The magnificent Old West conjures up images of cowboys and Indians, lawmen and outlaws, as well as courageous frontiersmen, forging ever westward in search of freedom, independence and greener pastures. No other period has influenced American culture and defined its history as greatly as the Western frontier. Its legendary figures – Wyatt Earp, Calamity Jane, Wild Bill Hickock – are now commemorated in film and fiction.
You should arrive at the airport for your direct flight to Salt Lake City, arriving later on the same day.
An orientation tour of Salt Lake City will give you a fascinating insight into its unique history and culture. It dates back to 1847 with the arrival of the Church of the Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), the first settlers in the valley, who travelled far in their search for an isolated area where they could practise their religion. Our journey then commences on a long but fascinating drive that takes us south-east, travelling over the Wasatch Plateau into the remote Price and Green river basins.
This morning, when the light is at its best, we’ll visit one of our tour’s highlights, Arches National Park. Boasting the world’s largest concentration of natural sandstone arches within a relatively small area, there are around two thousand colossal sandstone arches, soaring spires, monoliths and balanced rock formations, making the landscape utterly unique and a photographer’s paradise.
This Mars-like topography, with its changing colours of oranges and deep reds, is sure to leave an indelible mark on the memory. Spend the afternoon at leisure – your options include a boat trip on the Colorado River or a 4x4 offroad tour.
Leaving Moab, we soon cross into Colorado and arrive at Mesa Verde National Park, the only one exclusively devoted to Native American archaeological remains. Marvel at the past dwellings of the Anasazi, an Ancestral Puebloan people who inhabited the area between AD 600 to AD 1300. Their intriguing mud-brick buildings are some of the best preserved in the country, thanks to the dry desert climate and the stunning cliffside location under massive folds of rock – a truly extraordinary sight.
We enjoy a real highlight this morning, as we take a ride on the Durango & Silverton Railroad,
one of the USA’s best-loved heritage railways. Running on narrow-gauge tracks originally laid in the 1880s, the locomotives used today date from the 1920s and are completely coalfired and steam-driven. As the railway slowly gains height, the scenery becomes ever more rugged, with the muted greys and pinks of the jagged peaks contrasting beautifully with the dense forests in the deep valleys below.
Our wonderful vintage train follows the Animas River Valley through the San Juan National Forest, until it reaches the charming ex-mining community of Silverton. We re-board our coach headed for the small town of Montrose.
Today we continue our journey to northern Colorado to the historic town of Fort Collins, stopping en route for lunch (not included) in the town area of Vail in Eagle County, located in the White River National Forest.
After breakfast we leave Fort Collins and head north to South Dakota, where we will visit Mount Rushmore. The faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln look down over the Black Hills from stony heights to inspire and remind us that even the impossible is possible. You’ll be fascinated by the story of the one man who designed and sculpted this incredible monument and the ingenious techniques used in its construction, all set in the glorious natural beauty of mountains, forests and emerald meadows.
We arrive at Rapid City, the capital of South Dakota. Our hotel tonight is located within walking distance to the downtown area, which is easy to explore on foot.
Today we drive through scenic Custer State Park, home to abundant wildlife, including bighorn sheep, antelope, elk, coyote, prairie dogs, and ‘begging burros’, wild donkeys with a reputation for approaching passing vehicles to ‘ask’ for food. We’ll also visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, still in the process of being sculpted from the mountain cliffs – on a truly vast scale, it will be 172 metres high and 195 metres long when completed.
Heading east, we pass through legendary Deadwood, the historic gold rush town and a National Historic Landmark, with its wonderfully restored Main Street. Settled by illegal gold rushers in the 1870s, it attracted gunslingers, gamblers and outlaws, including Wild Bill Hickok, who was gunned down here during a poker game. One of the town’s most famous citizens, Calamity Jane, was immortalised in the film of the same name by Doris Day in the song, Deadwood Stage.
Crossing back into the wide-open spaces of Wyoming, we’ll visit the remarkable Devils Tower National Monument. The remains of an ancient volcano rising mystically above the surrounding area, it has been a spiritual icon for many of the Plains tribes and is also instantly recognisable as the aliens’ landing ground in Steven Spielberg’s film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Today we cross into the vast grassy hills of Montana, site of the US Cavalry’s greatest defeat at the hands of Native American tribes. Commanded by the flamboyant Lt Col Custer, the famed US 7th Cavalry suffered huge losses against the combined forces of the Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, led by several major war leaders including Crazy Horse. Our local guide will take us through the dramatic events that led up to Custer’s Last Stand. We stay the night in Cody. In the evening, you may wish to experience the Cody Nite Rodeo, which runs on a nightly basis from June till August.
