2016 is the hundredth year of U.S National Parks Service. The national parks in each of these four States are therefore fittingly the focus of our first newsletter for the year but there’s much more to shout about in the Real America for 2016.
It comes as no surprise that the Real America region claimed 4 of only 8 national park spots within Busbud’s list of favoured instagrammed locations in the U.S. and Canada: Badlands National Park in South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota and Glacier National Park in Montana.
The giant-screen film, National Parks Adventure, will also premiere in February 2016 to celebrate the centenary of the U.S. National Park Service.
What’s New in Wyoming www.wyomingtourism.org
Yellowstone National Park’s Hotels get a birthday makeover
Canyon Lodge: Yellowstone National Park (YNP) Lodges has redeveloped the park’s Canyon Lodge with three new lodges opening in August 2015. Ultimately, five lodge buildings will provide 400 guest rooms that will replace outdated cabins and the addition of paths that will make the area more biker- and hiker-friendly. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2016 when the NPS marks 100 years. Over the next two seasons the smaller Frontier cabins will be removed and replaced with five modern multi-story lodges featuring stone and wood that blend into the surrounding area.
One of the world’s grandest park hotels, the famous Lake Yellowstone Hotel has also recently completed its two-year refurbishment.
The Good Dinosaur
With Disney*Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” now in theatres, online resources available at WyomingTourism.org/thegooddinosaur, have been designed to help visitors plan paleontological experiences in the state. Wyoming is the site of some of the best dinosaur fossil fields in the world. “Fans of Arlo and ‘The Good Dinosaur’ can roam the same areas that real dinosaurs did in pre-historic times, learn about what life was like for these creatures and even dig for dinosaur fossils throughout the state,” said Diane Shober, Executive Director of the Wyoming Office of Tourism. Wyoming is home to more than a dozen paleontological museums, dig sites and trails where visitors can admire and even find their own fossils. List and map of locations: https://www.wyomingtourism.org/things-to-do/paleontology
50th Anniversary Season Underway at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Over its nearly 50 year history, Jackson Hole has evolved but the spirit remains bold and wild, as the last true bastion for all those who dare to live this dream. JHMR was kick-started in the early 1960’s by the passionate dream of its founders, Paul McCollister and Alex Morley. From humble and rugged beginnings, this dream was fully realized decades later with the ingenuity of a family with historic ties to the Cowboy State. In their tenure of ownership since 1992, the Kemmerer family has invested greatly in the prosperity of Jackson Hole and the state of Wyoming. With vast improvements to operations, lifts and infrastructure, they have ushered JHMR into its present-day luster and world-wide iconic status as “The Big One.” This winter, JHMR is celebrating that “Born to Be Wild” spirit all season long with events, a video web series and movie produced by Teton Gravity Research, and ‘The Crags’ will undergo a transformation with the construction and December 19th, 2015 opening of the brand new Teton Lift and the addition of a new dining experience, The Piste Mountain Bistro. This new high-speed quad lift will carry skiers and riders 1,600 vertical feet to an area that has previously only been accessible via hiking. The Teton lift will provide multiple new decent options into the Casper intermediate skiing area and another run along the northern ridgeline down an intermediate slope with spectacular views of Grant Teton Nat Park.
Flying to Jackson Hole just got easier, with United Airlines addition of more flights during the peak winter season. This will mark the end of United’s expansion within America from Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. New connections will also be in place for Melbourne, London and Canada.
Zac Brown Band to headline the 3rd Annual Jackson Hole Rendezvous
This four-day spring lifestyle and music festival presents concerts on multiple stages in Teton Village and the iconic Town Square in Jackson, WY from March 17-20, 2016. With the addition of multi-platinum artists Zac Brown Band for Saturday night of the festival, Jackson Hole is anticipating a large turnout for this annual weekend of live music and events at one of the top ski destinations in the world. http://www.jacksonhole.com/rendezvous.html
Jackson’s Snow King Mountain Resort is set to open a treetop adventure park next summer which will include a series of tree-to-tree aerial challenges and much more. http://www.jacksonhole.com/50/http://snowkingmountain.com/treetop/
Wyoming Ranch is #1
The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch situated in Saratoga, Wyoming was named number 2 in Conde Nast Traveller’s reader’s choice awards for the top hotels & resorts in the world and won the highest rated spot in the USA. The ranch is set on a picturesque 30,000 acres in the heart of the Platte River Valley in South Eastern, Wyoming and offers panoramic views and a range of activities to suit riders and city slickers alike. www.brushcreekranch.com
More in Montana www.visitmt.com
Gateway project, Glacier’s Highline Trail & Beartooth Highway feature in 2016.
