People spend a lot of time taking road trips throughout America’s western states searching for seemingly insignificant lifetime goals and learn this much: It’s well worth it! So pack a bag, say your goodbyes and head out on your voyage.
Dallas, TX to Roswell, NM
The first stop lands you in the center of farming, dairying and ranching in New Mexico though the city may be better known for its alleged alien sightings. Plan to get on the road early, as it takes about eight hours (505 miles) to get to Roswell from Dallas. If you rented a gas-guzzling SUV you may have to fuel up in Abilene, but if you rented a Toyota Camry or other fuel-efficient vehicles, plan on stopping in Big Spring.
Whatever happened outside of Roswell in 1947 turned the city into a historical hot spot for tourists who wish to witness a UFO sighting. But even if you’re a nonbeliever, the city is worth sightseeing. Plan to stop by the Roswell Museum Art Center (which is free) in the morning, Bottomless Lakes State Park in the afternoon (camping showers available) and the Alien Zone specialty shop on Main Street on your way out.
Roswell, NM to Denver, CO
The drive to Denver will take you at least eight hours (524 miles). If you take a worthwhile detour through Santa Fe a city full of interesting architecture, culture and history it’ll only put you back an extra hour, plus the amount of time you’re in the city. In Denver, seek out one of the several hostels.
Spend the day in the Mile-High City exploring the many museums, cultural centers, landmarks and sports arenas, including downtown, Confluence Park and the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Denver, CO to Scott’s Bluff, NE
About three hours north of Denver lies Scott’s Bluff in Nebraska. Nearby two towering landmarks, Scott’s Bluff National Monument and Chimney Rock, still silently bear record of the thousands that have gone on before. Stop off to see ruts from pioneer wheel wagons engraved into the mountains, then drive on to Keystone, S.D. about another three hours and spend the night.
Scott’s Bluff, NE to Keystone, SD
Four famous faces carved into the granite mountainside of Mount Rushmore make this site a national memorial. Spend the day admiring the masterfully-sculptured faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The park has no entrance fee, though you have to pay $11 for parking.
Keystone, SD to Jackson, WY
Your longest day on the road will take you across the mountain ranges and lonely plains of Wyoming to the oasis of Jackson Hole, where there are hostels available. Plan for a nine hour (534 miles) drive.
Jackson Hole is a vacation wonderland all year round, and worth spending more than 24 hours in. In winter there’s skiing, snow shoeing and snowmobiling. In the summertime head out on a wildlife expedition or sink into either the Boiling River or Firehole River both hot springs.
Jackson, WY to Hurricane, UT
Be prepared for another long drive (566 miles) this time to Hurricane, Utah. There lies the entrance to Zion’s National Park. You’ll pass through Salt Lake City on the way. Plan to sleep in St. George, a city just southwest of the park’s entrance, or in the park (camping is available).
Zion’s National Park is filled with distinct scenery and wildlife. Take two days to explore popular trail-heads such as Emerald Pools, Angels Landing and The Narrows a 12.5 mile trek. A seven day pass the only entrance ticket besides a year or life membership cost $25 per vehicle. Food and lodging is available.
Hurricane, UT to Grand Canyon, AZ
Spend your final days exploring the Grand Canyon, a five hour drive north of Zion’s Park. There you can camp, attend free ranger programs and hike. The seven day entrance fee is $25.