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The Latest and The Greatest from The Great American West

October 20, 2018 Visit USA News No Comments

The Great American West is the perfect place to go if you want a holiday which combines adventure, culture and relaxation. Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming have beautiful national parks, unique wildlife, thrilling extreme sports, and countless museums which will help you trace the U.S.A.’s rich history. The Great American West is an exciting place to visit with new restaurants, ski lodges and recreation areas constantly opening.

Check out our Australian & New Zealand websites and our Facebook page for more great photos and information about the Great American West.

South Dakota


New Mount Rushmore guided tours
The Mount Rushmore Society and the National Park Service interpretive staff now offer self-guided tours of Mount Rushmore National Memorial where you are provided with a personal device that works like an iPhone. It will explain why and how Mount Rushmore was carved, with pictures and videos. The tour is translated into Spanish, German, French and Lakota, and there are 29 interesting stops. The tour is great for families as there is a new adventure called ‘Junior Ranger Quest’ where children can complete challenges at different stops and receive a Junior Ranger Badge after finishing 12 of these tasks.

South Dakota iconic destinations

Custer State Park
Visit Custer State Park to see unique wildlife including bison, pronghorn antelope, deer, elk and mountain goats. The Park is a great spot to go fishing, boating or canoeing on the clear mountain waters with incredible granite peaks in the background. Experience a land adventure by going camping, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing or hiking among the incredible rolling plains. The Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup involves the herding of 1,300 bison and is held in the last Friday of September each year.

Badlands National Park
Badlands National Park is striking to see as erosion has revealed different coloured sedimentary layers of rock including red, orange, purple and yellow. While there, you could spot diverse wildlife including bison, whitetail deer, prairie dogs, coyotes and eagles. Stop at the local visitor center to see where battles were fought in the final days of the Indian Wars with interactive exhibits and fossilized animal casts. Drive the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway – a 63km loop of South Dakota Highway 240 – for breathtaking photo opportunities at 16 designated scenic lookouts. Insider tip: sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial
The iconic Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a huge yet intricate sculpture of the four Presidents; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, carved into the mountainside. There is also a museum called Lincoln Borglum Museum which features two theatres that show a mini movie about Mount Rushmore. Above the museum is Grandview Terrace which offers panoramic views of the sculpture and surrounding forests. There is also a walking trail called the Presidential Trail which starts from Grandview Terrace and leads to the Sculptor’s Studio which provides information about how the monument was constructed.

Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial is the world’s largest mountain carving – it has been under construction for the last 70 years and will be for many more to come. Once finished, it will depict a mounted figure of Crazy Horse, the Native American leader of the Olgala Lakota who was a courageous defender of Native American culture and territory. Crazy Horse Memorial runs family friendly tours where you can have a bus ride around the base of Mount Rushmore or to the top of the mountain to see the carving up close!

Featured accommodation
Custer State Park Resort
Custer State Park Resort offers four unique lodges to stay in, all surrounded by breathtaking alpine forests and lakes. The Blue Bell Lodge allows you to live like cowboys did many years ago, while State Game Lodge is situated in a peaceful mountain valley and is listed on the National register of Historic Places. From Sylvan Lake Lodge you can overlook the calm Sylvan Lake and hillside forest, and Legion Lake Lodge features a dining room with water views. The Resort offers many exciting activities including Buffalo Safari Jeep Tours, chuck-wagon cookouts, hiking, and fishing, boating and swimming at Legion Lake or Sylvan Lake.

November 20-December 26: Christmas at the Capitol, Pierre
December 7-8: Strawbale Winery Twilight Flights, Renner
December 8-9: Black Hills Cowboy Christmas, Lead
January 25-February 3: Annual Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo, Rapid City
More information:


Bozeman Airport ranks 5th in the U.S.
Money Magazine recently ranked Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport as the 5th best airport in the U.S. It’s no surprise that Bozeman Airport ranks well, with its high on-time arrival rate and two great quality restaurants like the Copper House Restaurant and Bistro which serves many delicious meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Additionally, the airport offers beautiful views of the nearby mountains and has easy access to Yellowstone National Park. Overall Montana has seven regional airports; Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Missoula and Kalispell/Whitefish.

