WIDE RANGE OF GUIDED ADVENTURES IN YELLOWSTONE OFFERED THIS SPRING, SUMMER AND FALL MAKE THE PARK COME ALIVE
It is impossible to visit Yellowstone National Park without learning something. And that is a good thing because Yellowstone is one of those places that just gets better as visitors delve into its many facets.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the long-time operator of lodges, restaurants and gift stores in the park, offers a wide choice of guided tours ranging from two-hour introductory experiences to five-night/six-day immersion vacations. Trained guides share their knowledge while transporting passengers in Historic Yellow Buses, full-size motorcoaches, replica stagecoaches, boats and on horseback.
“Yellowstone is huge with the largest population of free-roaming wildlife in the lower 48 and more geysers, hot springs and geothermal features than anywhere else in the world,” said Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Xanterra’s Yellowstone operations. “Regardless of whether they are first-time or return visitors, our guided adventures help them understand with their minds and embrace with their hearts what they are seeing with their eyes.”
The key to Xanterra’s interpretive offerings is the level of knowledge achieved by its guides. While all employees receive some training about the park, drivers undergo much more intense learning and are certified by the National Association for Interpretation (NAI). NAI’s mission is to inspire leadership and excellence to advance heritage interpretation as a profession. Its members include guides, rangers, managers, curators, interpretive specialists and those who design exhibits for interpretive or visitor centers.
“We take tremendous pride in our interpretive guides,” said Hoeninghausen. “Their high level of knowledge comes from so much more than classroom work and reading books. Instead, it reflects their passion for the park and the fact they live and work here, some for many years.”
Tours in Historic Yellow Buses
From the beginning of June and lasting until the third week of September, visitors have the option of taking several tours in the Historic Yellow Buses. These White Motor Company 706 touring vehicles traversed the park from the mid-1930s until the 1950s. Xanterra renovated and returned eight of the wildly popular vehicles featuring roll-down canvas tops to Yellowstone in 2007 for use as tour vehicles.
Tours depart Canyon Lodge, Mammoth Hotel and Roosevelt Lodge early each morning for the Wake up to Wildlife tour in the Lamar Valley where participants will have one of their best opportunities to see the park’s marquee wildlife. The Picture Perfect Photo Safari departs Old Faithful Inn and Lake Yellowstone Hotel every day for a morning of capturing images under the guidance of an accomplished photographer. The Firehole Basin Adventure departs the Old Faithful Inn for an afternoon of viewing and learning about the four major types of geothermal features: geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots.
Evening tours include the Lake Butte Sunset Tour departing from Lake Hotel and Fishing Bridge RV Park and featuring the scenic shores of Yellowstone Lake and breathtaking views from the Lake Butte Overlook. The Evening Wildlife Encounters depart from the Mammoth Hotel and Canyon Lodge and head to Lamar Valley to spot wildlife during their more active evening times. The Twilight on the Firehole tour leaves from the Old Faithful Inn and features early evening views of the world’s largest concentration of thermal features in the Upper, Midway and Lower Geyser Basins.
Before there were motorized vehicles in the park, visitors arrived by train and then proceeded to explore the park on horseback and stagecoach. Today’s traveler can still experience portions of the park the old-fashioned way. Interpretative horseback rides from corrals in Canyon Village, Mammoth Hot Springs area and the Roosevelt Lodge areas are conducted throughout the summer. Based out of Roosevelt Lodge are the highly popular Old West Dinner Cookout and Stagecoach Adventures featuring rides and meals much like those enjoyed more than 100 years ago by Yellowstone aficionado and champion of the West Theodore Roosevelt.
Bus and van tours tend to be day-long excursions offering comprehensive views of the park, forays south to Grand Teton National Park, custom tours and wildlife watching. Examples include the Circle of Fire tour featuring many of the thermal areas on the park’s Lower Loop such as the Upper and Lower Geyser Basins, Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River and Norris Geyser Basin.
Xanterra will offer three Adventure Packages this summer designed to showcase popular Yellowstone attractions as well as get visitors to experience new places. In addition to well-planned itineraries, the packages offer the convenience of included lodging and services. This year’s “Adventure” packages include the five-night Yellowstone Couples Adventure with lodging the Old Faithful Inn, Wild About Yellowstone featuring four nights of lodging (one each at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Canyon Lodge, Grant Village and Old Faithful Snow Lodge), and Total Yellowstone featuring five nights of lodging (three at Old Faithful Snow Lodge, one at Canyon Lodge and one at Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel).
Lodging & Learning packages are conducted in cooperation with the non-profit Yellowstone Association Institute (YAI). Since 1999, some 15,000 participants have enjoyed traveling throughout the park while learning from local experts. This spring, summer and fall, Xanterra and YAI will offer eight packages ranging from three to five days. All include daily field trips with a YAI naturalist guide, lodging in Xanterra-operated hotels, many meals, in-park transportation and optional evening programs. These packages are focused on family travel, wildlife watching, recreating the original grand tour of Yellowstone and more.
For those who want to create their own touring experience, Xanterra offers custom tours that incorporate individual tour planning directly with the guest. The guide and visitors can focus on topics such as history, wildlife, geology, thermal features, wildflowers, birds, photographic scenery or hiking. Once the visitors are in the park, the guides will pick up and return them to their lodging location.
Custom tours are available by 39-passenger motorcoach, Historic Yellow Bus, 14-passenger van, small sedan or six-passenger boat on Yellowstone Lake.
To reserve tours, packages or rooms, visit www.YellowstoneNationalParkLodges.com or call toll-free (1) 866-GEYSERLAND (1-866-439-7375) or (1) 307-344-7311.