The Yellowstone Grand Tour shows you all of Yellowstone in just one tour day! It is the quickest way to see all of Yellowstone from San Francisco! You do both loops on the same day, instead of spending one day on the lower loop of Yellowstone, and another day touring Yellowstone's upper loop!
The tour is designed to really maximize your time in Yellowstone. You can arrive at the San Francisco airport as late as 6 pm, and still be on tour in Yellowstone the next day! On this see-everything Yellowstone tour you can be back in Salt Lake, from Yellowstone, only 36 hours from the time you left! We also offer an option to end the tour in San Francisco.
Day 1 - Flight from San Francisco to Salt Lake City - About 2 hours
The tour starts at the San Francisco airport, with a flight to Salt Lake City. The flight is included in the tour price, but there will be a checked luggage fee which you will need to pay. After landing you will pick up your luggage, before waiting a short while for the ride to Yellowstone.
You will take a shuttle through northern Utah and into Idaho, before being dropped off at your motel in Rexburg, where you will spend the night. There are stops at several towns along the way. The vehicle is generally a mini bus. Breakfast tomorrow morning is included in the tour price.
Please note that today is an unescorted part of the tour. What this means is that although you obviously have a bus driver with you at all times, there is no tour guide providing a running commentary the way there is when you are in Yellowstone.
Subject to availability, if you would like to, you can take an early morning flight to Salt Lake City today instead. This would enable you to take a shuttle from Salt Lake to West Yellowstone on the first day, and spend the night in West Yellowstone, as opposed to traveling to Rexburg on the first day, spending the night in Rexburg, and then continuing to West Yellowstone the next morning, in time for your day in the park. This would give you an extra night in the Yellowstone region.
Please note in the comments section at check out, if you prefer this option.
Departing Rexburg, you will travel through rural Idaho, before ascending into the Targhee National Forest. After climbing up over the Continental Divide and into Montana, you will make the short drive to West Yellowstone.
Almost as soon as you get to town, you will get into your tour vehicle. A sack lunch is provided today, which you can enjoy on the road. You can select lunch options when you order the tour.
The roads running through Yellowstone make up a massive figure of eight. The lower loop of the figure of eight comprises most of the thermal features that are to be seen in Yellowstone, including, of course, Old Faithful! Today we'll be driving around the entire figure of eight!
From West Yellowstone we'll follow the Madison River to Madison Junction. At Madison Junction we will turn right, or south, and travel along the Firehole River which runs through Yellowstone's thermal areas. The Firehole is famous amongst anglers for its pristine beauty and selection of brown, brook and rainbow trout. Depending on the time of the year, this area is often teeming with wildlife. With any luck you will see bison, elk, Trumpeter Swans and other animals and birds. A special treat in the spring is the baby bison calves.
The first main thermal area we will be visiting is the Lower Geyser Basin, and Fountain Paint Pots. There is a boardwalk system running around and through the Fountain Paint Pots area, and it is a great place to go for a stroll, if the bison haven't got there first! Apart from the paint pots, there is also a selection of other thermal features in the area, including a number of geysers, one or other of which almost always seems to be erupting.
The next stop is the Midway Geyser Basin, home to Grand Prismatic Spring - one of the largest anywhere in the world - as well as Excelsior Geyser, now dormant, but discharging thousands of gallons of water every minute.
It is a short drive to the Upper Geyser Basin, home of Old Faithful, the world's best known and most reliable gusher. There is also so much more to the area than just Old Faithful. Old Faithful Inn, a wonderful old building - recently renovated - is located there - and a system of boardwalks will take you around the various other geysers in the area.
Yellowstone Lake is off to the east as we make the trip up to Fishing Bridge. From there we head through the Hayden Valley, following the Yellowstone River, up to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. On the way we will pass Mud Volcano.
The Hayden Valley is known for its wildlife, particularly large herds of bison at certain times of the year. It is also an excellent location to look for grizzly bears, especially in the spring and early summer when they may be preying on newborn bison and elk cubs.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is an unexpected treat amongst the thermal wonders. The Yellowstone River has carved an impressive canyon through the rocks, over which two falls drop. The Lower Falls is over twice the size of Niagara Falls! It is in this area that you can catch a glimpse of the yellowish tinge to the rocks, from which the Yellowstone River got its name, but at a different location. We'll check out the canyon and falls from a number of different locations. You get so close to the Upper Falls that you almost feel like you can reach out and touch the thundering water. Don't!
The reason this tour only starts running in the fourth week of May is that we have to wait for the road from Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to Tower Falls to open. It's the highest road in the park, and the snow sticks around a lot longer. We'll climb up into the sky over Dunraven Pass, topping off at almost 9000 feet, and then drop down the other side to Tower Falls. On the way you'll see an entire forest of snags (we'll explain). There is always the possibility of seeing a bear when we travel over Dunraven.
Everyone wants to see a bear in the wild at Yellowstone, and the short trip from Tower Falls to Tower Junction is one of the best places to do so. The spring can be a great time to go looking for bears, as you have the opportunity of seeing mothers with their new born cubs.
