Enjoy the very best of America's incredible scenery. You are headed for Big Sky Country where the spaces are vast, the mountains are rugged and the views are spectacular.
As America’s first National Park, Yellowstone has long been known for Old Faithful and the hundreds of other thermal phenomenon all located in a very small area. Lesser known is the fact that Yellowstone also has waterfalls, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and other natural mountain features.
Grand Teton National Park, well known for the majestic peaks jutting thousands of feet into the sky, also has more remote areas in which you can discover wildlife, go fly fishing, or participate in other outdoor recreational activities.
The Going to the Sun Highway, which traverses Glacier National Park, offers incredible views whether you drive it or travel on one of Park's historic shuttle buses. In between these wonderful natural environments, you’ll get a taste of the authentic West. Many towns in Montana have not changed for a hundred years. Idaho is much more beautiful than most travellers are aware of, and in Wyoming, the Old West still lives on.
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Great Salt Lake is the largest remaining remnant of Lake Bonneville, which covered much of western Utah in prehistoric times. Since it has no outlet except for evaporation, Great Salt Lake is far saltier than sea water. It's unusually high salt concentration lets most people easily float on the water.
A nice way to orient yourselves with this city is by taking a walking tour of Salt Lake City’s historic downtown. The tour identifies 58 historic buildings and sites encompassing over 100 years of the city's history and architecture, each marked with a numbered sign indicating its significance. Start at any point and view the buildings and sites in any order, a free downtown bus or the TRAX light rail on Main Street will return you to your starting point should you get tired along the way.
Distance: 181 miles
Comprising 201,000 scenic acres in southern Montana and eastern Utah, Flaming Gorge Recreation Area has at its center the 91-mile long Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Flanked by nearly 375 miles of dramatic shoreline of varying elevations in a kaleidoscope of colours, the reservoir is well known for fantastic trout fishing.
The Red Canyon Vista and Visitor Center is one of the area’s major attractions. Perched atop a cliff, the centre has huge windows and outdoor fenced platforms for viewing the Gorge and surrounding desert landscape.
Be sure to visit Firehole Canyon, just south of nearby Rock Springs, for the spectacular sight of chimneys and pinnacles reflecting in the river.
Distance: 225 miles
Fort Casper, located on the Oregon-California-Pony Express Trails was reconstructed to appear as it did in 1865. The museum here also features the social and natural history of Wyoming from prehistoric inhabitation through the present day.
If you want to get way off the beaten path, you can climb Casper Mountain, where the difficult paths of yesteryear have been transformed into hiking and biking trails and ski areas. Casper also has five golf courses and in the summer is a regular on the rodeo circuit.
Distance: 147 miles
Sheridan provides history with a view, from its authentic Main Street lined with historic buildings to the Landmark Historic Sheridan Inn where Buffalo Bill once auditioned acts, to the magnificent backdrop of the Big Horn Mountains.
It is picture perfect, with specialty shopping from antiques to cowboy memorabilia to intriguing boutiques and galleries. Sheridan is also your gateway to Little Bighorn National Monument which tells one of the most interesting stories in American history. Legends call it Custer’s Last Stand, placing emphasis on the US Army defeat at the hands of Chief Sitting Bull.
Native Americans at Little Bighorn fought for more than territory; they fought to preserve their nomadic way of life.
Distance: 226 miles
In addition, the wildlife at Yellowstone includes large mammals such as bison, grizzly bears, moose, and deer. The Park has more land than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.
A really good route through the Park takes you past the most celebrated landmarks which are conveniently arrayed along the Grand Loop Road that makes a figure-eight in the center of the park. On the west side of the loop, you see Old Faithful, whose eruptions now average around every 80 minutes. The Fountain Paint Pot hot springs takes on various shades of colors due to the presence of bacteria and algae that combine with the minerals contained in the rocks. You will also be able to take in the marvels of the Upper Geyser Basin where Giant Geyser has returned to activity after a period of 40 years of dormancy.
Continuing north, Mammoth Hot Springs is a favorite gathering spot for herds of bighorn sheep and elk meandering through the high mountain meadows. A three mile trail takes you up to Mount Washburn, where you get a fabulous view of Yellowstone Lake and the Tetons to the south.
In total, Yellowstone contains over 10,000 hydrothermal features, including 300 geysers, approximately one-half of the world’s total count.
Mammoth Hot Springs is very different from the thermal areas located elsewhere in the Park. The surface of the bubbling, boiling springs appears to be covered with white chalk.
In the Madison Natural Area, thermal action bubbles up in many colours. A one-mile trail takes you through the colourful hot springs and the two large mud pots of the Artist Paint Pots just south of Norris Junction.
The Old Faithful Area is actually made up of four different geyser basins surrounding the famous geyser, where 60% of the world’s geyser’s share a small space. There are nearly 150 of these thermal wonders within one square mile adjacent to Old Faithful.
The Grant Village Area and the Lake Area are both adjacent to Yellowstone Lake, the largest lake at a high elevation in North America. The bottom of Yellowstone Lake has the same terrain as Yellowstone Park, namely geysers and hot springs.
At some point in your visit to this area, you might consider taking a tour to see Yellowstone the way eagles and ospreys do; from the air. Your flight will include glimpses of awesome wilderness, panoramic vistas, and the chance to see the local wildlife such as bison, elk, deer, and ink antelope.
