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Celebrate the New Year At Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs

Program Number: 7120RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/28/2014 - 1/3/2015; 12/28/2015 - 1/3/2016;
Duration: 6 nights
Location: Yellowstone, Montana
Price starting at: $1,985.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays; National Parks
Meals: 17; 6 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 6 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Climb aboard a snowcoach for three days’ journey into a dazzling, white world of shaggy bison, croaking ravens, steaming rivers and sulfurous mud pots. Welcome the New Year at Old Faithful as part of your winter voyage into Yellowstone’s glistening, snow-cloaked ambiance. Consider the slumbering volcano breathing beneath Yellowstone’s landscape, a presence that has caused eruptions, earthquakes, geothermal activity, mountain building and landslides through the ages. Discuss these geologic processes as you venture across the Great Caldera, exploring thermal features, grand canyons, open valleys, towering waterfalls and sweeping overlooks. Learn of early survey parties, winter keepers of the old hotels, Fort Yellowstone’s early military presence and more.


• Hear from a naturalist about Yellowstone's volcano, the winter adaptations of regional biota, predator/prey dynamics and more.
• Explore Mammoth's travertine terraces, Upper Geyser Basin's spouting, steaming, boiling glory and lovely Fountain Paint Pot.
• Take a field trip to Yellowstone's northern range to observe vital habitat and wildlife including bison, elk, eagles and bighorn sheep.

Activity Particulars

Elevation 6,239 to 8,000 feet. Getting in an out of snowcoach several times per day; walking up to one mile on snow-packed paths, stairs, boardwalks.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, 2 nights; snowcoach to Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, 2 nights; snowcoach to Mammoth Hot Springs, 2 nights; departure.

Coordinated by University of Montana Western.

Yellowstone National Park (Montana)

The world's first national park, established in 1872, is famous for its thermal features, plentiful flora and fauna, as well as its considerable human history, from early explorers to the historic park lodges. Although the park itself is in Wyoming, three of the entrances are in Montana.

Mammoth Hot Springs: Historic hotel near Fort Yellowstone. Old Faithful: Lodge within walking distance of geyser.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Catherine Cain

A trained naturalist with degrees in zoology, cultural anthropology and biology, Catherine Cain is an accomplished leader with areas of expertise including interpretation of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Due to her knowledge and experience in the fields of zoology, geology, botany, and cultural anthropology, she has been involved in many teaching, administrative, and research positions, including eight years as marine research biologist. She is owner of High Country Discovery, providing natural history explorations of southwest Montana, and is a certified excursion leader for the Montana Lewis and Clark Bicentennial. In 1990, she was honored as the United States "Small Business Person of the Year" for the state of Montana as co-owner of WindRelated, Inc. She has recently started her newest venture, Southwest Montana Native Landscapes, offering landscape design services and a retail native plant nursery.
Meals and Lodgings
   Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
  Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY 2 nights
   Old Faithful Snow Lodge
  Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, WY 2 nights
   Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
  Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY 2 nights
 Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Located near Mammoth Terraces, Fort Yellowstone & Albright Visitor Center
  Contact info: One Grand Loop Road
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190 USA
phone: 307-344-5357
  Room amenities: All park accommodations reflect the natural surroundings of Yellowstone; simple, comfortable rooms with telephone.
  Facility amenities: Located in Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. Ample parking. Within walking distance of Albright Visitor Center/Museum/bookstore, Fort Yellowstone, Mammoth Terraces, ATM, lounge, general store, dining room, quick-service restaurant, clinic, espresso service, gift shop, a service station and corrals with guided trail rides (available in summer only). Rent skis and snowshoes in winter for exploring nearby terrain. Internet service is available for purchase in the Lounge and Restaurant.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Bathroom: Private bathroom contains either a bathtub or a shower.
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Varies. Seasonal rates, call (866) 439-7375 for quote; advance reservations required.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Varies. Seasonal rates, call (866) 439-7375 for quote; advance reservations required.
  Check out time: 9:00 AM

