Journey from sophisticated Chicago across the plains of the US to the Rockies

From cosmopolitan Chicago, home to the Yerkes Observatory and Fermilab, this trip heads west across the US stopping at Badlands National Park, Mt Rushmore and Devil's Tower before reaching Yellowstone and the Grand Teton for the solar eclipse.


Start
Chicago, United States
Finish
Salt Lake City, United States
Country
United States
Style
Original
Theme
Astronomy
Code
EXUC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 14
Group size
Min 10, Max 51

Why we love this trip

  • Total Solar Eclipse

  • Fermi Lab and Yerkes Observatory

  • Devil's Tower

  • The Geysers of Yellowstone

Is this trip right for you?

  • Road tripping is the ultimate way to see the USA and on this trip there will be some long drive days. So on this trip you'll be spending a fair amount of time in a van with other travellers, so conditions may feel a little cramped. This is all part of the adventure, however, and you might even make some lifetime friends.

  • Traffic in and out of the larger cities can be hectic, especially during holiday periods. There may be delays, so be prepared to take part in car games to keep you entertained. Many of the cities on this trip are best explored on foot. To get the most out of these, plus also the hikes within the national parks, it is best if you have a reasonable level of physical fitness and are able to walk moderate-to-long distances.

  • This trip only allows for limited time at some destinations, so you may have to move quickly, and may not be able to see everything on your to-do list

