- A knowledgeable and professional naturalist guide
- Transportation to and from your local hotel, through out the park
- A healthy breakfast and lunch, fresh made from a local café, along with snacks and drinks for everyone
- Use of high quality binoculars and spotting scopes provided by us
- Gratuity is NOT included in the price of the tour. Tips are a common practice with guides in North America, and are an important part of their income.
- Clothing: Please be prepared for any time of weather, even in the summer! We recommend a warm pair of sock, closed toes sneakers or hiking boots, pants, and several layered tops which can be added or removed at the day progresses. Its also wise to bring a warm hat, gloves or mittens.
- Your National Park Pass. Click HERE to learn more.
- Other items like sunglasses, sunscreen and any prescription medicines you may regularly need
- Your Camera! With freshly charged batteries and an empty media card, you never know what you’ll want to capture or when it’ll be around the next bend!
- A day pack – for extra layers and all items to be easily stored in the vehicle, and brought along on an adventure if your group decides to take a short hike.
- Water Bottle! We will provide a water jug for you to refill your bottle throughout the day. If you have a reusable coffee travel mug we’d love to refill it with your favorite hot drink!
Yellowstone possesses some of the most extreme weather conditions anywhere. Temperatures on any given tour could range from -40°F to +40°F (-40°C to +10°C). We recommend plenty of warm clothes that can be layered and easily removed; therefore, allowing you to adjust and stay comfortable throughout your tour.
Here are our suggestions and what our guides wear on winter tours:
- Long underwear. Starting with your base layers, synthetic or wool long underwear tops and bottoms are critical to your comfort (we can find places to shed this layer later in the day if necessary). Please stay away from cotton, which can hold moisture and drastically chill the body, whereas wool and synthetics wick moisture and can even insulate while wet.
- Sweater or fleece. Ideally more than one layer of insulating layers like fleece or wool sweaters will allow for effective layering and allows you to easily shed layers as the day warms up.
- Fleece or down vest. Vests are great as a layering item that can really hold in core body temperature, yet also allow for maximum comfort and mobility.
- A windproof and water repellent insulated jacket is your most important protection from the biting Wyoming winds. Gore-Tex or something similar is highly advised as the best moisture/wind barrier and goose down insulation is the best insulation.
- Snow pants/ski pants – Insulted pants with moisture/wind barrier. You should have long underwear thermal layers in addition.
- Heavy gloves or mittens with windproof barrier. Many people find it is helpful to have a liner glove inside of a heavy mitten/glove to allow for freedom of movement while taking photos/looking through scopes and/or participating in cardiovascular activities like XC skiing or snowshoeing.
- Warm hat that covers your ears. We lose tremendous body heat from our heads. Protect your ears from the chilly wind with a wool or fleece hat.
- Warm wool or synthetic socks are key to keeping those toes from hampering your good time. Be sure you have plenty of wiggle room inside your boots. If your socks are too thick and fit too tightly in your boots, you will actually reduce blood flow to your feet, resulting in cold toes, regardless of how warm your socks are.
- Insulated winter boots (roomy boots are better as you do not want to restrict circulation in your feet/toes) (see below for boot recommendations).
- Hand and toe/foot warmers. These are lifesavers! We advise everyone to place a full-sized foot warmer inside your boots every morning before the tour. This keeps the edge off and keeps you comfortable to be able to enjoy yourself to the fullest during those hard-earned wildlife encounters! Toe and hand warmers can be used as needed.
- Sunblock. With high elevation sun, many of us burn easily, especially when we are distracted by something like watching wolves for extended periods of time.
- Sunglasses. We recommend an amber/yellow polarized lens for maximum visibility in flat light conditions.
- Even if you are not a serious photographer, a camera is nice to have on tour.
- A day pack is very handy for personal items: hand and toe warmers, water bottle, sunglasses, camera, and of course for all the extra layers you will want.
- A reusable water bottle. A water jug is available on all tours for refilling. It can be handy in the winter to fill your bottle first thing in the morning with HOT or WARM water (especially if you plan on being outside for long periods of time) to prevent your water from freezing immediately.
There are several ways you can go for boots: the insulated rubber “muck” boots that farmers and ranchers like. These are slip on boots that come in varying levels of insulation (up to -50 degrees). They are fine for short walks, but you would not want them for full-day hikes. For the purpose of this trip, they would be fine. Good brands there are Muck and LaCrosse. These are probably the best bang for your buck.
