17-days/16-nights Self-drive tour of the Great Plains, the Black Hills and Yellowstone National Park
An epic journey across the northern plains and prairies, through badlands and mountains, crossing mighty rivers such as the Missouri and Yellowstone to the geothermal hotspot of Yellowstone National Park. En route learn the fascinating story of the Native American tribes, the early trappers and pioneers who colonised the area and the mighty struggles when cultures collided, culminating with the defeat of Custer’s 7th Cavalry at Little Bighorn. Witness the effects of this turbulent history upon the lives of the present population of ranchers, oil workers and farmers. Take in a rodeo in Cody, explore native American history in Bismarck, marvel at the Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorials, enjoy stunning Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, the arid beauty of the Badlands and the majesty of the mighty Rocky Mountains.
• Discover Minneapolis, home to one of the most vibrant arts and music scenes in the country.
• Visit one of America’s most iconic attractions, Mount Rushmore National Monument.
• Travel through Bighorn National Forest where the snow-capped peaks of the mountains dominate the landscape.
• Take an unforgettable journey into America’s first national park and nature’s wonderland, Yellowstone.
• Make your way north to Big Sky’s endless views and wide-open skies.
• Discover the “Crown of the Continent”, Glacier National Park.
• Discover Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
• Enjoy the Medora Musical in the spectacular Burning Hills Amphitheater.
• In Bismarck learn about the Native American history of the Mandan tribe and their vital role in the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Day 1. Arrive Minneapolis Day 2. Sioux Falls (approx 237 miles) Days 3 & 4 Rapid City (approx. 348 miles) Day 5. Cody (approx. 392 miles) Days 7 & 7. Yellowstone (approx. 133 miles) Days 8 & 9 Whitefish (approx. 386 miles) Day 10. Great Falls (approx. 218 miles) Day 11. Billings (approx. 300 miles) Days 12 & 13. Medora (approx 283 miles) Days 14 & 15. Bismarck (approx. 134 miles) Day 16. Minneapolis (approx. 427 miles) Day 17. Depart Minneapolis
Day 1. MINNEAPOLIS ARRIVAL Welcome to Minneapolis. Nestled in the upper Midwest, Minneapolis is the perfect blend of natural beauty and urban sophistication. No other American city has a chain of lakes, the mighty Mississippi, and 200 miles of walking, biking and cross country ski trails within its city limits. Minneapolis is also home to one of the most vibrant arts and music scenes outside New York City, some of the nation’s finest museums, and the longest continuous skyway system in the world. Upon arrival, pick-up your rental car and transfer independently to your hotel.
Day 2. MINNEAPOLIS – SIOUX FALLS Traveling through a series of small towns, your journey today takes you to South Dakota’s largest city and the “Heart of America,” Sioux Falls. Conveniently located on the banks of the Big Sioux River, Sioux Falls is chock full of attractions, fine cuisine and culture. Falls of the Big Sioux River is the natural beauty that gave the city its name, and, like a lot of places in South Dakota, it has a long history. At Falls Park visitors can see the city’s namesake, some of the first buildings built in Sioux Falls, and enjoy the sites of the waterfalls which dump 7,400 gallons of water over the 100-foot course each second.
Day 3. SIOUX FALLS – MOUNT RUSHMORE – RAPID CITY Today’s east-to-west trip to Rapid City brings you face to face with a number of classic roadside attractions. Consider stops at the world’s only Corn Palace, Al’s Oasis where an extra- large bison statue announces your arrival to western South Dakota, or Wall Drug Store, South Dakota’s favorite roadside attraction – all before arriving at one of America’s most iconic attractions, Mount Rushmore National Monument. A shrine of Democracy, Mount Rushmore features 60-foot faces of four great American presidents who stand for hope, determination, and the spirit of a nation. Once in Rapid City be sure to search out all of the U.S. presidents standing on downtown street corners in the form of bronze statues.
