- A great journey to the heart of the Rocky Mountains and to experience Western and Native American cultures
- Explore the Badlands, Yellowstone & Glacier national parks and visit the battlefield of Little Bighorn with a Native American guide
- Roaming bison at Custer State Park and the Old Wild West charms of Sheridan, Cody and Bozeman
- Smartphone app, access to our clued-up local Concierge and 4x4, plus all our usual additional services
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COWBOYS AND INDIANS COUNTRY
YOUR TRIP ON THE PIONEER TRAILLewis and Clark, sent by President Jefferson in 1804, were the first to venture west through the Rockies, climbing the passes and crossing waterfalls and rivers, making first contact with the Nez-Perce, Shoshone, Blackfoot and Flathead tribes. When they returned, they were thought to be insane after their descriptions of the region, and viewed as victims of hallucinations due to excessive loneliness. A little later, however, they were followed by fur companies, emigrants from the Oregon Trail, Mormons, gold diggers, buffalo hunters and would-be cattle barons. Several characters from this amazing struggle to survive have become legends, from Buffalo Bill to Butch Cassidy, Calamity Jane to George Custer, Sitting Bull to Crazy Horse. The trip begins with a little-known State that's rich in nature and culture: South Dakota. Here, a few miles west of Rapid City, lie the Black Hills, vast plains surrounded by black rocks where bison and wild horses roam. Admire the monumental sculptures of Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, and take a 4x4 tour through the heart of Custer State Park to look for wildlife with a private guide. Drive further, and the Badlands National Park reveals desolate, lunar landscapes away from the crowds. Across the Wyoming border, past the surprising monolith of Devil's Tower and the small town of Buffalo, and nestled at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains is Sheridan and the battlefield of Little Bighorn. Go back in time to the heart of this major event in the history of the American frontier with a Native American guide. In Cody, founded by Buffalo Bill in 1896, watch the weekly rodeo that the city proudly hosts in the summer months.
THE YELLOWSTONE LEGENDThe Yellowstone National Park, on the border of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, is one of the highlights of the American West. We have planned your adventure in two parts: beside the lake and in the Mammoth Hot Springs area. Just after entering the park, visitors are confronted by the sight of a petrified forest dating from the Yellowstone fires of 1988. This area has the highest concentration of geothermal features on Earth. Geysers, fumaroles (gaseous vents), lava flows, rivers and spectacular waterfalls create a remarkable biodiversity home to an incredible array of wildlife: black bears, grizzlies, coyotes, wolves, moose and buffalo herds seem to emerge from the mist.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARKDozens of glaciers go under one name at this impressive national park. Glacier National Park is one of the country's most unspoiled and wild parks. Its shredded ridges and glacier-carved peaks stand like the spires of a Gothic cathedral overlooking windy prairies, aquamarine lakes and meadows covered with wildflowers and home to grizzly bears, Mackenzie River wolves and white-tailed deer. A stunning road, considered to be one of the most scenic in the country (and poetically named Going-To-The-Sun Road), runs through the park from west to east. It offers unique views of sparkling lakes, including Lake McDonald, snow-capped peaks and dizzying glaciers, making it difficult to take your eyes off the scenery along this 50 mile stretch.
Flight to Rapid City, South Dakota
Arrival in the evening. Collect your hire car at the airport and spend two nights in the historic centre of Rapid City. The hotel offers all the comforts and services expected of a modern establishment: well-equipped rooms, a restaurant, a fitness area and a lounge bar that hosts concerts every weekend.
