The soul of the American West... Naturally inspiring, the landscapes of the American West challenge the imagination with jaw-dropping canyons, gurgling mud pots, geysers, and wide-open spaces... while towering mountains are a study in contrast, harboring wildlife and man-made wonders.
Larger-than-life sculptures reside in the Black Hills... cowboys and working ranches define Wyoming’s northern landscapes... Yellowstone National Park compels with natural treasures that never fail to evoke pride... and the jagged granite peaks of the Tetons contrast with forests and rivers below. This is the American West, the true American West – and if you ever doubt you’re in the heart and soul of it, just wait until you step foot in the town of Cody, where adventurous stories of the “Old” West are heard again and again... and the rodeo reigns supreme. Explore Yellowstone's amazing geothermal features... the colossal Black Hills masterpieces of Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial... the peaks and glaciers of the Tetons... Wyoming's ranch country...
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Jackson Lake Lodge. A transfer is included from Jackson Hole Airport to the Jackson Lake Lodge inside Grand Teton National Park. Welcome to Wyoming's iconic western landscape of vast grasslands and towering mountain ranges, the historic town of Jackson, and majestic Grand Teton National Park with its jagged peaks, glaciers, lakes, and dense forest. Join us for tonight's welcome reception and dinner at your scenic lakeside resort in the heart of the national park.
Snake River rafting, Mormon Row & Jackson
Today, view some of North America's most spectacular mountain scenery – and keep an eye peeled for wildlife ranging from moose and elk to beavers and bald eagles – during a ten-mile float trip* along the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park; there's no better vantage point than your raft on the river from which to gape at (or photograph) the majestic peaks of the Tetons. Then pay a brief visit to the park's Mormon Row Historic District, whose preservation is being supported by a major 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 – that (along with their dramatic Teton Range backdrop) attract photographers from around the world, and convey the sense that you’ve traveled back in time. Continue on to the historic and trendy Western town of Jackson, gateway to the Tetons and the Jackson Hole region, for an afternoon spent as you please; or enjoy optional activities from horseback riding to fishing (available at additional cost) back at Jackson Lake Lodge. Enjoy dinner at your inside-the-park lodge tonight.
On to amazing Yellowstone
This morning, you may want to peruse American Indian artwork and artifacts on display at the Colter Bay visitor center before heading out of Grand Teton National Park and traveling to Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872 as the world's first national park, known for its unique geothermal activity. Arrive at your historic lodge, the Old Faithful Inn, in time for lunch – it's just steps away from Old Faithful Geyser, shooting up to 184 feet in the air approximately every 90 minutes. Learn more about this phenomenon and check out the Upper Geyser Basin (which includes Old Faithful and many more) on an excursion this afternoon in the park; enjoy dinner at your leisure at your classic inside-the-park lodging close to Old Faithful itself.
A Geologic Wonderland
With 10,000 hot springs, thundering waterfalls, two-thirds of all geysers in the world and endless forests, Yellowstone inspires awe. Explore its geologic wonders – including hundreds of geysers, brilliantly colored hot springs, steaming fumaroles and more – that early 19th-century skeptics found too astounding to be believed as you follow the Lower Grand Loop Road to Fountain Paint Pot's collection of colorful, bubbling mud pots. Then view the dramatic Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, carved by the churning waters of the Yellowstone River. Make your way through Hayden Valley before arriving for an overnight at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, a historic 19th-century property on the tranquil shores of Yellowstone Lake, where you'll settle in and have dinner this evening.
Buffalo Bill’s Cody
Leaving the mountains for the open grazing land of western Wyoming, arrive in the quintessential 1890s town of Cody, named for its famous founder, William "Buffalo Bill" Cody – buffalo hunter, army scout, Wild West Show entrepreneur, and tireless inventor of tall tales. For an authentic picture of the art and culture of the Wild West – and the life and legend of Mr. Cody himself – visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a complex of five museums that will immerse you in American Western culture and mythology: the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, the Draper Museum of Natural History, the Cody Firearms Museum, the Plains Indian Museum and the Buffalo Bill Museum. More western fun beckons during an overnight stay in Cody this evening, as you attend the world-famous Cody Nite Rodeo (seasonal, June through August), a fixture here since 1938.
The Bighorns & a double helping of ranch life
Upon departing Cody this morning, traverse the Bighorn Mountains with their breathtaking vistas of rugged canyons, sparkling waterfalls, miles of grassland, and colorful vegetation en route to a double dose of authentic Wyoming ranch life. First, feel the spirit of the West during an authentic ranch experience – including a cookhouse lunch, then your choice of a horseback ride*, a horse whisperer or a roping demonstration – at the TA Guest Ranch in Buffalo, Wyoming. A real working cattle ranch in the heart of "cowboy country," the TA 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.
Crazy Horse to Mount Rushmore
Travel into the Black Hills of South Dakota today, where you'll have lunch and visit the in-progress Crazy Horse Memorial. Work on the colossal rock sculpture has been ongoing for more than 50 years; it will be the largest stone carving in the world when completed. Continue on to one of America's best-known icons – Mount Rushmore National Memorial, where the faces of former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are carved into granite bluffs; learn about the monument's creation. Later, arrive in Rapid City, where you'll share favorite highlights of this most unforgettable of Yellowstone tours at tonight's farewell reception and dinner.
Tour ends: Rapid City, South Dakota. Fly home anytime; a transfer from The Rushmore Hotel & Suites to Rapid City Regional Airport is included. Flight departure times vary; allow a minimum of two hours for flight check-in.