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20977
Montana

Yellowstone: A Great Outdoor Adventure With Your Family

Explore the wonders of Yellowstone National Park with your family as you horseback ride, hike, raft the Yellowstone River and learn about geysers, hot springs and fumaroles!
Rating (5)
Program No. 20977RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
2,149 / ADULT
1,599 / CHILD
Montana

Yellowstone: A Great Outdoor Adventure With Your Family

Explore the wonders of Yellowstone National Park with your family as you horseback ride, hike, raft the Yellowstone River and learn about geysers, hot springs and fumaroles!
Length
6 days
Starts at
2,149 / ADULT
1,599 / CHILD
Program No. 20977 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
Age 9 - 18
ROOMING OPTION PRICING
The figures below indicate the rooming options available.
DATES
Jun 20 - Jun 25, 2022
Per Adult
2,149
Per Child
1,599
Select
Jun 20 - Jun 25, 2022
2,149
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
2,149
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
2,799
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
SOLD OUT
Jul 5 - Jul 10, 2022
Per Adult
2,149
Per Child
1,599
Select
Jul 5 - Jul 10, 2022
2,149
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
2,149
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
2,799
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
Limited Space
Jul 18 - Jul 23, 2022
Per Adult
2,149
Per Child
1,599
Select
Jul 18 - Jul 23, 2022
2,149
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
2,149
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
2,799
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
SOLD OUT
Aug 1 - Aug 6, 2022
Per Adult
2,149
Per Child
1,599
Select
Aug 1 - Aug 6, 2022
2,149
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
2,149
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
2,799
/ Adult
1,599
/ Child
Select Date

At a Glance

Tie up your hiking boots, hop on horseback and climb into a whitewater raft to explore America’s first national park on foot, horse and water. With your family by your side, take part in hands-on explorations of Yellowstone National Park in streamside habitats and forested mountains. Find out how the plants, animals, bugs, fish, water and weather patterns all work together to create this fascinating ecosystem. Plus, visit Old Faithful — the world’s most famous geyser — to investigate hissing fumaroles, steaming geysers, sulfurous mudpots and bubbling hot springs.
Activity Level
Outdoor: Spirited
Walking up to three miles on moderate terrain. Horseback riding one hour. Whitewater rafting seven miles on Class II/III waters. Long distances travelled by large motorcoach. Elevations of 5,200-7,700 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Experience the exciting Class II and Class III rapids of the Yellowstone River on a rafting excursion, and enjoy a picnic lunch along the river.
  • Make trailside discoveries in the high country as you ride horses together, and end the ride with a cowboy cookout.
  • Set up camp along the river as you take in a Montana sunset and sleep under a star-filled night sky.