Day 4. RAPID CITY AND THE BLACK HILLS. A complete day to explore the Black Hills of South Dakota. Be sure to visit Mt. Rushmore National Monument, The Crazy Horse Memorial, Custer State Park, the Badlands National Park, Deadwood and much more.
Day 5. RAPID CITY -BIG HORN MOUNTAINS – CODY Today’s drive takes you through the northern Black Hills town of Sturgis, famous for the world’s largest motorcycle rally, before crossing into Wyoming. You’ll travel through Bighorn National Forest where rolling hills, alpine lakes, craggy cliffs, thick pine forests and the snow-capped peaks of the Bighorn Mountains dominate the landscape before arriving in Cody. Founded in 1896 by the living leg- end “Buffalo Bill,” Cody offers visitors a taste of the real American West. Upon arrival we suggest visiting the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. In the evening, enjoy attractions that include rodeos, gun fight re-enactments and Western dinner shows.
Day 6. CODY – YELLOWSTONE. Today, take an unforgettable journey into America’s first national park and nature’s wonderland – Yellowstone. Here, the Earth is in action with geysers, mountain ranges and rivers, waterfalls, and ancient volcanoes. The iconic spots – Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs and Yellowstone Canyon – will be familiar from photographs, but seeing them in person is a humbling experience. They’re not just as good as you’ve heard – they’re better. In addition to its superb scenery, the park is one of the world’s principal wildlife preserves. Home to eagles, grizzly and black bears, buffalo, elk and much more, you’re bound to see wildlife wherever you go.
Day 7. YELLOWSTONE. Spend the day experiencing more of Yellowstone’s natural wonders. Marvel at a volcano’s hidden power rising up in colorful hot springs, mud-pots, and geysers. Explore mountains, forests, and lakes to watch wildlife and witness the drama of the natural world unfold, and get active by hiking along park trails or boardwalks. Whether you delight in the challenge of a strenuous hike or prefer to sit quietly and watch the sunset, Yellowstone offers a great diversity of activities for you to enjoy.
Day 8. YELLOWSTONE – BIG SKY – FLATHEAD VALLEY – WHITEFISH. Leave the wonder of Yellowstone behind as you make your way north to Big Sky’s endless views and wide-open skies that give this Montana town its name. Further on, pass through Butte and Missoula before making your way alongside the impressive Mission Mountain Range, beautiful shores of Flathead Lake and Kalispell to Whitefish. Located in the Northwest corner of Montana, in the heart of the spectacular northern Rocky Mountains, Whitefish is the gateway to Glacier National Park and home to the friendliest Montana folks that you’ll ever meet.
Day 9. WHITEFISH – GLACIER NATIONAL PARK – WHITEFISH Rise early this morning so you’ll have ample time to discover the “Crown of the Continent,” Glacier National Park. Inside the park your options for things to do are endless. Choose from short walks where you can slowly savor the natural world. Take a comfortable boat cruise on one of the pristine lakes. Fish a clear mountain stream. Embark on a historic driving tour of the famed Going-to-the- Sun Road, or, hike miles of well-marked trails perfect for exploring mountain lakes, glaciers, plant life, and glimpsing some of the full-time residents such as grizzly and black bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, deer, and more.
Day 10. WHITEFISH – GREAT FALLS. This morning, travel from West to East Glacier along Highway2 before heading to Great Falls. Winding along the southern border of the park, Highway 2 offers the chance to stop at Goat Lick Overlook where mountain goats come to lick the mineral-laden cliffs. Resting on the high plains along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front Range, Great Falls is located at the confluence of the Missouri and Sun Rivers. This genuine Montana city marks one of the most difficult legs of Lewis and Clark’s journey west and is home to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. This Center inspires awe, brings to life the daily experiences of the expedition, and celebrates the indomitable spirit of human discovery.
