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HomeontheRange

Home on the Range

Envision gigantic volcanic explosions and earth moving forces that gave rise to majestic rugged peaks that thrust more than 14,000 feet into the air. This is Big Mountain Country, where the peaks are higher, the mountains more massive, the canyons cut deeper and the scenery so spectacular that it inspired John Denver's song, "Rocky Mountain High." Beginning in Denver, you'll be traveling to explore natural wonders throughout Colorado and the northern Rockies. You'll be viewing some of the most majestic mountains in America just as they appeared to early settlers. As you venture deep into the landscape, you'll appreciate the courage and determination it took for early pioneers and settlers to make the journey into this vast wilderness in search of new and prosperous lives.

While you're on this great trip through Colorado and Utah, we've arranged for you to get up close and personal with the land at Zapata Ranch and follow in the footsteps of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at Sundance Resort. Three days at the Powderhorn will have you riding and fishing just like a Colorado native. Over at the Resort, a majestic sunset over the Rocky Mountains will have you wondering why anyone ever left the American West. In between, there are mountain landscapes as far as the eye can see, and its Pike's Peak or Bust in Colorado Springs!

Highlights Include

  • Denver
  • Colorado Springs
  • Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak
  • Zapata Ranch near Alamosa
  • Durango
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Moab
  • Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
  • Robert Redford's Sundance Resort
  • Vernal, Utah
  • Steamboat Springs

Itinerary

1

Denver

Denver gets its name, the "Mile High City", from the brass cap positioned exactly one mile high on the State Capitol steps. A truly Western town, Denver got its start as the first gold rush camp in the region. The Wild West era of Bat Masterson and the Unsinkable Molly Brown, with gunslingers, gamblers, gold miners, saloons, cattlemen and a sheriff has never completely ended. The city was so sure it would be a success, that the Historical Society was founded in 1879. After winning the title of capitol, a cattle exchange, banking and energy industry contributed to making Denver the thriving contemporary city it is today. An incredible amount of early architecture still exists, because almost from the beginning, Denver was built for permanence.

Introduce yourself to Denver on a walking tour of the 16th Street Mall and downtown Denver. Starting and ending in Civic Center Park, you'll be passing the Colorado History Museum, the US Mint, Larimer Square, the historic Brown Palace hotel and the Denver Art Museum—you'll have to see its architectural design with your own eyes to believe that it actually stands on its own!

You can experience the natural side of Denver's high desert region on a tour of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science which features thousands of objects on local geology. The Denver Botanical Gardens presents 32,000 plants that thrive in the dry mountain climate.

On your second day in Denver, you may want to get out and explore its great neighborhoods. Go to LODO (Lower Downtown) for arts, entertainment and great restaurants. The Santa Fe Arts District has Denver's largest collection of art galleries. Cherry Creek has the best shopping and dining in Denver. Quaint Old South Pearl Street has a Farmer's Market every Sunday and the Highlands neighborhood was recently featured in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure Magazine. Today's blend of western, southwestern, Hispanic, African American and Native American cultures make Denver's neighborhoods most interesting.

3

Colorado Springs

"70 miles"

Today you can experience the ultimate "Colorado Rocky Mountain High," visiting the area that inspired the anthem "America the Beautiful." Soaring high above Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak, at 14,110 feet, rises well above the timberline and into the clouds. Majestically luring in the distance, the Peak has been a magnet for visitors for nearly 1000 years.

During the 1850s, "Pikes Peak or Bust!" became the mantra of pioneers as they traveled to the edge of the Great Plains, where the mountain represented the gateway to the West — the land of new possibilities. When gold was discovered in Colorado in 1858, thousands of fortune seekers arrived. Soon after, pioneers settled into the area, creating the towns that we visit today. By the end of the century, Colorado Springs was a popular resort and luxury community of tycoons who had made their fortunes in the nearby gold mines.

On the way to the top of Pike's Peak Highway, you will pass through five of the eight life zones in Colorado. As you ascend, you may need to add another layer of clothing, as the Peak tends to be 30 degrees cooler than the base at Manitou Springs. Traveling this exhilarating mountain road, with its 156 hairpin turns, you'll be following in the tracks of one of the nation's oldest auto races, the Pike's Peak Hillclimb, which started in 1915 and continues today.

4

Mosca near Alamosa

"69 miles"

Zapata Ranch is an authentic Colorado Guest and Worling Ranch, and Sister property to the Chico Basin Ranch. This is a Nature Conservancy Preserve located just outside and surrounding the Great Sand Dunes National Park—the newest unit in the US Park Service group. This region is called the American Serengehti and on the ranch you will find bison, antelope, elk, deer and other wild animals. Rate includes comfortable accommodations, family style meals, activities, tax and gratuity. Work alongside the ranch hands or take a trail ride or other activity into the preserved lands.

7

Durango

"153 miles"

The route to Durango today is a scenic one. If you think you’ve seen Durango before, it’s because it’s the picture perfect Old West town that has starred as the backdrop for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, City Slickers, Cliffhangers and many other movies. It’s so authentic that you might expect a gunslinger to step right into the street any minute. The nightly show at the Strater Hotel is right out of the Old West.

Founded by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in 1880, Durango was once a young city surrounded by silver mining towns and the wild, Wild West. Today the railroad still passes through here, even though the mining towns it was built to serve have long since been abandoned. Durango has grown-up into a carefully preserved National Historic Landmark, unlike any other in America.

9

Moab

"159 miles"

It's hard to imagine what forces of nature worked for millennia to sculpt the greatest density of natural arches in the world at Arches National Park. Over 2,000 structures range in size from a three-foot opening (the minimum considered to be an arch), to Landscape Arch, which measures 306 feet from base to base. Towering spires, fins and balanced rocks complement the arches, creating a remarkable assortment of landforms in a relatively small area. You can explore the many areas of Arches National Park by car or on foot. Two drives through the park take you to a number of exceptional viewpoints, including Delicate Arch Viewpoint from which you can see the park's most famous arch at a distance. Take a moment to get out of the car and walk under the two largest arches, North Window and Double Arch, for a truly up close and personal experience. If you prefer to hike, there are trails to the park's highlights that take from 1-1/2 hours to a half a day. We suggest that you do the longer hikes early or late in the day to avoid the mid-day heat.

11

Sundance

"191 miles"

Everyone has to have a bit of relaxation time and we have planned yours at Robert Redford's Sundance Resort just south of Salt Lake City in Provo. The setting invites you to "come stay with us, watch the moon climb over Utah's Mt. Timpanogos from your Sundance patio and enjoy a fireside dinner in your mountain home." We invite you to retreat where centuries ago the Ute Indians found sanctuary to escape the summer heat and enjoy the earth's natural abundance. As Robert Redford says about his very special resort, "this place in the mountains is the perfect host for inspiration." Spend two days relaxing and being inspired at Sundance Resort.

13

Vernal

"154 miles"

The stories of the thousands of dinosaurs who lived and died near Vernal, Utah are captured in the rock at Dinosaur National Monument. The quarry has already revealed over 1,600 bones from 11 different species. This is the story that Dinosaur National Monument was first established to preserve, yet only one of the stories of the park. The Monument was expanded to include 300 square miles of great high desert canyon country.

Viewed from the top, you can see the end of the Rockies and the beginning of the canyon country desert.

The second of the park's stories is told through the petroglyphs of the Freemont Indians who lived in the canyon between 800 and 1,200 years ago. And yet a third is revealed through the preserved homesteads of some of the early settlers in the region. Combining all three, Dinosaur National Monument contains famous fossil finds, dramatic river canyons, mysterious petroglyphs, and endless opportunities for adventure. The story continues at the Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum in downtown Vernal. The new facility displays a full size dinosaur skeleton and artifacts that illustrate the entire geological history within an 80-mile radius.

14

Steamboat Springs

"162 miles"

From Native American hunting grounds to early pioneers; from the Flying Norseman, Carl Howelsen to the newest of our 52 Olympians; from gold and silver mining to coal ore; Routt County offers a rich, colorful and inspiring past.

For hundreds of years prior to the first settlers' arrival in the valley, the Yampatika Utes found the area ideal for summer hunting. Trappers began to come to the valley in the early 1800s. They called the area The Big Bend because the Yampa River makes its turn toward the west at this point in the valley.

15

Denver

"165 miles"

Enjoy another day and evening to spend exploring Denver before heading home later today.


What's included?

  • Direct return flights from London (Please ask about other departure airports)
  • 14 nights hotel accommodation and room taxes
  • Fully insured compact car hire
  • A detailed travel pack with driving instructions and maps

How to book

Daily Departures 18 May to 30 September.

