A true winter wonderland and place of natural beauty and inspiration, with steaming thermal features and incredible snow landscapes, welcome to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
Our nine-day escorted adventure through Utah, Idaho and Montana to the world's first national park, showcases wildlife galore and some of the most astonishing winter scenery in North America. As this is a small group departure, you're guaranteed the full attention of knowledgeable guides and an intimate touring experience with just the right amount of free time for you to relax and take it all in. The best bit? During this time of year, you can experience all of the most popular sights, without all the crowds.
Welcome to Salt Lake City. Transfer to your hotel and prepare for an evening welcome reception. Meet your fellow travellers, host and tour guide who will provide you with an introduction to your winter wonderland wildlife adventure.
Accommodation: Kimpton Hotel Monaco or similar
Distance: 280 miles
Surrounded by the dramatic snow-capped peaks of the Wasatch front of the Rocky Mountains, take the morning to explore the sites of Salt Lake City, including Temple Square, the headquarters of the Mormon Church. The quaint town of Lava Hot Springs in the neighbouring state of Idaho is your lunch stop. It gets its name from the bubbling natural hot springs which range from 102-112°F.
Rising over 8,000 feet, the snowy Teton Mountains will be looming in the distance as you make your way to the historic wild west town of Jackson in Wyoming – your third state of the day. Enjoy a tour of the famous old western town before checking into your hotel. Jackson is known as the "last of the Old West" and also home to the National Elk Refuge. In the evening, wrap up warm and head for dinner in the Town Square, be sure to pop into the 'Million Dollar Cowboy Bar’ for a spot of line-dancing too!
Accommodation: Snow King Hotel or similar
This morning you'll enjoy a thrilling horse-drawn sleigh ride into the National Elk Refuge where you will see the thousands of elk that have made this place their home for the winter. This refuge stretches out over 24,000 acres of lowland-meadows and marshes and can hold up to 8,000 elk, making it the largest herd of wintering elk in the world. Keep your eyes peeled for other wildlife such as eagles, coyotes, foxes, trumpeter swans, deer and wolves
Returning to Jackson, the afternoon is yours to do as you please.
Distance: 310 miles
Today's journey covers the rugged, snowy landscape of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest which covers over 3 million acres across four States - Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Continuing North, there will be time to stop in Bozeman, Montana's bustling downtown full of quaint shops. Finish the day in Gardiner, one of the only gateways to Yellowstone National Park during the winter season.
Accommodation: Best Western Mammoth Hot Springs or similar
Prepare yourself for a memorable day in America's version of the Serengeti, the Lamar Valley, in the remote northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park. This large U-shaped valley was carved by glaciers during the last ice age and is the perfect place for spotting elk, bison, bighorn sheep, coyotes, wolves, and cougars.
Learn about the diverse and abundant wildlife of Yellowstone from an expert local guide who'll share with you the importance of Yellowstone's ecosystem and teach you how to search for wildlife, including the wolves that were reintroduced to the park in 1995.
At the end of the day, drive through the park’s astonishing geothermal landscapes to West Yellowstone, your home for the next three days.
Accommodation: Gray Wolf Inn or similar
Be inspired by the natural beauty of Yellowstone today. Your ice kingdom awaits with wonderfully wintry landscapes awash with steaming, bubbling thermal features. With elevations at just over 8,000 feet, it's too lofty for a normal coach, so today you'll have the joy of experiencing Yellowstone by snowcoach. From the comfort of your seat, gaze out at Yellowstone's scenic Upper Loop route including Gibbon Falls, Beryl Springs and Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest and most changeable thermal area in Yellowstone. The highlight of the day is bound to be the impressive Lower Falls in a region of the park referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Enjoy another exciting day in Yellowstone National Park aboard a snowcoach. This time you'll be exploring the parks 'Lower Loop' which boasts the most geysers in the park and includes Fountain Paint Pot, Fountain Flat Road, Biscuit Basin and, of course, the jewel in the crown, Old Faithful Geyser. Erupting approximately 20 times a day and reaching heights of 40 meters, Old Faithful in the summer months is impressive, but during the winter the backdrop of snow and ice means it takes on a whole other dimension.
Today you'll also learn about the Yellowstone wolves who were first controversially reintroduced in 1995 to bring the ecosystem back into its natural balance and its generally considered to be one of the best places on the planet to view these incredible creatures. Your guide will be communicating with other guides and wolf researchers in the region to ensure the best possible sightings. There are countless possible scenarios (although never guaranteed) - you may even get to view wolves in territorial disputes with other packs or you may get to witness a hunt where you’ll notice the co-operation between wolves within a pack at its most apparent. Wolves need to take into consideration the conditions that will affect the hunt; weather and terrain can dramatically favour the fortunes of both the predator or the prey. For example, a wide-open plain favours the ungulates such as deer, elk and moose, who, if fully grown and healthy, can outrun the fastest wolf. On the other hand, crusty snow or ice are the ideal conditions for wolves whose wide round paws have evolved to perform like snowshoes and carry them effortlessly over the surface. An experienced wolf is well aware that hoofed animals break through the crust and can become bogged down in deep snow. Your knowledgeable guide will be on hand to make sure you get the most of your wolf tracking experience.
Distance: 320 miles
Depart Yellowstone National Park by coach for your return to Salt Lake City. En-route, stop at Idaho Falls, nestled among the Rocky Mountains in the Snake River Plain, for lunch before arriving back in Salt Lake City. This evening, join your fellow travellers and tour guide for a farewell dinner and reminisce about the adventure you have undertaken.
Accommodation: Kimpton Hotel Monaco or similar
Transfer late morning to Salt Lake International Airport for your return flight.
Want to extend your time in Salt Lake City? Head south to the Mighty Five® National Parks of Utah or fancy a bit of skiing? Perhaps hop on a train to San Francisco for a few days? Break your journey on the way home in New York, Chicago or Boston? Bon Voyage can provide tailor-made pre/post tour suggestions, please call for further details.