Day 11. GREAT FALLS – LITTLE BIGHORN – BILLINGS During today’s journey through Central Montana you’ll experience plains and mountains, pioneer and Indian life, and orb-stretching big sky. Just south of Billings, Little Bighorn Battle- field National Monument memorializes the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn which took place in 1876 between the United States and the Sioux and Cheyenne. Drive the tour road to retrace the steps of the Battle, relive the drama as you walk along the graves of veterans of the nation’s wars, and try to imagine what happened here years ago at the top of Last Stand Hill. Return to Billings in the evening.
Day 12. BILLINGS – MEDORA. Retrace Custer’s last ride as you drive from the Little Bighorn area following the Yellowstone River across Montana to North Dakota. En route you might want to visit the Frontier Gateway Museum at Glendive. Try to arrive in plenty of time to enjoy a wonderful evening at the Medora Musical held at the spectacular Burning Hills Amphitheater.
Day 13. MEDORA – THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK. Explore Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park today. The history of Medora is fascinating and you should start with a visit to the Chateau Demores State Historic Site to learn about the famous French nobleman – Marquis de Mores – who established the town in 1883 and named the town after his wife. There’s an opportunity to ride on a replica Deadwood stagecoach, bumpy but a great experience. The national park is divided into two loops – the southern loop is more ‘badlands’ and the northern loop is somewhat greener – both are spectacular and home to an abundance of wildlife including the mighty bison!
Day 14. MEDORA – BISMARCK. Continue to the capital of North Dakota, Bismarck, where the scenery is distinctive, the hospitality is warm, and you’ll enjoy an authentic experience that most cities twice its size can’t offer. Make a detour to wonder at the amazing metal structures which line the ‘Enchanted Highway’.
Day 15. BISMARCK. A busy day today enjoying the many attractions of North Dakota’s State Capitol. Tours of the Capitol Building are available. Fort Abraham Lincoln was home to General and Mrs Custer for two years before the General and his 7th Cavalry rode out from here on their ill-fated expedition against the Indians at Little Bighorn. Tour the restoration of the Custer home. Lewis and Clark’s Corp of Discovery spent the winter of 1804-05 at Fort Mandan just a few miles to the north of the city, and it is well worth visiting the restored fort to learn more about this incredible story this expedition. The North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum displays the story of the state from 60 million years up to current events.
Day 16. BISMARCK – FARGO – MINNEAPOLIS Continue east to Fargo, North Dakota’s largest city with a small town feel that gained a certain measure of modern fame with its 1996 movie namesake. From Fargo you’ll cross the Red River into Minnesota, ultimately arriving back in Minneapolis.
Day 17. MINNEAPOLIS DEPARTURE Return your rental car at the airport prior to your departure, or let Just America add extra nights so you can see more of Minneapolis/St. Paul and the famous Mall Of America, one of the largest shopping malls in the world.
2018 Prices per adult
sharing room type
Prices in £’s
01 May-10 Sep
Prices on request Prices on request
* 16 nights accommodation including local taxes.
* Maps & guides (provided at the first hotel).
Not included: Flights, car rental, travel insurance, meals (unless indicated), petrol and personal expenses.
Children under 12 years of age – prices available on request
Location No. nights Hotels/Inns Minneapolis 1 Holiday Inn Bloomington Airport South Sioux Falls 1 Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel Rapid City 2 Best Western Ramkota Hotel Cody 1 Buffalo Bill Village – cabins Yellowstone 2 Branding Iron Inn Whitefish 2 Best Western Rocky Mountain Lodge Great Falls 1 Comfort Inn Billings 1 Best Western Plus Clock Tower Inn Medora 2 Rough Riders Hotel Bismarck 2 Radisson Hotel Bismarck Minneapolis 1 Holiday Inn Bloomington Airport South
The hotels named may be substituted for alternatives of a similar standard and location.
The hotels will be confirmed at the time of booking the holiday.
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
Just America provides a full tailor-made holiday service so if you would like a quote for a package including flights, car rental, optional excursions etc., please let us know at the time of booking. We can also adapt the itinerary to add or reduce nights in each location, offer alternate hotels and arrange onward travel to other North American destinations.