We can also offer this itinerary in a wide range of other accommodation types, including superior hotels, character properties and small inns.

Please call us on (01892) 779900 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. stating your travel dates, and preferred standard of accommodation for a detailed & competitively priced quotation.

ListentotheSilence

Listen to the Silence

Standing on the hill at Little Bighorn Battlefield, it's hard to imagine the fierce battle that raged as Custer marched his troops into oblivion. Listen to the silence. It tells a different story – one of dramatic cultural change and loss of lifestyle, not just loss of lives. Watching massive Mt. Rushmore flooded with light as the evening sky darkens, you'll find the affect dramatic. Listen to the silence here as well. It tells the story of the very dedicated men who helped to found this nation and change the world through democracy. At Devil's Tower, Hot Springs, Deadwood and Yellowstone, you'll hear the stories of now silent forebears who blazed trails, worshiped, explored new territories and fought for a new way of life in the United States and in the West. All along the way, the silence is wrapped in unspoiled scenery, lush forests, great landscapes and sparkling water. Enjoy this journey through the authentic American West, where the best stories and legends, natural treasures, and American heritage are yours to explore.

Highlights Include

  • Bozeman
  • Billings
  • Deadwood
  • Rapid City
  • Buffalo
  • Yellowstone National Park

Itinerary

1

Bozeman

As your international flight touches down in Bozeman, Montana, you'll be amazed by the majestic peaks and steep canyons that ring the town. It's a young town with an old history, located in the classic Rocky Mountain West landscape. Native Americans occupied the area for thousands of years before fur traders arrived in the 1700s looking for beaver pelts. Founded in 1864, Bozeman served as the trail head for the Bozeman Trail that lead to the gold fields 80 miles west. Today, students from Montana State University give the city the vibrancy of a college town. The Museum of the Rockies, on the university campus, houses one of the world's largest collections of dinosaurs, along with exhibits on Native American and Western history and a 104-seat domed planetarium. The Gallatin Pioneer Museum provides a glimpse into Montana's past through such unique exhibits as jail cells, a hanging gallows, and a reconstructed log cabin.

About 60 miles west of Bozeman, at the end of the Bozeman Trail, you can witness the birthplace of Montana frozen in time. The gold discovered in Virginia City, Montana, helped to silence the guns of the Civil War by providing funding for Union troops to defeat the South. The end of the mining era in the early 1940s silenced Virginia City, and it remains today the best preserved example of the many placer mining camps that flourished in the Rocky Mountains in the 1860s.

The town stands as it did in its heyday, with 150 buildings certified as authentic historic structures, filled with museums, shops, a brewery, summer theater and restaurants. An authentic narrow gauge railroad, using cars from the railroad's gold rush era, runs between Virginia City and Nevada City, another intriguing mining ghost town. If you prefer natural history, an 89-mile scenic route takes you to the Gallatin Petrified Forest, Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area, Gallatin National Forest and the Madison mountain range.

2

Billings

"143 miles"

When you reach Billings, head for the Western Heritage Center which features over 17,000 objects, photographs, American Indian beadwork and artifacts, western art, including the James Kenneth Ralston Collection, architectural drawings, furniture, clothing, textiles, weapons and oral histories. Outside Billings, Pompey's Pillar is one of the most famous sandstone buttes in America. It bears the only remaining physical evidence from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Captain William Clark carved his name here on July 25, 1806, during his return to the United States through the beautiful Yellowstone Valley. Just southeast of Billings, Pictograph Cave State Park was home to generations of prehistoric hunters 4,500 years ago. Rock paintings left behind by these ancient peoples are more than 2,000 years old. A short paved trail allows you to view the images that are visible in Pictograph Cave.

Near Billings, the Little Bighorn National Monument tells one of the most interesting stories in American history. Legends call it "Custer's Last Stand," placing emphasis on the US Army defeat at the hands of Chief Sitting Bull. The lesser known story is the reason the Lakota and Cheyenne warriors were motivated to fight fiercely enough to slay all of Custer's troops. As the nation made its way from east to west, settlers and army troops encroached on more and more traditional Native American lands. Native Americans at Little Bighorn were fighting for more than territory; they were fighting to preserve their nomadic way of life. Ironically, even though they defeated the US Army, the battle still marked the end of the tribal lifestyle. As more archaeological research has been completed, the location of artifacts continues to support a completely different story from the legends that have traditionally surrounded the Custer story. The Memorial on Last Stand Hill was joined in 2003 by a Memorial to the Native Americans who fought here as well, which promotes "peace through unity".

4

Sheridan

"130 miles"

Between Billings and Sheridan, you can detour a bit on the Bighorn Scenic Byway, which winds up the Big Horn Mountains. The mountains began uplifting 60 million years ago, ultimately reaching elevations of 13,000 feet. The drive showcases craggy limestone outcroppings, colorful stacks of granite, and sandstone filled with fossil shells in Bighorn National Forest. Over one million acres are covered with fir, pine, spruce, and aspen trees and over 1,500 miles of trails are available for hiking.

Go fishing at one of the many lakes loaded with trout and hundreds of other species of fish or watch wildlife and see black bears, elk, moose, deer, and more.

In Sheridan, nestled beneath the Big Horn Mountains, the Old West meets the modern era in a town that offers world-class culture, hometown hospitality and authentic Western charm. Sheridan's Main Street is lined with historic buildings, including the Landmark Historic Sheridan Inn, where Buffalo Bill Cody auditioned acts for his famous Wild West Show. More than 30 downtown buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, delightfully coexisting with unique shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Explore the town by trolley or on foot.

5

Devil's Tower

"165 miles"

Devil's Tower, known as "Bear's Lodge" (or a variation thereof) was considered sacred to more than 20 Native American tribes in the region who used it as a place of prayer, introspection and renewal long before Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it the country's first national monument in 1906. The gigantic stump-like rock formation, which rises more than 1,200 feet over the Belle Fourche River, was formed by molten material being pushed up from the earth at the same time the Rocky Mountains were formed. Millions of years of wind and erosion uncovered the mass of hard volcanic rock originally formed underground. Today, the monument attracts rock climbers, hikers, photographers, artists and visitors drawn to the drama of the site and the beauty of the area.

6

Deadwood

"74 miles"

From the mystery of Devil's Tower, you'll be moving on to an even more fascinating place. Deadwood, named for the dead trees that were found in Deadwood Gulch, was home to Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickock. Gold was discovered in 1876 and the years that followed were rough and tumble, with Wild West legends being made. By 1878, Deadwood had the first telephone exchange in South Dakota. Today, it is still the place to release your inner outlaw. Eighty historic gambling halls still rock in this National Historic Landmark, with 1,800 residents who man the museums, restaurants, theaters and shops that make the history come alive.

7

Rapid City

"41 miles"

This morning, as you head for South Dakota, get prepared to be introduced to some of the most unusual scenery in America. Sandstone desert and twisted rocks jutting out of the ground are coupled with the dense Black Hills National Forest, which does indeed, look nearly black from a distance. The hot springs doting the area were the result of water pressure being caught underground when the earth changed position. At Mammoth Hot Springs, the remains of mammoths are still being discovered in the "sink-hole" that turned into a steeply sided pond.

With three days here, you'll have plenty of time to explore nearby Badlands National Park, a 244,000 acre treasure trove of Oligocene fossils dating back 37 million years juxtaposed with buttes, spires and pinnacles. Two visitor centers offer interpretive exhibits on the cultural and ecological heritage of the Park. The 31.5-mile Badlands Loop National Scenic Byway, which passes through the Park, has 14 designated overlooks that let you enjoy the dramatic landforms sprouting out of the mixed grassy prairie.

Also in the area, Wind Cave National Park was named for the constant movement of air within. It is filled with delicate boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs. Above ground, the fragile mixed-grass prairie is home to diverse wildlife. Jewel Cave National Monument is 135 miles long, making it the second longest cave in the world. Air currents indicate there are still vast areas left to discover. Back in Rapid City, you can visit the Journey Museum, which illustrates the 2.5 million year geologic history of the region. It was voted the best museum in the Black Hills.

The 71,000 acres of Custer State Park are truly one of the last wild places in America. Nearly 1,500 bison, commonly called buffalo, roam the prairies and hills which they share with swift pronghorn, shy elk, sure-footed mountain goats and curious burros. You can enjoy and up close and personal encounter with these permanent residents along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road that winds around the southern edge of the park.

