Delve into the pristine wilderness of the American Rockies on this adventure from Denver to Chicago.

Herds of bison slowly graze their way across golden prairies under the icy watch of snow-capped mountains. Welcome to North America's wild Old West, home to some of the country's most stunning national parks and environments. Spot bears and wolves on a trek across Yellowstone National Park, come face to face (literally) with the giant presidents of Mount Rushmore, and spend a night camping under the stars in the shadow of the Devils Tower. Learn the stories of the Native Americans and meet real cowboys on this incredible adventure across the American Rockies. 

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Denver, United States
Finish
Chicago, United States
Country
United States
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
SSOA
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 13

Why we love this trip

  • Spanning three National Parks, two National Monuments, and a collection of State and County Parks, this is a must for nature lovers

  • Spend an evening on the banks of the Mississippi, Huckleberry Finn style, and rent a canoe to paddle along the famous river

  • Spend two nights in Yellowstone and keep your eyes open for bison, bears, even rare grey wolves

  • Take a scenic drive through the spectacular snow-capped mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers of Grand Teton National Park, one of America's natural treasures

  • End the trip in the bustling, lakefront city of Chicago. It's one of America's most attractive cities

  • Witness some of America's roadside kitsch at places such as Wall Drug, Corn Palace and the Spam Museum

Is this trip right for you?

  • This is a participatory trip. That’s a fancy way of saying you’re not just along for the ride – you’re part of a team! You know the phrase ‘the more you put in, the more you get out’. Well that’s extra true on this trip. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and help out with camp activities like food prep and washing up. It’s all about giving your new travel mates a hand – everyone knows there’s nothing worse than trying to put up a tent on your own!

  • That teamwork also extends to our optional food kitty of approximately US$10 per day, run to cover the cost of meals. This kitty saves you worrying about stuff like where to get food or what exactly sales tax is, and actually helps keep your costs down. Instead of paying individually as you go, it means we can bulk purchase items and cook our own food – though there’s always the chance to use it for the occasional pizza night! The kitty is optional and for your convenience, so if you've got specific dietary requirements you can opt out and purchase (and cook) your own food.

  • The United States is a world of endless possibilities – that’s why our Basix trips are designed so they fit together as (not quite endless) combinations. That means while you might just be starting your trip, some of your new travel mates may have been travelling together for a week or more (and so have some great tips for you). You can see how our trips fit together and all the different possible combinations at www.intrepidtravel.com/brochures. Simply click view/download on the North America brochure and look at the combo map on page 12.

  • Please note that this is a fast-moving trip with a lot of driving. There aren't many two night stops and there are a few long drive days. The destinations are worth it, but you need to be mindful that it isn't a 'relaxing' holiday.

  • The weather in the north can be unpredictable at times and you need to be prepared for all weather conditions. It can get suprisingly hot in summer, but it could also be quite cold. We suggest you bring layers.

  • Summer is mosquito season, especially in areas such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, where they are jokingly referred to as the State bird. It's a good idea to bring repellant.

Itinerary

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the hotel lobby at 6pm. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Your evening is then free to do as you wish. If you arrive in Denver earlier in the day, perhaps take a walk to the impressive building of the Colorado State Capitol.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Accommodation
  • Hostel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you'll venture north into Wyoming and Sinks Canyon State Park, a trip that will take around six hours. Sinks Canyon is a rugged canyon at the base of the southern Wind River Mountains in Wyoming. Located on the eastern slope of the mountains, the canyon is named for its unique geologic formation, “The Sinks”, where the river vanishes underground near the mouth of the canyon.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a 3.5 hour drive to Jackson, a cute mountain town with a cowboy feel. Soak up the easy-going vibes with a visit to the Million Dollar Cowboy bar, or get your heart bumping on a rafting adventure on the Snake River.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Grand Teton National Park
Optional Activities
  • Grand Teton - River rafting - USD70
  • Jackson Hole - Town shoot out - Free
  • Grand Teton - Jenny Lake Hike - Free
  • Grand Teton - Jenny Lake Boat Ride - USD8
  • Jackson - Aerial tramway - USD35
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Prepare for a jaw-dropping drive through Grand Teton National Park, a wonderous place where snow-capped mountains stand watch over golden plains and fast-flowing rivers. The spectacular national park will serve as the entree to Yellowstone's main course. Yellowstone National Park, America's first national park, is a stunning 9,000 square kilometre tract of wilderness home to bison, bears and grizzly grey wolves, who were only reintroduced in 1995. The day will be split between the two parks, depending on the wishes of the group.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yellowstone National Park
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Return to Yellowstone National Park for a driving tour. See all of the park's main highlights, such as serene lakes, tumbling waterfalls and volcanic geysers. There will even be a visit to the famous Old Faithful geyser, so named for its predictable eruptions that take place every 35 to 120 minutes. If you're lucky enough you may even come across a herd of bison along the way. 
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Buckle up for a longer drive today as you leave Yellowstone and head to the Devils Tower National Monument in eastern Wyoming, a journey that takes around 8 hours. The Devils Tower is an imposing laccolithic butte composed of igneous rock in the Bear Lodge Mountains. The Kiowa refer to the monument as the 'rock tree' due to its height. Spend a night under the stars, camping in the shadow of the Devils Tower. Listen out for coyotes howling in the distance. 
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today there is a short drive (approximately 2.5 hours) to South Dakota and Mount Rushmore National Memorial. See the famous sculptures of former presidents that are carved into the face of Mount Rushmore and perhaps take a look at the nearby Crazy Horse National Monument, a giant Native American sculpture in progress that will soon match the main presidential attractions. 
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Custer - Crazy Horse Memorial
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Drive approximately two hours this morning to Badlands National Park. Witness the lunar-like landscape of the park and discover a wide array of intriguing creatures on a short hike. Continue approximately four hours across South Dakota to the Sioux Falls area.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Badlands National Park
Optional Activities
  • Mitchell - Corn Palace - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Drive from Minnesota to neighbouring Wisconsin (approximately 5-6 hours). Your destination tonight is the mighty Mississippi River and Goose Island. Along the way you may stop at the Spam Museum (they have free samples!) There is an opportunity this evening to rent canoes and go for a paddle on the world-famous river.
Accommodation
  • Camping (with facilities) (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Austin - SPAM Museum - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
On the final day you'll drive for about 5-6 hours through Wisconsin to Chicago, famous for its old architecture and a skyline bristling with skyscrapers, such as the iconic John Hancock Centre. Time permitting you may stop in Madison, America's most liveable city. Your adventure concludes on arrival in Chicago. We highly recommend taking extra time to explore this incredible city. Weave your way along the Lake Front Trail, stop for a spot of shopping on Miracle Mile and visit Chicago’s internationally recognised Planetarium: the Alder.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Private vehicle

Accommodation

Camping (with facilities) (8 nights), Hotel (1 night)

Included activities

  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial
  • Custer - Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Badlands National Park

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This trip finishes on arrival into Chicago in the afternoon on day 10.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

Our Rockies, Yellowstone & Mt Rushmore trips score an average of 4.73 out of 5 based on 15 reviews in the last year.

Rockies, Yellowstone & Mt Rushmore, September 2017

Victoria Browne

Rockies, Yellowstone & Mt Rushmore, September 2017

Lucie Fell