MONDAY - AUGUST 12 Today we board our motorcoach for a full day of travel. After lunch, we visit the Amana Colonies, whose streets, with their historic brick, stone and clapboard homes, flower and vegetable gardens and walkways, recall the Amana of yesterday. Your tour starts at the Amana Heritage Museum. Afterwards, you can visit the School House, the Noe House, and the Wash House, all historically significant Amana buildings. For those that want to, you can shop or browse the nearby stores. From here we head west to arrive in Urbandale, Iowa, and enjoy dinner in a restaurant that honors the American Farmer and then, just minutes from the restaurant, settle in for the night.
MONDAY - AUGUST 13 The day begins with a full hot breakfast buffet. Still heading west, we leave Iowa behind. Just west of Omaha, we stop at Father Flanagan's Home for Boys in Boys Town, Nebraska. Started in 1917 by an Irish priest, Boys Town welcomed all boys. As the afternoon continues, we will travel into the watershed of the Platte River Valley. This was the path of the Oregon, Mormon, and California Trails. We are following the route of America's Westward Migration. We’ll stop at the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument where you will see the story of Westward Migration from Native Americans through today's interstate system and the fiber-optic network. After the tour and dinner we will depart for North Platte where we will stay the night.
TUESDAY - AUGUST 14 After another full hot breakfast buffet to start our day, off we go. We will visit Golden Spike Tower & Visitor Center before departing North Platte. The Tower gives you a 360-degree, bird's eye view of Union Pacific's Bailey Yard, the world's largest railroad classification yard. Following Route 26 West, our next stop is Carhenge, a replica of England's Stonehenge located near the city of Alliance on the High Plains. Instead of being built with large standing stones, as is the case with the original Stonehenge, Carhenge is formed from vintage American automobiles, all covered with gray spray paint. Arrive at Deadwood Gulch Casino Resort Hotel in Deadwood, South Dakota, for a two night’s stay. After a wine and cheese reception, you’ll enjoy a scrumptious buffet dinner.
WEDNESDAY - AUGUST 15 After breakfast, sit back and see the sights of Deadwood, then tour the Black Hills of South Dakota. Visit Mount Rushmore National Park, walk along the Avenue of Flags, relax and view the faces, and visit the small museum and gift shop. Lunch will be on your own at the cafeteria at Mount Rushmore. After a visit to Crazy Horse Memorial, we’ll return to the hotel for a five-course, fine-dining experience in an authentic early 1900s dining car. Then take your seats in The Living Map Theater for an amazing new attraction.
THURSDAY - AUGUST 16 After breakfast we will depart from Deadwood and travel west on I-90, taking a mid-morning break in Gillette, Wyoming. The long coal trains you’d been seeing along the way through Nebraska are going and coming from this area. Continue on 1-90 to have lunch at the historic Sheridan Inn in Sheridan. Enjoy the scenic drive from Sheridan traveling through the beautiful Big Horn Mountains. Visit Shell Falls, where there’s a paved walk that takes visitors to a couple of overlooks of the Falls. Continuing on I-90, we’ll stop for the night in Cody, Wyoming. A treat will be the Chuckwagon Dinner Buffet & Show at the hotel. Afterwards, we’ll take in the Cody Nile Rodeo.
FRIDAY - AUGUST 17 Departing the hotel, we have a short jaunt to reach and visit the Buffalo Bill Cody Historical Center. It’s actually five museums in one. Lunch will be your own in the museum’s Mustang Grill. We will then follow Highway 14 to the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park, stopping for a break at Fishing Bridge by the Park Visitors Center. Then we’ll travel west through the park, proceeding to Yellowstone Park Hotel in West Yellowstone, Montana, for two nights.
SATURDAY - AUGUST 18 A step-on guide will meet us at the hotel for our all-day Grand Loop Tour that includes the highlights of Yellowstone in a nutshell. You'll start the day heading to geyser country with our experienced guide, stopping for wildlife and photography before arriving at the tried-and-true favorite Old Faithful. Additional highlights include Firehole River, geyser walks, Old Faithful Inn, Continental Divide, Yellowstone Lake, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone Falls, Hayden Valley, natural thermal features, and Yellowstone's wildlife! Back at the hotel, we will be on our own for dinner. There are several small restaurants near the hotel. .
SUNDAY - AUGUST 19 Enjoy a deluxe continental breakfast this morning to start the day. It will be a good idea to dress in layers today as it could be a little cool on the float trip and wear sturdy shoes, too. This is a long day, but it will be an amazing one! We will travel south into Teton National Park. The Tetons are some of the most dramatic mountains in the U.S. There are several places to stop and take pictures. Elk and deer are commonly seen in this area. We will continue into Jackson, Wyoming, where we will take the river float trip. There is a nice area for those not doing the float trip to wait for the rest of the group. A box lunch will be provided by the rafting company to be eaten on the river raft. Don't forget to bring your camera! Leaving Jackson, we will head north on Highway 26 to arrive in Riverton, Wyoming, for a buffet dinner at the hotel and a restful evening.
MONDAY - AUGUST 20 After a good night’s sleep and breakfast we will head East to Hot Springs, South Dakota. Lunch will be in Douglas, which uses a Jackalope as its symbol. Just a few blocks from the restaurant is a huge concrete jackalope statue that's always good for a picture stop. Before checking into the hotel, we’ll visit The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. Travel back in time when Ice Age mammoth camel and giant, short-faced bear roamed the Great Plains of North America. A relaxing dinner can be found across the street from the hotel.
TUESDAY - AUGUST 21 This morning we will depart for Rapid City to visit Black Hills Gold Jewelry. The women will love it! After the tour, there will be plenty of time to shop. This is the place to buy Black Hill Gold jewelry as it is authentic. We will drive along the Presidential Statue Route in Rapid City, where statues of presidents grace various street corners in the downtown area. Then, this afternoon, it’s onto Wall, South Dakota. We will stop at the famous Wall Drug Store, renowned for "Free Ice Water" and for being one of the largest gift shops in the entire west, spanning 76,000 square feet. After lunch, we will drive through Badlands National Park and continue east to Mitchell, home of the world's only Corn Palace, where we’ll have dinner and take a guided tour before turning in for the night.
WEDNESDAY - AUGUST 22 We depart for Minnesota this morning, stopping in Austin at a great Barbecue Place for lunch. Afterwards, we visit the SPAM Museum, which features sophisticated exhibits and displays pertaining to the history of Hormel Foods since its founding in 1891 and its various products, including the world famous SPAM family of products. Then we will travel to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to the Norskedelan Norwegian Nature & Heritage Center for a traditional Norwegian meal followed by entertainment, including music by the Norskadelan Trio, featuring Scandinavian Folk Tunes, polkas, waltzes, and comedy.
THURSDAY - AUGUST 23 Today as we depart for home, we will head to the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin, for a guided tour. The Ringling Bros. Circus was founded in Baraboo in 1884. Ringlingville was the name of the original Ringling Bros. Circus winter quarters in Baraboo. The buildings date from 1897 through 1918 and are the largest surviving group of original circus structures in North America. Also, Circus World's collection of circus artifacts is perhaps the largest in the world with over 210 original wagons and vehicles once used by American, English, and Irish circuses. Our farewell dinner, Italian family style, will be in Lombard, Illinois. From there we will continue onward towards home, returning with fond memories and new friendships!