Be sure to allow time for the other scenic drive that takes you past slender granite formations called "Needles" that dominate the skyline. These unique rock outcroppings are an excellent place for rock climbers to push themselves to the limit. With its winding roads and small granite tunnels, Needles Highway (SD Highway 87 between Sylvan Lake and Legion Lake) is not only stunning, but fun to drive.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is connected to the other Black Hills attractions by another scenic road, the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway, named after the South Dakota Governor who began the movement to preserve the natural treasures of the state. On the Byway, the Crazy Horse Memorial is the largest sculptural project in the world. The best time to visit Mount Rushmore is in the evening when the monument is illuminated. During the 45-minute Evening Program in the park's outdoor amphitheater, you'll enjoy a ranger talk, the film "Freedom: America's Lasting Legacy" about the presidents carved into the mountain, and the lighting of the sculpture.

10

Hot Springs

"58 miles"

More than 26,000 years ago, large Columbian woolly mammoths were trapped and died in a spring-fed pond near what is now the southwest edge of Hot Springs. The bones of these huge creatures were discovered by happenstance in 1974 during excavation for a housing development. Local citizens worked tirelessly to preserve the site, now complemented by the world's largest Columbian mammoth exhibit. The dig is now enclosed in a climate controlled building, where new bones are displayed as they are discovered. Along with 55 mammoths, the remains of giant short-faced bears, camels, llamas, wolves, prairie dogs and fish have been unearthed.

11

Buffalo

"228 miles"

Upon reaching Buffalo, you'll feel transported to the Old West – if you didn't already! Your accommodations at the Occidental hotel give you a perfect vantage point from which to explore the whole historic town. Buffalo is nestled in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, a sister range to the Rockies and surrounded by the Bighorn National Forest, rich with lush greenscapes and glacier-carved valleys. For the best view of the Forest, the Bighorn Mountains, and Cloud Peak Wilderness, drive the Cloud Peak Skyway National Scenic Byway. The Skyway is the only way to view Cloud Peak, the highest peak in the Bighorn Mountains. From Buffalo, it's a short drive to Fort Kearney, site of the famous Wagon Box Fight and "Hole in the Wall," the hideout of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

12

Yellowstone National Park

"339 miles"

As large as Rhode Island, Yellowstone National Park features an incredible array of natural phenomenon. The Park contains over 10,000 hydrothermal features, including 300 geysers that account for approximately one-half of the world's total. The geography of Yellowstone is made up of eight distinct areas. At Mammoth Hot Springs, the bubbling, boiling springs appear to be covered with white chalk. Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest and most dynamic of Yellowstone's thermal areas. A temperature of 459F was recorded just a little over 1,000 feet below the surface.

In the Madison Natural Area, thermal action bubbles up in many colors. Trails take you through colorful hot springs and Artist Paint Pots just south of Norris Junction. The Old Faithful Area is actually made up of four different geyser basins where 60% of the world's geysers share a very small space. The Grant Village Area and the Lake Area are both adjacent to Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake at a high elevation in North America. The deepest portion in the West Thumb area has the same terrain of geysers and hot springs at the bottom. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is roughly 20 miles long and varies between 800 and 1,200 feet deep. The falls along the river range from 300 feet to Tower Falls, which drops 132-foot. Tower Creek is framed by eroded volcanic pinnacles that were documented by the earliest explorers in the region.

Should you wish to learn more about the cultural heritage of the Yellowstone area, there are numerous museums nearby. From the Buffalo Bill Historical Center to the International Fly Fishing Museum, these excellent centers will round out your visit and put your experiences into perspective.

14

Bozeman

"83 miles"

You'll be following one of the region's most scenic byways on your way back to Bozeman today. Snow-covered mountain peaks and sparkling trout streams accompany you through Gallatin National Forest, a 1.8 million acre forest that spans six mountain ranges and includes two designated wilderness areas. Part of the Greater Yellowstone Area, the largest intact ecosystem in the continental United States, the forest is home to a wide range of native fauna, including grizzly bear, gray wolf, bald eagle, and Canada lynx. Plan to explore the Gallatin Petrified Forest, which is between 35 and 55 million years old and is unique because of the many trees that were petrified in an upright position. Walk the half-mile interpretive trail from the Tom Miner parking area to learn to identify the petrified wood in the forest.

In Bozeman this evening, enjoy dinner at the award-winning Montana Ale Works, which is located in a revitalized railroad warehouse and offers a modern and eclectic menu infused with the "distinctive spirit of old-time Montana" before flying home tomorrow.


What's included?

  • Direct return flights from London (Please ask about other departure airports)
  • 14 nights hotel accommodation and room taxes
  • Fully insured compact car hire
  • A comprehensive and detailed travel pack with driving instructions and maps

How to book

Daily Departures 18 May to 30 September.

We can also offer this itinerary in a wide range of other accommodation types, including superior hotels, character properties and small inns.

Please call us on (01892) 779900 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. stating your travel dates, and preferred standard of accommodation for a detailed & competitively priced quotation.

BestoftheWestNationalParks

Best of the West National Parks

From the majestic splendour of Glacier National Park in Montana, to the awesome beauty of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks in Wyoming, this new 18 Day self drive tour takes the adventurous traveller on a truly spectacular and unforgettable journey through the mountains and national parks of North America. Crossing between four different states in 18 days you will also drive along the same pass used by the Lewis & Clark Expedition over 200 years ago and learn about the Nez Pearce Indians as well enjoying some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery you are likely to experience in North America.

Highlights Include

  • Yellowstone - America's oldest and most spectacular National Park
  • The Black Hills
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Montana's Big Sky Country
  • Missoula
  • Salmon
  • Glacier National Park
  • Going to the Sun Highway
  • The Grand Teton National Park
  • Jackson Hole
  • Rawlins

Itinerary

1

Denver

When the first flakes of gold were found in Cherry Creek, Denver sprouted up as a mining camp filled with gunslingers, gamblers, gold miners, saloons, cattlemen and a sheriff. Goodness, how things have changed. Today’s Mile High City is the center of a very sophisticated state, one of the most educated, prosperous and ecologically minded places in the world. Downtown, the 16th Street Mall connects the Capitol Building with LoDo (Lower Downtown) the cultural district that a century ago was home to Bat Masterson, Calamity Jane and other frontier icons. The Colorado State History Museum, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Visitor Center, and the Molly Brown House, home of the “unsinkable” local heroine, are all nearby. Try one of the interesting restaurants in LoDo for dinner.

A walking tour of downtown introduces you to distinctive architecture that was, almost from the beginning, built for permanence. Good clay for bricks was plentiful, local wood was soft. As a result, much of the massive masonry architecture constructed around the turn of the century is still in use. The Santa Fe Arts District has Denver’s largest collection of art galleries.

Cherry Creek has the best shopping and dining. Quaint Old South Pearl Street has a Farmer’s Market every Sunday. The Highlands neighborhood was recently featured in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure Magazine as a great place to visit.

2

Rapid City

"389 miles"

This morning, as you head for South Dakota, prepare to be introduced to some of the most unusual scenery in America. Sandstone desert and twisted rocks jutting out of the ground are coupled with the dense Black Hills National Forest, which does indeed, look nearly black from a distance. The hot springs dotting the area were the result of water pressure being caught underground when the earth changed position. At Mammoth Hot Springs, the remains of mammoths are still being discovered in the “sink-hole” that turned into a steeply sided pond.

When you’re in the region, plan to leave plenty of time to explore Badlands National Park, a 244,000 acre treasure trove of Oligocene fossils dating back 37 million years juxtaposed with buttes, spires and pinnacles.

Two visitor centers offer interpretive exhibits on the cultural and ecological heritage of the Park. The Badlands Loop National Scenic Byway, which passes through the Park has 14 designated overlooks on the 31.5 miles that let you enjoy the dramatic landforms sprouting out of the mixed grassy prairie.

Nearby, Wind Cave National Park was named for the constant movement of air within. It is filled with delicate boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs.

Above ground, the fragile mixed-grass prairie is home to diverse wildlife. Jewel Cave National Monument is 135 miles long, making it the second longest cave in the world. Air currents indicate there are still vast areas left to discover. Back in Rapid City you can visit the Journey Museum, which illustrates the 2.5 million year geologic history of the region. It was voted the best museum in the Black Hills.

The 71,000 acres of Custer State Park are truly one of the last wild places in America. Nearly 1,500 bison, commonly called buffalo, roam the prairies and hills which they share with swift pronghorn, shy elk, sure-footed mountain goats and curious burros. You can enjoy and up-close and personal encounter with these permanent residents along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road that winds around the southern edge of the park.

