Yellowstone’s Great Outdoor Adventures for Families
Yellowstone contains nearly half of the world’s hydrothermal features. Come explore these and many other natural wonders on an outdoor learning adventure with your family.
Rating (5)
Program No. 20977RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Program Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Gardiner, MT
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.

Discover the Mammoth Area and Norris Geyser Basin.
Gardiner, MT
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Driving distance approximately 27 miles; about 1 hour one way in Yellowstone National Park with slower speed limits. Hiking up to 3 miles around the Mammoth Terraces & Norris area on maintained trails, asphalt paths, boardwalks, and several hundred stair steps (downhill); some uneven and rocky terrain; Approximately 2 hour walk

Breakfast: We'll walk the four blocks to a classroom for plated hot breakfast including fruit, yogurt, juice, coffee and tea.

Morning: Especially for kids: 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! We'll board our bus and transfer to dinner.

Dinner: Dinner at local restaurant will include a buffet with salad and main entrees & side, plus various dessert bites and a chocolate fountain!

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.

Old Faithful Area, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Gardiner, MT
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Driving about 56 miles; Approximately 1.5 hours one way in Yellowstone National Park with slower speed limits. Hiking approximately 3 miles; about 2 hours on asphalt and some rocky trails, boardwalks with some stairs.

Breakfast: We'll take a shuttle or walk, dependent on personal preference, 6 blocks to a local restaurant and 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: AtOld 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; Keep your eyes open as evening time in prime wildlife habitat offers optimum opportunity for spotting critters

Northern Dessert Community; Rafting & Riverside Camp-Out
Gardiner, MT
Flying Pig Adventure Company

Activity note: Getting in and out of rafts; assistance provided as necessary. Approximately 7 mile raft trip on class II-III whitewater; about o1 hour. Hiking up to 2 miles; about 1.5 hours; moderate difficulty on fairly level, uneven and rocky terrain.

Breakfast: Pick up a sack breakfast when you like in the motel lobby. You may wish to sleep in a bit!

Morning: Gathering together, we'll set out for a naturalist-led morning hike along the Yellowstone River east of lodgings to discover yet another life zone within the Greater Yellowstone area, the Northern Desert Community, which receives about 11 inches of moisture per year. While exploring this unique habitat, watch for bighorn sheep, osprey, pronghorn, elk and mule deer.

Lunch: At a local restaurant enjoy a hearty pizza lunch after our hike. Lunch includes small salad, pizza, soft drinks, coffee and water; other drinks available for purchase.

Afternoon: Especially for kids: 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.

Rafting, Horseback Adventure, Cowboy Cookout
Gardiner, MT
Yellowstone River Motel

Activity note: Rafting about 8 miles; approximately 1 hour; Class II-III whitewater. Horseback ride of approx. 5 miles; about 1 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 time is about 20 minutes; approx. 15 miles; bumpy gravel roads.

Breakfast: On the riverside, we’ll have a breakfast buffet with bagels, toast pastries, 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 return to our motel by bus and switch gears as we change into our riding duds. Then we will take a short walk to where we will board a small bus and shuttle to a premier outfitting ranch outside of Gardiner, MT. Especially for kids: 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: We will enjoy our farewell buffet dinner from off the grill with all the fixins'

Evening: Especially for kids: 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.

Program Concludes
Gardiner, MT

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

Breakfast: Local restaurant plated meal.

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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