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    Da Denver a Yellowstone: un tour tra Colorado, Utah e Wyoming

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    Joel Fulleda

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    • From Denver to Yellowstone: how far! A three-state tour
      • Denver Yellowstone Travel Map
    • Firenze-Denver-Castle Rock
    • Colorado Springs-Garden of the Gods City Park-Cripple Creek-Pueblo
    • Pueblo-Great Sand Dunes National Park-Pagosa Springs
    • Pagosa Springs-Piedra River-Durango
    • Durango-Mesa Verde National Park-Moab
    • Moab-Canyonlands National Park-Moab
    • Moab-Arches National Park-Moab
    • Moab-Great Salt Lake State Park-Logan
    • Logan – Grand Teton National Park-Moran
    • Moran-Yellowstone
    • Yellowstone-Lander (WYO)
    • Lander-Sinks Canyon State Park-Laramie
    • Laramie-Denver

    From Denver to Yellowstone: how far! A three-state tour

    This travelogue was sent to us by Irene and Gianmarco, a couple from Florence with a passion for climbing who this summer made a tour a little different from the classic trips to the USA, to discover three American states full of charm: Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. In addition to the expertise and surgical precision in describing the details (and a journey is made up of details!), You will notice how their advice is very targeted ... who knows if someone doesn't want to emulate their itinerary from Denver to Yellowstone! The text is by Irene, the original photographs are by Gianmarco. Enjoy the reading!

    Denver Yellowstone Travel Map

    Firenze-Denver-Castle Rock


    We arrive by plane to Denver in the afternoon and we immediately go to take the rental car with the Alamo bus, the company we have chosen; it was easy to find: there is a floor of the airport (if I'm not mistaken the fifth) entirely dedicated to the shuttles of the various rental companies, all directed to the car parks. Our car is a metallic gray Nissan Versa - for us it is a big car, while for the Americans a simple city car, but it does not matter, since at this point our program foresees the move towards the south. Already at this point of the story, a good note is needed: in the vicinity of Denver there is a toll road, the E470 (if I'm not mistaken). So far everything okay, but the problem is that this road is cashless, that is, here it is not possible to pay with cash or even by credit card but only with subscriptions: therefore ask your car rental or avoid it, which we did not do!

    But back to the itinerary: we are then headed south (we did not stop in Denver, if you are interested in the city take a look at this guide on what to see in Denver) and, given the jet lag and tiredness from the travel, we stop to sleep at Castle Rock, a town practically made up of brand new shopping centers (like many American cities on the other hand) and a fortress perched on the hill like a castle. We sleep at the Castle Rock Inn with a hearty breakfast, and eat at the Noodles Company, in the mall area north of the city.

    All accommodations available in Castle Rock

    Colorado Springs-Garden of the Gods City Park-Cripple Creek-Pueblo


    The first real stop on the journey is the Garden of the Gods, located just outside Colorado Springs (westbound). The park is free and has a very well organized brand new visitor center; from the naturalistic point of view, the Garden of the Gods presents some strange rock formations composed of blades of red sandstone. It is possible to go on various trails inside the park, some of them really easy and asphalted in the American way. At the visitor center, among other activities, you can take a guide to climb these strange rocks. After visiting the park, in the afternoon, we decide extemporaneously to go and visit Cripple Creek, a town of gold diggers from the end of the 800th century.

    We pass through forests of fir trees and boundless plains without realizing that we have reached 3200 meters. We visit from the outside the Molly Kathleen, an old gold mine, and then we go down to the town, a place out of time and space that we think is really worth visiting. There are only old casinos, the only remains of the late nineteenth-century town: the miners, after looking for (and finding) gold, apparently squandered it in the city. An interesting activity on site? A train that takes you to the old mines, and to a modern one.

    From Cripple Creek there are various roads that lead south, but you have to be careful: only one is paved, otherwise it is better to return to Colorado Springs from the north (the road we took to get there). We sleep at the Econo Lodge in Pueblo and eat an excellent hamburger (I would say the best of the holiday) at the Black-Eyed Pea, not far from our motel.

