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Day 1 – Arrive in Deadwood, SD. Check into your local hotel for a three night stay. Dinner tonight is at Kevin Costner’s restaurant, Diamond Lil’s, where costumes from his many movies decorate the walls. After dinner, enjoy a stroll down Main Street, have a drink in the saloon where Wild Bill took a bullet, watch a gunfight in the street or enjoy an evening in one of the casinos. Deadwood is one of the most fun, pedestrian towns in the West and we put you in the center of the action.
Day 2 – Today you will enjoy a full day of Black Hills touring, starting with a tour of Deadwood. Then tour the Trail of 76 Museum one of the most complete collection of historic wagons, antiques and native artifacts in the Black Hills. Next, is a visit to Tatanka, an incredible life size sculpture of a buffalo jump and learn the ‘Story of the Buffalo” and the dependence of The Plains Indian upon it.
Throughout the balance of this day we will provide you with historical narration as well as opportunities to shop for Black Hills Gold and Western art. The last attraction will be Mount Rushmore, where you will have a chance to walk up close to the monument, visit the artist’s studio, and then enjoy dinner and the evening Lighting Ceremony. See the illuminated faces, listen to a speech presentation by a park ranger and watch a video all about Mount Rushmore!
Day 3 – This morning starts with a leisurely 3 mile drive through a spectacular wildlife park. Bear Country USA is nestled on 200 acres of Black Hills beauty. Here you’ll see the world’s largest habitation of black bears and grizzly bears plus 20 other species of North American animals like buffalo, wolves and elk all from the comfort of the bus. At the end of the tour you have a chance to walk around Babyland and see baby bears frolicking in the outdoors.
Your day of natural history continues with a jeep tour at Custer State Park. You will drive close to and through large herds of free roaming buffalo. Plus you’ll see antelope, prairie dogs and more from your open air jeep. The wildlife in this park is beautiful.
You will also visit Hill City a western town rejuvenated into an arts community, featuring funky shops, galleries, and boutiques. Their economic resurgence has been assisted by their neighbors the Crazy Horse Memorial whom you visit next. This unfinished mountain carving is much larger than Mt Rushmore and is dedicated to Native Americans. You will enjoy dinner here in the Laughing Water Restaurant, followed by the “Legends in Light” Laser Show.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is dedicated to the historic heritage and living cultures of the North American Indians and the preservation of the history and culture. “The Legends in Light,” a laser-light program projected on the mountain carving, illuminates cultural diversities, celebrates similarities and encourages harmony among all people.
Day 4 – An interesting day’s drive as you climb over the western slope of the Black Hills, then cross the Wyoming Grasslands passing through Cheyenne, following the eastern foothills of the Rockies, though Denver to your destination Colorado Springs, CO. Here you enjoy a three night stay. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Day 5 – This morning begins with your ride on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway – all the way to the 14,110 foot summit. Keep your eyes open for big horn sheep and yellow bellied marmot once you get above the timberline. This 8.9 miles long ride begins along Ruxton Creek in Englemann Canyon. Here the track is built next to the stream where there are boulder fields on both sides. Conductors like to point out the various “faces” and shapes, which with a bit of imagination can be seen in them, during the first 1/3 of the trip. Then you pass Minnehaha Falls and through a natural gateway known as Hells Gate, then Lake Moraine and Mount Almagre before climbing above the timberline. You will spend 20-30 minutes at the 14,110 foot summit. From here, on a clear day, you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Denver and the Great Plains to the east. There are often clouds between you and the view below.
Next tour the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, located at the foot of Pikes Peak, these mountain dwellings are a rare historical treasure built by a civilization that passed long before the white man arrived. Following it you will tour the Garden of the Gods Park, a Registered National Natural Landmark in Colorado Springs. Here you enjoy a 14 minute movie then learn about the park’s geology and experience Native-American culture. There will also be ample time to explore the Garden of the Gods Trading Post one of the largest collection of western art and souvenirs in the area.
Dinner tonight is at the Edelweiss, for 30 years, this family spot has offered authentic German cuisine in a cozy Bavarian setting. There are also some American and continental selections on the menu. Weekends feature strolling musicians. Indoor and outdoor dining available.
Day 6 – You begin this day with a morning ride on the Royal Gorge Train. It is the opposite of yesterday’s Colorado Rocky Mountain High, this is a journey filled with pristine views inside one of Colorado’s grandest canyons. Since 1879, these tracks have followed the winding, tumbling Arkansas River deep within the 1,000-foot granite cliffs of Colorado’s Royal Gorge. It is the route that is the attraction – not a thrill ride – just rugged scenery. Enjoy the view from the comfort of your coach car or step outside on the open-air car for a fresh-air moment where the up-close-and-personal nature of this 1,000-foot deep and very narrow canyon will remind you of the awesome beauty produced by our good friend, Mother Nature.
This afternoon you visit the U.S, Olympic Training Center. Here you will see a narrative film, then tour the training facilities, visit the Olympic Hall of Fame and finally the Olympic Spirit Store.
Then, if security allows, you will enjoy a tour of Air Force Academy. (Note Government issued photo ID’s are required). Did you know the Air Force Academy is both a military organization and a university? The Academy is responsible for cadet military training and education. While the 10th Air Base Wing is responsible for medical, engineering, logistics, and more for the U.S. Military with over 25,000 military and civilian personnel working here.
Dinner tonight is at the Stagecoach Inn. Here you’ll have a choice of entrees that includes Buffalo.
Day 7 – This morning you’re bound for home as this great adventure ends.