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A Road Less Traveled: Hiking Amid Waterfalls, Waterfowl and Wildlife on the Border of Yellowstone

Program Number: 17311RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/9/2013 - 6/14/2013;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Island Park, Idaho
Price starting at: $999.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Experience a week in a lovely log lodge on the shores of a world-famous trout fishery, the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. Explore beautiful sites in Yellowstone and just west, hiking less-traveled paths among waterfalls to spot waterfowl. Discern the area’s history, geology and wildlife through trail-side talks by experts, while seeking moose, elk, sandhill cranes and trumpeter swans. Spend evenings watching incredible sunsets over the Henry’s Fork.


• Hike Idaho’s Harriman State Park, a refuge with terrific birding opportunities, and experience two waterfalls of national significance in the Mesa Falls Scenic Area.
• Climb an extinct volcano and climb sand dunes for amazing views of the Snake River Plain.
• Visit with a Park Ranger living in the remote Bechler Corner of Yellowstone.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to five miles daily. Elevations of 6,200-6,700 feet.

A permittee of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

Date Specific Information


Colorful breeding waterfowl and spring wildflowers abound.

Coordinated by University of Montana Western.

Island Park

The summer paradise of Island Park is especially popular among trout anglers at Henry’s Lake and fly-fishers on the world renowned Henry’s Fork. At an average elevation of 6,700 feet, plentiful fresh air and mountain scenery make for first-class hiking, mountain biking, fishing, boating, birding, nature photography and much more.

Beautiful hand-built log lodge with riverfront balconies.
Meals and Lodgings
   Angler's Lodge
  Island Park, Idaho 5 nights
 Angler's Lodge
Type: Lodge
  Description: Angler’s is a beautiful hand-built log lodge right on the banks of the Henry’s Fork River. All rooms are river front and have breath-taking views from private balconies. The rooms are tastefully decorated with down comforters and handmade lodge pole furnishings.
  Contact info: 3360 US Highway 20
Island Park, ID 83429 USA
phone: 208-558-9555
  Room amenities: Each modern room has coffeemakers, satellite television and private bath, and overlooks the river.
  Facility amenities: Restaurant within the lodge.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: Price based on standard rates. You need to make arrangements personally with the lodge. All extra nights based on availability. Call 208 558-9555 for current rates
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Price based on standard rates. You need to make arrangements personally with the lodge. All extra nights based on availability. Call 208 558-9555 for current rates
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check in to Lodge after 4:00 pm. Road Scholar Registration in hotel lobby at 5:30 pm. You will be staying at Angler's Lodge that night.
  End of Program:
Breakfast 7:30 am. Airport shuttle (reservation only) leaves 9:50 am. Check out by 11:00 am. You will be staying at Angler's Lodge the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Standard Liability Release and Health Forms.
  Parking availability:
Free on-site with accommodation.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Island Park, Idaho
  Nearest city or town:  West Yellowstone, Montana
  Nearest highway: US Highway 20
  Nearest airport:  Idaho Falls, Idaho
  From End of Program
  Location: Island Park, Idaho
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Last Chance, ID


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Salt Lake Express
phone: 800-356-9796
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


call for current price
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:






80 miles


Arrival day 2:00 pm shuttle service from Idaho Falls airport arrives at Last Chance by 4:05 pm. Best to schedule flight arriving in Idaho by 1:00 pm. Departure day shuttle to airport 9:50 am. Best to schedule departure flight from Idaho after 12:30 pm. These times are a regularly scheduled commercial service of Salt Lake Express.

Driving Directions
  Idaho Falls Airport Head S on Skyline Drive for 1 mile. Turn L onto Grandview Drive, 0.4 miles. Stay STRAIGHT to go onto US 20 East. Travel 81.6 miles. End at 3350 US Highway 20, Island Park, Idaho.
Elevation Note: Sleeping elevation 6290'