Montana iconic destinations

Glacier National Park- Going to the Sun Road
Autumn in Western Montana is one of the best times for people to visit the iconic Glacier National Park. The Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses the park and offers spectacular views of glacier-carved valleys, snow-topped mountain peaks, pristine waterfalls and lakes, and several glaciers. Take a tour on a historic red bus and discover hidden secrets of the Park. Hike or go horseback riding on one of Glacier’s breathtaking trails or take a scenic boat ride on one of its pristine lakes. 71 species of mammals live in Glacier including grizzly bears, Rocky Mountain goats, Bighorn sheep and bald eagles, and it is easy to spot them on the trails or on the side of the road!

Lewis & Clark Caverns, Whitehall
Lewis & Clark Caverns is Montana’s first State Park and is one of the most decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest. It is located halfway between Yellowstone and Glacier National parks. The caves are lined with stalactites and other impressive limestone formations that you can access through summer guided tours. Outside there are scenic nature trails where you can go hiking, camping or have a picnic. This park is perfect for bird watching and photography seeing as there is such diverse wildlife including bats, birds, deer and coyotes. Head to the Main Visitor Center to learn about the unique geology, flora and fauna, or the Cave Visitor Center to gain insight into the caverns through a video and museum.

Makoshika State Park, Glendive
Montana’s largest State Park is Makoshika in the eastern part of the state. It features Badlands formations and the fossil remains of several dinosaur species. Hiking trails and campsites throughout the park let you explore the other-worldly sandstone formations found throughout. The Visitor Center houses a Triceratops skull and other interpretive displays relating to the significant dinosaur discoveries that continue to be found in Montana.

Beartooth Highway 
Beartooth Highway in Montana is one of the top scenic drives in the USA. Reaching heights of nearly 11,000 feet, this 68-mile, 3 hour drive offers pristine views of alpine meadows, sparkling lakes and year-round snow clinging to the Northern Rocky Mountains. There are many activities in the area including cross-country skiing in June and July, hiking, wildlife watching (Rocky Mountain goat, moose, black bear, grizzly bear, marmots, mule deer), horseback riding, fishing and camping in the areas 13 National Forest campgrounds. Even when the Highway is formally closed to automobiles during winter (be sure to check the status before travelling and for more info at Visit Montana), snowmobilers can travel the route and enjoy a stunning winter wonderland.

Featured accommodation
Many Glacier Hotel
Many Glacier Hotel was built in 1915 and is situated at the base of Mt. Grinnell inside Glacier National Park. The hotel has 214 rustic rooms with some offering beautiful views of the pristine Swiftcurrent Lake. Many Glacier Hotel also includes a restaurant called the Ptarmigan Dining room, the Swiss Room Lounge and Interlaken Lounge, Heidi’s Snack Shop, and Grizzly Track Traders Gift Shop. This hotel offers many exciting activities including Red Bus tours, boat cruises, horseback riding, and evening ranger programs.

October 27: Boo at the Zoo, Billings
December 2: Great Falls Symphony: Voices of Christmas, Great Falls
December 5-9 Bozeman Ice Festival, Bozeman
December 31: New Years Eve Rail Jam, Torchlight Parade, and Fireworks, Whitefish
More information:


Jackson Hole opens Solitude Station and prepares for new restaurant RPK 3
Jackson Hole has just opened Solitude Station which is an on-mountain centre for children and adults to have skiing lessons. Just two minutes from the base area, this expansive lodge is ideal for anyone who wants to improve their skiing. Additionally, new dining establishment RPK 3 will open this December at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Everyone will find something appetizing on the menu with healthy options, comfort food, and beverages. This slopeside restaurant has a bar, tables, and a fireplace to keep you cosy.

Wyoming iconic destinations

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park offers panoramic views of lush forests, flowing rivers and massive canyons. In the lower loop of the park you could see bison, elk or wolf, as well as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone which features a massive waterfall. The upper loop of the park offers other incredible natural features including the Mammoth Hot Springs which look like an inside-out cave, and Old Faithful – a geyser that regularly erupts hot water to heights of about 40 metres. Stop at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center to learn more about when Old Faithful erupts and see exhibits about hydrothermal features such as volcanic geology.

