Road Scholar : Home
On the Road: South Dakota's Black Hills and Wyoming's Yellowstone and Tetons

Program Number: 1932RJ
Start and End Dates:
8/23/2015 - 8/29/2015; 7/23/2016 - 7/29/2016; 8/20/2016 - 8/26/2016;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
Price starting at: $1,588.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: On the Road; National Parks Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 6 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Journey from the beautiful Black Hills of western South Dakota near Rapid City to Wyoming’s Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Instructors lead your exploration of the historical, cultural and geological aspects of these areas. Enrich your appreciation of wildflowers and wildlife as we wind our way through the wide-open spaces, mountain lakes and grassy plains of the Big Horn Mountains and Shell Canyon.


• Absorb the grandeur of Mount Rushmore – the Shrine of Democracy – and walk the base of America’s first National Monument – Devils Tower.
• Observe the living geothermal features of Yellowstone National Park including Old Faithful, the world's best-known geyser.
• Stand in awe of the “Mountains of the Imagination” the Teton Range in Grand Teton National Park where jagged peaks rise from the valley floor to 13,770 feet above sea level.

Activity Particulars

Walking from hotels to the motor coach, museum, meals, historical sites and short walks can add up to two miles per day. Elevations range from 3,207 to 7,700 feet.

For a longer version of this program, see program #20297 “Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and Other Gems of South Dakota and Wyoming” or for a similarly themed program, see program #22039 “National Parks, Monuments & Memorials From Rapid City to Salt Lake City.”

Date Specific Information

8-23-2015, 7-23-2016, 8-20-2016

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Rapid City, S.D., 1 night; coach to Gillette, Wyo., 1 night; coach to Cody, Wyo., 1 night; coach to Yellowstone National Park, 1 night; coach to Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyo., 2 nights; departure.

Coordinated by South Dakota and Regional Traveling Studies.

Rapid City

Founded by gold prospectors in 1876, this center for commerce, culture and education for the high plains region also boasts rich Old West history and a premier location near major Black Hills and Wyoming attractions, including Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse National monuments, as well as Wind Cave National Park.


At the base of a secluded mountain valley 50 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Cody is the gateway to spectacular scenery and home to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. The foremost Western museum in the world houses five distinct museums within. Cody offers endless activities for outdoor, art and history enthusiasts.

Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

Yellowstone is the world's first national park, established in 1872, and is famous for its geysers and thermal features as well as its plentiful and diverse flora and fauna. There is also considerable human history within the park, from the early explorers and settlers to the historic park lodges.


As the second-largest city in Wyoming, Casper enjoys a rich history of cowboy culture and a reputation as “the Oil City.” Located near the original Fort Caspar — once built to house pioneers along the Oregon, California and Mormon trails — Casper is also an ideal region for outdoor recreation and skiing along Casper Mountain.

Grand Teton National Park

Awe-inspiring Grand Teton National Park reflects the ecological diversity of the Teton Range. Towering peaks rise 7,000 feet from the valley floor, reflecting the majestic beauty of the Teton Ecosystem that includes wildlife such as elk, grizzly bear and moose. The historic town of Jackson is home to the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

Black Hills (South Dakota)

The legendary Black Hills extend across several states on the Great Plains, covering the rolling mountains with lush pines. Home to the Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse memorials, they host historic national parks, abundant wildlife and recreational trails.

Standard and historic hotels. No elevators to second-floor rooms in one hotel.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Theresa & Paul Reed

Theresa and Paul Reed are passionate about travel, especially 10,000 feet above ground. Both are flight assistants who have a fascination with aviation and a love of learning. Theresa was raised in North Dakota and South Dakota, but spent much of her adult life living on Maui. Paul was raised in Southern California and served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter mechanic. The two are self-proclaimed “foodies” and love to cook, bake and re-create food from their travels.
Theresa & Paul Reed

