Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table right next to the front desk 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 catering hall a short walk from the hotel, we’ll have preset plated meal including a salad, main entrée with vegetables, dessert plus iced and hot tea, coffee, 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 led by both the Group Leader and an Instructor, who is an expert naturalist and will lead the educational portion of the program. All transportation will be provided by a chartered bus unless specified otherwise. Be sure to bring your own water bottle. Water will be available on the bus during all field trips so you can refill your bottles; disposable cups will not be provided. Be aware that elevations in Gardiner and Yellowstone National Park from 6,500 feet to over 9,000 feet. Staying hydrated reduces symptoms of altitude sickness. 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. 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.
Activity note: Driving approximately 27 miles in Yellowstone National Park; about 1 hour one way with slower speed limits. Hiking up to 3 miles; approx. 2 hours throughout the day around the Mammoth Terraces & Norris area; maintained trails, asphalt paths, boardwalks, and several hundred stairs (downhill); some uneven and rocky terrain.
Breakfast: We'll walk the four blocks to a classroom for plated hot breakfast including fruit, yogurt, juice, coffee and tea.
Morning: Our instructor will involve kids in a experiential learning adventure as they discover the scientific aspects of Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, its geology, diverse wildlife and the grand ecosystem that supports these populations. We’ll then all board a motorcoach and travel into Yellowstone National Park to the Mammoth area and enjoy a trek through ancient limestone formations to Mammoth's beautiful travertine terraces. 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. We'll experience the area wildlife and the unique geology and flora that occur here.
Lunch: As we take in the natural beauty of the Mammoth area, we will enjoy a sack lunch including sandwich, chips, fruit, and cookie.
Afternoon: Our exploration will continue as we board our bus for Norris Geyser Basin where we will walk amidst the hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone's thermal areas. The highest temperature yet recorded in any geothermal area in Yellowstone was measured in a scientific drill hole at Norris: 459°F just 1,087 feet below the surface! We'll board our bus and transfer to dinner.
Dinner: At a local restaurant, we’ll have a buffet meal with salad, main entrees, sides, various dessert bites and a chocolate fountain! Coffee, tea, lemonade, water included; you may bring beverages of your own with you independently.
Evening: At leisure. You may wish to check out some of the small shops of Gardiner or enjoy an evening on the grassy patio overlooking the Yellowstone River. Keep an eye out for wildlife.
Activity note: Driving about 56 miles in Yellowstone National Park; approximately 1.5 hours one way with slower speed limits. Hiking approximately 3 miles; about 2 hours; asphalt and some rocky trails, boardwalks with some stairs.
Breakfast: We'll take a shuttle or walk, dependent on personal preference, 6 blocks to a local restaurant and order from a select menu with juice, coffee, tea, water included.
Morning: Boarding our bus for an early departure, we’ll head to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Grand perspectives from Lookout and Artist’s Points reveal roaring water and beautiful pastel tinted canyon walls that give a sense of the great canyon’s immensity. Generations have explored this world of thundering noise, churning waters, cool mist and unique life zones.
Lunch: Sack lunches include sandwich, chips, fruit and granola bar.
Afternoon: Next we will venture on to the Old Faithful area where our instructor will lead us on a walking investigation into all four thermal features - hissing fumaroles, steaming geysers, sulfurous mudpots and bubbling hot springs. Your science teacher will be impressed with your visit to the heart of Yellowstone, which has over one fourth of the world's geysers. We'll see them, feel clouds of steam, smell sulfur, and hear growling fumaroles and bubbling, plopping mudpots. As we enjoy a wonderland of unique features, beautiful colors and spouting geysers, we'll find out about life forms in boiling water and set out on a hike on a moderately steep and rocky trail to Observation Point for an overlook of the Old Faithful area. Walking on boardwalks we'll explore Geyser Hill among thermal features with names like Beehive, Grand, Giant, Lion and Plume and of course, the beloved Old Faithful Geyser.
Dinner: At Old Faithful Cafeteria, our buffet meal will include choices of salad, main entrée with sides, dessert and soft drinks, coffee, tea, and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: Then we'll return to Gardiner where the remainder of the evening will be at leisure. Keep your eyes open as evening time in this prime wildlife habitat offers optimum opportunity for spotting critters. Be sure to prepare for our outdoor camp-out tomorrow night.