 Old Faithful Snow Lodge
Type: Hotel
  Description: Built in the style of classic national park lodges, Old Faithful Snow Lodge combines modern comfort with rustic timber construction. Within walking and viewing distance of Old Faithful Geyser.
  Contact info: 1 Grand Loop Rd.
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190 USA
phone: 307-344-7901
  Room amenities: All park accommodations reflect the natural surroundings of Yellowstone; rooms include telephone, coffee maker, refrigerator, hair dryer; internet service available for purchase.
  Facility amenities: Lounge, bar, dining room, café, physically disabled services and guest laundry; internet service available for purchase in guest rooms and lobby areas.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
4-5 pm for registration at hotel. You will be staying at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Program concludes after breakfast; airport group shuttle departs 8 am. You will be staying at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Bring your Golden Age, Senior or National Parks pass for entrance into Yellowstone Park en route to your program start location at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel - or purchase pass at park entrance.
  Parking availability:
Free parking.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY
  Nearest city or town:  Gardiner, MT
  Nearest highway: HWY 89
  Nearest airport:  Gallatin Field in Bozeman, MT
  From End of Program
  Location: Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Bozeman, MT


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Xanterra Parks & Resorts’
phone: 866-439-7375
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approx $51.50
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


2 1/2 hours 




95 miles


For visitors who spent the previous night in Bozeman, the shuttle will pick up at the Holiday Inn at 5 Baxter Lane at 1 p.m. The shuttle will pick up arrivals at the Bozeman Airport for a 1:45 p.m. departure to the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Yellowstone.


Bozeman, MT


To Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Xanterra Parks & Resorts’
phone: 866-439-7375
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Approx $51.50
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


2 1/2 hours 




95 miles


The shuttle departs Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel daily at 8:30 a.m. arriving at the airport at 10:30 a.m. For guests remaining in Bozeman, the shuttle will drop off at local hotel.

Driving Directions
  Livingston, MT Exit I-90 on to HWY 89; travel south along the Yellowstone River for 53 miles through the Paradise Valley to Gardiner, MT, northwest entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Drive under Roosevelt Arch to Park entrance, then continue south, 5 miles, along the Gardiner River and up the mountainous, two lane highway to Mammoth Hot Springs. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is on the right.
Elevation Note: Site is 6,239'. Activities take place at elevations up to 8,000'.

