It’s a huge area, but what better way to explore the quiet, wide open roads of the Wild West than by RV? Marvel at famous National Parks and Monuments and follow in the footsteps of notorious characters including Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill while keeping your eye out for wildlife along the way, as you explore the REAL America. Our travel experts discuss the highlights of this fantastic itinerary that takes you from Wyoming to South Dakota, into North Dakota, turning west to Montana and then back into Wyoming to visit Yellowstone National Park, before travelling into Idaho and then onto Utah.
Discover the National Parks of North & South Dakota
Your time in North and South Dakota on this RV road trip will certainly be one of your highlights of the itinerary with so many iconic sites to visit and stunning nature to enjoy. As you approach the famous Black Hills of Dakota region you’ll travel along beautiful scenic highways where the view changes with each turn of a corner. During your time in this part of Dakota, you’ll have loads to take in!
You’ll travel through Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park and as you drive through you’ll have the opportunity to get up and close to the bison and buffalos that call the parks home as they wander around freely. You’ll also spend some time in the beautiful Badlands National Park whose landscape boasts a maze of buttes, canyons, pinnacles and spires. Take a drive along the Badlands Loop Road, (and give yourself plenty of time as you’ll come across lots of spots you want to stop for photos!) Stretch your legs on some of the many hiking trails in the park and keep an eye out for antelopes, deer, prairie dogs and buffalo, all of which can be spotted in the park. As night falls over the Badlands, be sure to be camped up in time to catch the glorious sunsets and then settle in for a night under the stars – the Badlands is one of the best places in America to see the milky way from!
Continuing on from the Badlands you’ll arrive at Theodore Roosevelt National Park . Roosevelt is one of the founders of the National Parks programme in America and credits his time as a rancher in North Dakota as his inspiration for the initiative. His name-sake park is today home to coyotes, wolves, deer, birds of prey and antelopes. During your time here, you can visit the cabin Roosevelt once lived in, take a drive along the Scenic Loop that runs through the park and check out the colourful ‘painted canyon’ one of the most eye catching features in the park.
In the Black Hills region you’ll also have the opportunity to visit two of the most iconic memorials in America – the four famous faces carved in stone at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial which will have you in awe of the sheer size of these monuments! There’s also the opportunity to visit Devils Tower National Monument – which will be familiar to fans of the movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ You can chose to spend a night at the campsite at the base of the monument and see the majestic rock formation rise up above you!
Step back in time in Montana at Little Bighorn Battlefield Memorial
Your route along America’s west will take you into beautiful mountainous region of Montana – you won’t spend too much time here but a visit to Little Bighorn Battlefield should definitely be on your itinerary. The site pays homage to one of the most iconic battles in American history where in 1876 a band of American Indians fought the US army in an effort to preserve their way of life. It is famously the site of General Custer’s last stand and the fight has inspired thousands of books and films over the years. At Little Bighorn Battlefield memorial you can learn about the history of the battle from local tribes that are direct ancestors of those who fought in it and about the way of life they fought to preserve.
Experience the old Wild West in Wyoming
You’ll visit Wyoming twice during this road trip itinerary. Your first visit will be right at the start of your trip, in Cheyenne, most people’s first port of call on their RV road trip. It’s a good spot to stock up supplies for your trip but this Wild West town also allows you to get right into the spirit of things straight away! You can start off your trip with a visit to The Old West Museum and learn all about the history of the rodeo – and if you are feeling inspired afterwards, why not head to the Wrangler store to stock up on some authentic Western clothing!
Later in your itinerary, you’ll come into Wyoming again, this time on the western side of the state. Your first stop will be Cody, a real cowboy town, founded in 1896 by the legendary Colonel William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. While here be sure to visit the Buffalo Bill Centre of the West – a collection of five museums all dedicated to the history of the Wild West. You should also spend an afternoon stepping back in time exploring ‘Old Trail Town’ an authentic wild west town where you will find thousands of historic artefacts from the Old West and grave sites of several notable Western figures along with the original cabins used by Old West outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and a Wyoming saloon frequented by Cassidy’s “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang”.
In Wyoming you’ll also visit the city of Jackson, a pretty and scenic city situated at the entrance to Grand Teton National Park. The park is nicknamed the ‘Serengeti of the National Parks’ as there is so much wildlife to see here. In the winter it is a popular skiing spot, while in the summer there are numerous hiking and mountain biking trails to enjoy through this 40mile range of the Rocky Mountains. But the real National Park highlight in Wyoming is of course Yellowstone National Park.
Visit Yellowstone National Park – a bucket list destination!
Your route will to Yellowstone will take you along Beartooth Highway – it’s a stunning high mountain pass into the park. Geysers, hot springs and bubbling mud pots await and make the 2 million acre area one of the most geothermally active on the planet with over 10,000 hot springs and geysers. Expect an animal jam along the way – a traffic jam caused by animals strolling along the road or grazing to the side of the road! Be sure to camp up here for a few days to allow plenty of time to explore as much as you can of this bucket list destination.
The stand out feature in Yellowstone is the Old Faithful Geyser – named for its frequent predictable eruptions (20 a day). As you’ll be camping in Yellowstone you’ll be able to head down to see the eruptions at the quieter times in the morning before the park gets busier with bus tours. You can watch from the boardwalk that goes around the geyser or hike up to the observation viewing point for fantastic birds eye views.
Old Faithful is located in the Upper Geyser Basin area of the park where there are several other notable geothermal features to visit, in fact this area is home to 25% of all the geysers in the world! Castle Geyser, Daisy Geyser, Grotto Geyser and the famous Morning Glory Pool are all located here and are often much quieter than Old Faithful.
Lamar Valley is one of the best places in Yellowstone to head to watch out for the abundant wildlife that can be found in the park. While pretty remote and a bit of a drive – you have the time to go there and you will be rewarded with spectacular landscapes and plenty of bison, elk, deer, bears, coyotes and even wolves! If you don’t want to travel as far, (Lamar Valley is approx. a 2 hour drive from Old Faithful) Hayden Valley is one of the most popular places in Yellowstone to see wildlife – always remember to stay in your RV if you come across wildlife in the park.
A trip to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is another must! This jaw dropping canyon will leave you in awe of the beauty that surrounds you. There are lots of hiking trails and lookout points offering views out over Artists Point and the Lower Falls, two of the standout features of the canyon or you can take Uncle Tom’s Trail that brings you down a steep descent into the canyon close to the Lower Falls.
Witness the glimmering lakes and brilliant night skies in Idaho
The last couple of days of your RV road trip will bring you through Idaho where there are some fantastic highlights worth checking out.
Idaho has more kilometres of designated wilderness than anywhere else on continental USA so you are in for a very scenic drive! If you are looking for a great swim spot head to the beautiful Bear Lake, nicknamed the Caribbean of the Rockies The fresh water lake area is a great camping spot and in the summer you can go on hiking trails or go swimming or boating in the lake and in the winter ice fishing and snow-mobiling activities are available.
Idaho is also renowned as one of the best places in the USA to view the night sky as there is so little light pollution. Take a trip to Crater of the Moon National Monument as night falls and marvel at the brilliant starry skies above you and see the milky way like you’ve never seen before.
Tailor made RV road trip Holidays
If you would like to visit this exciting region of America’s west on a RV road trip holiday of your own check out further details here, check out more of our great road trip offers here or call our travel experts today to tailor make your very own RV adventure.