Traveling through Wyoming to Montana to South Dakota, this road trip will immerse you in the best of the West. From an insider look at rodeos to bountiful wildlife sightings to hidden gem Western towns, this is a trip you won't soon forget.
Jackson and Grand Teton
The town of Jackson has a family friendly rodeo twice a week during the summer months. The first night, you’ll have the chance to get a “behind the scenes” look with one of the rodeo owners.
Whether you are looking for a scenic two hour float in a wooden Mckenzie Boat or a wild river rapid ride (or both!), your guide will lead you on your personalized adventure on the Snake River. The river runs the valley floor, bordered by groves of willow trees, a favorite moose haunt, and wide open sagebrush flats, home to herds of pretty pronghorn antelope and packs of sage grouse. After you arrive at a riverside camp, you’ll be served appetizers and drinks in a spectacular spring creek setting, before enjoying a gourmet dinner in the private tipi camp.
At night, you’ll be joined by a private astronomer as you head to a dark site inside Grand Teton National Park. Take advantage of the thin, high altitude air and dark skies to marvel at deep space objects through their high-powered telescopes.
Yellowstone National Park
You’ll drive north through Grand Teton National Park to the southern entrance of Yellowstone. Along the way you’ll cross the Continental Divide and make your way through the park, stopping along the way. This may be for the spectacular falls (Lower and Upper) that cut through the dramatic Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone or a trip to Old Faithful and the geothermal geyser basins nearby. Your professional naturalist guide will ensure you are able to spot as much of the native wildlife as possible. Finish your last day here on the edge of the park in the town of West Yellowstone.
Next, you’ll travel north along the steep sided and beautiful Gallatin River Valley. Near the mountain town of Big Sky, stop for a hike up into the Gallatin National Forest. Alternatively, meet a wrangler for a private trail ride into the Yellowstone backcountry. When passing through Bozeman, be sure to pay a visit to the Museum of the Rockies, an excellent insight into the history of The West.
You’ll be met by your guide in the morning and driven to a put in point on the Yellowstone River that meanders through the idyllic Paradise Valley. The Yellowstone River is one of the greatest trout streams in America and, even if you are not an avid fisherman, there is no better way to spend a day than floating a river. After the morning float, you’ll pull up to enjoy a picnic lunch on the bank.
To get there, your road trip continues west through classic ‘Big Sky’ country. The town of Livingston, more rugged and down to earth than its booming neighbor Bozeman, is home to an eclectic mix of artists, writers and authors.
Located between two spectacular wilderness mountain ranges, the Beartooths and Absarokas, you’ll travel two of the most breathtaking roads in the West. After the dramatic switchbacks of the Beartooth Highway, you’ll continue along the Chief Joseph Butler Highway that threads its way through the Shoshone Forest.
A visit to the extraordinary Buffalo Bill Center of the West, with the best collection of its type in the world, is a must for anyone interested in the history of the region. In the evening, make your way to the rodeo grounds for the Cody Nite Rodeo, where you’ll get a chance to see some of the country’s leading cowboys and cowgirls in action.
Next, you’ll drive through Wyoming’s Bighorn National Forest to the town of Sheridan.
Sheridan and Big Horn National Forest
Drive to the Southern Black Hills. Stop to explore the little western town of Buffalo, before continuing west. At the edge of Wyoming, you’ll have the chance to detour to Devil’s Tower National Monument, an otherworldly rocky sentinel and site of significance for several Native American tribes.
After crossing into South Dakota, drive the spectacular Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway and visit the historic gold rush towns of Deadwood and Spearfish.
The Black Hills and Badlands National Park
With Keystone as your homebase for the next few days, you’ll have plenty of options to explore the Black Hills, Custer State Park and Mt. Rushmore. Nearby Hill City, is well worth spending some time wandering through as well. The forming mining town is now home to multiple art galleries, as well as the Museum at Black Hills Institute.
Head south to the beautiful Custer State Park. Drive the scenic wildlife loop, where bison, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and deer are plentiful. Stop at one of the historic lodges in the park for lunch or a drink. Drive the beautiful Needles Highway as it climbs through the hills and past the peaceful Sylvan Lake.
The twisted spires and pinnacles of the Badlands give it an eerie, otherworldly feel. Despite its barren appearance, the Badlands are filled with life. Home to bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, deer, fox, coyotes, burrowing owls, and other prairie animals, including the rare black-footed ferret, the Badlands are a wildlife wonderland.