We often talk about touring the East Coast, New England, the Old South, but we sometimes forget how much there is to see and do in our Old West. So let’s get into what there is to see and do in the Old West.
I suggest taking your time to drive to Rapid City, S.D., enjoying every mile to reach this destination.
This city is interesting in itself, so drive around and get acquainted. Then head for the Crazy Horse Memorial, built in honor of the fearless Sioux Indian chief whose fame is derived from the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Following this, visit Mount Rushmore National Memorial, which features the likenesses of four U.S. presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt — carved on the face of a mountain. Here, you can stroll along the Presidential Trail for more views; be sure to visit the Information Center.
The next day drive from Rapid City to Deadwood and Sheridan, Wyo.
Getting there means driving through the Black Hills National Forest to experience the area’s colorful history at Deadwood, which was once a wild gold-mining town, and hear the stories of legendary Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. You can also visit Tantanka to learn the story of the bison and experience the richness of the Lakota people, a Plains Indian buffalo culture. Following, move through the Black Hills to the cattle town of Sheridan at the foot of the Bighorn Mountains.
The next day, move on into southern Montana to visit Little Bighorn Battlefield, the site commemorating one of the America’s most famous battles. You may tour the battlefields where Custer was defeated by approximately 7,000 Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors, and also visit the museum. Afterward, continue your scenic drive through the Bighorn Mountains, stopping at Shell Falls en route to Cody. You should also make time for a float trip on the Shoshone River.
While in this area, take time to visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, a fine museum of historic weapons and art.
When you are here, continue through Shoshone National Forest to Yellowstone National Park, which was established in 1872 and is the world’s first national park. Travel along Grand Loop Road to Artist Point on the south rim with magnificent views of Yellowstone Canyon and the spectacular Lower Falls, almost twice as tall as Niagara Falls. Then, drive on to Fountain Paint Pots to view and photograph the bubbling mud. After, rejoin the Grand Loop Road, and stopping by famous Old Faithful Geyser to get some shots before moving on to Jackson.
In Jackson, you are in the midst of the Grand Teton Mountains. This range has some of the most beautiful mountains in the United States. You will agree when you see them. And be sure to visit glacier-fed Lake Jenny at the foot of the rugged spires. Jackson itself is an old western town and interesting to explore. On one night here have dinner at the Bar T-5 Chuck Wagon Cookout and see the Wild West show.
Jackson is also a good place to spend a day taking it easy or, book a Snake River float trip. Also, stroll along the downtown boardwalks and perhaps have a drink at one of the swing door saloons.
Then, travel alongside some of Wyoming’s most beautiful mountain ranges into Utah, home to five national parks. Salt Lake City was founded by Brigham Young in 1847, today it features wide streets and is Utah’s capital. Be sure to see some of the high points including the Tabernacle and various Mormon historic monuments.
Now, it’s off through sagebrush country to Bryce Canyon, a national park with a beauty all its own. Take a drive with photo stops to capture the bright red, yellow and pink pillars called “hoodoos.” Perhaps you can stay the night at the entrance to Bryce National Park.
This next day is full of photographic color as you tour Bryce and Zion National Park. Zion Park is dramatic landscape of sculptured canyons and soaring cliffs resembling temples and cathedrals.
From here, drive on to Lake Powell and the town of Page. Take the time to cruise to Glen Canyon Dam and the tapestry walls of Antelope Canyon.
Here, you have the opportunity to take a flight over Monument Valley for a view of red sandstone monoliths, made famous by many western movies and TV shows. Flying is really the best way to see these vistas in my opinion. Now, drive to and through the Painted Desert if you have not seen it before.
Head to the Grand Canyon — no matter how many times you may have seen it before, it still thrills each and everyone who stands on the edge of the South Rim to look down some 7,000 feet into the canyon.
Maybe stay a night at famed El Tovar Lodge right on the canyon rim and enjoy dinner in the main dining room.
Now, you can drive home or move on to the action at Las Vegas for a couple nights to see two or more shows. There is so much to do in this city that never sleeps. It is up to you and your taste what shows to see or simply relax around the hotels swimming pool after your trip through the West.
The best time to do this trip is in the fall or late spring of the year. The weather should be good and temperatures not too hot.
Make sure your car is fully checked out and ready to drive the miles suggested.