This article was created in partnership with the Great American West
Autumn (or ‘fall’) and winter are two of the best seasons – and reasons – to visit the Great American West. Take part in a huge range of exciting outdoor adventure activities and enjoy the fantastic scenery without the summer crowds or traffic. The states of Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming all offer unparalleled colourful autumn foliage and great opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Winter scenery is equally spectacular with the Rockies and national parks transformed by snow. Winter offers the chance to not only ski and snowboard on some of the best terrain in the northern hemisphere for any level of expertise, but also must-try fun such as sleigh rides, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking, dog sledding, snowmobiling and ice fishing. Plus boundless options for enjoying a wine, beer or a local restaurant with a roaring fire in a picturesque winter location.
Here are some of our favourite autumn and winter places and activities:
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, opening late fall/early winter, is a top Australian pick for skiing or snowboarding. It’s known for its steep and deeps, its vast terrain open to all abilities and its proximity to the bustling western town of Jackson.
Grand Targhee Resort is a great family option boasting fewer crowds, three lodges and some sensational views of the Grand Teton mountains. Take a ranger-led tour or raft trip down Snake River in Grand Teton National Park where you will see these same mountains aflame with red, yellow and orange fall foliage or visit the spectacular lakes and hiking trails.
The ultimate winter snowmobiling destination with more than 350-miles of snowmobile trails in the Black Hills with deep canyons, pine forests, and lookouts with incredible views. Autumn is a great time to enjoy bike riding, hiking or horse riding on the 109-mile Mickelson Trail. On this trail, you’ll pass through rock tunnels, across converted railroad bridges and ride along magnificently coloured spruce and ponderosa pine forests. In the winter months, Terry Peak Ski Area is a top local ski destination with a variety of terrain from novice to expert. The summit of Terry Peak stands at 7,100 feet tall.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park looks spectacular in autumn, so why not go biking, hiking or horseback riding and spot unique wildlife including bison, deer and antelope while staying in the historic, authentic western town of Medora. Try your luck (and talent) at ice fishing at Devils Lake which has an abundance of walleye, large perch, northern pike and white bass.
Travelling with kids? Head to Fargo’s Frostival which will be held over six weekends in 2020 for fun activities such as outdoor skating, concerts, inflatable games, sleigh rides and even snow yoga!
Camp in a tipi or walk the streets of Bannack State Park, a ghost town that’s the site of Montana’s first major gold discovery. Big Sky Resort features panoramic views of three states and two National Parks, and no lift lines! Local favourite Whitefish Mountain Resort has 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, spectacular views of Glacier National Park, as well as a unique local dining and shopping scene.
Try dog sledding in the mountains or a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the pristine forests, or watch skiers and snowboarders try to make it across an unfrozen pond at Pond Skim in Big Sky!
Heading north from Boise visit Kirkham Hot Springs where you can relax in the natural hot soaking pools in a scenic forest setting or head to Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area and speed down Idaho’s first alpine mountain coaster ‘Glade Runner’ through idyllic Boise National Forest or for skiing, snowshoeing or tubing in winter.
Sun Valley Resort is a long-time glamourous winter destination for skiing or snowboarding; stay at Sun Valley Lodge featuring five Celebrity Suites named for visiting stars such as Clint Eastwood and Ernest Hemingway.