Coinciding with the NPSs hundredth birthday in 2016 and located at the historic North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the Gardiner Gateway project focuses on enhancing access to approximately ten million acres of Federal and State land in and around Yellowstone National Park. www.gardinergatewayproject.org. Glacier National Park’s Highline Trail was recently named in the top ten national park hikes by USA Today. This 15.2-mile trail hugs the Garden Wall Ridge along the continental Divide for most of its length. www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-national-park-hikeMontana’s scenic Beartooth All-American Highway, linking the towns of Red Lodge and Cooke City (and the northeast entrance of Yellowstone National Park), is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This 68-mile highway is nationally significant as an example of high altitude road construction and engineering that substantially increased recreational development and tourism in the region. The National Register is the nation’s official list of historic places worthy of preservation.www.BeartoothHighway.com
Missoula Named in Top 20 Coolest US Towns
Matador Network has named Missoula as one of its 20 coolest towns in the US. Renowned as the art and culture epicenter of Montana, Missoula coolly slotted in at number 6. With Missoula’s countless recreational options and the range of foodie and brewery outlets, The Matador Network dubbed the town as having highest ‘hipster to civilian’ ratio in Montana.
Attention Aussie pie lovers
Montana is famous for its steaks and burgers but is now also gaining a name for its pies and its very own pie trail. Try one of 16 eateries on the Montana Pie Trail where you can sample the State’s already famous Huckleberry pie plus raspberry, peach or lemon meringue and many more at www.centralmontana.com/pie_trail
Whitefish Mountain Resort Expands
Whitefish Mountain Resort has expanded its Base Lodge with the addition of the Base Lodge Café. The resort’s new Flower point chairlift and recently opened runs offer new access to the north side ski area. Whitefish Mountain Resort is known for epic views into Glacier National Park, consistent snow coverage and great early and late skiing, and the $1.4 million expansion adds 200+ acres of lift-served skiing, six new intermediate runs, connector trails and a fixed-grip triple chairlift making it an attractive option for Australian skiers looking for powder, pristine nature and perfect conditions.
North Dakota www.ndtourism.com
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park was also named within Busbud’s 8 most instragammed National Parks is open all year round. The 70,000 acre (and relatively little known) Theodore Roosevelt National Park has a vast and unique landscape. Named in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt who established the area as a National Park as a result of the extensive time he spent there, it is the only U.S. National Park named after a person and one that offers visitors a pristine landscape environment free of buildings and a host of wildlife viewing options. nps.gov/thro/index.htm
Hands of Peace Sculpture at the International Peace Garden
Located in the Turtle Mountains on the border of Canada, the International Peace Garden now displays the Hands of Peace Sculpture; one of the continent’s most symbolic attractions. This new sculpture pays tribute to the longstanding peace and friendship between the U.S and Canada. The sculpture is set on a pedestal of white granite amid a fountain of water. www.peacegarden.com
Luxury lodging for Fort Ransom State Park
Fort Ransom State Park, found in the scenic, tree lined Sheyenne River valley now offers a secluded holiday getaway. Fort Ransom has recently opened its unique lodging, which consists of two new, full service yurts that will be available all year round. The lodges are fully furnished with a dining table, refrigerator, kitchen, bathroom, bed and electricity.
New Trail at Pembina Gorge State Recreation Area
The colourful Pembina Gorge has a newly opened non-motorized trail extension. This 4-mile trail is ideal for hikers, bikers and equestrian riders. There is no fee to use the trails and visitors are further encouraged to explore and experience the beauty and native wildlife that is found within the Pembina Gorge and now accessible via this new trail. parkrec.nd.gov/recreationareas/pgra/pgra.html
South Dakota Celebrates Anniversaries www.travelsouthdakota.com
Great places, great faces turns 75
As the US commemorates its 100th year of the NPS South Dakota has another special anniversary to celebrate. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The final work on Mount Rushmore was completed in1941 and represents the beginning of tourism and economic growth in South Dakota. It showcases art on a grand scale and the determination of the women and men who completed it. Mount Rushmore is especially significant as it represents a place that visitors can come to reflect and learn about the history of all America. http://www.mountrushmoresociety.com/125/75th-anniversary-landing.htm
Hollywood comes to South Dakota
2016 also marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the iconic movie Dances with Wolves. The movie was filmed entirely in South Dakota, with many of the movie sites scattered around the state and open to the public, from Kevin Costner’s Midnight Star Casino in Deadwood to the Four-Diamond restaurant.
The Revenant movie, also set in South Dakota and hopefully another hit in the making, will be launched on Christmas Day and tells the story of Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Eat drink & be merry in South Dakota
South Dakota tourism is set to release a new culinary, brewery and winery guide that will feature South Dakota’s best places to eat, drink and of course…be merry! Wineries and breweries are a growing and very popular trend across the state, with more and more excellent examples popping up every year.
Rapidly award winning destination
Established as a hub for adventure activities and breathtaking walks, Rapid City in South Dakota has been named by USA Today as the fourth best US adventure destination offering diverse adventurous activities such as snowmobiling in the winter to rock climbing in the summer in the nearby Black Hills. South Dakota was also listed as one of the top ten locations for Best Scenic Drives. http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-destination-for-outdoor-enthusiasts/.