Equipment Requirements: •Bring your own refillable quart water bottle to carry with you on field trips. •We recommend that you bring a camera and binoculars. •Dress in layers, including waterproof jacket just in case. •Sunglasses, sunscreen and bug spray •Walking stick is optional, but recommended. •Sturdy, comfortable hiking shoe/boots with a good traction sole (we recommend “vibram” soles.) Daypack for carrying lunch and extra or discarded clothing.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Road Scholar Registration Dinner Orientation Meeting
(Sunday, June 9)
 Arrive To: Check in to Lodge after 4:00 pm. Informal Road Scholar Registration in Lobby 5:30 pm. Meet fellow participants, receive name badges and the week's schedule.
 Dinner: Dinner at Lodge.
 Evening: Meet in Lodge Conference Space (upstairs) for brief introductions and reviewing week's schedule.
Accommodations: Angler's Lodge
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: CLASS: Wildflowers, Wildlife and Waterfowl FIELD TRIP: Big Springs National Natural Landmark / Mesa Falls Scenic Area
(Monday, June 10)

Note: Shake-down short hikes; see how you feel at this elevation and this terrain. Bring cameras and binoculars. Good chance to spot moose, pelicans, cranes, etc.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at Lodge 7:30 am
 Morning: CLASS: Wildflowers, Wildlife and Waterfowl; enjoy images and discussion of interesting facts regarding species most likely to see on the trail. FIELD TRIP: Travel to Mesa Falls Scenic Overlook and view awe-inspiring Upper Mesa Falls, which plunges vertically over a cliff formed by erosion- resistant Mesa Falls Tuff. Hike 2 miles roundtrip through Lodgepole Pine forest to the very rim of Lower Mesa Falls, thundering 65 vertical feet over the lip of a narrow chasm. Behold the Big Falls Inn, an historic inn used by Yellowstone travelers at the turn of the century. Major reconstruction of the Inn was completed in 2001 and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Walkways have exhibits on the geology, birds and plants of the falls and canyon,
 Lunch: Sack lunch in the field.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Big Springs National Natural Landmark, a unique phenomenon where 120 billion gallons of water per day surge out of the ground. See the crystal clear springs and the clean gravel bottom teeming with gigantic trout who thrive in the constant 52 degree water. Hike along the full grown Henry's Fork River which flows out of Big Springs and view 25" trout, herons, osprey, eagles and 23 other water birds living near the springs outlet. Good chance to see Island Park's largest game species, the moose.
 Dinner: Dinner 6 pm pm in lodge.
 Evening: Meet in lodge for class on local history. Learn about the interesting people who settled this area at the turn of the 20th century.
Accommodations: Angler's Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: FIELD TRIP: Harriman State Park
(Tuesday, June 11)

Note: Hike along the shore of Silver Lake and/or Golden Lake in Harriman State Park seeking views of swans, pelicans, cranes, osprey, moose and elk. Five mile loop at a casual pace allowing for photography and wildlife viewing.

 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: depart for Harriman State Park; in the heart of the 16,000 acre Harriman Wildlife Refuge, where forests, lakes, meadows and streams provide a sanctuary for many species of birds and mammals. Visit the historic Railroad Ranch, first used as a private hunting and fishing retreat for railroad magnates in the early 1900's.
 Lunch: Sack lunch in the field.
 Afternoon: Hike along the shore of Silver Lake or Golden Lake in Harriman State Park seeking views of swans, pelicans, cranes, osprey and numerous waterfowl species. Spot elk grazing in the meadows and a colorful variety of wildflowers. Watch for moose in ponds and sloughs. This is an enjoyable 5 mile hike.
 Dinner: Dinner at Lodge.
 Evening: Meet in lodge for presentation by the Henry's Fork Foundation, a nonprofit, member-based organization founded in 1984 to preserve and protect the unique qualities of the Henry's Fork watershed located in eastern Idaho. The Henry's Fork of the Snake River attracts fly fisherman from around the world and the foundation works with local, state and federal agencies with a commitment to better management of the watershed.
Accommodations: Angler's Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: FIELD TRIP: Menan Butte National Natural Landmark / St. Anthony Sand Dunes
(Wednesday, June 12)

Note: Our most challenging hike, steep ascent 700 feet to the crater rim and 3-4 mile hike within the crater and on the crater rim. Interesting colorful flora amongst unique volcanic rocks. Potential to spot Golden Eagles that live on the crater rim. Next, visit and frolic at St. Anthony Sand Dunes,

