North West – The Cowboy Self Drive Tour
The northwest “Cowboy Tour” is a ride on amazing “back roads ” across America’s Great Northwest. We ride “The Loneliest Road in America” (U.S. 50), Beartooth Highway, legendary Pacific Highway 1, Wild West run, Black Hills Run and “Plains and Simple”. This northern route takes us across “cowboy country” – hence the name of the tour.
After cruising the beautiful Highway 1 and felt the heat and breeze from the Pacific, we continue through the Rocky Mountains. We visit Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Yellowstone National Park with all its attractions, Badlands and much more. It feels like the roads in this area are “designed to ride a motorcycle”. Beware of bison on the road!
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Los Angeles – Chicago|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please arrive at least 2 hours before the flight.|
“At Explorify Tours we believe that good experiences and camaraderie are at least as important as the journey. Our goal is to fill your tour travelbag with as many positive memories as possible, so you go home with a big smile on your face. And with friends, you didn’t have before you started the tour.”
Day 1: Departure - Arrival Los Angeles, California
Day 2: Los Angeles - Solvang
(Driving day 1: 238 km/148 miles)
Day 3: Solvang - Monterey
(Driving day 2: 339 km/210 miles)
We say goodbye to Solvang and continue our wonderful trip to southern California. We’ll say it again: it is hard to believe that nature can be more beautiful, but today’s ride will simply take your breath away. We drive the highly appraised Pacific Coast Highway 1, with mountains on our left side and the Pacific Ocean on our right side. As we continue past the Big Sur, you will feel the warm California sun together with delicious salty sea air on your skin. There will be several miles with fantastic views and great formations where the Santa Lucia Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean, creating one of the most beautiful stretches of the California coast. Today you will feel a delicious warm breeze and take in a spectacular sunset.
Today’s end destination in Monterey, home to the world-famous Laguna Seca Automobile (known motorcycle race track). When we arrive at this spectacular seaside city, we will spend the afternoon along Cannery Row, packed with beautiful hotels, shops, and restaurants. We eat dinner at the famous Fisherman’s Wharf.
Day 4: Monterey - San Francisco
(Driving day 3: 192 km/119 miles)
Today we drive through Big Basin Redwood State Park, which is packed with curvy & narrow motorcycle roads and the famous wide Redwood trees. We are confident you will have a big smile on your face. We stop for lunch at the famous biker bar “Alice’s”, before we head to fun San Francisco, where we will stay near the city center and all its attractions.
When you wake up in funny San Francisco you might understand why Frank Sinatra left his heart in this city. The city is a funky, individualistic and surprisingly small place – certainly the most liberal city in the US.
San Francisco really has a European feel and you have many more opportunities for sightseeing than it is possible to adapt to our short stay here. Make sure you visit Fisherman’s Wharf while dropping by small shops and street cafes famous for some of the best seafood dishes in the world. Feel free to hop on one of the city’s famous “Cable Cars” which is a moving landmark and the heart of this amazing city! Other good options are the prison island Alcatraz (must be booked in advance), harbor cruises, Chinatown, Lombard Street (one of America’s curviest streets).
Day 5: San Francisco - Virginia City
(Driving day 4: 428 km/266 miles)
We drive out of San Francisco on the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, where we will take the time to enjoy the view of the bridge and beautiful San Francisco. Afterward, we head north to Sacramento, to start our fascinating drive on “The loneliest highway in America (Hwy 50)”. On our way, we drive along the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe, a very popular vacation resort but summer & winter time (mountain hiking, skiing & summer fun). We drive our final stretch to fun and historic Virginia City.
Day 6: Virginia - City - Ely
(Driving day 5: 499 km/310 miles)
Today you will discover how “The loneliest highway in America (Hwy 50)” acquired its name. We will spend the whole day in the dry desert-like territory with very random & few settlings/cities. We will make a stop at the famous Shoetree by Middlegate, which has a fascinating story. Thereafter we continue our spectacular ride on Hwy 50 to Eureka, where we spend the night.
