Yellowstone Family Adventure
Visit Geysers, Lakes, Canyons, and Waterfalls
Experience the thrill and beauty of Old Faithful with your family in a fun-filled adventure to Yellowstone, our nation’s first National Park. Yellowstone is a land of mountains, lakes and geysers that will fascinate everyone, no matter their age. During the day, your family will paddle 24-foot Voyageur canoes on Lewis Lake or fish for cutthroat trout on Yellowstone Lake. When not on the water you could be hiking around the Midway Geyser Basin and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, known for its yellow-banded bluffs and 50 species of wildflowers. At night you will swap jokes, stories and s’mores with your new friends around the campfire. Yellowstone is a kid-friendly vacation and also a great vacation spot with teenagers. Introduce your family to the fascinating animals, bubbling thermal pools and other unique features of Yellowstone National Park with Wilderness Inquiry.
For standard meeting places and times, see Dates & Fees tab.
DAY 1: The 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 expectations for the upcoming days. There are several options for activities in Yellowstone National Park, which your Wilderness Inquiry staff will share with you.
DAY 2: After a hearty camp breakfast take off for a sightseeing tour of Yellowstone. Get acquainted with some of Yellowstone’s geothermal activity at the Midway Geyser Basin. Take in the vibrant colors of Grand Prismatic Spring and other hot springs in the area. Choose a hiking option for the afternoon that could include Fairy Falls, Mystic Falls or Old Faithful! On your way back to your campsite, swing in for Huckleberry ice cream.
DAY 3: Paddle in 24-foot Voyageur Canoes on the west thumb of Yellowstone Lake. Head up the western shore looking for elk and osprey as you sing songs and play canoe games. Keep your eyes open for a unique view of the geysers from the water. Enjoy a picnic lunch and rock skipping along the lake shore before preparing for an afternoon hike. One option could include Lonestar Geyser. Nearly as predictable as Old Faithful, this geyser is off the beaten path in the midst of a beautiful forest.
DAY 4: Begin the day at the Mud Volcanoes where acid and hot water are turning the earth into roiling mud pots. Travel through beautiful Hayden Valley to look for wildlife – bison, wolves and bears all make their homes here. Finally, drive to the 'Grand Canyon' of Yellowstone where there are breathtaking views of the upper and lower falls.
DAY 5: Tour a mix of unique areas in Yellowstone. There are many hikes that explore geothermal features, waterfalls, forests and more! After a tasty lunch, enjoy a swim in the Firehole River. In the evening play games around the campsite and enjoy a final campfire.
DAY 6: Pack up camp and take one more adventure before bidding everyone goodbye. The trip officially ends in the early afternoon after lunch. If traveling in the WI van, you can expect to return to Billings by 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 while 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 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 15 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 will stay at a group site and base camp. Typically, there are 3 people per 4-person tent (other arrangements can be made). Facilities at the campground have flush toilets and running water.
MEALS: Enjoy preparing 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. Each morning we will pack picnic lunches with hearty snacks before heading off to explore. In the evening, we’ll prepare our dinner and dessert together over stoves and campfires. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items
FISHING: Cutthroat 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. 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.
Yellowstone National Park is a land of superlatives. Old Faithful geyser and other thermal features. Grizzly bears, bison, and wolves; bighorn sheep, elk, and antelope. Mountains. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. And the magnificent Yellowstone Lake.
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 and 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 including a 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:
Is there a discount on family trips?
Yes. All youth participants under the age of 18 pay 50% less than the adult rate on all family trips. Adult fees are typically lower than on our "adult" trips to the same destination to help family affordability. Click here to see a list of our available family trips.
What is the minimum age for kids on your family trips?
There is no minimum age requirement to participate on a WI trip. For a paddling trip, we require participants to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when on the water for safety. The smallest PFD we provide for children requires a minimum weight of 30 pounds. A child smaller than this weight limit would need to provide their own PFD or would be unable to participate on the trip. For most family trips, children should be able to sit comfortably in a canoe or kayak for 1+ hour at a time. This should guide whether or not a child would be a good fit on any particular trip. For a non-family trip, youth under the age of 18 must attend with an adult family member or friend who is over the age of 18.
Will age-appropriate activities be offered for children on a family trip?
Absolutely. Your trip leaders will offer age-appropriate activities for children at different points during the trip.
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:
Standard Meetings Places and Times
Start: Grant Village Visitor Center at 4:30 PM (local time)
End: Grant Village Visitor Center at 2:00 PM (local time)
This trip begins at the Grant Village Campground in Yellowstone National Park at 4:30 PM. The trip ends at 2:00 PM at the same location. You can take your own transportation or use WI’s van transportation from the Bozeman/Livingston area. Most people arrive early and stay at Erik’s Ranch just outside of Livingston. You can spend time horseback riding, hiking, or just relaxing by the pool. The WI van returns to Bozeman around 5:00 PM on the last day of the trip. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip. Booking a Flight? We recommend flying in to the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport the day before your trip. There will be free transportation from the airport to Erik’s Ranch if you are staying there. We recommend booking flights no earlier than 7:30 PM on the last day of 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