Getting on/off a motorcoach with several steps up/down; driving about 175 miles, approximately 4 hours with stops throughout the day. Self-paced walking from 4 blocks to approximately 1 mile; level surfaces, boardwalks, some inclines, up to 30 steps in places.
In the Irma Hotel Dining Room, the "cowboy style" breakfast buffet includes choices of eggs, sausage and ham, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, potatoes, pastries, bread pudding, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
We will board the motorcoach and ride to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West for a self-directed exploration. The museum was founded in 1917 to preserve the legacy and vision of Col. William F. Cody. The BBHC is the oldest and most comprehensive museum of the West with collections containing more than 34,977 artifacts, 20,000 books, and 260,000 photo archives. The Center consists of the Harold McCracken Research Library, dedicated in 1980, and five separate museums: The Whitney Western Art Museum, established in 1958 and dedicated in 1959; the Buffalo Bill Museum, established in 1927, dedicated in 1969; the Plains Indian Museum, 1969; Cody Firearms Museum, dedicated in 1976; the Draper Museum of Natural History, dedicated in 2002. Next, we'll make a short stop at the Buffalo Bill Dam and Visitor Center where a local expert will give us a talk. It was originally called the Shoshone Dam. Drilling to find bedrock for the foundation began in the spring of 1904. More than 82,900 cubic yards of concrete were used to build the dam, and seven men were killed during construction. When completed in 1910, it was the tallest dam in the world with a final cost of $929,658. The dam is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been documented by the Bureau of Reclamation, and included in the National Park Service's Historic American Engineering Survey. Moving on to Yellowstone National Park, we'll enter via the East Entrance, traveling to Fishing Bridge and the Yellowstone Lake area.
We will stop at Buffalo Bill Cody's old hunting lodge, now known as Pahaska Tepee, and have sack lunches with a sandwich, chips, cookie, and bottled water.
We will continue driving along the Yellowstone River to Hayden Valley: a favorite place to watch for animals such as bison, elk, deer, once-in-a-while bear, and birds such as osprey, eagles, Canada Geese, and pelicans. We'll also look for thermal features such as mud pots and steamy "dragon" springs as well as colors of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone with its spectacular Upper and Lower waterfalls. Arriving at Canyon Visitor's Center, we will have time for independent exploration to learn about park geology, history, and culture through many displays, time lines, maps, and educational movies. Yellowstone National Park is known for the most geysers in the world. About 2 million years ago, huge volcanic eruptions occurred here and the park's present central portion collapsed, forming a 30-by-45 mile caldera, or basin. The magmatic heat powering those eruptions still today powers the park's geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots, all of which we will have opportunities to see. Waterfalls at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone highlight the boundaries of lava flows and thermal areas. One 19th century visitor, Nathaniel Lanford, wrote: "As I took in the scene, I realized my own littleness, my helplessness, my dread exposure to destruction, my inability to cope with or even comprehend the mighty architecture of nature." We expect to check in to the hotel late afternoon.
This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. There are numerous dining choices in walking distance of the hotel. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
At leisure. Enjoy the rest of your evening strolling West Yellowstone or just relaxing at the hotel. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.