“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of the experience.”
Francis Bacon, Sr.
Yellowstone! Established in 1872, it was the first land in the entire world set aside as a national park. It is still the star of our park system and showcases thermal features like geysers, fumaroles (look it up!), and mudpots; wild animals including bison and grizzly bears; and incredible scenery ranging from towering mountain ranges to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
The beautiful thing about our family adventures is everyone has a great time without any of the stresses of family vacations. During some activities and meals, we are all together: riding horses through the Paradise Valley, rafting the whitewater of the Gallatin, and having a western dinner at Buck’s T-4 Lodge. At other times, your kids might be off at a pool party with the guides, while you and the other adults enjoy a vigorous hike or a glass of wine on the balcony. Leave the driving and decision-making to us, and instead of watching out for your kids, you can simply watch them having fun all week. It’s truly a vacation for all of you!
Trip Favorite Moments & Reviews
It was a great way to experience Yellowstone. I loved learning about the animals and the geologic features.Doreen
Excellent! Exceeded my expectations. Had a great deal to do with the group we were with as well. Everyone got along well and came together as a group nicely.John S.
- Cost Per Person: $2,500
- Optional Single Supplement: $600
- Private Tour Minimum: 4
- Activities: Hiking, River Rafting, & Horseback Riding
- Difficulty: All Ability Levels
- Guides: TBD
Other Info: -> Kids staying in a room with their adult(s) receive a 15% discount - not combinable with alumni discounts.
-> Adults wishing to have their own room can pay a single supplement of $800. Aunts, uncles, and grandparents are welcome on this trip too!
-> This trip is appropriate for kids ages 5 - 16. Those under 8 can ride ponies instead of horses.
-> Smaller private tours have a pricing of $2,750 (4 - 5 people) or $2,600 (6 - 7).
- Swim and soak in natural hot springs
- Spend three days inside Yellowstone, the world's first national park
- Admire Old Faithful’s eruption and other geothermal wonders
- See wild bison, elk, bears, and wolves
- Take a fun raft trip down the Gallatin River
- Horseback ride in the Paradise Valley
We meet you after lunch on the first day of the trip in the hip mountain town of Bozeman, Montana. If you arrive the day before, we have suggestions on some great family activities here! After a fun introduction game we shuttle about an hour, following the Yellowstone River through the Paradise Valley to the tiny town of Pray, Montana, where our horses will be saddled up and waiting for all us buckaroos to explore the foothills. (If horse riding is not your thing, no worries – we will have an alternate hike planned instead). After our ride, we check into Chico Hot Springs Resort. This is sure to be your family’s favorite — it’s definitely one of ours! You adults were great enough to get the kids to Montana in one piece, so you get a fancy dinner in Chico’s fine-dining restaurant while our guides take your kids to the more casual Chico Grill and large outdoor pool, which is fed by natural hot springs. And if you want to soak in some hot water before bedtime, we heartily recommend it!
You’ll have the opportunity to soak (or play in the pool) again or take a short but vigorous hike that begins and ends at the lodge before we depart for Yellowstone National Park. We will enter the park via the beautiful stone Roosevelt Arch, the cornerstone of which was laid down by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. The top of the arch is inscribed with the quote “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.” On our short drive to the Mammoth Hot Springs area of the Park, we’ll be on the lookout for bighorn sheep, bison, and elk. Once at Mammoth, we will learn how to become Junior Park Rangers, have some ice cream, and explore the cool travertine terraces before departing to explore the thermal features at Norris Hot Springs and then making our way to our rooms at the brand-new LEED-certified Canyon Lodge, situated near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This is not your grandparents’ national park lodge! We will stay here for two nights. If anyone has energy after our casual dinner together at the new M66 Grill, we will attend one of the interesting park ranger talks and look at a bazillion stars in the sky.
We spend the better part of the day exploring the Old Faithful area and its geothermal wonders, and perhaps learn some new words such as geysers, fumaroles, and hotpots. Yellowstone possesses close to 60 percent of the world’s geysers and the Upper Geyser Basin is home to the largest numbers in the park. Within one square mile, there are at least 150 of these hydrothermal features! Naturally, we visit Old Faithful to see Yellowstone’s most famous attraction; the regular eruption will amaze even repeat visitors. Tonight, the adults will have dinner in the beautiful Lake Hotel, while the kids go the Fishing Bridge General Store (of course, there will be time for ice cream once again – who can resist a cone while skipping stones into Lake Yellowstone?). At dusk we will head back to Canyon, keeping on the lookout for wildlife like coyote, bear, wolves, raven, and bison and learn more about the incredible attributes of this place before our heads hit the pillows.
This morning, we rise early to explore the Canyon area itself by foot before checking out of our lodge. The stunning Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is nearly 20 miles long and has two impressive waterfalls that we can view up close from the brink! We then slowly make our way out the west entrance and say goodbye to the Park, enjoying a kitschy lunch on your own in West Yellowstone before traveling up the Gallatin Valley to our home for the night at Buck’s T-4 Lodge, a Big Sky icon. Yes, kids, there is a pool here and you’ll be able to connect to your electronic devices once again! Our final dinner together is a fun wagon ride and BBQ at a nearby ranch.
