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Distance: 234 miles
Minnesota is known as 'The Land of 10,000 Lakes' and you're sure to spot a few as you head to North Dakota. Take a slight detour and explore Little Falls, the boyhood home of Charles Lindbergh and Itasca State Park, the source of the Mississippi River!
Originally named Centralia, North Dakota's biggest city was renamed after William Fargo - founder of Wells Fargo Bank. Once a fur-trading post and frontier town, Fargo has a wonderfully historic downtown area full of brew pubs, quirky shops and art galleries. Pay homage to heroes at the Fargo Air Museum, or learn about the areas rich Scandinavian heritage at the Historical & Cultural Society of Clay Country.
Distance: 318 miles
Today is all about the drive, it’s a long one, but full of quirky road-side attractions. Make your first stop Jamestown, home of the National Buffalo Museum and the world’s largest Buffalo sculpture. Weighing over 60 tons, this roadside attraction is a sight to behold. If you’re lucky, in the yonder you’ll see a herd including ‘Dakota Miracle’ a rare albino buffalo. Then it's on to ‘Sandy’ a 40 foot metal sand hill crane!
Stop for lunch in the capital, Bismarck and visit the Heritage Centre where four galleries trace the state’s rich history from its earliest geologic formation 600 million years ago.
More roadside gems greet you as you make your way west. New Salem is home to 'Salem Sue', a 30 foot Holstein Cow showcasing the dairy industry. The next part of the route is known as the ‘Enchanted Highway’. Pass scrap metal sculptures dotted along the road and a medieval themed Castle hotel. Stop for a coffee in the tiny town of Dickinson and check out the fascinating Badlands Dinosaur Museum before arriving in Medora your Badlands base for the next two nights.
Every evening June to September, Medora hosts an authentic cowboy cookout. Savour steaks cooked on pitch forks as you listen to western melodies.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park boasts sweeping views and up-close wildlife viewing. You'll want to experience this special area that so inspired the 26th President of the USA. Hiking trails showcase the grandeur of the rugged landscape and ranger-led activities offer an understanding of this natural world. It's also possible to view Theodore's cabin whilst you are in the park.
Distance: 281 miles
Home to more wildlife than humans, Montana, America's fourth largest state offers hundreds of miles of sweeping plains, verdant forests and roaming wildlife.
Cross the border into 'Big Sky Country' and you'll encounter Makoshike State Park which features fossil remains of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops and more.
The vast Crow Indian Reservation is the site of the infamous Battle of Little Bighorn 25-26 June 1876. Also known as Custer's Last Stand, more than 250 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry died fighting a combined force of several tribes, including the Sioux and Cheyenne, led by Chief Sitting Bull. The soldiers are memorialised at this monument and guided tours by Native Americans are available.
Distance: 249 miles
Travel through the Gallatin National Forest and discover why Lewis and Clark described their adventures in Montana as "scenes of visionary enchantment." View the gigantic limestone caverns at the Lewis and Clark State Park, or spend time in the Wild West copper town of Butte. Home of motorcycle dare devil Evil Knievel.
Fairmont Hot Springs Hotel, your stop for the night, is nestled at the base of the Pintlar mountains. After the day's drive, enjoy a soak in the mineral hot springs.
Distance: 126 miles
It's scenic highway all the way to Salmon as you skirt the Sapphire mountains and travel through Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, the largest forest in Big Sky Country.
Known as the Gem State, for its abundance of gems and rare minerals, Idaho is blessed with natural beauty. Snow-capped mountains, raging rivers and lush forests will be your backdrop.
Be sure to visit the Sacajawea Interpretive and Cultural Centre to learn about Sacajawea, the daughter of a Shoshone chief, who was born in the late 1700s near Salmon. At twelve years old, she was captured by an enemy tribe and sold to a French-Canadian trapper who made her his wife. In November 1804,
Distance: 134 miles
Travel in the shadow of the Lost River Range, Idaho's highest mountain range, to the pristine beauty of Sawtooth National Recreational Area. The Clint Eastwood film Pale Rider was partially filmed in this area. Discover over 200,000 acres of mountains, meadows and alpine lakes with plenty of trail rides, hiking and river rafting.
Explore the charming pioneer town of Hailey with tree-lined streets and outdoor cafes before heading to the old smelting town of Ketchum.
Distance: 250 miles
On Idaho's Snake River Plains, encounter the eerie Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Gaze out over a vast lunar landscape of lava fields, lava tubes and cinder cones. The stark terrain attracts hikers, bird watchers and cavers. Before you cross into Wyoming, consider a stop near Rexburg at Yellowstone Bear World. This drive-thru wildlife park is home to rescued black and grizzly bears who roam freely with bison and moose in a vast enclosure.
Welcome to your fifth state - Wyoming, 'America's Cowboy State'. From ranches and rodeos to campfires and Indian Reservations, live out all your Wild West fantasies amid some of the most breathtaking scenery on earth.
The Western town of Jackson is your base to explore Grand Teton National Park and the towering Teton Mountain Range. Hike to Taggart Lake to witness the highest of these mountains, enjoy a gentle float trip on the Snake River or a boat trip across beautiful Jenny Lake. In the evening, head into town and check-out the western entertainment, we love Million Dollar Cowboy Bar!