Activity note: Driving about 12 miles; approximately half hour. Hiking up to 2 miles; about 1.5 hours; moderate difficulty on uneven and rocky terrain.Getting in and out of rafts; assistance provided as necessary. Approximately 7 mile raft trip on class II-III whitewater; about 1 hour.
Breakfast: Pick up a sack breakfast when you like in the motel lobby. You may wish to sleep in a bit!
Morning: We'll board our motorcoach and again venture into Yellowstone Park for the morning where we will enjoy a naturalist-led hike in the Mammoth area as we discover more about the unique thermal action and review information about the wildlife that inhabits this Greater Yellowstone area.
Lunch: At a local restaurant, we’ll enjoy a hearty pizza lunch after our hike, which includes a small salad, pizza, soft drinks, coffee and water; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: After an orientation and safety lesson from our raft leader, we will walk down several stairs to where we'll get in the rafts. As we begin to move along the river we will have the chance to practice paddling skills while floating on the area of the Yellowstone River that offers mostly Class II rapids. As we float our raft leaders and naturalist will discuss riparian habitat and help us identify birds along the shore of the river while we revel in the joy, excitement, and freedom of being on the water. Once we arrive to camp we will set up our sleeping area and enjoy some instructor-led games while we wait for dinner next to the river.
Dinner: Outdoors at our camp by the river, we'll share a delicious dinner featuring a main entrée with sides and dessert prepared. Fresh air and being on the water make for ravenous appetites!
Evening: We will have the opportunity of a lifetime to enjoy the outdoor classroom with the soothing sound of the river, the evening's beautiful light, and bird calls all while our instructor gives us a hands on natural history presentation. The pace will seem to slow down as we take in a Montana sunset that eases into a star-filled night.
Activity note: Rafting about 8 miles; approximately 1 hour; Class II-III whitewater. Horseback ride of approx. 5 miles; about 1 hour on gentle horses over moderate terrain; horseback riding weight limit is 220 pounds. Walking about 1/2 mile to and from the raft outfitter building; sidewalks. Campfire dependent on local fire conditions and safety measures dictated by US Forest Service. Driving approx. 15 miles; about 1/2 hour; bumpy gravel roads.
Breakfast: On the riverside, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with bagels, toast pastries, coffee, and juice to energize us for the rest of our rafting trip.
Morning: After helping to pack up our gear, we’ll listen close as our rafting leader goes through safety procedures and teaches some more rafting techniques before continuing our rapid adventures! We will board rafts as our adventure continues another 8 miles down the Yellowstone River. The second leg of our rafting adventure will get our hearts racing as we navigate Class III whitewater, classified by American Whitewater as, “Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid.” Our rafting leader will lead us through maneuvers in fast currents and help us with the techniques needed for good boat control until we reach our destination.
Lunch: On the riverside, we’ll have lunch including a sandwich, chips, fruit, and cookie, water.
Afternoon: We will then have a short walk back to our motel where we will have some leisure time before we will switch gears in late afternoon when we change into our horseback riding duds. We will take another short walk to where we will board a small bus and shuttle to a premier outfitting ranch outside of Gardiner, MT. After the wrangler shares riding etiquette, we'll meet our horses and mount up for a ride on among the Gallatin National Forest's scenic landscape under the leadership of 2-3 wranglers. As we ride, take some time to appreciate your dependable mountain horse, the creak of saddle leather, scented mountain breeze of sage, and expansive views of the Absaroka and Gallatin Mountain Ranges. Ah, the West! We will head back to the ranch for a Cowboy Cookout.
Dinner: Back at the ranch, we will enjoy our farewell buffet dinner from the grill with all the fixins', plus coffee, tea, lemonade, water.
Evening: We’ll spend our last night of the program together enjoying an evening under the big Montana sky around the campfire with s'mores, singing, and reflection right at the ranch where we began our horseback ride. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends. We’ll then return to the hotel. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.
Activity note: Walking 1/2 mile roundtrip to restaurant; sidewalks. Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Local restaurant plated meal. This concludes our program.
Morning: If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!