Re: Road Trip
In Colorado, there are three areas I would recommend for the almost novice fly fisherman. Salida, Estes Park, and Walden up by the northern border.
For Salida, there is lots or public water on the Arkansas above and below town, plus you can go up to Buena Vista and then over Cottonwood pass to fish the Taylor River above and below Taylor Park reservoir. Don't go to southern Colorado or New Mexico. Those areas are in the second year of extreme drought.
Estes Park gives you access to the Big Thompson, plus dozens of alpine lakes and creeks in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Walden has good fishing in the North Platte River and numerous tributaries.
In Wyoming, I recommend Pinedale and Jackson. From Pinedale drive North on Hwy 352 about 30 miles along the Green River. When the pavement ends, you have 20 miles of public access along a good dirt road.
In Jackson you can have fine wade fishing on the Gros Ventre river (pronounced "Gro Vant"), the Hoback, Pacific Creek, plus many other tributaries to the Snake River. Forget the main stem of the Snake. It's best fished from a drift boat. Flat Creek in the Elk Refuge has lots of fish but they all have PhDs. Jack Dennis Flies in town will give you a map of the area with all the good wading streams highlighted.
In Montana, it's West Yellowstone and Missoula. From West Yellowstone, you can drop down to the Henry's Fork in Idaho and dozens of it's tributaries. The Box Canyon section of the Henry's Fork directly below Island Park Reservoir, and between upper and lower Mesa Falls is prime wading water for fish that will take any reasonably well presented nymph. Back in Montana, the Madison between Hebgen Lake and Quake Lake is good. Below Quake lake all the way to Ennis Lake, the Madison is called The Fifty Mile Riffle. Access is easy, and the river, while fairly fast is easily waded as it is almost uniformly knee to thigh deep. Excellent fishing everywhere. The Gallatin River has good fishing and excellent access from the park all the way down to Gallatin Gateway
Inside Yellowstone Park, the Gallatin River, Gardiner River, Lamar River, Soda Butte Creek and Slough Creek, are excellent streams. Forget the Madison, Firehole, and Gibbon in July and August. Although these streams look mouth watering good, hot water from many geothermal features heats up these streams in the summer and totally shut them down.
In Missoula, the first choice for the wade fisherman is Rock Creek. Lots of public access with good fishing. You could spend two weeks here alone. Other waters would be the Bitterroot River, Clark Fork River, and Blackfoot River. While these are best fished from a boat, they all have decent access for the wader.
Now every town I mentioned has at least one fly shop. What you want to do is go inside and ask the following questions:
What water is fishing well right now?
What water would you recommend for a noobie?
What flies should we use?
Do you have any tips on techniques we should use?
Every shop in the towns I mentioned will give you good info and help. Buy a few flies and maybe a tee shirt from them.