Distance: 80 miles
Cruise along the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, a scenic road that connects Grand Teton National Park to mighty Yellowstone. Nowhere is Wyoming's majestic beauty more evident than in Yellowstone National Park. Dramatic canyons, cascading waterfalls, wildlife galore and soaring mountains await you in the world's first National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, 60% of the world's geysers are in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful, arguably the most famous cone geyser in the world, erupts about 20 times a day. Be sure to drive the Grand Loop - a 143 mile circuit with picturesque spots including Yellowstone Lake and Lower Falls.
Distance: 93 miles
On leaving the eastern entrance of Yellowstone, make sure you stop at Cody. More than a hundred years ago, William 'Buffalo Bill' Cody laid claim to these parts and established the town of Cody.
Visit the Buffalo Bill Centre of the West, a complex of five museums which showcases exhibits and artefacts of the American West. Stop for lunch and step back in time to the days of the Old West at the historic Irma Hotel, built by Buffalo Bill for his daughter, the cherrywood bar in the Saloon here was a gift from Queen Victoria.
During the summer months Cody also hosts a nightly rodeo, if you want to experience this consider just a two-night stay in the park and one-night in Cody.
En route to your overnight in Ten Sleep, stop at the pungent town of Thermopolis for some relaxing spa time in the mineral pools, or take a tour of the Wyoming Dinosaur Centre.
Nestled at the base of the Big Horn Mountains, there are several stories as to how this small town of Ten Sleep got its name. The most popular is that it came from the Indians' reference to a ford across the creek, on the old Bridger Trail, as being 10 days (sleeps) journey from Fort Laramie in the southeast or Yellowstone to the west. Your accommodation for this evening is an authentic western ranch.
Distance: 239 miles
On your way to South Dakota, stop at for brunch at the historic Occidental Hotel and Saloon in Buffalo. Not only was the hotel the setting for Owen Wister's Western classic, The Virginian, it boasts a Who's Who of the American Frontier including Teddy Roosevelt, Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid often used Buffalo as a place of exile when running from the law. There's a famous photo taken of the pair in the Occidental Hotel - and that's what finally got them caught - it was the first time anyone had seen their faces!
Further along Highway 90 you'll stumble across the tiny town of Sundance (where the Sundance Kid took his name from) before Devil's Tower in the distance. Rising above the grassland like a rocky sentinel, tribes have worshipped near this remarkable geologic formation for thousands of years. It was also the setting for the cult movie 'Close Encounters of The Third Kind'.
State number six beckons......South Dakota - The Mount Rushmore State. Overnight in the western town of Deadwood. Be sure to visit Moriah Cemetery, the final resting place of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok. Pop into Saloon No.10 where WIld Bill Hickok met his demise!
Distance: 49 miles
From Native American culture to breathtaking national parks and monuments, you'll find it all in the Black Hills town of Rapid City. Home to two of the longest cave systems in the world - Wind and Jewel Cave, and of course, iconic Mount Rushmore. Head to Custer State Park to check out the wild buffalo and beautiful scenery. The Crazy Horse Memorial, the world's largest mountain carving, is an impressive tribute to the heroic Native American leader.
For a fascinating trek through 2.5 billion years of Black Hills history, head to The Journey Museum. The Black Hills Central Railroad offers a steam train ride through the Black Hills and a glimpse into the gold-era days. Mooch downtown Rapid City's unique shops and western restaurants, plus an enormous mercantile showcasing the arts, crafts and culture of the Plains Indians.
Distance: 347 miles
Look out for bison, bighorn sheep and prairie dogs as you wind your way through the dramatic scenery of Badlands National Park. The Lakota gave this land its name, “Mako Sica,” meaning 'land bad'. It truly is a desolate place that has been ravaged by wind and water so ruthlessly that it's become eerily picturesque. Gaze out over the colourful spires, deep gorges and massive buttes as you make your way to Sioux Falls.
Break your journey at Oacoma for a tasty buffalo burger before stopping near Chamberlain at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Centre. You won’t find many rest stops with a view like this one. It’s perched high atop the bluffs on the east side of the Missouri River, with a sweeping view of the river both upstream and downstream. For the sheer novelty of it, stop further down the highway at the 'World's Only Corn Palace' in Mitchell. Just as you approach Sioux Falls, you'll see signs for Porter Sculpture Park. South Dakota native, Wayne Porter, has created a unique art installation of sculptures that is definitely worth a stop.
South Dakota's largest city lives up to its name at Falls Park, where the Big Sioux River plunges through a long series of rock faces. Just south is the lively downtown district with an up and coming foodie scene and some of the best restaurants in the state.
Distance: 238 miles
On your final leg, experience a place sacred to American Indians in the southwest corner of Minnesota - Pipestone National Monument.
Bordering the city of Pipestone, it's mostly open prairie that looks much like it did before European settlers arrived. But for centuries, Native Americans have placed great religious significance on the pipestone found here. They've quarried and carved the stone into pipes and other objects and the practice continues today.
All Bon Voyage itineraries can be tailored to your exact requirements. Call the team to discuss your ideal holiday. To order your guide and map on The Great American West click here