Be sure to allow time for the other scenic drive that takes you past slender granite formations called "Needles" that dominate the skyline. These unique rock outcroppings are an excellent place for rock climbers to push themselves to the limit. With its winding roads and small granite tunnels, Needles Highway (SD Highway 87 between Sylvan Lake and Legion Lake) is not only stunning, but fun to drive.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is connected to the other Black Hills attractions by another scenic road, the Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway, named after the South Dakota Governor who began the movement to preserve the natural treasures of the state. On the Byway, the Crazy Horse Memorial is the largest sculptural project in the world. The best time to visit Mount Rushmore is in the evening when the monument is illuminated. During the 45-minute Evening Program in the park’s outdoor amphitheater, you’ll enjoy a ranger talk, the film “Freedom: America’s Lasting Legacy” about the presidents carved into the mountain, and the lighting of the sculpture.

5

Buffalo

"212 miles"

On the way between the Badlands and Buffalo, Devil’s Tower, also known as “Bear’s Lodge” to Native Americans, was considered sacred by more than 20 tribes. It was a place of prayer, introspection and renewal long before Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed it the country’s first national monument in 1906.

Upon reaching Buffalo, you’ll feel transported to the Old West – if you didn’t already! Your accommodations at the Occidental hotel give you a perfect vantage point from which to explore the whole historic town. Buffalo is nestled in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, a sister range to the Rockies and surrounded by the Bighorn National Forest, rich with lush greenscapes and glacier-carved valleys.

For the best view of the Forest, the Bighorn Mountains, and Cloud Peak Wilderness, drive the Cloud Peak Skyway National Scenic Byway.

The Skyway is the only way to view Cloud Peak, the highest peak in the Bighorn Mountains. From Buffalo, it’s a short drive to Fort Kearney, site of the famous Wagon Box Fight and “Hole in the Wall,” the hideout of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

6

Bozeman

"308 miles"

As your arrive at Bozeman, Montana, you’ll be amazed by the majestic peaks and steep canyons that ring the town. It’s a young town with an old history, located in the classic Rocky Mountain West landscape. Native Americans occupied the area for thousands of years before fur traders arrived in the 1700s looking for beaver pelts. Founded in 1864, Bozeman served as the trail head for the Bozeman Trail that lead to the gold fields 80 miles west. Today, students from Montana State University give the city the vibrancy of a college town. The Museum of the Rockies, on the university campus, houses one of the world’s largest collections of dinosaurs, along with exhibits on Native American and Western history and a 104-seat domed planetarium. The Gallatin Pioneer Museum provides a glimpse into Montana’s past through such unique exhibits as jail cells, a hanging gallows, and a reconstructed log cabin.

About 60 miles west of Bozeman, at the end of the Bozeman Trail, you can witness the birthplace of Montana frozen in time. The gold discovered in Virginia City, Montana, helped to silence the guns of the Civil War by providing funding for Union troops to defeat the South. The end of the mining era in the early 1940s silenced Virginia City, and it remains today the best preserved example of the many placer mining camps that flourished in the Rocky Mountains in the 1860s.

The town stands as it did in its heyday, with 150 buildings certified as authentic historic structures, filled with museums, shops, a brewery, summer theater and restaurants. An authentic narrow gauge railroad, using cars from the railroad’s gold rush era, runs between Virginia City and Nevada City, another intriguing mining ghost town. If you prefer natural history, an 89-mile scenic route takes you to the Gallatin Petrified Forest, Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area, Gallatin National Forest and the Madison mountain range.

8

Glacier National Park

"306 miles"

Get ready for some of the most spectacular scenery on earth today, as you head for Glacier National Park. Known to Native Americans as the "Shining Mountains" and the "Backbone of the World", Glacier National Park encompasses more than a million acres of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, rugged peaks and glacial-carved valleys in the Northern Rocky Mountains. The park is named for its prominent glacier-carved terrain and remnant glaciers descended from the ice ages of 10,000 years ago. The result of millennia of geological action is some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. This diverse landscape is home to more than 70 species of mammals including the grizzly bear, wolverine, gray wolf and lynx, over 260 species of birds, including golden eagles, and an incredible variety of plant life. An absolute must while you’re here is the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, truly the scenic drive of a lifetime.

With two days here, you may choose to spend one day exploring nearby attractions. Just over the Canadian border (remember your passport!) is Glacier’s sister park, Waterton Lakes National Park and the site of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The first park of its kind in the world, the Peace Park symbolizes the long-standing friendship and cooperation between Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park. To the west of Glacier National Park is the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, home of the Museum of the Plains Indian. Take the 70-mile self-drive tour of Blackfeet Country, following 15 historical “Blackfeet Trail Tour” markers across the prairie, and you’ll understand why the Blackfeet felt so at home under this big sky. The Museum’s permanent exhibition illustrates the diversity of historic, social and ceremonial arts created by the tribal peoples of the Northern Plains.

The park’s many hiking trails allow those who venture on them to steal glimpses of the heart of this majestic wilderness and its abundant wildlife, including bears, elk, moose and bighorn sheep. Arrive and overnight in the resort community of Whitefish.

10

Missoula

"139 miles"

Surrounded by the Lolo National Forest, Missoula, Montana is known as the “Garden City” for its lush forests and abundant fresh water.

Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness, less than five miles from the city, offers endless mountain trails and bike paths on 61,000 acres of glaciated topography. Whether you want a walk in the woods or an intense mountain bike ride, you’ll find high mountain lakes, crystal clear waterfalls, hanging valleys, and slopes of sub-alpine fir, pine and spruce leading to open parklands. Be on the lookout for deer, elk, coyotes, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bears, grizzly bears (rare!), moose, and mountain lions, as well as eagles, hawks, ospreys, and a variety of songbirds. In the park’s northern region, the Flathead Indian Reservation protects sacred lands that were once vision-quest sites for the Salish Indians, so be sure not to trespass.

Before the arrival of European settlers, Western Montana was home to the Salish, Pend d'Oreille, and Kootenai tribes. Lewis and Clark passed through the Missoula Valley in 1805, but Europeans did not settle here until 1860 when entrepreneurs C.P. Higgins and Francis Worden opened a trading market called the Hellgate Village (now Wordens Market on Higgins Street). The name hellgate originated with French trappers who found carnage from warfare between the Blackfeet and Flathead tribes in the canyon on the east edge of town. Following on the success of Hellgate Village, a flour mill, sawmill, the gold rush and better roads brought people to Missoula, named for the Salish Indian name for the area, Nemissoolatakoo, or “near the cold, chilling waters.” By 1866 it was the county seat, in 1871 the first newspaper was published, and in 1883 the Northern Pacific Railroad reached Missoula.

Learn about all these developments and more on an historic walking tour and at the city’s excellent heritage museums.

11

Salmon

"139 miles"

En route to Salmon, Idaho today, you’ll travel the beautiful and historic Bitterroot Valley Scenic Drive along the Bitterroot River, flanked by the Bitterroot Mountains to the west, and the Sapphire Mountains to the east. The valley opens up into large plains dotted with historic towns and working ranches near Stevensville, where you can observe nesting osprey and other wildlife at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Stevensville is famous for being the first permanent European settlement in Montana, a Jesuit mission established at the request of the local Salish Indians. St. Mary's Mission and the Fort Owen State Monument are open for touring on the site. As you approach the Idaho border, you’ll come upon Lost Trail Pass and Chief Joseph Pass, both of which are deeply historic, having been used by Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery and later by Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Nation as they fled from the US Calvary.

Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark’s Shoshoni translator, companion and guide, was born in what today is the town of Salmon, Idaho. The Sacajawea Center honors her Agai Dika Lemhi Shoshoni heritage and her role in the Corps of Discovery. Perched on the edge of the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Salmon, Idaho provides the opportunity for a wide array of outdoor activities, from hiking, fishing and big game hunting to exhilarating whitewater rafting and relaxing hot spring soaking.

The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area affords beautiful views of the varied landscapes along the Salmon River—originally called the River of No Return for the difficulty of getting back up the river’s famous rapids.

12

Yellowstone

"171 miles"

As large as Rhode Island, Yellowstone National Park features an incredible array of natural phenomenon. The Park contains over 10,000 hydrothermal features, including 300 geysers that account for approximately one-half of the world’s total. The geography of Yellowstone is made up of eight distinct areas.

At Mammoth Hot Springs, the bubbling, boiling springs appear to be covered with white chalk.

Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. A temperature of 459F was recorded just a little over 1,000 feet below the surface.

