Introduce your family to the magic of Yellowstone in winter, when the snow sets off the steaming, rainbow-colored pools and wildlife is easier to spot against the white landscape. Exploring with a naturalist, watch geysers spurt and mud pots gurgle; spot bison, elk, and moose on a winter wildlife safari; and learn about the reintroduction of wolves in the park. Try out snowshoeing on a special excursion for kids, and enjoy activities designed for explorers of all ages.
Catch sight of elk, bison, bighorn sheep, golden eagles, foxes, coyotes, otters, and maybe even a gray wolf. Yellowstone’s animals spend the winter in low elevation valleys, where they are easier to spot against the sparkling snow.
Watch the geyser Old Faithful explode into the sky, and discover Yellowstone’s more hidden treasures as you explore in the comfort of heated snow coaches.
Go on a snowshoeing expedition to track wildlife with a guide (kids only), and ride a horse-drawn sleigh through Gallatin Canyon.
Meet an award-winning cinematographer who has filmed wolves and other wildlife, and learn about the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone.
Itinerary - 6 Days
Day 1 — Bozeman, Montana/Mammoth Hot Springs, Wyoming
Our adventure begins in Bozeman, where we meet for a spectacular drive under the “Big Sky” to Yellowstone National Park. Along the way, keep on the lookout for bald eagles, mule deer, antelope, and bighorn sheep. After settling into a historic national park lodge, head out to see Mammoth Hot Springs, where scalding mineral water has created natural terraces over thousands of years. Take a walk along the steaming, colorful terraces outlined in pure white snow.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel or Best Western Plus by Mammoth Hot Springs (D)
Day 2 — Lamar Valley
Take a snowy safari to the rolling meadows of Lamar Valley, and use a special spotting scope to search among herds of elk and bison for coyotes, eagles, and the elusive wolf. It was here that wolves were first restored to Yellowstone in 1995. This evening, meet an Emmy® award–winning wildlife cinematographer, and hear his stories about filming wolves and other wildlife for National Geographic.
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel or Best Western Plus by Mammoth Hot Springs (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Climb into a private snow coach and journey through the wilderness to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Hike to the rim of this amazing gorge, whose walls are striped in yellows and reds, and peer in to see its thundering waterfall and the ice arch that forms from the spray. Later, in the Upper Geyser Basin, encounter fumaroles and watch mud pots as they gurgle, belch, and burst. Our next stop is Yellowstone’s most famous site: Old Faithful Geyser, which puts on an incredible—and timely—display, shooting water far into the sky as regularly as clockwork. Tonight, kids get a special evening to themselves at our lodge, with a kids-only dinner, games by the fireside, and a stargazing walk led by a guide. Old Faithful Snow Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Old Faithful
Go exploring in a dramatic landscape of erupting geysers; frozen waterfalls; and mineral pools in astonishing shades of sapphire, emerald, ruby, and amethyst; and learn about the fascinating geology responsible for these wonders. Keep an eye out for wildlife—bison, encrusted in ice, often stand among the pools for warmth. This afternoon, the kids strap on snowshoes and head out on an expedition with their guide to track wildlife in the snow. After dark, step outside to admire the incredible canopy of stars in one of the world’s best constellation-viewing spots. Old Faithful Snow Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Yellowstone/Big Sky, Montana
After visiting the whimsical Fountain Paint Pots, say goodbye to Yellowstone, leaving through West Yellowstone gate. Travel to the Gallatin Canyon—near Big Sky, Montana—and settle into a comfortable log cabin lodge. Set off this afternoon on a sleigh ride through the snowy countryside, and then celebrate your winter adventure in Yellowstone at a farewell dinner. 320 Guest Ranch (B,L,D)
Few people know Yellowstone country better than wildlife biologist Jeremy Schmidt. He has worked in and around the park for more than 30 years, including stints as a park ranger, a naturalist, a photographer, and an author, writing several articles for National Geographic and National Geographic Traveler magazines. Jeremy will identify flora and fauna and give you a new appreciation of the park's magnificent scenery. His knowledge of Yellowstone will enrich your family's experience.
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room on December 2014 departures, add $740. For a single room on December 2015 departures, add $775. Airfare from/to your home city is not included in the expedition cost.