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Heart of the Winter in Yellowstone

Program No. 21771RJ
Witness Yellowstone National Park in winter as veils of snow create a stunning backdrop for bubbling hot springs, thermal pools, pristine landscapes and the region’s unique wildlife.

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Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
Filling Fast!
Jan 8 - Jan 14, 2024
Starting at
Filling Fast!
Feb 19 - Feb 25, 2024
Starting at
DATES & starting prices
Filling Fast!
Jan 8 - Jan 14, 2024
Starting at
Filling Fast!
Feb 19 - Feb 25, 2024
Starting at

At a Glance

Witness snow-dusted buffalo, boiling geysers and all the wonders of Yellowstone National Park cloaked in its winter glory. It’ll feel like you have the park to yourself, as you traverse forests, open fields and geyser basins at a time when the park interior is accessible to only a few over-the-snow vehicles. Amid this transformed landscape, encounter winter wildlife as a naturalist interprets their long vigil for the return of spring food sources and witness the surreal spectacle created by the play of icy winter air with steaming thermal features bubbling and erupting from the earth.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Getting on and off snowcoach, with high steps and challenging conditions. Outside walking on snow & ice in below-freezing temperatures with stairs. Must be able to walk with balance and stability in winter conditions.
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…

  • Photograph wildlife and winter landscapes accompanied by professional naturalists across the snow in warm, comfortable snow coaches with large windows.
  • Experience unique geologic and thermal features of the park that are even more spectacular in winter.
  • Witness a “bison-jam” and watch herds of these animals exhale vaporous breaths as they lumber across the ice and snow.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Shauna Baron
Shauna Baron holds a B.S. in Biology and a M.S. in Science Education. She has more than 25 years of experience as an outdoor educator, studying large and small carnivores throughout the U.S., including wolves, bears, fishers, and bobcats. Shauna saw her first wild wolf while volunteering for the Yellowstone Wolf Project in 1996 and has since worked as a naturalist in Yellowstone National Park, developing outdoor educational classes for the Yellowstone Institute. She specializes in programs for disabled veterans, inner-city youth, and autistic groups.

