Backpack through South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, hike the towering peaks of Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, cast a line in Montana’s Gallatin River, bike North Dakota’s Maah Daah Hey Trail, or sandboard across Idaho’s Bruneau Dunes State Park.
Hiking, walks or backpacking – it’s the best way for people of all ages to experience nature up close and enjoy some of the most beautiful wilderness and wide variety of recreational and historic trails that criss-cross the Great American West states.
Hiking Idaho: Choose Your Adventure
It’s said if all of Idaho’s mountains were flattened, the state would be the size of Texas. So much land mass in the mountains accounts for over 19,000 miles of generous hiking and backpacking trails to suit any environment, length or difficulty. From lake views and river paths to high desert canyons and towering rock formations, you’ll find the ideal path for your next adventure. For more information, visit www.VisitIdaho.org.
Montana is a word derived from the Latin expression meaning “mountainous.” The rugged Continental Divide zigzags across western Montana from the jagged peaks of Glacier Park to the ancient Beartooth plateau. In all there are 77 mountain ranges in Montana. The potential for hiking and backpacking in Big Sky Country is endless and inviting. And don’t forget; when you’re in the backcounty, it pays to be prepared if you get into an unexpected situation. For more information visit www.VisitMT.com
North Dakota: Paved Paths to Extreme Wilderness
North Dakota’s vast opportunities include day hike and multi-day treks. The Maah Daah Hey and North Country National Scenic trails are two options, but there are more. The Maah Daah Hey Trail also is a destination for horseback riders wanting to experience the Badlands from a saddle. For more information visit www.NDTourism.com
Something for Everyone Hiking South Dakota
Between the Black Hills in the west and the eastern slopes & prairies sits a state full of unique hiking opportunities. Varied landscapes mean that South Dakota has a place for whatever adventure you’re seeking.
The entire Black Hills are considered sacred by Native Americans, but few sites within those hills are as beautiful and significant as Black Elk Peak. It is on this granite peak where a 9-year-old Black Elk experienced a famous vision, and where visitors today can hike to a stunning view of the entire forest. At 7,244 feet, the peak is the highest point in both South Dakota and in the United States east of the Rockies. There are a number of trails visitors can take to the peak, including one that starts at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. No matter which trailhead you select, your journey will take you through pine trees and ancient geological formations to an apex of peace and beauty.
In eastern South Dakota, unique hiking opportunities are abound. Visit the northern part of the state to experience Sica Hollow State Park. It’s a place that American Indians avoided centuries ago because iron deposits made the streams appear to be flowing “blood red” while phosphorous in the rotting tree stumps made the wood appear to glow with a greenish hue. The park is home to intrigue, beauty and adventure. It’s especially beautiful in the fall as the crunching of the fallen leaves mixes with the water’s flow.
In the southeast sits South Dakota’s newest state park. Located near Sioux Falls—South Dakota’s biggest city—is Good Earth at Blood Run State Park. It’s an important cultural and historical site as well as a unique nature retreat adjacent to the most developed and populated part of our state. The site itself is one of the oldest sites of long-term human habitation in the United States. Featuring a brand new visitor center and several paths, the park offers prime opportunities for birding and hiking. Learn more here
Hiking in Wyoming
With seven national forests, two national parks, numerous state parks and more than 18 million acres of public land, hikers have plenty to do and see throughout the Cowboy State. Whether you want to scale a mountain or stroll across the prairie, Wyoming has the perfect hike for you. For more information visit www.TravelWyoming.com
Dinosaurs & Archaeology
Some of the richest fossil beds and prehistoric sites are to be found throughout the Real America region. From footprints to bones to complete dinosaur skeletons, visitors can experience the distant paleontological treasures or dig for fossils themselves.
Fossils of Idaho
Prehistoric horses roamed the Western plains, making Idaho now home to the richest deposit of horse fossils to connect the evolution of the prehistoric species to the modern horse. The fossil deposits, including the famous Hagerman Horse, are found at the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument. Additionally, the Hagerman Fossil Beds have over 200 different species of fossilized animals and plants, including a saber-toothed cat and a mastodon. For more information, visit www.VisitIdaho.org.
The Montana Dinosaur Trail
Montana offers spectacular “hands on” archaeological, paleontological, and geological experiences. Can you dig it? (Yes in fact, you can, and we’ve got the folks to help you do it safely and legally. Visit ancient archaeological sites like First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park or explore one of the finest palaeontology collections in North America at Museum of the Rockies.
