Mad River Boat Trips offers top whitewater rafting adventures and scenic float trips out of Jackson Hole with professional guides who will point out fascinating wildlife and vegetation around Snake River Canyon. Adrenaline seekers should go whitewater rafting in spring as there are peak flows in the river at this time so you will shoot down the rapids, ranging from class I to class III.

Those wanting a more relaxing experience can go on a gentler float trip down the river in autumn where red, orange, and yellow leaves bring the spectacular surroundings alive with colour.

Credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism

Jewel Cave National Monument is the perfect place for an exciting family adventure, with large chambers filled with boulders, tight crawlways, and narrow cracks which lead into the unknown. This is the third longest cave in the world, and it contains over 208 miles of mapped passages with a huge variety of geological features including nailhead spar, dogtooth spar, boxwork, cave popcorn, flowstone, stalactites, stalagmites, and draperies. A scenic walking tour is a lovely way to explore the cave and learn about the cave formations, its discovery and ongoing exploration.

Credit: South Dakota Department of Tourism

The 144-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail is a popular cycling and hiking destination, with breathtaking views of plateaus, peaks, and valleys. This trail connects the North and South Units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and is the longest single-track mountain biking route in the USA!  The ride is challenging but rewarding, with abundant deer, antelope, prairie dogs, golden eagles, red tail hawks, and bighorn sheep.

One end of the trail starts at Medora, an authentic cowboy town where bikes can be hired for the trail and a variety of accommodation is available. Medora is worth a visit for the history and western ambience alone. Dakota Cyclery is a great place to rent a bike or book a guided mountain bike adventure where an experienced guide will discuss local history and wildlife.

Credit: North Dakota Tourism

Outdoor adventurers will love bicycling the Going-to-the-Sun Road which combines a challenging adventure with breathtaking scenery of Glacier National Park. This 50-mile road will bring you over many high points with spectacular views of glacier-carved valleys, snow-topped mountain peaks, and pristine waterfalls. Spring is a great time to cycle here as the road is closed to cars at this time. Fall is also beautiful with aspen, shrubs, western larch, and spruce and fir trees brightly coloured in greens, oranges, and yellows.

If bikes aren’t your thing, traverse the Going-to-the-Sun Road in one of the 1930s restored red buses that have open top-down viewing. The Native American led Sun Tours also operates fascinating guided tours of the Going-to-the-Sun Road where they discuss features relevant to the Blackfeet nation.

Credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest river gorge (2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon!) is an incredible place to experience jet boating in spring or summer. Various jet boating tours will take you upstream from Lewiston, Idaho through the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and up to Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center and Hells Canyon Dam. Be awed by the height of the canyon walls towering over the Snake River and enjoy scenic views of the canyon with its ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir trees, and often many kinds of native wildlife.

Credit: Idaho Tourism

Grand Targhee Resort is a top skiing and snowboarding destination in Wyoming with an average of over 500 inches of snow per year, without the huge crowds usually present at larger ski areas. Those who want to try different winter activities can go cat skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, tubing, and snowmobiling. There is also a Kids Club and childcare that will keep your children entertained, giving you some time to ski on the more challenging slopes alone. Both adults and children wanting to learn to ski or improve their skills can take private or group lessons at the Grand Targhee Ski & Snowboard School. The winter season goes from late November until late April.

 

Rapid City’s Reptile Gardens is a zoo and botanical garden with the largest collection of reptiles in the world according to the 2018 Guinness Book of World Records. You can see giant tortoises, prairie dogs, bald eagles, snakes, and frogs. Stroll through the massive indoor three-level Sky Dome to view a tropical oasis with exotic birds, a Komodo dragon, Australian saltwater crocodile called Maniac, fossils, and a Safari Room filled with tropical plants including orchids, bromeliads, and caladiums. Kids will love gold panning and gemstone sluicing at the Rattlesnake Gulch exhibit, or seeing snake, alligator, and bird shows which run throughout the day.

Credit: South Dakota Tourism

Drive along North Dakota’s famous Enchanted Highway to see one of the world’s largest collection of scrap metal sculptures. There are various sculptures including geese, deer, pheasants, grasshoppers, Theodore Roosevelt, and a Tin Family. This fascinating roadside display begins at Exit 72 on I-94 near Gladstone and finishes in the quaint town of Regent. Once you reach Regent, head to the gift shop to buy miniature displays of each statue or stay the night in the Enchanted Castle Motel which has 19 charming rooms. This hotel’s medieval-themed Tavern will take you back in time with its stone walls and handcrafted metal chandeliers.

Credit: North Dakota Tourism

Big Sky Resort is the second largest ski resort in the United States and has 5,850 skiable acres, four mountains, 36 lifts and over 300 runs. You can take the Lone Peak tram to the top of Lone Mountain to enjoy 300 degrees of skiing as well as breathtaking views of three states and two National Parks. The resort’s efficient tram system means that there are basically no lines, allowing you to have more time to ski than you would at other resorts. If you don’t feel like skiing or snowboarding, you can go snowshoeing, take your kids to the bungee trampoline and giant swing, or speed down the Adventure Zipline Tour for extensive views of Lone Mountain and the Spanish Peaks of the Madison Range. Big Sky Resort is also an excellent summer destination with golf, mountain biking, gemstone mining, archery, hiking, fly fishing, and horseback riding.

Credit: Montana Office of Tourism

Bike ride, hike, or horse ride the Route of the Hiawatha for panoramic views of Idaho’s Bitterroot Mountains. Once an old railway line, this scenic 15-mile bike track passes through numerous tunnels and towering trestle bridges reaching up to 230 feet high. Many visitors say their favourite part of the ride is the St. Paul Pass (Taft Tunnel) which is located under the Bitterroot Mountains at the state line. Start at the Lookout Pass Ski Area to hire mountain bikes, helmets and lights, with an optional shuttle bus available on return. The Route of the Hiawatha is open 8:30am-5pm from about mid-May to mid-September and is all downhill, making it the perfect spot for a scenic family bike ride.

Credit: Idaho Tourism