In the Madison Natural Area, thermal action bubbles up in many colors. Trails take you through colorful hot springs and Artist Paint Pots just south of Norris Junction. The Old Faithful Area is actually made up of four different geyser basins where 60% of the world’s geysers share a very small space. The Grant Village Area and the Lake Area are both adjacent to Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake at a high elevation in North America. The deepest portion in the West Thumb area has the same terrain of geysers and hot springs at the bottom.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is roughly 20 miles long and varies between 800 and 1,200 feet deep. The falls along the river range from 300 feet to Tower Falls, which drops 132-foot. Tower Creek is framed by eroded volcanic pinnacles that were documented by the earliest explorers in the region. Should you wish to learn more about the cultural heritage of the Yellowstone area, there are numerous museums nearby. From the Buffalo Bill Historical Center to the International Fly Fishing Museum, these excellent centers will round out your visit and put your experiences into perspective.

In order to get the most from your visit, we highly recommend you spend one night in the Mammoth Hot Springs area and 2 nights in the Southern half of the Park near Old Faithful or The Lake.

15

Jackson

"98 miles"

The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway connects Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park. As you drive along Teton Park Road at the base of the mountain, it becomes immediately obvious why this is a National Park.

Plant your gaze on the 40-mile long mountain range, rising nearly 14,000 feet straight out of the plain. Even around Jenny Lake, one of the most pristine lakes in North America, they loom overhead.

All three Scenic Drives in the Park are a must do: The Teton Park Road, Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, and Signal Mountain Summit Road, from which you’ll have panoramic views of the Teton Range, Jackson Lake and the Jackson Hole valley. We highly recommend taking a Wildlife Expedition, whether an all-day adventure, a daybreak trip or an evening tour. Any of these will take you into the back country of Grand Teton National Park, which is otherwise inaccessible to auto traffic.

17

Rawlins

"284 miles"

In 1867, while in command of the troops protecting the crew surveying the route of the first trans-continental railroad, General John A. Rawlins (chief of staff of the U.S. Army) expressed a wish for a drink of good, cold water. Upon discovery of a spring, he declared it was the most refreshing drink he had ever tasted and exclaimed, "If anything is ever named after me, I hope it will be a spring of water. If you have time later today visit The Wyoming Frontier Prison.

18

Denver

"54 miles"

As you depart Rawlins later today and head back to Denver, rest assured that you have seen and savoured the Best of the West National Parks.


What's included?

  • Direct return flights from London (Please ask about other departure airports)
  • 17 nights hotel accommodation and room tax
  • Fully insured compact car hire for 2 drivers
  • A detailed and comprehensive travel pack with driving instructions and maps

How to book

Daily Departures 18 May to 30 September.

We can also offer this itinerary in a wide range of other accommodation types, including superior hotels, character properties and small inns.

Please call us on (01892) 779900 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. stating your travel dates, and preferred standard of accommodation for a detailed & competitively priced quotation.

WesternHeritage

Western Heritage

NEW - Why not extend your trip to America's West by stopping off in either Chicago or Washington for a few days? Ask for more details.

Imagine yourself setting off into a vast wilderness, on foot or by covered wagon, in search of a new and prosperous life. Imagine the awe as your eyes set upon majestic mountains, canyons cut deep by raging rivers, endless prairies full of buffalo. On this trip into the great American West, you'll see the landscape in all its glory just as it appeared to early settlers. As the landscape unfolds, you will fully appreciate the courage and determination it took for these pioneers to venture into this vast wilderness and make it home. Setting off from the "Mile High City" of Denver, you'll visit truly Western towns like Cheyenne, Cody, Buffalo and Laramie, where the legends and the rodeos are still alive and well. You'll hear the pioneers' stories and be entertained by tales of lawless mining towns, heroic figures, and fortunes made and lost.

The spectacular natural features at Yellowstone National Park, America's first national park, still leave visitors awestruck. In addition to Old Faithful, you'll find more than 300 geysers, as well as natural springs, paint pots, and bubbling stones. Further on, you'll be just as amazed by the ever present mountains of the Grand Teton Range, punched up through the earth like craggy blades. In between, you'll delight in the gorgeous mountains and relaxing hot springs in Sun Valley.

Enjoy this very diverse journey; you're seeing some of America's best treasures while discovering some of its richest heritage.

This is an example fly-drive itinerary - please call (01892) 779900 or email us with your plans and we will be happy to help!

Highlights Include

  • Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
  • Montana's old mining town of Butte
  • Beautiful towns of Ketchum and Sun Valley

Itinerary

1

Denver

The Colorado State Capitol building in Denver has a brass cap positioned at 5,280 feet above sea level, exactly one mile high, lending the city the title the "Mile High City." The 16th Street Mall connects the Capitol Building with LoDo, the cultural district that a century ago was home to Bat Masterson, Calamity Jane and other frontier icons. One of the city's newest architectural icons is the Hamilton Building of the Denver Museum of Art, which mimics the peaks of the Rocky Mountains and the geometric rock crystals found in the Denver foothills. The building's 9,000 titanium panels reflect the Colorado sunshine. The Colorado State History Museum, which explains the dramatic geology of the region, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Denver Visitor Center, and the Molly Brown House, home of the "unsinkable" local heroine with a really interesting story, are all nearby. Try one of the interesting restaurants in LoDo for dinner.

Begun as a gamble when the first flakes of gold were found in Cherry Creek in 1858, Denver was established as the first gold rush camp in the area. It epitomized the legends of the wild, wild, west, with gunslingers, gamblers, gold miners, saloons, cattlemen and a sheriff. Very conscious that it was destined to become a major western metropolitan area, the Historical Society began in 1879, little more than 20 years after the city's founding. Immediately after outlasting several surrounding cities for the title of capitol of the Colorado Territory, Denver began to develop a transportation network, cattle exchange, banking sector, cultural offerings, grand architecture and energy systems, working to make itself the thriving, contemporary, world class city that it is today.

2

Cheyenne

"101 miles"

Just over the Colorado border, you'll find Cheyenne, Wyoming, a place where the American West still lives. The Historic Plains Hotel is the perfect home base from which to explore the downtown historic district which has been thoroughly restored. There are dozens of historic buildings between the hotel and the Historic Governor's Mansion. In true Old West style, the streets in downtown Cheyenne are so wide that from the center of the city you can glimpse both ends of the downtown core; the gold domed capitol building that anchors one end and the Union Pacific Depot on the other.
Hop on the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley for a narrated tour of this historic town, with stops at the Depot Museum, Nelson Museum of the West, Wyoming State Museum, Wyoming State Capitol Building, Botanic Gardens, Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum, and the Historic Governors' Mansion.
Day Three - Casper (179 miles/2hrs 30mins)
When the West was still the rugged Old West, Casper, Wyoming was a frontier outpost, with a free-wheeling sense of adventure and authentic western ways. Today, the city is Wyoming's Adventure Capital, a year-round destination where you can enjoy the outdoors, the indoors, history or all of the above. Activities here range all the way from spending the day fishing for trophy-sized rainbow trout to exploring the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, which allows visitors to experience pioneer life as it was for early emigrants traveling the Oregon, California and the Pony Express Trails. Be sure to sit in a wagon and view a simulated crossing of the North Platte River. Fort Casper, located on the Oregon-California-Pony Express Trails was reconstructed to appear as it did in 1865. The fort museum illustrates the social and natural history of Wyoming from prehistoric inhabitation through the present day.

If you want to get way off the beaten path, you can climb Casper Mountain, where the difficult paths of yesteryear have been transformed into hiking and biking trails and ski areas. Casper also has five golf courses and in the summer is a regular on the rodeo circuit.

4

Sheridan

"147 miles"

On your way to Sheridan today, stop in Buffalo, which offers fascinating frontier heritage along with spectacular scenery. The entire downtown district is listed on the National Register of Historic Districts, more than a dozen historic buildings line its main street, and The Occidental Hotel (where Owen Wister's "Virginian got his man") and the Johnson County Court House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nestled in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, a sister range to the Rockies, Buffalo is half way between Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park, with plenty of attractions of its own. Bighorn National Forest provides a diverse landscape that includes lush greenlands and glacier-carved valleys.
Not far from Buffalo is the area known as Hole in the Wall, the famous hideout of outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and other members of the notorious "Wild Bunch." Tours from the Hole in the Wall Ranch allow you to relax and cool your heels in the same meadows and streams that those men found so inviting after days on the run.
Picturesque, historic and vibrant" - that's what the locals call Sheridan, Wyoming. The Old West meets the modern era in a town that offers world-class culture along with hometown hospitality and authentic Western charm. Like Buffalo, Sheridan's Main Street is lined with historic buildings, including the Landmark Historic Sheridan Inn, where Buffalo Bill Cody auditioned acts for his famous Wild West Show. More than 30 downtown buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, delightfully coexisting with unique shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants. Tour the town by trolley or walking tour, explore a mansion and museums, or relax in Kendrick Park where the buffalo and elk roam. Enjoy lively entertainment with weekly rodeos and polo, theater performances or a stop at the legendary Mint Bar.