The Jackson-West Yellowstone trip crosses the Continental Divide twice and heads to the eastern boundary of the Grand Teton National Park. From the aircraft’s window you will see inspirational views of the Tetons, Jackson Lake, and miles of wilderness.
You will also see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River which is roughly 20 miles long and varies between 800 and 1,200 feet deep. Some falls along the river are 300 feet high. Tower Falls, a 132-foot drop on Tower Creek, is framed by eroded volcanic pinnacles that were documented by the earliest explorers in the region.
Three main falls—Upper, Lower and a third—can be viewed from locations along the Canyon such as Lookout Point, Uncle Tom’s Area, Red Rock Point, Artists Point, and Brink of the Lower Trails Falls.
Distance: 97 miles
If you haven’t seen these mountains before, they are spectacular! As you drive along Teton Park Road, it becomes immediately obvious why this is a National Park. The Tetons are a 40 mile long mountain range that rise straight out of the plain. Twelve of the mountain peaks are over 12,000 feet above sea level and Grand Teton rises to 13,770 feet. Even around Jenny Lake, one of the most pristine lakes in North America, they loom overhead.
Three Scenic Drives in the Park are also a must do. The Teton Park Road that follows the base of the Teton Range from Moose to Jackson Lake Junction. Jenny Lake Scenic Drive skirts Jenny Lake which is clear, blue and dramatic. Signal Mountain Summit Road gives you panoramic views of the Teton Range, Jackson Lake and the Jackson Hole valley.
Within all of the natural beauty, there’s more to Grand Teton Country than just nature. A warm mountain culture has grown up from the land, one populated by the descendants of mountain men, Buffalo Bill, the Plains Indians and the Old West.
The feisty pioneers who settled here amidst incredible hardship established a laid back and welcoming lifestyle where you can go and feel perfectly comfortable strolling around town, striking up a conversation and being awed by nature.
We highly recommend taking Wildlife Expedition, which can be an all-day adventure, a daybreak trip or an evening tour, with the Teton Science School. Any of these take you to the back country of Grand Teton National Park to places that are inaccessible to regular traffic. Since they know all the best places for viewing and the best times to be there, you can expect to see (and photograph) wildlife that you would not otherwise encounter in the Park.
Distance: 296 miles
Following this disaster, the Butte city council passed a law that required all new buildings downtown (known as uptown Butte) to be built from brick or stone – most of which still stand today and help make Butte such a historic and unique city.
It was copper that truly put Butte on the map. Following the development of electricity, the demand for copper mushroomed. The demand continued to increase and really spiked during World War I, when copper was used in every single rifle bullet (much of which came from Butte).
Distance: 251 miles
The landscape is a hiker's paradise traversed by more than 750 miles of maintained trails. The park is named for its prominent glacier-carved terrain and remnant glaciers descended from the ice ages of 10,000 years past. The result of this is some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet.
Waterton Lakes National Park is the site of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the first park of its kind in the world, which symbolises the long-standing friendship and cooperation between Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and Glacier National Park just across the border in the United States.
The Entrance Parkway in to Waterton Lakes National Park affords wonderful views of the Waterton Lakes chain and valley, and the Red Rock Parkway highlights the Park’s location where the mountains meet the prairie with views of rolling prairie and the region’s magnificent peaks.
There are ample opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing and scenic drives, so we recommend that you stop first at the Visitor Centre for an overview of the park to help you best plan your time.
Distance: 293 miles
Lake Coeur d’Alene once bustled with steamboats transporting wood, ore and soldiers to the north shore of the lake. Today, similar steamboats provide sightseeing and dinner cruises for visitors to Your Lakeside Playground. Its worth arriving in Coeur d’Alene in time for an afternoon cruise on the lake before a gourmet dinner at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
In addition to the many activities on the lake, Coeur d’Alene boasts fantastic golf with the famous floating green on the 14th tee at the Resort’s golf course, hiking and mountain biking against spectacular scenery, whitewater rivers perfect for rafting or kayaking, wildlife viewing and the chance to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
If you’d prefer just to relax for a few hours, check into The Spa at the Coeur d’Alene Resort for a treatment or two.
Distance: 135 miles
The Northwest Passage Scenic Byway in the same region traces the historic route of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark as they searched, at the request of President Thomas Jefferson, for a passage between the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. When you travel the beautiful byway, you will find the same sparkling rivers, deep canyons, and rolling hills that Lewis and Clark found on their epic journey. The earliest known settlers in Hells Canyon were the Nez Perce tribe, still illustrated by pictographs and petroglyphs on the walls of the canyon.
Distance: 429 miles
The Union Pacific Railroad commissioned a young Austrian count to find a location that would rival the Alps for skiing. After Aspen, Yosemite and Mt. Rainer were passed up, the wonderful mountains around Ketchum were discovered and renamed Sun Valley.
Skiers can thank Sun Valley for the chair lift that was invented here, and the first ski school. Today skiers and non skiers alike can enjoy sophisticated Sun Valley and Ketchum, which has retained its Western small town character and lifestyle.
Call the travel specialists at Bon Voyage to discuss your dream Northern Rockies Adventure.