XANTERRA PARKS & RESORTS OFFERS WIDE RANGE OF OPTIONS TO MAKE YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK A DRIVE-TO, BUT NOT A DRIVE-THROUGH DESTINATION
After making the drive to Yellowstone National Park, it is nice to let someone else get behind the wheel to provide not only transportation, but to share insider’s knowledge. Xanterra Parks & Resorts, operator of lodging, restaurants, gift shops and activities in Yellowstone , offers a variety of options for visitors who want a car-free Yellowstone experience.
“People who learn about Yellowstone simply have a significantly better vacation experience,” said Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Xanterra in Yellowstone . “Stopping at the visitor centers, attending ranger-led talks and participating in interpretive tours are all great ways to improve the vacation while not having to focus on driving. Yellowstone is really a ‘drive- to,’ not a ‘drive-through’ destination.”
Last summer, Xanterra reintroduced eight White Motor Company model 706 touring vehicles to the park after an absence of more than 40 years. These 13-passenger touring cars with roll-back tops were refurbished and brought to today’s commercial, safety and emissions standards to allow the vehicles to be used for park tours.
The “Historic Yellow Buses” are located in four of the park’s five villages where they are used for partial, all-day and evening tours. The original touring vehicles transported visitors in the park for more than 20 years starting in 1936 when the Yellowstone National Park Transportation Company purchased 27 of the Model 706’s for the season. By 1940, 98 of the vehicles were being used throughout the park. In the 1950s, however, private vehicle usage increased tremendously and the vehicles were sold and disbursed across the country. Under the guidance of trained drivers/interpretive specialists, the tours cover a wide range of topics such as park history, wildlife and geology.
Xanterra’s bus and van tours operate from mid-May until late September. These tours include “Lamar Valley Wildlife Expedition,” ” Yellowstone in a Day,” “Circle of Fire” and “Picture Perfect Photo Safari.”
For those who want to create their own touring experience, Xanterra offers custom tours that incorporate individual tour planning directly with the guest. Xanterra’s interpretive department will take the time to call the customer directly to discuss the focus, expectations and, subsequently, the specific itinerary of the tour. 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.
Both the custom and scheduled tours use a 12-passenger van, handicapped-accessible van, four-passenger vehicle or a 36-passenger bus. Custom tours are also available by boat on Yellowstone Lake.
Xanterra and the Yellowstone Association Institute collaborate to offer a series of popular multi-day “Lodging & Learning” packages designed for visitors who want to explore the park by day and stay in comfortable hotels at night. These packages are focused on topics such as “Old Times on the Grand Tour” which offers visitors a chance to see Yellowstone from the perspective of the park’s early visitors, “Yellowstone For Families,” the hiking-oriented “Trails Through Yellowstone” and more. Most packages include breakfast and box lunches, expert instruction and, most important for those who do not want to drive, in-park transportation.
For those interested in non-motorized transportation, Yellowstone’s Western Adventures feature horseback trail rides, stagecoach adventures and the Old West Dinner Cookout. Corrals for horseback rides are located at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Canyon Lodge & Cabins and the Roosevelt Lodge & Cabins. The one-hour stagecoach rides from Roosevelt Lodge feature replicas of those used in the early days of Yellowstone National Park . The coaches are drawn by two horses through sagebrush flats to a point about two miles from Roosevelt Lodge. The western cookout is held daily from early June through the end of August. Participants go to the ride via horseback or covered wagon.
General reservations for accommodations, tours and activities can be made by calling (1) 307-344-7311 or toll-free 866-GEYSERLAND (1-866-439-7375). For Lodging & Learning packages, guests should call (1) 307-344-5516.