Explore Yellowstone National Park’s Geological Wonders with VBT

Grand Prismatic SpringThe geology of Yellowstone National Park gives unparalleled insight into a unique terrain that contains the largest concentration of geothermal features in the entire world. Other than the famed Yellowstone geysers, the park is home to many fumaroles, thermal springs, and mud pots.  When huge volcanic eruptions—over 1,000 times more powerful than Mt. Saint Helens—occurred here over 600,000 years ago, they created a massive, lava-filled caldera. This massive caldera makes up much of what is now Yellowstone National Park. The magnificent landscape that we’ll explore on  our walking tour—including the impressive Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone Lake, Hayden Valley and Geyser basins—has been sculpted over millennia. To learn more, read this short guide to some of the geological wonders you can experience while on our Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Walking America’s Wilderness vacation.

YelOldFaithfulThe Yellowstone National Park geysers make up two-thirds of the total amount found in the world. Although the park contains over 1,200 geysers—465 of which are active annually—the one that is on every park visitor’s agenda is the famed Old Faithful Geyser. Despite not being the largest of the Yellowstone geysers—that distinction goes to the 300ft blast of the Steamboat Geyser—Old Faithful’s consistency is what sets it apart. If we don’t arrive just in time to see an eruption, we won’t have to wait long since Old Faithful erupts every 90 minutes or so, hence it’s name. We’ll also have ample opportunities to view an eruption during our night’s stay at the awe-inspiring Old Faithful Inn, known for its spectacular seven-story tall lobby of log rafters and 85-foot stone fireplace. Located just a short walk from Old Faithful, you can always just step outside to view an eruption from the inn’s second-floor deck.

Hot Springs
Yellowstone is home to many hot springs including Mammoth Hot Springs, a large complex of hot springs located onYellowstone Thermal Pool a hill of travertine and accented by natural sculptures of cooled calcium carbonate. One of the highlights of our tour is the day we walk to the Grand Prismatic Spring (pictured at the top of this blog), the largest hot spring in the United States and 3rd largest in the world. The Grand Prismatic is known for its rainbow of colors that are caused by bacteria living at the spring’s edges: reds, yellows, greens, and blues create a vivid pool on the basin floor. VBT guests will view these amazing hot springs from our walking trail, far above the crowded boardwalks that skirt its shores.

Mud Pots
Yellowstone mud potAnother seemingly supernatural phenomenon of Yellowstone geology is the park’s mud pots which are like hot springs, except instead of boiling water they are made of bubbling clay. Over time the microorganisms in Yellowstone’s ground use super-hot gas from vents in the earth’s crust and convert it to sulfuric acid. The acid in turn breaks down hard rock into soft clay which liquefies and then bubbles as it releases more gas. During our stay we’ll have the chance to view prime examples of the park’s mud pots including the Mud Volcano and the Artist’s Paint Pots—a very colorful example of the normally gray mud pots.

These are just a few of the park’s geothermal attractions that you’ll get to discover on our new Yellowstone & Grand Teton: Walking America’s Wilderness. To learn more about the itinerary and departure dates for this walking vacation please visit our website. To request a full catalog with all of our vacations please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am-3:00pm EST.

Meet Jane: VBT’s Traveler of the Month for February 2014

After seeing how much fun they seem to have from the pictures they’ve kindly shared with us, we’ve wanted to hear Celebrating Jane's 70thmore about a group of women known as “WE GO NOW” that have taken many VBT Group tours together over the years. When we asked Laura, VBT’s Group Tour Manager, who to contact from the group she immediately suggested Jane D (2nd in from the right in this picture), who is preparing for her 10th VBT vacation and is also one of the group’s organizers. We had a chance to sit down with Jane and ask her some questions about why she loves active travel and how she came to choose VBT as the perfect vehicle in which to see the world with WE GO NOW.