While Rapid City is home to an old gold mine and the interesting Journey Museum, it's best known for hosting the Sturgis Rally, the world's second largest motorcycle rally, every August. However, the real adventure lies in its rich surroundings. The Black Hills on the South Dakota border are a few miles to the west. Great plains of dry grass, black rock formations, wild horses and bison set the scene perfectly. Iron Mountain Road zigzags through the heart of these mountains, over dizzying bridges and through narrow tunnels, until it reaches the famous Mount Rushmore. Here, the faces of four American presidents are engraved in granite: George Washington (1732-1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) and Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). Next, pay tribute to the Native Americans at Crazy Horse Memorial, an engraving of Crazy Horse himself and the Sioux tribe equivalent of Mount Rushmore. 'Crazy Horse', a warrior and Native American tribal leader, was a hero in the Battle of Little Bighorn. His head is carved into the mountain peaks, and at 89ft in length it dwarfs the 60ft presidents. It was started in 1948 and is not expected to be completed until 2060, and will depict him on horseback. Further north, Deadwood epitomises the Wild West vibe with its typical saloon facades and tributes to famous bandits and adventurers, including Wild Bill Hickok, Preacher Smith and Calamity Jane. The city also attracts a large number of gamblers to its casinos. A little farther away there's Spearfish Canyon, which was featured in the movie 'Dances with Wolves'.
Rapid City - Badlands National Park
An hour's drive separates Rapid City from the Badlands National Park to the east, where herds of buffalo graze the beautiful and colourful landscape. Tiny ghost towns are scattered everywhere and prairie dogs roam fee. Sundown is the best time for exploring the park. Spend a night in the heart of the park, at the exit of Badlands Loop Road, the scenic road that winds through this fairy tale landscape of rocky scenery. Isolated from the rest of the world, beautifully-renovated cabins are scattered throughout the small property.
Badlands National Park - Custer
Return west to Custer State Park, named after the famous American cavalry general. Native American history enthusiasts can make a detour to Wounded Knee, before joining the Wildlife Loop Road, which winds through beautiful grasslands, home to herds of buffalo. Watch out for them crossing the road. Spend a night in a lodge classified as a historic monument, made entirely of stone and wood, and surrounded by pine trees. The property has been extended with a second lodge and cabins. Wild animals can often be seen from the windows. Included in the itineary - A private wildlife tour in a 4x4 in Custer Park with an expert guide. The park covers over 114 square miles of prairies, forests and granite peaks and is home to the largest numbers of free-roaming bison, moose, white-tailed deer, sheep and mountain goats in the world.
Custer - Sheridan (Wyoming)
It takes a good half-day to drive from Custer to Sheridan, across the border into Wyoming. Leave the prairies of Custer State Park behind and head west, passing the second largest cave in the country, nicknamed the Jewel Cave because of its calcium crystals. The road runs through Newcastle, Upton and Moorcroft. Here, we recommend making a detour to Devil's Tower, a curious monolith of fluted basalt that is 5,112ft tall, a sacred place for Native Americans, and was immortalised in the film 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'. The road continues through Gillette and then Buffalo, nestled at the foot of the Big Horn Mountains, home to the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum dedicated to the history of the pioneers. Spend a night in Sheridan, in a historic settlement partly owned by William Frederick Cody, known as Buffalo Bill, a legendary figure in the conquest of the American West. The charm has been retained, even Buffalo Bill's rocking chairs still sit on the porch, but everything has been given a modern touch.
Sheridan - Cody
On the itinerary - A private tour of the Little Bighorn site with an expert Native American guide. Together, explore the sites of the famous Battle of Little Bighorn, where the US cavalry were defeated and General Custer, a legendary figure in the country's history, lost his life. The tour, which is adapted to everyone's pace and questions, also includes vists to the two museums on site, as well as insights into the Crow tribe and the neighbouring Cheyenne tribe. Continue heading west through Bighorn National Forest and then to Cody, founded in 1896 by Buffalo Bill and dedicated to the heritage of the Wild West. Spend a night in conveniently-located accommodation that has the feel of an old lodge, with wooden railings and rustic interior design. Included in the itinerary - Tickets to the Cody Nite Rodeo, held every night from the beginning of June to the end of August since 1938.
