Day 1 – Salt Lake City
Arrive into Salt Lake City, nestled between the rocky summits of the Wasatch Mountains, with the Great Salt Lake to the northwest and the Great Salt Lake Desert to the west. Be sure to capture a photo of the stunning Mormon Temple while you’re here, an impressive granite structure that serves as the symbol of this religious centre for Mormons. In the evening, enjoy a Welcome Dinner with the rest of your group.
Overnight: Little America Hotel (dinner with wine)
Day 2 – Jackson and Grand Teton National Park
Before you leave Utah’s most populous city, check out famous Temple Square and the State Capitol Building. Then, travel to Wyoming and the historic town of Jackson, the gateway to Grand Teton National Park where you’ll walk in the footsteps of countless cowboys and all sorts of famous characters that have strolled the wooden sidewalks for more than a century. Afterward, continue on to your destination for the evening, Jackson Lake, set against a backdrop of jaw-dropping jagged peaks and the glaciers of Grand Teton National Park.
Overnight: Jackson Lake Lodge, Grand Teton National Park, WY (breakfast)
Day 3 & 4 - Yellowstone
In the morning, begin your exploration of the park and its Grand Tetons that rise more than 6,500 feet from the valley floor, with a visit to Jenny Lake. One of the highlights in the park, the lake is renowned for its scenery, and on a calm day you can capture a photo of the mountains’ reflection in the still waters. Wake early enough, and you may want to hitch a ride on the Jenny Lake Boat to the base of Cascade Canyon and take the short hike to Hidden Falls.
Next on the agenda is Yellowstone National Park, one of the most active areas of hydrothermal activity on the planet, famous for its unique geothermal activity, including hot springs like vivid rainbow-coloured Grand Prismatic Spring, as well as fumaroles, mudpots, travertine terraces and geysers. The park is also one of the best places to spot wildlife in America - just some of the more than 60 species of animals that call it home include elk, gray wolves, bison and grizzly bears. Take a walk through the geysers on one of the many paved paths to watch them erupt, with the grandest and most famous of all, Old Faithful, gushing water more than 120 feet into the air. On your way to thundering Lower Yellowstone Falls, set between dramatic, colourful canyons, keep an eye out for the wildlife that crosses the road, and sometimes halts it all together. These animals don’t obey traffic laws, but that’s all part of the adventure.
Overnight: National Park Lodges, Yellowstone National Park (breakfast & dinner with wine / breakfast)
Day 5 – Cody – The Ranch at UCross
As you depart Yellowstone National Park for the Wild West town of Cody, you’ll travel through Shoshone Canyon, a starkly beautiful gorge with over two-billion-year-old granite exposed around the Buffalo Bill Dam, as well as the impressive Absaroka Rockies, with its eight summits that exceed 12,000 feet. In Cody, visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, created to honour of one of America's great Western legends, “Buffalo Bill” Cody who entertained thousands with his Wild West shows. With five separate museums, this Smithsonian-affiliated complex spans 300,000 square feet, and includes countless displays, not only related to Bill, like a lock of his hair and the very costume Annie Oakley wore in his Wild West shows, but Charles M. Russell paintings, real-life birds of prey and even a pair of dueling pistols that date back to the 1500s.
Your next stop offers the chance to get a taste of ranch life, with a stay at The Ranch at Ucross, including a ranch-style dinner with wine that’s cooked up by your local ranch hosts.
Overnight: The Ranch at Ucross, Clearmont (breakfast, dinner with wine)
Day 6 – Devils Tower & into the Black Hills
Continue your authentic western experience with a horseback ride in the morning, complete with a rider guide, fishing on Piney Creek or relaxing and enjoying the tranquil surroundings before heading towards Devils Tower. This distinctive rock formation is a unique geologic feature that rises over 1,200 feet from the rolling prairie and has been sacred to Native Americans for centuries. If it looks familiar, that’s because the hit sci-fi film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” that put it on the map, used as the UFO landing site. If you want to stretch your legs and get a close up look yourself, it’s easy to walk around by following a 1.3-mile, mostly flat, oval path.
Journey across the state border into the Black Hills of South Dakota, keeping an eye out for the pronghorn antelope as you cross the high plains. Here, Spearfish Canyon awaits, a place so stunning it was chosen by cinematographers as the setting for “Dances with Wolves. This creek-carved gorge is even more ancient than the Grand Canyon, albeit much narrower, and more lush too, home to magnificent Roughlock Falls. In the evening, enjoy a rustic dinner at beautiful Spearfish Canyon Lodge.
Hotel: Spearfish Canyon Lodge, Spearfish (breakfast)
Day 7 – Custer & The Wild West
Just a short drive from Spearfish and you’ll reach Deadwood, where you can take the Original Deadwood Tour for an in-depth look at this once lawless town that was spotlighted in the hit television series, “Deadwood.” A local expert will tell you all about the days when Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane were in town, and you’ll hear another side of the story, told by Lakota tribe members, as they present a live narrative of the Great Sioux Nation. From here, move on to Custer State Park, renowned for its abundance of wildlife and picturesque terrain. Before calling it a day, don’t miss taking a drive on the scenic Wildlife Loop Road which traverses through 18 miles of pine-dotted hills and open grassland, to spot bison in big numbers, pronghorn, elk, deer, eagles, and even wild burros that thrive in the park’s pine savannas and tawny prairies. Beware, these “begging burros” tend to pander for food from tourists, particularly along this stretch of road.
Hotel: The State Game Lodge, Custer (breakfast)
Day 8 – Crazy Horse & Mount Rushmore
On your final full day in the Black Hills, visit the Crazy Horse Memorial to witness the world’s longest ongoing mountain craving, dedicated to all Native Americans before viewing Mount Rushmore National Monument, where four U.S. presidents Theodore Roosevelt, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln are carved into the granite mountain that dominates the Black Hills. The state’s most popular attraction, the surrounding park features a museum with interactive exhibits and two theatres that show “The Shrine,” a short film that offers an introduction to the memorial. Afterwards, toast to your unforgettable experience at a Celebration Dinner with wine.
Hotel: The State Game Lodge, Custer (breakfast & dinner with wine)
Today you’ll either end your tour, departing from Rapid City, or travel south to Denver Colorado flying out from Denver International Airport. Arrival at Denver Airport will be approximately 16.30. Please do not schedule flights before 19.30 this evening.