Best of the Old West
For a holiday that harkens back to the frontier days of old, there’s no better destination than The Great American West region. Begin your adventure in the gateway cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul/Bloomington, travelling west to Fargo, North Dakota. Admire the exhibits at the Plains Art Museum and the vintage and contemporary aircraft at the Fargo Air Museum, then continue on to Jamestown, home of the popular Frontier Village and National Buffalo Museum.
Continuing west, visit the state capital of Bismarck, where visitors will find the State Museum at the North Dakota Heritage Center, before experiencing frontier life just as General George Custer did at nearby Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. Then travel on to Washburn and walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan before continuing west to Medora, home of the popular Western extravaganza, the Medora Musical, and the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Cross the state border into Montana and travel toward Billings, visiting the Little Bighorn Battlefield and Pompeys Pillar National Monuments. Continue westward to Bozeman – known for its Museum of the Rockies – and the historic copper mining town of Butte before visiting the twin Old West towns of Virginia City and Nevada City. Then head south to Cody, Wyoming: Named for Wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody, the town is home to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a highly regarded museum considered by many to be the “Smithsonian of the West.” And true to Buffalo Bill’s legacy, Cody is also known for its nightly summer rodeos and the entertaining Cody Wild West Show.
Enjoy Cody’s down-home entertainment before travelling east to historic Sheridan and Casper, then visit Wyoming’s state capital of Cheyenne: See the sights aboard the Cheyenne Street Railway Trolley, or take in the summertime Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo, one of the largest outdoor rodeo extravaganzas in the world.
From Cheyenne, head north into South Dakota to visit the Gold Rush-era town of Deadwood. Experience what life must have been like in a Wild West boomtown before visiting Rapid City – gateway to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the Black Hills and Badlands National Park. Continue east to Fort Pierre, home of the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center, a museum dedicated to rodeo. Then visit De Smet, site of the original Ingalls Family homestead immortalized in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books. Conclude your Western holiday once again in Minneapolis/St. Paul/Bloomington, enjoying the numerous shops, restaurants and attractions.
National Parks, Monuments, & More
The Great American West region is home to numerous national parks, monuments and memorials that preserve the nation’s natural resources and rich heritage. Beginning and ending in Denver, Colorado – one of the region’s major international gateways – the following itinerary visits many of the area’s most spectacular sites.
Beginning in Denver, travel north to visit Wyoming’s Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, continuing on to view the ancient fossils at Fossil Butte National Monument. Then travel north to visit two of America’s most popular and scenic parks: Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. From hiking and mountain climbing to fishing, boating and more, both parks offer visitors countless opportunities for outdoor recreation amid some of the most beautiful scenery found anywhere in the West.
For even more picturesque vistas, continue northward to Montana’s famed Glacier National Park. Known as the “Crown of the Continent,” this stunning park perched along the Canadian border offers a million acres in which to hike, camp, fish and view wildlife. Spend some time enjoying Glacier’s spectacular landscape before travelling southeast to the Billings area. Visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument – the site of the infamous “Custer’s Last Stand” – then view Pompeys Pillar National Monument, which bears one of the last surviving markers of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition.
From Billings, head east into North Dakota, home of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Visit Roosevelt’s Maltese Cross cabin, then go hiking or camping in the park before continuing eastward to the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, where visitors can witness the ruins of an ancient Indian village.
Next, journey to South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, famed for its striking rock formations. The park’s 244,000 acres are home to a variety of wildlife, including bison, deer and bighorn sheep. Continue on to the Black Hills to explore some of the world’s longest caves at Wind Cave National Park and Jewel Cave National Monument, then visit the beloved Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
To conclude your Western odyssey, travel back into Wyoming to visit the iconic Devils Tower National Monument – made famous in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind – before travelling southward back to your gateway city of Denver.
The road is calling. Grab a drink and snacks and take advantage of one of Wyoming’s scenic drives. Choose from snow-capped peaks and alpine plateaus or wide grassland vistas and the mountain skyline. Wyoming offers 16 backways and byways. Explore them at www.travelwyoming.com
You don’t have to look far for a scenic drive in the state of North Dakota. Take the day or the weekend and drive through the countryside and explore hidden treasures and take in the gorgeous scenery around you. Click here for more Scenic Drives in North Dakota. Check out North Dakota’s Scenic ByRider program for motorcycle enthusiasts. Learn more at www.ndtourism.com
In Montana you’ll find 147,000 square miles of terrain and about 69,000 miles of public highways and roads! We invite you to explore some or all on your visit to Big Sky country. Follow the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Trail of the Great Bear or try one of the regional scenic loop drives. Find out why Lewis and Clark described Montana as, “scenes of visionary enchantment,” and among the prairies, mountain ranges, and ghost towns expect to see a variety of two and four legged creatures. For more information on all of the scenic drives available in Montana go to www.visitmt.com
South Dakota’s scenic drives are well worth the extra tank of gas. The wind in your hair. An open road ahead. And nothing but breathtaking views out every window. It’s freedom at its finest, whether you’re threading a Pigtail Bridge in Custer State Park, following the Missouri River through the lands of five Native American tribes, or taking the backroads to discover rural America. Go where the road takes you, at www.travelsouthdakota.com