The Montana Dinosaur Trail: 14 stops along the Montana Dinosaur Trail allow you to discover Montana’s paleontological treasures for yourself. With opportunities to see one- of- a- kind specimens, like “Leonardo” the mummy Brachylophosaur, to actually learning how to dig for fossils, you can follow the trail for dinosaur adventure. For more information visit www.VisitMT.com
Prehistoric North Dakota
Millions of years before North Dakota was a state, prehistoric creatures were living out their legendary adventure. Today, visitors can explore fossil-bearing sites ranging in age from 30 years to 73 million years. Literally get your hands dirty excavating prehistoric sites through an education vacation and fossil dig. One-day and week-long adventures are available. For more information visit www.NDTourism.com
Fossils of South Dakota
Thousands of years of evidence of prehistoric humans and animals are spread across the state of South Dakota and scientists are working to find and preserve that evidence.
Some of the richest fossil beds and archaeological remnants are located in South Dakota, with a variety of museums and dig sites offering the opportunity to witness and experience the thrill of discovering evidence of times past.
This thrill is best represented by the unearthing of “Sue,” the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex that has ever been discovered. “Sue” was found near Faith, South Dakota, in 1990. The fossil’s permanent home is at The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. There, “Sue” continues to be studied by scientists and seen by the public.
Additionally, an array of evidence of prehistoric animals and societies has been discovered across the state. Visitors are welcome to visit dig sites and museums to learn more about archaeology and palaeontology in South Dakota. For more information visit www.TravelSouthDakota.com
Wyoming- Rich in Fossil Records
Long before fishermen, cowboys and even bison walked across Wyoming, the state was the stomping ground of countless dinosaurs. With an official state dinosaur — the triceratops — as well as a state fossil, Wyoming is thought to have one of the richest fossil records in the nation. Become awestruck by gargantuan dinosaur bones, mammal fossils and fossil footprints. Study fossils of extinct marine animals and learn about the time when a vast ocean covered Wyoming. Watch palaeontologists unearth and examine delicate dinosaur bones — or even dig one up yourself.
Begin your tour of Wyoming’s prehistoric past in Thermopolis with a trip to the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. See 20 phenomenal full-size skeletons, learn from 200 interpretive exhibits and watch lab technicians prepare recently discovered fossils. The centre operates several active dig sites in the scenic hills nearby, where children and adults can play palaeontologist for a day by helping dig for bones. You can also get your hands dirty in the Glenrock Paleontological Museum laboratory.
You’ll find several other prehistoric relics as you wander around Wyoming. Visit the Green River Formation at Fossil Butte National Monument to see a massive collection of fossilized fish as well as fossils of a 13-foot crocodile and the world’s oldest-known bat. Walk the Cotton Creek Dinosaur Trail in Alcova to view fossils in their natural settings. Compare your shoes to the footprints of Jurassic-era giants outside Shell at the Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite. Or, if you really want to be among the ancients, visit Medicine Bow’s Fossil Cabin Museum, an unusual structure made out of more than 5,000 dinosaur bones. For more information visit www.TravelWyoming.com
Camping & RV Holidays
The Rocky Mountain states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming are blessed with some of the most beautiful and pristine scenic areas in the country. For the hearty outdoor oriented visitor the desire to experience the basic beauty of the environment is best served by including camping as a vital part of an overall holiday!
Idaho’s Vast Campgrounds
There’s always a camping or RV spot available in Idaho’s 30 state parks and 35 million acres of public lands. Whether you choose to pull up lakeside or tuck into Idaho’s national forests, the options are endless. Plan ahead to scope out the perfect spot to reserve or let a scenic and unexpected location surprise you at a walk-up campsite.
If you’re not traveling via RV and primitive tent camping is not your bag, sleep in comfort at a cozy cabin, stylish yurt, panoramic fire lookout or authentic teepee for unique lodging to refresh yourself before the next day’s adventure. For more information, visit www.VisitIdaho.org.
Camping in Montana
Wherever you are in Montana, there’s a place where you can pitch a tent, lay out your sleeping bag or park your rolling roost under the stars. You can dive as deep in the backcountry as your boots will take you, grill some grub with a view, or hop your way between unexpected campground luxuries like thermal pools, horseshoe pits, tepee rentals and quirky travellers’ libraries.
Conveniences like picnic tables, bathrooms and water pumps make the developed sites in our national forests and state parks handy for spur-of-the-moment overnights. You can look for these amenities ahead of time, right here. If you plan to camp in Yellowstone or Glacier National Park, be sure to stay in a designated site, or stop by the ranger station to get a backcountry permit. Keep in mind temperature swings can be quite dramatic here in Big Sky Country, so be sure to bring adequate clothing and shelter so you can fine-tune the luxury of your experience. The stars overhead and that first hot beverage in the morning add the final touches. For more information visit www.VisitMT.com
North Dakota Camping & RV
Your RV extravaganza starts right here in North Dakota with numerous scenic drives, festivals, attractions and the campsites you need. There are 350 miles of scenic byways and backways leading to some of our favourite “hidden gems.” Create your legendary adventure by way of national park sites, state parks, city and county campgrounds, prairies, Badlands, grasslands and valleys. How about discovering a museum made out of rock; or hike into a petrified forest; or discover a young Teddy Roosevelt’s cabin. When it’s time to park, you’ll find great campgrounds and sites throughout the state and there are 14 state parks with hundreds of electrical and primitive sites. For more information visit www.NDTourism.com
Camping in South Dakota
Camping is an unforgettable experience in South Dakota, the land of Great Faces and Great Places.
