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2809
Wyoming

Greater Yellowstone: Heart of the Continent

Take a deeper look at what makes Yellowstone and Teton National Parks true national treasures as you visit geological wonders, enjoy expert lectures and learn the region’s unique story.
Rating (5)
Program No. 2809RJ
Length
9 days
Starts at
4,749
Wyoming

Greater Yellowstone: Heart of the Continent

Take a deeper look at what makes Yellowstone and Teton National Parks true national treasures as you visit geological wonders, enjoy expert lectures and learn the region’s unique story.
Length
9 days
Starts at
4,749
Program No. 2809 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 6 - Sep 14, 2021
Small group
Starting at
4,899
Jun 6 - Jun 14, 2022
Small group
Starting at
5,049
Jul 11 - Jul 19, 2022
Starting at
4,749
Sep 5 - Sep 13, 2022
Small group
Starting at
5,049
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Sep 6 - Sep 14, 2021
Small group
Starting at
6,449
Jun 6 - Jun 14, 2022
Small group
Starting at
6,649
Jul 11 - Jul 19, 2022
Starting at
6,349
Sep 5 - Sep 13, 2022
Small group
Starting at
6,649

At a Glance

Tribal legends, tales of mountain men and accounts of early explorers described a land unlike any other on earth — called "the heart of the continent, where hidden pulses can be seen and felt to beat." At the core of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is Yellowstone and Teton National Parks. On this adventure, we focus on aspects of the parks that make them great — history, geology, wildlife and thermal features.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to two miles; varied terrain. Getting on and off coach. Elevations up to 9,000 feet.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • A Snake River scenic float trip offers pristine riparian habitat, exquisite views of the Teton Mountain Range, natural history interpretation and wildlife.
  • Learn about fisheries and current volcanic activity happening beneath the waters of Yellowstone Lake, so large it often creates its own weather.
  • Learn how cataclysmic volcanic eruptions laid the foundation for the largest concentration of geysers, hot springs, mud pots and fumaroles in the world.

General Notes

Select dates are designated for small groups and are limited to 24 participants or less.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Lee Harry
Lee is retired from the US Forest Service where his career focused on regenerating, tending and harvesting trees. He helped plan for and apply fire as a necessary ecological force and helped to suppress unwanted wildland fire. Lee lives in Livingston, Montana, which serves as a great home base for launching camping and day trips into Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the surrounding wildlands. Lee has a master’s degree in forest resources with an emphasis on wildland fire ecology.

