Buck the trend and come to Yellowstone this winter! Not only are the cold months beautiful and laden with opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, it’s a wonderful time for wildlife watching as the ever-present snow drives large mammals into the valleys and thermal areas to search for food. You may see North America’s largest herd of free-roaming bison, as well as upwards of 20,000 elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, moose, deer, and possibly gray wolves. Otters can be seen frolicking in the snow banks and swans drift lazily across misty pools. You will also be greeted by steaming hot pools, spectacular geysers and bubbling mud pots. It’s a unique perspective on America’s first National Park.
Very Active. May involve strenuous hikes, severe stair climbing, arduous activities, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
This spectacular park can be visited year round. For our winter program, January/February is the best time, and for our summer, June through September.
Upon arrival at Bozeman Airport, you will be met and begin your 85 mile drive to the North Entrance of Yellowstone National Park in Gardner, Montana. Continue five miles south into Wyoming and your accommodation. In the early days, Yellowstone’s visitors began their park explorations at Mammoth Hot Springs where the thermal waters, shimmering with a rainbow of colors, were believed to have curative powers. Now, the main attraction is the upper and lower terraces created by on-going deposits of travertine in the form of white rocks, creating a constantly changing living sculpture where each photograph captures a new image time and again. Situated at the base of Mt. Everts, the Hotel was built in the early 1900s and includes a spacious art deco lobby. After this evening’s welcome dinner, you may want to relax in the Map Room – named for a wall covered by a massive inlaid map of the United States. MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS HOTEL. (D)
Early this morning, meet your guide for the Wake Up to Wildlife Tour breakfast – featuring some of the abundant wildlife of Lamar Valley, often called North America’s Serengeti. Look for bison, strings of elk along the riverbank and birdlife. Focus on Hellroaring Overlook for breathtaking views across the valley. Perhaps you will spot a mountain lion or a gray wolf searching for their next meal. Your last day at Mammoth is at leisure to explore on foot, snowshoes or cross-country skis. In the evening, meet with Jeff Welsch, the Communications Director of The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) which was founded in 1983 with a mission to protect the lands, waters and wildlife of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS HOTEL. (B,BXL; B)
Embark on an unforgettable drive on one of the park’s famous yellow snow coaches – the only large vehicles allowed on winter roads. These specially designed combinations of tank and van offer a surprisingly smooth ride as their rubber treads allow you to safely traverse the tricky roads. Preserved within Yellowstone are the iconic Old Faithful and a collection of the world’s most extraordinary geysers and hot springs. Arrive around lunch time and check into your lodge. You’ll have ample time to explore the visitors’ center or stretch your legs with a short walk to view the Old Faithful Geyser. After dinner tonight, join an Old Faithful ranger evening program in the Visitor Education Center. Your home was built in 1999 with heavy timber beams and wrought-iron accents reflecting the grand tradition of centuries-old lodges. OLD FAITHFUL SNOW LODGE. (B,D)
Meet your guide and embark on a full day’s exploration of the park. Nowhere does nature reveal itself in such geological diversity - hot water bubbles from the ground, steam escapes from cracks in the rocks, fountains spout colorful and iridescent from mineral springs, and air gurgles in thick flowing mud pools. This area represents one of the earth’s thinnest surfaces, which in turn has created this fantastic world of bubbling geysers (‘Old Faithful’), sulphuric springs, and colorful paintpots (boiling mud). As you wander through the area, you should realize that the Park is home to almost 60% of the world’s geysers. One of the most famous attractions is the Old Faithful geyser. For almost 150 years, visitors have experienced the thunderous and steaming wonder of its eruptions, which are spaced at fairly predictable times. Nearby are the Fountain Paint Pots, their name derived from the oxidation in the mud that bubbles in colors of red, pink, blue, yellow and brown. Short walks on wooden platforms allow you to walk around the geysers, staring into their epicenters of fantastic turquoise colors, all with the familiar scent of sulphur in the air. This park is also home to grizzlies, elk, deer, wolves and coyotes, and a host of other creatures, however, the most notable resident is the American bison which roam freely in herds throughout the park and often use the park roads as well. OLD FAITHFUL SNOW LODGE. (B,BXL)
Enjoy a walking tour along the Geyser Hill Loop Trail, a 1.3 mile trek that will introduce you to a variety of geysers, from the ever-entertaining Anemone with its short intervals of 5-10 minutes to the impressive Beehive with its unpredictable eruptions reaching 100-150 feet. Further, explore the Upper Geyser Basin featuring visits to the Castle, Grand, Riverside and Daisy geysers, along with Morning Glory Pool. Return to the lodge for lunch before bidding farewell to Yellowstone as your coach whisks you away to Chico Hot Springs, located in the heart of Paradise Valley, nestled in the foothills of the breathtaking Absaroka Mountain Range. The first written record of the hot springs at Chico was in the diary of miner John S. Hackney, dated January 16, 1865, and it has been attracting visitors ever since with its healing waters. CHICO HOT SPRINGS RESORT (B,L)
Your morning is at leisure to enjoy these natural springs or even the property’s Day Spa, horse barn with opportunities to ride almost every day of the year, snow shoeing and other outdoor adventures. In the afternoon transfer back to Bozeman. Your last evening will be topped off with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. C’MON INN. (B,D)
Transfer to the airport for your homeward flight taking with you all the wonderful memories of this marvelous park. (B)
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