Day 1 - Arrive in Yellowstone National Park
The tour begins with a breathtaking drive south into Yellowstone
National Park. VBT will offer a shuttle from the VBT pre-trip lodging, Lehrkind
Mansion Bed and Breakfast (719 N. Wallace Avenue, Bozeman, MT, 59715) close to
downtown Bozeman, at 9:00 a.m. The
shuttle will make another stop at the Holiday Inn in Bozeman (5 E Baxter Lane,
Bozeman, MT 59715) at 9:30 a.m. Please allow for traffic delays.
If you arrive in Bozeman after this time, you will need to
arrange for transportation to Yellowstone National Park at your own expense.
Please call the following taxi company: Karst Stage (Telephone: 406-556-3540).
Transfers are available for $157.50/person or $168/couple. Travel time from the
Bozeman airport to Mammoth Hot Springs is approximately 90 minutes.
For guests driving to the tour, please plan to meet our
group at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel at 11:00 a.m. Complimentary parking is
available. Our tour will conclude at the hotel, and you will be able to leave
from here on our final morning.
VBT Pre-Trip Extension guests: You have the morning to enjoy
breakfast at the Lehrkind Mansion Bed and Breakfast. At 9:00 a.m., the shuttle
will arrive and transfer you and the rest of the group to the Mammoth Hot
Springs Hotel. The shuttle will also be traveling to the Holiday Inn in Bozeman
to pick up Land Package Only guests.
We'll meet our VBT Trip Leaders shortly after 11:00 a.m. at
the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. After a light lunch and brief introduction,
we'll stop by the Bear Den Ski Shop to get outfitted with our ski equipment for
the week. Then we'll depart the hotel at
approximately 1:00 p.m. for the second half of our journey—this time, over the
Our afternoon will be spent in a snowcoach: a van specially
outfitted with treads to travel over ice and snow. Along the way, we'll make
stops at the Norris Geyser Basin, which offers a variety of thermal features
for us to explore, and Madison Junction, which is situated at the confluence of
the Gibbon and Firehole rivers. The Madison River is formed at this junction,
and continues on to form the Missouri River when it joins the Jefferson and
Gallatin rivers in Three Forks, Montana.
We will arrive at our hotel, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, in
the late afternoon. Enjoy a chance to unpack and relax in your room. Or explore
your surroundings, which include the renowned Old Faithful Geyser. At 6:00
p.m., we'll gather for an orientation meeting and welcome cocktail, followed by
an included dinner.
Day 2 - Ski lesson / Ski to Lone Star Geyser
After a hearty breakfast, we'll meet to review the day's
events and logistics. Our morning ski instruction will take place with the
famous Old Faithful Geyser as our backdrop. We'll then ski directly from the
lodge to Lone Star Geyser. Skiers seeking additional instruction will be able
to spend more time with the instructor and then take a snow shuttle closer to
the Lone Star Geyser. Skiers should be prepared to bring a small day pack to
carry a packed lunch, water or additional supplies they may need throughout the
The Lone Star Geyser trail follows an old service road,
which features both groomed and skier-tracked trails. Lone Star Geyser erupts
routinely every three hours; eruptions can last up to 30 minutes, with water
blasting up to 50 feet in the air. Geysers such as Lone Star are best viewed in
the winter, as the combination of colder temperatures, ice and snow, coupled
with hot water and steam, offers the very best viewing.
We will enjoy our packed lunch outside, on the trail to the
geyser. Beginning skiers can return to the lodge on the same trail we took to
get here, while more experienced skiers may choose to take a hillier loop back,
or ski further along to the Continental Divide.
The afternoon is yours to relax at the lodge, perhaps taking
in an eruption of Old Faithful. Dinner
will be on your own tonight, at either the Obsidian Dining Room or the Geyser
Grill. Later this evening, ice skating is available for those who wish to spend
some additional time outdoors.