Cody - Yellowstone National Park
Drive due west to Yellowstone, the oldest of all America's national parks and arguably the most impressive of all. This former Native American refuge on the borders of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, is now a park where majestic bison graze among fumaroles (sulphurous gas vent), geysers, hot springs, mud pools and spectacular waterfalls and canyons. Spend two nights near Yellowstone Lake and close to the famous Old Faithful geyser. This recent construction blends into the surroundings beautifully surroundings of the national parks of the American West and features a natural wood exterior. and a stylish interior. Optional - A private day tour exploring the park, with an expert guide.
Yellowstone National Park
Head north of Yellowstone Park and the Mammoth Hot Springs area for a night in a simple, comfortable and friendly lodge, a former US cavalry post during the conquest of the Wild West. It's a relaxed mountain resort, sitting at the foot of the impressive limestone terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.
Yellowstone National Park - Bozeman, Montana
Highway north to Bozeman (approximately one and a half hours) across the Montana border. The city owes its name to the local pioneer who built a road through South Western Montana, the Bozeman Trail, to connect the gold rush territory of Montana to the Oregon Trail. Today, this lively city is surrounded by hills and pine trees against a backdrop of snowy peaks and is one of the most beautiful spots in Montana, with a retro Wild West feel to boot. Spend a night in the heart of the city, in an old motel that has been completely renovated in a modern style. The rooms are spacious and comfortable. There might be the occasional noise but that's the attraction of a motel's hustle and bustle after all. The amenities reflect the motel's welcoming, relaxed vibes: an outdoor lounge, a handy food truck in front of the motel and coffee at reception. Must-see in Bozeman - The Museum of the Rockies, a museum of natural history renowned for housing the world's largest collection of dinosaur fossils.
Bozeman - Great Falls
It takes half a day to get back to Great Falls. The road runs north and for a while up the Missouri River, which soon expands into a large nature reserve. Take a break in Helena, Montana's capital, which was home to more millionaires than anywhere else in the United States during the Gold Rush. We love the old Victorian mansions that surround the Cathedral and the frescoes that adorn Montana State Capitol. The route continues through Helena National Forest and follows the Missouri to Great Falls, with spectacular views on either side of the road. Spend a night downtown, in a small, traditional hotel with charming rooms and simple and modern decor.
Great Falls - Glacier National Park
Continue north-west (approximately three hours), through farmland dotted with farmsteads and then the huge Blackfeet Indian Reservation, to reach East Glacier Park. The city is, as the name suggests, nestled at the foot of the mountains, and borders the majestic Glacier National Park on the east side. The park has a unique ecosystem and is divided into hundreds of snow-capped peaks and lakes, the perfect habitat for countless wildlife species. Spend two nights in an impressive lodge classified as a historic monument.
Glacier National Park - Whitefish
It takes an hour-and-a-half to reach Whitefish on the other side of the park. The mountain road runs alongside Glacier National Park, dotted with lakes, forests, peaceful villages and lovely views like Goat Lick Overlook. After West Glacier, Coram and Hungry Horse, you will reach Whitefish, a charming little town nestled in the mountains which owes its development to the historic Great Northern Railway, built at the start of the last century. Spend two nights in cosy accommodation, a short walk from the centre of Whitefish. Curl up by the fire in the enormous lobby, or relax on the rooftop terrace and watch the sun set over the mountains. Optional - Fly over the Glacier National Park in a private plane.
Whitefish - Kalispell - Return Flight
A quick drive to Kalispell airport, return your hire car and catch your flight home. Overnight flight, arriving the next day.
A la carte
CODY - BUFFALO BILL CENTRE OF THE WEST
This museum retraces the true history of the American West, differentiating between real facts and myths, art and culture. The complex, founded in 1917, consists of a research library highlighting Western American art, and five museums: the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Plains Indians Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum, the Draper Natural History Museum and the Cody Firearms Museum. The museum, designed to preserve the heritage and vision of Colonel William Frederick Cody (known as Buffalo Bill), is the oldest and largest museum complex in the West.
Optional - Entry tickets to explore the museum
FLY OVER THE GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
An hour-long flight over the park on a Cessna 206 with large windows on either side of the aircraft. Five seats on board, plus the pilot.
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