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

Profile Image of Lee Harry
Lee is retired from the US Forest Service where his career focused on regenerating, tending and harvesting trees. He helped plan for and apply fire as a necessary ecological force and helped to suppress unwanted wildland fire. Lee lives in Livingston, Montana, which serves as a great home base for launching camping and day trips into Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the surrounding wildlands. Lee has a master’s degree in forest resources with an emphasis on wildland fire ecology.
Profile Image of Gene Ball
Raised along the rural Louisiana-Texas border, Gene's early outdoor experiences began a lifelong interest in wildlife, western heritage and preservation. After teaching and serving as director for the Hill Country Arts Foundation and Cowboy Artists Museum in Texas, he migrated to Wyoming to work at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. He then became director of the Yellowstone Association and Yellowstone Institute in Yellowstone National Park, and now freelances as a writer and naturalist.
Profile Image of Cathy Raven
Cathy Raven View biography
A resident of the Greater Yellowstone region for 18 years, Dr. Catherine Raven began her career as a backcountry ranger at Glacier and Mt. Rainier National Parks. She later received her PhD in biology from Montana State University while working as a biological technician in North Cascades and Voyageurs National Parks. Her high school forestry textbook was published in 2006 and she has since published natural history essays in American Scientist, American Mensa and Montana magazines.
Profile Image of Erica Tremblay
Erica Tremblay View biography
Erica Treblay fell in love with mountains as a child, and she gravitated toward the Tetons in 2001. Never without her camera, Erica’s won several awards for her photography. She’s written and published a children’s book and is working on republishing her mother’s well-received “Wild Wildflowers of the West” guide with her own photography. She loves the outdoors and enjoys working with children of all ages.
Profile Image of Cindy Sebesta
Cindy Sebesta View biography
Cindy Sebesta is a former backcountry ranger for the U.S. Forest Service in the Tetons. With a bachelor's in biology and a master’s in environmental education from Antioch New England, she has lived and worked in the Teton/Yellowstone region for 30 years. She has a keen interest in photographing wildflowers, observing birds and mammals and studying the unique fossil record of the region. Cindy has led Road Scholar hikes in the area for 20 years and teaches "leave no trace" low-impact hiking.
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 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.
Yellowstone Wolves in the Wild
by James Halfpenny
Color photographs of wolves in the wild meld with current studies, biology, reintroduction, history of packs, behavior, impacts on the ecosystem and eye-witness reports from scientists and wolf watchers. Here is the HOW and WHY of returning this key predator to Yellowstone. Appendices detail the histories and social status of original packs and pack members, maps and more.
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.
A Ranger's Guide to Yellowstone Day Hikes
by Roger Anderson and Carol Shively Anderson
Consider wildlife etiquette and tips for hiking in bear country then choose trails by area, difficulty and distance; appreciate highlights and naturalist notes while on the trail.
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.
The Sibley Guide to Birds
by David Allen Sibley
Sibley, a talented painter, offers this wonderful, data-packed color guide with range maps and detailed descriptions of songs and calls. This book is perfect for field trips with short walks and may be too heavy for some to take to the field in which case it can await back in the car.
Mountains and Plains, The Ecology of Wyoming Landscapes
by Dennis H. Knight
Discover landscape ecology of Wyoming through maps, photographs, text and line drawings.
Interpreting the Landscape: Recent and Ongoing Geology of Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks
by John M. Good and Kenneth L. Pierce
Text, photography and graphics explain how both parks were formed - the product of volcanic eruptions, profound glaciation and earth movements. The authors describe 'how processes originating half way to the earth's center seem to be the primary force which created volcanic fires, glacial ice and the mountain ranges of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.'
Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone National Park
by George Black
Consider the history of the exploration of Yellowstone National Park through this "historical account of the origins of America's majestic national landmark." The author's well-documented history is a realistic look at people and political and economic factors; his book is sectioned into Pathfinders, Civilizers, Soldiers, Explorers and Tourists. "He casts Yellowstone's creation as the culmination of three interwoven strands of history - the passion for exploration, the violence of the Indian Wars and the 'civilizing' of the frontier and charts its course through the lives of those who sought to lay bare its mysteries."
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.
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9 days
8 nights
23 meals
8 B 7 L 8 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Program Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Jackson Lake
D
Jackson Lake Lodge Cabins

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m. A charter bus from the airport to the hotel will be available and included in the program cost for all who need it at 2:30 p.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Afternoon: Program Registration 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. After you have your room assignment, come to the Road Scholar table 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 the lodge.

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. Unless specified otherwise, all transportation will be provided via private motorcoach, requiring the ascending/descending of a few steps when getting on/off. Remember to bring your own water bottle. Ice water will be available in coolers on the bus during travel, from which you may fill your water bottle; disposable cups will not be available. The Greater Yellowstone area is considered high desert, very dry. At high altitudes you are more susceptible to dehydration and altitude sickness. Most days will include several walks totaling up to 2 miles. On the Road programs are journeys that take participants to multiple study sites in a region with a number of overnight stays. Lectures, talks, discussions, field trips, and on-board commentary amplify the program theme. Some journeys involve great distances and may take hours, others are much shorter. Long or short, On the Road journeys are learning experiences that make the most of our time together. 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.

DAY
2
Museum of Wildlife Art, Snake River Scenic Raft
Jackson Lake
B,L,D
Jackson Lake Lodge Cabins

Activity note: Driving approx. 65 miles total; about 1.5 hours throughout the day. Walking up to 1 mile total; pavement and some uneven terrain; periods of standing at the museum. Getting in/out of rafts; 8 mile scenic river float takes approximately 2 hours.

Breakfast: In the dining room at the lodge.

Morning: Setting out from the hotel via motor coach, we’ll transfer to the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Upon arrival our instructor will lead an introductory presentation on the Greater Yellowstone Area: an overview of the largest intact, temperate ecosystem on earth whose habitat continues to preserve the nation's wildlife heritage. Afterwards, we’ll go on a docent-led exploration of the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which contains approximately 4,000 works of art. The exhibitions and programs at the museum focus on wildlife of the world.

Lunch: At the museum restaurant.

