Day 1: Depart for Rapid City, South Dakota We depart today for Rapid City, South Dakota. As guests’ arrival times may vary, the day is at leisure to explore the “gateway to the Black Hills” as we wish. This evening we meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and fellow travelers at a briefing about the journey ahead, followed by dinner together. D
Day 2: Rapid City/Badlands National Park This morning we visit South Dakota’s famed Badlands National Park. Covering an area of nearly 400 square miles, this wind-carved landscape features a stunning array of rock formations – buttes, spires, pinnacles, and canyons – as well as the largest prairie ecosystem in the United States. We explore the park and learn about its history as a home to endangered species and Native American tribes, along with its rich deposits of prehistoric fossils. After our time here, we return to Rapid City for an afternoon and evening at leisure. Lunch and dinner today are on our own. B
Day 3: Rapid City/Mount Rushmore/Sheridan, WY A short drive west into the Black Hills reveals two compelling sculptures commemorating several of our best-known leaders. We stop first at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the world-famous site where the visages of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and T. Roosevelt have been carved into the very face of the granite mountainside. With each face measuring 60 feet tall, the monument is a stirring testament to patriotism. Continuing on, we visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, an even larger mountain monument dedicated to the iconic war leader of the Oglala Lakota Native American tribe. Although work began on the massive horse-and-rider statue in 1948, it remains decidedly unfinished to this day: only the leader’s enigmatic face gazes out from the edge of Thunderhead Mountain. Once completed, the statue will measure an astonishing 641 feet wide by 543 feet high. We enjoy lunch together here before continuing on to Wyoming, the “Cowboy State,” arriving in time for dinner together tonight. B,L,D
Day 4: Sheridan Today we get an authentic taste of the Old West as we visit a local ranch. Embodying an archetypical American profession, the hardworking cowboy still performs many of the same duties that his predecessors did two and three centuries back. During our visit we meet the cowboys and ranch hands and learn about their way of life. Then we enjoy a barbecue lunch before returning to Sheridan, where our afternoon is at leisure in this classic Western town. Tonight we enjoy dinner together. B,L,D
Day 5: Sheridan/Bighorn Mountains/Cody This morning we travel through Bighorn National Forest and across the Great Plains, arriving in the city of Cody in time for lunch on our own. We’re in the “Rodeo Capital of the World,” named for its famous founder William Frederick Cody – better known as Buffalo Bill. One of the most colorful personalities of the Old West, Buffalo Bill rode for the Pony Express at age 14, served in the Civil War and several Indian conflicts, and created (and starred in) Buffalo Bill’s Wild West cowboy variety show. We learn all this and more during this afternoon’s visit to Cody’s central attraction: the five-museum Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Guests on select late May through mid-August departures will enjoy an evening visit to the Cody Nite Rodeo, a show of longstanding tradition that keeps the Western spirit alive. B,D
Day 6: Cody/Yellowstone National Park We set off this morning for the first of two full days of exploring nearby Yellowstone National Park. Established in 1872, Yellowstone was the world’s first national park; it covers nearly 3,500 square miles of jagged mountains, high plains, and an extensive volcanic region. Today’s visit includes a stop at the 24-mile-long Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, a snaking, rock-walled channel, ranking as the park’s most spectacular sight. Throughout the day we hope to see some of Yellowstone’s wildlife: bison, elk, moose, black bear, mountain lion, and lynx count among the park’s many species. Then we return to Cody for an evening at leisure. B,L
Day 7: Cody/Yellowstone National Park/Grand Teton National Park/Jackson Hole More stunning Western scenery is on offer today as we traverse two of America’s great national parks. This morning we re-enter Yellowstone, seeing first Yellowstone Lake. The park’s largest body of water, Yellowstone Lake offers beautiful panoramic views. We have time for lunch on our own in the park before continuing on to world-famous Old Faithful. One of the most predictable geothermal features on Earth, Old Faithful blasts a plume of boiling water up to 180 feet in the air every 80 to 100 minutes, without fail. We witness this awe-inspiring natural event then depart on the scenic drive south along the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. This strip of protected land connects Yellowstone with its neighbor, Grand Teton National Park. Late afternoon we enter the park and descend to Jackson on the valley floor, arriving in time for dinner at leisure. B
Day 8: Jackson Hole/Grand Teton National Park Though only 10 miles separate Grand Teton and Yellowstone, the two parks offer vastly different – yet equally awe-inspiring – experiences. Grand Teton includes most of the grassy Jackson Hole valley and almost all the major peaks of its titular mountain range (the Tetons), giving the smaller of the two parks arguably the more dramatic landscape. We explore the park this morning, taking in the splendid scenery and keeping our eyes peeled for the many species of wildlife living here, including fox, moose, and American bison. If we’re lucky, we may also catch a glimpse of a black or grizzly bear. After enjoying lunch together in the park, we return to Jackson Hole late afternoon and enjoy dinner together tonight. B,L,D
Day 9: Jackson Hole/Snake River Rafting We have a small group highlight in store today, as we take a leisurely rafting trip down the Snake River. The largest tributary of the Columbia River, the Snake originates in Yellowstone before flowing in a gently winding series of bends through the low-lying Jackson Hole valley, with the Tetons rising dramatically from the valley floor. We enjoy a casual lunch together on the river then return to Jackson Hole for an afternoon at leisure. Tonight we gather to toast our Western adventure at a farewell dinner. B,L,D
Day 10: Depart Jackson Hole This morning we transfer to the Jackson Hole airport for our flights home. B
Please note: This trip involves considerable walking on uneven terrain in a natural environment. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to the fullest. Elevations at hotel locations are not severe, ranging from 3,200 ft. to 6,200 ft. The relatively high altitude reached during the visit to Yellowstone (approximately 8,000 feet) could pose problems for guests with certain health conditions. You should consult your personal physician if you have concerns.
Cody Nite Rodeo
All departures May 28-Aug 15 will attend the Cody Nite Rodeo on the evening of Day 5 while in Cody, WY, “Rodeo Capital” of the world. Dating to 1938, the Cody Nite Rodeo shows off the horsemanship and roping skills still used on working ranches.
B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included