Following on from the success of our popular Trails West self-drive tour, we have produced an extended 21-night/22-day version which slows the pace, increases the number of nights in some of the more popular destinations and introduces the western town of Cody into the itinerary. This is a tour that includes the beautiful scenery of the Black Hills, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons with the fascinating history of the native American tribes, the wagon train trails, the tragic story of Custer and Crazy Horse and the modern ranching culture of the west. We are of course willing to adapt this tour to suit your needs so please let us know if you would like to make changes, add extra nights and prebook excursions.
Using the major gateway city of Denver allows us to take advantage of the various flight options from the UK. Currently, British Airways offer daily non-stop services from Heathrow to Denver. In addition, airlines such as United, Delta and others offer indirect flights into Denver from various UK departure airports with one stop and change of aircraft en route.
Day 1. Arrive Denver. Day 2. Denver. Day 3. Denver to Lusk (approx. 260 miles). Day 4. Lusk to the Black Hills (approx 130 miles). Days, 5 & 6. Black Hills. Days 7 & 8. Deadwood. Day 9. Deadwood via Devil’s Tower to Buffalo (approx. 212 miles). Day 10. Buffalo to Billings (approx. 166 miles). Day 11. Billings to Cody (approx. 105 miles). Day 12. Cody. Day 13. Cody to Yellowstone (approx. 90 miles). Days 14 & 15. Yellowstone National Park. Day 16. Yellowstone – Grand Teton National Park – Jackson (approx. 100 miles). Days 17 & 18. Grand Teton National Park and Jackson. Day 19. Jackson to Saratoga (approx. 325 miles). Day 20. Saratoga to Estes Park (approx. 183 miles). Day 21. Estes Park. Day 22. Estes Park to Denver (approx. 110 miles).
Day 1. Arrive Denver. After collecting your luggage, exit the airport and take a taxi (own expense) to your downtown Denver hotel. Relax and enjoy the remainder of the day exploring Denver and its vibrant nighlife and restaurant scene. Overnight: Crowne Plaza Downtown (Standard) or The Curtis Hotel (Superior).
Day 2. Denver. A full day to enjoy the attractions, museums, galleries and shopping of the ‘Mile-High City’. Only a few yards from your downtown hotel, Denver’s pedestrianised tree-lined 16th Street Mall offers a huge choice of shopping from major stores to boutiques and a wonderful range of pavement cafes, coffee shops and restaurants, making this a popular dining and shopping area during the day and evening. Other Denver attractions include; the Downtown Aquarium, Denver Museum of Nature & Science; the Botanical Gardens and Cherry Creek Shopping Centre. Overnight: Crowne Plaza Downtown (Standard) or The Curtis Hotel (Superior).
Day 3. Denver to Lusk (approx. 260 miles). Return to the airport area this morning and collect your rental car and head north to Cheyenne, the state capital of the the Cowboy State – Wyoming. In Cheyenne visit the Union Pacific Depot & Museum, and the famous Wrangler Store, before continuing on via Ft. Laramie National Historic Site – one of the most important forts on the pioneer trails heading for the west. In the afternoon arrive in the small town of Lusk, home of the Stagecoach Museum. Overnight: Best Western Pioneer (Standard and Superior).
Day 4. Lusk to the Black Hills (approx 130 miles). From Lusk you will soon cross into South Dakota and enter the Black Hills. In the late afternoon, and after checking into your accommodation, we recommend that you visit the famous Mt. Rushmore National Monument. This impressive carving is illuminated at night. Overnight: State Game Lodge – standard room (Standard) or State Game Lodge, Creekside room (Superior). Custer State Park.
Days, 5 & 6. Black Hills. Two full days to visit and enjoy the many natural and man-made attractions of this beautiful area. The southwest corner of South Dakota is rich in historic sites such as Deadwood, once home to Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok; Mount Rushmore and Wounded Knee, site of one of the bloodiest massacres in American history. The stunning scenery of the area played an important role in many movies such as ‘Dances with Wolves’ and ‘Thunderheart’. The Black Hills, Wind Cave National Park, the Badlands National Park and Custer State Park – home of one of the largest herds of bison in North America form one of the most scenic areas of North America. Overnight: State Game Lodge – standard room (Standard) or State Game Lodge, Creekside room (Superior). Custer State Park.
