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
Program Registration / Welcome Dinner / Orientation
Gardiner, MT
D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Note: Hotel check-in from 2:00 p.m.; Walk up to four blocks to dinner.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over 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, and other important information. 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: Group Leader will lead orientation and introductions, review the program theme, up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. This program will be led by both the Instructor, an expert naturalist who will lead the educational portion of the program, and your Group Leader. All transportation will be provided via private motor coach unless specified otherwise. Remember to bring your own water bottle. Ice water will be available in cooler on the bus during travel, from which you may fill your water bottle; disposable cups will not be available. The Greater Yellowstone area is considered high desert, very dry. At high altitudes you are more susceptible to dehydration and altitude sickness. Carrying a water bottle with you and drinking plenty of water is important and a simple way to avoid these unpleasant and sometimes dangerous problems. Walk up to 2 miles per day except Day Five is up to 3 miles.

DAY
2
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, its wildlife and habitats.
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Getting on/off the motor coach; several moderate walks up to two miles per day on established trails, asphalt paths, boardwalks and stairs. Mammoth Terraces walk includes several hundred stair steps downhill.

Breakfast: In our meeting room, a short 4 block walk from the hotel, we will enjoy a hot box breakfast with a breakfast burrito, fruit, yogurt and juice, plus water, coffee, tea.

Morning: We’ll enjoy 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 4 block for a pizza lunch including side salad, pizza and a soft drink or coffee and water; other drinks available to purchase.

Afternoon: After lunch we will board our motorcoach for the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District. Walk the Mammoth Terraces to observe her ever changing, graceful travertine beauty; boardwalk, asphalt path and several hundred stair steps (downhill). About two tons of travertine 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. Museum exhibits include park history and wildlife natural history. The Fort Yellowstone/Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District "began" in 1872 when Yellowstone National Park was established and immediately came under threat of exploitation by poachers, souvenir hunters and developers. Civilian superintendents suffered from inexperience, lack of funds and manpower. After fourteen years, the U.S. Army was called on for help and the Cavalry was sent in to protect Yellowstone's resources and visitors. in 1886. A guard house was built in 1891 to support the Cavalry's mission of protection and management. Clapboard buildings were built that same year with more added in 1897. 1909 saw stone buildings built as the fort's capacity grew to 400 men/four troops. The National Park Service was established in 1916 and the Cavalry gave control of Yellowstone back to the civilians; their duty concluded completely in 1918, Fort Yellowstone became the administrative center for the park.

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

Evening: At leisure.

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

Activity note: Periods of extended standing at the Yellowstone National Park Heritage and Research Center in addition to several field trip walks up to two miles total.

Breakfast: We’ll walk or shuttle 7 blocks to restaurant for a hearty breakfast off of a limited menu plus water, coffee, tea, and juice.

Morning: Morning visit to 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: In the park, enjoy a sack lunch including a sandwich, chips, and fruit.

Afternoon: We’ll take a field trip to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone for an interpretive walk. 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, experience the roar of 109' Upper Falls and view mighty Lower Fall's 309' plunge into its Canyon depths. At the end of our walk, take time at the new Canyon Visitor Education Center, which reveals more of Yellowstone’s violent geologic past. With numerous unique exhibits, the Center further explains the processes by which Yellowstone was formed and the influence it has had.

Dinner: In the Canyon Cafeteria in Canyon Village, enjoy a buffet featuring salad, entrées, and dessert, plus water, coffee, and tea; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: Evening return takes advantage of the crepuscular hour for some great wildlife viewing opportunities.

DAY
4
Yellowstone with Jack Gladstone / Evening Entertainment
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Walking illustration with native interpreter, Jack Gladstone will include moderate walking up to 3 miles.

Breakfast: We’ll walk or shuttle 7 blocks to restaurant for a hearty breakfast off of a limited menu plus water, coffee, tea, and juice.

Morning: As we travel by bus, Jack Gladstone, a native interpreter and award winning troubadour from Montana’s Blackfeet Indian Nation, will take us across the cultural bridge revealing the positive influence of the Native perspective as we experience a spiritual, musical and mythological journey in Yellowstone.

