Rapid City, South Dakota, is strategically located in the Black Hills National Forest. You can stay in the cabins in Custer State Park and discover the true meaning of silence. Hike, walk around, or take a tour in a 4-wheel drive to Heddy Draw Outlook to see the wildlife, especially the herds of bisons.
Next stop is Deadwood, the picturesque town known for its gold rush history, and linked to some of the Wild West’s most legendary figures. Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down while playing poker in Saloon 10, and he rests now peacefully in Mount Moriah Cemetery next to Calamity Jane. The ‘Days of ’76’ is an annual Rodeo celebration of the old days celebrated with parades on historic Main Street every July.
Completed in 1941, Mount Rushmore is the famous 60-feet high statue commemorating four prominent presidents who helped shaped the American West. A short drive away is the huge Crazy Horse monument, a continuing work in progress dedicated to 9th century war leader of Lakota tribe and to the Native American people in general. It measures 641-feet long and 563-feet high and dwarfs the it’s more famous neighbor.
Take a two hour ride on an 1880 train from Keystone Junction through the Black Hills to Hill City. In the Southwest corner of SD, Wind Cave National Park is famous for the underground chambers with names such as Post Office or Elks Room, and whose walls are covered in calcite formations known as boxwork.
In the small town of Hot Springs (pop 4,000), you can visit the Mammoth Site Museum showcasing Ice Age fossils, and enjoy a wild day at Evans Plunge water park.
Wyoming, with a population of under half a million, is defined by sweeping plains framed by the Rocky Mountains. Devil’s Tower was prominent in the movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Yellowstone Park, with the iconic Old Faithful geyser and the nearby Grand Teton National Park, needs no introduction.
Then there is Cody, Wyoming, a small town with big attitude which was once the home of Buffalo Bill Cody and now houses the Buffalo Bill center and Buffalo Bill Museum. Near by is a 1880 reconstruction of a frontier town on the Oregon Trail.
Jackson Hole, a must stop, is an elegant mountain resort guarded by the Grand Teton’s peaks. The area boasts wonderful ski resorts in the winter and breathtaking hiking and white-water opportunities in the summer.
As you continue into Montana, you’ll want to stop at Little Bighorn Battlefield and see for yourself the site of Custer’s Last Stand.
You may stop, or only pass through Virginia City, population 198, designated National Historic District. Nevada City is a mining ghost town restored as an outdoor museum, where the saloon displays an impressive collection of mechanical musical instruments, and the hotel was a lively stagecoach stop in the 1860’s. After these two small towns, Missoula feels like a true metropolis.
You may also enjoy water sport on Lake Coeur d’Alene. The charming town of Coeur d’Alene offers luxurious hotels and other outdoor activities such as timberline adventures and hiking trails in the nearby Canfield Mountain.
Sun Valley is a resort town near Ketchum Idaho which has an interesting past in the movies; it was made famous by Hemingway who completed ‘For Whom the Bells Tall’ while staying at the lodge in 1939. Sun Valley has plenty of other attractions to lavish on its guests. Ski and skating in winter, swimming, mountain trails, and equestrian routes, not to mention music festivals, nightlife, and wonderful food. Not far from Ketchum you can find Hailey, which is the birthplace of Ezra Pound. Here the adventurous traveler can take a glider ride and soar motorless in a magical silence over the valley.