Days 7 & 8. Deadwood. Moving north from the southern Black Hills, you pass through Hill City, once a mining town and today is a vibrant arts community with galleries, festivals, restaurants and shops. Hill City is also the terminus for the Black Hills Central Railroad, locally known as the 1880’s train, and this old western steam train runs the 10 miles through the beautiful Black Hills to Keystone. Well worth the round trip journey to savour the atmosphere and scenery. In the afternoon head into Deadwood and check into your hotel before exploring the town. Deadwood was a notorious gold mining town in the late 1800’s and attracted various legendary characters such as Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickok and others who came seeking their fortunes in the gambling halls, saloons and mines. The movie Calamity Jane put the town on the map, but many people will be surprised to learn that it was based on fact and many of the characters were based on real people.
Today the town thrives party due to the investment of Kevin Costner who owns the Midnight Star casino. In the nearby town of Lead visit the Black Hills Mining Museum. This non-profit educational corporation is dedicated to the preservation of the rich mining history of the Black Hills. Take a 45-minute tour of a simulated underground gold mine, enjoy the mining exhibits or try your hand at gold panning. Bear Country USA near Rapid City is a great place to see and learn about black and grizzly bears, wolves, elk and bobcats . No visit to the northern Black Hills would be complete without a visit to the beautiful Spearfish Canyon. Miles of hiking trails, towering peaks tumbling rivers, waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife make this a nature-lover’s paradise. Overnight: Best Western Hickok House (Standard) or The Lodge at Deadwood (Superior).
Day 9. Deadwood via Devil’s Tower to Buffalo (approx. 212 miles). From Deadwood journey west. On the way, stop at Devil’s Tower National Monument, the impressive natural rock formation famous from its role in ‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’. Arrive in Buffalo this afternoon and spend the remainder of the day at leisure exploring the town. Overnight: Hampton Inn (Standard and Superior).
Day 10. Buffalo to Billings (approx. 166 miles). From Buffalo head north and cross the state line into Montana and the Crow Indian Reservation. Perhaps stop for a visit the site of the Battle of the Rosebud where General Crook fought one of the largest battles against the plains Indians just 8 days before the fateful encounter at the Little Bighorn. Shortly after leaving the Rosebud you will arrive at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. It was here in June 1876 that General Custer and his 7th Cavalry fought and lost their final battle against an alliance of Northern Plains tribes. After visiting the battlefield site continue on to Billings for your overnight stop. Overnight: Best Western Plus Clock Tower (Standard) or Northern Hotel (Superior).
Day 11. Billings to Cody (approx. 105 miles). A short drive today brings you the town of Cody. Named after its founder -William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, this interesting town is home to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, sometimes known as the ‘Smithsonian of the West’ In addition to documenting the life and interests of Buffalo Bill, the museum collection interprets the history of the American cowboy, dude ranching, Western conservation and Native American history. Each night the Cody Rodeo gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy the spectacle and drama of a true western tradition. Overnight: Holiday Inn Cody (Standard) or Best Western Premier Ivy Inn & Suites (Superior).
Day 12. Cody. A full day to enjoy Cody. Apart from the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, you should also visit the Old Trail Town – a fascinating collection of historic frontier buildings and relics from northwest Wyoming – including a cabin used by Butch Cassidy and the Hole in the Wall gang. Buffalo Bill’s Irma Hotel and Silver Saddle saloon in the centre of town is well worth a visit with good food, beer and a wonderful bar. Overnight: Holiday Inn Cody (Standard) or Best Western Premier Ivy Inn & Suites (Superior).
Day 13. Cody to Yellowstone (approx. 90 miles). Your short drive today takes you through beautiful scenery and into Yellowstone National Park – the World’s first national park! Take your time today before you reach your lodge in the park, and enjoy the drive. Overnight: Grant Village Lodge (Standard) or Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Annex room (Superior).
Days 14 & 15. Yellowstone National Park. Two full days to explore one of the world’s most beautiful parks. We recommend that you prebook a Yellow Bus tour of the park with an experienced tour guide (see our Excursions list for details). Overnight: Grant Village Lodge (Standard) or Lake Yellowstone Hotel, Annex room (Superior).