5

Cody

"148 miles"

The journey today is as significant as the destination. Traveling the Medicine Wheel Passage east towards Cody, you'll experience rich Native American history and culture. Visit Connor Battlefield State Historic Site, where the Arapahoe pushed back against General Patrick Connor's troops from Fort Laramie in 1865. Pass through the spectacular Bighorn National Forest watching for its abundant wildlife. Then enjoy a moment of stillness at Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark, located within the Forest on Medicine Mountain. This sacred stone circle is revered by Native Americans for its strong spiritual ambiance, which can be felt by anyone visiting this prayerful place.

Continue on to Cody, a true western town founded by Buffalo Bill Cody in 1896 and a great place to soak up the spirit of the Old West. Cody became the home place for Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, which toured the country for over 30 years. The Irma Hotel, established by Buffalo Bill in 1902, has western style entertainment on hand nearly every night.

The Cody Nite Rodeo, in operation for 60 years, is the longest running rodeo in the United States, and starts every night at 8PM from June 1 to August 31.

While in Cody, you must visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, which was originally founded as the Buffalo Bill Memorial Center in 1912, and comprises five separate museums: Buffalo Bill Museum, Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Plains Indian Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Museum of Natural History, and Harold McCracken Research Library. Visit the site of Old Cody City at Old Trail Town and the Museum of the Old West, and take in the views from Buffalo Bill Dam.

This evening, take in the rodeo or enjoy a night of good old-fashioned Western entertainment at the Cody Cattle Company. Western movies, gun fights, and Native American dancers are just warm-ups for the Chuckwagon Dinner and Cowboy Music Show! Bring your appetite and sense of fun.

6

Yellowstone National Park

"116 miles"

En route to Yellowstone today, you'll travel the Buffalo Bill Cody Scenic Byway past Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Buffalo Bill State Park, and through the Shoshone National Forest. Keep watch for the abundant wildlife that inhabit the forest, and stop at the Wapiti Valley visitor center for information about the area. The Shoshone was incorporated into the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve in 1891, and the Forest Ranger station here is one of the oldest in the country.

Established in 1872 as America's first national park, Yellowstone is located in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, and contains natural wonders that must be seen to be believed. In addition to Old Faithful, many of the world's most incredible geysers and hot springs are located within Yellowstone National Park. Each area of the park has its own unique features. The bubbling, boiling surface of Mammoth Hot Springs appears to be covered with white chalk. Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest and most dynamic of Yellowstone's thermal areas, with few of its features under the boiling point. The hottest recorded temperature here was 459F, just a little over 1,000 feet below the surface. See the world's tallest geyser at Steamboat Geyser.

In the Madison Natural Area, thermal action bubbles up in many colors. A one-mile trail takes you through the colorful hot springs and the two large mud pots of the Artist Paint Pots just south of Norris Junction. The Old Faithful Area is actually made up of four different geyser basins surrounding the famous geyser, where 60% of the world's geysers share a small space. There are nearly 150 of these thermal wonders within one square mile of Old Faithful. The Grant Village Area and the Lake Area are both adjacent to Yellowstone Lake, the largest high elevation lake in North America. The bottom of Yellowstone Lake has the same terrain as Yellowstone Park, namely geysers, hot springs. A hot spot at Mary Bay got high as 252F.

Formed by erosion rather than glaciation, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River features as an awe-inspiring attraction in Native American lore, pioneer travel accounts, and in early tourist descriptions. Three main falls can be viewed from locations along the Canyon such as Lookout Point, Uncle Tom's Area, Red Rock Point, Artists Point, and Brink of the Lower Trails Falls. Some falls along the river are 300 feet high. The park's visitor centers provide excellent information and exhibits to put your experiences into perspective.

9

Butte

"166 miles"

As delightful as it is today, Butte began as nothing more than a bunch of mining camps back in the early 1870's. Then, silver and copper were discovered. This discovery began to bring in a flood of new companies and new people to Butte. By the late 1870's, a large and bustling city center had emerged – and was growing larger literally by the day. Then, as fate would have it, a fire in 1879 burned down the entire central business district. Following this disaster, the Butte city council passed a law that required all new buildings downtown (known as "uptown Butte") to be built from brick or stone – most of which still stand today and make Butte the historic and unique city it is.
While silver and gold were actively mined in Butte, it was copper that truly put the town on the map. Following the development of electricity, the demand for copper mushroomed. The demand continued to increase and spiked during World War I, when copper was used in every single rifle bullet (much of which came from Butte). Indeed, it is estimated that Butte supplied around 1/3 of the copper for the United States in the late 1800's and the early part of the 1900's. The most interesting and entertaining way to see the town is to take a narrated tour on the Trolley. You'll see where miner, scoundrels and famous characters lived, and worked, and made Butte the lively urban center it was.

10

Ketchum / Sun Valley

"335 miles"

The drive to Sun Valley in Ketchum today is as scenic as the destination, as you pass through the Salmon-Challis National Forest and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. It is also historically significant, as you're retracing the steps of Lewis in Clark at a particularly momentous point in their journey. In 1805, the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery crossed the Lemhi Pass on the border of what is now Montana and Idaho, leaving behind American territory to pass into lands claimed by various European nations in their quest to reach the Pacific Ocean. You'll cross that same pass, the Continental Divide, to pass into Idaho. Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark's Shoshoni translator, companion and guide, was born in what today is the town of Salmon, Idaho. The Sacajawea Center honors her Agai Dika Lemhi Shoshoni heritage and her role in the Corps of Discovery.

Ketchum was one of the richest mining districts in the Northwest during the silver boom, and quickly changed gears to become an important livestock station when mining was replaced by an agricultural economy. In the 1930s, the wonderful mountains around Ketchum were "discovered" as rivals to the Alps for skiing and the area was renamed Sun Valley. The same marketing firm that created Miami Beach took on Sun Valley and the rest is history. Today, skiers and non skiers alike can enjoy sophisticated Sun Valley and Ketchum, which has retained its Western small town character and lifestyle. In addition to great outdoor recreation—hiking, biking, walking, scenic drives, you name it!—there are a number of relaxing hot springs in Sun Valley in which to soak away every possible stress. Choose from one of the commercial pools outside town, or the rustic hot springs located inside Sawtooth Natural Recreation Area.

12

Jackson / Grand Teton National Park

"244 miles"

Talk about spectacular! As you drive along Teton Park Road, it becomes immediately obvious why Grand Teton is a National Park. The Tetons are a 40-mile long mountain range that rises straight out of the plain. Twelve of the mountain peaks are over 12,000 feet above sea level and Grand Teton rises to 13,770 feet. Even around Jenny Lake, one of the most pristine lakes in North America, they loom overhead. A wonderful way to see the Park is by traveling its three Scenic Drives: the Teton Park Road that follows the base of the Teton Range from Moose to Jackson Lake Junction, dramatic Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, and Signal Mountain Summit Road, from which you'll have panoramic views of the Teton Range, Jackson Lake and the Jackson Hole valley. Treat yourselves to a Wildlife Expedition with the Teton Science School. One of their all-day adventures, daybreak trips or evening tours will take you into the otherwise inaccessible back country of Grand Teton National Park, where you can expect to see (and photograph) wildlife that you would not normally encounter.

14

Rock Springs

"177 miles"

The scenery remains stunning for much of your drive today, as you travel through the Bridger-Teton National Forest to Pinedale. In Pinedale, stop at The Museum of the Mountain Man, which presents an overview of the Western fur trade's historical significance through the lens of the romantic era of the Mountain Man. Exhibits include a 10-foot-tall Trapper statue, Native American clothing and tools, Jim Bridger's Rifle, and a Shoshone sheepskin bow.

You can enjoy some serious outdoor recreation in the 201,000 scenic acres in southern Montana that make up the Flaming Gorge Recreation Area, featuring the 91-mile long Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Flanked by nearly 375 miles of dramatic shoreline of varying elevations in a kaleidoscope of colors, the reservoir is well known for fantastic trout fishing. Perched atop a cliff, the Red Canyon Vista and Visitor Center has huge windows and outdoor fenced platforms for viewing the Gorge and surrounding desert landscape. A scenic loop road off Interstate 80 connects WY 530, US 191 and Utah 44. Be sure to visit Firehole Canyon, just south of Rock Springs, for the spectacular sight of chimneys and pinnacles reflecting in the river.

