13845
Gardiner
Yellowstone: The Great Caldera
Yellowstone is both the world at its most primordial and the world at its most sublime. Come explore the park’s many natural wonders on the learning adventure of a lifetime.
Rating (4.57)
Program No. 13845RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,385
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Program Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Gardiner, MT
D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m. Walking about 1/2 mile to and from dinner on gravel roads with uneven and rocky terrain.

Afternoon: Program Registration 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, other important information, and to confirm when and where the Orientation session will take place. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: From the hotel, we’ll walk to a local restaurant for a plated 3 course meal, water coffee, and tea; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This program will be led by both the Group Leader and an instructor, who is an expert naturalist and will lead the educational portion of the program. Unless specified otherwise, all transportation will be provided via private motorcoach, requiring the ascending/descending of a few steps when getting on/off. Remember to bring your own water bottle. Ice water will be available in coolers on the bus during travel, from which you may fill your water bottle; disposable cups will not be available. Expect to walk an average of 2 miles per day. The Greater Yellowstone area is considered high desert, very dry. At high altitudes you are more susceptible to dehydration and altitude sickness. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Yellowstone Ecosystem, Mammoth Hot Springs
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles total over several moderate walks throughout the day; established trails, asphalt paths, boardwalks and down several hundred stairs at Mammoth Terraces. Getting on/off motor coach; driving approx. 20 miles; about 1/2 hour.

Breakfast: In our meeting room, a short four block walk from the hotel, we will enjoy a hot boxed breakfast with a breakfast burrito, fruit, and yogurt, plus juice, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: In our meeting room at the hotel, we’ll then engage in a presentation led by our expert instructor on the unique nature of Yellowstone National Park. Established in 1872, Yellowstone was the first National Park in the world, created by President Ulysses S. Grant. Known for its geothermal activity and diverse ecosystems, Yellowstone spans almost 3,500 square miles of lakes, valleys, canyons, rivers, and mountain ranges. Home of the highest concentration of wildlife in the lower 48 states, the park is the center of one of the last undisturbed ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone.

Lunch: We will walk to local restaurant for pizza lunch including side salad and a soft drink, coffee, and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Then we will board our motorcoach and travel to the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District where we’ll walk the Mammoth Terraces to observe the ever-changing, graceful travertine beauty. About two tons of travertine, a type of limestone, are deposited daily as hot, mineral-laden water wells up from beneath the earth's crust to add to terraces that began building thousands of years ago. If time allows you may want to visit the Albright Visitor Center and Museum and/or Fort Yellowstone independently.

Dinner: We’ll ride to a nearby restaurant to enjoy a plentiful buffet featuring salad, entrées, and dessert, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages can be purchased in town and brought into the restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Yellowstone Park Heritage & Research Center, Canyon area
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Walking about 2 miles total on several walks throughout the day; pavement, boardwalks, rocky and uneven terrain; extended periods of standing at the Yellowstone National Park Heritage and Research Center. Driving approx. 84 miles total; about 2.5 hours, with stops.

Breakfast: We’ll walk to a nearby restaurant for a hearty plated breakfast ordered from a select menu, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: Our first stop of the day will be at the Yellowstone National Park Heritage and Research Center for a docent-led exploration. Housed here is the Yellowstone Archive, a 5.3 million-item collection, the only national park collection affiliated with the National Archives. This golden opportunity offers a peek at uncommon, common and restricted treasures – the sumptuous gatherings of 130 years of Yellowstone's history, all contained under one roof.

Lunch: We will stop in the park to enjoy a sack lunch including a sandwich, chips, and fruit.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll take a field trip to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone for an interpretive walk led by our instructor. Along the way, we’ll learn the Canyon’s geologic story of ice and fire – glaciers and eruptions – which created its beautifully tinted canyon walls. While on the lookout for osprey and waterfowl, we’ll experience the roar of the 109-foot Upper Falls and see the mighty Lower Fall's 309-foot plunge into its Canyon depths. We’ll then board our motorcoach and transfer to the Canyon Visitor Education Center, which reveals more of Yellowstone’s violent geologic past. While here, we will enjoy some time for independent exploration of the numerous unique exhibits, discover the processes by which Yellowstone was formed, and learn about the influence it has had on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Dinner: In the cafeteria in Canyon Village, we’ll have a buffet lunch featuring salad, entrées, and dessert, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll then return to our accommodation and, on our way back, we will have the opportunity to take advantage of the crepuscular hour for some great wildlife viewing opportunities. The remainder of the evening is at leisure.

DAY
4
Blackfeet Native American Perspectives, Musical Performance
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Walking about 3 miles total on several walks throughout the day. Driving approx. 95 miles total; about 2.5 hours with stops.