Theresa and Paul Reed are passionate about travel, especially 10,000 feet above ground. Both are flight assistants who have a fascination with aviation and a love of learning. Theresa was raised in North Dakota and South Dakota, but spent much of her adult life living on Maui. Paul was raised in Southern California and served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter mechanic. The two are self-proclaimed “foodies” and love to cook, bake and re-create food from their travels.
Meals and Lodgings
   Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
  Rapid City, South Dakota 2 nights
   Irma Hotel
  Cody, WY 1 night
   Old Faithful Inn Complex--West Wing or Yellowstone National Park SnowLodge
  Old Faithful Area Yellowstone National Park 1 night
   Hampton Inn & Suites Riverton
  Riverton, WY 1 night
   Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
  Rapid City, South Dakota 1 night
 Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
Type: Hotel
  Description: This 2002 Rapid City hotel is located four to six blocks from downtown Rapid City with easy access off I-90, Exit 57, Exit 1C (from east or west) or from highway 79 and Mount Rushmore Road coming from the South. The hotel is only a block from the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center and three blocks from the two sections of the Berlin Wall.
  Contact info: 950 North Street
Rapid City, SD 57701 USA
phone: 888-578-4657 xor6057374656
  Room amenities: All rooms feature high-speed Internet access, voice mail, in-room coffee, hair dryers, iron/boards and expanded cable with HBO/Showtime.
  Facility amenities: There is an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, exercise room, guest laundry and continental breakfast starting at 6:00 am. There is not a restaurant at the hotel, snacks are available to purchase or walk three blocks to the nearest restaurant/dining facility. There is a computer available in the lobby for people staying at the hotel. If you have your own computer, wi-fi service is available also, your own service provided (from cell towers) will work in Rapid City.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Call hotel for current prices. Contact hotel directly for pre and post room costs, call 800-446-4656 or 605-737-4656.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Call hotel for current prices. Contact hotel directly for pre and post room costs, call 800-446-4656 or 605-737-4656.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

 Irma Hotel
Type: Hotel
  Description: The Irma Hotel is a landmark in Cody, Wyoming. It was built by William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, the city's co-founder and namesake who named it after his daughter Irma Cody. A focal point is a famous back bar made of cherry that was a gift given by Queen Victoria to Buffalo Bill. The Irma opened with a party on November 18, 1902, to which Cody invited the press and dignitaries from as far away as Boston. The hotel quickly became the social center of Cody. In the meantime, Buffalo Bill was under pressure from creditors and was forced to sign over the hotel to his wife Louisa in 1913, who was at that time on bad terms with him. After Cody's death in 1917 the hotel was foreclosed upon and sold to Barney Link. Before the end of the year Link's estate sold the property back to Louisa, who kept it until she died in 1925. The new owners, Henry and Pearl Newell, gradually expanded the hotel, building an annex around 1930 on the west side to accommodate automobile-borne visitors. After her husband's death in 1940, Pearl Newell operated the hotel until her own death in 1965. She left the hotel's extensive collection of Buffalo Bill memorabilia to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and stipulated that proceeds from the estate be used as an endowment for the museum. The Irma Hotel is still open for business as both a hotel and restaurant. It is included on the National Register of Historic Places, listed in 1973. It is located on the Main Street of Cody.
  Contact info: 1192 Sheridan Avenue
Cody, WY 82414 USA
phone: 307-587-4221
  Room amenities: TV, alarm clock and telephone. Iron and ironing board available upon request.
  Facility amenities: Lounge and restaurant located in Hotel. Excellent burgers and steaks. Wi-fi is available only in certain locations within the hotel, most often in the small lobby area. Your own provider, if it is via cell phone towers, will work in Cody.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Tub shower combo. Some of the tubs have a deep tub.

