Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m.
Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00-5:00 pm. 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 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 restaurant adjoining the hotel, we’ll have a plated and served meal with coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
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.
Activity note: Getting in/out of heated snowcoaches; 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: At the hotel, the breakfast buffet offers choices such as eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes, hot and cold and cereals, pastries, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: In the hotel conference room, our Instructor will present an overview of Yellowstone National Park. This natural history presentation will discuss wildlife, geology, biology, human history, and more. Then, after checking out of the hotel, we’ll head out mid-morning via hotel vans 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.
Lunch: At a grill in Mammoth Hot Springs, we will have coupons to order from the menu.
Afternoon: Next, we’ll board snow coaches and begin our journey through Yellowstone's winter-white world. Be prepared to savor and appreciate our time in the snow coaches, as every moment offers splendid views and unexpected encounters while we explore fragments of Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres. We’ll ride through the Golden Gate to beautiful Swan Lake Flats, continuing via Obsidian Cliffs, Roaring Mountain, and Norris Geyser Basin area, Yellowstone's most thermally active region. Moving deeper into the heart of Yellowstone to Old Faithful, we’ll check in to our lodge.
Dinner: In the Snow Lodge dining room, we’ll use provided coupons to order form the menu with choices of salad, entrée, side dishes, dessert, and beverage choices of soft drink, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Our Instructor and Group Leader will be available for questions and conversation amid the winter landscapes and festive decorations around Old Faithful that enhance the holiday ambiance.
Activity note: Getting in/out of heated snow coaches; some short walks on snow-packed trails or boardwalks.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We’ll board our snow coaches for a full-day field trip in Yellowstone’s frozen wonderland as we ride through forest and open park, through steaming, sulfur-scented and beautifully colored landscapes. Our Instructor’s expert commentary will continue as we visit ice-covered Yellowstone Lake, America's largest freshwater lake at an altitude above 7,000 feet. Here, steam pinpoints West Thumb Geyser Basin where thermal features extend under the surface of the lake as well as along the shore. We’ll learn about the geological forces still at work.
Lunch: In the park, we’ll have sack lunches that include a sandwich, chips, granola bar, water. We’ll also have a snack for later with cookie and fresh fruit.
Afternoon: Our learning adventure will continue on along Yellowstone River and through Hayden Valley to the stunning “Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone” that seems even more awesome during winter. We will be able to appreciate the mighty Upper and Lower Falls and beautifully tinted canyon walls, perhaps wonderstruck and speechless at Earth’s winter beauty.
Dinner: Lodge plated meal.
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 fire.
Activity note: Getting in/out of heated snow coaches; walking about 1 mile on snow and ice.
Breakfast: Lodge buffet.
Morning: We’ll board snow coaches for a field trip to Norris Geyser Basin. A walking exploration here will reveal Yellowstone's oldest, hottest, and most active thermal area located at the intersection of three major fault lines. Evidence shows that thermal features have existed here for the last 115,000 years. A scientific drill hole registered the highest temperature ever recorded in Yellowstone at 459°F!
Lunch: In the park, we’ll have sack lunches.
Afternoon: Naturalist-led exploration at beautiful Fountain Paint Pot is the opportunity to appreciate a steamy, winter discovery of grand vistas and geysers including Clepsedra and Fountain, hot springs like Silex Spring and Celestine Pool and fumaroles or steam vents such as Sizzler. Nearby, Midway Geyser Basin reveals two of the largest hot springs in the world - Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser. Two hundred foot deep Grand Prismatic is known for its vivid colors, a result of algae and bacteria that live in its high temperature. Excelsior Geyser is a dormant geyser which turned into a hot spring following volcanic activity in the 1890’s.
Dinner: Lodge plated meal.
Evening: On this New Year’s Eve, our Instructor will let us know the time of Old Faithful’s eruption closest to midnight. We’ll walk out together at the appointed time and watch the eruption of Old Faithful to usher in the New Year, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.
Activity note: Getting in/out of heated snow coaches. Walking on boardwalks and stairs among thermal features.
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: Lodge buffet.
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: Restaurant plated meal.
Evening: At leisure. After a long day of adventure, enjoy some relaxation.
Activity note: Getting on/off a bus. The drive to Cooke City is about 52 miles; approximately 2 hours one way Walking about 1 mile through the day; packed snow and ice on trails, snow-packed parking areas.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
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. We’ll continue on through the northern range to an old mining town known as Cooke City, named after a mining investor Jay Cooke, Jr.
Lunch: At a deli in Cooke City, Montana we’ll order from the menu.
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: In the restaurant adjoining the hotel, we’ll have a plated meal. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends during our farewell dinner.
Evening: In the hotel conference room, 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 the airport shuttle (not included in program price).
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: Hotel 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!