General Notes

This is a Family program for participants, their adult children and grandchildren ages 9 and up. For a comparable intergenerational adventure for just grandparents and grandchildren, check out "Yellowstone’s Great Outdoors With Your Grandchild" (#17306).
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Zack Baker
Zack Baker attended high school in Livingston, Montana, 52 miles north of Yellowstone. His love for the park started while snowshoeing and observing wildlife. At Montana State University in Bozeman, he earned a B.S. in plant science, but it was Yellowstone’s mammals that grabbed his interest. He led private wildlife watching, hiking, and photography trips, and drove snowcoaches in the winter. He joined up with Road Scholar in 2017 and is now the Program Director for Road Scholar at the University of Montana Western.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Zack Baker
Zack Baker View biography
Zack Baker attended high school in Livingston, Montana, 52 miles north of Yellowstone. His love for the park started while snowshoeing and observing wildlife. At Montana State University in Bozeman, he earned a B.S. in plant science, but it was Yellowstone’s mammals that grabbed his interest. He led private wildlife watching, hiking, and photography trips, and drove snowcoaches in the winter. He joined up with Road Scholar in 2017 and is now the Program Director for Road Scholar at the University of Montana Western.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Lost in Yellowstone, Truman Everts' Thirty-seven Days of Peril
by Lee Whittlesey, editor
Read this true life adventure of the fifty-four year-old, nearsighted Truman Everts who visited the Yellowstone area with an exploration party in 1870. Although he was an inexperienced woodsman, he was determined to map and investigate the grand and mysterious Yellowstone country. After becoming separated from his party and abandoned by his horse, he wandered Yellowstone for thirty-seven days, injured, alone and with little food and shelter. Lee Whittlesey, Yellowstone National Park's historian, edited Everts' story which records one of the American frontier's most grueling survival adventures. Appreciate many early day photographs of Yellowstone National Park which illustrate the book.
Hey Ranger? Kids Ask Questions About Yellowstone National Park
by Kim Justesen
Here are real questions - some smart and some silly - that kids ask rangers every day. This well researched, educational guide is fun to read and filled with fascinating facts and amusing anecdotes.
Who Pooped in the Park? Yellowstone National Park: Scat and Tracks for Kids
by Gary Robson and Elijah Brady Clark
Accurate information that is fun to read. Kids will learn how to identify critter scat and tracks in a straight forward manner. Lots of extra detail is included such as how to tell the difference between similar looking tracks, why wolf scat has hair in it and much more.
Mountain Spirit: The Sheep Eater Indians of Yellowstone
by Lawrence Loendorf and Nancy Medaris Stone
Drawing on the results of ongoing archaeological excavations and extensive ethnographic work among descendant native peoples, the authors discuss the many Indian groups, in particular the Tukudika Shoshone, who visited or lived in the Yellowstone area in prehistoric and historic times. The Tukudika or Sheep Eaters made skillful use of their environment and maintained an abundant way of life closely related to their primary source of protein, the mountain sheep of high-altitude Yellowstone.
Scats and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains
by James Halfpenny
Scats and tracks have a story to tell and the author, a nationally renowned tracker, teaches the reader how to read signs to figure out who passed by. Includes written descriptions, track and gait pattern illustrations, glossary and more.
Letters from Yellowstone
by Diane Smith
Through correspondence - detailed letters and telegrams - follow an 1898 scientific expedition whose purpose is to collect flora unique to Yellowstone National Park. Learn of the park's early history, trials of pioneer scientists and the engrossing and often funny story of Cornell medical student and amateur botanist, Alexandria Bartram, who emerges as a brave leader and serious scientist. Delightful fiction.
National Geographic special issue - Yellowstone
by David Quammen
Divided into three parts and an epilogue, this issue spotlights Yellowstone National Park and includes, of course, marvelous photography. Part one - The Paradox of the Park explores the concept of why "What wilderness means to people has steadily changed since Yellowstone National Park was founded." Part two - Into the Backcountry considers how "Yellowstone has become a natural laboratory for tracing the delicate web of relationships that keep an ecosystem alive and healthy." Part three - Living With the Wild shows how "Yellowstone's wildlife is adapting to its changing realities" and why "Now people must adapt as well if the park is to remain untamed - and intact."
After the Fires: The Ecology of Change in Yellowstone National Park
by Linda Wallace, Editor
The ravaging fires of 1988 caused many scientists to predict long-term devastation which did not come to pass. This scientific summary by wildlife biologists, ecosystem and forest scientists and landscape ecologists discusses the many things that changed and did not change in the Yellowstone area. Realize the role of fire in the ecosystem and the resiliency of nature.
Watching Yellowstone and Teton Wildlife: The Best Places to Look From Roads and Trails
by Todd Wilkinson and Michael L. Francis
Pack this guidebook, along with your binoculars and enthusiasm, when visiting both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The authors identify numerous viewing areas for optimum wildlife watching and have included maps, color photographs, samples of animal tracks, driving tours, hikes and animal descriptions including behavioral information.
Super Volcano: The Ticking Time Bomb Beneath Yellowstone National Park
by Greg Breining
Yellowstone sits atop one of the world’s five super volcanoes. The Yellowstone volcano has erupted about every 600,000 years and is now about 30,000 years overdue. The author suggests that the Yellowstone caldera is potentially the most explosive, most violent, most deadly active volcano on the planet and what will happen, in human terms, when it does erupt. Find out more as the author describes how volcanoes function and explains complicated and violent geological processes, the important field of plate tectonics and more.
Decade of the Wolf, revised and updated edition: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone
by Douglas W. Smith and Gary Ferguson
Research and storytelling meld to document wolf recovery in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Wolf biologist, Smith, and nature writer, Ferguson, provide an inside look at the Yellowstone Wolf Recovery Project ten years after the controversial decision was made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to reintroduce wolves into the park. Smith, wolf project leader who has worked with the Yellowstone Wolf Project since its inception, has studied wolves for 25 years. Ferguson, whose writing largely arises from intimate experiences, followed through the seasons, the first 14 wolves released into Yellowstone National Park. Their collaboration offers hard facts and 'impressionistic portraits of individual wolves that reveal their epic lives full of struggle and conquest.' Here is the history of the return of the top predator to Yellowstone.
It Happened in Yellowstone: Remarkable Events That Shaped History
by Erin Turner
Discover true tales from Yellowstone's past that shaped its history including geologic events like the volcanic eruption that formed Yellowstone over 600,000 years ago and the massive 1959 earthquake that created Quake Lake. Read about wildlife, the historic Nez Perce flight and early tourists, Truman Everts-lost in Yellowstone and a great stagecoach robbery.
Roadside Geology of Yellowstone Country
by William Fritz & Robert Thomas
Updated, classic roadside geology book for the Yellowstone Region explains current geological theories.
To Save the Wild Bison: Life on the Edge in Yellowstone
by Mary Ann Franke
The author brings clarity and revelation to one of Yellowstone's most complex struggles by tracing the history of bison and humans into the 19th century and further into the national parks era. Here's discussion of bison management and park policy - the battle over brucellosis, snowmobiles and groomed winter roads, desires of Native Americans, bison and predators.
Yellowstone Place Names, 2nd edition
by Lee Whittlesey
Yellowstone National Park Historian's well-researched and entertaining reference source for information on many of Yellowstone's place names and their origins.
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Program Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Gardiner, MT
D
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Hotel check-in available by 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 & 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 Family program. Adults are responsible for their children. 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.