Equipment Requirements: Water bottle and day pack to carry WATER, camera, personal items, extra 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: Check-in, Welcome Dinner and orientation
(Sunday, December 28)
 Afternoon: Check-in from 4-5 pm in hotel Conference Room
 Dinner: Dinner served at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel Dining Room
 Evening: Welcome, Introductions and Orientation in Conference Room. Optional presentation in Map Room at Mammoth Hotel.
Accommodations: Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Yellowstone overview, Mammoth Terraces walk, evening presentation
(Monday, December 29)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel dining room
 Morning: Overview of Yellowstone National Park may include cultural history, geology, biology, human history, wildlife and/or hydrothermal activity.
 Lunch: Lunch served in hotel dining room
 Afternoon: Walk the Mammoth Hot Springs spectacular travertine terraces (boardwalk and path include several hundred stair steps uphill, may be snow-packed). 1:30 pm: Join an optional ranger-led hike (or snowshoe walk, depending on snow conditions) around the Mammoth Terraces loop, approximately 2 miles. AFTERNOON FREE TIME. Optional activities on your own: rent cross-country skis or snowshoes and traverse Fort Yellowstone or Mammoth Terraces.
 Dinner: Dinner served in hotel dining room
 Evening: Adaptations of plants and wildlife in winter
Accommodations: Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Travel by snowcoach into the Heart of Yellowstone to Old Faithful; watch for bison, elk, waterfowl
(Tuesday, December 30)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel dining room
 Morning: Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel check-out. All aboard snow coaches for a journey through Yellowstone's winter-white world. Coach from the Mammoth area up through the Hoodoos and Golden Gate to Swan Flats, then via Obsidian Cliffs and Roaring Mountain to the Norris Geyser Basin area, Yellowstone's most thermally active region. Turn south at Madison Junction; here, Gibbon and Firehole Rivers join to form the grand, Madison River, a headwater of the mighty Missouri. Have cameras at hand, ready for wildlife and winter beauty.
 Lunch: Picnic in the Park, sack lunches
 Afternoon: Continue over the snow to Firehole River Canyon then among forest and open park to the steaming, sulfur-scented, beautifully colored, Fountain Paint Pots area. Carry on into Upper Geyser Basin and your destination, the Heart of Yellowstone, Old Faithful. Check in at Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Snow Lodge Dining Room
 Evening: Free evening
Accommodations: Old Faithful Snow Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Snowcoach Yellowstone's historic Lower Loop among a grand, snowclad landscape; then back to Old Faithful for Auld Lang Syne
(Wednesday, December 31)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in Snow Lodge dining room
 Morning: Board snow coaches for exploration along the "Lower Loop" via winter wonderland. Bring binoculars and camera. Plan on a grand landscape of steaming geyser basins, meadow and forest. You'll see bison, elk, wintering waterfowl, raven and coyote.
 Lunch: Sack lunches along the "Loop"
 Afternoon: The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone seems even more awesome during winter. Appreciate the mighty Upper and Lower Falls and beautifully tinted canyon walls. One is wonderstruck and speechless with earth's winter beauty.
 Dinner: Dinner back at the Snow Lodge dining room
 Evening: National Park Service presentation; later that evening wrap up in coat, hat and mittens to usher in the New Year with Old Faithful, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Accommodations: Old Faithful Snow Lodge
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Walk the Upper Geyser Basin at Old Faithful for hot springs, mudpots, geysers and fumaroles then board snowcoaches for over the snow adventure back to Mammoth Hot Springs through winter's wonderland; look sharp for wildlife
(Thursday, January 1)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in the Snow Lodge dining room
 Morning: Old Faithful Snow Lodge check out. Naturalist-led exploration of the Upper Geyser Basin; appreciate all four thermal features - hot springs, mudpots, geysers and fumaroles (steam vents). Another golden day to put cameras and binoculars to good use.
 Lunch: Lunch at Old Faithful Snow Lodge
 Afternoon: Board snow coaches for an unforgettable voyage back to the Mammoth area via steaming, pungent Midway and Lower Geyser Basins. Ahead, your snowcoach trail flanks pristine Gibbon River to Gibbon Falls and northward. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel check in.
 Dinner: Dinner served in hotel dining room
 Evening: Presentation provided by Yellowstone National Park Service personnel.
Accommodations: Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Field day into Yellowstone's Northern Range
(Friday, January 2)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room
 Morning: Field trip by motorcoach into Yellowstone's northern range to view and learn about this vital habitat. Naturalist discusses natural history of area wildlife including predation, winter range, populations, reintroduction, current issues. Bring binoculars to observe wildlife that may include bison, elk, wintering waterfowl, bald and golden eagles, bighorn sheep. The possibility of seeing wolves exists; however, sightings cannot be guaranteed.
 Lunch: Sack lunches in the Lamar Valley or lunch in Cooke City
 Afternoon: Depending on winter road and weather conditions, travel may extend on through the northern range to the Cooke City area. The road from Gardiner (Yellowstone's NW entrance) to Cooke City (Yellowstone's NE entrance) is 52 miles and is the only road open to wheeled vehicles during the winter. In winter time, the road ends at Cooke City as 10,947' Bearthooth Pass - between Cooke City and Red Lodge, MT is closed. Until 1882, the town and the land around it were within the Crow Reservation. Following numerous skirmishes between the Crow and gold miners the reservation boundary was moved east. Prospectors often accompanied soldiers through Indian lands looking for gold. Gold was found nearby in the early 1870's and the area became known as the New World Mining district. The town was called Shoo-fly until 1880 when it became known as Cooke City, named after a mining investor named Jay Cooke Jr. Cooke promised to use his considerable influence to bring the railroad through the top of Yellowstone Park from Gardiner. This single move would have made the mining much more profitable in the Cooke area. Congress soon put an end to the possibility; Cooke ran into financial difficulty and lost his bonded mining claims.
 Dinner: Dinner in hotel dining room
 Evening: Wrap-up and closing. Optional presentation.
Accommodations: Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Breakfast and goodbyes.
(Saturday, January 3)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet in hotel dining room
 Morning: Airport group shuttle departs at 8 am; concessionaire airport shuttle departs at 8:30 am.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY Yellowstone National Park
Official website for Yellowstone National Park. Information, planning a visit, history, etc. For additional information, visit
  Yellowstone Association
Founded in 1933 to assist with educational, historical and scientific programs that would benefit Yellowstone National Park and its visitors. Operates book sale outlets in park visitor centers which support expanded naturalist training and programs, finances publication of trail guides, books and pamphlets about the Park, helps with funding for museum exhibits and research equipment. The Yellowstone Association Institute sponsors outdoor courses for all age groups, some of which are especially designed for women, families and children. The Institute's purpose is to explore, understand and appreciate Yellowstone. For additional information, visit
  Yellowstone National Park information
Xanterra Parks and Resorts is Yellowstone's principal concessioner and includes operations of park's lodging facilities, some campgrounds, restaurants, gift shops, interpretive tours, etc. For a closer look at Yellowstone and to find out what's available in the Park-horseback riding, ranger-led activities, wildlife excursions and any other park activities. For additional information, visit
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

