Wildlife & Geysers: Yellowstone With Your Younger Grandchild

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!
Rating (5)
Program No. 14910RJ
6 days
Starts at
1,949 / ADULT
1,249 / CHILD
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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 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: At a nearby restaurant , we’ll have plated meals including a salad, main entrée, sides and a dessert, plus a soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages 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 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, Nature Connection, 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 restaurant 2 blocks away, we’ll order plated meals from a select menu of breakfast items and beverages.

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. Especially for kids: Who is a predator? Who is prey? Who lives out in the open? Who lives in the shelter of the forest and why? Who lives above tree line? Who lives next to the water or in it? Who lives on the cliff face? Fur, feathers, hair, scales — why? They eat that??? What's scat? Owl pellets? What's in 'em? Gross! We’ll also discuss ethical behavior while in wildlife country, find out how tracks tell a story, and begin a hands-on activity that will help us identify paw prints made by various wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

Lunch: At a nearby pizza restaurant, we’ll enjoy lunch with a salad and choice of soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

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. Especially for kids: 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: In the motel hospitality room, we’ll have a plated dinner with main dish, salad, vegetable, dessert, milk, coffee, tea, water; no other beverages are available for purchase, but there is a convenience store across the street where beverages can be purchased.

Evening: Especially for kids: Our instructor will lead us as we begin to work on our Junior Ranger booklets to earn Junior Ranger badges. Grandchildren, with support from grandparents, the instructor and park rangers, will develop an awareness through hands-on learning activities and field exploration why Yellowstone National Park is so important to wildlife and people. By completing prescribed activities, youngsters will earn their Junior Ranger badges and better understand the importance of preserving its future of Yellowstone National Park.

Kayak Yellowstone Lake, Hike Geyser Basin, View Wildlife
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 the motel, the breakfast buffet includes hot and cold cereals, breakfast breads and pastries, biscuits and gravy, and fruit, plus juice, milk, coffee, tea, water.

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: Lakeside, we’ll have sack lunches that will include a sandwich, chips, fruit and cookie.

Afternoon: We’ll continue our kayaking adventure and, in the mid-afternoon, we will board our motorcoach to travel to the Old Faithful area. Especially for kids: 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 an Old Faithful cafeteria, we’ll have a buffet meal featuring a choice of salad, main entrée and dessert, plus a soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At an Old Faithful cafeteria, we’ll have a buffet meal featuring a choice of salad, main entrée and dessert, plus a soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Yellowstone Caldera Full Day Field Trip
West Yellowstone, MT
Brandin' Iron Inn

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

Breakfast: At a nearby restaurant, we will order plated meals from a select menu. Juice, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages will be available for purchase.

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 volatile area in the park.

Lunch: In the park, we’ll have sack lunches that will include a sandwich, chips, fruit and cookie.

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 a host of smaller mammals and birds. To protect this habitat and prevent disturbing wildlife, the valley is closed to off-trail foot travel, so all possible sightings will be from our seats aboard the motorcoach. We’ll then enjoy a stop at the Mud Volcano and Sulphur Caldron areas, but be ready for a final blast of “rotten egg” sulfur as we examine more thermal features.

Dinner: At a restaurant across the street from the Inn, we’ll have plated meals, plus soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to scout around downtown, check out the Imax Theatre, or relax.

Horseback Riding, Junior Ranger Activities, River Walk
West Yellowstone, MT
Brandin' Iron Inn

Activity note: Getting on/off horses, riding about 1 hour; moderate terrain. River walk up to 1 mile; uneven, slippery terrain. Weight limit for horseback riding is 220 pounds; closed-toed shoes required; no sandals.

Breakfast: At the motel, the breakfast buffet includes hot and cold cereals, breakfast breads and pastries, biscuits and gravy, and fruit, plus juice, milk, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Especially for kids: 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. While here, we will break into two groups. As one group is riding the other group will have time to work on Junior Ranger activities with the help of grandparents and our instructor.

Lunch: In the field, we’ll have sack lunches including a sandwich, chips, fruit and a cookie.

Afternoon: Afterwards, we’ll get back on our motorcoach and head to a camp ground area were we will go on a river walk together as our local instructor discusses river ecology. Especially for kids: We’ll return to the Inn mid-afternoon and walk to visitor center where the kids will receive Junior Ranger badges.

Dinner: At a nearby restaurant for our farewell dinner, we’ll have plated meals including a salad, main entrée, sides and a dessert, plus a soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: Back at the motel meeting room, we’ll have a wrap-up session to bring our Yellowstone adventure to a meaningful conclusion. We’ll finish the discussion with our instructor about how tracks and scat tell a story and extend farewells. Then be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

Program Concludes
West Yellowstone, MT

Activity note: Airport shuttle departs at 8:30 a.m. Inn check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Motel buffet. 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 www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!

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