 Old Faithful Inn Complex--West Wing
Type: Hotel
  Description: As a national historic landmark, Old Faithful Inn is the most requested lodging facility in the park. The rustic-style lodge, with log and wood shingle exterior is located adjacent to the world famous Old Faithful Geyser. The original part of the Inn, known as the "Old House" was completed in 1904 and includes an immense lobby with a huge stone fireplace. Robert Reamer was the architect. The East and West Wings were added in the teens and the twenties, with many rooms having been remodeled in recent years. Guest accommodations include rooms with private and shared baths. Additionally, a full service restaurant, deli, bar, gift store and interpretive tours are available at the Inn. Please note that all park accommodations are non-smoking and reflecting the natural surroundings of Yellowstone; televisions, radios, air conditioning, and Internet service is not available. Wheelchair accessible accommodations are available on a limited basis. Old Faithful Geyser is just a short walk from the West Wing. Enjoy a walk around the Old Faithful area including a visit to Old Faithful Inn, Old Faithful Lodge, the Visitor's Center, numerous walking trails and of course watch for animals. Check the Park Times Newspaper for activities and events related to your overnight stay.
  Contact info: 1 Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190 USA
phone: 307-344-7901
  Room amenities: No air conditioning, radio, TV, or alarm clocks in any of YNP properties. All rooms are non-smoking and there is a $150 fee for anyone smoking in the rooms. Each room does have a telephone, fan, coffee maker and extra blankets. The stuff animals on the beds are NOT free. You may purchase them at the front desk if you want one.
  Facility amenities: Elevator to all but one floor--one flight of stairs; four floors total; the West Wing is attached to the Historic Inn; short distance to dining room and gift shops. Cell phone service is limited at the Old Faithful area. Wi-fi is not available. If you have your own Internet service provider through cell towers, you may have limited service. No air conditioning or TVs in any of the lodging facilities within the park.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Yellowstone National Park SnowLodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: SnowLodge is the newest property in the Old Faithful Complex area. The main building is made of wooden log columns with a cedar shingle roof on top. Some of the lodge's wood was recycled from the same mill that provided lumber for the famous Old Faithful Inn in 1904. It has 134 spacious lodge style rooms with western-style furnishings and casually elegant decor. A full-service dining room, bar, the renowned "Geyser Grill" and gift shop are located in the lodge. Enjoy the ambiance and warmth of the stone fireplace in the lobby. The SnowLodge is across the street from the Visitor's Center, that opened in 2010, and Old Faithful Geyser.
  Contact info: Old Faithful Complex Area
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190 USA
phone: 307-344-7901
  Room amenities: Room amenities include: Hair dryer, portable fan, iron & ironing board, coffee maker and an alarm clock. The stuff animals on the beds are NOT free. You may purchase them at the front desk if you want one.
  Facility amenities: Premium hotel style rooms with private bathrooms. Large lobby features a stone fireplace. Also in the facility is a bar, full restaurant, grill for light menu and gift shop.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hampton Inn & Suites Riverton
Type: Hotel
  Description: New property opened in 2009. Located on the very northern edge of town; away from the downtown area. Within walking distance of Walmart and Kmart.
  Contact info: 2500 North Federal Blvd.
Riverton, WY 82501 USA
phone: 307-856-3500
  Room amenities: Air conditioning, alarm radio, curved shower road, duvet covers, non-allergenic pillows, handicap room by request, non-smoking, 32 LCD TV; TV Cable, workstation, coffee maker, hairdryer, iron/ironing board, surge protected desk outlets, telephone, and night light.
  Facility amenities: Self coin laundry; audible alarm system; controlled access corridors, double locking doors, electronic locks, electronic smoke detector, safety deposit box, wide angle door viewer, fitness room, and indoor pool. Hot continental breakfast. Hotel has a business center with wi-fi connection, also in sleeping rooms. If you have your own Internet service, most carriers have service in the area.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Meet your Road Scholar Director in the hotel hospitality room at 4:30 p.m. You will be staying at Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites that night.
  End of Program:
Program ends with continental breakfast available at the hotel prior to independent departures. Check out is by noon. You will be staying at Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Parking available at no charge in hotel parking lot-at owner's risk. Hotel and SDRTS does not assume responsibility for vehicles in parking lot.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Rapid City, South Dakota
  Nearest city or town:  Sturgis, South Dakota
  Nearest highway: Interstate 90
  Nearest airport:  Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP)
  From End of Program
  Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

To hotel in Rapid City


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Airport Express Shuttle
phone: 800-357-9998 xor6053999999


Per Person/One Way:


Hotel pays for shuttle from airport to hotel.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 to 30 minutes one way. 




Approximately 6 to 7 miles


Advanced reservations are suggested but not required from the airport to the hotel. The hotel will give the shuttle driver a voucher for your fare to and from the airport-you do not have to do anything with the vouchers. A tip for the shuttle driver is NOT included. You should tip the driver individually.


From hotel in Rapid City


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Airport Express Shuttle
phone: 800-357-9998 xor6053999999
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


The hotel pays for shuttle from hotel back to the airport.
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


20 to 30 minutes one way. 




Approximately 6 to 7 miles


Advanced reservations are required returning to the airport from the hotel. Contact the front desk staff to make your return reservation with the shuttle. The hotel will give the shuttle driver a voucher for your fare to the airport-you do not have to do anything with the vouchers. A tip for the shuttle driver is NOT included. You should tip the driver individually.

Driving Directions
  I-90 either coming East or West and from Highway 79 from the South to Rapid City, S.D. For the groups staying at the Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites: Take Exit 57 to Exit 1C. Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites is located on the left. When coming to Rapid City from the South via Highway 79, turn left at Catron Blvd (truck bypass) to Mount Rushmore Road and follow this street all the way through town until North Street, turn left, one block to the hotel.
Elevation Note: Elevations range from 3,400 feet in Rapid City to 7,731 feet in YNP.

The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Independent arrivals to hotel. Viewing two sections of the Berlin Wall/The Journey Museum, Dinner and Orientation.
(Sunday, August 23)

Note: Tonight's activity includes riding in the motor coach a few blocks to view a couple of sections of the Berlin Wall and visiting The Journey Museum.