The other option is a lace up insulated boot. There are lots of them on the market and you could spend a lot for a boot that you may never use again.
Here is a link with discussion about boots recommended for Antarctica tours. https://www.coolantarctica.com/Shop/antarctica-clothing/antarctic-boots.php
If you need to order boots, you could have them shipped here, and we will have them on hand for you when you arrive, not a problem at all. Just let us know.
Yellowstone National Park is a very large place divided by mountain ranges, deep valleys and a massive lake. The weather within the 2.2 million acres can vary widely, so checking the weather in the park can be a difficult task. We recommend checking several different NOAA weather stations around the park, and working an average of those if you’re planning to travel around the entirety of the park.
- Our tours generally last for 6-10 hours (unless otherwise noted). We often find that groups after an early start are satisfied and exhausted after about 6 hours, however if we’re all still feeling energetic and excited for more Yellowstone we can go up to 8 hours or beyond! We try to avoid putting hard ending times on our tours because they are dynamic and all different. Being open and flexible is important when dealing with wildlife, traffic, geyser eruption times, etc.
Yes. In order to provide an appropriately educational, safe, and comprehensive tour experience, while ensuring we are adhering to our Code of Ethics, participants must be at least 5 years of age.
Please note the following exceptions:
Our Family Adventure Tour was designed specifically to engage our youngest mobile learners, and has a minimum age of 2. This is the ideal tour for groups with children under 5 who are hoping to enjoy wildlife easily visible with the naked eye, getting out of the vehicle and interacting with the landscape, and sparking the curiosity of ALL participants through fun games, short nature walks, and maximizing inquiry based learning/exploration opportunities!
- We do not guarantee any wildlife sightings on our tours. The beauty of Yellowstone is that our wildlife is truly wild, however, we will guarantee that your guide will use their knowledge, skills, and network of other guides, watchers and photographer to do everything we can to find you the animals you’d like to see. We are in the park nearly everyday searching for and watching wildlife, and the consistency of our efforts frequently pays off in finding the animals you’ve traveled to see.
Our guides will always appreciate, but never expect a gratuity. Yellowstone Wild is proud of the fact that we compensate our guides at a rate that values their previous experience in the field, educational background, local cost of living averages, and the high expectations we hold regarding delivering only the highest caliber customized excursions for our guests.
However, we greatly appreciate that the majority of our clients enjoy recognizing the exceptional service our Naturalist Guides provide. As such, it is worth noting that a “standard” gratuity is generally 15-20% of the total tour cost.
All of our guides are able to accept gratuities in the form of cash or Venmo. If those are not options for you but you’d still like to tip your guide, we encourage you to ask them directly at the conclusion of your tour if they are set up to accept Zelle, PayPal, or another form of contactless money transfer method. If none of those are possible, we may be able to accept a tip as an additional charge to the credit card we have on file from your original booking. Please call the primary Yellowstone Wild number to set this up.
In order to reserve your tour, a deposit is due at the time of booking. Preferred payment method is via credit card through our secure booking system. The balance due will be charged to the card on file 30 days prior to your tour departure date.
Should you need to cancel your tour with us more than 30 days prior to your tour departure date, your deposit is fully refundable. Should you need to cancel your tour within 30 days of your tour departure date, your payment is non-refundable. We strongly recommend that you purchase third-party travel insurance that will protect you in case of unforeseen cancellations or changes to your travel plans (for suggested travel insurance companies, see Forbes Advisor).
Should your tour need to be canceled due to factors beyond our control, including (but not limited to) extreme weather conditions, wildfire, natural disaster, park closure, airline cancellations, or an “Act of God” we are unable to offer a cash refund.
As a small business, we regret that we are rarely able to make exceptions to our cancellation policy.
Multi-day mixed-group and private all-inclusive custom packages may have differing booking, deposit, and cancellation policies. When booking package tours, your confirmation email will explicitly outline the specific policies for that package. Please call us directly at 406.224.0001 with questions. See links below for examples of package booking, deposit, and cancellation polices:
Unfortunately we are unable to depart later than the start times listed on our website.
