Saturday, October 15, 2022

The Most Picturesque Places in the Great American West

Mission Mountains: photo credit Western Montana's Glacier Country

The Great American West is an awe-inspiring region of the USA including the beautiful states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Now the world is open to travel once more, excitement is building and plans are being made by Aussies and Kiwis to head to this 'Big Dream' destination.
These states are magnificent all year round, but summer is when nature really excels. The scenery is at its best, wildlife is active, colourful events and festivals happen everywhere and all the attractions, parks and outdoor activities are on offer.

To get you inspired and help to customise your dream trip to these incredible states, here's a glimpse of the most picturesque locations for visitors to create memories for a lifetine (and bragging rights with friends and family), awesome events in each state for 2022, and an update on what's making news (and great photo opps) in the Great American West.

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



WYOMING: A lot happens in the middle of nowhere!
Events and festivals can sometimes offer some unexpectedly amazing photo opportunities and the most memorable. Whether you want to embrace the western culture or spend the day outdoors, there are events happening across Wyoming that suit everyone from family-friendly to adults only, including rodeos, festivals, exhibits, concerts, fairs and much more.

2022 marks the 150th Anniversary of the establishment of Yellowstone as the world's first national park. Yellowstone National Park is wide open. Drive Yellowstone's Grand Loop, which features Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic, Hayden Valley, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs and more. Now is the perfect time to visit. With more than 10,000 hydrothermal features, of which 500 are geysers, and more than 200 species of animals, Yellowstone continues to inspire the national parks movement, conservation, the arts and wild and natural places. Special events and opportunities will celebrate this historic event.

Or, WY not find your very own Wyoming wilderness photo spectacular in Sheridan.

Cloud Peak Wilderness Photo credit Sheridan County Travel & Tourism


Ritter Island Thousand Springs Scenic Byway Photo credit Idaho Tourism

Scenic Byways Videos and Guide
Idaho has been working to film all of their amazing scenic byways to turn into an updated scenic byway guide to be out in 2023 and updated webpages for each of the byways. Meanwhile, the updated pictures and videos will be live on the Visit Idaho website throughout the rest of this year.

The Basque Jaialdi Festival in Boise Photo credit Idaho Tourism

Jaialdi is one of the largest Basque festivals in the world, a celebration of culture that is a gift from Boise's Basque community to the world. Every five years, thousands of people come to Idaho from around the globe to dance, eat, sing, play music, and meet old and new friends. Cancelled in 2022, Jaialdi will be back in 2025


TV Show "Yellowstone" is Filmed in Western Montana. Hit the location trail for selfies to brag about.

Missoula from Mount Sentinel Photo credit Western Montana's Glacier Country Tourism

Fans of "Yellowstone" have been showing up in Missoula and other parts of western Montana trying to get a glimpse of the life of John Dutton and his - shall we say, complicated - family and their Yellowstone Ranch in Western Montana's Glacier Country. For those fans who have asked for locations to visit on their next trip to Western Montana, we've got you covered here.

Dutton Ranch from Yellowstone TV Series Photo credit Western Montana's Glacier Country Tourism


United Tribes Powwow, Bismarck photo credit North Dakota Tourism

For colour, authenticy and photo opportunities at an event you will never forget, head to the United Tribes Powow in Bismarck, September 2022.

Medora Musical photo credit North Dakota Tourism

Americana lovers will be in their element and have a whole lotta wholesome singalong fun at the Medora Musical, held at a picturesque outdoor amphitheatre in Medora, every night during summer.


From bikes to buffalos, South Dakota is an action photographer's dream.

The Needles Highway photo credit Travel South Dakota

The annual Sturgis Rally attracts biker enthusiasts from around the world. Held in August each year, it's an event that's definitely good for a photo opprtunity and a taste of South Dakota...but not for the fainthearted.

Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup Photo credit Travel South Dakota

The Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup is one for the cowboys and gals. Rounding up one of the the largest herds in the USA takes skill...and is a whole lot of fun for participants and spectators alike.


Artist Point Photo credit: Wyoming Office of Tourism

This scenic spot in Yellowstone National Park opens to a view of Lower Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Don't forget your camera or phone to capture its magic.