Itinerary

Welcome to Chicago! For those of you on the group flight, you will be met by our local representative at arrivals. They will be holding a sign with Intrepid on it. If for any reason you have any difficulty locating the driver/group please contact our local office on the number in the notes section below.
Your tour leader will hold a welcome meeting at 6pm, to brief you on the next few days ahead. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We’ll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader. If you’re going to be late, please inform hotel reception.
There are no activities planned today, so time permitting take in the Chicago skyline and architecture with an easy walk along the Lake Michigan waterfront. Get a bird's eye view of the city from the skydeck atop North America's tallest building, Willis Tower.
Accommodation
  • Holiday Inn Express (Magnificent Mile) (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning we depart (approx. 8am) and drive to Fermilab for a 2 hour guided tour. Fermilab is where scientists carry out research in high-energy physics to answer questions I.e. What is the universe made of? How does it work? Where did it come from?
After lunch, we return to Chicago. There is the option to visit the Adler Planetarium - one of the country's top planetarium's with an active research facility (at own expense). Adler astronomers studies range include planetary geology, star formation, gamma-rays, and telescope observing.
This evening is free time to explore. Dine at any of the city's world class restaurants and top off the night with live music, from blues and jazz to ballet and symphony.
Accommodation
  • Holiday Inn Express (Magnificent Mile) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart at approx. 8:00am Drive to Madison, situated on scenic lakes, this Midwest town boasts a friendly college town feel (home to the University of Wisconsin).
Enroute we stop at Yerkes Observatory for a 12:00pm tour appointment including a 90 minute tour. Yerkes features the largest refracting telescope in the world.
After a tour of Yerkes, we continue on to Madison - home to the University of Wisconsin and known for its dairy! Get a dairy land experience at the University's Babcock Hall Dairy Store--freshly made ice-cream and more than 20 cheeses made on-site. Stroll lakeside at the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired Monona Terrace, view art at the Chazen Museum of Art and try Wiscon famed sausage and beer with the locals.
Accommodation
  • Howard Johnson Madison (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart at approx. 8am. Today is a long drive day from Wisconsin, across Minnesota and arriving in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. After long drive day, stretch your legs at Falls Park, more than 120 acres of serene scenery, triple waterfall, and historic ruins of Native Americans and European Settlers. Relax this evening at one of the city's many cafes or fine restaurants. Possibly get an American experience at a minor league baseball game (optional, dependent on schedule)
Accommodation
  • Holiday Inn Sioux Falls (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
We cross the Dakota prairies to Badlands NP where we can explore the striking geology of Badlands National Park. Formed by sediments deposited 69 million years ago when an ancient sea stretched across what is now the Great Plains, the park is an array of eroded buttes and spires that creates a lunar like landscape. We can also discover some of the world’s most interesting fossil beds. Continue on to Rapid City, South Dakota.
Accommodation
  • La Quinta Inn Rapid City (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart in the morning for Mt. Rushmore nestled in the Black Hills of South Dakota and home to one of the greatest artistic feats in the country - the faces of 4 American presidents chiseled into granite. We return to Rapid City, where you can stroll downtown to shops, galleries, and restaurants - or perhaps at an outdoor concert or town festival at Main Street Square.
Accommodation
  • La Quinta Inn Rapid City (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, a tribute to one of North America's iconic Native American leaders of the Lakota tribe. A continued work in progress for more than 6 decades, the sculpted image of Chief Crazy Horse will stand almost 600' high when completed. Continue to Devil's Tower National Monument. This flat top volcanic formation looms more than 1,200 feet above Wyoming’s eastern plains. We finish the day in Gillette, founded as a coal mining community.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Drive through Bighorn National Forest enroute to Cody, WY. Gain insight into the settling of the American Wild West and legendary Buffalo Bill Cody when we visit the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
Tracing its roots to 1917, the Buffalo Bill Museum is the flagship museum of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. First opening its doors to the public in 1927 in a log cabin in downtown Cody—modeled after Bill Cody’s house at his “TE Ranch”—southwest of town, the museum remained in that location until 1969 when it was relocated to a newly-built wing of the then Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Here, as in its original incarnation, the Buffalo Bill Museum’s focus is on the life and times of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody (1846 – 1917), the noted guide, scout, frontiersman, showman, actor, entrepreneur, town founder, and American icon.
Tonight you might have a chance to relive some of the wild west at the Cody Night Rodeo (optional, at own expense).
Accommodation
  • Rodeway Inn Cody (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a short morning drive into Yellowstone NP, the world's first national park. Yellowstone provides an opportunity to view a variety of wildlife, from grizzly bears and bison to eagles and elk. We'll also have a chance to explore the park's geologic history and geothermal features, including a visit to Grand Prismatic Springs and erupting geysers such as Old Faithful. Prepare to be astounded by the wildlife and amazing geological features around every corner.
Accommodation
  • Rodeway Inn Cody (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we continue to explore Yellowstone NP with our coach bus providing transportation to Artist's Point and Mammoth Hot Springs.
Accommodation
  • Rodeway Inn Cody (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Depart today at 8am. Today's drive takes us to Grand Tetons National Park, where we can enjoy light walks along scenic Jenny Lake.
We continue to Jackson, where we will prepare for the eclipse with an afternoon lecture with Dr. John Mason. The evening is free to enjoy at one of the town’s steakhouses or saddle up to the bar like a cowboy at the Million Dollar Saloon.
Accommodation
  • Lexington Inn (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
ECLIPSE VIEWING DAY! We will depart early (approximately 8am) for our exclusive viewing site at a Jackson area ranch. We will be able to spend the morning and early afternoon at the ranch, including a catered BBQ lunch.
Please note that all guests will be provided with eclipse viewing glasses.
Totality begins approximately 11:35am local time.
Return to Jackson midafternoon where the evening is free.
Accommodation
  • Lexington Inn (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
8am departure from Jackson. Drive to Salt Lake City. Time permitting we will stop in Salt Lake City for lunch before you are transferred to the airport for departure flights. Please note that flights need to be booked for departures after 16:00.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

11 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Transport

Private Coach

Accommodation

Hotels

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Important notes

Total eclipses are rare events that occur along a narrow track at a precisely calculated time. People who follow eclipses want to be at the location with the best chance of clear skies so we operate a range of tours that converge of the selected eclipse site for the days around the eclipse.

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 US Eclipse - Chicago to Salt Lake trips score an average of 4.67 out of 5 based on 6 reviews in the last year.

US Eclipse - Chicago to Salt Lake, August 2017

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US Eclipse - Chicago to Salt Lake, August 2017

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