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Wonderland: Yellowstone in Winter - A Tauck Escorted Tour
The world’s first national park inspires awe any time of the year, as any Yellowstone tour would attest. As you’ll discover on this very special 9-day trip, visiting the national park during the winter when bison, elk, wolves and bighorn sheep wander across snow-covered valleys, and Yellowstone's amazing geologic features are even more spectacular in the frigid air, is a whole other and perhaps other-worldly experience.
Exploring by snowcoach, you'll see gurgling mud pots and steaming hot springs surrounded by frozen landscapes waterfalls whose cataracts partially freeze into ice bridges and geysers, like iconic Old Faithful, erupting dramatically into the cold winter air. And you'll meet an award-winning wildlife cinematographer who offers insights into the lives of the park’s iconic species. When Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns started thinking of new trips on which to share their unique stories and experiences, a wintertime Yellowstone tour was a natural choice. In Duncan’s words: “You’ve never really seen Yellowstone until you’ve been there in winter. Once a snowcoach takes you into the interior (the roads are snow-covered), you have this incredible place pretty much to yourself."
Price per person includes:
Flights from UK to Bozeman/home from Jackson Hole
8 nights accommodation in sought after locations
Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
Travel by snowcoaches to remote parts of Yellowstone
Travel by sleigh into the National Elk Refuge
Presentation by Bob Landis, award winning Yellowstone cinematographer
Winter activities in Yellowstone (some at additional cost) hiking by snowshoe, ice skating, cross country skiing and snowmobiling
Meals and charges
Please phone Bon Voyage for the most up-to-date departures for this itinerary
Day 1 : Montana's Chico Hot Springs
Tour begins: Chico Hot Springs Hotel, 6:30pm. A transfer is included from Bozeman Airport to the Chico Hot Springs Resort and Day Spa in the foothills of the Absaroka Muntains, not far from Yellowstone's north entrance. Your historic lodge, established in 1900, offers two restaurants, a Western saloon, two mineral hot pools, and a full service spa. Join the tour group for a welcome reception and dinner.
Day 2 : In to the Wonderland of Yellowstone
Take a morning dip in one of the resort's open-air swimming pools, heated by underground hot springs. The waters have healing powers, if you believe the legends of gold miners and Native Americas and even if you don't, an immersion here is a warm introduction to the geothermal wonders of this volcanic plateau. Meet a professional dog sledder and get the owdown on the world of dogsled racing. Then head out along the Yellowstone River, teeming with ice floes, to the parks' north entrance. The frozen world beyond the fieldstone gate can literally take your breath away. Empty crowds, silent, eerily peaceful and pristine in shades of white. The temperatures in winter can reach 40 below, yet the ground steams through hidden fissures and hot springs, wafting great clouds across the white landscape, where distant herds of bison and elk drift through it like apparitions in a fog. Hot springs in this place are wildlife magnets. A presentation tonight by Bob Landis, renowned Yellowstone wildlife cinematographer, gives great insight into their behaviours and lifestyles. Find your own warm place (and a hot drink beside a cralking fire) at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, your rustic timber and stone oasis for the next two nights.
Day 3 : Geysers, Furmaroles, and Paint Pots
Yellowstone is a hotbed of geothermal spectacles. Superheated groundwater erupts from the earth in boiling springs, fumaroles, mud volcanoes and geysers, described famously by a miner as the place where hell bubbled up. Native Americans considered it sacred; early explorers likened the thunder of mud geysers to the boom of distant artillery. In the crisp cold air of winter, the thermal features are all the more present, billowing steam, hissing water, and spume that encrust trees with frost and paint white masks on the faces of bison. Today on your wintertime Yellowstone tour, a pilgrimage to famous Old Faithful includes stops at Gibbon Falls, an 84-foot cascade frozen in a veil of ice, the Norris Geyser Basin, and the aptly named Fountain Paint Pots, oozing pools of liquified rock oxidized in reds, yellows, and browns. Experience the alien world that steams around Black Sand Geyser and Midway Geyser Basin before you arrive at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Warm up, settle in, then walk outside to witness the eruption (on average every 94 minutes) with no crowds between you and legendary clockwork geyser, a sudden explosion of boiling water that hisses upward to 180 feet for one to five minutes, drifting a curtain of steam in the icy air.
