This tour is designed to really maximize your time in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. You can leave San Francisco as late as 6.40 p.m. on the first night, and be back in Salt Lake where the tour ends, by 6.40 a.m. on the fifth day!
Although the last shuttle departs Salt Lake at 10 p.m. on the first day of your tour, we suggest we book you on a flight from San Francisco that arrives in Salt Lake by 5 p.m., otherwise you will not get much sleep that 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 details in the comments section, when you check out.
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.
On some days when you get to West Yellowstone, you will now be free to explore the town for a few hours, before taking the upper loop tour at about midday. Amongst other things, we suggest visiting the well known Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center (a must see). On other days, you may go straight out on a tour of one of the loops, as soon as you reach West Yellowstone. Whichever way you do it, you will tour the entire park over the next two days.
A sack lunch is provided today, and you can select lunch options when you order the tour. At the end of the day, you will be dropped off at a Yellowstone Motel called West Yellowstone Lodge.
There is going to be a lot to see and do. We'll head out of West Yellowstone towards Madison Junction, where the Firehole and Gibbon Rivers meet to form the Madison River. Turning left (north) we'll make for Norris Geyser Basin. Along the way we'll stop briefly at Gibbon Falls.
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 areas: Porcelain Basin and Back Basin.
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.
Leaving Mammoth we will travel towards Tower Roosevelt, which is where the road to the park's north east entrance, through the Lamar Valley, is. There is almost always wildlife to be seen in this area, even bears!
At Tower Junction we will branch off the main upper loop road, and head through the Lamar Valley, towards the north east entrance to Yellowstone. This is a particularly beautiful part of the park, and where the keen wolf watchers are generally to be found.
Everyone wants to see a bear in the wild at Yellowstone, and the trip from Tower Junction to Tower Falls 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. Tower Falls is an impressive water fall.
Assuming that it is open, the road from Tower Falls to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone towers up into the sky as it crosses the Dunraven Pass at almost 9000 feet. We then drop down to Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is normally visited on our Lower Yellowstone Loop tour, and not this tour. Depending on the number of people on this tour who have not seen it, and how late it is, we may take the opportunity of checking out the area. 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!
If there is time, other areas along the route that we may visit include Obsidian Cliff, Virginia Cascade and Undine Falls.
After a long, fun-filled day, it is time to return to West Yellowstone.
You are on your own for dinner and will spend the night in the same place.
After picking you up at your hotel, we will drive through the southern part of Yellowstone on the way to Grand Teton National Park. We'll go past the Lower, Midway and Upper Geyser Basins, and cross over the Continental Divide. At West Thumb we'll head south, towards Yellowstone's south entrance.
The road between Yellowstone and Grand Teton is called the Rockefeller Parkway. It is only six miles and leads directly into the north entrance of Grand Teton. The main features of the park are the Grand Teton mountains, and a number of beautiful lakes.
You will see historic Colter Bay, Signal Mountain, Jenny Lake, Jackson Lake, Mount Moran, and much more. We also know the best places to find moose, and we will do our best to locate one or more for you.
You will take a leisurely drive through Grand Teton National Park, before arriving in Jackson.
Jackson is a quaint, touristy western town, and there will be a brief stop there.
From Jackson we'll travel up to the top of the towering Teton Pass, before dropping down the other side into Idaho. We'll wind our way through really scenic Idaho farm country and tiny towns, before arriving in Ashton, the seed potato capital of the world.
There we'll pick up the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway, which travels along Henry's Fork of the Snake River. You can stand nearby and enjoy the cool mist rising from Upper Mesa Falls, the last undisturbed waterfall in the Columbia River System and perhaps one of the last in the USA.
Much of the byway lies within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. As you approach the northern end of the byway, you'll enter Osborne Meadows, a haven for moose, deer and elk. This large meadow attracts the kinds of animals that make Yellowstone famous without pulling in the same kinds of crowds.
From Mesa Falls it is a scenic drive back to West Yellowstone, through Island Park, which calls itself the longest Main Street in America. Please be aware that there are occasions when we return to West Yellowstone through Grand Teton and Yellowstone instead.
You are on your own for dinner and will spend the night in the same place.
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!
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 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 is subject to a 3.00% per person fuel surcharge.
The days and dates this tour runs can be seen in the calendar at the top right of this page.
The entry fees to Yellowstone and Grand Teton are included.
Two nights' lodging are included at West Yellowstone Lodge, or similar, and two nights' lodging at the Rexburg Americinn or similar.
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.
Three sack lunches and two hotel breakfasts are the only meals included.
The upper loop tour may be an afternoon tour.
You can be back in Salt Lake on the fifth morning as early as 6.40 a.m., depending on which shuttle you choose.
The tour starts at the San Francisco airport and ends at the Salt Lake City airport, or opposite Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City. If you prefer, we can get 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.
Seasonal road closures and weather may prevent this tour from being run as detailed. General road maintenance in the park may also affect the way this tour operates.
Portions of this tour are sub-contracted to other reputable vendors.
After ordering this tour please wait to receive a confirmation email from us before making any plans that are dependent on this tour.
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: This tour has an air leg. The cost of the flight, plus half of the remaining balance will be charged any time from when you make the booking. The final balance will be charged 30 or fewer days from the tour date, at our discretion.
The credit/debit card used must be in your name and must be present, so we can take an imprint. Please contact us if this is not possible. Please ensure you have the card you used with you. If the card is not in your name please let us know ahead of time, as our credit card authorization process will need to be completed.