Dave's US Parks Trip

JUNE 26TH-JULY 4TH, 2010

Itinerary is based on

Flight = $386 as of Jan 2nd
Austin (AUS) Depart 9:30 am to Dallas (DFW) Arrive 10:35 am 183 mi (295 km) Duration: 1hr 5mn AA American Airlines Flight: 1701
Dallas (DFW) Depart 11:45 am to Jackson Hole (JAC) Arrive 1:25 pm 1,051 mi (1,691 km) Duration: 2hr 40mn AA American Airlines Flight: 2245

Rapid City (RAP) Depart 11:48 am to Denver (DEN) Arrive 12:58 pm 311 mi (501 km) Duration: 1hr 10mn UA UNITED Flight: 6217 Operated by: /UNITED EXPRESS/SKYWEST AIRLINE
Denver (DEN) Depart 1:35 pm to Austin (AUS) Arrive 4:44 pm 770 mi (1,239 km) Duration: 2hr 9mn UA UNITED Flight: 7560 Operated by: /UNITED EXPRESS/SHUTTLE AMERICA

4TH OF JULY HOLIDAY WEEK AT THE NATIONAL PARKS OF THE AMERICAN WEST YELLOWSTONE, GRAND TETON MOUNT RUSHMORE AND BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK Plus, outdoor adventure fun with a day of rafting amidst gorgeous scenery along the Snake River and a visit to Devil’s Tower National Monument and Custer State Park!

Saturday June 26th

FLY ON YOUR OWN ARRANGEMENT INTO JACKSON HOLE WYOMING. Make your way via a short 15 minute cab ride to our hotel, The Lodge at Jackson Hole. This amenity laden hotel features indoor/outdoor pool & 2 Jacuzzis (both indoor and outdoor). The hotel also provides a complimentary hot breakfast each morning featuring eggs and all the side trimmings to start your day off happy. The Lodge at Jackson Hole offers 154 mini-suite hotel rooms to make your stay in Jackson Hole, WY comfortable and affordable. Each of our hotel room suites is equipped with microwave, mini-fridge, coffee maker, hair dryer, safe, multi-line phones and television. All rooms are non-smoking.

Free hi speed wi fi computer access is provided for laptop users, as well as free hi speed computer access on 3 terminals for those without laptop access. The hotel is a short walk from great restaurants, a drug store, 2 banks, and other useful facilities, as well as being on the free shuttle route of the town shuttle, with 2 pickups every hour for the short 10 minute ride into the town center where more hopping restaurants and night clubs are located.

Experience Jackson Hole, Wyoming in elegance and style at the Best Western Lodge at Jackson Hole. Large timbered pines add to the charming and cozy atmosphere of this new resort property, located just one mile from Jackson’s historic Town Square and its array of unique dining and nightlife activities. With an unsurpassed level of service and amenities, the Lodge allows you to relax and enjoy your Wyoming vacation in complete comfort. Enjoy at our hotel for the next 4 nights:
Location just one mile from the Jackson Town Square , with twice hourly free shuttle service Indoor/outdoor heated pool, hot tubs and sauna, all open until 10pm nightly Complimentary deluxe breakfast buffet daily Lounge, deli and gift shop Steakhouse restaurant on the 1st floor Heated indoor and outdoor pool Fitness center and spa Sauna Complimentary newspaper Safe deposit box Front desk open 24 hours Guest laundry Dry cleaning

#13 of 43 hotels

Sunday June 27th

Today we will enjoy a full day guided tour of Grand Teton National Park aboard our chartered air conditioned motor coach. The park features stunning scenery of towering mountain peaks. Enjoy a relaxing day sightseeing with us in the splendor of Grand Teton National Park. Our tour begins with a departure from our hotel at approx. 8:30am for the short ride to Grand Teton National park, approx. 15 to 20 minutes ride from our hotel.

Upon entering the park, we will stop at the beautiful Chapel of Transfiguration. You will visit the historic Maude Noble’s cabin and Menor’s Ferry area, where you can experience firsthand how the valley’s original settlers lived. Next you will be off to see the crystal clear Jenny Lake for a breathtaking photographic stop.

