A Western tour has something for all


Patsy Pridgen


Life Columnist

Sunday, June 9, 2019

It’s my husband’s idea of a great trip.

Not a European museum or cathedral on the itinerary. No classical music or dance performances to attend. Instead, a road trip that begins in South Dakota, winds through the range lands of Montana and follows parts of the original Oregon Trail in Idaho. Along the way, visits to two national parks with wildlife sightings, geyser gazing and lots of hiking. We’ve signed up for the Caravan tour titled Mt. Rushmore, Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

I’m not the outdoors lover that my husband is, but I’m excited about this trip, too. I’ve never been to this part of the Wild, Wild West, but the brochure looks nice. There are photographs of mountain peaks in the Grand Teton National Park, geysers in Yellowstone National Park and presidential faces carved in Mount Rushmore. I’m eager to see if it’s all as impressive in person.

I also like American history, and there’s a lot of that goes with the sites of this trip. For example, we’ll visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield in the Crow Nation to see where Custer made his last stand. On a happier note, we’ll travel to Billings, Montana, near where Lewis and Clark camped in 1806, and we’ll then journey alongside the Yellowstone River, following the Lewis and Clark trail. Yellowstone National Park, one of the highlights of the tour, has an interesting history, too. It became the first national park in the world when it was established by Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872.

We’ll spend two nights in Yellowstone National Park staying at the Old Faithful Inn, which is billed as being within “easy viewing and walking distance of Old Faithful Geyser.” That’s good, because I definitely want to see Old Faithful, a natural wonder I’ve heard about my whole life. Surprisingly, I’ve read Old Faithful is just one of almost 300 geysers at the park. Evidently, I won’t have to look hard to find shooting water.

I’ve studied the brochure for shopping information and found that we will be in Jackson, Wyoming, which has a “charming downtown” with art galleries and western shops. And a visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial, the world’s largest sculpture in progress, may have a commercial side benefit, too. Here, Indian artisans “showcase their arts and crafts.” I’m betting that description means these items will be for sale. No trip is complete for me without buying a few souvenirs.

Our week of western wandering ends in Salt Lake City, Utah, another place I’ve never been. We’re scheduled for an afternoon visit to the Mormon Temple Square to see the gardens and fountains, which I’ve heard are quite a sight. Unless a religious ceremony is taking place, we’ll see the Mormon Tabernacle or at least the part that’s open to visitors. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll hear the world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir practicing.

Having at least one cultural experience would be good for us after all those days of gazing at the Big Sky Country of Montana, Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Tetons.

Check out Patsy Pridgen’s blog at www.patsypridgen.com.