18556
Wyoming
The Best of Yellowstone: From Colter's Hell to America's Hot Spot
Gain an insider’s perspective on Yellowstone National Park as you join local experts to explore regional geology, natural monuments and the issues facing Yellowstone today.
Program No. 18556RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,995
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY
D
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel Cabins

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

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 to learn when and where the Orientation session will take place. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: Dinner coupons in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel dining room, will offer choice of salad, entrée, dessert and coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Group Leader will greet everyone, lead introductions, review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Indicated times are approximate. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Schedules can change on a day-to-day basis due to extraneous circumstances including weather, thermal activity, and wildlife activity. Remember to bring your own water bottle. Water will be available in coolers on the bus during field trips, from which you may fill your water bottle; disposable cups will not be available. Southwest Montana and Yellowstone National Park are 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 to avoid these unpleasant and sometimes dangerous problems. The Instructor, an expert naturalist, will lead the hikes and educational portion of the program. All transportation will be provided via motorcoach unless specified otherwise. Hike up to 3 miles per day, at elevations up to 8,000 feet. Elevation gains can range from up to 600 feet in 1/2 mile to 1,400 feet in 3 miles. Hikes are learning hikes, not aerobic style. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions.

DAY
2
Yellowstone Geology, Introduction to Yellowstone
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, WY
B,L,D
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel Cabins

Activity note: Hike up to 3 miles at elevations ranging from 5,800' to 8,000' on maintained trails, asphalt paths, boardwalks, stairs; some uneven and rocky terrain; mileage does not include walking around overnight sites (e.g. to and from dining locations, restroom stops, etc.)

Breakfast: In the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel Dining Room, enjoy a buffet plus water, coffee, tea, and juice.

Morning: In this introductory lecture, Yellowstone is put in perspective by our instructor. Review and discuss geologic processes that have shaped Yellowstone's landscape through the ages. Consider plate movement, the Yellowstone hot spot and how the Park's unique ecosystem and diverse habitats are a direct result of glaciations, tectonic and volcanic activity.

Lunch: Lunch coupons in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel Dining Room will offer limited choices including offee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Field exploration begins with an acclimation walk on the Mammoth Terraces to observe her ever changing, graceful travertine beauty; boardwalk, asphalt path and several hundred stairsteps (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. Mammoth area includes the Albright Visitor Center and Museum, and historic Fort Yellowstone.

Dinner: Dinner coupons in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel dining room, will offer choice of salad, entrée, dessert and coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Enjoy a special performance by a local artist and naturalist with the use of stories, music, and visual performances.

DAY
3
To Old Faithful, Norris Geyser Basin
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, WY
B,L,D
Old Faithful Snow Lodge

Activity note: Drive is about 50 miles, taking up to 2 hours; roads in Yellowstone have lower speed limits and we will have planned stops for sight seeing and unexpected stops from animal traffic. Expect hikes up to 3 miles per day with some inclines and rocky trails.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Check out of Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and begin our journey to Old Faithful, where we will spend the night. We’ll travel by motor coach to Norris Geyser Basin to venture on a walking exploration here at Yellowstone's oldest, hottest and most active thermal area. Located at the intersection of three major fault lines, evidence shows that thermal features have existed here for the last 115,000 years. A scientific drill hole at Norris registered the highest temperature ever recorded in Yellowstone at 459 degrees F.

Lunch: Enjoy sack lunches in route including a sandwich, chips, and bottled water. Snacks include a piece of fresh fruit and cookie.

Afternoon: Our exploration continues as we follow the flow of the Firehole River through the beautiful canyon and onto the Lower and Midway Geyser Basins and Biscuit Basin before reaching the Old Faithful area for our night stay. The largest geyser basin in Yellowstone, Lower Geyser Basin spans 11 square miles and features one of the most diverse collections of thermal features found in the park. The Midway Geyser Basin contains the Excelsior Geyser, the largest hot spring in the park and one of the largest in the world. Next is Biscuit Basin, which is named for the unusual biscuit-like deposits that used to surround Sapphire Pool. We will check into the hotel in the mid afternoon.

Dinner: Dinner coupons in the Old Faithful Snowlodge dining room, will offer choice of salad, entrée, dessert and coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Old Faithful, Geyser Hill, Yellowstone Lake
Lake Station, Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.
B,L,D
Lake Hotel Cabins

Activity note: Two drives today of about 20 miles each, taking approximately 2 hours; roads in Yellowstone have lower speed limits and we will have planned stops for sight seeing and unexpected stops from animal traffic.

Breakfast: In the Old Faithful Inn Dining Room, you’ll receive a voucher to choose items from a buffet plus water, coffee, and tea; other food and beverages available for purchase.

