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This is a landscape carved by glaciers, volcanoes, enormous lakes, and thermal rumblings!
We will discover evidence of all of these massive forces of nature, visiting some popular attractions, as well as hidden gems not often seen by the masses. Along the way, it is certainly possible to encounter any number of wild animals that call Yellowstone home, so plan on a day full of unexpected surprises!
We’ll beat the crowds for an early morning walk to explore the fascinating and complex Norris Geyser Basin. Home to Steamboat Geyser, the world’s tallest erupting geyser, Norris presents a scene reminiscent of another planet. With its weathered rhyolite deposits, hissing steam vents and porcelain-colored hot pools, this area represents Yellowstone’s hottest, most acidic, and continually changing thermal area.
The rest of the day includes short hikes that take us away from the crowds to best explore, understand, and connect with the majestic waterfalls, deeply carved chasms, and “painted” rocks in Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon. The canyon, of which an 1871 painting was instrumental in securing the establishment of Yellowstone, is a water-carved masterpiece formed through the incredible forces of both heat and ice.
The mighty Yellowstone River dominates the eastern side of the park, and remains a powerful symbol of raw, untamed wild beauty. Beginning just south of the park and flowing freely for 671 miles to its confluence with the Missouri River, it remains the longest undammed river in the Lower 48! Throughout its history this magnificent waterway has provided a critical lifeline for the animals, flora, and human inhabitants of this region.
We will explore the vastness of Hayden Valley, where the pristine Yellowstone River slowly winds timelessly through gently rolling meadows. Ancient glacial lakes laid the perfect foundation for dense grasses, sedges, and forbes making it prime habitat for our grazing animals. While this tour is not primarily wildlife focused, it is not uncommon to spot herds of bison and elk taking advantage of the rich foraging possibilities – there is also a chance to see wolves, grizzly bears, coyotes, fox, and birds of prey, and we will always take advantage of any wildlife sightings we may come across.
The first human inhabitants to benefit from Yellowstone’s bounty can be dated to over 11,000 years ago. It should be no surprise that the otherworldly thermal features inspired a sense of wonder and awe, as they do today, inspiring deep cultural lore such as the fascinating creation story that was borne out of a feature now called Dragon’s Mouth!
Highlights may include:
- Norris Geyser Basin – Home of the world’s tallest active geyser and otherworldly landscapes of porcelain pools and hissing steam vents.
- Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – Geologic wonder, grandeur, and jaw-dropping colors of the Grand Canyon and its magnificent waterfalls.
- Waterfalls – Our favorite views of the 109’ Upper Falls, 308’ Lower Falls and, time permitting, a peek at the lesser-known but no less spectacular 129’ Crystal Falls.
- Hayden Valley – The Yellowstone River winds through this picturesque mountain valley with abundant wildlife, giving the ultimate sense of “big sky” country.
- Mud Volcano and the Dragon’s Mouth – A cave that belches pungent sulphery steam and bubbling mud with explosive history.
- Nez Perce Ford – Picnic at an historic ford across the Yellowstone River and hear the epic tale of the Nez Perce tribe during their 1877 flight from the US Army, covering 1170 miles in an effort to reach Canada – and freedom from life on a reservation. They nearly made it.
Your tour experience:
- Experience the magic of Yellowstone’s iconic hydrothermal features, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and Hayden Valley
- Your own local naturalist guide
- Private and fully customizable tours
- Small, single-party groups
- Away from the crowds and into the wild
- Vast, wide-open spaces and clean mountain air
- Breakfast and lunch – picnic style
- Safe, fun and educational
What’s included & What you need to bring
Your Tour Includes:
- Full-day (8 hour) private guided tour
- Transportation in our fully equipped touring vehicle (we drive, you enjoy the scenery)
- Plenty of space for gear and extra clothing
- Fresh-baked breakfast pastries
- Hot drinks (coffee, tea, hot cocoa)
- Healthy and hearty snacks (various bars and trail mix, etc.)
- Healthy fruit juice, soft drinks, and water
- Full picnic lunch spread (GF and vegetarian/vegan and kosher options available)
Gratuity is NOT included in the price of the tour. Tipping your guide is a common practice in North America, and tips are an important part of their income.
What to Bring
- Warm clothes for cooler early morning hours
- Dress warmly so that you can comfortably be out in the elements during the cold hours of the dawn. You will be at high elevations in the Rocky Mountains, and temperatures will be unseasonably cold. Be prepared!
- Close-toed shoes/hiking boots
- Long pants
- Windbreaker/rain jacket
- Hat and gloves
- Duffle/backpack to store warm clothing as the day warms up
- Water bottle (reusable) *please remember to drink plenty of water at this high altitude
- Sun hat
- Sun glasses
- Lots of questions and curiosity
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.
Park rules and Yellowstone code of ethics [TAB]
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 practices. We will take this opportunity to teach you about how we can have the very best experience possible without having negative impacts on wildlife or on other visitors.
While on tour with Yellowstone Wild LLC, we will observe all park rules (subject to law enforcement):
- Keep at least 25 yards from all wildlife, except:
- Keep at least 100 yards from wolves and bears
- Avoid remaining near or approaching wildlife, including birds, at any distance that disturbs or displaces the animal.
- Remain on board walks or established trails in hydrothermal areas.
- Observe but do not touch hydrothermal features.