 Arrive To: Meet in hotel's designated room for Road Scholar Welcome at 4:30 p.m. At 4:45 p.m. coach to the Journey Museum. If your arrival time to the hotel is between 4:45 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., ask the airport shuttle to take you directly to the Journey Museum instead of the hotel. If your arrival time is after 6:30 p.m., take the shuttle directly to the hotel; you will miss dinner and orientation. The hotel does not have a restaurant.
 Dinner: Visit The Journey Museum, dinner at the museum 6:30 p.m., orientation to follow. The Journey Museum takes you on an incredible trek through time, from the violent upheaval that formed the mystical Black Hills over 2.5 billion years ago to the continuing saga of the Western Frontier. The museum brings together four major prehistoric and historic collections to tell the complete story of the Western Great Plains - from the perspective of the Lakota people and the pioneers who shaped its past, to the scientists who now study it. Discover where dinosaurs lie buried beneath the prairie soil, learn why the Sioux called their sacred Black Hills the “Center of the Universe” and experience the hardships of the homesteaders as they settled the formidable wilderness. When your journey is complete, you will fully understand the legacy of the land and its people. You may take pictures in this museum except for one section of the Sioux Indian Exhibits. There are signs that indicate where the exceptions are located.
Accommodations: Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Breakfast/Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial./Custer State Park and The Mammoth Site./Catered Dinner
(Monday, August 24)

Note: Today's itinerary requires multiple times of getting on and off the coach and walking to and from the different location sites.

 Breakfast: Breakfast is at the hotel hospitality room.
 Morning: Mount Rushmore National Memorial: The majestic 60-foot faces of four U.S. presidents gaze out over South Dakota’s Black Hills. Recognized worldwide, they stand as a symbol of American democracy. This national treasure tells the story of the United States’ rich history, rugged determination and lasting achievement. From the Grandview Terrace, the views are spectacular of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Walk the half-mile Presidential Trail that loops along the base of the mountain. Discover why the four presidents were selected, see how the mountain was carved and learn about sculptor Gutzon Borglum and the workers who brought Mount Rushmore to life.

Crazy Horse Memorial: A fifth granite face has emerged in the Black Hills. The colossal Crazy Horse mountain carving is now in progress. Crazy Horse is the largest sculptural undertaking ever – on a scale with the Egyptian pyramids. When completed, it will tower 563 feet high, 641 feet long and be carved in the round. Watch history in the making as drilling and blasting continue on the rest of the sculpture.

In 1939, Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to carve an Indian memorial in the Black Hills. Though Korczak died in 1982, the sculptor’s wife and family continue the non-profit project.
 Lunch: Lunch in Custer State Park.
 Afternoon: After lunch, Travel through a portion of Custer State Park which covers 71,000 acres, making it one of the largest state parks in the nation. From its northern sector, in the shadow of 7,242-foot-high Harney Peak, to the forest, meadows and prairies of its southeast corner, the Park offers plenty of space to watch for bison. This is one of the largest publicly owned bison herds in the country numbering between 1,000 to 1,200. Keep your eyes appealed for pronghorn or antelope, mule and whitetail deer, burros, coyotes, wild turkeys, elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep and golden eagles also found within the park.

Continue on to The Mammoth Site. Discover the Mammoths and experience America’s greatest Ice Age Treasure at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD. The Mammoth site, with a 36,000 square foot visitor center, is an in-situ (bones left as found) Ice Age museum containing the largest concentration of Columbian and Woolly Mammoths found in their primary context in the world. Imagine walking the edges of a 26,000-year-old sinkhole where mammoths, bears, loins, and wolves once walked. The Muller Exhibit Hall features fascinating exhibits: a full-sized Columbian mammoth replica, a walk-in bone shelter, and skeletons of now-extinct carnivores; the giant short-faced bear and the American lion. Get a glimpse of the scientific work conducted downstairs in the state of the art lab. The Mammoth Site has been featured on Discovery Channel, CBS and NBC Evening News, Today Show, BBC Television programs, and in many magazines, including National Geographic. The site has co-hosted international symposiums and conferences, as well as published scientific Quaternary research books.
 Dinner: Catered dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Free time to enjoy the pool or hot tub or just relax and get ready for tomorrow's trip to Wyoming.
Accommodations: Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Travel the wide-open spaces of Wyoming, cross the Big Horn Mountains, wind through Shell Canyon & Falls, and visit Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
(Tuesday, August 25)

Note: Motor coach travel today with multiple times of getting on and off the coach with limited amount of walking until late afternoon when walking through the museum.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Depart Rapid City in early morning. Travel through the wide open spaces of Wyoming to Sheridan for a lunch break. On-board subjects include the history of the state, economic topics including the oil and coal industry of Wyoming, animals, and the people that live in these wide-open spaces.
 Lunch: Sack lunch in Sheridan, WY. After lunch: Cross the Big Horn Mountains and wind our way through the beautiful canyon and Shell Falls before arriving in Cody, WY late afternoon.