 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Menan Butte, an extinct volcano on the Snake River Plain and designated National Natural Landmark. The trail to the volcano summit offers wonderful opportunities to learn and explore the unique geology and natural history of this area. Menan Buttes are two of the world’s largest tuff cones—volcanoes formed when basaltic magma boils up through ground water.
 Lunch: Sack lunch in the field.
 Afternoon: FIELD TRIP: Visit and frolic in St. Anthony Sand Dunes, the largest tract of sand dunes in Idaho, covering approximately 175 square miles. The active dune field trends northeast for 35 miles and is five miles wide, with dunes ranging from 50 to 400 feet tall.
 Dinner: Dinner at the lodge.
 Evening: Meet in lodge for class on Area Geology. Learn about the creation of the Island Park landscape and understand the meaning of the word "caldera."
Accommodations: Angler's Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Bechler Corner of Yellowstone National Park; viewing Cave Falls and Bechler Falls
(Thursday, June 13)

Note: Beautiful 4-5 mile hike along the Falls River in mixed subalpine forest and riparian meadows.

 Breakfast: Breakfast included.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: to Bechler corner of Yellowstone. The Bechler Area is known as the "Cascade Corner" for its plethora of waterfalls. This little visited area of the park is accessed by traveling 19 miles through lush potato and barley fields in Idaho, entering Wyoming at 16 miles, entering Yellowstone the last tenth of a mile, where the road ends.
 Lunch: Sack Lunch in the field.
 Afternoon: Visit Cave Falls, a 30 foot drop spanning 100 feet across the Falls River. Cave Falls gets its name from a large cavern located behind the base of the falls. Hike through thick spruce and fir forest sprinkled with huckleberry bushes. View Bechler Falls, a pretty backcountry falls on the Bechler River. Round trip 4-5 miles. / Closure meeting reviewing the week just before dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner at the historic Phillip's Lodge, built in 1949, famed for deep pit barbeque offerings, restored in the 1990's.
 Evening: Time to put up your feet and enjoy sunset views from your own private balcony at the lodge.
Accommodations: Angler's Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Breakfast
(Friday, June 14)
 Breakfast: 7:30 am breakfast at the Lodge. Airport shuttle (reservation only) departs 9:50 am.
 Morning: Check out by 11:00 am.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Island Park, Idaho Guided Fly Fishing
Contact Last Chance Lodge for rates and availability 1-800-428-8338.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Common Wildflowers of Grand Teton National Park

Author: Charles Craighead

Description: Handy pocket-sized guide to common wildflowers, shrubs and berries for under $10. Wonderful photos by local photographer Henry Holdsworth, a flower guide organized by color. Very user friendly.

For Everything There is a Season

Author: Frank C. Craighead, Jr.

Description: Monthly account of seasonal changes in the Yellowstone / Teton area; a sequence of natural history events written in narrative prose with beautiful photographs and illustrations.

Rocky Mountain Wildflowers

Author: Craighead, Craighead, Davis

Description: A Person Field Guide; the standard of field descriptions of wildflowers. Written by brothers John and Frank Craighead, who did bear research in Yellowstone in the 1960’s, the guide enhances wildflower descriptions by adding notes about mammal and bird activity at the time of flowering.

Just West of Yellowstone: A Guide to Exploring

Author: Rae Ellen Moore

Description: A travel sketchbook of the area. If you can find this book, it is a good read with plenty of interesting information of this area. Includes maps and delightful hand drawn illustrations. The author says, " I've tried to capture the singular flavor of the landscape in the romantic old west."

Rocky Mountain Natural History: Grand Teton to Jasper

Author: Daniel Matthews

Description: A comprehensive guide covering plants, mammals, birds, invertebrates, fungi, and geology. It describes the behavior of living things, and their relations to each other, to habitat, and to people. Color photographs and line drawings illustrate species. "It was written for any and every knapsack that can't hold a library."

Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America

Author: David Allen Sibley

Description: The birder's favored pocket birding guide, Sibley includes accurate colored illustrations, range maps and natural history notes.

Windows Into the Earth

Author: Robert B. Smith and Lee J. Siegel

Description: The geologic story of yellowstone and the Tetons.

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