Epic adventures in the real America
Head west for 10 unforgettable escapades in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Montana & Wyoming
1. Experience the romance of the West
Western cowboy culture is at its most authentic in Montana and Wyoming. Try an unforgettable ranch holiday with horse-riding or a wide range of other recreational activities, all with a spectacular scenic backdrop. You’ll be spoilt for choice in where to stay, with luxury resort and working ranch amenities, and authentic ranch-style accommodation. The “dude” (luxury guest) ranches offer incredible getaways for all kinds of travellers: from dream weddings and honeymoons to extended family annual reunions and adventurers seeking new experiences. Channel your inner cowboy or cowgirl, learning skills such as roping, cutting and branding; or maybe fishing, hiking, hay and wagon rides will appeal. Enjoy nightly entertainment from chuckwagon dinners to local bluegrass bands and swing dancing, if you have any energy left after taking part in the pack trips, wagon trains or rodeos.
2. Roam some of America’s most spectacular national parks
From the beauty of Glacier National Park to the splendour of Yellowstone, America’s first national park, Montana and Wyoming offer vast, untouched landscapes just waiting to be explored. Grand Teton National Park, Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Devils Tower National Monument and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail showcase the spectacular natural treasures in these states.
3. Immerse yourself in Native American culture
Experience Native American traditions at pow wows such as Montana’s Crow Fair or North American Indian Days, and Wyoming’s Northern Arapaho Pow Wow or Plains Indian Museum Pow Wow in Cody. The various tribes celebrate their cultures with dancing, drumming, games, sports and tribal regalia which help preserve the history of the many Northern Plains cultures.
4. Embrace the outdoors
The large variety of year-round adventure and relaxation options in Montana and Wyoming will surprise and delight you. Enjoy summer rafting and fishing the many lakes and rivers. Scale a mountain or stroll across a prairie: whatever your preference, there is a perfect hike (or bike) trail for you. Or if your ideal adventure is to simply sit back, you can revel in the views, wildlife and photo opportunities on scenic byways from your car or motorbike.
5. Winter where the wild things are
Winter can be as adventurous or relaxing as you like, from dog sledding, snowshoeing and sleigh-ride dinners, to stargazing, photographic and wildlife tours. Skiers and riders return time and again to resorts such as Montana’s Big Sky and Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, offering the most powder and the smallest lift lines in the USA, and stunning scenery.
North Dakota & South Dakota
1. Learn about the culture of the First People
story of the West is the tale of more than one people, and no visit to The Real America is complete without experiencing the culture and heritage of America’s native tribes. South Dakota is the ancestral home of tribes known collectively as the Great Sioux Nation.
Take a journey through its heart on the Native American Scenic Byway offering views of the mighty Missouri River and cross the Crow Creek Reservation; each lake, stream and natural attraction that you’ll find throughout this area tells the story of the Sioux’s deep connection with the land.
More than 30,000 Native Americans live in North Dakota and celebrate their culture through song and dance at important events such as the United Tribes Powwow in Bismarck. Learn about each tribe’s history, language and traditions at reconstructed earth lodge villages at the On-A-Slant Indian Village, once home to thousands of Mandan Indians, and now a historic site, at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
2. Take a scenic road trip
Travelling the highways and scenic byways by motorcycle or rental car is one of the best ways to explore the vast states of North Dakota and South Dakota. From the unforgettable Badlands to the pristine Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the drives in North Dakota offer an up-close look at the state’s beauty. Many drive South Dakota’s Black Hills highways to the annual motorcycle rally held in Sturgis while others meander through Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop.
3. Get active, stay and play
These states are tailor-made for outdoor adventure. Kayaking, sailing, fishing and golf are more gentle pursuits, while hiking, camping and wildlife viewing will get you back to nature in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Maah Daah Hey trail offers the longest single track for mountain biking in the USA. Discover the Badlands National Park and Black Hills region for climbing, mountain biking, ATV activities and winter snowmobiling.
4. Follow the pioneers
Explore America’s frontier heritage and pioneer spirit in North Dakota and South Dakota. History buffs will find rich history and culture with the authentic West carefully preserved, enabling you to experience the same pristine natural beauty that greeted the pioneers. Visit America’s famous shrine to democracy, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, featuring the faces of four great American presidents, or Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park to learn what life was like in the frontier military garrisons.
5. Meet the locals
Stay a night or two in a local town to sample the legendary hospitality of the West and gain insider tips to enhance your travels. Experience unique and historic accommodation, and attractions and tours that bring history to life, while craft breweries, distilleries and dining options keep you well fed and watered. The towns in North Dakota and South Dakota have an authentic character and their own stories to tell about the settling of the West.
This article appeared in volume 27 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.