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

Profile Image of Meredith Madden
Meredith Madden View biography
Meredith grew up in a Chicago suburb and first fell in love with nature on family trips to Michigan. She moved to Big Sky Montana at age 21 and hasn’t looked back since. Meredith enjoys swimming, hiking, cross country and alpine skiing, rafting, kayaking, bike riding, Bikram yoga and Pilates. She loves children, animals and dancing. Meredith is a certified Pilates instructor and works as an assistant to families in Bozeman teaching Pilates, caring for children, pets and all-around needs.
Profile Image of Patty Bates
Patty Bates View biography
With a background in recreation, wildlife and fire management, Patty has enjoyed a 35-year career with the U.S. Forest Service. She's served as resource specialist, program manager, staff officer and District Ranger, with details as Deputy Forest Supervisor. She's been a District Ranger in four different states, including four years managing the Teton Basin Ranger District. Patty enjoys travel, camping, exploring, pets, genealogy, cooking, reading, crafting and getting used to retirement with her husband, Rick.
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.
Profile Image of Shauna Baron
Shauna Baron View biography
Shauna Baron holds a B.S. in Biology and a M.S. in Science Education. She has more than 25 years of experience as an outdoor educator, studying large and small carnivores throughout the U.S., including wolves, bears, fishers, and bobcats. Shauna saw her first wild wolf while volunteering for the Yellowstone Wolf Project in 1996 and has since worked as a naturalist in Yellowstone National Park, developing outdoor educational classes for the Yellowstone Institute. She specializes in programs for disabled veterans, inner-city youth, and autistic groups.
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.
In the Temple of Wolves: A Winter's Immersion in Wild Yellowstone
by Rick Lamplugh
When Rick Lamplugh arrives at the historic Lamar Buffalo Ranch on New Year’s Eve, he has one goal: to learn as much as possible about the ecology of the Lamar Valley. All winter he will work and live in this remote corner of Yellowstone National Park, home to some of the best wildlife watching in the world. Winter-hungry elk and bison migrate there to graze. Wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions stalk the grazers while eagles, ravens, and magpies wait to scavenge. The snowy backdrop makes the saga of death and life easy to spot. He has three frigid months to explore on skis and snowshoes, observe with all his senses, listen to and talk with experts. A literary blend of facts and feelings, In the Temple of Wolves celebrates nature’s stark beauty and treacherous cruelty, while revealing Lamplugh’s inner battles with his own human nature.
Yellowstone's Ski Pioneers: Peril and Heroism on the Winter Trail
by Paul Schullery
The book chronicles historic army winter ski patrols, wildlife stories and other ski adventures as protagonists tell their own stories. The author interprets the social climate and attitudes of the times to present Yellowstone in the 1870s and 80s when the nearest town was several days travel away and summer tourists were rare. Poachers were the area's primary winter visitors during an era when wildlife destruction was occurring throughout the American West. The book places the role of present-day park management in perspective. It interprets our history and explains how and why park policies have evolved and provides insight into wildlife conservation and policy and winter travel in Yellowstone.
Restoring a Presence: American Indians and Yellowstone National Park
by Peter Nabokov and Lawrence Loendorf
This first comprehensive account of Indians in and around Yellowstone corrects more than a century of ignorance. Here is detailed Yellowstone's native peoples and their story of a long engagement with a remarkable landscape.
Rough Trip Through Yellowstone, The Epic Winter Expedition of Emerson Hough, F. Jay Haynes and Billy Hofer
by Emerson Hough (Author) and Scott Herring (Eeditor)
Forest and Stream magazine sent one of its most talented writers, Emerson Hough, to Yellowstone in 1894 to document the decline in bison numbers. Hough, legendary guide Billy Hofer, pioneering photographer F. Jay Haynes and other incredibly tough individuals set out on a 200-mile expedition into Yellowstone's frigid, snow-blanketed landscape. Aboard cumbersome, 12-foot-long wooden skies, these tough men scoured Yellowstone's winter terrain to put together a thorough census of the park's bison and elk. Hough wrote up the expedition in a series of 14 articles which resulted in Congress ultimately passing the anti-poaching Lacey Act and helped turn public opinion against a proposed railroad through the park. His witty and entertaining articles are a wonderful description of winter travel in the park in 1894, immensely entertaining and historically significant. Includes nine historic Yellowstone National Park photos by F. Jay Haynes
The Art of Yellowstone Science - Mammoth Hot Springs as a Window on the Universe
by Bruce W. Fouke and Tom Murphy
THIS PRODUCT IS DIGITAL ONLY http://www.tmurphywild.com/product/the-art-of-yellowstone-science-mammoth-hot-springs-as-a-window-on-the-universe/
Searching for Yellowstone: Ecology and Wonder in the Last Wilderness
by Paul Schullery
Eloquent, elegant, truthful and practical - an environmental history of America's best idea, Yellowstone.
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.
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.
Knowing Yellowstone -Science in America's First National Park
by Jerry Johnson
Presently in Yellowstone there are almost 200 active research permits that involve over 500 investigators, but only a small fraction of this scientific work is reported in the popular press. Furthermore, the results are mixed and frequently confusing to the general public. The intent of this book is to explain both the general issues associated with the region and how science is done to understand those issues, from wolf and grizzly bear research to thermal activity. It further describes how science informs policy in the Greater Yellowstone Region, how scientists from an array of disciplines do their work, and finally, how the nature of that work enables or limits future plans for managing the park and surrounding lands.
Living Colors: Microbes of Yellowstone National Park
by MSU Biology Institute
A full-color book published by Yellowstone Forever, Montana State University Biology Institute, and Montana Institute Ecosystems that identifies different types of microbes and where to find them in the park. 52 pages-soft cover. 8" x 8"
Windows into the Earth: The Geologic Story of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
by Robert B. Smith and Lee J. Siegel
Find out about the forces that shaped and continue to shape the Greater Yellowstone-Teton region. Illustrations and driving tours of both parks help visitors enjoy and understand the Earth's creative forces in this wondrous region.
For Everything There Is A Season: The Sequence of Natural Events In The Grand Teton- Yellowstone Area.
by Frank C. Craighead
Dr. Craighead describes and illustrates the hidden patterns he sees in the natural world. For naturalists, this book is a remarkable chronicle of the interrelationships between all living things. For anyone interested in the Teton-Yellowstone area and the entire Northern Rockies, this book opens the door to greater understanding of the natural cycles of one of America's last wild places.
Field Guide to Tracking Animals in Snow: How to Identify and Decipher Those Mysterious Winter Trails
by Louise R. Forrest
Focuses on the animal's track pattern, making windblown and obscured tracks identifiable.
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.
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7 days
6 nights
17 meals
6 B 5 L 6 D
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Gardiner, MT
Ridgeline Hotel at Yellowstone

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 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 in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your 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: Catered by a local restaurant

Evening: Orientation. In the hotel conference room, 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 both a resident instructor who will give lectures and lead field trips and a Group Leader who will deal primarily with logistics. Only “over snow vehicles” are allowed in Yellowstone National Park during the winter months. All of our travel in the park will be via snow coaches — specialized van-type vehicles that travel over snow and ice, moving at slow speed limits (25 mph). During our time in snow coaches, the instructor will provide commentary along the way and at stops to view winter landscapes and wildlife. The snow coaches are heated; however, warm footwear and warm layered clothing are necessary outdoors. During our time in Yellowstone, we will have coupons to order from the menu. 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. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

Yellowstone Overview, Mammoth Hot Springs
Gardiner, MT
Ridgeline Hotel at Yellowstone

Activity note: Some short walks on snow-packed trails or boardwalks. Walking about 1.75 miles; several hundred stair steps (downhill), elevation change approximately 300 feet.