Day 7: Ely - West Wendover
(Driving day 6: 225 km/140 miles)
Today we complete our ride on “The loneliest road in America (Hwy 50)” as we start our descent north towards spectacular Yellowstone National Park. On our way, we will also partly drive on another famous road; “The Lincoln Highway” (US 93). When we arrive at our destination, West Wendover, we will drive to the famous Bonneville Salt Flats International Racing Track, the home of many speed records & movies. Please be aware of the sign: “Harley owners, do your best…”.
Day 8: West Wendover - Logan
(Driving day 7: 349 km/218 miles)
We start the day off with a “transport leg” on I-80 (unfortunately the best alternative), before we turn north into Hwy-89. On our way to Garden City at Bear Lake, we will drive some fun mountain roads, before we stop to enjoy our evening in Logan.
Day 9: Logan - Jackson
(Driving day 8: 312 km/195 miles)
Today we head towards magical Yellowstone National Park and “Wild West Run”. We depart north to beautiful Bear Lake (watch out for alligators ), before continuing to Montpelier, where we will visit the historic site of Butch Cassidy’s bank robbery. Thereafter, we drive fun twisty roads to Jackson, located in the valley Jackson Hole, a vacation spot for rich Californians. We spend the evening at the famous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
Day 10: Jackson - Cody
(Driving day 9: 379 km/237 miles)
Welcome to one of the tour highlights! It will be a long day packed with unique and rare experiences. We drive into wonderful Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park and start driving one of the US’ most popular motorcycle routes; Wild West Run (Jackson – Yellowstone Lake). We drive through Moran and by Jackson Lake before we proceed to spectacular Old Faithful Geyser, which remains one of the most active (cone) geysers with its’ predictable eruptions approximately every 35 to 120 minutes. Old Faithful was named in 1870 during the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition and was the first geyser in the park to receive a name.
We continue our ride in spectacular Yellowstone, and start driving on Grad Loop Road, before stopping at breathtaking Artist Point. Thereafter, we visit live buffalo herds up close. Be ready for exciting encounters, but beware of the wildlife (bears, wolf, elk, buffalos). We finish the day by riding into Buffalo Bill’s (William F. Cody) home turf; Cody, where we stay at Buffalo Bill’s motel & eat dinner at the historic Irma Hotel.
Day 11: Cody - Beartooth Hwy - Cody
(Driving day 10: 364 km/227 miles)
Today’s ride will be the definite tour highlight for many. Welcome to the world-famous “Beartooth Highway”, (ranked as US’ best, No. 1, motorcycle route). Beartooth Highway has not achieved its iconic status among bikers worldwide without reason; be prepared for unique winding mountain roads up and down the mountain, with hairpin turns and spectacular views. This will also be the tour’s most demanding driving leg, so we will drive in a comfortable & safe pace, to ensure everyone remains safe and gets plenty of time to enjoy the ride and view. Have your camera ready, you will drive on one of the world’s best motorcycle roads. Enjoy!
On our way to Beartooth Pass, we drive Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, which also is a lifetime experience! After our return to Cody, you will have the opportunity to visit the spectacular Buffalo Bill’s Center of the west (5 museums in one).
Day 12: Cody - Gillette
(Driving day 11: 408 km/255 miles)
It will be another day of driving on spectacular curvy fun mountain roads. We drive into Big Horn Canyon & National Forest and breathtaking scenery. We are confident your smile will be glued on. We stop for lunch & cowboy-shopping in Sheridan. Thereafter, we drive by the “Spotted Horse” bar on our way to Gillette.
Day 13: Gillette - Deadwood
(Driving day 12: 257 km/160 miles)
Today we start our fun adventures in the Black Hills, the location of the Sturgis Bike Rally (the mother of all bike rallies). Get ready for a lifetime experience! We start by driving to the famous Devil’s Tower, a very popular destination and location of the sci-fi movie “Encounters of the 3rd degree”. We enjoy the surroundings and these spectacular rock formations. Our next stop is Sundance, home of the Sundance Kid. Thereafter, we drive through beautiful Spearfish Canyon; natural surroundings as in a painting that only nature can create.
