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Wildlife & Geysers: Yellowstone With Your Younger Grandchild

Program No. 14910RJ
Get to know Yellowstone with your grandchild as you kayak, ride horses, discover spouting geysers, watch for bears, wolves and bison, and earn your Junior Ranger badge!

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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5B 4L 5D
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At a Glance

Explore the wild wonders of Yellowstone National Park with your grandchild. Investigate bubbling mud pots, hissing steam vents, spouting geysers, thundering waterfalls, animal diets and more during hands-on activities. Get a close-up look at the park’s carnivores at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, discover how to recognize rarely seen animals using silhouettes and tracks. Spend the week learning from an expert naturalist and park rangers as you work towards your very own Junior Ranger badge!
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Hiking up to two miles daily on varied terrain; some inclines and stairs. One-hour horseback ride and kayaking four hours. Elevations of 6,666-7,800 feet.

What You'll Learn

  • Connect with your inner cowboy on a horseback ride through prime wildlife habitats, and keep your eyes open for fox and other fur bearers along the way.
  • Grab a paddle and hit the water on a kayaking excursion on Yellowstone Lake. You WILL get wet!
  • Identify Yellowstone’s elk, bison, marmots, pronghorns and birds of prey using spotting scopes with the help of a naturalist.

General Notes

Program is for grandchildren ages 8-11. For a Yellowstone program for older grandchildren (ages 9-12) check out "Yellowstone’s Great Outdoors With Your Grandchild" (#17306). For a family adventure for all generations, check out "Yellowstone: A Great Outdoor Adventure With Your Family" (#20977).
Featured Expert
All trip experts
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Zack Baker
Zack Baker attended high school in Livingston, Montana, 52 miles north of Yellowstone. His love for the park started while snowshoeing and observing wildlife. At Montana State University in Bozeman, he earned a B.S. in plant science, but it was Yellowstone’s mammals that grabbed his interest. He led private wildlife watching, hiking, and photography trips, and drove snowcoaches in the winter. He joined up with Road Scholar in 2017 and is now the Program Director for Road Scholar at the University of Montana Western.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Zack Baker View biography
Zack Baker attended high school in Livingston, Montana, 52 miles north of Yellowstone. His love for the park started while snowshoeing and observing wildlife. At Montana State University in Bozeman, he earned a B.S. in plant science, but it was Yellowstone’s mammals that grabbed his interest. He led private wildlife watching, hiking, and photography trips, and drove snowcoaches in the winter. He joined up with Road Scholar in 2017 and is now the Program Director for Road Scholar at the University of Montana Western.
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While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
West Yellowstone, MT
Brandin' Iron Inn

Activity note: Inn check-in from 4:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration is 4:00-5:00 pm. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table in the motel lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your 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: At a local restaurant.

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 is a Road Scholar intergenerational program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Children are never to be left unsupervised. Unless specified otherwise, most field trips and lectures will be led by our local instructor who is also an expert naturalist. 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. After Orientation, we’ll enjoy some get acquainted activities. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

Intro. to Yellowstone, Grizzlies & Wolves
West Yellowstone, MT
Brandin' Iron Inn

Activity note: Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; paved sidewalks and side streets.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant.

Morning: We’ll then gather in to our meeting room, adjacent to the restaurant. Our local naturalist instructor will give us an introduction to the Yellowstone caldera — a word that means cooking pot, and it really is! Through pictures, kid-friendly graphs, displays, and hands-on activities, we’ll learn about molten rock, explosions, craters, hot spots, domes, steam vents, sulfide gas, mudpots, cones, and earthquakes. After a short break, our overview will continue with a presentation on Yellowstone's inhabitants from well known animals such as bears, bighorn sheep, bison, elk, mule deer, and wolves, to lesser known but equally wonderful critters including golden mantled ground squirrels, marmots, pikas, pronghorn, otters, ravens, and more.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Next, we’ll walk to the Yellowstone Nature Connection (YNC), a nonprofit that works in partnership with the US Forest Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management. YNC is dedicated to connecting young people and adults to the role of fire and natural wonders of the Yellowstone Area. We’ll get involved with some hands-on activities that will help us to better understand fire's role in the ecosystem, fire behavior and suppression. Especially for kids: We will also learn about the role of a highly trained fire response force called Smokejumpers as we participate in experiential activities in order to learn and understand the valuable role of these brave fire fighters. Activities will include learning how to exit an airplane, required physical fitness, handling smokejumper gear, tools and a parachute, which are all required to fight forest fires. At the end, we’ll have a group test and be awarded a graduation gift as we become Junior Smokejumpers! Continuing our adventure, we’ll walk to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, a not-for-profit wildlife park and educational facility that will help us learn about grizzlies and wolves. During our field trip with our local instructor, we’ll see grizzly bears and wolves up close. We’ll learn about the natural history of these animals and the different reasons why they live at the center. while also discussing the responsibility humans hold in helping bears stay wild and how important wolves are to the Yellowstone ecosystem. : As a highlight of the day, we’ll have a chance to feed the bears as we participate in the center’s Keeper Kids program. This unique hands-on 30-minute program will teach us about grizzly bear eating habits as we accompany one of the Discovery Center’s expert naturalists into the bear habitat to hide food for the bears. After the food is hidden, we’ll watch first-hand how bears use their sense of smell to search out the food that we hid.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Norris Geyser Basin
West Yellowstone, MT
Brandin' Iron Inn

Activity note: Walking about 3 miles; asphalt paths, groomed trails, boardwalks, stairs.

