• Credit Jackie Appleton

The Wild West

Travel into the heart of the Wild West including Yellowstone National Park on this self drive trip.  This itinerary takes you into the heart of the Wild West – the Rocky Mountains, the vast plains of Wyoming, the Big Horn Mountains and basin. 

Summary

The Wild West

This itinerary takes you into the heart of the Wild West – the Rocky Mountains, the vast plains of Wyoming, the Big Horn Mountains and basin.  If you are looking for cowboy ranches, history (recent and pre-historic) or simply for a scenic driving holiday – this might be the answer.

Day 1: Rapid City
Day 4: Buffalo
Day 5: Cody
Day 7: Yellowstone via the Beartooth Highway
Day 11: Grand Teton National Park
Day 13: Jackson

Description

Description

 This itinerary takes you into the heart of the Wild West – the Rocky Mountains, the vast plains of Wyoming, the Big Horn Mountains and basin.  If you are looking for cowboy ranches, history (recent and pre-historic) or simply for a scenic driving holiday – this might be the answer.

Day 1: Rapid City
Your trip begins in Rapid City (indirect flights from the UK with perhaps an overnight stop in Denver or Minneapolis en route). Give yourself at least 3 nights to explore this area, in the Black Hills of Southern Dakota. Discover the moon-like landscapes of Badlands National Park- with its jagged spires and deep crevasses; explore this unique scenery by foot, horseback or by car. Immerse yourself in the history of Native American Culture, marvel at Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, drive the Wildlife Loop Scenic Byway in Custer State Park – in addition to bighorn sheep, antelope, deer, elk, coyote, prairie dog, and numerous birds, this park is home to the worlds largest buffalo herds.
Rapid City area 3 nights

Day 4: Buffalo
Traverse the cowboy country from South Dakota into Wyoming; passing through Deadwood, a Gold Rush town and once home to Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Overnight in Buffalo, nestled in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. This area, steeped in history, was once the prized hunting grounds of the native Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapho tribes; the historic sites of many turbulent battles, including Fort Phil Kearney and the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, are waiting to be explored.
Buffalo 1 night

With a little more time, a ranch stay to the south of Buffalo is home to the original Hole in the Wall gang – the infamous Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Day 5: Cody
Drive through the beautiful Bighorn Mountains – hiking trails, stunning vistas, waterfalls, wildlife and forests make this a memorable drive. Choose from one of 3 scenic routes across the mountains (you may consider adding an extra day to explore). Your destination is Cody, in Buffalo Bill Country. Arrive in time to visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Centre where 5 museums are brought together under one roof. During the summer Cody hosts a nightly rodeo – not to be missed.
Cody 2 nights

Day 7: Yellowstone via the Beartooth Highway
Today’s drive takes you along, arguably, one of the most spectacular alpine highways in North America, the Beartooth Highway. With sweeping views of snow-covered mountains, crystal clear alpine lakes, there are wonderful hiking opportunities. If you would like to extend your time here, there are several ranches in the area offering you the chance to live your cowboy dream. View and photograph wildlife including mountain goats, moose, elk, marmot, mule deer, black bear, grizzly bear, wolf, bison… Then into Yellowstone through the Lamar Valley – at least 4 nights here in 2 or 3 different locations, allowing you ample time to explore the diverse landscapes and wildlife of this superb park.
Yellowstone 4 nights

Day 11: Grand Teton National Park
Depart Yellowstone and spend a couple of nights in Grand Teton National Park where the magnificent Tetons rise from the valley. The famous Snake River flows through the park – white water rafting is a favourite pastime.
Grand Tetons 2 nights

Day 13: Jackson
And down to Jackson Village for your final night in the cowboy State of Wyoming. Excellent shops, restaurants, bars and galleries – this is a great place to round off your trip.

The Wild West - Grand Tetons (Credit Rick Carpenter)      The Wild West - mammoth hot springs

 

The Wild West - Yellowstone hot pool      The Wild West - Bison Walks across the river in Yellowstone NP, Yellowstone

Little Gems

Little Gems

Some would not class this as a Little Gem, but a visit to the Heart Mountain Interpretive Centre just to the north of Cody is a stark reminder of second world war Japanese internment camps that sprung up in the USA following Pearl Harbour.  This one is well restored and gives a good account of life in these camps – it is well worth a visit.

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