Breakfast: Local restaurant plated meal.

Morning: As we travel by motorcoach into the Northern rage of the park, a native interpreter and award-winning troubadour from Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Nation will help us discover the positive influences of the Native perspective as we experience a spiritual, musical and mythological journey in Yellowstone. Will take a leisurely walk with our native interpreter and have several stops to listen to stories and original songs as we gaze on the amazing landscape surrounding us.

Lunch: At a picnic area in the park, we’ll have sack lunches including a sandwich, chips, and fruit.

Afternoon: We will continue on our musical and mythological journey with our native interpreter before returning to the lodge with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a nearby restaurant, we’ll have a plated 3-course meal with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Gathering in our meeting room, we’ll settle in for a concert performed by our guest native interpreter for the day who is also a recent winner of the Native American Music Award. He will blend an enlightening narrative with his well crafted songs selected from various points throughout his career, which has spanned three decades.

DAY
5
Fountain Paint Pot, Lower & Upper Geyser Basin, Old Faithful
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Walking about 3 miles total on several walks throughout the day, more dependent on personal preference; boardwalks, paved trails, some hilly areas. Those who would rather not walk may enjoy the Old Faithful Visitor Center. Getting on/off the motor coach; driving approx. 114 miles total; about 4 hours with stops.

Breakfast: Local restaurant plated meal.

Morning: We’ll begin our day’s journey aboard our motorcoach listening to enlightening commentary given by our instructor about the Great Caldera and its underground “plumbing system” as we journey along the Gibbon River, its graceful falls cascading first over the caldera rim and into the crystal clear Firehole River which drains geyser basin country. We’ll make various stops throughout the day to see some of Yellowstone National Park’s 10,000 thermal features – hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles – and over 300 geysers. They’re all a reminder of the area’s recent volcanic past, which laid the foundation for the world’s most diverse and intact collection of thermal activity in the world. Our first stop will be at Fountain Paint Pot in the Lower Geyser Basin area, which, at about 18 square miles, is the largest geyser basin in Yellowstone. While here, we’ll enjoy the sounds, smells and sights of Fountain Paint Pot, named for the yellows, browns and reds of the “pots.” Our walking boardwalk discovery here will offer beauty, grand vistas and geysers including Clepsedra and Fountain, hot springs like Silex Spring and Celestine Pool, and fumaroles or steam vents such as Sizzler.

Lunch: At a picnic area in the park, we’ll have sack lunches including a sandwich, chips, and fruit.

Afternoon: Our next destination will be Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin where the hot water beneath the surface is over 400 degrees F; it cools to around 200 degrees F as it surges from the geysers. Old Faithful's eruption discharges about 8,500 gallons of hot water as it erupts to heights between 100 and 180 feet every 80 minutes or so. We’ll follow our instructor’s lead and commentary as we walk and revel in the spectacle of Old Faithful before walking a portion of Geyser Hill's meandering boardwalk to view more geysers and hot springs including Giantess, Lioness and Grotto.

Dinner: At the cafeteria in the Old Faithful area of Yellowstone, we’ll use vouchers to choose from dishes on the buffet including salads, entrées, sides, and dessert, plus coffee, tea, water; other food and beverages available for purchase.

Evening: We’ll then return to our accommodations for the remainder of the evening at leisure.

DAY
6
Yellowstone's Northern Range
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile total on several walks throughout the day. Getting on/off the motor coach; driving approx. 95 miles; about 3 hours with stops.

Breakfast: Local restaurant plated meal.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel, we’ll journey into the Lamar Valley, an expansive valley along the Lamar River in Yellowstone’s northern range, which is a wide-open haven for wildlife. Our instructor will offer onboard commentary as we soak in the expanses of open space with possible sightings of bison, elk, waterfowl, coyotes and more. As we drive and during stops along the way, we’ll consider the magnificent ecosystem and how all its aspects intersect to create a tapestry of life not to be found anywhere else in the nation.

Lunch: At a picnic area in the park, we’ll have sack lunches including a sandwich, chips, and fruit.

Afternoon: As we continue to travel back through the Lamar Valley to our accommodations, our instructor will continue to offer commentary concerning the wildlife populations, wolf reintroduction, predator and prey dynamics, and more.

Dinner: We will then take a short walk to a local restaurant for pre-set plated farewell dinner, which includes salad, a main entrée, dessert and water; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: We’ll gather for a wrap-up presentation in our meeting room for a closing presentation by our instructor on the natural history of Yellowstone and to review what we have learned and seen during our Yellowstone adventure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Gardiner, MT
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Pick up a hot to-go meal in the hotel lobby featuring a breakfast burrito, yogurt, and fruit. This concludes our program.

Morning: We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!