Friday, July 6, 2012

Wild Wild (Mid)West - Montana, Wyoming & South Dakota Road Trip

Even though I technically live west of Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota, the upcoming road trip we have planned there reminds me of the "wild wild west."

M and I were taking a drive a few months ago and decided we wanted to take a road trip. But not just any road trip - a road trip to somewhere 1) we'd never been, and 2) that was completely different than California or the East Coast. Then we remembered we'd never seen some of the great "American" sights like Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore (which both scream road trip, no?) and voilĂ , a trip was born. 

I meant to write about our itinerary ages ago when we actually booked the trip, but stuff (like my real job) got in the way, and now it's right around the corner! SO. Here's a rundown of what we're going to be doing!



Pick up rental car - check into hotel, and check out Bozeman while we wait for X's plane to get in from NY. Downtown Bozeman has something called Music on Main with food vendors, booths, extended store hours, and, of course, music, and I can't wait to check it out! Attractions:
Downtown Bozeman Music on Main (with food vendors, booths, extended store hours, and music)
Schnee’s store
Downtown Bozeman (shops, restaurants & events)
Museum of the Rockies (dinosaur bones!)
Montana Grizzly Encounter (grizzly bears!)
Bozeman Hot Springs
Palisades Falls (about 25 miles outside of Bozeman)
Gallatin Canyon (about 18 miles outside of Bozeman, scenic canyon drive along river)

  Some awesome sounding food options:  
The Chocolate Moose Candy and Soda Shoppe
Montana Ale Works (brewery restaurant, pool hall?)
Ted’s Montana Grill (bison burgers)
Cafe Zydeco (Cajun food - coffee & biegnets!)
Over The Tapas
Cornerstone Grill
Pour House
Pub 317 (Irish pub in the historic Bozeman Hotel)
The Crystal Bar (dive bar, possible rooftop?)
Mainstreet Overeasy (cheap BREAKFAST!)
Leaf & Bean (coffee, tea, breakfast, pasteries)


We're heading out early this day so we can cram as much Yellowstone as we can into one day. The good news is that we're staying the night right outside of the park, so we can spend as much time as we want meandering around.

Yellowstone sights I'm dying to see (I hope we can fit most of these in!):
Yellowstone To Do
Old Faithful
Sapphire Pool
Geyser Hill Loop trail (1.3 miles)
Beehive and Castle geysers
Mammoth Hot Springs
Historic Fort Yellowstone
Tower Falls
Gibbon Falls

Food options:
Not many options in the park - so we need to be sure to bring lots of snacks this day.
Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria Bake Shop & Ice Cream Shop
The Lodgepole Room at Pahaska Tepee Lodge
The Tepee Tavern


Horseback riding first thing in the morning while we're still surrounded by the beauty of Yellowstone, then it's our longest day on the road - ending up in Sheridan, WY. Hopefully we'll make good time, because we'll be hitting up the rodeo, complete with a carnival and downtown street dance, when we get to Sheridan! So excited!

Buffalo Bill Dam Visitor Center
Shell Falls, WY. (There’s a small roadside interpretive center along highway 14 where you can view the falls!)
Bighorn National Forest
Sibley Lake - in Bighorn National Forest

Wyoming’s Rib & Chop House
Lulu’s Cafe (breakfast)


We'll probably get a little bit of a later start this day. We can take our time checking out the sights on the way to Deadwood - the one I'm most excited about is the Scenic Byway! Can't wait to see the photos I'll take driving through there.

Devil’s Tower National Monument in WY
Devil’s Tower Trading Post
Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway (waterfalls, 11th hour gulch)
Roughlock Falls, Spearhead (on Spearhead Canyon Scenic Byway)
Gold panning near Deadwood
Deadwood Gift Shoppe

Spearfish Crow Peak Brewing Company
Saloon 10 (museum/restaurant/bar)
Chubby Chipmunk Chocolates



And of course, there's an entire day dedicated to Mount Rushmore, Custer National Park, Hot Springs, and finally ending up in Rapid City! The more I research this day, the more excited I get!

The Museum at Black Hills Institute, Hill City
Black Hills “Sampler” Drive (do it backwards from Deadwood to Rapid City)
Mount Rushmore
Crazy Horse Memorial
Needles Highway (road to Sylvan lake etc)
Sylvan Lake
Iron Mountain Road (pigtail bridges?)
Wildlife Loop Road
Mount Coolidge Lookout and Fire Tower
Wind Cave Park (between Sampler Drive and Hot Springs)
Rapid City Tourism  
Wall Drug store Wall, SD
Dinosaur Park (free, also has great views of Rapid City)
Brass Rail Lounge (divey nightlife?)


Murphy’s Pub and Grill (Rueben sliders, mac & cheese)
Jerry’s Cakes & Donuts (pasteries!)
Armadillo’s Ice Cream Shop
Firehouse Brewing Company

I can't even describe how excited I am for this trip. The best part about it? All the big expenses - flights, hotels, car rental - came in under $800/person! I couldn't believe that we're getting a 6 day, 5 night trip for that little.  I'm a little bummed we made it a girls trip, cause that means BF will be missing out, but it's really going to be amazing. I'm sure I'll irritate the girls by pulling over every 5 minutes to take a photo. I'm sure we'll eat tons of food and fried things. And I'm sure I'll post a ton about it here when I get back!

Has anyone out there been on a trip like this? Are we cramming too much into 5 days? 

UPDATE - September 2012 

We're back and had a great time! You can read all about our trip at the following posts: 

- Montana & the Montana Grizzly Experience
- Yellowstone & horseback riding in Wyoming
- Driving across Wyoming & the Sheridan WYO Rodeo
- South Dakota, the Black Hills, and Mount Rushmore and Custer Parks


Anat Shafran-Klein said...

My husband and I are planning to go on this route in few weeks. Do you have any insights?
I'd love to hear if you have so,.


addy said...

Hi Anat! I'll try to get the posts of our trip up soon - the biggest thing for us was not having nearly enough time in Yellowstone... If we were to do it again, we'd stay twice as long!

Anonymous said...

We are planning a trip out West this summer and by far, this is the most informative blog I have run across. Thank you! Any suggestions for the South Dakota part of the trip? The link doesn't work.

addy said...

Hi Anon -

So glad you like the blog! We really had a great trip so I'm glad the itinerary is helpful to others. I've updated the links for the South Dakota part - but here they are again as well:

Thanks for stopping by!