That’s because South Dakota’s varied landscape allows you to sleep under the stars of the windswept prairies, park your RV near the shores of the Missouri River, or rent a tipi in the ponderosa pine forests in the Black Hills.
Whether your idea of camping is roughing it in the wild, self-contained luxury, or something in between, you can find a perfect camping experience in South Dakota. We offer options for groups, horse campers, “wired” campers, primitive campers and more. Use the expanded options below to search our public and private campgrounds by city, type, amenities, or by any combination. You’re sure to find the perfect site. For more information visit www.TravelSouthDakota.com
Campers in Wyoming
Campers have plenty of space to explore in Wyoming. There are fewer than five human residents per square mile, plus five national forests, more than 18 million acres of public land and numerous wilderness areas. So whether you camp on banks of a mountain stream, on the edge of a wildflower-filled meadow, on top of a rugged peak or if you’re taking an RV adventure to a state park, we have the ideal campground for you — just use the business listings below to find what you’re looking for, and keep in mind that while many campgrounds and RV parks are open year-round, some are closed during the winter months.
Not sure quite where in Wyoming to set up camp? Anywhere you go, you’ll find plenty of camping opportunities, but keep in mind that Central Wyoming is full of family-friendly campgrounds that make great bases for exploring the many nearby recreational activities. Look near Alcova and Glendo for access to fishing, boating and swimming.
Northeast Wyoming is perfect for sleeping under the stars near Devils Tower and the Black Hills. You’ll also find numerous campgrounds near Buffalo, Gillette, Sheridan and Newcastle that offer the chance to really get away from it all.
Wake up to knockout views at campgrounds and RV parks all over Northwest Wyoming, such as near Jackson, Lander, Pinedale and Dubois— not to mention Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks — for adventures right outside your door.
In Southeast Wyoming, stay near one of the region’s abundant rivers or reservoirs and you’ll earn a great chance to land the first catch of the day. Check out campgrounds near Laramie and Saratoga for all your adventures in the Snowies.
In Southwest Wyoming, pitch your tent near the towering peaks of the Wind River Range, watch the sun set over the Red Desert or enjoy the early-morning glassy waters of Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.
For camping and RV options in Wyoming visit www.TravelWyoming.com
The best trout fishing in North America is contained within the region, with thousands of uncrowded lakes and streams and over 40 species of gamefish. Fishing (and catching) is easy in this region filled with clear streams, rivers and lakes famous for the variety of plentiful fish just waiting for expert anglers and eager beginners to cast their lines.
Prized Fishing in Idaho
When you’re looking to make the catch of the day, Idaho is the perfect place to cast your line. With over 42 game fish species, including blue-ribbon trout, king salmon, giant white sturgeon and steelhead trout, Idaho is the only inland state in the western U.S. where you can catch this variety of prized fish.
Exceptional fishing can be found throughout the state’s 26,000 miles of streams and rivers, but the waters of the southwest and east are hotspots for prime fishing holes.
Choose your adventure: Kokanee salmon at Anderson Ranch Reservoir, blue-ribbon trout on the South Fork of the Snake River, one of the best steelhead streams in the Northwest on the Clearwater River or rainbow trout in Teton Valley. For more information, visit www.VisitIdaho.org.
Montana’s Trout Streams and Rivers
Fishing in Montana is truly paradise. Cast a line in the world-famous Paradise Valley or on the Flathead River. Wade into crystal clear lakes. Float with your line in the water. You’ll realize why “A River Runs Through It” is about Montana. For more information visit www.VisitMT.com
Fishing Guide to North Dakota
Fishing is a popular year-round activity across North Dakota. Not only does the state have an array of species or which to fish – walleye, northern pike, trout, salmon, perch, bass and so on – but the fishing season never ends. For more information visit www.NDTourism.com
Fish to Your Heart’s Content in South Dakota
More than 1,100 square miles of water and a fishing season that never closes await you in South Dakota. Fly fish for trout in a Black Hills stream. Reel in trophy walleye from a Missouri River reservoir. Land bass or crappie from a glacial lake. From pro anglers to weekend enthusiasts, South Dakota has year-round fishing opportunities for everyone. For more information visit www.TravelSouthDakota.com
Wyoming – the Ultimate Fly-fishing Destination
With 4,200 crystalline lakes sand 27,000 miles of blue-ribbon, fishable streams, Wyoming is the ultimate fishing and fly fishing destination. Expert anglers and eager beginners alike can find a fisherman’s dream along the clear waters scattered across the state. Wyoming embraces this gift, ensuring that capable guides and outfitters are as plentiful as the fish waiting to be caught.