Yellowstone Wild prides itself on having a very high success rate in finding the top wildlife in Yellowstone nearly every day. We are able to do this by working within the travel/feeding habits of the wildlife. Most of our large animals, and especially predators such as bears and wolves, are most active right at dawn. As the light increases, along with the temperature, our wildlife tends to bed down and/or move into more shaded areas. Therefore it is critical that we begin our day based on the natural habits and movements of our wild animals.
If the early start time is a bit too daunting, we highly recommend you check out our Family Adventure Tour, Yellowstone Hiking Tour, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Waterfalls and Geysers or Geysers, Hot Springs and Bubbling Mud Pots, Oh My! tours, as they have later start times and are not solely focused on wildlife observations.
Yellowstone Wild is based in Gardiner, MT at the North Entrance to the park. All of our wildlife and family tours depart from either Gardiner, Mammoth Hot Springs, or Tower Junction with pickups available for an additional fee from: Sage Lodge or Canyon Village.
Our Dayhiking, Geysers, Hot Springs, and Mudpots, Oh My!, and Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Waterfalls, and Geysers tours may also pick up at Canyon Village, Old Faithful Village, Norris, or Madison Junction (see chart below).
Yellowstone is a HUGE park with 5 different entrances/exits, 371 miles of developed roads, a maximum speed of 45mph (unless posted less than this), and heavy traffic during the summer months.
In general it’s a good idea to plan on AT LEAST 30 minutes of drive time for each stretch of road within the park.
A few examples of estimated travel times (in minutes – NOT in miles):
Bozeman to Gardiner, MT. – 1 and a half hours
Livingstone to Gardiner, MT.- 45 minutes to 1 hour
Emigrant to Gardiner, MT. – 30-45 minutes
West Yellowstone to Canyon – 1 hour
West Yellowstone to Mammoth – 1 hour and fifteen minutes
Big Sky to Canyon Village or Mammoth Hot Springs – 2+ hours
Old Faithful to Canyon Village or Mammoth Hot Springs – 1 hour and fifteen minutes
Grant Village to Canyon Village – 1 hour
SEE CHART/MAP BELOW FOR COMMON DRIVE TIME ESTIMATES:
We do not offer guided snowmobile tours. The best places in the Yellowstone area to explore snowmobiling tours would be West Yellowstone, MT., Cooke City, MT., or Jackson, WY. Please see below for links to the respective Chamber of Commerce websites for these cities:
Park Rules and the Yellowstone Wild Code of Ethics
As a licensed Commercial Use Permit holder with Yellowstone National Park, we must follow all park rules and regulations.
Additionally, as life-long proponents of wildlife and wild places, we will also follow our own ethical wildlife viewing practices. We will take this opportunity to teach you about how we can have the very best viewing and photography opportunities possible without having negative impacts on wildlife by respecting the animals’ space and movements as they go about their lives.
While on tour with Yellowstone Wild LLC, we will observe the following park rules (subject to law
- Keep at least 25 yards from all wildlife
- Keep at least 100 yards from wolves and bears
- Avoid remaining near or approaching wildlife, including birds, at any distance that disturbs or displaces
It is our ethical responsibility as visitors to the park to make sure that our actions do not inflict undue stress or hardship upon the animals that we are observing. Wild animals in a natural setting do not have easy lives, and the last thing we want to do is make their lives any more difficult. Your guide is an expert at reading animal behavior, and the moment that our presence is bothering an animal, we MUST back off until we are no longer disturbing its natural behavior. Failure to promptly respond to your guide’s instructions to back away from wildlife may result in the termination of your tour, subject to the discretion of your guide.
This is where our optics prove invaluable. We use only the finest quality Swarovski and Vortex spotting scopes so that we can thoroughly enjoy our wildlife sightings at a distance that allows the animals to carry on about their business, as if we were not there. In fact, much of the time they probably don’t know we are there, yet our high powered and crystal clear optics give us an up-close and personal view. Furthermore, we must be mindful of any animal feeding on or resting near a carcass. Approaching such an area may drive the animal(s) away and deprive them of valuable food. It is important to remember that a carcass is regularly scavenged upon by any number of other animals, including grizzly bears, who will violently defend such a food source. Approaching such an area is strictly prohibited and can seriously put people and wildlife in danger. Finally, it is important to be mindful of the other park visitors and biologists who may also be observing the same animals. We promote quiet, respectful behavior to maximize everyone’s wild Yellowstone experience.