Lunch will then be on your own at one of the lodges in the Park.

The afternoon will start off with a visit to the shores of beautiful Jackson Lake and the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum. The route home will take you past the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River, which is a great wildlife viewing area.

Our tour will return us to our hotel where we will have the evening at leisure.


Ansel Adams

Monday June 28th

Today we will enjoy a full day visit to the grand daddy of all American national parks, Yellowstone National Park, as we tour via our chartered air conditioned motor coach. Yellowstone is home to an array of wildlife, featuring bear, buffalo, grey wolves and antelope, all roaming freely where at any time, you may spot any of them roaming the grasslands or even crossing the roads from the comfort of our coach. Join us for a complete narrated tour of the world's first National Park. Our guides are trained in ecology, geology and the colorful history of this truly amazing National Park. Upon entering Yellowstone's lower loop wilderness area, you will see the beautiful Lewis River Canyon and Falls area before arriving at the famed Old Faithful Geyser for lunch, where you will watch the geyser erupt and enjoy lunch on your own or at the restaurant located at this stop.

During the early afternoon, we will walk the scenic boardwalks of the Fountain Paint Pots in the breathtaking Firehole River area. Next stop will be the magnificent Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River where you'll view one of the tallest waterfalls in the U.S. You will then travel through the wonderful wildlife viewing area of Hayden Valley. Last stop on the loop is the beautiful Yellowstone Lake.

Tuesday June 29th

This morning is free at leisure to relax. At noon we will be picked up and transferred a short 5 minute drive to the Sands White Water Rafting center. We will enjoy an included lunch with sandwiches, side dishes, drinks and dessert. Then, after a short safety briefing, we will be taken by the rafting guides for the short 20 minute shuttle ride to the river bank where we will enjoy the thrills of a 2 hour rafting adventure on the Snake River. The Snake River is one of the most scenic rivers in the American West. Its panoramic scenery of mountains, canyons and gorges is stunning. The rapids are class 2 and 3, so it is easily accessible for all to enjoy the ride. We will ride in special 14 passenger rafts with a professional rafting guide in each raft. After our journey we will be brought back to the outpost where changing rooms are available and then we will be brought back to our hotel for the evening at leisure.


Today we will depart at 10am and we will be taken by our chartered air conditioned coach to Buffalo Wyoming (4 hours away) with a stop for souvenirs along the way and a stop at about the half way mark of our drive at Thermopolis State Park for a visit to the refreshing hot springs that are a local favorite of the area for a refreshing break . Enjoy the soothing waters of the multiple hot springs in the park as you relax and refresh your body. Adventure awaits you in Thermopolis, State Park Wyoming, home of the WORLD`S LARGEST MINERAL HOT SPRING. Swim, soak or slide into adventure at one of our spas, filled with the healing waters of the mineral hot spring. Spas feature indoor and outdoor pools, relaxing sauna and steam rooms and huge water slides. Enjoy the time at leisure to relax, have lunch and refresh. We will continue from our mid point stop in Thermopolis to Buffalo Wyoming (approx. 2 hrs drive) where we will check into our hotel for the night.

Thursday July 1st

Today we will travel from Buffalo to Devil’s Tower National Monument aboard our chartered air conditioned coach. (3 hours coach ride) Along the way, we will enjoy a screening of the famed movie Close Encounters, which features a finale that takes place at Devil’s Tower National Monument and is one of the most famous cinematic climaxes.

President Theodore Roosevelt established the Devils Tower National Monument on September 24, 1906. The monolith known as Devils Tower rises 1,267 feet above Belle Fourche River. What you see today at the Devils Tower National Monument is the remains of an ancient volcanic structure. Referred to by several tribes as Bears Lodge, it is a site of worship for many American Indians.

Upon arrival at Devil’s Tower we will enjoy a brief guided sightseeing visit, followed by ample free time to explore the walking path around the monument at your leisure or for the adventurous, enjoy the bouldering and rock climbing at the site.