The town of Cody is named after ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, US soldier, bison hunter, showman and one of the most colourful figures of the Old West. His career began at age 11 when he worked on the wagon trains, then at 15 he was the youngest rider on the Pony Express. He was also a Union soldier in the Civil War, a famed fighter against the Indians and most notably, the founder of the Wild West Show that ran for 30 years. He was probably the world’s first international showman, dining with heads of state, including Queen Victoria. After a visit to he Buffalo Bill Center of the West, we cross into Yellowstone National Park over the 8,500-foot-high Sylvan Pass.
Wilderness is the theme of the day as we head into the park, the USA’s first and finest nature
reserve. The breathtaking scenery is incredibly special – see the stunning Lower Falls, twice the height of Niagara; the awe-inspiring Yellowstone Grand Canyon; wonderful bubbling mud pools, steaming rivers and hot springs, including the most famous geyser of all, Old Faithful. There are opportunities to catch sight of the park’s strikingly diverse wildlife, such as herds of bison and elk, or if you’re lucky, grizzly
Today we continue the journey south through some fascinating landscapes. We take a stop at the city of Idaho Falls, surrounded by the Snake River, as we head back to Salt Lake City. Here we visit Temple Square, forty years in its construction and the Beehive house, one of the two official residences of the first Church leader, Brigham Young.
After a leisurely morning we take an early afternoon transfer to the airport for our overnight flight home.
We arrive home full of memories of a unique tour.
The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room and includes:
Please note: adverse weather conditions may result in some road closures in Yellowstone in early or late season.
Along with your experienced and knowledgeable tour manager and local experts, you’ll discover so much on our award-winning Classic tours, offering the best value for money way for you to explore the world.
Our tour managers have been rated as the best in the business for their knowledge and experience and will go above and beyond to ensure every aspect of your holiday runs smoothly – so all you need to worry about is your packing.
Canyonlands 4x4 tour of the Island-in-the-Sky - from £119 per person
Enjoy this 4 hour excursion in 4x4 jeeps outfitted with comfortable seats and air-conditioning. This trip explores the area known as “The Island in the Sky,” a high plateau rising 2,000 feet or more above the rest of Canyonlands National Park – the vistas from this plateau are sublime. Please be advised that this excursion involves driving over rugged terrain and it can get quite bumpy.
Scenic Flight over Island-in-the-Sky - from £145 per person
Take an early morning, 40-minute flight, over Canyonlands National Park and witness the beauty of the park from above with a fascinating narration from the pilot. The aircraft could be a 9-seater Caravan, 5-seater or 3-seater Cessna – depending on number of guests and availability. Each seat is a window seat.
Fort Hays Old West Dinner Show - from £37 per person
Fort Hays is the site of the Oscar award winning movie set, Dances with Wolves. At 6:30pm the bell rings for a western style supper consisting of sliced beef simmered in mild BBQ sauce, baked chicken, chuck wagon potatoes, western baked beans, ranch biscuits & honey chunky applesauce, Old-fashion spice cake and cowboy coffee or tenderfoot lemonade. Vegetarian option available. After the meal, the Fort Hays Wranglers take the stage to entertain you with the Black Hills most popular western music variety show.
Please contact us to add any of the above experiences to your booking.
Along with a valid passport, UK citizens must have an ESTA visa waiver or a visa in order to travel to the USA. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit
ESTA cost is US$14 per person. Full details of how and when to apply will be sent with your booking confirmation.
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
Please note that visa costs may be subject to change.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
There are no current health requirements for travel to the USA, however, whilst the travelling schedule shall pose no problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we would point out that we often enjoy walking tours (sometimes over unmade paths) so this holiday may not be suitable for clients of greatly impaired mobility. Please bear this in mind when considering this holiday.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Arrival airport||First hotel location||Transfer time||Final hotel location||Departure airport||Transfer time|
|Salt Lake City International Airport||Salt Lake City||20 mins||Jackson||Salt Lake City International Airport||4 hr 30 mins|
Unaccustomed as I am to writing glowing holiday reviews, I would like to inform all would-be intrepid adventurers about the amazing India and Nepal tour organised so adeptly by Riviera Travel. I will resist the temptation of desc...
Kevin was a good and a very knowledgeable guide who clearly loves and understands this part of the world, its people and culture and could explain all this and its more recent turbulent history. The hotels were good, as was the fo...