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The Great American West

Welcome to The Great American West! Nestled in the northern part of the USA lies a region that’s truly magical, packed with epic vistas and stunning natural beauty. Awe-inspiring outdoor adventure awaits visitors here coupled with an abundance of cultural activities.

Hike legendary trails in the footsteps of world-famous explorers. Encounter a wide variety of majestic wildlife like North American bison, wild mustangs and moose. And experience the authentic and breathtaking beauty of 15 national parks, monuments and memorials including Yellowstone, Glacier and Theodore Roosevelt National Parks and Craters of the Moon and Mount Rushmore National Monuments.

Here, there’s an idyllic blend of friendly, small-town charm and big city amenities. Vibrant downtown areas welcome you with eclectic restaurants, entertainment and shopping. This is a food lover’s paradise, where you can enjoy fine dining on a downtown rooftop or a rustic meal on an expansive prairie. Pull up a chair for a tasting at a small batch winery or distillery, or toast to your adventures at a beer garden or local craft brewery.

The pioneer spirit is alive in these wide open spaces. Visit museums and interpretive centers to take a hands-on journey into Old West history and Native American cultures. See monuments from battles gone by and come face-to-face with U.S. presidents and colorful characters as you step back in time.


The Great American West doesn’t get any more Western than Wyoming, where the classic cowboy culture is still alive and well. Bunk down at a Wyoming ranch where trail rides, cattle drives and chuckwagon suppers served under the stars transport you back to a simpler place and time. Revel in the authentic history and heritage of the Old West with a tour of the Wyoming Territorial Prison, or visit Fort Laramie to learn more about frontier life. For Western heritage, visit frontier towns like Cody – home to the Cody Nite Rodeo, Old Trail Town and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West – or Buffalo, home to the historic Occidental Hotel and the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum.

If it’s outdoor adventure you crave, Wyoming has something for everyone including two of America’s most spectacular national parks – Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Yellowstone National Park offers 9,065 square kilometers of unspoiled natural splendour and countless opportunities for camping, hiking, fishing, boating and more. Stand by a crystal-clear lake as a bald eagle soars overhead, observe free-roaming elk and bison in their native habitat, or gaze in wonder as one of Yellowstone’s famous geysers thunders skyward. Hike the mighty mountains in Grand Teton National Park, just south of Yellowstone. There you can cruise across scenic Jenny Lake or take a float trip down the epic Snake River.

If prehistoric wonders are something you fancy, make your way down to Fossil Butte National Monument, where you’ll have the opportunity to view some of the Earth’s most ancient fossils. Craving adventure in a cooler atmosphere? Go boating, fishing and jet skiing at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in southwestern Wyoming. Make time to visit America’s first National Monument, Devils Tower, which was made famous in Steven Spielberg’s classic film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. On the Wind River Reservation you can witness ancient Native American customs at a summer powwow on the only reservation that is home to two tribes, the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Indians.


Referred to as “Big Sky County,” Montana is America’s fourth largest state.  With one million residents and more wildlife than people, Montana gives new meaning to the phrase “wide, open spaces.” Two national parks anchor Montana – Glacier to the north and Yellowstone to the south.  These parks and the other natural wonders between them, including 55 State Parks, 15 wilderness areas, and numerous national and state forests, show why Montana is America’s Last Best Place. From the soaring peaks of the Rocky Mountains with its pristine alpine lakes and meadows, to the rolling plains and dramatic badlands in the east, Montana offers endless opportunities to explore its stunning scenery, awe-inspiring wildlife and rich cultural heritage.

Follow the Montana Dinosaur Trail or learn some of Montana’s rich history at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, First People’s Buffalo Jump State Park or Grant Kohrs National Historic Site.

Montana is home to numerous working and guest ranches.  Saddle up and experience trail rides, barn dances and chuckwagon suppers.  Montana’s ranches will show you an authentic Western way of life that still exists today.  Traditional Native American ways of life can be experienced at Montana’s Powwows, such as Crow Fair near Billings, or at North American Indian Days in Browning.  Montana’s Indian tribes celebrate their heritage with dance, drumming and traditional dress during these family-oriented celebrations.

Wander through authentic ghost towns such as Bannack State Park, one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the country. There are over 50 buildings that line Main Street with their historic log and frame structures that recall Montana’s gold rush era. The lively Victorian gold rush town of Virginia City is located just 90 miles from Yellowstone National Park.  Nevada City, just a mile and half away, offers historic buildings, a museum, music hall, train rides and weekend living history programs that are sure to put you into a nostalgic mood.


