Hit the trail for a true Western adventure…the ultimate family trip to Wyoming and South Dakota. Experience life on the ranch… whoop it up at a rodeo… explore treasures of the National Park Service… and learn the stories of the people who shaped the Wild, Wild West.
Welcome to cowboy country! Our family vacation to Wyoming and South Dakota is a fun-loving adventure that takes you and your family into some of the most spectacular national parks you’ll ever see. Look for beaver, elk, bison and more on the way to Yellowstone National Park, where you’ll stay just steps from Old Faithful…take in a night of “Wild West” entertainment in the rodeo capital of the world…raft down the Snake River…sample the life of a cowboy with horseback riding, roping demos and campfires on a real ranch…and discover the man-made artistry of Mount Rushmore and the natural majesty of Grand Teton National Park.
Arrive Jackson, Wyoming
Tour begins: 5:45 PM, Jackson Lake Lodge. A transfer is included from Jackson Hole Airport to Jackson Lake Lodge in the heart of Grand Teton National Park. Meet the new friends who will share this Cowboy Country adventure with your family at our welcome reception and dinner.
Snake River rafting & Jackson Town
Marvel at the mountain majesty of Grand Teton National Park before setting off on a rafting adventure* down the Snake River. Along the way, your guide will help you spot the beavers, eagles, elks and other animals that live in the park. After lunch, travel to the historic (and trendy) Western town of Jackson to explore as you wish. Late afternoon, visit the park's Mormon Row Historic District, whose preservation is being supported by a grant from Tauck. A homesteaders’ settlement dating back to 1890 located in an undeveloped area of the park, Mormon Row is home to a number of weathered historic structures – including the iconic T.A. Moulton barn, an unofficial symbol of the park – with the dramatic Teton Range as a backdrop. You'll feel like you’ve traveled back in time at the site, which attracts photographers from around the world... so have your camera ready! Spend the evening as you please at the Inn.
American Indian Art & Yellowstone
You may want to check out the American Indian artwork and artifacts on display at Grand Teton National Park's Colter Bay Visitor Center before traveling on this morning to Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872 as America's (and the world's) first national park – where your historic "home away from home" for the next two nights, the Old Faithful Inn, is just steps away from the famous Old Faithful Geyser, shooting up to 184 feet in the air approximately every 90 minutes! This afternoon, a locally guided walk explores Geyser Basin – keep an eye out for Yellowstone's diverse wildlife as you explore some of the features of the park, whose geologic wonders include two-thirds of all the geysers in the world. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore as you please. Have dinner at this iconic inside-the-park hotel at your leisure tonight.
Wake up to a world of amazing natural wonders in Yellowstone National Park and spend the day sightseeing in the park with local experts from The Institute of the Yellowstone Association, who share information about the park and its abundant wildlife as you explore; Yellowstone protects threatened or endangered species including the gray wolf, whooping crane, lynx, grizzly bear and bald eagle. See some of the 10,000 hot springs within the park, as well as bubbling pools of mud and volcanic calderas; and, a short distance from your lodge, make sure you reserve some family time to watch mighty Old Faithful shoot its plume of steam high into the air just about every hour and a half – a highlight of any Wyoming family vacation! After a day that is truly a celebration of the West’s natural beauty, enjoy dinner at leisure back at the lodge.
Cody Rodeo Thrills
Say goodbye to Yellowstone and continue your Wyoming vacation to the historic town of Cody, Wyoming, founded in part by the famous "Buffalo Bill" Cody, from whom the town got its name. Glimpse the history and culture of the heyday of the American West at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, whose five acclaimed, connected museums each tell a different side of the story – focusing on the Plains Indians, Western art, historic firearms, the region's natural history, and the life and career of "Buffalo Bill" Cody himself. Have a western-style dinner and then thrill to bucking broncos, steer wrestlers, calf ropers and barrel riders and more at the nationally famous Cody Nite Rodeo – a fixture since 1938 here in Cody, often called the "rodeo capital of the world."
Bighorn Vistas & The Cowboy Life
Journey through Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains today, past deep canyons, vast grasslands, and blankets of wildflowers en route to one of the highlights of your Wyoming vacation – a double dose of Western ranch life that your family will love! First, feel the spirit of Cowboy Country during an authentic ranch experience – including a cookhouse lunch and an opportunity for a horseback ride*, or a horse whisperer or a roping demonstration – at the T-A Guest Ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming. A real working cattle ranch, the T-A Ranch was the site of a famous siege and shootout during the infamous "Johnson County War" in 1892; you can still see the old gunshot holes in the ranch's original horse barn! Later, continue on to an overnight and dinner at your leisure at yet another real Wyoming ranch – the Ranch at Ucross – topping the night off with an old-fashioned campfire complete with stories and s'mores!
Crazy Horse & Mount Rushmore
Depart the Ranch at Ucross and Wyoming and head for the Black Hills of South Dakota. Look up in wonder at the Crazy Horse Memorial, where you'll view the work in progress as artisans carve the likeness of the famous Lakota warrior out of the mountain. Begun in 1948 after an Oglala Lakota elder commissioned sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to create the memorial on the face of Thunderhead Mountain to show “that we have heroes too,” the independently funded project is now carried on by members of the late sculptor's family; when completed, it will be the largest rock sculpture in the world. At the project's visitor's center – which includes the former Ziolkowski family home – you'll explore exhibits that speak to the diverse histories and cultures of America’s native peoples, and learn more about this unique family project. Then it's on to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, where you’ll be welcomed by the colossal granite heads of four US presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln. The sculptures were the work of Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, a 14-year project begun in 1927. From here, you’ll head to the K Bar S Lodge for an overnight stay and this evening’s farewell reception and dinner to celebrate a week of authentic western magic in Cowboy Country.
Tour ends: Rapid City. Fly home anytime; a transfer is included from K Bar S Lodge to Rapid City Regional Airport. Allow a minimum of two hours for flight check-in.