Afternoon: We’ll then travel on our motorcoach to meet the rafting leaders and transfer to vans for a short ride to our rafts. Upon arrival, we’ll board the rafts for a scenic floating raft trip on the Snake River that will offer us a glimpse into the pristine riparian habitat with exquisite views of the Teton Mountain Range. Along the way we’ll enjoy commentary on the natural history of the area given by our instructor as we keep a lookout for waterfowl, songbirds, shorebirds, and possibly deer. When we finish our river run, we’ll board our motorcoach and head north back to the lodge in Grand Teton National Park.

Dinner: At the lodge restaurant.

Evening: At leisure. Feel free to head to the back balcony overlook for wildlife viewing. Keep your eyes peeled for some moose activity.

DAY
3
Jenny Lake Boat Ride, Hidden Falls, Chapel, Menor’s Ferry
Jackson Lake
B,L,D
Jackson Lake Lodge Cabins

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles total over several walks throughout the day; pavement and uneven terrain with some stairs; 1 mile at Hidden Falls has rocky terrain with an elevation gain of 150 feet. Getting on/off the motor coach; driving approx. 30 miles total; less than 1 hour combined. Getting on/off boat; ride is about 1/2 hour.

Breakfast: At a restaurant in the lodge.

Morning: We’ll continue our exploration of Teton National Park by transferring to a dock via motorcoach for a morning boat ride across jewel-like Jenny Lake where the mighty Teton Peaks loom in the distance. When we dock on the other side, there will be an optional unguided moderate hike to Hidden Falls, truly hidden and delightful. Returning to the boat, we’ll ride back across Jenny Lake and head to our lunch stop at Jenny Lake Ranger Station.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the park.

Afternoon: While at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station we’ll learn from our instructor about early settlers in the Jackson Hole area through commentary as we walk around the area. We’ll then transfer to visit the historic Chapel of Transfiguration and Menor's Ferry led by our instructor. After viewing the chapel, which was built by C.B. Loomis in 1925 to serve ranchers and their guests at the base of the Teton Range, we will continue our walk down to see the historic Menor’s Ferry that crossed the Snake River, allowing travelers to cross at one of the only locations where the river is a single channel instead of a braided stream. This land was the only homestead west of the Snake River and was donated to the park by the owner of Menor’s Ferry, Maud Noble.

Dinner: In the lodge restaurant. .

Evening: At leisure. There are several walking and hiking paths on and near Lodge grounds if you wish to explore. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
4
Yellowstone Geology, Continental Divide, Old Faithful
Grant, Yellowstone National Park, WY
B,L,D
Grant Village, Yellowstone National Park

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles over several walks throughout the day, on paved trails and boardwalks with some stairs, uneven, and rocky terrain Getting on/off the motor coach; driving approx. 63 miles; about 2 hours. The elevation is about 8,391 feet at the Continental Divide.

Breakfast: At the lodge restaurant.

Morning: After checking out of our hotel, we’ll meet in a conference room at the lodge to enjoy a morning presentation given by our instructor for a snapshot of Yellowstone's geology. We’ll discuss the geologic processes that have shaped Yellowstone's landscape through the ages including tectonic plate movement, the Yellowstone hot spot, and how the park's unique ecosystem and diverse habitats are a direct result of glaciations, tectonic and volcanic activity. After the lecture, we’ll board our motorcoach and transfer to Yellowstone National Park while journeying north into Yellowstone country.

Lunch: We'll have boxed lunches along the way.

Afternoon: Riding north and eastward, through the Lewis River Canyon as we climb up the Yellowstone Plateau. Then we will traverse the shores of Yellowstone Lake, the largest alpine lake in North America>We will check into our accommodations at Grant Village.

Dinner: At the Grant Village Dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
In the Valley of Geysers, Old Faithful Inn
Grant, Yellowstone National Park, WY
B,L,D
Grant Village, Yellowstone National Park

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day on paved trails, boardwalks, some stairs and uneven terrain. No driving.

Breakfast: At the Grant Village dining room.

Morning: We will board our motor coach for Old Faithful. Our instructor will begin with commentary on the motor coach and continue as we begin the day with an in-depth exploration of the Upper Geyser Basin. With Old Faithful at its helm, the Upper Basin has the most concentrated geothermal activity in the park. Fueled by the hotspot beneath Yellowstone, the hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles, and geysers are the result of volcanism, earthquakes, faulting, and large-scale movement of the earth's crust. During our walk around the Upper Geyser Basin we will see not only Old Faithful, but other several other thermal features within the area.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the park.