We'd like to be able to show you part of the Lamar Valley, but this will depend on traffic, buffalo jams, and how long we've taken to get to this point. On some tours there just won't be enough time to venture into Lamar Valley. This is a particularly beautiful part of the park which runs along a section of road between Tower Junction and Yellowstone's north east entrance, and is where the keen wolf watchers are generally to be found. There is often a lot of other wildlife to be seen here.
Whether we go to the Lamar Valley or not, we will now travel from Tower Roosevelt to Mammoth. There is almost always wildlife to be seen on the way.
The next stop is Mammoth Hot Springs, headquarters of the park, and home to a fascinating array of weird rock shapes, bright colors and sizzling hot springs. Elk are generally plentiful in this area, wandering around the old park buildings, and, if you're lucky, you might even see a whole herd.
You can stroll through the ever changing terraces at Mammoth, admiring the travertine creations and hot springs.
We'll climb up the hill out of Mammoth, passing Golden Gate and Roaring Mountain, on the way to Norris Geyser Basin.
Although not as well known as the other geyser basins, Norris is the most thermally active part of Yellowstone. It is divided into two separate basins: Porcelain Basin and Back Basin. Time permitting, we'll take a look at both basins.
Leaving Norris, we'll travel south, stopping at Gibbon Falls, on the Gibbon River. At Madison Junction, which we went through much earlier today, we'll turn right or west, and once again traverse the Madison Valley, on the way back to West Yellowstone.
The shuttle back to Salt Lake City departs at about 6 p.m. this evening. You will drive through Montana, before crossing into Idaho, and spending the night in a small town called Rexburg. The hotel is included in the tour price.
Tomorrow morning, you can depart from Rexburg at various times, to return to Salt Lake. Please note that this is an unescorted part of the tour. What this means is that although you obviously have a bus driver with you at all times, there is no tour guide providing a running commentary the way there was when you were in Yellowstone.
The shuttle to Salt Lake this morning makes several stops along the way. You can choose from several departure times from Rexburg. The shuttle will pick you up at your hotel, and drop you off at the Salt Lake City airport, or at a central downtown location opposite Temple Square, where the tour ends.
Depart 2.05 a.m. Arrive 6.40 a.m.
Depart 3.35 a.m. Arrive 8.10 a.m. (Not available on Sundays)
Depart 5.05 a.m. Arrive 9.40 a.m.
Depart 6.35 a.m. Arrive 11.10 a.m.
Depart 8.05 a.m. Arrive 12.40 p.m.
Depart 9.35 a.m. Arrive 2.10 p.m.
Please note in the comments section which one you want.
This tour ends in Salt Lake, but if you prefer, we can get you a flight back to San Francisco, at an additional cost. Please let us know if you would like to consider this option, and we will get a price for you.
This tour needs a minimum of four people to run, or you can pay a surcharge, and we will run the tour for fewer than four people. You can see the amount of the surcharge just below this.
This tour is subject to a 3.00% per person fuel surcharge.
Please let us know if there are more than 10 in your group and we will give you a special group rate.
Payment And Cancellation Details: CANCELLATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED FOR THIS TOUR. Changes will also not be accepted, and refunds will not be given. Please consider purchasing trip insurance as our cancellation policy is strictly enforced. The payment schedule is as follows: Half of the total will be charged anytime from when you make the booking. The other half will be charged 30 or fewer days from the tour date, at our discretion.
The days and dates this tour runs can be seen in the calendar at the top right of this page.
Park entry is not included. Holders of national park passes can currently use those to get into Yellowstone. The National Park Service has advised that this will change soon, but have not advised when. When the policy changes, you will not be able to use your pass, and will need to pay to get in. If you have already paid for the park entry on one of our other Yellowstone tours, you do not need to pay it again. The pass is good for unlimited entries over a seven day period.
Two nights' accommodation are included at the Rexburg Americinn.
Prices are based on double occupancy. Single, triple and quad occupancy rates are also available and will be seen at checkout. There is no tax.
The price includes the services of a guide/driver and transportation.
One sack lunch and two hotel breakfasts are the only meals included.
This tour starts at the San Francisco airport and finishes at the Salt Lake City airport and a central downtown location. We can book you a flight back to San Francisco at an additional charge.
All times are approximate. We are not responsible for the consequences of any delays, and this itinerary may change without notice.
Portions of this tour are subcontracted to other reputable vendors.
Although the final shuttle departs Salt Lake at 10.30 p.m. on the first day, we suggest we book you a flight that gets into Salt Lake by 5 p.m., otherwise you will not get much sleep on the first night! Shuttle departure times after 10 a.m. are: 12 p.m. 1.30 p.m. 3 p.m. 4.30 p.m. 6 p.m. 8.30 p.m. 10.30 p.m. Travel time is about 4.5 hours. Please note your flight arrival time in the comments section, when you check out.
The price of this tour assumes that you book with sufficient notice. Failure to do so may result in a higher price, as a result of higher air prices. We will always let you know ahead of time if this is the case, and ask if you want to continue. There are no taxes.
After ordering this tour please wait to receive a confirmation email from us before making any plans that are dependent on this tour.