    All accommodations available in Pueblo

    Pueblo-Great Sand Dunes National Park-Pagosa Springs


    This is the day dedicated to visiting the Great Sand Dunes National Park, a truly magnificent place: the sand dunes have mountains with green forests as a backdrop and in front of a boundless plain with a small river (in August the flow is low!). The park costs $ 15 but we do the parks card: we will visit six of them during this trip alone! The dunes can be visited freely and you can choose the path that suits you best to climb to the top. We recommend that you bring plenty of water.

    Another very interesting activity is to rent surfboards (or perhaps better describe them as snowboards) at the visitor center and go down the sand dunes as if on snow: this was the favorite activity of most Americans. In less dry periods (therefore not in August) it is possible to swim in the river at the foot of the dunes.

    The path that goes from the park to Pagosa springs it crosses the Rio Grande National Forest and then enters the San Juan National Forest; the town of is also very beautiful South Fork, located among pine forests and abandoned train cars. We therefore arrive in Pagosa Springs, a town located in a beautiful green valley; nothing like many other depressing American towns! We sleep at the Hillside Inn and eat at a Mexican restaurant nearby. By the way: up to now, and then until our entry into Utah, the only tourists we meet are Americans traveling in their large caravan (RV) or camper van with XNUMXWD trailers.

    All accommodations available in Pagosa Springs

    Pagosa Springs-Piedra River-Durango


    Today we decide to go for an excursion in the surroundings of Pagosa springs, in particular we want to follow a trail along the river stone and maybe climb a bit. We enter the San Juan Mountains again: the place is idyllic, the road to get there is dirt (11 miles) but it is much better than our city roads!

    Let's stop at Durango, really messed up town and with incredibly high motel prices for what they offer. The location is famous for a steam train that goes towards the Rocky Mountains among spectacular landscapes, but you need to have an extra day at your disposal, and we didn't have it. The entire population of the United States seems to be gathered in Durango, by how many Americans frequent it. We decide to sleep at Econo Lodge and eat in a place that we feel we can recommend: Carver Brewing and Co., on main street.

    All accommodations available in Durango

    Durango-Mesa Verde National Park-Moab


    Our first destination of the day is Mesa Verde National Park, an endless plateau of low bushes with Anasazi Indian dwellings (or pueblos) built within rock cavities, under the mesa cliff. It is a truly beautiful place that deserves a visit, indeed, it deserves to be able to stay there at least a full day, while we could only dedicate half a day to it. It is also worth getting there early visitor center (just before entering the park), so as to buy tickets to visit the houses among the rocks, which otherwise cannot be visited with the park entrance only.

    We, in fact, take the tickets for the guided tour of theHouse of Balcony for 10:30: you have to take into account that from the Visitor Center to the center of the park there is an hour's drive! The cost of the ticket is $ 4 per person, the duration of the visit is about an hour: a ranger explains various hypotheses why the Indians may have built these strange houses. The view at the House of Balcony is a lot of fun, but there are unprotected wooden stairs steep enough to climb, and a narrow hole to cross, so if you're severely dizzy it's not for you. for the park and we head towards Moab, our final destination, but for those who have more time it is also worth visiting Cliff House, which, however, it is possible to see with telescopes installed on the opposite side of the mesa in question.

    Already on the road to Moab, in addition to the Church Rock, it is possible to see and visit, with a short walk under a scorching sun, the first arch of sandstone: the Wilson Arch really deserves it because it is very impressive. However we arrive in Moab around 16:30 pm, and the heat, which for now had been acceptable, begins to be felt. We sleep at the Moab Valley RV resort, a campsite with a pretty good pool, where we booked a wooden cabin for 3 nights. If we have to be precise, however, the wooden house for two is a bit small and there is little shade in the campsite… but shade is a luxury in this area! On the positive side, the Moab Valley has the proximity to Arches National Park: we are practically at the entrance to the park. We eat a hamburger at the Brewery in Moab: I take it with fish… it's a gamble, I know!

