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Fall In Love With The Great American West This Autumn

October 10, 2019 Visit USA No Comments Email Email

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The Great American West is an awe-inspiring region of the USA in any season. As fall (autumn) changes to winter, there are especially good reasons for Australians and Kiwis to visit Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. You can avoid the crowds, with less traffic and visitation to national parks and key tourist attractions, as well as cheaper airfares and more accommodation available. There is a whole range of activities and experiences that are available in these seasons including hiking, fishing, or wildlife watching in magnificent fall scenery, and of course many uniquely winter activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.

Check out our Australian & New Zealand websites and our Facebook page for more great photos and information about the Great American West in fall and winter.



Some of Nez Perce Tourism’s tours include jet boating on Snake River
Nez Perce Tourism has recently been launched and offers authentic tours that allow you to connect with native culture through interactive storytelling, land and water excursions, food, song, drum, and dance.

Bittercreek Alehouse, Boise was named North America’s ‘Beer Bar of the Year’ by Nightclub & Bar Awards 2019.

Fall experiences in Idaho: Dark skies and Basque culture

Craters of the Moon National Monument

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve
If you’re someone who loves stargazing, then Idaho is the ideal destination for you. Revel in the skyward views of the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, America’s first gold-tier international Dark Sky Reserve. Alternatively, go camping at Idaho’s International Dark Sky Park, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, to view the incredible night sky from the comfort of your tent.

While in Central Idaho, attend the Trailing of the Sheep Festival on October 9-13 that preserves the sheepherding and ranching traditions that welcomed and sustained Basque and Peruvian cultures in this state. The festival includes art, cooking classes, and the parade of sheep on their migration to winter pastures.

Fall activity: Fly fishing

South Fork of the Snake River near Swan Valley Idaho.

Fishing on the Snake River
Fall is one of the best times to go fly fishing on the Snake River, where the surrounding trees and shrubs glimmer in yellow and orange hues. Wade into Henry’s Fork of the Snake River for rainbow trout or head to the South Fork of the Snake River for cutthroat and blue-ribbon trout. This region offers spectacular scenic views as it is bordered by both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. It is also a top spot for wildlife watching with moose, deer, bobcats, black bears, and over 100 bird species.

Winter is coming to Idaho: Sun Valley

Sun Valley is recognised as a top US ski destination with more than 3,400 vertical feet, 2,000 acres of terrain, and two mountains that are highly valued for their lack of lift lines and variety of terrain. Bald Mountain has 65 ski runs of varied difficulty and themed adventure trails for kids, while Dollar Mountain features two new high-speed quads, and a huge terrain park with 76 rails. Other top winter activities at Sun Valley include sleigh rides, ice skating, snowshoeing, and fat biking making it ideal for families.

Featured accommodation: Limelight Hotel Ketchum

Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain
Limelight Hotel Ketchum is an ideal winter accommodation choice which opened in 2017 with luxurious guest rooms featuring king beds, granite and marble finishes, comfortable bedding, and huge windows providing unparalleled views of the nearby snow-capped mountains. Conveniently located in downtown Ketchum close to Sun Valley’s Bald and Dollar Mountains, you can go skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice-skating, or snowmobiling, before easily returning to your hotel room for the night. Head to Limelight Hotel’s ‘The Lounge’ each morning for a tasty breakfast of pancakes, eggs, pastries, and yoghurt or for Happy Hour each night from 3-6pm après ski. This is also a top dinner spot with gourmet comfort food including pizzas and salads, and live music on Thursdays-Mondays from 6-9pm.


September 20-November 3 at 3-4pm: Fall Flights at World Center for Birds of Prey, Boise
November 22: 12th Annual Winter Wonderland Festival, Caldwell
July 28-August 2, 2020: Jaialdi , Boise – this Basque festival only happens once every five years so don’t miss it!
Photos in the above section: please credit Idaho Tourism

North Dakota


Medora Sign and Badlands. Credit North Dakota Tourism

A Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara Interpretive Center is opening in New Town in September 2020 and will include museum displays, a 250-seat event room and a classroom for traditional food and beading lessons.

Medora’s Point to Point Park is set to open in USA’s 2020 Summer. This will be an ideal family destination with a huge zipline, mini golf course, zero entry pool, and scenic picnic areas. Medora is the gateway town for Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Fall experiences: United Tribes International Powwow and Norsk Hostfest

North Dakota offers many exciting cultural and dining experiences in the fall including the United Tribes International Powwow in Bismarck and the Norsk Hostfest in Minot. Held in September, the United Tribes International Powwow is one of the largest celebrations of Native American culture. Over 1,500 dancers and drummers from 70 different tribes dressed in cultural regalia perform to more than 20,000 people. Also held in September, the Norsk Hostfest has grown to become North America’s largest Scandinavian festival and offers incredible entertainment, authentic Scandinavian cuisine and culture, and handcrafted Norsk goods.

