Take one of the country’s most breathtaking scenic drives through Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks, plus, see wild horses up-close and watch Native American dancers on this perfect vacation itinerary.
See Native American Dances
Base out of Wind River Hotel & Casino run by the Northern Arapaho tribe where clean, modern rooms and affordable rates await. Every Tuesday night during the summer, the hotel sponsors hour-long Native American dance performances featuring dancers of all ages (5 and older). You can even join the dancers in the final song.
“You’ll see everyone from a two-year-old to an elder dancing,” says Jackie Dorothy, former marketing director of the hotel and casino.
The weekly dance performance is just one of a collection of unexpected experiences you’ll have when you stop by or stay at the hotel. Although the Wind River Casino is the largest in the state, you’ll find much more than gambling here. A small museum in the lobby, staffed by elders, showcases Northern Arapaho history. Three restaurants offer a variety of food, including the latest to open, the Buffalo Restaurant, that offers everything from pizza cooked in a pizza oven to BBQ.
“What we are is a destination,” says Dorothy, noting the hotel and casino have come along way since opening 20 years ago as a bingo hall. “You can stay at our hotel and it’s just a day trip to Jackson, Cody and Yellowstone National Park.”
Roadside Stops in Wind River Reservation To Yellowstone
Several minutes from the hotel sits St. Stephens Indian Mission Catholic Church. You’ll discover Northern Arapaho artwork on the outside and inside, making it one of the most unforgettable churches you’ll ever see.
Then head to Wind River Wild Horse Sanctuary to see wild horses on the Oldham family’s Double D Ranch, a working cattle ranch, where 230 wild horses roam. You’ll climb aboard an open-air vehicle to view the horses and learn the role they’ve played in Native American cultures and the West. Dwayne Oldham’s family settled in the area during the 1800s, and his wife Denise Oldham is a Navajo. Three of their four kids help run the ranch and sanctuary, plus the visitor center.
From there, begin the breathtaking Circle the Continental Divide Loop named a “Best of the Road” trip by Rand-McNally Road Map Co. You’ll spot bighorn sheep in Dubois, travel through Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks and explore the historic Gold-Rush towns of South Pass City and Atlantic City.
Northern Arapaho Roots
The tribe is the largest employer in Fremont County, thanks to the hotel, casino and other other ventures. But long before Europeans arrived in the West, the Northern Arapaho people were nomadic, favoring the area around Estes Park, Colo., at the foot of Rocky Mountain National Park, says Dorothy. But Dorothy notes Northern Arapaho lived in many places. There are words in the Arapaho language for the areas now known as Florida” and “Arizona.” While there are not many fluent Arapaho speakers anymore, the hotel’s weekly dances in the summer keep tradition alive and educate visitors.
“We explain the history of the dances and talk about etiquette,” Dorothy explains. “It’s a great way to showcase our dancing.”
Visit our Yellowstone website for more information on the Sacajawea Cemetery and Memorial (www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/sacajawea-secret-gravesite) and the St. Stephen Indian Mission (www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/st-stephens-mission)
Wind River Hotel & Casino is a good midpoint stop on a road trip from Rocky to Yellowstone.
For more information:
10269 Hwy 789, Riverton, WY 82501
Hotel Reservations: (866) 657-1604
Customer Service: (307) 855-2600