Devils Tower National Monument
The Devils Tower National Monument is a spectacular rock formation that formed from volcanic lava millions of years ago and is now 867 feet high. Devils Tower even featured in the well-known 1977 film‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. To best experience this site, go on a ranger-led tour around its base or climb the tower with Devils Tower Climbing. Devils Tower is one of the most sacred sites of the Northern Plain Indian tribes, so climbing is closed in June when various Native American ceremonies take place.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody
Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody contains five museums under one roof which feature artefacts, history and art from Native American Heritage and the development of Wyoming. The Buffalo Bill Museum focuses on Buffalo Bill’s influence on the West, while the Cody Firearms Museum shows how firearms influenced the history of the U.S.A. The Draper Natural History Museum looks at the beauty of the Yellowstone region, and the Whitney Western Art Museum features striking artwork. The Plains Indian Museum is considered the top-rated Plains Indian Museum found in the U.S.A.

Grand Teton National Park
Located south of Yellowstone National Park and north of the town of Jackson, Grand Teton National Park’s 310,000 acres offers the perfect setting fornatural lovers, outdoor explorers and road trippers looking to discover the parks extraordinary landscapes. The park encompasses the Teton mountain range, Grand Teton peak and Jackson Hole valley and includes verdant valley floors, mountain meadows, sublime peaks and pristine alpine lakes. The park is an all-season destination and outdoor recreation options include wildlife watching, photography, kayaking, fishing, hiking, biking, cross country skiing, wildlife watching, and ranger led snowshoe walks.

Featured accommodation
Historic Occidental Hotel, Buffalo
Step back in time to the Old West when you stay at the beautifully restored Historic Occidental Hotel, with original ceilings in the lobby and Saloon, and the original back bar in the Saloon. You will be staying where well-known figures have slept over the years including Butch Cassidy, Calamity Jane, Buffalo Bill, and Theodore Roosevelt. All the rooms and suites are furnished with antiques, and even the 23 bullet holes in the Saloon are still there! This accommodation is the perfect mix of history and modern comforts including satellite TV and wireless internet access.

November 24: 28th Annual Cheyenne Christmas Parade, Cheyenne
March 15-18, 2019: Jackson Hole Rendezvous, Jackson Hole
June – August 2019: Cody Nite Rodeo, Cody
July 19 – 28, 2019: Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, Cheyenne
More information:


Idaho’s first alpine mountain coaster at Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area
From skiing to tubing to snowshoeing, Idaho winters are filled with a variety of activities to keep anyone active and entertained. Just outside of Boise is Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area which is a perfect all-ages getaway that’s grown into more than a ski area. In addition to day-skiing terrain, Nordic and snowshoe trails and tubing hill, Bogus Basin added to its recreation mountain status with Idaho’s first alpine mountain coaster. The coaster snakes along more than 1,220 meters through the woods of Boise National Forest at speeds of over 40 kilometers per hour.

Idaho iconic destinations

City of Rocks National Reserve, Malta
Home to some of the world’s best rock climbing, City of Rocks National Reserve is filled with backcountry adventures between hiking, biking, climbing and bird watching. The park is also ripe with Oregon Trail and California Trail history, including markings from some of the emigrants who traveled through during the Gold Rush. Views of sage meadows, aspen groves and granite domes grant non-stop exploration and scenery, not to mention great material for photographers.

Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls
Tucked away in the high desert of Southern Idaho, Shoshone Falls thunders as it plunges into the rugged Snake River Canyon. Shoshone Falls is one of the largest natural waterfalls in the U.S.A. and is taller than Niagara Falls at 64.6 meters. Spring and early summer are the best times to see the full power of the falls when water flows are high. Shoshone Falls provides a stunning backdrop while you are hiking, picnicking, swimming or stand-up paddle boarding.

Route of the Hiawatha 
Ride the Route of the Hiawatha to enjoy a breathtaking adventure along the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains. The track is an old railway line that has been transformed into a great bike path or hike trail that spans 24 kilometers. The path has panoramic views of Idaho’s gorgeous mountain scenery and passes through ten tunnels and seven trestle bridges up to 230 feet high. Begin at the Lookout Pass Ski Area where you can hire mountain bikes including helmets and lights, with an optional shuttle service available on return.