Fall activity: Hiking at the International Peace Garden

Go hiking at the International Peace Garden in Dunseith to see glistening freshwater lakes, huge waterfalls, and spy various birds including the Downy Woodpecker and Horned Owl. With over 6000 cactus and succulents, as well as spectacularly changing leaves and wildflowers, fall is the ideal time to explore this magnificent garden. Visit the garden on October 26 for their Fall Festival where you can take part in hayrides, pumpkin craving, and games while viewing the incredible fall colours.

Winter is coming to North Dakota: Ice fishing

Devils Lake is a top spot for ice fishing as it is the largest natural body of water in North Dakota and has plenty of walleye, large perch, northern pike and white bass. Local accommodation like Woodland Resort offers fish house packages which includes accommodation, transportation to fish houses, two fish houses, bait, and ice fishing guidance from their experienced crew. Lakeview Lodge also offers an ice fishing package including accommodation, heated portable fish houses, bait, holes drilled for you, rods, and a guide who will scout for active schools of fish for you.

Featured accommodation: Coteau des Prairies Lodge

Coteau des Prairies Lodge offers a one-of-a-kind getaway where you can go hiking, try quilting and crafting, or take an exclusive farm tour in the day, before relaxing in comfortable accommodation at night. The rustic rooms are constructed with North Dakota pine and have magnificent views of prairie farms and fields. With the Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge next door, this is an ideal place to go bird watching or fishing. Coteau des Prairies Lodge also hosts exciting dining events throughout the year including Prime Rib, Seafood Boil, Neapolitan Pizza, and Wine Dinner.


Credit Dickens Festival

Oct 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 31, Nov 1: Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park Haunted Fort, Mandan
October 25-26: 31st Annual Fargo Big One Art & Craft Fair, Fargo
November 29-December 1, 6, 7: Dickens Village Festival, Garrison

South Dakota


Arc of Dreams is a massive stainless-steel sculpture that was completed in June this year. Towering 70 feet above the Big Sioux River, the sculpture contains light bulbs that allow it to change colours for different events.

A new outdoor music venue called ‘Levitt Shell Sioux Falls’ opened a few months ago in Falls Park West and will feature 50 free concerts from musicians each summer.

Fall experience: Colours of fall

South Dakota has countless state parks and recreation areas that offer unparalleled views of colourful fall foliage. Sica Hollow State Park has an intriguing history that can be interpreted through its beautiful fall woodlands that glimmer in orange and yellow colours. Walk or horse ride eight miles of marked trails to explore Sica Hollow’s streams, bridges, and waterfalls. You can view gurgling reddish bogs on the Trail of the Spirits which Native Indians saw as the blood and flesh of their ancestors. Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is an unmissable 20-mile drive in the Black Hills that features over 1,260 plants that explode with colour every fall. Palisades State Park features Split Rock Creek which is lined with Sioux quartzite formations and cliffs surrounded by changing leaves.

Fall activities: Buffalo Roundup and fishing

Fall marks the ideal time to go fishing in South Dakota with nearly 98% of the state’s waters open for fishing with magical orange and yellow vegetation surrounding you. Go fly fishing for trout in a Black Hills stream, land bass and crappie at a north-eastern glacial lake, and reel in trophy walleye from the Missouri River. Another exciting fall activity is Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup which takes place each September. Feel the thunder as you watch the spectacular sight – as cowboys, cowgirls, and park rangers round up a herd of almost 1,300 buffalo in the majestic hills of South Dakota to monitor the population and conduct medical checks.

Winter is coming to South Dakota: Snowmobiling

If you’re not into downhill skiing, snowmobiling can be an exciting winter activity and South Dakota has some of the best trails in North America. The Black Hills Snowmobile Trail System has a 350-mile network of marked and groomed snowmobile trails and is ranked top ten in North America by SnoWest magazine and SuperTrax International. The trails lead you through deep canyons and pine forests to lookouts with incredible winter scenery.

Featured accommodation: Circle View Guest Ranch

Badlands National Park
Circle View Guest Ranch offers excellent views of South Dakota as it is located just six miles from the heart of Badlands National Park and one-hour east of Rapid City. Get a glimpse into a real, family run Old West Ranch with horseback riding, friendly donkeys, bon fires, fossil exploration, and free-range chickens to feed. Enjoy a delicious full ranch breakfast each day and relax in one of three private cabins including an original 1880 Homestead Cabin.


Christmas at the Capitol
October 25-27: Autumn Festival, An Arts & Crafts Affair, Sioux Falls
November 26-December 26: Christmas at the Capitol, Pierre
November 29: Annual Sioux Falls Parade of Lights, Sioux Falls
Photos in the above section: please credit South Dakota Tourism

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