The Bighorn Mountains and the Bighorn National Forest in north-central Wyoming may approximate New York's Long Island in size, but the comparisons stop right there. The names given to the forest's landforms tell you all you need to know: canyons called Devil and Crazy Woman, peaks dubbed Black Tooth and Cloud. This is a wild, high, rugged place. Deep canyons formed by powerful thrust faults penetrate both the eastern and western edges of the forest. Jagged peaks jut to 13,000 feet and above. Forests of lodgepole and ponderosa pine mantle the lower reaches.

For such a remote location, Bighorn has seen an outsized share of American history played out within its borders. Some of America's most famous pioneers explored this mountain wilderness, including Jim Bridger, Lewis and Clark, and Buffalo Bill. It is land held sacred by the Cheyenne, Crow, Sioux, Arapaho, and Eastern Cheyenne Indians — a land of spilled blood on which Native Americans fought some of their most desperate battles against the U.S. military.

Shell Creek forces its way between the 3 billion year-old granite walls of Shell Canyon in a noisy, 120 foot plunge to another, lower level of the canyon floor. You can feel the earth shake under your feet as you absorb the sight, scent and sound. It so good to be alive! The interpretive center is maintained by the Forest Service. Follow the 'interpretive trail' that introduces you to the geology, current flora and fauna.
 Afternoon: Late this afternoon, visit the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY.

The Buffalo Bill Center was founded in 1917 to preserve the legacy and vision of Col. William F. Cody, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center is the oldest and most comprehensive museum of the West.

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West has extensive artifact collections housed in a world-class facility. The Center has grown from a log cabin in 1927 to a 7-acre building valued at $143 million today. The Center's collections contain over 34,977 Artifacts, 20,000 books, and 260,000 photo archives.

The Center has five separate museums and a research library. Whitney Gallery of Western Art - established 1958, dedicated 1959; the Buffalo Bill Museum - established 1927, dedicated in present location 1969; the Plains Indian Museum - originally established 1969, dedicated in own building 1979, reinterpreted 2000; Harold McCracken Research Library - dedicated 1980; Cody Firearms Museum - dedicated 1976 as Winchester Museum, rededicated 1991; and the Draper Museum of Natural History - dedicated in 2002.

Some facts include: William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917) was the most widely known American of his time; Buffalo Bill founded Cody, Wyoming, which is located 50 miles east of Yellowstone National Park; and Buffalo Bill saw the potential for tourism in the West and in the Yellowstone region.
 Dinner: Dinner this evening is not included to allow individual time and choices for evening activities in Cody, WY.
 Evening: Optional evening activities and times will be discussed before arrival in Cody. You may want to attend the Rodeo at your own cost (June through Labor Day Weekend); watch the free Wild West Shoot-out or attend the top-rated Dan Miller Music Revue (cost included) that features songs of the Old West, cowboy poetry and logic, audience interaction and just an all around great inspiring and uplifting show.
Accommodations: Irma Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 4: Travel into Yellowstone National Park via the East Entrance and through the lower loop of the park. Watch for wildlife, bison and elk, and see the magnificent Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Fountain Paint Pots, hot springs and Old Faithful Geyser.
(Wednesday, August 26)

Note: Motor coach travel into Yellowstone National Park with numerous times of getting on and off the coach throughout the day with short (1 block distance) to longer amount of walking (1/4 to 1/2 mile on board walks) and additional walking on sidewalks to visitor's centers, museums, dining area and gift shops.

 Breakfast: Extensive buffet breakfast at the Irma Hotel Dining Room.
 Morning: Travel the scenic route through Wapiti Valley into Yellowstone National Park via the East entrance.

Continue traveling to the Yellowstone Lake area within the park and watch for animals such as bison, elk, deer, once-in-a-while bear and birds such as osprey, eagles, Canada Geese, and pelicans. Arrive late morning at Lake Hotel area. Short stop to learn about the oldest hotel in the park.

The Lake Hotel is built on a site long known as a meeting place for Indians, trappers and mountain men. The Lake Hotel was ready to serve guests in 1891. At that time, it was not particularly distinctive, resembling other railroad hotels financed by the Northern Pacific Railroad.

In 1903, the architect of the Old Faithful Inn, Robert Reamer, masterminded the renovation of the hotel, designing the iconic columns, extending the roof in three places and adding the 15 false balconies, which prompted it to be known for years as the “Lake Colonial Hotel.” A number of further changes by 1929, including the addition of the dining room, porte-cochere (portico), and sunroom as well as the refurbishing of the interior created the gracious landmark we see today.