    All accommodations available in Moab

    Moab-Canyonlands National Park-Moab


    Today heading to Canyonlands, and more precisely Island in the Sky, the part of the park closest to Moab and also the easiest to visit: the guide tells us that there are no petrol stations inside the park, so we, worried about this, refuel on the main road, near the turning in left for the park. Here ... don't make the same mistake as us! The price is completely out of business! It pays to remember to do delivery to Moab. We enter Canyonlands after having traveled several miles (the distances in the States are truly immense) and we immediately go to see the Mesa Arch, reachable with a short trail, then we arrive at the viewpoint where the Colorado River has carved a deep canyon in the mesa and we admire the Totem Pole.

    Subsequently, we reach a crater probably formed by a meteorite: just before, on the road, it is possible to admire one rock in the shape of a whale on which it is possible to climb. We also see the viewpoint of the Green River, the other river that enters the Colorado a little further on. Generally, we recommend the excursion, but it is better if you are there at a time when the days are a bit cooler; otherwise, we recommend starting early in the morning to tackle the trails: even if they are short, remember that there is no shade on the mesa! A small parasol was useful for us to protect us from the scorching sun. We reluctantly decide not to go to see Dead Horse Point, which is not far from the Canyonlands exit. We prefer the campsite swimming pool: the heat is felt ...
    That evening we decide to go and eat in an alternative place: Arches Thai.

    Moab-Arches National Park-Moab


    We wake up early and at 6:40 we are ready to shoot in the direction Arches. Our goal is to take advantage of a discreet light (not really at dawn but almost ...) on the strangest shaped rocks. We pass in front of bizarre shaped rock "pillars": the first scenic area is called Park Avenue and the name says it all! Then it's up to Balanced Rock and then we start the trail for the Delicate Arch, helped by a nice freschino. We start the path at 7:30 and after 40 minutes we have already arrived: the guide says that it takes 1.15 h, but the time is very variable according to the temperature with which you face the path!

    We take the car back and go to the Devil Garden. We start the trail to the "Double O Arch" under a scorching sun at 11am. The trail deserves a lot and the clearing that you reach is spectacular: however, it is good to remember that there and back are 00 hours, so consider well whether to do it on the same day as the Delicate Arch, as we did. The trail also allows you to see other arches, among all the Landscape Arch, very long and thin: it is the first you meet on the path, but there are also other arches that can be reached with small deviations from the main path; we saw the Navajo Arch.

    I recommend, be careful if you want to try your hand at these trails, which in themselves are not difficult and not too long: in August and at certain times they become quite demanding! Stock up on plenty of water and something salty to eat. Last night in Moab: we eat the usual two cheeseburgers at Zak's.

    Moab-Great Salt Lake State Park-Logan


    We take a short detour during the long journey that will take us to Yellowstone, entering the valley that runs along Arches to the south, (practically the road in front of our campsite) to touch the Colorado River. If you have an extra day a Moab, I recommend the excursion that starts from this road: the Negro Bill Canyon, thanks to which you reach an arch (for a change) and where you can swim in the river.

    We continue our tour from Denver to Yellowstone, breaking the journey for Logan by stopping at Great Salt Lake State Park, just north of Salt Lake City. Admission costs $ 10, and the park is located on the Antelope Island, in the middle of this boundless salt lake. With a short walk you can reach the lake and swim in the crystal clear and very hot water! The only flaw is the myriad of midges placed on the shore, so many that they look like algae! We sleep at Super8. Logan it is a university town that in my opinion does not have much to offer a tourist, but we can find a place to eat, the Sizzler Restaurant: the buffet is very good and the cost is low.

    All accommodations available in Logan

    Logan – Grand Teton National Park-Moran


    From Logan we skirt the Bear Lake and, before reaching Wyoming, we decide to enter Idaho passing through Montpelier; at Montpelier Bank Butch Cassidy is said to have made one of his shots. The landscape is boundless and every now and then we meet a post office. Here begins our personal tour of Wyoming: we arrive at Jackson, a very touristy town, and after a while at the Grand Teton: it is 12:00. We cross the park via the internal road, a panoramic view that allows us to see the grandiose granite mountains (the Teton exceeds 4000 meters) more closely. At the base of the mountains there are delightful ponds, among all the Jenny Lake, where you can rent canoes or buy a ticket for the ferry that takes you across the lake. However, it is also possible to get there on foot with a not very long walk.