Day 16. Yellowstone – Grand Teton National Park – Jackson (approx. 100 miles). Leaving Yellowstone this morning enjoy the stunning drive through Grand Teton National Park. Plan to make stops at Jackson Lake and Jenny Lake – perhaps a picnic on the shore. Arrive in Teton Village this afternoon and your base for the next three nights. Overnight: Modern Mountain Motel (Standard) or Signal Mountain Lodge (Superior).
Days 17 & 18. Grand Teton National Park and Jackson. You will need every minute of your two days to explore this lovely area and the town of Jackson. A wildlife viewing excursion, rafting on the Snake River, a cruise on Jenny Lake, horseback riding, hhotair ballooning, a ride on the Jackson Hole Aerial Tram and much more await you. Overnight: Modern Mountain Motel (Standard) or Signal Mountain Lodge (Superior).
Day 19. Jackson to Saratoga (approx. 325 miles). From the Grand Tetons, cross the Wind River Indian Reservation via the small towns of Dubois and Lander. This is the land of Lewis and Clark, Fremont, Kit Carson and other famous pioneers who scouted the routes ahead of the great wagon train immigration west. You will travel through beautiful country, cross the Oregon Trail and pass many historic sites before arriving in the small town of Saratoga. Overnight: Riviera Motel (Standard) or Saratoga Resort & Spa (Superior).
Day 20. Saratoga to Estes Park(approx. 183 miles). Take a leisurely drive through beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery today and linger as you cross Rocky Mountain National Park. Later this afternoon arrive at Estes Park – gateway to Rocky Mountain Natl.Park. Overnight: Alpine Trail Ridge. (Standard or Superior).
Day 21. Estes Park. A full day to explore the beautiful landscape of Rocky Mountain National Park. Overnight: Alpine Trail Ridge (Standard or Superior).
Day 22. Estes Park to Denver (approx. 110 miles). A short drive this morning allows you time to either linger in Estes Park, or stop in Denver for some last minute shopping before you return your rental car and check in for your return flight to the UK.
We can provide details, prices and make reservations for some of the optional sightseeing excursions mentioned in the itinerary. All mileages are approximate and may depend upon which hotel/lodge you are staying at. Please note that the altitude on this tour varys from Denver (the mile-high city) at 5280-feet (1609 mtrs) to Yellowstone at an average of 8000-feet (2700 mtrs) above sea level. The air is thin and dry.
Extended Trails West Standard Superior Prices per adult
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Prices from On request On request On request On request Prices from On request On request On request On request Location No.nights Standard Hotels Superior Hotels Denver (city centre) 2 Crowne Plaza Downtown The Curtis Hotel Lusk 1 Best Western Pioneer (Bkfst) Best Western Pioneer (Bkfst) Black Hills 3 State Game Lodge (motel room) State Game Lodge (Creekside room) Deadwood 2 Best Western Hickok House The Lodge at Deadwood Buffalo 1 Hampton Inn (CB) Hampton Inn (CB) Billings 1 Best Western Plus Clock Tower Northern Hotel Cody 2 Holiday Inn Cody Best Western Premier Ivy Inn & Suites Yellowstone National Park 3 Grant Village Lake Yellowstone Hotel Grand Tetons National Park area 3 The Modern Mountain Motel Signal Mountain Lodge Saratoga 1 Riviera Motel (Balcony river view room) Saratoga Historic Inn Rocky Mountain National Park 2 Alpine Trail Ridge (standard room) Alpine Trail Ridge (balcony room) CB = Continental breakfast. Bkfst = full breakfast.
All hotels are subject to availability at the time of booking. Just America provides a full tailor-made service so if you want to alter the itinerary, choose different hotels, add excursions etc., please let us know at the time of booking.
Just America can provide flights from the UK with a variety of airlines, and car rental with Alamo & National Car Rental.
Children under 12 yrs are free when sharing a room with 2 adults and using existing bedding at hotels.
* 21 nights hotel accommodation including local taxes.
* Driving instructions, maps, guides and itinerary.Prices based on Saturday departures. Prices for other departure dates available upon request.