Yellowstone is perhaps the most famous fishing spot in the state, with anglers drawn by the legendary trout in its rivers. Brook trout, brown trout, rainbows and native cutthroat trout beckon to enthusiasts. Farther south, in Grand Teton National Park, others seek out the Snake River cutthroat, a colourful character found in its namesake river. In the fall, the spawning run of brown trout darkens the waters of the aptly named Miracle Mile in the North Platte River. Catch all four native subspecies of cutthroat and earn a Cutt-Slam certificate from Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Although Wyoming is known as a mecca for trout, its waters teem with more than 22 species of game fish, including sunfish, crappie, yellow perch, whitefish, pike and sturgeon. Bass, walleye and catfish are plentiful in the state’s reservoirs such as Boysen and Flaming Gorge (where, by the way, a state-record 50-pound lake trout was caught). Fisher folk in search of salmon can check out Boulder and Fremont lakes, and high-country lakes such as Bradley, Jackson and Lake Solitude offer excellent big-fish opportunities.
Fishing in Wyoming is truly a unique experience. In the unspoiled wilderness, you’re likely to encounter more wildlife than other anglers, allowing you to find your own private fishing paradise. For more information visit www.TravelWyoming.com
There are hundreds of excellent golf courses throughout the region, and golfers are constantly surprised at what they can find in places they never thought possible. They’re also surprised to find out that they can play golf on many courses six to seven months a year amid national parks and spectacular scenery. But in addition to the variety of courses throughout the region, there are world-class resort courses rated in Golf Digest’s “America’s 75 Best Resort Courses” as well as by the National Golf Foundation.
Idaho’s Iconic Golf Courses
From casual to competitive, pros and amateurs alike will find pristine courses, exceptional views and nearly year-round match play in Idaho. Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course is home to the world’s first floating and retractable green, and has been ranked the #2 resort golf course in the U.S. The world-class course at Jug Mountain Ranch in McCall was designed by celebrated architect Donald Knott, responsible for iconic courses like Spanish Bay at Pebble Beach and the National Golf Club of Australia.
With over 100 golf courses in Idaho, you’re never far from your next round of 18. Coeur d’Alene, Sun Valley, Boise and Twin Falls are all top golf destinations. For more information, visit www.VisitIdaho.org.
Golfing in Montana
In Montana, the eagles on the golf courses are real. And so are the deer and the elk, but keep your mind on your game.
From the Jack Nicklaus designed Old Works course, in Anaconda to the spectacular Eagle Bend in Bigfork, there is always the hazard of being distracted by the stunning scenery and fly-fishing daydreams. Montana boasts more than 70 golf courses. From first-class resorts, to elegant country clubs and delightful “country” course, Montana is a great place to spend your golfing vacation. For more information visit www.VisitMT.com
Golfing in North Dakota
Golfers can find birds of a different feather at more than 100 courses across the state. Some of the best courses in the country are found here, beginning with Bully Pulpit Golf Course in the Badlands near Medora and Hawktree Golf Club near Bismarck. Arnold Palmer designed King’s Walk at Grand Forks and The Links of North Dakota near Ray is a true links course on the shores of Lake Sakakawea.
Golfing in South Dakota
With a variety of courses and inexpensive green fees, golfing in South Dakota is a must for both the casual and avid player. Pack your clubs and keep your game sharp on your next road trip. For more information visit www.TravelSouthDakota.com
Golfing in Wyoming
Don’t forget your driver if you’re golfing in Wyoming, because all those wide-open spaces mean long links — and haven’t you heard? The ball flies further at our high-altitude courses.With almost 100 courses around the state, you’re guaranteed nine or 18 holes worth of breathtaking scenery, challenging layout and friendly service. Check out a few of these golfing experiences you can only get in Wyoming:
- Swing away with a landmark view of Devils Tower from almost every tee box at the Golf Club at Devils Tower in Hulett.
- Find a taste of scenic Yellowstone country at several northwest Wyoming courses, like Tenton Pines and Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis.
- Play from the grasslands to the wetlands in one course at The Powder Horn Golf Club near Sheridan.
- Keep on eye out for Western wildlife, like bison, at Rochelle Ranch Golf Course in Rawlins.
- Work a history lesson into your round at Trail Ruts Golf Course in Guernsey, which is on the Oregon Trial and close to the State Historical Site.