Following our visit, we will be taken on our chartered coach on to Rapid City South Dakota, only 2 hours from Devil’s Tower. We will check into our hotel, the 1st class Radisson Hotel, where we will enjoy the final 3 nights of our tour. The evening is yours to enjoy at leisure, the many restaurants and nightlife that are a short walk from our hotel. The Radisson features an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, fitness center, high speed internet access free on both wi fi and computer terminals, as well as included hot breakfast daily. It is a short walking distance from many restaurants, drug stores, banks and other conveniences, as well as a short walk to the center of town where more restaurants and live music night spots are located. Rooms have hair dryers, coffee makers, data ports and 2 deluxe sleep number beds so all guests can enjoy a perfect night’s sleep every night.


Today we will enjoy a full day air conditioned coach tour with visits to 3 incredible sites, the Crazy Horse Monument and Memorial, Custer State Park and the incomparable Mount Rushmore National Park, as well as a ride on a historic and scenic steam engine railroad. Welcome to western South Dakota where sky-piercing granite peaks and forested mountains dominate. Tour our epic sculpture, Mt. Rushmore National Memorial which stands as a shrine of democracy and symbolizes the greatness of this nation. Travel scenic Iron Mountain Road in Custer State Park. Along this highway, visitors will find wildlife, pigtail bridges, magnificent Black Hills scenery and tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore. For lunch, enjoy a hearty stew. After lunch, take in the pristine beauty of Sylvan Lake nestled in the Needles with free time to walk along the lake to soak in its beauty. The next stop is Crazy Horse Memorial which honors the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians. To conclude your day, step back in time from your modern wheels to rails. Board an 1880’s locomotive and glide over the rugged landscape aboard this vintage steam train, just like those that helped settle the Great American West! Attractions on today’s tour include:
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. After entering the park, we will enjoy a scenic walk along Sylvan Lake, with a stop at the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center, Next, we will continue on our coach, as it travels on the scenic Iron Mountain Road famed for its pig-tail bridges and tunnels that offer great views framing Mt. Rushmore not far away. We will enjoy a couple of short scenic walks to overlooks and then we will continue by coach along the Wildlife Loop road, where we will spot a wide variety of wildlife including bison, elk, coyote, deer, eagles, hawks and prairie dogs. Custer State Park Whether you’re a casual sightseer or a serious nature photographer, the critters of Custer State Park put on quite a show. Most wildlife can easily be seen from our coach and can even approach vehicles – after all – we are travelling on their homeland. Nearly 1,500 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.

Unique Scenery Slender granite formations called "Needles" dominate the skyline. These unique rock outcroppings are an excellent place for rock climbers to push themselves to the limit. With its winding roads and small granite tunnels, Needles Highway (SD Highway 87 between Sylvan Lake and Legion Lake) provides the perfect backdrop for a scenic drive and ranks as a favorite among sightseers Custer State Park is the second largest state park in America, home to a tremendous variety of wildlife.

Following our visit to Custer, we will head to Crazy Horse Memorial, home of the world’s largest mountain sculpture in progress, is in the Black Hills of South Dakota just 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore. The dimensions are staggering. The mountain-sized statue is as long as a cruise ship and taller than a 60-story skyscraper! Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began the project in 1948 at the request of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear and other Native American elders. Korczak died in 1982. His wife, Ruth, and some members of their family continue the project. Fifty-five years after Ziolkowski began carving Crazy Horse Memorial, his family continues the dream and work progresses on the world's largest mountain sculpture. When finished, Crazy Horse will stand 641 feet long and 563 feet high. Equipped with only a sledge hammer, a single-jack drill bit and a box of dynamite, Boston-born sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski went to work on June 3, 1948 creating his 563 by 641-foot sculpture of an Indian man atop a spirited warhorse. This would later be called Crazy Horse Memorial. He would spend the next 36 years of his life doggedly blasting away 7,400,000 tons of granite near Custer, South Dakota to rough out virtually the entire figure, in the round. Now, 60 years after Korczak started carving, and his death in 1982, work still continues on the world’s largest sculpture. The 88-foot-high face of Crazy Horse was dedicated on June 3, 1998, 50 years to the day after Korczak’s first blast. The Memorial's visitor complex includes the 40,000 square foot Welcome Center and theaters, the Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Educational & Cultural Center, the sculptor’s log home studio and workshop, indoor and outdoor galleries, museum gift shop, restaurant and snack bar areas and expansive viewing veranda. Many Native American artists and crafts people create their artwork and visit with guests at the Memorial during the summer season.

