American Legacy

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American Legacy embodies the sweep of westward expansion on the Northern Plains.  It is embodied in the explorers, trappers, Native Americans and military whose trails we re-trace on this 9-day interpretive tour. Capture the spirit of Lewis & Clark, Custer, Sitting Bull, and Teddy Roosevelt as they strode across the stage of frontier America.

Begins in Bismarck, ND.  Ends in Denver, CO

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Tour highlights:

  • Missouri River dinner cruise
  • Fort Abraham Lincoln
  • Knife River Indian Villages
  • Fort Union
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Medora Musical
  • Custer State Park
  • Mount Rushmore
  • Crazy Horse Monument
  • Badlands National Park
  • Wall Drug
  • Fort Robinson
  • Museum of the Fur Trade
  • Fort Laramie
  • Oregon Trail sites
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Tour Itinerary:

Day # 1 - Arrivals

Upon arrival at the Bismarck Municipal Airport passengers will be transported to our hotel. We’ll start things off in the proper atmosphere with a get-acquainted dinner aboard the Lewis & Clark paddle-wheeler as it cruises the Missouri River. (D)

Day # 2 - Fort Abraham Lincoln / Knife River Indian Villages

Our tour back in time begins this morning at Fort Abraham Lincoln, George Armstrong Custer’s final command post. The Custer home and many of the post’s original buildings have been painstakingly reconstructed here. We’ll tour the grounds and the adjacent Indian Village before departing for the only park in the National Park System that is set aside to commemorate the Plains Indian: Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. The outstanding interpretive center and model earth lodge shed light on the people who continually inhabited this site for as long as 500-600 years ago to 1845. We’ll overnight tonight in Williston. (B, L)

Day # 3 - Fort Union / Theodore Roosevelt National Park / Medora Musical

Another eventful day begins with a tour of the beautifully restored Fort Union. Established by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company, Fort Union was the most important fur trading post on the Missouri River between 1822 and 1867. Fur Trapping gave way to cattle ranching later in the century and our next stop illustrates one man’s dream of a cattle ranching and shipping empire. Named for the Marquis de Mores’ wife, Medora, the town boomed and busted at the end of the century, but not before Teddy Roosevelt became a resident and formulated many of his conservation ideas and rugged personal qualities. We’ll visit the national park named for the “bully” president, enjoy a unique pitchfork fondue and take in a performance of the much-acclaimed Medora Musical before calling it a day! (B, D)

Day # 4 - Medora to the Black Hills

Medora’s western hospitality continues this morning with breakfast in the Chuckwagon Cafe. We’ll have ample time to explore the numerous shops and museums (or take an optional trail ride in the park) before heading south to more of TR’s stomping grounds, the Black Hills of South Dakota. Our home for the next three nights will be the State Game Lodge, summer White House to two US Presidents, located in beautiful Custer State Park. (B)

Day # 5 - Mount Rushmore / Custer State Park

Today we’ll, tour an authentic gold mine and view America’s Shrine to Democracy, Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Also on the agenda is the still-unfinished Crazy Horse Mountain sculpture. This afternoon’s adventurous jeep tour to see the largest publicly-owned buffalo herd in America will precede dinner at the Lodge – where we’ll dine on buffalo steak! (B, D)

Day # 6 - Badlands National Park

South Dakota’s Badlands National Park is our destination today, but before our sojourn begins we will visit another Journey – the Museum of that name in the gate city of Rapid City. An impressive collection of four previous museums, our tour here will give us a useful background on the area and its previous inhabitants. Described by early explorers as “hell with the fires burned out”, the Badlands offer unique geologic beauty, Native American culture and of course, world-famous Wall Drug. We’ll spend the entire day exploring and picture-taking in this incredible natural area. (B)

Day # 7 - Mammoth Site / Museum of Fur Trade / Fort Robinson

Before departing the Black Hills today we’ll visit a paleontological dig where over 100 complete mammoth skeletons have been unearthed in the old spa town of Hot Springs. The outstanding tour and interpretive exhibits reveal the area as it was 26,000 years ago. Moving southward we’ll visit the Museum of the Fur Trade and Fort Robinson, a post-Civil War Indian Agency where Crazy Horse breathed his last.  Overnight:  Scottsbluff, NE (B, D)

Day # 8 - Fort Laramie / Oregon Trail

The trail leads to Fort Laramie today as we tour the best-known milepost on the Oregon Trail. Wagon wheel ruts are still visible in nearby Guernsey, mute testimony to the thousands of emigrants who carried their hopes and ambitions westward over a hundred years ago. The living history exhibits and interpretive tour of the fort provide a deeper understanding of both the westward expansion movement and the Native Americans who staked their lives on preventing it. The end of the trail is Denver, where we’ll wind up our memorable Old West adventure with a festive farewell dinner. Overnight:  Denver (B, L, D)

Day # 8 - Departures

Sadly we bid a fond farewell to our western adventure as we transfer to the airport for our return flights home. (B)

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Happy Trails!