Day 3 - Ski Geyser Basin / Transfer to Mammoth Hot Springs / Paint Pots
Today we'll head north on the ski trails, skiing through the
Geyser Basin. If you'd prefer, you may choose to snowshoe instead. The winter
trails offer a sense of solitude through the Geyser Basin that is seldom
experienced in the summer. As we ski, our Trip Leaders will help us identify a
variety of thermal features, explaining what makes each one unique. There's
also a good chance that we'll encounter some of the unique wildlife of
Yellowstone here. Our morning ski makes a nice loop back to the lodge. After
our ski, we'll have time to warm up and eat lunch on our own.
Then we'll head north via snow coach to Mammoth Hot Springs,
following the same route we took south; our return trip, however, includes
stops at the Fountain Paint Pots and Firehole Canyon for interpretive walks.
Walking along Fountain Paint Pots boardwalk, we'll have the
opportunity to witness all four types of geothermal features: geysers, mud
pots, steam vents and hot springs. And as we drive along the Firehole Canyon,
we'll stop to take in the awesome sight of the 40-foot-high Firehole Falls.
Our ride north will continue to the Mammoth Hot Springs
Hotel, where we will arrive in time to relax and settle in before a group
dinner at the hotel's restaurant.
Day 4 - Skiing the Tower Falls area
Our morning in Mammoth will begin with a transfer to the
Tower Falls trailhead, where we'll ski along the Yellowstone River to Tower
Falls. When flowing, the water plunges more than 130 feet from Tower Creek into
the Yellowstone River. In the winter, the Falls are even more spectacular, as
the water is frozen into a giant tower of ice.
We will enjoy a packed lunch in the Tower Falls area. Skiers
have the choice of extending their route along the Chittenden Loop trail, which
winds through a dense lodgepole pine forest, or returning directly to the
During the van ride back from Tower Falls, be on the lookout
for local wildlife. We may not be surrounded by geothermal features, but we
will enjoy broad vistas with the potential to see elk, deer, coyotes or even
The afternoon and evening are yours to relax at the hotel
before dinner on your own. Later, you may choose to listen to Randy, the
hotel's piano player and historian, as he presents an entertaining account of
the history of Yellowstone. You may also decide to retire early, as we will be
up before the sun tomorrow for a morning of wildlife viewing!
Day 5 - Lamar Valley wildlife / Farewell dinner
After a full week of skiing and snowshoeing, enjoy a day
away from your skis. We'll have an early morning departure at 6:30 a.m. to take
in the sunrise as we transfer to the Lamar Valley, a drive of approximately one
hour. Breakfast will be on the road (not to worry: our lodge's coffee will be
hot and ready from 5:30 a.m.) and we'll arrive in the Lamar Valley early to
increase our chances of seeing wildlife movement.
The Lamar Valley, known locally as the “American Serengeti,”
hosts a vast range of wildlife including bears, wolves, elk, bison, antelope and bighorn sheep. While we likely won't encounter any bears, the
Valley is the winter home to hundreds of bison and thousands of elk, and the
pristine, snow-covered winter landscape makes spotting wildlife much easier. Due to the vast numbers of potential prey, the Valley is also one of the best
places in the world to catch a glimpse of wild wolves. As we explore, we'll
learn more about the successful re-introduction of wolves to Yellowstone and
the role that their packs play in the surrounding ecosystem.
There is no skiing today, but you will have the opportunity
to get out of the van and explore some of the trail systems around the Lamar
Valley. If we are lucky, the Lamar Valley Buffalo Ranch will be open and we can
learn about how this ranch was vitally important to the rehabilitation of the
Yellowstone bison herd.
After returning to the hotel, you'll have time to relax. Or
you might choose to explore some of the trails surrounding the hot springs,
including the Mammoth Terraces—magnificent travertine “steps” sculpted by mother nature from the limestone deposits of the area's thermal waters.
We conclude the day—and our week in Yellowstone—with a
special farewell dinner at the hotel.
Day 6 - Depart for home
The land portion of your tour concludes after breakfast this
morning. Bid farewell to your Trip Leaders before departing by shuttle to
VBT has made arrangements for a shuttle from Yellowstone
back to Bozeman at 9:00 a.m. The shuttle will make a stop at the airport,
arriving at approximately 11:00 a.m., followed by a stop in downtown Bozeman
around 11:30 a.m.
If you drove to the start of the tour, you may depart the
Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel after breakfast.