By the 1970s, the Hotel had fallen into serious disrepair. In 1981, the National Park Service and the park concessionaire embarked on a ten-year project to restore the Lake Hotel in appearance to its days of glory of the 1920s. The work was finished for the hotel’s centennial in 1991. The Hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places that year.
 Lunch: Sack Lunch in Yellowstone.
 Afternoon: Numerous stops in Yellowstone include: Mud Volcano, Hayden Valley, Fountain Paint Pots, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Upper and Lower Falls, and LeHardy Rapids.

Yellowstone National Park is known for the most geysers in the world. About 2 million years ago, then 1.2 million years ago and again 640,000 years ago, huge volcanic eruptions occurred here. The park’s present central portion collapsed, forming a 30-by-45 mile caldera, or basin. The magmatic heat powering those eruptions still today powers the park’s geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots.

The waterfalls at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone highlight the boundaries of lava flows and thermal areas. Travel through Hayden Valley and hope to see herds of Bison, stop at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone carved by the churning waters of the Yellowstone River.
 Dinner: You may choose to have dinner (on your own) at the Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria, Snowlodge (no reservations needed) or Snowlodge Geyser Grill (no reservations needed). If you want dinner reservations at Old Faithful Inn, you will need to call months in advance and no earlier than 5:30 p.m.
 Evening: Free time to just relax after a long but wonderful day. Visit the new Discovery Center, watch Old Faithful Geyser erupt, take a walk on one of the numerous boardwalks, listen to a Ranger talk or just relax in the Old Faithful Lobby.
Accommodations: Old Faithful Inn Complex--West Wing or Yellowstone National Park SnowLodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 5: Grand Teton National Park: Scenic Drive/Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor's Center/Lunch at Jackson Lake Lodge. Afternoon drive over the mountains, cross the Wind River Indian Reservation and view terrain similar to badlands.
(Thursday, August 27)

Note: Motor coach travel today with several times of getting on and off the coach with limited amount of walking at stops and museum.

 Breakfast: Extensive buffet breakfast at Old Faithful Inn or Snowlodge.
 Morning: Travel from Yellowstone National Park through the south gate to Teton National Park. Located at the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the Rockefeller Parkway connects Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. The late conservationist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. made significant contributions to several national parks including Grand Teton, Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, and Virgin Islands.

Grand Teton National Park is located in northwestern Wyoming, the park preserves a spectacular landscape rich with majestic mountains, pristine lakes and extraordinary wildlife. The abrupt vertical rise of the jagged Teton Range contrasts with the horizontal sage-covered valley and glacial lakes at their base, creating world-renowned scenery that attracts nearly four million visitors per year.

"Jackson Hole" as it's often called, refers to the whole area which is a 50 mile long valley of numerous lakes, flats (valley floor) and moraines, all surrounded by the majestic Teton Mountains. "Jackson" refers to the town which is the county seat of Teton County, Wyoming and the only incorporated municipality in the county (we will go into the town of Jackson for a very short period of time).
 Lunch: Scatter lunch on own in town of Jackson.
 Afternoon: Cross the mountains after lunch and continue on through the Wind River Range that stretches more than 100 miles in western Wyoming and contains 35 named peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation. Gannett Peak, Wyoming's highest, is in the Wind River Range. Seven of the largest glaciers in the Rocky Mountains are located in the Wind River Range. There are no roads in the wilderness, and mechanized vehicles are not allowed. The Wind River Range encompasses an area of 2.25 million acres and forms a triple divide for three major western watersheds: the Columbia River, the Colorado River, and the Missouri.

The 428,000-acre Bridger Wilderness area is part of the western slopes of the Wind River Range. It is named after famous mountain man Jim Bridger, who lived in this area during the early 1800s. The Wind River Range has over 1,300 lakes and hundreds of miles of streams and numerous hiking trails.

The Wind River Indian Reservation spans 2.2 million acres and is home to 2,500 Eastern Shoshone and more than 5,000 Northern Arapaho Indians. Although the two tribes own and govern the reservation jointly, most of the Shoshone live in the western half around Fort Washakie, while the Arapahos are centered around Ethete and Arapahoe. Travel across the Wind River Indian Reservation before reaching our overnight destination.
 Dinner: Enjoy a buffet dinner at Archer's in Riverton.
 Evening: Relax in the hot tub or indoor pool tonight. The hotel also provides a work-out room. The Wind River Casino is located a few miles from Riverton. The Casino will come and pick you up and bring you back if you want to check it out. Contact the front desk to make arrangements for you.
Accommodations: Hampton Inn & Suites Riverton
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Travel across Wyoming's wide-open spaces and ranch country from Riverton to Gillette/see oil and natural gas development/learn about the Oregon Trail at Fort Caspar/continue to Devils Tower (time permitting) and back to Rapid City, S.D.
(Friday, August 28)

Note: Motor coach travel today with several times of getting on and off the coach with limited amount of walking at stops and museum.

