Fly to Denver and check in to your chosen airport hotel. Alternatively you can choose to extend your stay with a couple of nights in Denver to explore The Mile High City before your Great American West Adventure.
Overnight: TownePlace Suites Denver Airport at Gateway Park (or similar)
Denver – Cheyenne, Wyoming (102 miles)
Head north to Wyoming’s state capital of Cheyenne - with western-themed museums, rodeos, and railroads, the city exemplifies the spirit of Wyoming's Old West. Visit the Old West Museum to learn about the annual Frontier Days, one of the oldest annual rodeos in the country. Other options include the Cheyenne Depot Plaza and Depot Museum, the Wyoming State Capitol, the Big Boy Steam Engine and Downtown Cheyenne.
Overnight Cheyenne Best Western Plus Frontier Inn (or similar)
Cheyenne, WY – Rapid City, South Dakota (289 miles)
Make your way north east to explore the many attractions of South Dakota’s Black Hills. Stop in at Wind Cave National Park which contains the world's sixth longest cave with amazing boxwork, frostwork and popcorn formations. Visit Custer State Park, the second largest state park in the nation and home to 1,500 bison and granite outcroppings. Drive the 18 mile Wildlife Loop Road, through open grasslands and pine dotted hills. Continue onto Rapid City, which will be your base for the next two nights to explore the wonderful sights of the region.
Two nights: Hotel Alex Johnson Rapid City (or similar)
Rapid City, SD - Mount Rushmore & The Crazy Horse Memorial, SD - The Black Hills of South Dakota – Rapid City, SD (80 miles)
A good day to enjoy a full-on breakfast before embarking on your day of spectacular sightseeing. First stop - Mount Rushmore National Memorial - 60-foot-high mountain carving of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Then continue to the Crazy Horse Memorial – the massive granite carving honouring the Native American warrior will stand 563 feet high and 641 feet long when complete. That this is still a “work in progress”, makes you appreciate the vastness of this memorial and the intense work involved.
Depending on your time and energy, you can either head back to Rapid City for a relaxing afternoon but we suggest you continue to the Old West town of Deadwood where the legends of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane live on. Visit the Days of 76 Museum or try your luck at one of the town’s numerous gaming parlours. Another option here, again time dependent, is to travel west to visit Devil’s Tower National Monument; America’s first national monument reaching 364m into the western sky.
Rapid City, WY to Bismarck, North Dakota (300 miles)
In the morning depart for North Dakota and the twin cities of Bismarck-Mandan. Bismarck is the capital city of North Dakota and lies on the banks of the Missouri River that divides the city into Bismarck-Mandan. Go back in time at the newly renovated North Dakota Heritage Centre, walk in General Custer’s footsteps at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park and take a tour of Custer House.
Overnight: AmericInn by Wyndham Bismarck (or similar)
Bismarck, ND to Medora, ND (133 miles)
Head west to Medora, diverting slightly south to admire the Enchanted Highway, a 32-mile stretch of paved county highway that features spectacular giant concrete and metal sculptures. In Medora take in the nightly outdoor Medora Musical and Pitchfork Fondue dinner in the summer with the dynamic landscape of the North Dakotan Badlands as your backdrop.
Two nights: AmericInn by Wyndham Medora or Rough Riders Hotel (or similar)
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Medora is the gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park and North Dakota’s Badlands which have been shaped by millions of years of wind, rain, erosion, fire and the meandering Little Missouri River. Take the 48 mile scenic drive around the South Unit, which might have an uninspiring name but here you will find stunning scenery and watchable wildlife, where the Great Plains meet the rugged Badlands. There are a couple of visitor centres just outside of the park which are useful for information on where to find scenic overlooks and trailheads to have a walk along the easy to navigate trails. Spot bison and elk as you wind your way through the sprawling landscapes.
Medora to Billings, Montana (283 miles)
Today you are crossing into Montana and heading to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument which serves as a symbol for both sides – the U.S. Cavalry and Native American Indians, who fought on the banks of the Little Bighorn River. Guided tours with a local tribesman are available. After exploring, head into Billings for a two night stay. Billings is well-known for both its foodie scene and its local breweries, so you’ll be spoilt for choice during your stay.
Two nights: Best Western Plus Clocktower Inn Billings (or similar)
Enjoy a leisurely morning exploring Billings, perhaps enjoying a hearty brunch and visiting the Smithsonian Western Heritage Center just a short walk from your hotel. You can take the 5 minute drive up to Swords Park where you can walk the Rimrocks – the iconic 70 million year old sandstone cliffs that surround the city. A little further out of the city you can visit the Pictograph Cave State Park and explore ancient caves to observe evidence of early civilizations. The history buffs might want to drive onto Pompeys Pillar National Monument to examine the only remaining physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Billings, MT to West Yellowstone, MT (231 miles)
This morning travel west through Montana onto the city of Bozeman. This will be a great lunch stop and here you can visit the Smithsonian Museum of the Rockies with dinosaur skeletons and fossils, outdoor regional history exhibits and planetarium shows.
Continue to the popular mountain resort of Big Sky and then onwards for a two night stay in West Yellowstone.
Two nights: Best Western Desert Inn West Yellowstone (or similar)
Yellowstone National Park
An early start is required for the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone - best known for the geysers, hot springs and mud pots that make the park one of the most active geothermal areas on the planet. The awe-inspiring landscape covers 2,000,000 acres with over 10,000 thermal features and hundreds of animal species. Popular sites include Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Lake, Old Faithful, Lamar and Hayden Valleys and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with its inspirational view of Lower Falls.
West Yellowstone, MT – Idaho Falls, Idaho (108 miles)
Take the road out of Montana southbound into Idaho, perhaps stopping en route at the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. At the Mesa Falls Visitor Centre you can learn all about the natural and cultural history of the area and pick up an accessible trail and boardwalk which provide great views of Mesa Falls. Continue onto Idaho Falls located on the Snake River which flows through the town, for a two night stay.
Enjoy exploring the downtown, with elements of its history as a frontier town remaining in the charming streets and turn-of-century buildings. The Snake River winds through the heart of Idaho Falls and five miles of waterfront have been developed into the city’s River Walk, a greenbelt of parks, walkways, piers, historic markers. Stop into the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho; it’s right on the river and at Sportsman’s Park, a small island in the Snake River, you can take a quiet stroll through the Japanese gardens.
Two nights Best Western Plus Cotton Tree Inn Idaho Falls (or similar)
Craters of the moon National Monument (160 mile round trip)
Enjoy a day at the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in the Snake River plain. This volcanic wonderland encompasses enormous lava flows, a testament to violent eruptions more than 2,000 years ago. Start at the visitor centre for park maps and to watch the park film. Craters' caves and trails are all located along the 7-mile Loop Road, making it easy for you to see and do a lot in a short amount of time. Sit back and enjoy the scenic drive, or make stops along the way to stroll, hike, picnic and take photos.
Idaho Falls – Salt Lake City (214 miles)
It’s the end of your adventure and time to drive to the airport – this time Salt Lake City – for your flight home.