For more information visit www.TravelWyoming.com
Scenic trails for cycling fun and mountains biking adventure for all levels abound throughout the region. There are serious road rides and leisurely family cycling outings and every variation in between through some of the most spectacular panoramas in the US.
Idaho Cycling Gems
World-class mountain biking trails meet towering vistas In Idaho. From afternoon rides in the foothills north of Boise to day-long excursions winding through the wilderness, thousands of miles of biking trails in Idaho will fit any speed. Both Sun Valley and Boise were named part of America’s 20 Best Mountain Bike Towns by National Geographic.
Soar among the trees on a sky-high trestle bridge and through train tunnels on an abandoned rail-bed on the Route of the Hiawatha mountain bike trail. Smooth singletrack snakes through the open forests and meadows at McCall’s Jug Mountain Ranch. Take your pick of three mountain ranges at Teton Valley Trails and Pathways. Circle the spectacular views of Redfish Lake on the edge of the Sawtooth Mountains. For more information, visit www.VisitIdaho.org.
Montana’s Cycling Adventure
Mountain biking has become an all-season sport in Montana! From single track in the warm weather, to fat-tire biking when the snow falls, the state offers unmatchable scenery and undiscovered country for riders of all levels. Many communities feature trailheads right outside your door. So hop on a bike and choose a route (hint: end your ride with a roll to the local brewery to join other bikers sharing stories of the day). Our communities love the trails so much that they build, maintain and support them. Please ride responsibly. For more information visit www.VisitMT.com
North Dakota’s Many Riding Choices
Hiking and biking trails criss-cross North Dakota, creating a patchwork of routes that lead to whatever the soul seeks. Extreme athletes might prefer one of the rugged mountain biking distance rides on the Maah Daah Hey Trail or Extreme North Dakota Racing’s rides or runs. Hiking trails range from difficult on the Maah Daah Hey to easy on recreational paced routes in larger cities. Bikers can peddle slowly along river bottoms and grasslands and furiously climb some of the steep grades in the Badlands. Take your pick of this baker’s dozen. For more information visit www.NDTourism.com
South Dakota is an Undiscovered Gem For Biking
Organizations like the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) are taking notice of the biking opportunities in South Dakota, awarding the state one of only two A grades for its trails. With strenuous mountain climbs and grueling road rides, there are plenty of challenging routes to conquer. But laid-back rides on former railroad beds and fun fat-tire outings give everyone the chance to roll at their favorite pace. For more information visit www.TravelSouthDakota.com
Mountain Biking in Wyoming
Whether you’re road cycling or mountain biking, you’ve come to the right place. Bicycling is a great way to see the outdoors, take in the fresh air, or simply get around town. With miles of open highway for the cross country riders and a full range of mountain trails for the adrenaline junkies, you’ll want to strap a rack or three to the bumper and point your vehicle towards cowboy country.
During your trip planning don’t forget that the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th anniversary. And it just so happens, Wyoming is home to the very first National Park: Yellowstone. Plus, we have the first National Monument: Devils Tower. In total, the state boasts an impressive 25 National Historic Landmarks and 11 nationally recognized recreation areas, trails and monuments. It goes without saying that this celebration is a pretty special one for our scenery. It also happens to be a good excuse for you to get out and enjoy all those national treasures. Think of this as your invitation to a 100th birthday party. All you have to bring is a passion for adventure. For more information visit www.TravelWyoming.com
The Great American West region is the home of Western culture at its most authentic. To experience it first-hand, a ranch holiday is an unforgettable must and there are ranches catering for all levels of riding and recreation for the whole family!
Idaho: Connect to Nature and Simpler Times
Tap into the authentic western lifestyle and live the cowboy dream in the unspoiled backdrop of Idaho. With 12 guest ranches, you’ll find the perfect blend of hospitality and adventure. Guest ranch activities range from horseback riding and gold panning to fishing and rafting. No matter the itinerary, you’ll be in the perfect environment to unplug and connect with the land.
Take the trail less traveled. Many working ranches throughout the state also offer guided horseback rides. Rides can range from a single day to a weeklong quest. For more information, visit www.VisitIdaho.org.
Montana Riding and Ranching
Horseback rides, summer pack trips, hunting, fishing, and photo trips can be found in Big Sky Country in Montana. Many sites are located near some of the finest outdoor recreation areas in the state.