We drive through Deadwood, where we visit the “No 10 Saloon” where Wild Bill Hickok was shot when he played poker (Quick combination he had when he was shot is now called “Deadman’s Hand”). Deadwood is within an Indian reservation and has all gambling rights. It was also here Calamity Jane (the famous female sharpshooter) met Wild Bill the first time (later they became a couple).
Day 14: Deadwood - Black Hills Run - Sturgis
(Driving day 13: 275 km/172 miles)
Today we will drive the famous and popular Black Hills Run, experience all the amazing attractions around Sturgis, and get a feel for the world-famous Sturgis Bike Rally.
We enjoy driving the Black Hills Run until we get to Crazy Horse, the world’s largest monument carved in the rock. We continue to Custer and Custer State Park, the area that captivated General George A. Custer because of its beautiful scenery and surroundings. We drive Wildlife Loop, where we might encounter live buffalos. We eat lunch outside in Custer State Park, before driving to Mt Rushmore (the three presidents’ heads carved in the mountains). Afterward, we drive the famous Iron Mountain Road. Be ready for a unique experience. J
After we have absorbed the Black Hills, we drive to Sturgis, a small town and the center of all activities around the Sturgis Bike Rally; America’s oldest and legendary Motorcycle Rally. We park the bikes and visit the world-famous Knuckle Saloon. It’s time for Biker party!
Day 15: Sturgis - Oacoma
(Driving day 14: 424 km/264 miles)
We say goodbye to Sturgis and head east. Our first stop is in the famous Wall Drug, a truly unique experience, and our last opportunity to cowboy up. We continue to spectacular Badlands National Park. Badlands rugged beauty draws visitors from around the world. These striking geological deposits contain some of the richest collections of fossils. Old mammal rhinoceros, horse, and saber-toothed tigers walked here once. The park’s 244,000 acres consist of an expanse of mixed-grass and prairie where bison, bighorn, prairie dog and Blackfoot-ferrets live today. We also eat lunch inside Badlands.
Having digested Badlands, we start another adventure, as we drive into Cheyenne Indian territory where the famous movie “Dancing with wolves” (Kevin Costner) was recorded. We will drive through this beautiful territory all the way to the small-town Oacoma, where we will spend the night.
Day 16: Oacoma - Worthington
(Driving day 15: 334 km/209 miles)
It will be a driving day through farm country & lots of cornfields, in a geographical area where a lot of Scandinavian immigrants settled. Thus, our first stop will be “The world’s only Corn Palace”. We continue to “Porter Sculpture park” (with a 60 Foot Bull Head Sculpture) before we drive to Sioux Falls for a late lunch. After lunch, we head to our end destination; Worthington.
Day 17: Worthington - Lake City
(Driving day 16: 384 km/240 miles)
If you are a music lover, this will be a day for the history books. We will visit Paisley Park (Prince’s private estate & production complex featuring artifacts from his life) and explore more about the life of this incredibly gifted artist. Thereafter we drive beautiful Hwy 61 along the Mississippi River to Lake City.
Day 18: Lake City - Chicago
(Driving day 17: 550 km/343miles)
Our Cowboy adventure is approaching the end as we start on our last driving day. We continue our beautiful drive along the Mississippi River until lunch. Thereafter, we will drive backroads all the way to Chicago, where we will return the bikes. We enjoy our last riding day together before we have our last tour dinner together. Congratulations on completing a successful North-West Cowboy tour adventure!
Day 19: Departure Chicago - Home Travel
We say goodbye to America’s North West, Chicago and return home. Group travel by shuttle to the airport. Thanks for a great ride, good times and sincerely thank you for choosing to tour with Joyrides. We wish you a safe trip home and hope to see you again on one of our other tours in the US, South America, Asia, Oceania or Europe.
Note: Because of the time difference travelers from Europe will arrive home the date/day after departing the US.
Also: This program is a guideline for activities and experiences on the tour. Deviations may occur, but we guarantee that our positive tour leaders will do their utmost to execute the program as described – as far as it is feasible and circumstances allow. We are continually working to improve the program, thus you may experience positive surprises.