Schwabacher Landing Tetons Photo credit Wyoming Office of Tourism

East of the Grand Tetons, located on the banks of the Snake River, you'll find Schwabacher's Landing. The landing is a favorite for anglers and river rafters and provides a spectacular view of the Tetons.

Devils Tower National Monument Photo credit Wyoming Office of Tourism

America's first national monument, Devils Tower is a jaw-dropping backdrop for any photo. Sitting 867 feet above the rolling prairie, make sure you have the camera ready from a distance.

Snowy Range Lake Marie Photo credit Wyoming Office of Tourism

Located in the southeastern part of the state, Lake Marie is a brilliant blue lake in Medicine Bow National Forest. With its pristine waters and a path circling the lake, this is a great place to stop and rest while enjoying the view.

Wild Horse Scenic Loop Photo credit Wyoming Office of Tourism

Connecting Green River and Rock Springs in southwest Wyoming, this 23-mile trail is home to a herd of wild horses and Pilot Butte. With breathtaking desert landscape and a chance to encounter wildlife, we recommend a four-wheel drive vehicle to discover multiple picture-perfect stopping points.

For more information on Wyoming, visit


With its sapphire lakes and winding rivers, Idaho's waterways are some of the best places for stunning images and endless adventure:

Tamarack Photo credit Sherri Harkin Photography Tamarack Resort

At Tamarack Resort, you can start your day biking rugged mountain ridges and end it wakeboarding through the warm waters of Lake Cascade. You can brave the snowy slopes and Nordic trails in the morning, then soak in a steaming hot tub before bed. At Tamarack, every season brings new adventures to experience, and you can take on the panoramic views of the mountains, lake and valley below.

For more information on Southwest Idaho, visit

Lake Pend Oreille | Sandpoint Photo credit Idaho Tourism

Capture the star-studded sky at the fifth-deepest lake in the U.S. Surrounded by the northern Rocky Mountains and a dense forest of fir and pine, there is no shortage of colors and textures on which to set your lens.

Three Island Crossing State Park | Glenns Ferry
Photo credit Idaho Tourism

There are few better locations to experience the scenic and diverse landscapes of American agriculture. The lush farms and vineyards offer a perfect contrast to the high-desert plateau of the region.

Bear Lake State Park | St. Charles
Photo credit Idaho Tourism

From the sparkling turquoise waters in Bear Lake to the complex wetlands of Mud Lake, Bear Lake State Park captivates with its mountain peaks, migratory birds and sandy beaches.

Fall Creek Falls | Swan Valley
Photo credit Idaho Tourism

Focus your lens on this threading waterfall in Eastern Idaho, surrounded by the flowing Snake River and Snake River Range mountains in the distance.

For more information on Idaho, visit


Pioneer Scenic Byway Photo credit Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development

Pioneer Scenic Byway. Travel the length of the Pioneer Mountain Range along this quiet, winding highway surrounded by mountains, forests and meadows. Explore the ghost town of Coolidge or stop at the tiny town of Jackson along the way.

Milk River Observation Point Photo credit Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development

Milk River Observation Point. Take a half-mile walk from the parking lot to the top of the hill where the Observation Point is located. This is one of the highest points in northeastern Montana, and it offers expansive views of the confluence of the Missouri River and Milk River, where the Lewis & Clark Expedition traveled.

Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area
Photo credit Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development

Big Horn Canyon National Recreation Area. Visitors are rewarded with breathtaking scenery, solitude, wildlife and adventures such as hiking, camping and boating.

Two Medecine Lake
Photo credit Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development

Two Medicine Lake. One of the quieter locations in Glacier, this lake is surrounded by forest and mountains with abundant hiking trails. Or get out on the water on a canoe or kayak, available for rent, or on an historic boat tour.

Southeast Montana
Photo credit Montana Office of Tourism & Business Development.

Southeast Montana's landscape changes from dramatic open plains to the rugged eastern badlands to river canyons. You will find a picturesque view everywhere you drive, whether it's by motorcycle, RV or car.

For more information on Montana, visit VISITMT.COM.