Breakfast: Catered breakfast from a local restaurant.

Morning: At a meeting space a few blocks from the Motel, our Instructor will present an overview of Yellowstone National Park. This natural history presentation will discuss wildlife, geology, biology, human history, and more.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll head out after lunch via motorcoach for Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park. We’ll walk among the Mammoth Terraces to observe her ever changing, graceful, travertine beauty. About two tons of travertine (a form of limestone) 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.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Our Instructor and Group Leader will be available for questions and conversation.

Yellowstone Winter Wonderland by Snow Coach
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Old Faithful Snow Lodge

Activity note: Getting in/out of heated snow coaches; short walks on snow-packed and sometimes icy trails or boardwalks.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant.

Morning: We will check out of our hotel, and board the snow coaches and begin exploring the parks interior. Heading South past, swan lake flats, obsidian cliff and norris geyser basin. Our destination for the first day will be the mighty Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Lunch: In the Park, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: Our learning adventure will continue on along the Gibbon and Firehole Rivers. The Firehole River is lined by several geyser basins which make Yellowstone so famous.

Dinner: At the restaurant in the Old Faithful Snowlodge. .

Evening: At leisure. You might like to bundle up and take a short stroll outside under Yellowstone's star-filled sky mid mountain-scented, winter air, or relax in the lobby area's comfortable seating near an inviting fireplace.

Exploration at Fountain Paint Pot and Norris Geyser Basin
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Old Faithful Snow Lodge

Activity note: Getting in/out of heated snow coaches; short walks on snow-packed trails.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We’ll board snow coaches for a field trip to explore the many thermal areas in and around Old Faithful. We will be stopping along the way at various sites, including geyser basins, waterfalls, and possible wildlife sightings.

Lunch: In the field, we’ll have sack lunches.

Afternoon: Our naturalist-led exploration of Yellowstone continues as we make the return back to Old Faithful for the evening.

Dinner: At the restaurant in the Old Faithful Snowlodge.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

Upper Geyser Basin, Snow Coaches to Gardiner
Gardiner, MT
Ridgeline Hotel at Yellowstone

Activity note: Getting in/out of heated snow coaches. Walking up to 1 mile; snow-packed, geyser basin paths and boardwalks.

Breakfast: Lodge buffet.

Morning: We’ll check out of the lodge and leave our luggage to be loaded onto the luggage transport coach. We’ll then set off with our Instructor on a field trip to explore the Upper Geyser Basin and experience all four thermal features: hot springs, mud pots, geysers, and fumaroles (steam vents). Another great day to put cameras and binoculars to good use.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the park.

Afternoon: Boarding our snow coaches, we’ll make the return for an unforgettable voyage back to the Mammoth area via steaming, pungent Midway and Lower Geyser Basins. Ahead, our snowcoach trail flanks pristine Gibbon River to Gibbon Falls and northward to Mammoth area. Because only over the snow vehicles are allowed in Yellowstone during the winter, we will transfer to vans at the Mammoth Hot Springs area and ride down the hill into Gardiner, Yellowstone's Northern gateway town, for hotel check in.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. After a long day of adventure, enjoy some relaxation.

Yellowstone's Northern Range
Gardiner, MT
Ridgeline Hotel at Yellowstone

Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. Driving about 80 miles; approximately 2 hours one way Walking about 1 mile through the day; packed snow and ice on trails, snow-packed parking areas.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant.

Morning: We’ll set out by bus for a field trip into Yellowstone's northern range to view and learn about this vital habitat. Our naturalist will discuss the natural history of area wildlife including predation, winter range, populations, reintroduction, and current issues. Bring binoculars in case we are fortunate enough to spot wildlife that might include bison, elk, wintering waterfowl, bald and golden eagles, bighorn sheep.

Lunch: Sack lunches.

Afternoon: We will board our bus and head back through Yellowstone's northern range, an expansive valley along the Lamar River, keeping our eyes open for wildlife as we enjoy our instructor’s commentary along the way.

Dinner: Catered by a local restaurant.

Evening: In our meeting space a few blocks from the Motel, we’ll gather one last time as a group with our Instructor who will review our grand adventure in Yellowstone’s winter wonderland. We’ll have time for any final questions and answers. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning. Advance reservations required for airport shuttle (not included in program price).

Program Concludes
Gardiner, MT

Activity note: If you made an advance reservation for the airport shuttle, it departs from outside the hotel at 8:30 a.m. Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At a local restaurant.

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!

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.