At some point this winter a fortunate participant in a “Lodging & Learning” program in Yellowstone National Park will receive the news that his or her program costs will be waived. That lucky person will be the 15,000th participant since the popular programs were introduced in 1999 by Xanterra Parks & Resorts – operator of lodges, restaurants and other concessions in the park – and the Yellowstone Association Institute (YAI), the park’s official non-profit education partner.
The programs combine expert naturalist guides with in-park, transportation, lodging and meals.
“When we created this program 13 years ago we suspected it would be popular, but we are ecstatic that visitors have been so enthusiastic that we would be recognizing our 15,000th participant,” said Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Xanterra’s Yellowstone operations. “People truly do respond to this approach, and we’ve received thousands of great comments that confirm it.”
Hoeninghausen said reservations for this year’s packages indicate the 15,000th participant will visit sometime in winter.
The two organizations first collaborated in 1999 with the Winter in Wonderland program as a way to introduce participants to Yellowstone in winter. Since that single offering in 1999 the programs have been expanded to feature five in winter and eight in summer.
“So many visitors to Yellowstone simply see the park from a few viewpoints, but they never really understand the park’s many layers,” said Hoeninghausen. “Lodging & Learning packages help travelers truly experience and begin to understand the park’s geothermal features, wildlife, human history and more.”
Lodging & Learning programs have been recognized with various awards, including:
- The 2002 Cooperating Association Excellence in Interpretive Media from the National Park Service
- The 2005 Association of Partners for Public Lands (APPL) Media & Partnership Award for the Roosevelt Rendezvous program
- The 2007 APPL Media & Partnership Award for Yellowstone for Families
Yellowstone for Families was also named the “Best Summer Family Camp in America” by “Good Morning America” and FamilyFun magazine.
Summer packages this year included Spring Wolf and Bear Discovery, Essential Yellowstone, Old Times on the Grand Tour, Trails Through Yellowstone, Yellowstone for Families, Summer Wildlife Expedition, Fall Wolf and Elk Discovery and Roosevelt Rendezvous.
Winter programs based at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge and the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel include Old Faithful Winter Expedition, Winter Wildlife Expedition, Yellowstone on Skis, Winter Wolf Discovery and Winter in Wonderland.
Lodging & Learning programs can be booked by calling (1) 307-344-7311 or toll-free 866-GEYSERLAND (866-439-7375).
Complete details about “Lodging & Learning” “Winter Getaway” and “Adventure” packages, accommodations, restaurants and activities in Yellowstone can be made by calling (1) 307-344-7311 or toll-free 866-GEYSERLAND (866-439-7375).