 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel featuring both hot and cold items.
 Morning: This morning's stop in Casper will be at Fort Caspar.

In 1847, Brigham Young led the Mormons from Winter Quarters in present-day Nebraska to their new home in the Great Salt Lake Valley. The Pioneer Party arrived at present-day Fort Caspar Museum on June 12. Faced with a flooding North Platte, Young commissioned the construction of a ferry boat to ensure a safe river crossing. The completed ferry consisted of cottonwood dugout canoes, planking for a deck, two oars, and a rudder. Other trains of emigrants contracted with the ferrymen to carry them across.

On June 19, Brigham Young named nine men to remain and operate the ferry while the rest of the party continued the journey west. Through the 1852 season, Mormon men returned to the Casper area to operate the ferry business. Eventually utilizing a rope and pulley system, the Mormon ferry could float a loaded wagon across the river in just 5 minutes. Because of the heavy emigrant traffic, other ferry businesses operated in the Casper area as well.

The first permanent occupation at what is now the Fort Caspar Museum was in 1859 when Louis Guinard built a bridge and trading post. Guinard’s post also became an Overland Stage Company stage stop from 1859-1862 and a Pony Express relay station in 1860-1861. The completion of the transcontinental telegraph line in October 1861 added a Pacific Telegraph Company office to the site..

This led to a decline of the Fort. Government orders were issued to abandon Fort Caspar in 1867, troops and “all useful materials,” including buildings, were transferred to Fort Fetterman.

Homesteaders and ranchers arrived in the Casper area by the late 1870s, and the grounds of Fort Caspar became part of the CY Ranch. In 1936, Casper citizens and the Works Progress Administration reconstructed Platte Bridge Station using sketches made by Caspar Collins and others in the 1860s.

Sack lunch along the way.
 Lunch: After leaving Casper, continue traveling across the wide-open spaces of Wyoming and back to Rapid City. The coal industry of Wyoming reached production of over 467.4 million tons in Wyoming in 2008. Over 400 coal-related jobs were created just in this part of the country.

The Salt Creek Oil Field north of Casper was at one time the largest light crude oil field in the world and historically one of the most important petroleum deposits in Wyoming. Follow the history of the area and learn how the present day operations have extended the life of the field. What did the “Teapot Dome” scandal have to do with this part of Wyoming you’re traveling through? Learn all about the scandal during the 1920s involving the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, governmental lands, contracts, kickbacks, the investigation and the outcome.

Watch for various kinds of animals while traveling across the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. How many jackrabbits, deer, pronghorn and coyotes can you spot amongst the miles and miles of Artemisia Tridentata Nutt or commonly called Wyoming Big Sagebrush? You will be able to relate to the song, Lonesome Cowboy, and what it means to the cowboy rancher to tend their sheep and cattle in this part of the state and also have their nearest neighbor be up to twenty miles away.

Sack lunch along the way.
 Afternoon: If time permits, travel on to Devils Tower National Monument. The National Park Information best describes Devils Tower this way: “In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the first national monument under the new Antiquities Act. About 60 million years ago molten magma was forced into sedimentary rocks above it and cooled underground. As it cooled it contracted and fractured into columns. An earlier flow formed Little Missouri Buttes. Over millions of years, erosion of the sedimentary rock exposed Devils Tower and accentuated Little Missouri Buttes.

The Tower rises 867 feet from the base and stands 1,267 feet above the river and 5, 112 feet above sea level. The area of its tear-drop shaped top is 1.5 acres and the diameter of its base is 1,000 feet.” At Devils Tower Visitor Center, you will learn about the geological story of the Tower, the Indian Legend, the human phase of the story, and about the different kinds of birds, animals, trees and plants that thrive in the area. You will have a chance to walk the paved Tower Trail (1.3 miles) around the base of the Tower (walk is optional). Seeing the Tower up close, you may be reminded of Steven Spielberg’s 1977 science fiction movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and Devils Tower.

The last segment of the week's journey takes us from Devils Tower back to South Dakota and our hotel in Rapid City.
 Dinner: Enjoy a catered dinner at the hotel meeting room with all your new Road Scholar Friends. This is the time for you to bring your poems, songs, skits, readings or whatever you want to share with the group. A farewell fun night! Program ends with dinner and overnight stay.
Accommodations: Howard Johnson Express Inn & Suites
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Independent Departures from Rapid City.
(Saturday, August 29)

Note: Continental breakfast available from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. at the hotel. Independent departures anytime before hotel check-out at noon.