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
A trip to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is practically mandatory for any visit to The Great American West. Marvel at the expanse of lava flows and explore caves and craters during a hike. As a designated International Dark Sky Park, the preserve is filled with killer views day and night. Only a few hours from Yellowstone National Park, Craters of the Moon is a perfect fit to round out your trip of natural wonders.

Featured accommodation
Sun Valley Lodge

Sun Valley Lodge offers luxurious accommodation with spacious guest rooms, and 65 of these rooms include fireplaces. The Lodge features five ‘Celebrity Suites’ named after the stars who have stayed here before, including ‘The Marilyn Monroe Suite’ and ‘The Eastwood Suite’ named after famous director and actor Clint Eastwood. While you are here, relax in the Lodge’s 20,000 square foot spa or yoga studio, or stay active in the fitness center or outdoor pool.

October 11-14: Idaho Horror Film Festival, Boise
December 13-16: Ballet Idaho, The Nutcracker, Boise
January 27, 2019: Potato Cup Pursuit Ski Race, Pocatello
July 12-13, 2019: From the Ashes Idaho, Coeur d’Alene
More information:

North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park 40th anniversary
Established on November 10, 1978, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. It is the only park named after a person – Theodore Roosevelt – the 26th President of the U.S.A. This 70,000-acre park has incredible scenery and wildlife which you can see close up by hiking or biking. The South Unit Visitor Center in Medora features a museum which includes a range of Theodore Roosevelt exhibits on history and geology. It even has a bullet-pierced shirt that recalls the assassination attempt on Roosevelt when he was delivering a speech in 1912!

North Dakota Iconic Destinations

North Dakota Heritage Centre and State Museum, Bismarck
From the time when dinosaurs ruled through to the development of today’s emerging industries, you will find history for everyone at North Dakota Heritage Centre and State Museum. The museum has four galleries, two theatres, and an outdoor amphitheatre. There are thousands of high-technology displays, interactive exhibits and artefacts including a life-size T. rex skeleton, Mars spacesuit, and rare pottery and beadwork. The Treehouse exhibit lets children enjoy the museum by climbing a child-sized treehouse where they get a birds-eye view of the area, before exploring exhibits including a bank, fire station and steamboat.

Maah Daah Hey Trail
The Maah Daah Hey trail system offers breathtaking views with striking plateaus, peaks and valleys. The best way to experience the trail is by bike riding, horse riding, hiking or camping overnight. The trail is full of diverse wildlife including whitetail deer, antelope, prairie dogs and coyotes, making it the perfect place for bird watchers and wildlife photographers. This 144-mile trail connects the North Unit and South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Fargo is the largest city in North Dakota and the cultural centrepiece of the state. With over 350 restaurants, you are sure to find something tasty to eat before experiencing the arts scene. The annual Fargo Film Festival is set in the art deco Fargo Theatre each March, while the Fargo Plains Art Museum contains striking 20th and 21st Century art including national and regional art, traditional Native American art, and traditional folk art. Fargo Air Museum features both vintage and modern aircrafts, and some of them are occasionally flown!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park has three sections; the North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit. The park is ideal for those who love the outdoors, with options to go biking, hiking and camping. Wildlife watching is popular and you could see prairie dogs, deer, coyotes, eagles, hawks, bighorn sheep and elk. The Painted Canyon Visitor Center in the South Unit offers incredible views of the rugged Badlands that was home to Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch and Maltese Cross Ranch.

Featured accommodation
Black Leg Ranch, Sterling
You will feel like you have gone back in time at Black Leg Ranch when you go horse riding down the wagon trails from the 1800s while driving cattle. Other activities include fishing at the Missouri River with experienced guides, hunting, hay rides and camping. There are a range of accommodation options, including Grand Lodge, Pheasant Haven, Deer Dwelling, and Flyway Lodge. The Ranch also gives you access to a hot tub, sauna, work-out room, poker table, sand volleyball and a real “Ranch Saloon”.


December 7 – 9: The Nutcracker, Bismarck
January 25-26: Frostival, Fargo
March 19 – 23, 2019: Fargo Film Festival, Fargo
June 1 – September 8, 2019: Medora Musical, Medora
More information:
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