Tour Deep into our First National Park
Sample ItineraryDAY 1: Your trip starts at Grant Village in Yellowstone National Park late in the afternoon. Set up camp and get to know your trip mates over supper. Share your expectations for the upcoming days while enjoying s'mores by the fire. You have several options for activities in Yellowstone National Park. Your trip leaders will share those options with you daily.
DAY 2: After a hearty camp breakfast, take off for a sightseeing tour of Yellowstone. Hike the Grand Prismatic Spring boardwalk—then experience the timeless beauty of Old Faithful! After some Huckleberry Ice Cream at the Old Faithful Inn, hike the Mystic Falls Trail, looking out from the ridge upon the great geyser basins below.
DAY 3: Practice canoe skills at the west thumb of Yellowstone Lake and paddle along the western shore looking for moose and osprey. Paddle up to West Thumb Geyser Basin for a unique view of the geysers from on the water. After landing, enjoy a picnic lunch near the boat launch as the group discusses afternoon plans. Options could include a hike to Fairy Falls, the Fountain Paint Pots, or a ranger-led program back near the campground.
DAY 4: Tour a mix of unique areas in Yellowstone. Hike out to the more remote, and less-visited Lonestar Geyser. Nearly as predictable as Old Faithful, this geyser is off the beaten path in the midst of a beautiful forest. After a tasty lunch, hike back, perhaps to enjoy a swim in the Firehole River.
DAY 5: If the group is feeling extra ambitious, wake up early to try for a morning hike up Mt. Washburn, towering over Yellowstone. For a more relaxed hike, there are plenty of options for trails off Dunraven Pass. After lunch, Travel to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and explore trails to the upper and lower falls. Return to base camp at Grant Village by supper time.
DAY 6: Take one last hike this morning after breakfast, then pack up camp and eat lunch. The trip officially ends in the early afternoon after lunch. If you use WI's van transportation you will take a spectacular drive through the Beartooth Mountains on our way back to Billings, MT. There are opportunities to stop for souvenirs and at other points of interest along the way. You can expect to return to Billings in the evening.
Travel, Terrain, Etc...TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: Yellowstone National Park has a wide variety of terrain and ecosystems, ranging from near-desert at the north entrance to sub-alpine meadows and forests. Lodge pole pines cover 60% of the park. Burn areas from the 1988 fire feature new growth and colorful wildflowers. Yellowstone National Park offers a wide range of route options from very easy to difficult.
TYPE OF TRAVEL: On paddling days you will travel in 24-foot Voyageur canoes, which hold 8-10 paddlers. On non-paddling days the group will travel from site to site in the WI van and participant cars.
WEATHER: Due to high elevations, temperatures in the summer months fluctuate from 25 F to 90 F. It is usually quite sunny and warm but be prepared for everything, including a rain shower or two.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 10 to 20 participants, plus 2 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative in nature. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can.
ACCOMMODATIONS: We basecamp at a nice group site on this trip. At night, you will sleep in tents. Typically, there are 3 people per 4-person tent (other arrangements can be made). Facilities at the campground have flush toilets and showers.
MEALS: We’ll enjoy preparing our meals together in our base camp kitchens using fresh, healthy ingredients for bountiful dishes. Rise to the smell of freshly brewed coffee to enjoy with your breakfast of bacon, eggs, or pancakes. We’ll pack picnic lunches with hearty snacks before heading off to explore. In the evening, we’ll prepare our dinners together over stoves and campfires, and then finish with s’mores or other great desserts. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all necessary canoeing and camping equipment. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation.
FISHING: Cut throat and Lake trout thrive in Yellowstone Lake, however, if you want to try your luck, you must obtain a permit from the National Park Service at http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/fishingpermits.htm, which you can do on the trip. You would also need to provide your own fishing equipment.
A note about the itinerary: Our trips are real adventures in the outdoors. While we'll make every effort to follow the itinerary listed here, elements may change due to weather or reasons beyond our control.
The natural wonders of Yellowstone National Park have awed generations of explorers, visitors, scientists, and tourists since the 19th century. Explorers from the earliest expeditions were considered liars or lunatics, their descriptions of the region seemed so fantastic. A national land preservation movement began with the Yellowstone National Park Act of 1872, which created the park to preserve the watershed of the Yellowstone River “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.” Yellowstone became the world’s first designated national park.
The geologic features of Yellowstone have attracted visitors from all over the world. Mountain-building processes, including volcanic eruptions, uplift, and faulting, have created mountains, basins, and calderas. Melting glaciers created fast-flowing rivers that carved deep canyons. Yellowstone receives great acclaim for its 10,000 thermal features, including geysers, hot springs, mudpots, and fumaroles. In addition to the geology and breathtaking scenery of the region, Yellowstone visitors experience an abundance of wildlife.
Yellowstone National Park shelters the largest concentration of free-roaming wildlife in the lower 48 states. Herds of bison migrate into the valleys to graze. Powerful and elusive grizzly bears prowl the backcountry. The park provides habitat for over 50 other mammals including: wolves, black bears, mule deer, bighorn sheep, moose, elk, and pronghorn antelope. Nearly 300 species of birds breed or migrate through Yellowstone.
Yellowstone National Park encompasses over 2.2 million acres, a huge region larger than both Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Unlike those states, Yellowstone has relatively few developed areas. Most visitors tend to stay near these developed areas. Few people venture from the roads. This is the reason an experience with Wilderness Inquiry will be unique. Although our groups take in some of the more popular attractions, they will also venture away from the roads and trails as we paddle on Yellowstone Lake.
Formed in a volcanic caldera, Yellowstone Lake plunges 390 feet in depth and encompasses 110 miles of shoreline. At about 87,000 acres in size, it ranks as the largest lake in North America above 7,000 feet in elevation. Lake trout and cutthroat trout have the run of the lake, as they’re at the top of the food chain that originates near hot vents on the lake bottom. The warm water from the vents supports bacteria that feed on the released sulfur and forms the base of the food chain. You don’t have to tote a rod and reel to appreciate the world-renowned trout fishing in Yellowstone. Thousands of people every year flock to bridges that pass over crystal clear waters just to view the colorful trout. Fishing Bridge, near the outlet of Yellowstone Lake, provides one popular spot to watch fish.
Yellowstone offers a truly unique wilderness environment. Exploring its backcountry and solitude is just the ticket for fully appreciating its diversity of wildlife and geologic drama.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Which airport should I fly into to join a Yellowstone trip?
Billings, Montana has a regional airport, which many participants choose to fly into. Most participants choose to meet the Wilderness Inquiry trip leaders at the Holiday Inn in Billings on the first day of the trip at 9:00 AM. WI then provides van transportation to Yellowstone, and back to Billings on the last day of the trip. There is an additional fee of $95/person to ride in WI's roundtrip transportation from Billings.
If you prefer to meet the group in Yellowstone, our standard meeting place is at Grant Village at 4:30 PM on the first day of the trip. You can use any park entrance to get there; if coming from Billings, we would typically use the North Entrance. It can take 4-6 hours to drive to Grant Village from Billings, depending on traffic, rest stops, and wildlife crossings. Our trip ends at Grant Village in the early afternoon of the last day, if meeting in Yellowstone.
For more information, visit these links:
This trip officially begins at the Grant Village Campground in Yellowstone National Park on the evening of the first day of the trip. You can take your own transportation or use WI’s van transportation from Billings. Most people meet us in Billings the morning of the first day of the trip. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip.Want to Ride With Us?
We typically provide transportation for this trip from the following places (make your selection when you register):
- Billings, MT Radisson Hotel FEE: $95 per person