Restoring a Presence: American Indians and Yellowstone National Park

Author: Peter Nabokov and Lawrence Loendorf

Description: This first comprehensive account of Indians in and around Yellowstone corrects more than a century of ignorance. Here is detailed Yellowstone's native peoples and their story of a long engagement with a remarkable landscape.

Searching for Yellowstone: Ecology and Wonder in the Last Wilderness

Author: Paul Schullery

Description: Eloquent, elegant, truthful and practical - an environmental history of America's best idea, Yellowstone.

Windows into the Earth: The Geologic Story of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Author: Robert B. Smith and Lee J. Siegel

Description: Find out about the forces that shaped and continue to shape the Greater Yellowstone-Teton region. Illustrations and driving tours of both parks help visitors enjoy and understand the Earth's creative forces in this wondrous region.

After the Fires: The Ecology of Change in Yellowstone National Park

Author: Linda Wallace, Editor

Description: The ravaging fires of 1988 caused many scientists to predict long-term devastation which did not come to pass. This scientific summary by wildlife biologists, ecosystem and forest scientists and landscape ecologists discusses the many things that changed and did not change in the Yellowstone area. Realize the role of fire in the ecosystem and the resiliency of nature.

Decade of the Wolf, revised and updated edition: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone

Author: Douglas W. Smith and Gary Ferguson

Description: Research and storytelling meld to document wolf recovery in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Wolf biologist, Smith, and nature writer, Ferguson, provide an inside look at the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Project ten years after the controversial decision was made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to reintroduce wolves into the park. Smith, wolf project leader who has worked with the Yellowstone Wolf Project since its inception, has studied wolves for 25 years. Ferguson, whose writing largely arises from intimate experiences, followed through the seasons, the first 14 wolves released into Yellowstone National Park. Their collaboration offers hard facts and 'impressionistic portraits of individual wolves that reveal their epic lives full of struggle and conquest.' Here is the history of the return of the top predator to Yellowstone.

For Everything There Is A Season: The Sequence of Natural Events In The Grand Teton- Yellowstone Area.

Author: Frank C. Craighead

Description: Dr. Craighead describes and illustrates the hidden patterns he sees in the natural world. For naturalists, this book is a remarkable chronicle of the interrelationships between all living things. For anyone interested in the Teton-Yellowstone area and the entire Northern Rockies, this book opens the door to greater understanding of the natural cycles of one of America's last wild places.

To Save the Wild Bison: Life on the Edge in Yellowstone

Author: Mary Ann Franke

Description: The author brings clarity and revelation to one of Yellowstone's most complex struggles by tracing the history of bison and humans into the 19th century and further into the national parks era. Here's discussion of bison management and park policy - the battle over brucellosis, snowmobiles and groomed winter roads, desires of Native Americans, bison and predators.

Yellowstone's Ski Pioneers: Peril and Heroism on the Winter Trail

Author: Paul Schullery

Description: The book chronicles historic army winter ski patrols, wildlife stories and other ski adventures as protagonists tell their own stories. The author interprets the social climate and attitudes of the times to present Yellowstone in the 1870s and 80s when the nearest town was several days travel away and summer tourists were rare. Poachers were the area's primary winter visitors during an era when wildlife destruction was occurring throughout the American West. The book places the role of present-day park management in perspective. It interprets our history and explains how and why park policies have evolved and provides insight into wildlife conservation and policy and winter travel in Yellowstone.

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