Not included: Flights, airport taxes, car rental, travel insurance, optional excursions, national park entrance fees, petrol and personal expenses.
Tour prices:The prices shown in the price panels are for the accommodation elements only, they do not include flights or car rental (unless indicated). This enables you to choose the airline and car of your choice and add them to the accommodation package to create your holiday. Our reservations staff will be pleased to help you with flight availability, to suggest which is the best airline for your itinerary and to advise you of any special offers the airlines may have introduced.
Hotels:Hotels featured in our self-drive and independent tours are chosen for their location, value for money and facilities. Whenever possible we offer a choice of Standard or Superior hotels. There is no recognised 'star' system throughout North America for classifying hotels, motels and resorts. The hotel ratings for our tours are subjective and are provided to give you an understanding as to the level of facility. They are either the hotel's official categorisation as per the Official Hotel & Resort Guide, or Just America's. Standards vary from location to location, therefore ratings in the remote areas can differ from those in the cities. Standard hotels would be those classified as Moderate, and Superior hotels would be First Class, in the Official Hotel and Resort Guide. National Park accommodations are more rustic and are chosen almost entirely because of their location. It should not be assumed that because an hotel is listed as Superior that it has certain amenities. Often a hotel is classified as Superior due to its position, views or room standard, it does not always follow that a superior hotel will have a swimming pool, hair-dryers, golf course, room service etc. We will try to provide information on individual hotels on request although the internet is usually the quickest and most accurate source of information. Hotel rooms in North America usually have one or two double beds. Triple and Quad rooms have two double beds. Very few hotels in North America have three or four beds. It is sometimes possible to have a rollaway bed which can be requested, but cannot be guaranteed. Occasionally hotels are chosen purely for their location - i.e. half-way between two points of interest - and may be included as a one night stop to break up an otherwise long journey. Such hotels may not have the full facilities normally associated with a Standard or Superior hotel, but sometimes we don't have any other choice. Where possible hotels providing free car parking have been included, however in some locations, such as city centres, the hotels may make a charge.
Note:Hotels are not usually ready to accept guests until after 3 or 4 pm, so please try not to check in before mid-afternoon. Check out time is usually before 11 am or 12 noon. It is sometimes possible to arrange late check out, or the storage of luggage, but this is at the discretion of the hotel.
Tour notes and itineraries:On several of our tours the tour notes and itineraries are provided at the first hotel. On other tours this information is forwarded with the travel documents approximately 14 days prior to departure. We will endeavour to provide the best information we can to help you, but it is not our policy to provide mile by mile detailed route guides, the frequent changes to local road conditions, layouts etc., makes this impossible. We do provide maps, guides to the major attractions en route, and directions to hotels whenever possible. These are independent self-drive holidays and you will be required to read a map and locate attractions and hotels. Sat.Nav. is available from the car rental companies - at a charge - and you may find this useful, however all technology is prone to failure so we always recommend that you keep the maps handy.
Tailor-made holidays:We will be pleased to discuss your own ideas and itineraries and help you plan your holiday. If you would like to email, fax or mail an outline of your tour with dates, number of people, ages of children etc., to us we will be happy to advise you. We request that you include your daytime telephone number on all correspondence. Where you have chosen the route and we have designed a tailor-made holiday for you, it may not be possible to provide you with a detailed tour itinerary. We suggest that you read up about the area you are planning to visit well in advance, preferably before you book the holiday. Insight Guides cover almost every region of North America and are about the best on the market. Just America can also provide a some tourist information subject to availability, but we do not have detailed route information to cover every area of the Continent. You might find the internet to be the best source of free, up-to-date information.
National Park Passes:Both the US and Canada charge entrance fees for their national parks, and if you are visiting a number of parks, this cost can add up to a significant amount. We recommend that you purchase a Parks Pass at the first national park you visit. For the US the pass currently costs $80 for up to four adults (children under 16 are free). In Canada a family pass currently costs $136.40. Both passes provide unlimited visits to that country's parks for 12 months. The passes can only be used in the country of purchase. Full details available at www.nps.gov (for USA) and www.pc.gc.ca/index_e.asp