Ever dreamed of exploring the old west? Then this adventure is for you! I’ve included a wide range of activities and experiences to wind the calendar back a couple centuries. The trip starts in the Custer / Rapid City area of South Dakota. Here you’ll explore the area’s highlights with a visit to Mt. Rushmore, Bridal Vail Falls and Custer State Park. At this destination you’ll see wild buffalo, an old gold mine and take in some really cool history. The next leg of the adventure takes you back in time to life on a ranch where you can live out your cowboy dreams. This one of a kind experience can be full of activities like horseback rides, hikes and fishing, or you can relax and enjoy the atmosphere. From there, you'll venture to the old west town of Telluride. This city has been on the rise for the last decade. It’s beautiful vistas have drawn huge stars to visit and even buy a house there. Celebs like Tome Cruise, Amy Adams, Bill Murray, Oprah and Kevin Costner all own a home near the city. It’s a place where you can enjoy a luxury old west experience while at the same time, grab a bite to eat as a horse pulls into the spot next to you. The next spot is Mesa Verde. Here you’ll explore the cliff dwellings created by the Ancestral Pueblo people. Surround yourself in the rich history of this area. The next stop is Durango. The name just screams western adventure! The stopover includes a train ride through some of the most beautiful country America has to offer. Then your adventure concludes in Santa Fe where you can embrace the Spanish and Pueblo influences of the city.
This is not a plan that I am selling, but a post to inspire you to explore different vacation options. With that being said, you can take this idea and adjust it to fit your needs, maybe by cutting nights or even destinations. I list the pricing after tax (except on some transport), and the prices are for July, during the peak travel time. The trip is calculated for a family of four, but I do list what a couple should expect at the bottom. So let's get started. Below are a couple maps of the trip and total cost:
When looking at the transportation costs of this plan, you'll be arriving in Rapid City, SD and departing from Santa Fe, NM. I've set a higher budget for airfare, $300 per person, for a total of $1,200. As usual, if you have points accumulated, that would be a great way to reduce the cost of this trip. I think that the best option of transportation, I would venture to say the only option, is with a car.
As you can see above, the cost of the rental for a car is $1,486 which includes parking fees and gas. This is a high cost to pay for transport, compared to my other adventures, but when you consider you'll be driving through four western states over a two week trip, it becomes more understandable. You could save money by going by bus, but I think the freedom of the car is the best option.
The accommodations for this adventure provide several unique experiences, starting with the first destination, the Rapid City - Custer area. Here you’ll be deciding to sleep under the stars at Under Canvas, rent a 3 bedroom house, stay in the city or explore a State Park Lodge. Each option provides you with a choice of how you’ll start the vacation, and will help shape the rest of the trip.
The next stop will take you to life on the ranch. At one of the ranches listed here, you can enjoy a horseback ride, take a hike or just take in the simplicity of life.
In Telluride, you can choice from luxury digs like the Fairmont, as a base to explore one of the most up and coming destination in the west.
The Fair View Lodge puts you within steps of the amazing structures within Mesa Verde National Park. The hotel offers endless views of the surrounding area and a laid back atmosphere.
The Statler hotel is a classic western hotel, set in the city of Durango.
The end of the trip allows you to soak in the rich history of Santa Fe from within city limits (for easy access to sights and food) at hotels like the Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder, or end the adventure in a quieter environment, like at the Four Seasons.
Itinerary and Activities
Above is an idea of what a possible itinerary would look like for this trip. Everything listed above is included in the price and covers all the activities that I have planned for the trip for four family members. So, again, if you see activities that don’t interest you, you could save money by skipping.
The food budget various for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some stops can be as low as $100, while others I've priced at $160.
This adventure would be a perfect time to hit the grocery store for breakfast and lunches. This can save money and provide a more normal food regiment over such a long trip.
For couples, I've adjusted the amount spent on the flight, the activities, the food and the room rate. If you were to go, the prices would be similar to the chart below.
Thanks for stopping by and reading through my latest travel plan! If there's a region, or a trip, that you would want me to feature, just let me know!