Great Rocky Mountain Tour
Twist along Badlands Loop Road, the state scenic byway through Badlands National Park, a 244,000-acre wilderness area formed during the Oligocene age. This fossilladen sea bed offers spires, pinnacles and wide views. Stop at a few of the scenic overlooks to snap some frame-worthy photos.
Get an up-close look at the faces that shaped America. Sixty-foot replicas of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln’s well-known features are carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore. Stop by the visitor center and museum, presidential walking trails, gift shop and restaurant.
View the largest mountain carving taking place in the world at this time. The face has been completed and work has begun on the horse’s head. First stop is the theater, where a short film will show you the progress and work on the carving. Next stops include the Indian Museum of North America, sculptor’s home and gift shops.
Take a historic tour of Deadwood, an Old West town started with the gold rush of 1876. Learn about the history and legends of characters such as Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Poker Alice and Potato Creek Johnny. Don’t miss the ’76 Museum where old buggies and wagons from early days are on display.
Up for a trolley ride? The Fort Lincoln Trolley offers a round-trip ride to Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, where history goes back 300-plus years to when it was home to the Mandan Indians. Today it's a 977-acre park on the banks of the Missouri River, and its exhibits relate to the life of the Mandans and the military history of the fort (in the mid- to late 1800s, it was the site of a military garrison).
Tour the "Skyscraper of the Prairie" -- the 19-story Capitol, which was built in the early 1930s. The Former Governor's Mansion State Historic Site is also in Bismarck. Restored to the late Victorian era, it housed North Dakota's governors from 1893 to 1960.
Stop into this world-class interpretive center along the very route Lewis & Clark traveled. Exhibits focus on artifacts from every tribe the explorers encountered, showcasing the culture of the Mandan Indians and the winter of 1804-05. Fort Mandan is two miles west of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center on McLean County Highway 17. Daily tours are available of the reconstructed fort, the home of Lewis and Clark for the winter of 1804-05.
Visit the 1804 meeting place of Sakakawea and Lewis & Clark. On the ruins of an ancient Indian village last occupied in 1845 today sits a state-of-the-art museum dedicated to preserving the culture of the Plains Indians. A reconstructed earthlodge contains artifacts from the Plains culture.
In addition to the pine and juniper studded badlands formations, the park also houses the fossil remains of tyrannosaurus and triceratops dinosaurs. Check out the triceratops skull and other badlands interpretive displays in the visitor information center at the park entrance. There’s also an outdoor amphitheater, picnic sites and numerous campsites.
Built on the site of the 1876 Fort Keogh containment and opened in August of 1941, this privately financed museum is located on the site where General Nelson A. Miles constructed Cantonment #1 to secure the area in the aftermath of the Custer Battle.
The dinosaur fans in the family will appreciate the fantastic paleontological exhibits. The museum’s curator is Jack Horner, on whom the lead character in Jurassic Park was based. Don’t miss the world-class Taylor Planetarium for a new perspective on Montana’s Big Sky.
The world’s first National Park draws millions of visitors with its geysers and geothermal activity, bison, grizzly bears and wolves and stunning mountains, rivers and canyons. See the park by tour bus, car, guided hike or horseback ride or on a snowmobile in the winter. Be sure to stop and see world-famous Old Faithful geyser erupt.
A hike around the base of the first National Monument in the United States takes a little more than one hour. The volcanic feature juts out of the prairie surrounding the Black Hills and is considered sacred by various tribes and highly sought after by rock climbers.