Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 4:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, 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: In the hotel dining room, we’ll have a plated and served welcome dinner with soft drinks, coffee, tea, water included; 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 program will be staffed by both a resident instructor who will give lectures and lead field trips, and a Group Leader who will deal primarily with logistics. We’ll have vouchers provided for meals. “America the Beautiful” passes cover entrance fees at national parks and wildlife refuges for up to 4 adults. If you have one of these national park passes, please bring it with you to the program and on our field trips to benefit other members of the group. 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. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Walking about 2 miles total over several walks throughout the day; boardwalks, paved and dirt trails, uneven terrain. Driving approximately 52 miles at low speed limits with stops along the way; about 2 hours total spent aboard motorcoach.
Breakfast: In the Mammoth Dining Room at the hotel, we’ll have plated meals with juice, milk, coffee, tea, water included.
Morning: Before checking out of hotel cabins, our instructor will welcome us to Yellowstone National Park and the week's adventure through a morning presentation on autumn in Yellowstone, which offers a front row seat to the “elk opera” as the elk move from summer pastures to lower elevations for the rut/breeding season, which begins one of the most amazing phenomena in North American wildlife: The "bugle" of a bull elk is the call meant to attract female elk, which is so strange and yet maddeningly attractive to the ears. The cows and calves respond with their own chorus of mews and barks. Soon, with several males trying to assemble their cow/calf harems, the mixture of complex calls and responses in a variety of voices can only be described as "opera." A variety of wildlife can be seen during this time of year, but the climax of the week will be the exciting scenes created by the breeding interactions of the elk. The magic of Yellowstone awaits, so we’ll load up our motorcoach for a mid-morning transfer deeper into our country's first National Park to Yellowstone Lake.
Lunch: We will stop in the park for sack lunches on the journey to Yellowstone Lake.
Afternoon: Continuing our safari journey through Hayden Valley to Yellowstone Lake with stops at various sites along the way, our instructor will interpret the exciting scenes out the windows for the group. Hayden Valley, which is well known as one of the best locations to view wildlife in Yellowstone, will lead us to Yellowstone Lake, the largest body of water in Yellowstone National Park. Sitting at 7,732 feet above sea level and covering 136 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America. You may wish to bring binoculars for potential viewing opportunities. Upon arrival, we will check into our cabins with some time to relax and explore the grounds before dinner.
Dinner: In the hotel dining room, we will have a plated and served pre-set meal featuring salad, entree and 2 sides with soft drinks, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: We’ll then take a short walk near the lake with our instructor to look for wildlife. Along the way, our instructor will help us to understand the optics and ethics of wildlife observation by teaching us how to behave in the environment and by viewing wildlife unobtrusively.
Activity note: Walking about 2 miles total throughout the day; boardwalks, paved and dirt trails with some uneven terrain. Driving approximately 42 miles round trip; about 2 hours total.
Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, we’ll have a buffet meal with milk, juice, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Morning: We’ll then set out aboard our motorcoach for the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone enjoying onboard commentary by our instructor in route and at some stops. Our study will focus on animal habitat and seasonal adaptations, including the ecology of the local wildlife and plants and the connection they have with the life cycle of the elk herds. Along the way, we’ll stop intermittently for interpretive walks with our instructor.
Lunch: Stopping somewhere along our driving route, we’ll have sack lunches.
Afternoon: We will continue to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for a look at the Upper and Lower Falls and the canyon's beautifully tinted walls. We’ll also go for a walk here along the Yellowstone River to appreciate its unique riparian environment and be right there for a heart stopping interlude where the mighty river roars and plunges straight down 109 feet! Here, the geologic splendor that is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone offers an ambiance that compliments the wealth of wildlife habitat and the interpretive exploration that we will experience.
Dinner: At the Canyon cafeteria we’ll choose what we like from a variety of entrees and sides. Soft drinks, coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: We’ll then go back through Hayden Valley on a late return ride to our lodgings. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Walking about 2 miles total throughout the day; boardwalks, paved and dirt trails with some uneven terrain. Driving approximately 75 miles at low speed limits with stops along the way; about 3 hours total.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: Once checked out of our cabins we’ll move on to see Old Faithful, the heart of Yellowstone. Upon arrival, we’ll walk with our instructor to explore the Upper Geyser Basin, see Old Faithful, the Firehole River, a variety of hot springs, fumaroles, and other geysers.
Lunch: At Old Faithful Inn, we’ll have a lunch buffet with soft drinks, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Our instructor will offer commentary on the Great Caldera's violent geologic past as we continue our exploration of the thermal features in the Old Faithful area. Boarding our motorcoach afterwards, we’ll transfer back to Mammoth Hot Springs where we will check into our cabins.
Dinner: Mammoth Hot Springs dining room plated meal.
Evening: At leisure. You may wish to continue exploring and viewing wildlife around the Mammoth area. Our instructor will be available for questions and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Activity note: Walking about 2 miles total over several walks throughout the day; boardwalks, dirt trails, uneven terrain. Driving approximately 96 miles roundtrip; about 3.5 hours total.
Breakfast: Mammoth Hot Springs dining room buffet.
Morning: We will board our motorcoach and head eastward to the Tower area. Our instructor will offer commentary on the bus and at various stops, discussing Yellowstone's "forests of stone." While here, we’ll have time to view Tower Fall and Tower Creek's graceful 132-foot plunge among volcanic pinnacles. This area is known for its black bear habitat and while sightings cannot be guaranteed, we'll keep our eyes "peeled" with binoculars handy. We will continue traveling through Lamar Valley and see the beautiful, wide-open reaches and rich habitat. The valley offers a wealth of wildlife and diverse vegetation. Our instructor will talk about the evidence of an ancient flood that scoured the valley. Be ready with your binoculars as we may see pronghorn, elk, bison, meadowlarks and Sandhill cranes and perhaps more.
Lunch: At a deli in Cooke City, Montana, we will order from the menu, plus one non-alcoholic beverage.
Afternoon: We will board our motorcoach and head back through Yellowstone's northern range, an expansive valley along the Lamar River, keeping our eyes open for wildlife as we enjoy our instructor’s commentary along the way. We’ll then return to the hotel.
Dinner: In the Mammoth Hot Springs dining room, we’ll enjoy a tasty buffet farewell dinner with standard beverages; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.
Evening: We will join our instructor at the hotel for the Yellowstone finale wrap-up session and then be visited by a local professional sculptor – also a life-long observer of nature – who will offer a compelling presentation to close our week-long adventure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Mammoth Hot Springs dining room buffet. 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!