Nicknamed the Gem State for its abundance of gemstones and wilderness areas, Idaho is full of adventure and natural marvels. The landscape is ruled by rivers, mountains and crystal-clear night skies. The Rocky Mountains hug the stretch of the eastern border while the Snake River arches down through Idaho’s southern desert before heading north to carve part of the state’s western edge. Idaho’s varied terrain provides a canvas for a true western expedition; from vibrant hillsides, thickly wooded mountains and sapphire lakes in the Idaho Panhandle to the basalt and sagebrush spotted high desert in the Snake River Plain. Home to 10 National Park Service sites, opportunities to explore and be inspired by American history and Mother Nature are nearly endless.

Visit Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve to experience the natural beauty of this otherworldly wonder. Play in the expansive lava flows and exploratory caves and craters by day and gaze at the star-studded nighttime sky in this designated International Dark Sky Park. The towering granite domes of City of Rocks National Reserve are filled with backcountry adventures between world-class rock climbing, hiking, biking, bird watching and photography. See historic markings from Gold Rush pioneers who travelled the Oregon Trail and California Trail.

Walk in the steps of history along iconic trails rooted in the stories of Native American tribes and western pioneers. Explore the past along the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail or the California and Oregon National Historic Trails. Hit the road on the Salmon River Scenic Byway to travel the same path as Lewis and Clark and see the rugged Idaho backcountry that has fascinated visitors for centuries.

Travel to Twin Falls in the spring to experience the power of Shoshone Falls, one of the largest natural waterfalls in the U.S. Taller than Niagara Falls, Shoshone Falls plunges into the rugged Snake River Canyon. Head northwest to Ashton near Yellowstone National Park to see Upper Mesa Falls, a thunderous 10-story tall waterfall that pours into the remnants of an ancient volcanic super-eruption.

Visit historic towns like Wallace, the “Silver Capital of the World,” to gain new insight into the struggles and triumphs of the Old West. Stretch your legs with a bike ride on one of Idaho’s numerous rail to trail or greenbelt paths.

North Dakota

With miles of sweeping plains and awe-inspiring landscape, North Dakota has a history of awakening the pioneer spirit in its visitors – including a future U.S. president. “It was here that the romance of my life began,” said President Theodore Roosevelt of his time spent in what is now the state of North Dakota. Today, visitors to North Dakota can still enjoy the transformative experience that comes from living life amid the stark beauty of the American West. Fittingly, one of the most popular places to do just that is in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Hiking, camping and wildlife viewing are just a few of the ways to get back to nature in this scenic park where visitors can also tour Roosevelt’s own cabin.

In North Dakota, history and heritage are found around every turn. Visit Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park to learn what life was like in a frontier military fort, then get a glimpse of Native American life at the park’s On-A-Slant Mandan Indian Village. Witness authentic Indian tribal dancing at the United Tribes International Powwow, held each September in the state capital of Bismarck. While there, journey back in time 600 million years at the State Museum at the North Dakota Heritage Center.

Visit Fargo to view vintage and modern aircraft at the Fargo Air Museum and journey back in time 600 million years at the State Museum at the North Dakota Heritage Center – this newly expanded museum traces North Dakota’s history from prehistoric times to the present day.

South Dakota

The word “Dakota” derives from a Native American term for “friend” – and visitors will have no trouble making new friends in South Dakota. This warm and welcoming land of “Great Faces, Great Places” embraces travellers from around the world, who long to experience the untamed spirit of the American West.  In every corner of the state – across miles of sweeping prairies, dense forests and breathtaking mountain scenery – history and adventure abound.

Follow the Lewis & Clark Trail up the Missouri National Recreational River to trace the journey of the famed explorers who ventured out into the wilderness seeking the elusive Northwest Passage. Experience what life was like in the frontier prairie town of DeSmet – home to Little House on the Prairie’s Laura Ingalls Wilder – or an authentic military fort at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park. Enjoy good old-fashioned family fun at a South Dakota rodeo. Or up your game and try your hand at the gaming tables in Historic Deadwood, a Gold Rush-era town where gold miners rubbed shoulders with gamblers and gunslingers.

South Dakota is also rich in Native American cultural heritage. Visit the Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain to learn more about the heritage of the Lakota Sioux. Stop by Rapid City’s Prairie Edge to see a fine selection of Native American art, crafts and jewellery. Or experience firsthand the pageantry of an authentic Native American powwow at one of South Dakota’s nine Indian reservations.

For outdoor enthusiasts, South Dakota offers 77,000 square miles of scenic vistas. Explore Badlands National Park, gallop on horseback through the Black Hills, take a boat on the mighty Missouri River, or take a subterranean adventure at Jewel Cave National Monument and Wind Cave National Park, home to some of the longest caves in the world.

No trip to South Dakota would be complete without visiting Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Get an up-close look at the 60-foot high faces of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, then journey to the nearby Crazy Horse Memorial, to see history in the making and witness the progress being made on this statue honouring the Native American warrior. Make sure you  witness the unforgettable site of thousands of free-roaming buffalo thundering across the plains at Custer State Park.

States in The Great American West

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