Day 1 - Flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City - About 1 hours, 40 minutes
Sorry! There is a really early start this morning. You will be picked up at your Los Angeles hotel and shuttled to the LA airport (LAX), to make an approximately 6 a.m. flight. The pick up area includes all west LA and LAX area hotels. The specific cities can be seen in the notes section below.
Please be aware that the airline we use has a checked luggage fee, which you will need to pay. You will get to Salt Lake in time for the 10 a.m. ride to Yellowstone.
If you feel like sleeping in, there is an option of taking a flight later in the day to Salt Lake. If you did that you would spend the first night in Salt Lake, in the downtown area. This would then become a five day tour, and you would travel from Salt Lake to Yellowstone on the second day of the tour, not the first day. You could then explore the famous Temple Square and surrounds on the first day. You can order that option when you order the tour itself.
If you do choose this option, we will use an airline that does not have a checked baggage fee.
You will take a shuttle through northern Utah, into Idaho, and eventually Montana, before arriving in West Yellowstone. There are stops at several towns along the way. The vehicle is generally a mini bus.
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.
When you reach West Yellowstone, you will be taken to West Yellowstone Lodge, where you will be staying. After checking in you can explore the town, take a walk through the forest into Yellowstone, go to the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center (a must see) or check out a movie at the IMAX.
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.
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!
It is now time to go back to West Yellowstone.
You are once again at liberty to make your own dinner plans. The night is also spent at the same place.
The ride back to Salt Lake City is on a shuttle which makes several stops along the way. You will drive through Montana, before crossing into Idaho, and then eventually on to Utah. 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 was when you were in Yellowstone.
The shuttle drops off either at the Salt Lake City airport or at a central downtown location. Please let us know if we can help you book your Salt Lake City lodging tonight.
We regret that no cancellations or changes will be accepted, and no refunds will be given.
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 at least one air leg. The cost of the flight(s), 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.
A purported or attempted cancellation will result in the entire amount being due, and being charged to your card immediately.
The name on your credit card statement will be USA Park Tours.
The days and dates this tour runs can be seen in the calendar at the top right of this page.
The entry fee to Yellowstone is included.
All times are approximate. We are not responsible for the consequences of any delays, and this itinerary may change without notice.
Lodging: Three nights at a self catering studio at Yellowstone Studios and Cabins in West Yellowstone. If lodging there is sold out, you will stay at Al's Westward Ho Motel or similar in West Yellowstone. Luxury accommodations are available at a surcharge.
Prices are based on double occupancy. Single, triple and quad occupancy rates are also available and may be seen at checkout. There are no taxes.
The price includes the services of a guide/driver and transportation.
Two sack lunches are the only meals included.
The upper loop tour may be an afternoon tour.
As explained above, if you do not want to get up so early, you can sleep in and catch a flight to the Salt Lake airport later in the day, from where you will shuttle to the downtown Crystal Inn. You will have some time to explore Temple Square and spend the first night in Salt Lake. The next day you will take the free hotel shuttle to the airport for the ride to Yellowstone. By taking a later flight from Los Angeles you are extending the tour by one day. This option can be ordered when you order the tour itself.
You will be picked up at your Los Angeles airport or West LA hotel. West LA includes Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Westwood, Beverly Hills, Torrance, Century City and Culver City, to name a few, and anywhere close by. Check with us if you are unsure.
The shuttle returns from West Yellowstone at 9 a.m. on the last day, getting into Salt Lake at about 3.45 p.m., dropping off only at the Salt Lake City airport and a central downtown location.
Portions of this tour may be sub-contracted to other reputable vendors.
The price of this tour may be higher if you book within three weeks of travel, due to higher air fares. Air fares may also be higher at busy times and holidays.
We try and use an airline that does not have a checked luggage fee, but if this is not possible and there is a fee, you will need to pay it. We will let you know ahead of time if this is the case.
After ordering this tour please wait to receive a confirmation email from us before making any plans that are dependent on this tour.