Gillette is a popular base location for those who want to visit Devil’s Tower National Monument, being ideally situated on the route between Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Yellowstone National Park.
While in the area, groups can visit the Durham Buffalo Ranch, one of the largest and longest-operating buffalo ranches in the world. The ranch is home to about 3,000 head of buffalo, which groups will be able to see on a guided tour. The tour will also provide insights into the holistic and sustainable process by which Durham cares for its herd and its rangelands. In addition to the group tours, the ranch offers the added experience of a buffalo dinner following the tour, as well as guided buffalo or pronghorn hunts.
Groups looking for other cowboy-state experiences will enjoy Gillette’s Cam-Plex. Gillette has hosted the finals of the National High School Rodeo Association Championships since 2001, bringing in young rodeo competitors from across the United States, Canada and Brazil. Other rodeos and outdoor activities are held throughout the year at the facilities.
Nearby Parks: Devil’s Tower National Monument, Thunder Basin National Grassland, Keyhole State Park
Cody takes its name from the town founder, Buffalo Bill Cody. Groups looking for outdoor adventure in the area can take their inspiration from the Western show star. Nearby is the McCullough Peaks Wild Horse Herd Management Area, a wild-mustang sanctuary where the herd is believed to have descended from the horses in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Groups interested in seeing the mustangs can take a guided tour, offered daily throughout the summer season.
Another popular option for groups is a scenic float trip on the Shoshone River Canyon. Groups can kayak, paddleboard or raft down the river at different skill levels depending on which route they take. For the not-so-adventurous, there are also quieter options that allow groups to simply sit back and enjoy the scenery while guides do the work of paddling. Along the shores, rafters may see a variety of wildlife, and those traveling near the mouth of the canyon and the Buffalo Bill Reservoir will encounter an extinct geyser basin. Groups often split up, with some travelers enjoying a relaxing float trip and others venturing out to see the wild horses, then trade off.
Nearby Parks: Bighorn National Forest, Shoshone National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, Buffalo Bill State Park
Jackson is widely know for its winter sports and arts scene, but the city is also a great year-round outdoor destination perfectly situated to explore the two closest national parks: Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
Groups can take any of the many guided tours of the valley or the nearby parks. Tours vary in length from a few hours to multiple days, with options like wildlife watching, hiking, photography and viewing the region’s dramatic scenery.
The National Elk Refuge is located on the edge of town. The refuge is a great destination for wildlife viewing, since it is the winter home of the largest elk herd in the world. On average, there are 7,500 elk migrating from as far away as the southern portion of Yellowstone National Park to the area each year in one of the world’s longest animal migrations. The refuge is also home to bald eagles, trumpeter swans, bison, pronghorns and bighorn sheep.
For others who want to embrace the area’s well-known wintertime offerings, snowmobiling and skiing are popular activities, as well as a stay at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort or the Snow King Resort.
Nearby Parks: Grand Teton National Park, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, Shoshone National Forest, Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is a bucket-list destination for many, with well-known natural attractions such as Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the Norris Geyser Basin. Groups can try a variety of guided tours, from snow coach, stagecoach or custom bus tours to fishing, hiking or biking trips for a closer look at the park’s stunning topography.
Travelers visiting Yellowstone will be treated to about 3,500 square miles of mountain ranges and canyons, lush forest and volcanic features, as well as the world’s largest collection of geysers, which make up 60 percent of all of the world’s geysers and hot springs.
Groups that want to take part in a less crowded experience will love a Yellowstone ScenicCruise on Yellowstone Lake. While on board, travelers can see the wreckage of the SS E.C. Waters and view the wildlife along the lake and on Stevenson Island. Groups will often pair a cruise with a lunch at the Lake Yellowstone Hotel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Another impressive experience is one of the twilight tours. The Twilight on the Firehole tour will give guests the memorable experience of watching the brilliant colors as day turns to night and the stars begin to peek out over one of the parks thermal areas. The Evening Wildlife Encounters are another great option that will take groups to see the animals when they are the most active. The Lamar Valley is widely regarded as the best wildlife-viewing area in the park and is one of the areas available to groups on various tours.