Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. The hotel in under construction and the Check-In Desk is in a mobile unit near the dining room. After you have your room assignment, find your Group Leader who will have a Road Scholar sign, 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 confirm when and where dinner and 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 use vouchers to get plated meals offering a choice of salad, entrée, and dessert, plus 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 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. Unless specified otherwise, all transportation will be provided via private motorcoach, requiring the ascending/descending of a few steps when getting on/off. Remember to bring your own water bottle. Ice water will be available in coolers on the bus during travel, from which you may fill your water bottle; disposable cups will not be available. “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. The Greater Yellowstone area is considered high desert, very dry. At high altitudes you are more susceptible to dehydration and altitude sickness. Hiking an average of 3 miles per day at elevations of 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. 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.
Activity note: Hiking about 3 miles total throughout the day; maintained trails, asphalt paths, some uneven and rocky terrain, boardwalks and down several hundred stairs at Mammoth Terraces. Elevations ranging from 5,800 to 8,000 feet. Walking distance does not include walking around overnight sites (e.g. to and from dining locations, restroom stops, etc.). Getting on/off motorcoach; minimal driving throughout the day.
Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, we’ll have tasty breakfast buffet coffee, tea, juice, and water.
Morning: Through an introductory lecture given by our instructor at the hotel, Yellowstone will be put into perspective as we discuss some of the geologic processes that have shaped Yellowstone's landscape through the ages. We’ll consider tectonic plate movement, the Yellowstone hot spot, and how the Park's unique ecosystem and diverse habitats are a direct result of glaciations, as well as tectonic and volcanic activity.
Lunch: In the hotel dining room, we’ll use vouchers for plated meals from a select menu, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Our first field trip of the program will be right where we are staying - in Mammoth Hot Springs. We will board our motor coach to transfer to the top of the Mammoth Terraces. Our instructor will lead for an acclimatization walk as we observe the ever changing, graceful travertine beauty. About two tons of travertine, a type of limestone, is 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. If time allows you may want to visit the Albright Visitor Center and Museum and/or Fort Yellowstone independently.
Dinner: In the hotel dining room, we’ll use vouchers for plated meals from a select menu, which includes salad, entrée, and dessert, plus soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Hiking about 3 miles throughout the day; some inclines and rocky trails. Driving approx. 100 miles round trip; about 3 hours total.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we’ll begin our journey to Old Faithful where we will spend the night. On the way, we’ll stop at Norris Geyser Basin to venture on a walking field trip and see 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: At a picnic site en route, we’ll have sack lunches including a sandwich, chips, and bottled water. Snacks include a piece of fresh fruit and cookie.
Afternoon: Our exploration will continue as we follow the flow of the Firehole River through the beautiful canyon, 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. As we travel our instructor will offer onboard commentary and, when possible, we will stop to explore the nearby area on foot. We will check into the hotel upon arrival in the mid afternoon.
Dinner: In the dining room at the lodge, we’ll use vouchers to get plated meals featuring choices of salad, entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Walking about 4 miles over approx. 2.5 hours; paved trails, boardwalks with some stairs, rocky and uneven terrain. Driving about 40 miles split into 2 drives of approximately 20 miles each; about 2 hours total.
Breakfast: In the dining room at the hotel, we’ll use vouchers and choose items from a buffet, plus coffee, tea, water; other food and beverages available for purchase.
Morning: We’ll start the day by venturing into the Old Faithful area to experience the colors, pungent smells of sulfur, and the hissing, bubbling, spouting and sizzling as we explore the Upper Geyser Basin. Here, 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. While here, we’ll go on 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 about the intricacies of the geyser basin’s “plumbing.” Returning to the hotel in the late morning, we’ll check out.
Lunch: At the hotel, we’ll use vouchers to select plated meals with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Boarding our motorcoach, we’ll then set out 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 are affecting the active hydrothermal features. As we visit the Basin we will follow the lead of our instructor as we learn some of the secrets behind the activity. We’ll then complete the transfer to our accommodations for the night.
Dinner: In the lodge’s dining room, we’ll enjoy a pre-set plated meal featuring a salad, entrée with starch and vegetable. Coffee, tea, and water are included; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. You may wish to enjoy lodge’s lobby and fireplaces, walking trails, or the spacious, glassed-in sun room where one may enjoy the grand view of beautiful Yellowstone Lake, music, and conversation. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Walking about 3.5 miles total over approx. 2 hours; pavement, some boardwalks with stairs, uneven and rocky terrain with loose gravel. Driving approx. 60 miles total over 2 drives; about 3 hours total.
Breakfast: In the hotel dining room, we will have a plentiful buffet breakfast, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.
Morning: After an early check-out, we will board our motorcoach and continue our expedition to the mighty Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We’ll follow our instructor as we walk along a portion of the Canyon that is 20 miles long, 800 to 1,200 feet deep, and 1,500 to 4,000 feet wide. This walk along the canyon trail will reveal extraordinary colors of muted scarlet, pale yellows, greens and blue, all created by hot water acting on volcanic rock. Along the way, we’ll experience the roar of the 109-foot Upper Falls and see the mighty Lower Fall's 309-foot plunge into its Canyon depths. Our instructor will lead our examination of the canyon's geologic story of glaciers, a volcanic eruption, lava flows and huge ice dams as we have a clear view of the 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: Along the trail in the park, we’ll have sack lunches 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 accompanied by commentary as we travel through a magnificent landscape, past Mount Washburn, and over Dunraven Pass at 8,859 feet. As we go toward Gardiner, the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park, breathtaking vistas of seemingly endless countryside roll out. Upon our arrival in Gardiner, we will check into the hotel.
Dinner: At a restaurant adjacent to the hotel, we’ll have a plated, pre-set meal including a salad, main entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Walking about 3 miles over approx. 1.5 hours; well-maintained dirt trails with some rocky and uneven terrain. Driving approx. 112 miles; about 3.5 hours with several stops.
Breakfast: At the restaurant adjacent to the hotel, we’ll have a hot buffet breakfast with coffee, tea, milk, juice, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Morning: Our expedition will then head eastward to the Tower area as our naturalist discusses Yellowstone's "forests of stone" en route. Upon arrival, we’ll go on a walk with our instructor in the lead to appreciate 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 want to keep our eyes "peeled" and our binoculars handy.
Lunch: At a local deli, we’ll order from a select menu, plus a beverage.
Afternoon: We’ll then travel to Lamar Valley's beautiful, wide-open reaches – a fitting final destination to our week of discovery. Here is rich habitat with an abundance of wildlife including hoofed, winged, clawed, antlered and horned creatures. As we travel our instructor will provide onboard commentary to help us understand and see evidence of an ancient flood that scoured the valley. The instructor will point out the diverse vegetation of the area, which includes varieties of grasses, shrubs and trees, sagebrush covered hills, mixed forest habitat, and rich riparian areas. Stay alert and keep binoculars at the ready because we may be lucky enough to see pronghorn, elk, bison, meadowlarks and sandhill cranes. We’ll then return to the hotel.
Dinner: At a restaurant adjacent to the hotel, we’ll have a plated, pre-set farewell dinner featuring salad, a main entrée and dessert, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.
Evening: We’ll then gather for our wrap-up session and reflections on Yellowstone's life zones while reviewing how a landscape's "geologic bones," combined with climate and elevation, result in splendid and diverse vegetation and wildlife. Afterwards, be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. For those requiring the group shuttle to the airport, the taxi departs from outside the hotel lobby at 8:30 a.m. This is not included in the program price; advanced reservations are required.
Breakfast: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet features hot and cold options, plus coffee, tea, juice, milk, water. 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!