How long have you been a fan of active travel and when did you hear about VBT?
Before discovering VBT, I went on biking trips to Provence, Lake Constance, Italy, the Danube and the Elbe River (Berlin to Prague) with two other companies. In 2005, with my husband and another couple, I went on the VBT Banff biking trip that was offered back then and fell in love with EVERYTHING VBT!
We Go Now field

You organize a group of women who travel together called “WE GO NOW” and have taken many group vacations with VBT in the past. Could you describe the inception of this group? Do the same members travel every time?
The aforementioned Banff tour left me wanting more so when our Trip Leaders recommended the VBT New Zealand vacation, we thought it would be the perfect place to travel with a private group of women…and thus, WE GO NOW was born! Since then, WE GO NOW has done one VBT trip a year and to date, we’ve been to New Zealand, Vietnam, Croatia, Heart of Europe Bike and Barge, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Italy Po Valley and Poland. This September, WE GO NOW is getting ready for our second Bike and Barge trip: Heart of France.

My dear friend Linda and I work together to plan our WE GO NOW trips and events. We have many return travelers on our private group trips and for our upcoming September trip; we have only one “Newbie.” A month before our trips, Linda and I do a dinner party with appropriate national cuisine. The group shares tips, albums, memories from previous trips and we give each of them trip favors which have included visors, backpacks and purses emblazoned with the WE GO NOW logo.

What is it about VBT’s Group Travel Program that keeps you coming back year after year?
For me, biking is only a small part of a VBT trip. The incredible native VBT Trip Leaders, wonderful customer service, hotels that are offered, meals, special events, bikes and routes all join together to produce memorable experiences. The women who choose to do our trips are pretty darn awesome…we say, wining is allowed; but whining is not allowed. We call it the WE GO NOW spirit and believe it shows in how helpful and encouraging the women are with each other. Being good Americans is important to WE GO NOW. Our trips are never competitions and for us it’s not about mileage or speed…it’s about Vacation, Education and with just a little Libation.
We Go Now group pic

For our group, we often pre-book independent adventures for our pre- or post-trips with suggestions from Laura Thompson Breen, VBT’s Group Manager, who is like “family” to me! In Krakow, we enjoyed a private group dinner and Chopin concert and visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. In Croatia, we did private day tours of Bosnia and Montenegro. I recently booked a private group day trip to Normandy’s WWII Landing Beaches for our upcoming pre-trip. VBT’s office staff is always so helpful and cheerful. I also enjoy the amazing VBT Trip Leaders who really are the spark and the glue of our trips. We often wonder how and where VBT finds these incredible Leaders! They all have been encouraging, upbeat, safety conscious, patient, knowledgeable and always have a superb sense of humor!

You’ve been to Poland, Croatia, Italy, The Czech Republic and more with VBT over the years, what is your favorite destination that you’ve been to with us so far?
Favorite? It’s a dilemma to choose one. Aspects of all of my VBT vacations stand out: the Vietnamese children calling “I love you” out to us, biking around Slovenia’s gorgeous Lake Bled and around Italy’s Lake Garda, home visits and meals, the views seen from Croatia’s islands and biking along the Danube which is the best biking trail I’ve ever Brage cropexperienced. The pre- and post-trip cities have been lovely: Bellagio, Cinque Terre, Ljubljana, Vienna, Prague, Saigon, and Krakow. I must admit that New Zealand was total paradise and is my favorite VBT trip but, who knows, maybe the Heart of France will be my new favorite!

Speaking of your upcoming Heart of France Bike and Barge vacation, what are you looking forward to most about traveling again by barge?
Traveling by barge is a complete joy – unpacking once and tucking the suitcase under the bed brings a smile to my face. Having our private barge, private staff, private dining room—what’s not to love? Our Heart of France itinerary will have us barging on the Seine into Paris, what’s not to love about this? As our invitation stated:  BIKE * BARGE * BLISS.

What is it about active travel that appeals to you most?
VBT trips lift my spirits and fill my soul. Much of travel is “drive by” travel from behind a bus or car windshield. VBT bike trips are what I like to call “immersion” travel. I enjoy all the senses you pick up on from the seat of one’s bike like inhaling the lavender, hearing sheep, seeing for miles from the top of a hill, visiting with locals, learning history and culture from the VBT Trip Leaders—what a privilege it all is!  Women sometimes cry at the end of our trips when we say goodbye to our bikes and Trip Leaders, but they are tears of joy, amazement and the wonderful sense of accomplishment!

To learn more about VBT’s Group Travel Program please click here. If you’d like to see some more pictures from WE GO NOW tours over the years check out their Czech tour Gallery and Po River Valley Gallery.

We go now group heart of europe2