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, we’ll enjoy a welcome buffet meal together with coffee, tea, water; 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. 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.
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, we’ll have a hearty buffet, plus milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
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, we’ll order plated meals from a select menu including entrée, cookie and soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
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: Lodge buffet.
Evening: At leisure. Feel free to head to the back balcony overlook for wildlife viewing. Keep your eyes peeled for some moose activity.
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: Lodge buffet.
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, we’ll set out on a 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: At Jenny Lake Ranger Station, we’ll have boxed lunches which will include a sandwich, chips, fruit, and bottled water.
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, we’ll have plated meals coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
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.
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: Lodge buffet.
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 Teton National Park while journeying north into Yellowstone country.
Lunch: At the West Thumb Area en route to Old Faithful, we’ll have boxed lunches.
Afternoon: Riding westward, we’ll traverse the Continental Divide until we enter the Upper Geyser Basin, home to the world's largest concentration of geysers. Here is the world's best known and most beloved hydrothermal feature – Old Faithful – which sends thousands of gallons of scalding water and billowing steam gushing skyward with each eruption. Upon arrival, we’ll visit the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center with our instructor to explore the workings of Yellowstone’s geysers and hot springs before having a chance to see an eruption of the famous geyser. We will have a late afternoon check in at Old Faithful Snow Lodge. You may wish to become acquainted with the grounds before dinner.
Dinner: In the lodge dining room, we’ll have vouchers allowing us to choose plated meals from a select menu, which includes salad, entrée, dessert and soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day on paved trails, boardwalks, some stairs and uneven terrain. No driving.
Breakfast: In the lodge dining room, we’ll have a plentiful buffet with water, coffee, tea, and juice.
Morning: Walking from the lodge, we’ll meet our instructor to 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: At the historic Old Faithful Inn, we’ll have a delicious buffet lunch with coffee, tea, water.
Afternoon: The history and architecture of the Old Faithful Inn will come alive with an exploration of this iconic inn led by a historian author. 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. We’ll then have time to walk to our accommodations before dinner.
Dinner: Lodge plated meals.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
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: Lodge buffet.
Morning: Once checked out, we’ll travel from Old Faithful onward to Midway Geyser Basin, nicknamed Hell’s Half Acre and the home to two of the largest hot springs in the world: Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser. We’ll walk around Midway with our instructor and see the 200-foot deep Grand Prismatic that is known for its vivid colors, which is a result of algae and bacteria that live in its high temperature. We will also see Excelsior Geyser, a dormant geyser which turned into a hot spring following volcanic activity in the 1890s. It now discharges more than 4,000 gallons of boiling water per minute into the Firehole River. Our next stop will be the Madison River headwaters where our instructor will offer commentary on how this was the birthplace of the national park idea. We will then transfer to the massive and splendid wonder that is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for lunch.
Lunch: In the Canyon area, we’ll have boxed 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. Next, we’ll continue to Yellowstone Lake as we ride through the expansive Hayden Valley along the Lamar River, in Yellowstone’s northeast section. This valley is often called America’s Serengeti as it provides excellent habitat for various wildlife. We’ll then check into our cabins for the night.
Dinner: In the hotel dining room, we’ll have plated meals featuring a salad and entrée with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. You may wish to enjoy the grand view of beautiful Yellowstone Lake, piano music and conversation, or a leisurely stroll around the historic hotel grounds.
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 the hotel dining room, we’ll indulge in a buffet, plus coffee, tea, juice, water.
Morning: We’ll start traveling northward tracing the mighty Yellowstone River as it exits Yellowstone Lake to finally break out into Hayden Valley's vast, wide open spaciousness. Our instructor will offer onboard commentary as we journey back through the Hayden Valley, a former lake bed, which is now grasslands habitat that supports a variety of wildlife from small rodents to large ungulates, scavengers and predators. Keep watch; we may spot bison, coyote, elk, raven, grizzly bear and birds of prey so keep binoculars and camera at the ready. We’ll continue on to the Mammoth area via Dunraven Pass at 8,859 feet.
Lunch: At the Mammoth area in the hotel dining room, we’ll use vouchers to choose plated meals from a select menu, which includes an entrée, a side, and a soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
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 the hotel dining room, we’ll have a plated dinner featuring a salad and entrée, plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Be sure to prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
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: Lodge buffet.
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. Upon arrival in Jackson, WY, we’ll check into our hotel.
Dinner: In the restaurant of the historic Wort Hotel, we’ll enjoy a delicious farewell buffet dinner with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase. 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.
Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet. This concludes our program.
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!