Morning: We’ll our adventrue in the Old Faithful area. Expect color, pungent sulfur, hissing, bubbling, spouting and sizzling as you take the morning to explore the Upper Geyser Basin where the world's best known and most beloved hydrothermal feature, Old Faithful, pours forth an offering of thousands of gallons of water and billowing steam, gushing skyward with each eruption. Enjoy a Geyser Hill walk which holds one half of the world's geothermal features - geysers, hot springs, mudpots and fumaroles. Under our instructor’s guidance, we’ll learn all the intricacies of the geyser basin plumbing. Check out of the hotel late morning.

Lunch: Lunch coupons at the Old Faithful Inn will offer limited choices; plus coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: Depart for Yellowstone Lake via Craig Pass and West Thumb Geyser Basin. West Thumb is the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. It is speculated that its heat source is only 10,000 feet down. Thermal features here extend under the surface of the lake as well as along the shore; several underwater geysers were discovered in the early 1990s. A number of geological forces are still at work here and affecting the active hydrothermal features. As we visit the Basin, learn the secrets behind the activity.

Dinner: At the Lake Hotel Dining Room enjoy a pre-set plated meal featuring a salad, entrée with starch and vegetable, and coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Here's an opportunity to enjoy Lake Lodge lobby and fireplaces, walking or Lake Hotel's spacious, glassed-in Sun Room where one may enjoy the grand view of beautiful Yellowstone Lake, music and conversation.

DAY
5
Canyon Hike, Mount Washburn, Wildlife Lecture
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Best Western by Mammoth Hot Springs

Activity note: Two drives totaling about 60 miles, taking approximately 3 hours; roads in Yellowstone have lower speed limits and we will have planned stops for sight seeing and unexpected stops from animal traffic.

Breakfast: In the Lake Hotel dining room, we will have a plentiful buffet, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.

Morning: Early check out of Lake Cabins and we will board our motor coach as the expedition continues to the mighty Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, 20 miles long, 800' to 1,200' deep and 1,500' to 4,000' wide. Visit the Canyon Visitor Education Center for exhibits on Yellowstone's super volcano. A walk along a canyon trail reveals extraordinary colors of muted scarlet, pale yellows, greens and blue created by hot water acting on volcanic rock. Experience close views of both 109' Upper and 308' Lower Falls and scenic overlooks to stun the senses. Examine the canyon's geologic story - of glaciers, a volcanic eruption, lava flows and huge ice dams. Watch for ospreys soaring on high; view their nests, five to six feet wide, built on pinnacles towering among the canyon walls. As an early explorer wrote, "There are perhaps other canyons longer and deeper than this one, but surely none combining grandeur and immensity with peculiarity of formation and profusion of volcanic or chemical phenomena."

Lunch: Enjoy sack lunches in the park including choice of sandwich, plus chips, granola bar and water. Snacks will include piece of fresh fruit and cookie.

Afternoon: The day's journey will continue with a ride with commentary through a magnificent landscape as we travel past Mount Washburn over 8,859' Dunraven Pass. Here, breathtaking vistas of a big country roll out and wow the senses as you head to Gardiner, the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Upon our arrival in Gardiner, we will check into hotel.

Dinner: Plated, pre-set meal at restaurant adjacent to the hotel will include salad, main entrée, dessert, coffee tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Tower Area Field Trip, Lamar Valley, Closing Program
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Best Western by Mammoth Hot Springs

Breakfast: Hot complimentary breakfast at the restaurant adjacent to the hotel

Morning: The expedition heads eastward to the Tower area. Our naturalist discusses Yellowstone's "forests of stone." Appreciate Tower Fall and Tower Creek's graceful 132-foot plunge among volcanic pinnacles. This area is known for its black bear habitat. While sightings cannot be guaranteed, you'll want to keep your eyes "peeled" and your binoculars handy.

Lunch: Order off menu at deli.

Afternoon: A fitting final destination to your week of discovery is a visit to Lamar Valley's beautiful, wide-open reaches. Here is rich habitat and its wealth of wildlife. Here are the hoofed, winged, clawed, antlered and horned ones. Here is evidence of an ancient flood that scoured the valley. Here is diverse vegetation of grasses, shrubs, willows, cottonwoods, aspens; here are coniferous timbered ridges, sagebrush covered hills, mixed forest habitat and rich, riparian areas. Stay alert and keep binoculars at the ready. You'll possibly see pronghorn, elk, bison, meadowlarks and sandhill cranes.

Dinner: Plated, pre-set meal at restaurant adjacent to the hotel will include salad, main entrée, dessert, coffee tea and water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Closing and reflections on Yellowstone's life zones and understanding how a landscape's "geologic bones", combined with climate and elevation, result in splendid and diverse vegetation and wildlife. At the end of our closing program, prepare for departure and organize transportation in the morning.

DAY
7
Program Concludes
Gardiner, MT
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: Complimentary hotel buffet breakfast featuring hot and cold options.

Morning: Our program concludes with breakfast. 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!