Celebrating America’s National Parks
Family vacations to America's national parks are a tried-and-true summer tradition. While, as parents and grandparents, we can explain the grandeur of these destinations — their unparalleled scenic splendor, their importance to America's identity — nothing compares to actually experiencing these parks in person.
Our world-class guides will introduce you and your family to several of our most treasured national parks. And what an introduction it is! Expect s’mores and stargazing in the Badlands, the evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore, a picnic in Yellowstone, horseback riding in the shadows of the Tetons and rafting in the Snake River, just to name a few unforgettable experiences. These are certainly the makings of a vacation your kids (or grandchildren) will never forget.
Day 1 - 3 : The Black Hills and Badlands
Spend the first few nights visiting historic Rapid City, South Dakota, and hidden treasures in the Black Hills and Badlands National Park.
Arrive in Rapid City and transfer to the historic Alex Johnson Hotel, your home for the next three nights. You may want to visit the Vertex rooftop lounge at the hotel; the view is spectacular.
Meet in the lobby with your fellow travelers for a briefing on your trip. Depart to a welcome dinner, followed by the evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore.
Take a private tour of the Black Hills region, focusing on Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Custer State Park and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Herds of bison and pronghorn antelope roam freely throughout Custer State Park, and can be viewed and photographed along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road. Have a picnic lunch in this scenic landscape.
Visit the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in Hill City, a leader in paleontological excavation and research. Head to a little-known dinosaur cave to see footprints left by some of these prehistoric giants.
This evening is on your own to enjoy any of the several fine restaurants with walking distance of our hotel.
Take a walking tour of historic Rapid City, known as the "City of Presidents" with life-sized bronze statues of past leaders throughout the downtown area.
After lunch, drive to Badlands National Park, with stops at scenic outlooks in the park’s North Unit to the view the Badlands Wall, a huge natural barrier that extends for hundreds of miles through the plains of South Dakota. It has been sculpted into fantastic pinnacles and gullies by the forces of wind and water.
The Badlands are especially dramatic at night. Watch the sunset and linger as the moon rises; your guide will have a telescope for star gazing as you have a BBQ dinner with s’mores under the starlit sky, then return to the hotel.
Day 4 : Cody, Wyoming, and the Nite Rodeo
Head west for Cody, Wyoming, with stops for breaks, lunch and scenic overlooks before arriving in midafternoon and checking into your hotel.
That evening, visit the Cody Nite Rodeo, held every summer evening. It includes bronco riding, calf roping, barrel racing and bull riding. A light dinner will be served near the rodeo beforehand.
Day 5 - 6 : Yellowstone National Park
Spend days immersed in the beauty and history of the iconic American West. Tour the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and the Natural History Museum, and explore Old Faithful and Yellowstone.
Tour Cody, with the main attraction being the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, which features several museums. Topics include Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show, the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, the lives of the Northern Plains Indian peoples and Western art. Continue to Old Trail Town, with historic buildings, furnishings and artifacts, including a preserved cabin that was used by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Drive an hour to the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park, then another 90 minutes to Old Faithful Snow Lodge, which is a short walk from the park's Visitor Center and Old Faithful Geyser. Tour Old Faithful with a guide, and watch it erupt from the outdoor deck of Old Faithful Inn, which is architecturally stunning.
Dinner tonight is on your own; the Obsidian Dining Room at Old Faithful Snow Lodge is recommended.
Explore Yellowstone with your guide, with stops at signature destinations including geothermal features, wildlife viewing sites and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. The guide will interpret the flora, fauna, geology and geothermal features and lead short nature walks. Have a picnic lunch, offering a chance to relax and enjoy the surrounding beauty.
Day 7 - 9 : Grand Teton and Jackson, Wyoming
Travel south through Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park, stopping for wildlife viewing and short walks to the best vistas of the Teton Range.
Visit a ranch stable for a one-hour horseback ride in the shadow of the Tetons.
Check in at Teton Mountain Lodge in Jackson, Wyoming. You will be at leisure to visit the wonderful shops and restaurants in Teton Village.
Dinner tonight is on your own. Recommended restaurants in Teton Village are Il Villaggio Osteria in Hotel Terra, Spur in Teton Mountain Lodge and Westbank Grill in the Four Seasons.
Travel with your guide to nearby Moose-Wilson Road to view moose, elk, beaver and black bears, and then view buffalo and antelope herds and other wildlife along the Gros Ventre River and Antelope Flats. Return to the hotel before noon.
After lunch, the group divides into those interested in Class III & IV whitewater rafting through the Snake River Canyon and those preferring a scenic float trip on a flat-water section of the Snake River in view of the Tetons.
Today, you are a climber, with rock-climbing guides customizing adventures for each family. Your climb can be mellow with many breaks or it can be a nonstop, challenging activity. In either case, you are fully harnessed for safety.
Tonight is the final group dinner in a private room at Spur at the hotel, overlooking the Tetons.
Day 10 : Departure
Private individual transfers to Jackson Airport will be arranged to allow for homebound flights.
Celebrating America’s National Parks
Contact an Andrew Harper Travel Advisor to book this itinerary or to customize your own! Call (800) 375-4685 or submit the form below.