Lunch: In the park, enjoy a sack lunch including a sandwich, chips, and fruit.

Afternoon: Following the conclusion of the days activities, we’ll return to the lodge. At leisure until dinner

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

Evening: Enjoy a concert in our meeting room where recent winner of the Native American Music Award, Jack Gladstone will blend an enlightening narrative with his well crafted songs. The concert will include selections from his career, which has spanned three decades.

DAY
5
All Day Field Trip to Yellowstone’s Thermal Features
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Getting on/off the motor coach; Walking distances up to 1 mile on boardwalk. Walking up to 2 miles at Old Faithful on boardwalk and paved trail based on interest level.

Breakfast: We’ll walk or shuttle 7 blocks to restaurant for a hearty breakfast off of a limited menu plus water, coffee, tea, and juice.

Morning: We’ll begin our journey on our motor coach with enlightening commentary and stops throughout, as we set out to explore the Great Caldera’s underground plumbing system beginning with a journey via Gibbon River; its graceful falls cascading over the caldera rim then crystal clear Firehole River which drains geyser basin country. Yellowstone National Park’s 10,000 thermal features – hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles – and over 300 geysers are a reminder of the area’s recent volcanic past, which laid the foundation for the worlds most diverse and intact collection of thermal activity in the world. Our first stop will be at Fountain Paint Pot in Lower Geyser Basin area, which, at about 18 square miles, is the largest geyser basin in Yellowstone. Enjoy the sounds, smell and sight of Fountain Paint Pot, named for the yellows, browns and reds of the “pots.” Your boardwalk discovery here offers 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: In the park, enjoy a sack lunch including a sandwich, chips, and fruit.

Afternoon: The destination this afternoon is Old Faithful. If time allows, an eye popping investigation will continue at Midway Geyser Basin, nicknamed Hells Half Acre. Arrive at Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin. The hot water beneath the surface here 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. Enjoy Old Faithful then walk a portion of Geyser Hill's meandering boardwalk to view geysers and hot springs including Giantess, Lioness and Grotto. Enjoy the history and parkitecture of the legendary Old Faithful Inn, designed by Robert Reamer and built of local stone and logs during the winter of 1903-04. This treasure is now a National Historic Landmark and one of the few remaining log hotels in the country. Moderate walking, up to two miles per day on asphalt paths, stairs and boardwalks; some hilly areas. Those choosing not to walk may enjoy the Old Faithful Visitor Center.

Dinner: Enjoy this meal in the heart of Yellowstone at the Old Faithful Cafeteria. Using a voucher, choose from a buffet featuring salad, entrée, sides, and dessert, plus water, coffee, and tea; other food and beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Evening return to Gardiner takes advantage of the crepuscular hour.

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

Activity note: Note: Getting on/off the motor coach; Walking distances up to 1 mile.

Breakfast: We’ll walk or shuttle 7 blocks to restaurant for a hearty breakfast off of a limited menu plus water, coffee, tea, and juice.

Morning: Field exploration to Yellowstone's northern range, a wide-open haven for wildlife. Enjoy expanses of open space and expect to see bison, elk, waterfowl, coyotes and more. Consider a magnificent ecosystem and how all its aspects intersect to create a tapestry of life not to be found anywhere else in the nation.

Lunch: In the park, enjoy a sack lunch including a sandwich, chips, and fruit.

Afternoon: Consider wildlife populations, wolf reintroduction, carrying capacity, predator and prey dynamics and more. Review the optics and ethics of wildlife viewing and bring binoculars to put your skills to work; spotting scopes available.

Dinner: We will walk one block for pre-set plated dinner, which includes salad, main entrée, dessert and water; other drinks available for purchase.

Evening: Enjoy a final presentation on the natural history of Yellowstone and invaluable review to wrap up our Yellowstone discovery.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Gardiner, MT
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 9:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Pick up grab and go meal in the hotel lobby featuring a hot breakfast burrito, gogurt, and fruit.

Morning: Independent departures. Airport shuttle departs at 8:30 a.m. after picking up grab and go breakfast. We hope you enjoy all your Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. We encourage you to join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!