    We therefore travel all over the Teton to the north, and find accommodation in the locality Moran, at Headwaters Camper Cabins at Flagg Ranch, in a cabin on the campsite. There is no electricity here and it is necessary to bring sleeping bags, but it is an excellent alternative for those who do not want to sleep in a tent: we are more than 2000 meters in the park and the advantage is that it is not necessary to bring the tent in your suitcase. Moreover, with this solution you spend $ 78: it is still a lot but given how much a room in a lodge in these parks costs, this is a great price! In addition, this camp-lodge is located practically at the entrance to the Yellowstone, and this will allow us to beat all the tourists on the weather the next day! Other useful info about this accommodation: there is no cellular network and the free wireless at the lodge is satellite and therefore often does not work. We ate at the restaurant of the lodge adjacent to our campsite: it is a bit expensive.

    A clarification: both Teton and Yellowstone are equipped with petrol pumps so don't worry about that!

    All accommodations available in Moran



    We decide for today to dedicate ourselves to geothermal zone, which is also the most famous one in Yellowstone, and we see theOld faithful at approximately 10:12. At the Visitor center, in front of the geyser, there is a sign indicating the time of eruption of the geyser with a delay of 10 minutes. We visit the Midway Geyser Basin and the Lower, then we go towards the Artist Paint Pot and the Norris Geyser Basin; on the way to our lodge, which is located in the Canyon area, we see our first bison.

    Old faithful

    NB From August Yellowstone it is really crowded, so in our opinion it deserves to sleep inside the park (although the costs are prohibitive) so that you can enjoy a bit of calm even to see the animals in the morning and in the evening. We sleep in an annex of one of the hotels in Yellowstone, the Canyon Lodge (Cascade Lodge), in a nice spacious room (the price is as spacious as the room… let's omit it, go!). We go to dinner at the restaurant of the Lodge: very slow service.

    Advice on where to sleep in Yellowstone

    Yellowstone-Lander (WYO)


    Another stage to be framed: many miles milled and incredible landscapes crossed. Today the day in Yellowstone is dedicated to visiting the Gran Canyon in Yellowstone and the sighting of some animals. We drive both the South Rim and the North Rim and stop at the relative viewpoints: we managed to get there before the bus of noisy tourists arrived, but the place is enchanting! Then we go to the Hayden Valley, where it is possible to spot many animals, first of all hundreds of bison grazing and then, if you are lucky enough to hook a ranger stationed on some hill with a spyglass, you will also see a wolf, as happened in we!

    Inside the park the mobile phone does not take, it only does it near the lodge areas: the data network does not work and the internet is obviously subject to a fee. After lunch we leave Yellowstone in the direction Cody. It must be said that the weather in Yellowstone / Teton and in Wyoming in general is very variable: the day before can be a very hot day and the next day you may need a duvet. We pass by Cody, the homeland of Buffalo Bill, where there is a museum dedicated to him, and then by Thermopolis, the thermal area of ​​Wyoming: it must be said that in the stretch of road from one city to another in Wyoming there is no they are overcrowded and the views are amazing! We arrive at Lander and we sleep at the Holiday Inn.

    NB Along the way we often see the Sand Creek Massacre trail sign in Wyoming in the area Shoshone… To have more time how many things to see and do!

    All available accommodations in Lander

    Lander-Sinks Canyon State Park-Laramie


    Today we dedicate the day to climbing in Sinks Canyon State Park, pretty little valley with river near Shoshone National Forest. We sleep at the Days Inn in Laramie and eat at the best restaurant in the university town, according to the motel manager: Altitude.

    All accommodations available in Laramie



    The last stop on our tour Denver Yellowstone in Colorado, Utah e Wyoming takes us back, after a long drive to Denver, where we will take the return plane to Florence. Noteworthy is the town of Fort Collins, from which we pass to reach the airport: a well-kept and green city, very close to the idea of ​​a European city, an idea that is confirmed especially after passing through Wyoming!

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