North Dakota offers many opportunities for a close-up look at the state's beauty and diversity. Outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding and assorted educational opportunities provide fun and memorable ways to explore and take in the stunning scenery in the majestic Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Photo credit North Dakota Tourism

Four Bears Bridge Photo credit Ben Gumeringer

Take a scenic drive and get back to nature. Open roads, gorgeous scenery, wildlife, waterways in their most natural environments and one-of-a-kind cultural and historic attractions are all found along North Dakota's scenic byways and backways. Visitors are encouraged to get out and explore the wonders that beckon from each route. By car, motorcycle or even bicycle, these designated routes are your key to the state's best vistas and experiences.

Four Bears Killdeer Mountain Scenic Byway Photo credit North Dakota Tourism

It's easy to get a great shot in Fargo-Moorhead! Lights Tunnel: During winter festival Frostival, Mary's Light Tunnel is a gorgeous space for a picturesque walk. The tunnel goes right along the Red River and is perfect for snowshoeing, hiking or cross-country skiing. 

Lights tunnel at Frostival Festival Fargo-Moorhead Photo credit @wearefolkways

Surging waters carved the Pembina Gorge out of soft marine shales, creating one of the deepest, steepest and unaltered river valleys in North Dakota, as well as the largest uninterrupted blocks of woodlands. At least 65 different natural diversity features have been documented here, including 30 plant species and 21 animal species, which are categorized as "rare" in the state.

Pembina Gorge Photo credit North Dakota Tourism

For more information on North Dakota, visit


Badlands National Park (Wall) Photo credit Travel South Dakota

Known as the land of stone and light, the Badlands are a must-stop for South Dakota visitors seeking the most unique photos. Be sure to arrive before sunrise or sunset to capture the most incredible light in the park.

Spearfish Canyon (Spearfish) Photo credit Travel South Dakota

Towering limestone cliffs and a rushing mountain stream keep you company along the 19-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 14A, known as Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. Be sure to plan a hike to Roughlock Falls for breathtaking sights.

Nicolette Tower (Sisseton) Photo credit Travel South Dakota

Climb the tower to capture the vast prairie landscape of three states – North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. The observation tower honors Joseph N. Nicollet, the French mapmaker who explored the Coteau Des Prairies in the 1830s.

Dignity (Chamberlain) Photo credit Travel South Dakota

The Dignity sculpture is a stunning combination of art and history, designed to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people. You can capture a beautiful image of the sculpture with the sparking waters of the Missouri river.

Falls Park Photo credit Travel South Dakota (Sioux Falls)

Visitors will be in awe of the triple-tier waterfall, located in the heart of Sioux Falls, South Dakota's largest city. The views from the five-story viewing tower are well worth the climb!

For more information on South Dakota, visit


Denver, the Mile High City is a convenient and central entry point to explore the wonders of the Great American West via arrival into Denver International Airport (DEN). But Denver is also so much more: a vibrant outdoor city, centre for arts, a haven for shoppers, foodies and sports fans. With funky charming neighbourhoods begging to be explored, major events and exhibitions year round and a transport system that makes it easy for visitors to get around, it's no wonder Denver is a must-add to any Great American West itinerary.

Denver Museum of Nature & Science Sky TerracePhoto credit Visit Denver:
The Anschutz Family Sky Terrace at the museum offers unparalleled views of The Mile High City. The best time to go is a cloudless morning when the museum opens for the day.

16th Street Mall Photo credit Rebecca Todd

This mile-long pedestrian promenade is always buzzing with energy. Get a shot of the historic D&F Clocktower on 16th and Arapahoe, or the Denver Pavilions' 20-foot-high sign.

"I See What You Mean" (aka "The Blue Bear") Photo credit Visit Denver

Head down to the Colorado Convention Center for a photo beneath this 40-foot-tall sculpture. Position your subject underneath the bear, stand back about 50 feet, point and click. Voila – a true "Only In Denver" photograph.

Confluence Park Photo credit Stan Obert

Denver was founded at this park, which marks the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. To get the city skyline in the background, Confluence is best photographed in the afternoon.

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre Photo credit Dan & Zora Avila

Red Rocks is a 9,000-seat amphitheater carved out of 300-foot-high red sandstone monoliths. Snap some shots of the venue and stage, but also get some panoramic pics of Denver and the plains from atop the Amphitheatre.

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