After breakfast at Buck’s we will don our rafting costumes for a fun and splashy river trip on the Gallatin River amongst the towering Douglas Firs, canyon rock walls, and snowcapped peaks. This is Class II/III whitewater, which means no experience is required and it is suitable for the entire family. We’ll make the hour-long shuttle back to Bozeman after lunch, allowing you to take a late-afternoon flight home or extend your trip.Book this Tour
NIGHT 1 >> CHICO HOT SPRINGS / PRAY, MT
Chico Hot Springs Resort is our absolute favorite spot for a quick Montana getaway. The historic resort is located in the heart of Paradise Valley, just north of Yellowstone National Park and nestled in the foothills of the breathtaking Absaroka Mountain Range. Their giant pool of hot water is equally as fun to play in as it is to relax in! They also have a gourmet restaurant on site as well as a pizza joint for the kids.
NIGHTS 2 & 3 >> CANYON LODGES / YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
The newest accommodations in the park, the LEED-certified Canyon Lodges offer the perfect central location from which to embark on our explorations. Rooms are brand new with "green" and sustainable features and the setting is amongst a quiet pine forest that is only a few minutes walk from the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, the visitor center, dinner, or an evening campfire program offered by a park ranger.
NIGHT 4 >> BUCK'S T-4 LODGE / BIG SKY, MT
Buck's has been a Big Sky icon for fifty years. Located in the beautiful Gallatin Valley with a view of Lone Mountain, its rooms are nicely appointed and the outdoor pool and hot tub are great ways to wind down your day.Book this Tour
Arrival & Departure
Your guides meet you in the cool mountain town of Bozeman, Montana, right after lunch on the first day of the trip, so it may be possible for you to fly in that day and we will meet you at the airport. Otherwise, you can arrive anytime the day before the trip begins.
We’ll return to Bozeman’s airport the last afternoon of the trip, allowing you to take a late afternoon flight home. We can also leave you in Big Sky or Bozeman so you can extend your stay.
Bozeman (airport code BZN) is served by many major airlines: Alaska Air, Allegient, Delta, Frontier, and United.
- Two local Zephyr guides will be joined by a third Zephyr guide when the group reaches 17 participants.
- Double occupancy lodging is included. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
- All of your dinners and breakfasts are included, as well as one trail lunch and an ice cream stop or two. Gratuity for these meals is also included. We leave two lunches open so that you have a little flexibility and time to explore.
- Park entrance fees, rafting and horseback riding is included.
- All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
- NOT INCLUDED: Beverages, desserts, some lunches, optional gratuities to your guides, personal expenses and travel to and from the destination.
Yellowstone is located in the mountains so the weather can change very quickly. You will want to bring layers no matter what time of year you are visiting as even in the middle of summer the temperatures can swing from mid-70s during the day to mid-30s at night. It is also not uncommon to experience some snow in the park in July!
We get to explore the 2.2 million acres of Yellowstone National Park – and given the sheer size of the park itself, we will have to have spend time shuttling from point to point. But no fear, keep your eyes peeled as we drive as we will get to see some amazing sights along the way!
Food and Lodging in Yellowstone
Staying inside the park is a top priority – you get to explore and experience so much more by staying in the heart of Yellowstone. Since it is a national park, the accommodations and food options are not going to be equal to a five-star hotel. But, we think the rustic experience just adds to the overall adventure!
Delays in Yellowstone
It is not uncommon to get stuck by one of Yellowstone’s famous “Bison Jams”. This is when a herd of bison has decided to cross one of the roads within the park and causes a traffic jam. Though they can be inconvenient while trying to stay on time, it is a one-of-a-kind experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Additionally, July is one of Yellowstone’s busiest months so the park will be crowded. Your guides try to manage this by timing the tour schedule appropriately as well as showing you lesser known (and frankly better!) vantage points for some of the biggest attractions.
Extending your Vacation
There is a lot to do in Montana and Wyoming, including the fun town of Bozeman (where we end the tour), the Little Bighorn Battlefield (Custer’s Last Stand) near Billings, and Grand Teton National Park (near Jackson Wyoming), or Glacier National Park (6 hours north of Bozeman). If you extend your stay, we suggest you rent a car in Bozeman at the end of the tour.
Type of People Who Will Enjoy This Tour
Kids of any age are welcome but this trip is most appropriate for kids five and up. We as guides can vouch that kids are the true experts at having fun and it makes this tour special for everyone. It takes kids about 15 minutes to go from unknowns to fast friends! This trip includes activities that both kids and adults will enjoy, sometimes together and sometimes separately. We know you love your little darlings, but we realize it is nice to have an occasional break — our guides are more than happy to oblige you in this! We plan a couple separate activities and dinners for kids and adults (your older teenagers can make up their minds which group they would like to join these times!). Adults traveling on their own without kids (such as uncles, aunts and grandparents) will also love this trip.
Changes to Your Itinerary
While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We will attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.
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