Grab hold of the reins. Watch the spectacular scenery play out before you. Meet a few new friends along the way and get some dust on your jeans. When it comes to ranches, not much has changed in Montana since the 1870s. Ranch hands still work the cattle under a big sky. And whether you choose a location that is a working ranch or included as part of a resort experience, there’ll always be a place at the table for you. That is, when you’re not taking in the pack trip, wagon train, campfire or rodeos. For more information visit www.VisitMT.com
Play Cowboy in North Dakota
You’re never too old to play cowboy. North Dakota has a number of exceptional areas to see from the saddle. Hit the trail on your own horse, or enjoy a short ride at the Medora Riding Stables or ride as part of a ranch holiday at Black Leg Ranch. For more information visit www.NDTourism.com
Saddle Up in South Dakota
South Dakota’s varied terrain and scenic trails are favorable for every type of horseback riding, from open prairies to rugged, winding trails. Several parks and recreation areas designate trails for horseback riding, including Custer State Park, Badlands National Park, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area, Sica Hollow State Park and Bear Butte State Park. Find opportunities for even the least experienced rider with lessons and trained horses. Horse accommodations at more than a dozen bed and breakfasts, horse camps and lodges in South Dakota include horse barns, feed and water, open pastures and horse trailer parking, making it a comfortable stay for everyone. For more information visit www.TravelSouthDakota.com
Dude! Wyoming Ranches and Riding for All Levels
Even the staunchest city slicker has an inner cowboy buried deep inside of him. The benefits of getting in touch with that fella go way beyond bragging rights and photo ops. What you’ll discover on a dude or guest ranch in Wyoming is most likely a transformative experience that you’ll never forget — all amid incredible mountain and prairie scenery, beside new lifelong friends and with a smile that makes your face hurt. For more information visit www.TravelWyoming.com
The wide range of wilderness, natural landscapes and habitats makes this region one of America’s premier wildlife viewing areas and a haven for many different types of wildlife in both the many reserves and in their natural surroundings.
Eye-to-eye with Wildlife in Idaho
Whether you detect a deer in the mountains, spot a soaring falcon or witness grizzly bears up close, Idaho is filled with incredible opportunities to watch wildlife and capture the perfect photo.
Beyond surprise sightings in the wilderness, Idaho has some convenient resources for epic wildlife viewing. World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise gets you eye-to-eye (or nose-to-beak) with imposing raptors and condors. View the habitats of these fierce falcons and explore the center’s extensive archives on falconry – the largest English-language collection in the world.
Head southeast to visit Yellowstone Bear World for viewing of wildlife iconic to the western U.S. The drive-through park includes access to a variety of species, including American black bears, grizzly bears, gray wolves, bison, moose, Rocky Mountain elk, whitetail deer, mule deer and Rocky Mountain goats. There’s even a petting zoo to make friends with some of the residents. For more information, visit www.VisitIdaho.org.
Watchable Wildlife in Montana
Montana has a greater variety of wildlife than anywhere in the lower 48. It’s easy to spot a bison on the road nearYellowstone National Park or a mountain goat on a hike in Glacier National Park. In the more remote parts of Montana, catch a glimpse of a grizzly bear or a wolverine.
Spotting wildlife in Montana is easy, especially in the national parks and wildlife refuges. Animals great and small call Montana home. Meet our wildest residents with hooves, paws and wings. For more information visit www.VisitMT.com
Get Back to Nature in North Dakota
Get back to real nature, breathe fresh North Dakota air and explore diverse landscapes that include Badlands, rivers, lakes and national and state parks. View birds, buffalo, deer, elk, antelope and plenty of other wildlife or plan a fishing or big game hunting trip. Click here for more Wildlife and Nature in North Dakota. For more information visit www.NDTourism.com
Birding in South Dakota
Spy on abundant populations of waterfowl and songbirds. Spot endangered species like the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and whooping crane. Encounter burrowing owls in their natural habitat. With diverse terrain that’s home to nearly 400 species of birds, South Dakota is truly a birder’s paradise. For more information visit www.TravelSouthDakota.com
Wild About Wyoming
Wyoming supports an abundance of wildlife in the National Parks, National Forest and National Wilderness Areas. Moose, mule deer and elk are all plant eating animals and can be found anywhere that a substantial food source is located. Diverse landscapes support more than 400 bird species in Wyoming, You can bird watch in national parks, wildlife refuges, Audubon centers and more. Viewing these animals is as easy as hitting the road! For more information visit www.TravelWyoming.com
Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking and Boating
Pristine and scenic rivers and some of the most exciting whitewater rapids in the nation, flow through spectacular canyons and valleys in the Great American West states. Float, raft, canoe, kayak or jetboat the waterways and lakes – the experiences are limitless and the thrill will be unforgettable.
Idaho’s World-class Whitewater
For the best whitewater adventures in the United States, Idaho is ranked #1. From a half-day trip to epic week-long floats, you can spend as much time on the river as you like. Idaho takes river sports seriously and the state’s exceptional outfitters are known for hospitality and convenience.
