We begin our journey today traveling west through Tennessee and Kentucky before arriving in St. Charles, Missouri, for our first overnight. St. Charles was Missouri’s first state capital between 1821 and 1826,while a permanent capital city was in the planning and development stages in Jefferson City. It is the third oldest city west of the Mississippi and is located on the Missouri River .
Today, we travel northwest stopping for lunch in the Kansas City area before continuing to Lincoln, Nebraska for the night. Lincoln is the capital city of Nebraska and the State Capitol has a domed tower with observation decks. The Nebraska State Capitol is nicknamed “Tower on the Plains”. We will tour the Capitol Building before checking into our hotel.
Our journey continues through Nebraska to Paxton for lunch at Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse, a great experience and a delicious meal. We continue to Cheyenne, Wyoming, the capital and most populous city of the state of Wyoming. It was named for the Native American Cheyenne nation, one of the most famous and prominent Great Plains tribes. We will take a photo stop at the Capitol Building and the Governor’s Man- sion before checking into our hotel for the night.
We continue north through Wyoming to the Black Hills of South Dakota to Rapid City. We will enjoy an included luncheon at the Laughing Water Restaurant at the Crazy Horse Memorial. We do not have time to visit the Memorial; however, we will be treated to a spectacular view of the Mountain Carving while enjoying some of the area’s best cuisine. After lunch we view the faces of four great American Presidents carved on a 6,000 foot mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Visit the DancesWith Wolves film set at Fort Hays this evening before the dinner bell ringscalling all cowboys and cowgirls to bring their appetites for a delicious Chuckwagon dinner and show featuring the Fort Hays Wranglers.
This morning before departing Rapid City, we visit Bear Country USA, a refuge for bears, wolves, bison, and many other wild animals, and enjoy a leisurely 3-mile drive through this unique North American Wildlife park nestled on 250 acres of Black Hills Beauty. We travel north through South Dakota crossing into North Dakota. We soon arrive in the historical town of Medora. In the evening we will enjoy a unique western meal with amagnificent North Dakota sunset as a backdrop. The Tjaden Terrace is abeautiful open air shelter and terrace with a spectacular view of the North Dakota Badlands and the town of Medora. Here you will enjoy an 11-ounce rib-eye steak cooked “Cowboy Style” on the end of a pitchfork—a Medora treat you won’t soon forget. After dinner we will see the greatest show in the west, The Medora Musical. The North Dakota Badlands provide a spectacular backdrop for the Burning Hills Amphitheatre, home to this world-famous musical.
This morning we will make a photo stop just east of Medora at Painted Canyon situated in Teddy Roosevelt National Park which is referred to as “The Badlands of North Dakota”. We continue to Bismarck to visit the Capitol—a 19-story white limestone and black granite skyscraper loomingabove the plains. Memorial Hall, on the ground floor, boasts 40 foot bronzepillars, black marble and yellowstone travertine walls as well as a marblefloor. On the Capitol grounds, the statue of Sakakawea commemorates the”Bird Woman” of the Shoshone tribe. She was an invaluable guide and interpreter with the Lewis and Clark expedition and in obtaining horses from the Shoshone for mountain crossings. After lunch, we continue to Fargo, North Dakota for the night.
Today, traveling south through North Dakota and back into the state of South Dakota, we make a stop at The Redlin Art Center in Watertown, South Dakota. Terry Redlin’s interest in out-of-doors themes can be traced to his childhood in Watertown. Few artists can rival the standards of excellence achieved by Master Artist Terry Redlin over the past 25 years. He is truly one of the country’s most widely collected painters of wildlife and Americana. We continue to Sioux Falls—bordering Iowa and Minnesota, Sioux Falls is in the “Heart of America” located on the banks of the Big Sioux River and is South Dakota’s largest city. After lunch, we continue through Omaha to Nebraska City for two nights at the amazing Lied Lodge located on the 260-acre Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska. This National Historic Landmark—and the birthplace of Arbor Day, the tree planter’s holiday—is packed with fun and adventure for the whole family. Inspiring, seasonal food is served under soaring timbers in their Timbers Restaurant alongside sweeping views of Arbor Day Farm. The menu reflects what’s fresh for the season, bringing the best fruits and vegetables from the field to your table.
After breakfast at Timbers we begin our day with the Discovery Ride, a one-hour journey into the backwoods of Arbor Day Farm. We travel through orchards and vineyards, over streambeds and all across the 260 historic acres of Arbor Day Farm. Along the way, a Nature Interpreter will share interesting facts, historical tidbits and conservation information about our natural surroundings. Next we visit Arbor Lodge the home of the J. Sterling and Caroline Morton family. The four-room house built in 1855 was renovated over the years into a Victorian-style mansion. The 52-room mansion includes many Morton family Victorian and Empire-era furnishings. Guests may stroll the gardens and trails to view towering trees, many of which were planted by the Morton family. Arbor Lodge State Historical Park and Arboretum encompasses 72 acres of wooded area and gardens, with over 260 species of trees and shrubs. Head to Porter’s for fall-off-the-bone barbecue, a variety of sandwiches, house-made sauces, and sides made right on the farm. Hike along forested trails, climb a 50-foot-tall treehouse, Treetop Village is a three-acre, fun-for-all-ages nature experience up in the trees. It is the only place in America where you can climb and scamper from treehouse to treehouse – all 11 of them – without ever touching the ground. It’s the only place in America where having fun helps plant forests around the world!
We depart Nebraska City traveling northeast through Iowa, often referred to as the “American Heartland”. Iowa is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east; the Missouri River and the Big Sioux River on the west. The southern border is the Des Moines River.We continue through St. Louis to Fairview Heights, Illinois for our last night.