Day 4 : Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is considered the soul of the park, deep in its interior, and your arrive there by snowcoach, over roadless terrain. En route, visit Kepler Falls, West Thumb Geyser Basin at a corner of Yellowstone Lake, and the Mud Volcanoes, bubbling mud hills that emit methane. Discover the sub-alpine Hayden Valley, once a vast lake bed, now a surreal winter landscape alive with trumpeter swans, bison, elk and moose, home to the Sulfur Spring and the Black Dragon Caldron - none of which prepares you for the sight of the Canyon itself - a fantasy landscape with a deep gorge blown open by an ancient volcanic eruption, then carved by glaciers and the river itself, nearly a mile wide and plunging 1,200 feet with two torrential waterfalls, each with an arc of spume-made ice and crystalline forests up and down the steep banks. Members of an expedition in 1870 who first happened upon the canyon stood speechless on its rim for a full five minutes, silent, which may be the best way to describe it. And they didn't see it in winter.
Day 5 : Inside and Outside Yellowstone
Days are exquisitely short this time of year, and this one is yours to spend as you wish. Explore the Upper Geiser Basin at your leisure, or take a guided tour. Rent cross country skis to cover more ground, or take a snowshoe stroll off-trail.
There are about 300 geysers in Yellowstone Park (more than in all the rest of the world combined), many of them even more spectacular than the one on your doorstep. Take a snowmobile for a spin. Or there is always a quiet day of indoor activities with the most incredible view, cozying up in the rustic comforts of the lodge beside a welcoming fire, or enjoying the Geyser Grill and the great timbered dining room. As night falls, a special Ken Burns video illuminates the world outside.
Day 6 : The Tetons & the National Elk Refuge
The ice on Yellowstone Lake can freeze three feet thick, yet where the edges meet the warmth of boiling springs, there are patches of open water where otters frolic and catch fish, and coyotes try to steal them. Stand in its awesome solitude and you are part of the picture. Journey by snowcoach to Flagg Ranch, once an army station when the military maintained the Park. Leave your snow vehicle behind for travel to Jackson. Snug into the bar ar Dornan's, where lunch comes with a killer view of the Grand Tetons. Take in a discussion at Murie Ranch, dedicated to conservaation and wildlife biology. Then ride a horse-drawn sleigh into the heart of the National Elk Refuge, where vast congregations of elk - 7,500 out of what was once a populaltion on 25,000 - weather the harsh winters en masse. Learn how conservation efforts over decades have strived to keep the remaining herds alive (including the annual antler auction, where Boy Scouts collect the great antlers shed by bulls in the spring and auction them off to pay for conservation efforts). Sled through the steaming, pawing winter world of the herd, as they watch you pass. Return from the tundra to your historic hotel in the heart of Jackson, with unforgettable images to contemplate.
Day 7 : Historic Jackson Hole at your leisure
Spend today at your leisure, exploring Jackson Hole. Perhaps explore the Silver Dollar Bar at the historic Wort Hotel (where the bar is actually made of silver dollars), or re-entering civilisation among the town's unique galleries and boutiques, and don't miss the famous elk antlers of the town square. Your special farewell reception and dinner tonight is at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, whose galleries house a stunning collection of paintings, drawings and sculpture celebrating Western wildlife and illuminating the natural world and humanity's place in it.
Day 8 : Farewell to Yellowstone's winter wonderland
Your Culturious Winter in Yellowstone tour ends in Jackson and you can fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Wort Hotel to Jackson Hole Airport.
However, your tour may end here but your adventure doesn't have to. Perhaps you may want to extend your stay and include a trip to San Francisco or to New York city for some sightseeing or maybe you may want to head to one of the Hawiian Islands for some relaxation before heading back home.
Call the USA travel specialists at Bon Voyage to discuss your dream Culturious Winter in Yellowstone tour.