Carve the same path as the powerful Snake River and plunge into North America’s deepest river gorge, Hells Canyon. Take a short drive from Boise to paddle through the Payette River, with options ranging from thrilling Class IV rapids ideal for experts and adrenaline junkies to calmer Class II and III rapids for first-timers and families. Technical rafters and boaters will appreciate the challenge of sailing through the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains on the Selway River, one of the highest quality whitewater rivers you can find. For more information, visit www.VisitIdaho.org.
Montana’s Whitewater Adventures
From gentle mountain streams to the Mighty Missouri, water flows across the state of Montana. Race through dramatic canyons on a whitewater adventure or meander along high plains on a scenic float trip. Montana lakes and reservoirs are popular destination areas for boating, fishing, camping, swimming, windsurfing, waterskiing, wildlife viewing and just relaxing. For more information visit www.VisitMT.com
Boating Abundance in North Dakota
Fun on or in the water comes in many forms, and it’s not just swimming. Book a trip down the Missouri River or on Lake Sakakawea with Missouri River Kayak Adventures in Bismarck. It offers rentals, guided tours and shuttle services. Paddleon Rentals in Mandan also provides kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard rentals on Harmon Lake, plus overnight and day-long float trips on area rivers. Boathouse on the Red in Grand Forks has kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard rentals on the Red River. For more information visit www.NDTourism.com
Boating on the Missouri River, South Dakota
Running vertically through the middle of South Dakota, the Missouri River is a naturally beautiful attraction that offers boundless recreational opportunities. It served as part of the trail Meriwether Lewis and William Clark took as they explored the new territory, making history a vital part of the communities that line the river. In addition to historical attractions, visitors to the river take advantage of hiking, biking and camping, as well as water activities such as fishing, kayaking and skiing.
Four reservoirs created as a result of damming the Missouri River allow for even deeper fishing waters and sailing. They are: Lake Oahe, formed by the Oahe Dam near Pierre; Lake Sharpe, formed by the Big Bend Dam near Fort Thompson; Lake Francis Case, formed by the Fort Randall Dam near Pickstown; and Lewis and Clark Lake, formed by the Gavins Point Dam near Yankton. For more information visit www.TravelSouthDakota.com
Wyoming’s Pristine Rivers
Wyoming is home to canyons with stretches of whitewater offering enough bounce and splash for even the most thrill-seeking, expert kayaker. And if you’ve never kayaked before? Not to worry. Experienced guides who are passionate about whitewater will teach you everything you’ll need to know. For more information visit www.TravelWyoming.com
Custer State Park
Few truly wild places remain in this country – Custer State Park is one of them. Located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the park is home to a variety of wildlife and magnificent scenery spanning 71,000 acres.
Nearly 1,300 bison, commonly called buffalo, roam the prairies and hills of Custer State Park, which they share with swift pronghorn, shy elk, sure-footed mountain goats and curious burros. Visitors often enjoy close encounters with these permanent residents along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road that winds around the southern edge of the park.
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area was established by an act of Congress on October 15, 1966, following the construction of the Yellowtail Dam by the Bureau of Reclamation. This dam, named after the famous Crow chairman Robert Yellowtail, harnessed the waters of the Bighorn River and turned this variable stream into a magnificent lake. Bighorn Lake extends approximately 60 miles through Wyoming and Montana, 55 miles of which are held within spectacular Bighorn Canyon.
The Recreation Area is composed of 70,000+ acres, which straddles the northern Wyoming and southern Montana borders. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is a lesser known treasure waiting to be discovered. It boasts breath-taking scenery, countless varieties of wildlife, and abundant recreational opportunities, such as boating, fishing, ice fishing, camping, and hiking. Bighorn Canyon offers visitors what few other National Park areas can, that of solitude, serenity, and beauty. In the midst of our chaotic world, this is a truly unique quality.
This natural beauty on the Big Sioux River gave the city of Sioux Falls its name and, like a lot of places in South Dakota, it has a long history. Visitors enjoy the scenic beauty, as well as the remnants of some of Sioux Falls’ earliest buildings.
In pioneer days the falls were tapped for water power to run the Queen Bee Mill, built in 1887. The foundation of the mill is still visible, as well as a hydroelectric plant built in 1908. These structures offer a glimpse into the area’s history, while the Falls Park Visitor Information Center, featuring a five-story observation tower and elevator, provides information on Falls Park and other Sioux Falls attractions.
George S. Mickelson Trail
The premier trail within South Dakota’s state park system, this 109-mile jewel stretches the length of the Black Hills. It follows an abandoned railroad bed, and climbs gently into jagged cliffs and pine forests.
The Mickelson Trail has a crushed limestone surface and wide path. It tops out at 6,100 feet but rarely exceeds a 4-percent grade (making it perfect for leisure riders). Trestle bridges and railroad tunnels add to the trail’s charm. You can start your adventure at any of 14 trailheads. There is a small user fee.