Afternoon: The history and architecture of the Old Faithful Inn will come alive with an exploration of this iconic inn led by your instructor. A National Historic Landmark, it is said to be the largest log structure in the world. Built during 1903-04, the Inn is a masterpiece of rustic architecture intended to reflect the chaos of nature. Its 65-foot high lobby features a massive rhyolite fireplace made of volcanic rock. Additional time in the Old Faithful area will offer us the opportunity to check out the Old Faithful Visitor Center, historic Old Faithful Lodge and Old Hamilton Store.

Dinner: At the Grant Village dining room.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
6
Hell’s Half Acre, Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon
Canyon Village, Yellowstone National Park, WY
B,L,D
Canyon Lodge Room

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day on several walks; uneven terrain, stairs, boardwalks and asphalt paths. Getting on/off the motor coach. Driving approx. 88 miles total; about 3 hours with stops.

Breakfast: At the Grant Village dining room.

Morning: Once checked out, we’ll travel from Yellowstone Lake northward towards the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the massive and splendid wonder that it is via Hayden Valley.

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

Afternoon: We’ll then discover the genesis of the canyon through commentary given by our instructor as we go for a walk along the South Rim. Along the way, we’ll have the opportunity to view Upper and Lower Falls from Artist Point. Afterwards, we will board our motorcoach to transfer to Canyon Visitor Education Center where we will have some time on our own to delve into the park's geologic depths and better understand Yellowstone’s violent geologic past through the numerous unique exhibits, animations, audio-visual productions and real-time scientific data. The Center reveals the Yellowstone volcano and shows how its geysers, hot springs and geologic history shape the distribution and abundance of all life found here today.

Dinner: At a restaurant in Canyon Village.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Hayden Valley, Mammoth Terraces
Canyon Village, Yellowstone National Park, WY
B,L,D
Canyon Lodge Room

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day over several walks; asphalt paths, boardwalks, several hundred steps down. Elevation at Dunraven pass is 8,859 feet. Getting on/off the motor coach; driving approx. 110 miles total; about 3.5 hours with stops.

Breakfast: In Canyon Village.

Morning: We’ll start traveling northward towards Yellowstone's famed Northern Range We’ll continue on to the Mammoth area via Dunraven Pass at 8,859 feet.

Lunch: Sack lunches in the park.

Afternoon: Our motorcoach will transfer us to the top of the Mammoth Terraces where our instructor will lead us as we walk down the many steps of the terraces to observe the ever changing, graceful travertine beauty. About 2 tons of travertine, a type of limestone, is 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. Afterwards, we’ll return to our accommodations.

Dinner: In Canyon Village.

Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
8
West Thumb Geyser Basin, Hike Leigh & String Lakes, Wrap-up
Jackson, WY
B,L,D
The Lexington

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles total throughout the day on several walks; uneven terrain. Getting on/off the motor coach; driving approx. 98 miles; about 2.5 hours.

Breakfast: In Canyon Village.

Morning: Once checked out of the hotel, we’ll transfer to West Thumb Geyser Basin, which is the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake that is speculated to have its heat source only 10,000 feet down. As we walk around, our instructor will offer commentary about the thermal features here that extend under the surface of the lake as well as along the shore; several underwater geysers were discovered in the early 1990s.

Lunch: We will stop at a pleasant spot along our route for boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Retracing our journey south through both national parks, we’ll enjoy a visual refresher for what we’ve seen with supplementary interpretation. Along the way, we’ll stop to continue our exploration with a relaxing hike along the shores of Leigh and String lakes for an intimate afternoon among the Tetons. Those who left vehicles at Jackson Lake Lodge will be dropped off to pick up their vehicles enroute to Jackson. Upon arrival in Jackson, WY, we’ll check into our hotel.

Dinner: In the restaurant of the historic Wort Hotel. Share some of your favorite experiences from the program with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: We’ll then continue at our dinner location with a wrap-up session led by our leaders during which we’ll review the program and open up the discussion for any final questions and reflections on the program. Be sure to prepare for check-out and departures in the morning.

DAY
9
Program Concludes
Jackson, WY
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.

Breakfast: At the hotel 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!






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