Westward Ho!

From the Oregon Trail to the Black Hills

August 5-14, 2013 



    If you are fascinated by the "Old West" this trip is for you! Of all of the tours Ed Bearss has led, this is his personal favorite. Highlights include: The ill-fated Battle of Little Bighorn, Scotts Bluff on the Oregon Trail, the heart breaking massacre at Wounded Knee, and the Wild West town of Deadwood. We'll explore historic cavalry outposts, marvel at the world's most immense mountain sculptures--Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial--and become acquainted with Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, George Armstrong Custer, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock.


ITINERARY (10 Days/9 Nights)

August 5,  Monday         (R,D)

Individual arrivals in Billings.  Join staff and fellow travelers at tonight’s welcome dinner.  O/N Hilton Garden Inn, Billings, MT


August 6, Tuesday       (B,L,D)

We’ll spend the day examining Custer’s disastrous encounter with Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapahoe warriors at Little Bighorn on June 25-26, 1876.  Proceed to Casper, WY for the night.  O/N Hilton Garden Inn, Casper WY


August 7, Wednesday     (B,L)

Near Guernsey, WY we’ll see one of the best examples of wagon train ruts along the entire Oregon Trail. Gaze at names, dates and messages etched by early pioneers on the limestone of Register Cliffs.  We’ll walk the grounds of Fort Laramie an important way station for fur traders, miners, and emigrants on the Oregon Trail.  Proceed to Scottsbluff, NE to see several significant landmarks on the Oregon Trail including Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff – the “Nebraska Gibraltar.”  O/N Holdiay Inn Express, Scottsbluff, NE


August 8,  Thursday     (B,L,D)

Stop at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument situated on the site of the James Cook Ranch where Chief Red Cloud was a frequent guest.  Here we’ll see the superb James Cook Collection of Indian artifacts.  Proceed to Fort Robinson. Founded in 1874, this historic outpost features dozens of original buildings including our accommodations in the restored 1909 enlisted men’s barracks. O/N Fort Robinson State Park, NE


August 9, Friday     (B,L,D)

Fort Robinson was the scene of many historic events including the death of the famous Oglala Chief, Crazy Horse on September 5, 1877 and the dramatic Cheyenne Outbreak under Dull Knife on January 9, 1879. Today we’ll tour the grounds of the fort and make an excursion to the ghost town of Montrose, site of the Warbonnet Skirmish. Here, three weeks after the disaster at Little Big Horn, Buffalo Bill Cody took ‘the first scalp for Custer.’We’ll tour the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron before checking into our hotel.O/N Best Western, Chadron, NE


August 10, Saturday     (B,L,D)

Historian and author Jerry Greene will join us today for our tour of the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Jerry is currently working on a new book on Wounded Knee. We’ll see where Crazy Horse was arrested in 1877 and the site of the tragic massacre at Wounded Knee in December 29, 1890. We’ll tour the Red Cloud Indian School and have lunch at the home of the great granddaughter of Oglala Sioux visionary Black Elk. Continue to Custer State Park in the heart of the Black Hills.

O/N Game State Lodge, Custer State Park, SD


August 11, Sunday     (D)

Today we will visit two mountain monuments in the Black Hills. We’ll tour Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, a colossal work, which if completed, will be the world’s largest monument.  We’ll also visit sites significant to General George Custer’s 1874 Black Hills Expedition. His discovery of gold prompted a mass gold rush to the Sioux’s sacred land and ultimately erupted into the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. O/N Game State Lodge, Custer State Park, SD


August 12, Monday      (L)

In Sturgis SD we will tour the Cavalry Museum at Old Fort Meade. After the disastrous Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, the reformed 7th cavalry was assigned as the first garrison of this post. We will also stop at Bear Butte. For centuries this mountain has been sacred to many American Indian tribes who still come here to hold religious ceremonies. Red Cloud, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull all visited Bear Butte.  We will visit Tatanka, an interpretive center that tells the story of the 30-60 million bison that once roamed the Great Plains. O/N  Deadwood, SD


August 13, Tuesday     (L,D)

We’ll tour the historic town of Deadwood where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane both lived and died. A tour of the town will include a visit to Boot Hill and the Mt. Moriah Cemetery to see their graves. Continue to the nearby town of Lead, home of the Homestake Mine, the largest, deepest gold mine in North America. En route to Sheridan, we’ll see Devils Tower, designated the nation’s first national monument by Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. We’ll toast our adventure at the tonight’s farewell dinner at the historic Sheridan Inn. O/N Hampton Inn, Sheridan, WY


August 14, Wednesday   (B)

 7:30 am  Depart by coach for the two-hour drive to Billings International Airport. 

Approximate arrival time at the airport will be at 9:30 am.  PLEASE make your flight departure from Billings for 11:00 am or later.


EXPERT GUIDE:  Ed Bearss is scheduled to lead this tour.

Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service, Edwin C. Bearss is an author, lecturer and America's foremost battlefield guide.  Ed's encyclopedic knowledge and unflagging energy is legendary; Ed brings history alive like no other.  Two of his recent best sellers are Fields of Honor and Receding Tide:  Vicksburg and Gettysburg – The Campaigns that Changed the Civil War.


* Services of an Historian Guide

* Services of a Tour Manager

* 9 nights hotel accommodations

* two wine/beer welcome receptions; 6 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners

* all taxes, baggage handling and gratuities; pre-trip notes, reading list and map book


Double Occupancy:  $3,650 per person

Single Occupancy:  $4,195

*PRICES based on a minimum of 20 participants.

To enroll on this tour, print & complete the registration form and mail it with a $200 per person deposit check to: South Mountain Expeditions, P.O. Box 204, Keedysville, MD, 21756. Or call us at (301) 988-1852 or toll free at 1 (866) 914-1862. We accept VISA, Mastercard and American Express.