 Depart From: You may depart the hotel at any time you wish until hotel check-out time at 12:00 noon. If you need a later check-out time, contact the hotel directly to make arrangements.
 Breakfast: Continental breakfast at the hotel begins at 6:00 a.m.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Rapid City, South Dakota Rapid City SD
There is very limited free time in Rapid City during the program dates. After dinner, enjoy soaking in the hot tub or swim in the hotel's pool, visit with other participants in the meeting room, take a walk or just relax in your room and get organized for another exciting day. Contact South Dakota Traveling Studies with specific questions at 605-348-1996.

If you come early or stay later, Rapid City has numerous historic places to visit including Stave Kirk or Chapel in the Hills; The Journey Museum; Prairie Edge (an American Indian Store) which is just like a museum and the South Dakota School of Mines Geology Museum. Visit a local Black Hills Gold Jewelry manufacturing company. Take a stroll downtown and visit the Oldest Hotel in town, Alex Johnson Hotel, and marvel at the life size presidential statues on each of the downtown street corners.

There is a trolley system that provides transportation around the downtown area and to some of the major attractions. Check the website for stops, times and seasonal hours of operation. For additional information, visit
  Riverton, WY Riverton WY
Tonight relax at the hotel. Swim in the indoor pool or use the exercise equipment to loosen up after a day of traveling. The lobby is always available for those that want to play cards or board games. Walmart and Kmart are within walking distance. For the more adventurous, the front desk will call the Indian Casino (located a few miles from the hotel) to come and pick up and return anyone interested in going to the Casino. For additional information, visit
  Old Faithful Area Yellowstone National Park Old Faithful Area
Watch Old Faithful Geyser; take a stroll on the boardwalk to see more geysers and thermal features; learn about the immediate area's geology, plants, animals and the Park's history at the Visitor's Center; attend the National Park Evening Program; and take a self-tour of Old Faithful Inn. For additional information, visit www.npsgov/yell/ or
  Cody, WY Cody, WY
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center is open until 8:00 p.m. if you wish to stay longer than the allotted group time. Watch the free re-enactment of a wild-west shoot-out that takes place at 6:00 p.m. right in front of the Irma Hotel. Attend the Cody Nite Rodeo (8:00 to 10:00 p.m. June 1 through August 31) - own cost. Relax and unwind at the professionally produced Dan Miller Music Show across the street from the Irma Hotel (cost included with program). Or walk the main street of Cody and window shop in the many art galleries, antique shops and western theme stores. For additional information, visit and
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Black Elk Speaks

Author: John Neihardt

Description: This book gives the reader a good background of the Northern Plains Indian Culture and Religion.

Crazy Horse & Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors.

Author: Ambrose, Stephen E.

Description: The book describes the parallel lives of Crazy Horse and Custer. An interesting account that traces the activities of the two men through the years prior to their meeting at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876.

History of Grand Teton National Park

Author: Charles Craighead

Description: The story of the people and culture that first shaped Jackson Hole is encompassed in this great guide. From American Indians to the first person to climb the Grand Teton, this guide has essentials you'll enjoy knowing. With historic photos and correlating map, you can't go wrong if you want to know about people and places in Grand Teton and Jackson Hole. Beautiful photos by nature photographer Henry Holdsworth.

Lost Bird Of Wounded Knee

Author: Renee Sansom Flood

Description: Tells the life story of an Indian baby girl found under her mother's frozen body after the Wounded Knee Massacre (1890) in present day Pine Ridge Indian Reservation South Dakota.

Roadside History of Yellowstone National Park

Author: Winfred Blevins

Description: The "Roadside History' series charts a course to the present through carefully selected and thoroughly researched stories relating what we see today with what happened before. Through vivid anecdotes, old photographs, and maps, the "Roadside History" guides provide entertaining insight into the states and/or regions they describe. The history of Yellowstone Park is rich with tales of the diverse people who have visited this natural wonderland along with a "road log" approach that helps place modern travelers in the past.

Six Wars At A Time

Author: Audrey and Howard Shaff

Description: The life and times of Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of Mount Rushmore.

Standing Witness: Devils Tower National Monument, A History

Author: Jeanne Rogers

The Carving of Mount Rushmore

Author: Rex Alan Smith

Description: This work tells the story of the spectacular artistic and engineering project of carving the American presidents' portraits on Mount Rushmore. It describes how it was conceived and carried out. The author was brought up in sight of Mount Rushmore and witnessed the work in progress.

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

Plus these special experiences...

View the Daily Schedule to see more

And included with all Road Scholar programs:

© Road Scholar 2016 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768