
Aspen

Aspen ©
Known as a ski resort town, Aspen's history goes back to its roots as a silver-mining village tucked away in an isolated valley of the Rocky Mountains.
Escape the urban bustle at Maroon Bells and Independence Pass. Go for a jaunt from Aspen to Glenwood Springs to see Hanging Lake Trail about 1h 20 min away. It doesn't end there: let the river carry you with a rafting and tubing tour and hike along Maroon Lake Scenic Trail.

To see other places to visit, where to stay, and tourist information, you can read our Aspen online trip builder .

You can drive from Ouray to Aspen in 4.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and car. When traveling from Ouray in June, plan for somewhat warmer days and slightly colder nights in Aspen: temperatures range from 79°F by day to 43°F at night. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 15th (Mon) so you can go by car to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Things to do in Aspen

Parks Outdoors Nature

Side Trip

Hanging Lake Trail
Highlights from your plan
Maroon Bells ©
Maroon Bells
Independence Pass ©
Independence Pass
Hanging Lake Trail ©
Hanging Lake Trail

2
nights
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 16th (Tue), stroll through Emerald Lake Trail, then appreciate the views at Many Parks Curve Overlook, then admire all the interesting features of Trail Ridge Road, and finally take in the spiritual surroundings of Chapel on the Rock. On the 17th (Wed), you'll have a packed day of sightseeing: admire the sheer force of Chasm Falls, get great views at Milner Pass, then cruise along Old Fall River Road, then explore the wealth of natural beauty at Sheep Lakes, and finally take in the dramatic scenery at Alberta Falls.

Quickly create a custom-made itinerary for Rocky Mountain National Park using our trip planner.

Traveling by car from Aspen to Rocky Mountain National Park takes 5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of bus and car; or do a combination of flight, bus, and car. Expect somewhat warmer temperatures when traveling from Aspen in June; daily highs in Rocky Mountain National Park reach 87°F and lows reach 54°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 17th (Wed) to allow enough time to drive to Colorado Springs.

Things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park

Outdoors Parks Scenic Drive
Highlights from your plan
Trail Ridge Road ©
Trail Ridge Road
Emerald Lake Trail ©
Emerald Lake Trail
Alberta Falls ©
Alberta Falls

3
nights
Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs ©
Stunning Garden of the Gods Park scenery, blue skies and the glory of Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain have attracted visitors to Colorado Springs for more than a century.
Escape the urban bustle at River Rafting & Tubing and Pikes Peak. Popular historic sites such as Old Colorado City Historic District and Glen Eyrie Castle are in your itinerary. Next up on the itinerary: walk around Garden of the Gods, delve into the distant past at Manitou Cliff Dwellings, pause for some serene contemplation at St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral, and contemplate the long history of Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site.

To find more things to do, photos, other places to visit, and more tourist information, read our Colorado Springs trip itinerary planner.

Drive from Rocky Mountain National Park to Colorado Springs in 3 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of taxi and bus. In June, plan for daily highs up to 84°F, and evening lows to 54°F. Finish up your sightseeing early on the 20th (Sat) so you can travel back home.

Things to do in Colorado Springs

Historic Sites Outdoors Parks

Side Trips

River Rafting & Tubing, Manitou Cliff Dwellings
Highlights from your plan
Pike's Peak - America's Mountain ©
Pike's Peak - America's Mountain
River Rafting & Tubing
Manitou Cliff Dwellings ©
Manitou Cliff Dwellings

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