Not even the experts can agree on where exactly constitutes the American West, but all the Stateside visitor needs to know is that The West is home to two iconic American experiences - cowboy's ranches and national parks.
For the sake of clarification, we've classified the American West as the following States - Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona; with Washington, Oregon and, of course, California, forming the Western Seaboard instead.
So now we know where we stand, what to do when in situ? As you can tell from the map this is a BIG area, so careful planning (or a chunky amount of time off) is required, and that's where we step in. Twin centres, road trips, family holidays, ranch breaks - the American West can, and does, cater beautifully to them all.
Let's start with the National Parks, and Stetsons off to the Americans for inventing the entire concept of protecting, in perpetuity, a country's most beautiful bits. The world's first National Park, dedicated by President Ulysses S Grant in 1872, was Yellowstone and this 3,500 square mile area in the north west corner of Wyoming is so vast it spills over the state borders into Idaho and Montana as well. Yellowstone is home to bears, bison, wolves and elk, as well as some truly spectacular geothermal activity, with the highlight definitely Old Faithful, a geyser that shoots boiling water over 100ft in the air every hour. Neighbouring Grand Teton National Park also forms part of the Rocky Mountains, with the name derived from the highest peak in the beautiful Teton Range. Jackson Hole sits in the valley floor beside the Tetons and alongside the Snake River.
Another region where the National Parks are conveniently clustered together is Utah and northern Arizona, and a circular 900 route road trip taking in Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, Canyonlands (all in Utah) and Grand Canyon (Arizona) National Parks would be the ultimate way to experience America at her most awe-inspiring. For anyone wanting to cherry pick, the red sandstone peaks of Zion National Park, the pinnacles of the Pink Cliffs in Bryce Canyon National Park, the flat topped mesas and arches of Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and the big one - the Grand Canyon - are all bucket list contenders.
When you've had your fill of big country, how about big experiences instead? This is where ranch holidays come into their own, but it's crucial to pick the ranch experience that's right for you. At one end of the spectrum there are resort ranches where riding is a focus, but guests (and particularly families) can also enjoy activities such as fishing or rafting. These resort ranches range from the seriously expensive (and seriously wonderful) to more affordable affairs, but the emphasis is on fun experiences in beautiful places. Things get a little more immersive at a dude ranch (sometimes referred to as guest ranches), with more emphasis on enjoying a taste of the cowboy lifestyle, from rodeos to riding. Finally, there are working ranches where guests are a genuine part of the team, helping to round up cattle and swapping stories around the campfire for the genuine cowboy experience. As you can imagine, this type of trip is really only for experienced riders. We work with a selection of the finest ranches in the West, and we're hopeful that one or more will offer the perfect experience, be you after the perfect bonding family trip, a romantic honeymoon or a holiday with a real sense of achievement and the ability to learn new skills.