The Great American West
This great new fly-drive itinerary takes in the five states that together make up 'The Great American West' - Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and North Dakota. With some of the USA's most stunning scenery and wildlife you'll visit famous national parks, infamous Wild West towns and historic sites and soak up the Western and Native American heritage and culture
- Yellowstone National Park
- Mount Rushmore
- Glacier National Park
- Jackson Hole
Collect your hire car on arrival and take the short drive to your hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota for 3 nights
Rapid City is a great base from which to explore the many interesting landscapes and monuments in the area. Badlands National Park is a treasure trove of fossils dating back 37 million years. There are 14 designated stops along the scenic road which overlook the dramatic landforms. Nearby, Wind Cave National Park is an unusual cave formation which resembles honeycombs. Custer State Park is truly one of the last wild places in America. You can enjoy up-close and personal encounters with the wildlife here along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road. Visit the granite "Needles" that dominate the skyline. Nearby is Mount Rushmore National Memorial- the best time to visit is in the evening when the monument is illuminated. It’s easily combined with Crazy Horse Memorial - the largest sculptural project in the world.
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. Today, the entire city of Deadwood is a national historic landmark. Visit Wild Bill and Calamity Jane's graves in Mount Moriah Cemetery, tour the historic Adams’ House, a family home preserved entirely as it was left in 1934. Tour the Broken Boot Mine, a 100-year-old mine where visitors can even pan for their own gold. Motorcycle fans should visit nearby Sturgis, the venue for America’s biggest annual motorbike rally and home to the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.
As you leave Deadwood, take the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway with its waterfalls and winding river. Drive on to North Dakota’s Badlands and the town of Medora. Nearby the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park features a 36-mile scenic loop with views of buffalo herds, wild horses and prairie dogs. Medora Musical is a western show that takes place nightly throughout the summer and a visit to the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame is a must, showcasing the history of trail drivers, homesteaders and Native Americans of the area.
Once in Billings, visit the Western Heritage Centre, which features over 17,000 American Indian objects and artefacts. Be sure to visit Moss Mansion, designed by the same architect behind the Waldorf-Astoria in New York and the MetraPark, which offers horse racing and rodeos. Outside Billings, drive through the Crow Reservation and visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, just south of Hardin – home of the Bighorn County Museum and the site of General Custer’s infamous ‘Last Stand’.
Arriving in Bozeman, you'll be amazed by the majestic peaks and steep canyons that ring the town. Founded in 1864, Bozeman marked the beginning of the Bozeman Trail that lead to the gold fields 80 miles west. The Museum of the Rockies, on the Montana State 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. An 89-mile scenic route takes you to the Gallatin Petrified Forest and Gallatin National Forest. Nearby Virginia City, a mining ghost town, stands as it did in its heyday, with 150 buildings certified as authentic historic structures.
Glacier National Park
Glacier encompasses more than a million acres of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, mountains and glacial-carved valleys. It is named for its prominent glacier-carved terrain, dating back some 10,000 years to the Ice Age, creating some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. This diverse landscape is home to more than 70 species of mammal including grizzly bears and grey wolves over 260 bird species including golden eagles, and an incredible variety of plant life. To the east of Glacier is the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Take the 70-mile self-drive tour of Blackfeet Country, following the historical “Blackfeet Trail”, and you’ll understand why the Blackfeet felt so at home here. Between East and West Glacier is the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, truly the scenic drive of a lifetime. Whilst here, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities from hiking to rafting and horse riding to rock climbing.
Missoula's historic downtown boasts unique dining and shopping opportunities and a lively nightlife. Just outside the city, Rattlesnake National Recreation Area offers endless mountain trails; here you’ll find mountain lakes, waterfalls, and slopes of sub-alpine fir, pine and spruce and open parklands. An abundance of wildlife can also be found, from elk and coyotes to black bears and mountain lions. In the city itself, explore the exhibits at the Art Museum of Missoula or take a trip back in time at the Historical Museum. Dragon Hollow, a magical playground that features a hand-carved carousel is a must for families.
Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark’s translator, companion and guide, was born in what today is the mountain town of Salmon, Idaho. The Sacajawea Centre honours her heritage and role in the Corps of Discovery. Perched on the edge of the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Salmon, Idaho is home to a vibrant collection of art galleries and restaurants and provides the opportunity for a wide array of outdoor activities including hiking, fishing, exhilarating white-water rafting and relaxing in natural hot springs.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park contains almost 60% of the world’s geysers. Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas while the Old Faithful area is made up of four different basins where there are at least 150 geysers within one square mile. The Grant Village and Lake areas are both adjacent to Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake at a high elevation in North America. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River is roughly 20 miles long and varies between 800 and 1,200 feet deep and the falls along the river include Tower Falls, which drops 132-foot. Tower Creek is framed by eroded volcanic pinnacles that were documented by the earliest explorers in the region. The abundant wildlife throughout Yellowstone is almost as famous as its geysers so keep your eye out for bear, elk, moose, wolves, bison and much more. There are also many excellent museums and visitor centres throughout the park which will put your experiences into perspective.
As you arrive in Jackson, it becomes immediately obvious why the Tetons, the 40-mile long mountain range that surround it, are a National Park. All three Scenic Drives are a must do: the Teton Park Road, Jenny Lake Scenic Drive, and Signal Mountain Summit Road. We highly recommend taking a Wildlife Expedition, which will take you into the back country of Grand Teton National Park, otherwise inaccessible to traffic. There are also plenty of fly-fishing, mountain biking and white-water rafting opportunities. Hot air balloon trips are also popular.
- 20 nights' accomodation
- International flights from London (please ask if regional airports are required)
- Car rental
- A detailed and comprehensive travel pack with maps
Daily Departures from May to September.