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.
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.
What To Expect
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:
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
Your 10% deposit is non-refundable. If you choose to cancel your trip:
For trips in the continental United States:
• 6 weeks prior to start date — we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 6 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 1 week— no refunds will be issued.
For trips outside the continental United States:
• 12 weeks prior to start date— we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
• Less than 12 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
• Less than 2 weeks — no refunds will be issued.
In the rare event that WI cancels a trip, or we are unable to serve you, all fees are immediately refunded, including the deposit. Unfortunately, we cannot be responsible for personal expenses such as airline tickets. To protect your investment in your travel plans we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Information on travel insurance is included in your trip confirmation packet. If after registering you wish to switch trips, you may do so subject to availability. Fees may apply.
Under certain circumstances, such as death of a family member, change in health status, loss of employment, etc., we may make exceptions to our refund policies. Please let us know immediately if your plans change!
What is the minimum age for kids on your family trips?
There is no minimum age requirement to participate on a WI family trip. We require participants to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when on water for safety. The smallest PFD we provide for children requires a minimum weight of 30 pounds. A family with a child smaller than this weight limit would need to provide their own PFD or would be unable to participate on the trip. For family paddling 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.
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. Click here to see a list of our available family trips.
I have a child with a disability. Would a family trip be appropriate for them?
Yes. All of our trips strive to integrate persons with and without disabilities, including children on our family trips. Call us at 612-676-9400 if you have questions. Otherwise, you can register for a family trip and we'll call you when we receive your forms.
Will age-appropriate activities be offered for children on a family trip?
Yes. Your trip leaders will offer age-appropriate activities for children at different points throughout the trip.
Some of the trip information on your website is different than the trip catalog. Why?
WI typically creates and prints our annual trip catalog in December. At that time we do our best to have finalized trip itineraries and set our prices accordingly. However, sometimes there are changes to a trip that necessitate adjustments to our prices after the catalog has gone to print.
Which airport should I fly into to join a Yellowstone trip?
Bozeman, Montana has a regional airport, which many participants choose to fly into. From the airport you have two transportation options:
Transportation options include:
A. You can take your own transportation and meet the Wilderness Inquiry leaders at the group campground
B. Sign up to use Wilderness Inquiry’s van transportation to and from Erik’s Ranch in the Bozeman/Livingston area to the group campground. Additional fees apply. Please see details below.
We recommend that participants who utilize WI’s van transportation option arrive a day early and stay at Erik’s Ranch just outside of Livingston. You will contact Erik's Ranch directly to make a reservation and arrange payment for the additional night/s. Erik’s Ranch offers free shuttles from the Bozeman International Airport to the ranch for paying guests. You can spend time horseback riding, hiking, or relaxing by the pool. The WI van will pick you up from Erik’s Ranch at 9:00am on the first day of your trip. On the last day of your trip, the WI van will bring you to the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Bozeman West in Bozeman around 5:00 PM. It is best to book flights no earlier than 7:30 PM on the last day of the trip. Most participants like to stay the evening in Bozeman and arrange their own hotel accommodations before flying out the next day.
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, however this may change based on which group campsite your group will be staying in. You can use any park entrance to get there; if coming from Bozeman, we would typically use the North Entrance. It can take 3-5 hours to drive to Grant Village from Bozeman, depending on traffic, rest stops, and wildlife crossings. You can also travel from Billings, MT using the North or East entrance or Jackson Hole, WY using the South entrance. WI only provides transportation from Erik's Ranch (Bozeman). Our trip ends at the campsite in the early afternoon of the last day.
Does this trip have electricity for my CPAP machine, phone, camera or other electronic device?
This trip does not have electricity. If you'd like to join us please bring a battery pack on your own. We recommend the Generator Power Station. You can find more information here: https://goo.gl/1h9rCF
For more information, visit these links:
Standard Meeting 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 one of Yellowstone National Park’s group campgrounds at 4:30 PM. The trip ends at 2:00 PM at the same location. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip. Transportation options include: A. You can take your own transportation and meet the Wilderness Inquiry leaders at the group campground B. Sign up to use Wilderness Inquiry’s van transportation to and from Bozeman or Erik’s Ranch in the Bozeman/Livingston area to the group campground. Additional fees apply. Please see details below. (We recommend that participants who utilize WI’s van transportation option arrive a day early and stay in Bozeman or at Erik’s Ranch just outside of Livingston. Please contact Erik's Ranch directly to make a reservation and arrange payment for the additional night/s. Erik’s Ranch offers free shuttles from the Bozeman International Airport to the ranch for paying guests. You can spend time horseback riding, hiking, or relaxing by the pool. The WI van will pick you up from Holiday Inn Bozeman at 7:30 or Erik’s Ranch at 9:00am on the first day of your trip. On the last day of your trip, the WI van will bring you to the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Bozeman West in Bozeman around 5:00 PM. Most participants like to stay the evening in Bozeman and arrange their own hotel accommodations before flying out the next day.) Booking a Flight? We recommend flying into the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport the day before your trip. It is best to book 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):
- Erik's Ranch & Holiday Inn Express and Suites Bozeman West FEE: $95 per person