Breakfast: Motel breakfast.

Morning: Our full day field day in Yellowstone National Park will begin with a visit to the historic Norris Museum, built in 1929, before moving on to the Norris Geyser Basin. Our instructor will lead us as we see the museum exhibits on the basin’s geothermal features. We’ll then walk along a basin trail to see the hottest, most dynamic and most volatile area in the park.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the park.

Afternoon: We’ll continue exploring as we move eastward to one of the most breathtaking sights inside Yellowstone Park, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. As we hike along the canyon that is 20 miles long, up to 4,000 feet wide, and 1,200 feet deep in some places, we will see colors of yellow, red, white, and pink. These beautiful colors are the result of fluids percolating through hot springs and steam vents over thousands of years. Learners of all ages will gain a sense of the canyon's immensity at Lookout and Artist's Points. We’ll also hike down into canyon depths to experience the thundering noise, churning waters, cool mist, and unique vegetation zone of the falls. At the Lower Falls that cascade down 308 feet, we’ll see and learn about the canyon's geology and flora before hiking back to the canyon rim that frames the Yellowstone River to view the magnificent Upper Falls. As we cross Chittenden Bridge keep a look out for waterfowl, perhaps osprey and water ouzel. After boarding our motorcoach at the end of the hike, we’ll continue into the Hayden Valley, an outstanding wildlife habitat that may offer opportunities to see wildlife such as buffalo, elk, grizzly bears, coyote and

Dinner: At the Canyon Village Eatery.

Evening: Return to West Yellowstone. Keep the binoculars close as we look for wildlife on our return to the lodging.

Yellowstone Lake, Kayaking
West Yellowstone, MT
Brandin' Iron Inn

Activity note: Kayaking approximately 4 hours. Several moderate hikes of up to about 2.5 miles total on well-maintained boardwalks, stairs, trails, asphalt paths; the trail to Old Faithful Overlook is moderately steep and rocky. We recommend bringing some extra clothing layers in case you get wet kayaking, a water bottle, sun protection, and some comfortable walking shoes.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant.

Morning: With our local instructor and Group Leader, we’ll set out aboard our motorcoach on a field trip into the heart Yellowstone National Park where we will kayak on Yellowstone Lake, North America's largest high elevation lake at 20 miles long, 14 miles wide, and more than 390 feet deep at its deepest point. In route to the lake area, our instructor will offer commentary and we will stop where the road intersects the caldera rim for a beautiful view and to talk about the Great Caldera. We’ll have kayaking instruction and a safety review when we get to the lake. As we kayak, our instructor and the kayak leaders will tell us about Yellowstone fisheries, human activity in the lake region, and current volcanic activity.

Lunch: In the park, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our kayaking adventure and, in the mid-afternoon, we will board our motorcoach to travel to the Old Faithful area. : With our instructor in the lead, we’ll hike to the geyser basin and experience all four thermal features: geysers, mudpots, fumaroles, and hot springs. We’ll not only see them, we’ll walk through and feel clouds of steam, smell sulfur, hear hissing steam vents, and bubbling, plopping mudpots. It’s a mind-blowing wonderland of unique features, beautiful colors, and spouting geysers. Believe it or not, there’s life in the boiling water!

Dinner: At the Old Faithful Lodge Cafeteria.

Evening: Return to West Yellowstone.

Horseback Riding, Bicycling
West Yellowstone, MT
Brandin' Iron Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off horses, riding about 2 hours; moderate terrain. Biking up to approximately 5 miles on dirt and paved paths;. Weight limit for horseback riding is 270 pounds; closed-toed shoes required; no sandals.

Breakfast: Motel Breakfast

Morning: We'll walk a few blocks to rent bicycles and set off on a bicycling adventure on a nearby trail system.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the field.

Afternoon: We’ll then hop on our motorcoach and ride to a ranch outside of town to meet our horses for the day! Our wranglers will offer a short instruction about horse handling and tack (equipment). Whether beginners or experienced riders, we’ll be ready to set out on scenic forest trails with several wranglers leading us as we ride quietly through prime wildlife habitat where we may be lucky enough to see deer, birds of prey, fox, and other fur bearers that inhabit the Yellowstone area.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: Back at the motel meeting room, we’ll have a wrap-up session to bring our Yellowstone adventure to a conclusion. . Then be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
West Yellowstone, MT

Activity note: Airport shuttles arrangements should be made ahead of time. . Inn check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Motel breakfast. This concludes our program.

Afternoon: 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 Best wishes for all your journeys!

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