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Montana

Yellowstone: A Great Outdoor Adventure With Your Family

Program No. 20977RJ
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!

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
Age 9 - 18
ROOMING OPTION PRICING
The figures below indicate the rooming options available.
DATES
Jun 17 - Jun 22, 2024
Per Adult
3,249
Per Child
2,199
Select
Jun 17 - Jun 22, 2024
3,249
/ Adult
2,199
/ Child
3,249
/ Adult
2,199
/ Child
3,899
/ Adult
2,199
/ Child
Select Date
Jul 1 - Jul 6, 2024
Per Adult
3,249
Per Child
2,199
Select
Jul 1 - Jul 6, 2024
3,249
/ Adult
2,199
/ Child
3,249
/ Adult
2,199
/ Child
3,899
/ Adult
2,199
/ Child
Select Date
Jul 22 - Jul 27, 2024
Per Adult
3,249
Per Child
2,199
Select
Jul 22 - Jul 27, 2024
3,249
/ Adult
2,199
/ Child
3,249
/ Adult
2,199
/ Child
3,899
/ Adult
2,199
/ 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). For a Yellowstone program with younger grandchildren (ages 8-11) see "Wildlife & Geysers: Yellowstone With Your Younger Grandchild" (#14910).
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.
Roadside Geology of Yellowstone Country
by William Fritz & Robert Thomas
Updated, classic roadside geology book for the Yellowstone Region explains current geological theories.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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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
Absaroka Lodge

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration 4:00-5:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table next to the front desk to register with the program staff and get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived.

Dinner: At our meeting room near the Lodge, catered by a local restaurant.

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 is staffed with a Group Leader and an Instructor who is an expert naturalist who will lead educational content. Transportation for program-related activities will be via 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. Elevations in Gardiner and Yellowstone National Park range from 6,500 feet to over 9,000 feet. Staying hydrated reduces symptoms of altitude sickness. This is a Road Scholar Grandparent program. Grandparents are responsible for their grandchildren at all times. If/when separate age group activities are conducted concurrently, program staff will supervise. Minors 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. Note: On the last morning of the program, an airport shuttle will be available (at additional cost). Make reservations at least three days in advance. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Mammoth Area, Norris Geyser Basin
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Absaroka Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus; driving about 27 miles, approximately 2 hours total riding time. Hiking up to 3 miles, approximately 2 hours throughout the day; maintained trails, asphalt paths, boardwalks, several hundred stairs (downhill), some uneven and rocky terrain.

Breakfast: At our meeting space a few blocks from the Lodge. Catered by a local restaurant.

Morning: We’ll gather in a meeting space where our instructor will involve kids in an experiential learning session to learn about 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 private bus and ride into Yellowstone National Park. In the Mammoth area, we’ll set out on a trek through ancient limestone formations to the 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. During the experience, we’ll keep an eye out for the wildlife that may be here as well as the unique geology and flora.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the park.

Afternoon: Back aboard the bus, we will continue our exploration in the Norris Geyser Basin where we will walk amid 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! After the field trip, we’ll ride to dinner.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to explore Gardiner independently, enjoy an evening on the grassy patio overlooking the Yellowstone River keeping an eye out for wildlife, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, or just relax.

DAY
3
Old Faithful Area, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Absaroka Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus; driving about about 140 miles throughout the day, approximately 4 hours total riding time. Hiking about 2 miles, approximately 1.5 hours; asphalt, some rocky trails, boardwalks with some stairs.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant.

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 will reveal roaring water; beautiful, pastel-tinted canyon walls giving a sense of the great canyon’s immensity. Grandparents and grandkids will explore and learn about this realm of thundering noise, churning waters, cool mist, and unique life zones.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the park.

Afternoon: Next, we will venture into the Old Faithful area where our instructor will lead us on a walking exploration of all four thermal features: hissing fumaroles, steaming geysers, sulfurous mudpots, and bubbling hot springs. Science teachers back home will be impressed with reports of this 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 the growling, bubbling, and plopping. As we walk through this wonderland of unique features, beautiful colors, and spouting geysers, we’ll learn about life forms in boiling water. We’ll also 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 such as Beehive, Grand, Giant, Lion, and Plume, and of course, the beloved Old Faithful geyser.

Dinner: At Old Faithful Cafeteria.

Evening: Returning to the Lodge, 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. Prepare for our outdoor camp-out tomorrow night.

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

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus; driving about 12 miles, approximately 1/2 hour. Hiking up to 2 miles, approximately 1.5 hours; uneven, rocky terrain. Getting on/off rafts (assistance provided as needed), riding approximately 7 miles, approximately 1 hour; Class II and III whitewater.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant.

Morning: We’ll board our bus and venture again into Yellowstone Park for a naturalist-led half day in the park. Explore the northern part of Yellowstone before lunchtime.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the park.

Afternoon: We will walk several blocks to the raft landing. After an orientation and safety lesson from our raft leader, we will walk down several stairs and a trail down to get onto the rafts. We’ll have an opportunity to practice paddling skills while floating on an area of the Yellowstone River that with mostly Class II rapids. As we float, our raft leaders and naturalist will tell us about riparian habitat and help us identify birds along the shore while we revel in the joy, excitement, and freedom of being on the water. Once we arrive at our campsite, 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.

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.

DAY
5
Rafting Field Trip, Horseback Riding, Campfire
Gardiner, MT
B,L,D
Absaroka Lodge

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus; driving about 15 miles, approximately 1/2 hour; bumpy gravel roads. Getting on/off rafts; rafting about 8 miles, approximately 1 hour; Class II to III whitewater. Walking about 1/2 mile to/from raft outfitter building; sidewalks. Horseback riding about 5 miles, approximately 1 hour; moderate terrain; horseback riding weight maximum 275 pounds. Campfire dependent on local fire conditions and safety measures dictated by U.S. Forest Service.

Breakfast: At the riverside, prepared by the rafting guides.

Morning: We’ll help to pack up our gear, then listen close as our rafting leader goes through safety procedures and teaches us more rafting techniques We’ll then board rafts as our field trip continues another eight 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: At the riverside.

Afternoon: Arriving back at the rafting landing, we’ll take a short walk back to the motel for some “down time.” We’ll switch gears in the late afternoon and change into our horseback riding duds. We will take another short walk to board a small bus and ride to a premier outfitting ranch outside Gardiner, Montana. After a talk about riding etiquette, we’ll meet our horses and mount up for a ride out amid the Gallatin National Forest’s scenic landscape under the leadership of wranglers. As we ride, take some time to appreciate our dependable mountain horses, the creak of saddle leather, scented mountain breeze of sage, and expansive views of the Absaroka and Gallatin Mountain Ranges. Ah, the West! We’ll head back to the ranch for a cowboy cookout.

Dinner: At the ranch. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.

Evening: We’ll spend our last night of the program together under the big Montana sky around the campfire, and reflecting at the ranch where we began our horseback ride. Returning to the Lodge, prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Gardiner, MT
B

Activity note: Walking 1/2 mile; sidewalks. Motel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: From a local restaurant.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. 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!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.