14

Laramie

"207 miles"

Talk about Western heritage – what a perfect ending to your expedition through the American West. Like so many towns in southern Wyoming, Laramie began as an "end of the tracks" railroad town. As the railroad progressed westward to the Golden Spike, towns sprung up for workers extending the tracks. By the time the first train arrived in 1868, carrying the Ivinson family, who came to build the town, a fair number of cabins, tents, and houses had already been constructed. You can tour the 1892 Victorian Queen-Anne style family mansion, which is considered to be one of the finest historic homes in the region. Among the 14 museums and historic sites in Laramie is the The Wyoming House for Historical Women, dedicated to Louisa Swain, an elderly Quaker woman who became the first woman in the world to cast a ballot, giving women the right to vote with full civil equality to men. Also of interest is the Wyoming Territorial Prison, constructed in 1872, which held none other than Butch Cassidy himself. Visit the Prison Museum for an insider's view of the 190-acre facility, the restored Warden's House, and exhibits in the Horse Barn Exhibit Hall. If you want to get out of town, head to the top of Vedauwoo; the fantastic rock formations and views from this 8,000 foot "rocky oasis" are stunning.

14

Denver/Home

"146 miles"

Today, make your way from Laramie back to Denver for your flight home this evening.


What's included?

  • Direct return flights from London (Please ask about other departure airports)
  • 15 nights hotel accommodation and room tax
  • Fully insured compact car hire
  • A personalised and comprehensive travelpack with driving instructions and maps

How to book

Daily Departures 18 May to 30 September.

We can also offer this itinerary in a wide range of other accommodation types, including superior hotels, character properties and small inns.

Please call us on (01892) 779900 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. stating your travel dates, and preferred standard of accommodation for a detailed & competitively priced quotation.

RockyMountainSplendours

Rocky Mountain Splendours

It inspired “America The Beautiful” and John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.” It enticed millions of pioneers to push on through to start new lives surrounded by scenic beauty. The spectacular scenery of the Rocky Mountains is best enjoyed in Colorado and surrounds. Rugged peaks stretch for hundreds of miles, thrusting as high as 14,000 feet into the air. Pike’s Peak can be seen shooting out of the landscape miles before the mountain comes into full view. Scenic drives that are truly the “roads less travelled” take you through the best scenery. Colorado, particularly, has made a point of carefully preserving the scenic routes in its midst. Alongside the beauty, you’ll find a collection of interesting history, from the Wild West and ghost towns to ancestral Native American settlements. It’s all here for you to enjoy, but plan to slow down and savor the meandering drives and out of the way places. Return home, refreshed and relaxed, having visited a different time and place.

Highlights Include

  • Denver 'The Mile High City'
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Steamboat Springs
  • Grand Junction
  • Colorado National Monument
  • San Juan Scenic Byway
  • Durango
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison
  • Crested Butte
  • Colorado Springs

Itinerary

1

Denver

Upon arrival in Denver, collect your hire car at the airport and stay for 1 night in a convenient Downtown hotel. Alternatively take a taxi to your hotel and collect your car in the morning on Day 2.

For decades, Denver was the stuff of legends. In the wild, wild west, Bat Masterson, the Unsinkable Molly Brown, gunslingers, gamblers, gold miners, saloons, cattlemen and sheriffs all competed for a piece of the action. Today, Denver gets its name the “Mile High City”, from the brass cap positioned exactly one mile high on the Capitol steps. The city was so sure it would be a success that the Historical Society was founded in 1879 to record the details. Soon after, a cattle exchange, banking and energy began contributing to prosperity. An incredible amount of early architecture still exists, because nearly from the beginning, Denver was built for permanence.

You can introduce yourself to Denver on a walking tour of the 16th Street Mall and downtown Denver. You’ll pass the Colorado History Museum, Denver Art Museum (yes, it all stands up!), the US Mint, Larimer Square, the historic Brown Palace hotel and more. Great places like the Coyote Ugly Bar are comingled with the rest. Get back to nature at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and the Denver Botanical Gardens with 32,000 plants. Go to LODO( Lower Downtown) for arts, entertainment and great restaurants.

You’re in store for your first taste of Rocky Mountain Splendour on the Lariat Loop Scenic and Historic Byway that provides access to foothills scenery surrounding Denver. The two roads of the byway, Bear Creek Canyon Scenic Mountain Drive and the Lariat Trail Scenic Mountain Drive are both on the National Register of Historic Places. The 36-mile loop through Morrison, Evergreen and Golden has maintained its historic authenticity over time.

3

Colorado Springs

"68 miles"

Depart Denver this morning and head South to the lovely city of Colorado Springs.

Two scenic byways let you explore the area around Colorado Springs. No matter where you begin your tour of the Collegiate Peaks Byway, you will be ushered into one of Colorado's most scenically spectacular, historically rich and recreationally diverse areas. This paved 57-mile route parallels the Continental Divide at the foot of the Sawatch Range, the highest concentration of 14,000+ foot peaks in the country. The greater part follows the Arkansas River, the most commercially rafted river in the nation, a world-class kayaking destination, and one of the state's premier trout fishing resources.

The byway offers unfolding views of impressive peaks, intermittent stretches of lush riverside, fishing and boater access points, national forests and public lands, active ranches, and a variety of natural hot springs, all combining to define the scenic, recreational and geological contrasts that are the Upper Arkansas River Valley. The state gemstone, the aquamarine, is mined on Mt. Antero. The classic mining towns of Vicksburg, Winfield and St. Elmo are accessible from the byway, and the communities of Poncha Springs and Buena Vista are historically rich and vibrant, while the town of Salida boasts the largest historic district in the state.

Simply driving the Gold Belt Tour in Colorado is an adventure in itself. While following historic railroad and stagecoach routes leading you to North America's greatest gold camps, you will find yourself traversing between narrow canyon walls and along excitingly steep drop-offs. Although the area is no longer bustling with the activities of the gold rush, you can still "strike it rich" with views of outstanding scenery and limitless recreational activities. As you drive the byway, watch for the hundreds of historic gold mines that surround the communities along the way. Get a real feel for the gold rush days when you visit Victor's National Historic District and Cripple Creek, the historical hub of the mining district and a National Historic Landmark. Most of the buildings built in the early 1900s have been restored to their original likeness, and will give you an authentic look at what life must have been like on the road to riches. Once you've discovered gold mining of the past, visit Victor's new active gold mine. See for yourself the toil and backbreaking labor that went into gold mining in the 1890s and how technology has improved the miner's endeavors today.

5

Gunnison/Crested Butte

"166 miles"

The twin summits of Mount Sopris and the incomparable Black Canyon of the Gunnison anchor the ends of the West Elk Loop National Scenic Byway. This magnificent landscape has been home to uncounted generations of Native Americans, most recently the Utes. White settlers originally came in search of minerals and stayed to farm and ranch. The coke ovens at Redstone bear witness to the toil that built the communities of today. Carbondale, Hotchkiss, Crawford, Gunnison, Crested Butte, and other towns offer a slice of Colorado's rich history, varied lifestyles, and natural beauty. The route gives access to the White River and Gunnison National Forests, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument, Curecanti National Recreational Area, and Crawford and Paonia State Parks.

West Elk Loop circles through a landscape known for its variety. Traveling through the Crystal River Valley, it traces canyon rims, winds next to rivers, dives into forests, and crosses fields. The region provides countless opportunities for recreation and natural sightseeing in a setting unlike any other. From state parks and national forests to the expansive Curecanti National Recreation Area, the route keeps a promise of beauty and diversity.

6

Durango

"171 miles"

On your way to Durango, you can experience real Rocky Mountain Splendour on the San Juan Skyway Historic and Scenic Byway. Traveling the "road to the sky" offers views of the towering 14,000-foot San Juan Mountains speckled with ancient Indian pueblo ruins. The sheer cliffs and rugged terrain of the Skyway boast some of the most dramatic scenery on the planet. See crashing waterfalls in the spring as the snow melts in the higher mountains. Wildflowers garnish the alpine forests in the summer months, where the gilded amber, bronze, and gold of the aspens delight autumn visitors. Winter brings a glistening blanket of snow to the byway, perfect for quiet admiration or more active recreation.