Following our visit to Crazy Horse we will visit nearby Mount Rushmore for the pinnacle of our day of incredible sightseeing. Few attractions stir the emotions of visitors the way Mount Rushmore does. Since its completion in 1941, it has joined the Statue of Liberty and the Stars & Stripes as one of America’s most inspiring symbols of democracy. Located 23 miles southwest of Rapid City, Mount Rushmore is awesome and impressive. The granite faces of four American Presidents tower 5,500 feet above sea level and are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall. Each head is as tall as a six-story building! Sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s attention to detail makes the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln appear almost lifelike in the morning and afternoon sun of the Black Hills. On arrival at the park, we will enjoy a walking tour at the base of the presidents’ faces and walk the path taking us around and behind the giant monuments for up close and unique vantage points of the enormous sculptures carved into the mountain’s rock face. We will also hear fascinating stories of each president’s contribution to our nation’s history and why each was selected for enshrinement on the most famous rock carving in our nation. We will then have free time to explore the visitor’s center and gift shop.

Following our visit to Mount Rushmore we will board the historic steam engine for our 45 minute scenic ride. The train takes us over bridges and gorges that offer stunning panoramic scenery. After the train ride we will again board our coach for the return to our hotel for the evening at leisure

Saturday July 3rd

This morning we will enjoy a visit to the awe inspiring landscapes of Badlands National Park. We will split into groups of 4 people and each will be given the use of a fully equipped rental car in which we will caravan the short 90 minutes of straight highway driving to Badlands National Park. Our trip escort will drive the lead car with 3 passengers and the remainder of the group will have the opportunity to divide into 4 person groups, as you desire, with friends you have made during the week, to follow the trip escort’s lead car on the easy highway drive to the park.

Upon arrival, each car and its occupants are free to enjoy the scenic loop drive through the park at your own pace, stopping as you desire, at the various lookout points and taking in short scenic walks at the various lookouts if desired. (Most walks at the lookouts are ¼ to ½ of a mile.) This self guided free morning to explore this extremely easily accessed park was a big hit on our 2009 tour and a nice deviation from our sightseeing by coach.

Badlands National Park preserves 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires. Millions of years of wind, water and erosion have created the chiseled spires, deep canyons and jagged buttes of Badlands National Park. On-going rains, freezes and thaws have revealed millions of years of sediment that paint a colorful landscape on the prairies of southwestern South Dakota. The park ishome to many species of wildlife including bighorn sheep, bison, the swift fox and the endangered black-footed ferret. Antelope and deer are commonly seen roaming near the roadway and picnic areas. Passengers should return to the hotel between 2pm and 3pm at their leisure. If you wish, stop on the return drive back to our hotel, to have lunch and browse for gifts at the popular “Wall Drug” restaurant and gift emporium.

Later this afternoon at 4pm, we will again be picked up by our Grey Line coach host for the evening fireworks tour at Mount Rushmore.

After returning to the hotel at your leisure, you will have free time until our Grey Line coach picks us up again at our hotel at 4pm for the short 30 minute transport to Mount Rushmore, where we will enjoy an evening of incredible pageantry, patriotism and mesmerizing fireworks (yes the fireworks show is on Saturday July 3rd rather than on the 4th). Upon arrival at Rushmore, we are again at our leisure to explore the park and enjoy the many festivities taking place tonight at the Park including music, a small air show and much more. Dinner is at our leisure at the park’s cafeteria.

Tonight we will enjoy one of the most incredible fireworks displays you will ever witness, as the show is launched above the heads of the granite presidents’ that are carved into Mount Rushmore The music, song and spectacular show in the sky, amidst the backdrop of the presidential carvings provide a patriotic and emotional experience you will never forget ! After the show we will be transported back to our hotel via our Grey Line motor coach.

Sunday July 4th

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY – Today passengers are free to make their way to the Rapid City airport via the Radisson’s included airport transit shuttle service running repeatedly through the day to meet guests’ flight departure time needs.