Maah Daah Hey Trail
The Maah Daah Hey Trail is a 144-mile non-motorized single track through the Badlands of North Dakota. It is recognized as one of the top mountain biking trails in the US, and has been designated as an IMBA EPIC Ride.
The trail runs from USFS Burning Coal Vein Campground 30 miles south of Medora, to the USFS CCC campground 16 miles south of Watford City. Nine fenced campgrounds are accessible by gravel surfaced roads. The campgrounds include camping spurs, potable water, hitching rails, picnic tables, fire rings and accessible toilets.
They are spaced about every 20 miles along the trail. The MDH Trail is open year-round but it is best to check the weather before using the trail. Maps are available from the Forest Service in Dickinson, Bismarck or Watford City.
Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
Over 2.5 million visitors come to the forest each year to participate in outdoor recreation activities such as boating, fishing, camping, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Missouri National Recreational River
North to south, a band of shimmering water cuts the prairie in two. Reservoirs of abundant life, along with stretches of mighty currents, tease the imagination of outdoor explorers past and present. History and adventure abound along and on the waters of the Mighty Mo’.
Free-flowing sections and four reservoirs – Lake Oahe, Lake Sharpe, Lake Francis Case and Lewis & Clark Lake – are prime spots for fishing, boating and water recreation. From kayaks to boats, it’s easy for visitors to rent a variety of vehicles to explore the water. Swimming and beach-lounging opportunities are readily available.
River fishing is considered some of the best in South Dakota. Whether it’s the feeling of sun on your face as you cast a line or the thrill of pulling up a gilled treasure from a hole in the ice, the sensations produced by fishing here have a certain kind of magic. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro angler, a weekend enthusiast, or a first-timer. The Missouri River offers year-round fishing opportunities for everyone. Come see why anglers travel from all over the world to fish on the river.
At Lake Oahe, the powerful Oahe Dam controls the water surrounded by the lake’s 2,250 miles of shoreline. More than a million people annually visit the country’s fourth-largest reservoir. The Oahe Downstream State Recreation Area features the interactive Prairie Butterfly Garden, while West Whitlock Recreation Area attracts modern-day explorers and fisherman to the shores where the Arikara and Mandan people once camped.
At Lewis & Clark Recreation Area, 417 shaded campsites and 17 cabins provide a temporary home for travelers looking to explore the area’s sandy beaches, hiking trails, beautiful chalkstone bluffs as well as the modern marina along Lewis & Clark Lake.
Visitors to the “Mighty Mo” can also pursue the path set by explorers Lewis & Clark or enjoy bird-watching along one of America’s premier flyways. Take a perfect picture from one of the many incredible viewpoints along the Missouri National Recreational River, including Mulberry Bend Overlook near Vermillion or Chief Standing Bear Bridge near Running Water. Learn about the area’s original residents by following the Missouri River through the lands of five American Indian tribes on the Native American National and State Scenic Byway. This route—which runs from the Chief Standing Bear Bridge on the Nebraska border to the North Dakota border near Kenel—takes highway explorers on a natural path cut by the Missouri River that features mixed-grass prairie, rolling hills, limestone cliffs, and an abundance of wildlife including prairie dogs, pronghorn, deer, bison, and elk herds. Along the way, travelers can stop and learn about tribal history and stories at the Akta Lakota Museum in Chamberlain, the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre, the Narrows Historical Interpretive Area near the town of Lower Brule, and the H.V. Johnston Lakota Cultural Center in Eagle Butte. Travelers can follow the route through the lands of the Yankton, Crow Creek, Lower Brule, Cheyenne River, and Standing Rock Tribes, and experience a first-hand look at the life, ways and history of South Dakota’s original inhabitants. The newest addition to the route is Dignity, a stunning combination of art and history located along Interstate 90 near Chamberlain. The stainless steel, 50-foot-tall statue was specifically designed by sculptor Dale Lamphere to honor the cultures of the state’s native people.
Massacre Rocks State Park
Western pioneers traveling on the Oregon Trail passed through Idaho as they followed the sweep of the Snake River in what is now Massacre Rocks State Park. See remnants of the Oregon Trail from either end of the park and read emigrant names scratched into Register Rock. In addition to its historical significance, the park is ideal for hiking and observing the plant and bird species that populate Idaho’s high desert landscape.
Bruneau Dunes State Park
What do you do when you come across the tallest freestanding sand dunes in North America? Spend the day climbing the dunes and sled down on a rental sandboard. Take a hike around the park to investigate the Idaho desert. When night hits, visit the Bruneau Dunes Observatory to scope out the stars and moon. The park also offers the longest camping season in the Idaho Parks system, allowing for year-round camping opportunities.