Founded by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in 1880, Durango was once a young city surrounded by silver mining towns and the Wild West. Today the railroad still passes through here but the mining towns it was built to serve have long since been abandoned. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad now takes visitors up into the San Juan Mountains and Durango has settled in as a carefully preserved National Historic Landmark. If you think you’ve seen Durango before, it’s because it’s the picture perfect Old West town that has starred as the backdrop for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, City Slickers, Cliffhangers and many other movies. It’s so authentic that you might expect a gunslinger to step right into the street any minute. The nightly show at the Strater Hotel is right out of the old West.

8

Mesa Verde National Park

"36 miles"

With such a short drive this morning from Durango you will have virtually the whole day to explore this interesting area of south western Colorado.

Very near Durango, prepare to be awestruck as you explore Mesa Verde National Park, an expansive dugout area sheltered by massive rock cliffs covered with adobe brick dwellings that appear to be the individual home units of ancient cliff dwellers. The earliest inhabitants of Mesa Verde are believed to have settled here beginning in 550AD, transitioning from a nomadic existence to a farming lifestyle. Grab your sense of adventure as you go up and down ladders and through the tight spaces of Cliff Palace, the largest dwelling area.

Be sure to take advantage of the many guided and self-guided tours available at Mesa Verde. Cliff Palace, Balcony House, Spruce Tree House and Long House can only be toured with a guide. Purchase tickets for these tours at the Far View Visitor Center or at the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum, both of which are worth a visit for their excellent exhibits and orientation to the area. You may take self-guided tours of Spruce Tree House, Step House, Badger House and other sites on the Mesa Top. The Far View Sites Complex can also be toured independently. A 6-mile Mesa Top Loop Road driving tour takes you through 700 years of Mesa Verde history to several scenic overlooks including Sun Point Overlook and Sun Temple.

Nearby Mesa Verde, the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway takes you through archaeological heartland of America while crossing the beautiful and diverse landscapes of the Colorado Plateau. The Trail of the Ancients in Colorado and Utah takes you back to a time long before the United States existed, long before Spaniards came north from what is today Central America. Amazingly, some regions of the Colorado Plateau remain today much as they must have been in the 13th and 14th Centuries. Arid and mostly uninhabited, the terrain along the byway conceals secrets of bygone populations, vibrant people who came and went like snow in warm spring sunshine or tumbleweeds at the front of a desert storm. The byway travels through some of our country's most beautiful yet austere country, and it lends itself to contemplation and rejuvenation as well as recreational adventures.

9

Grand Junction

"204 miles"

On you way to Grand Junction today, you’ll be passing through the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The Black Canyon is a unique and spectacular canyon rising nearly 3,000 feet in some places, and narrowing to only 40 feet in others; no other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths that you’ll see here. Plummeting as much as 2,700 feet almost vertically from the rim, it is one of North America’s steepest, darkest and most rugged gorges. For millions of years the river cut through soft sedimentary layers, wearing down to the older and harder igneous layer about 2 million years ago. Since then, the river has eroded rock at the rate of about an inch per century, carving the precipitous Black Canyon.

Begin your visit at the South Rim Visitor Center, where you can find maps, information and exhibits on this superlative landscape. The South Rim Drive from Tomichi Point to High Point has 12 stunning overlooks, including Gunnison Point, Chasm View, Painted Wall, and Sunset View. The seven-mile drive with stops takes 2-3 hours to complete. A variety of hiking trails through the park ranges from the easy Cedar Point Nature Trail to the strenuous North Rim Vista Trail, each offering its own perspective on the flora, fauna and geography of this exceptional area.

Approaching Grand Junction, you’ll see the Colorado National Monument rising more than 2,000 feet above the Grand Valley of the Colorado River. Magnificent views fromRim Rock Drive, stretch from the colorful sheer-walled canyons and fascinating rock sculptures to the distantColorado RiverValley, the purple-gray Book Cliffs, and the huge flat-topped mountain called Grand Mesa. Many animals including mule deer, coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, and desert big horn sheep, live, nest, and hunt within its boundaries, Time permitting, follow the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway along the rim of the world's largest flat-top mountain for 360-degrees views of singular alpine skyline or take Highway 141 to the Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic and Historic Byway. InGrand Junction, stretch your legs at the Dinosaur Journey, which is part of theMuseumofWestern Coloradoand theMuseumofWestern Colorado.

Due to it’s sunny climate, the area is also well known for growing fruits of all kinds – including peaches, cherries and apples. At the turn of the century, many local orchards also began growing grapes, which they eventually used to make wine. Today the heart of the Colorado wine industry is right here in Grand Junction, with The Grand Valley region producing wonderful, high-quality wines in a spectacular setting. With several intimate, accessible and altogether charming vineyards, a tour through the heart of Colorado wine country is a must do any level of enthusiast.

11

Steamboat Springs

"193 miles"

Plan to experience Colorado’s natural history in Steamboat Springs, located in the ancient summer hunting grounds of the Ute Indians in the idyllic Yampa Valley. Take in stunning views of the surrounding rugged peaks and deep forest as you relax in the natural mineral hot springs (hence “Steamboat Springs”) that the Ute Indians visited as “medicine springs” for centuries. The hot springs have been the town’s greatest attractions since its founding in the mid-1880s, drawing gold miners from Hahn’s Peak by stage coach and later train travelers from around the country.

Old Town Hot Springs, in the middle of town, is now a modern facility that includes lap and relaxation pools and water slides. The rock-lined pools of Strawberry Park Hot Springs, just outside town on the edge of the Routt National Forest are perhaps the most beautiful natural springs in the state.

This authentic small western town that began as a self-sufficient wilderness frontier village evolved into a farming-ranching-mining community that eventually became the cultural center of northwest Colorado. The Perry Mansfield Camp, now in its 86th year, is the oldest performing arts center in the country. In 1914, Carl Howelsen, the “flying Norseman” of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame, arrived and introduced the town’s residents to ski jumping, spawning a new recreational industry and adding a resort element to the town’s cultural and historic character.

Take a self-guided tour of historic downtown Steamboat Springs, beginning at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, to learn the stories of the town’s early settlers and the significance of its historic buildings.

Steamboat Springs today is an ideal year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The Routt National Forest provides an incredible backdrop for biking, hiking and fishing. Also nearby are the 283-foot Fish Creek Falls, the rugged Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, and the gorgeous Steamboat and Pearl lakes.

12

Estes Park & The Rocky Mountain National Park

"139 miles"

Departing Steamboat this morning and north east via Boulder towards Estes Park. The valley of Estes Park inspires outdoor adventures from hiking Rocky Mountain National Park's 350 miles of alpine trails to whitewater rafting the Cache La Poudra River.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a living showcase of grandeur with countless breathtaking vistas ranging from 8,000 to 14,259 feet. You’ll find delicate alpine flowers, clear lakes, rushing mountain waters, bighorn sheep, ptarmigan, coyote, and elk. Keep your camera at the ready!

Winding through the forests and mountains of the Rocky Mountain National Park, Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road encompasses over 50 miles of beautiful landscapes. Stop at the overlooks that line the byway for magnificent yet different vistas of the Rocky Mountains, which here tower over 14,000 feet. Take a short five-minute stroll at the Forest Canyon Overlook and marvel at the view of Forest Canyon, Hayden Gorge, and Gorge Lakes. Stand on the roof of the Rockies at Rock Cut. Pull over at Rainbow Curve, elevated over two miles above sea level to see trees transformed by long, repeated exposure to the harsh winds, ice, and the grit of this severe environment. At Milner Pass, the byway meets the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, which crosses approximately 3,100 miles ranging from the Canada-Montana border to the Mexico-New Mexico border. At elevations over 10,000 feet, this trail offers spectacular views of the Rockies and the meadows that lie at their base.

15

Denver

"64 miles"

You will not want to depart Colorado and leave this wonderful scenery behind. Not to worry, Denver is a great gateway for all kinds of places in the American Rockies. Plan to return and have another Rocky Mountain High!

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a last morning in Colorado Springs before you head back to the Mile High City of Denver in time to catch your direct overnight flight home.


What's included?

  • Direct return flights from London (Please ask about other departure airports)
  • 14 nights hotel accommodation and room tax
  • Fully insured compact car hire
  • A detailed and comprehensive travel pack with driving instructions and maps

How to book

Daily Departures 18 May to 30 September.

We can also offer this itinerary in a wide range of other accommodation types, including superior hotels, character properties and small inns.

Please call us on (01892) 779900 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. stating your travel dates, and preferred standard of accommodation for a detailed & competitively priced quotation.

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