DAY
2
Discover the Mammoth Area and Norris Geyser Basin.
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

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. Mid morning we will 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: We will enjoy a sack lunch as we take in the natural beauty of the Mammoth area. Lunches include sandwich, chips, fruit, & cookie.

Afternoon: Our exploration will continue as we board our bus for Norris Geyser Basin. Especially for kids: You will be able to tell all your friends that you stood in 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!

Dinner: Pizza dinner at local restaurant will include a side salad, pizza, soft drinks, coffee and water; other drinks available for purchase.

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.

DAY
3
Old Faithful Area, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

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: Plated breakfast, order from a select menu; includes juice, coffee & tea.

Morning: We will board our bus for an early departure to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Grand perspectives from Lookout and Artist’s Points reveal roaring water; beautiful, pastel tinted canyon walls giving a sense of the great canyon’s immensity. Generations explore a world of thundering noise, churning waters, cool mist and unique life zones.

Lunch: Sack lunches include sandwich, chips, fruit & granola bar.

Afternoon: Next we will venture on to the Old Faithful area. Especially for kids: our instructor will lead us on a walking investigation in the Old Faithful area, which offers 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, 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 includes choices of salad, main entrée with sides, dessert and soft drink, coffee tea and water; other drinks 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.

DAY
4
Yellowstone Park morning hike, Rafting & Riverside Camp-Out
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Flying Pig Adventure Company

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: Plated breakfast, order from a select menu; includes juice, coffee & tea.

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 enjoy a hearty lunch after our hike. Lunch includes small salad, hamburger & fries, soft drinks, coffee and water; other drinks 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; help us identify birds along the shore of the river. Our 7 mile raft to camp will take us about 1 hour. Revel in the joy and excitement and freedom of being on the water. Once we arrive to camp we will set up our sleeping area and enjoy some instructor lead 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. Enjoy!

Evening: We will have the opportunity of a life time to enjoy the outdoor classroom with the soothing sound of the river, the evening's beautiful light, bird calls all while our instructor gives us a hands on natural history presentation. The pace will seem to slow down and we take in a Montana sunset that eases into a star filled night.

DAY
5
Rafting, Horseback Adventure, Cowboy Cookout
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Yellowstone River Motel

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 hot breakfast buffet., coffee & juice to get 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 starting our rapid adventures! Especially for kids: We will board rafts as our adventure continues another eight 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.

Lunch: After our 8 mile raft trip, we will enjoy a riverside lunch, which will include sandwich, chips fruit and cookie.

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 enjoy and evening under the big Montana sky around the campfire with s'mores, singing and reflection. 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.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Gardiner, MT
B

Activity note: Walking 1/2 mile roundtrip to restaurant on sidewalks.

Breakfast: Plated breakfast, order from a select menu; includes juice, coffee & tea.

Morning: This concludes our program. 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! The airport shuttle departs at 8:30 am. Make reservations at least 3 days ahead. This is not included in the program cost.






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