Yellowstone: A Dramatic Winter Wonderland

Trip Overview

SOLD OUT! What could be more dramatic than Yellowstone National Park in the winter? Join AdventureWomen in February 2017 for billowing geysers, frosted landscapes, frozen waterfalls, abundant wildlife, and surreal snowscapes in the magical world of winter in Yellowstone – a natural display of unique splendors like no place else on earth!

This 7-day/6-night winter adventure in Yellowstone, an AdventureWomen exclusive, is custom-designed by us. You simply won’t find another trip like this to Yellowstone on anyone else’s adventure travel trip schedule! It is a one-of-a-kind, very special itinerary, with space limited to only 11 participants.

Enter Yellowstone National Park at both its north entrance, Mammoth Hot Springs, and also from the west entrance at West Yellowstone, to experience winter wonders that exist in no other place on earth. Your professional guide and Big Sky-based naturalist will amaze you with her knowledge of the ecology and wildlife in this white-on-white wonderland. This unique itinerary incorporates guided explorations via snowcoach, snowshoe, and by foot, traversing the Park from the famous terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs to the stunning thermal features of Old Faithful.

One of the most special features of this week is the time you will spend viewing wildlife through the beautiful landscapes of the Lamar Valley, getting a rare glimpse of the natural habitat and ecology that is home to Yellowstone’s famous wolves, bison, elk, and other animals. You will also take a snowshoe excursion at the upper terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs.

This active winter vacation includes our favorite Montana guest ranch, just on the border of Yellowstone National Park and a short distance from the Park’s west entrance. From the ranch, continue your jam-packed week of adventurous activities, beginning with a sleigh ride beneath a deep black, star-studded Montana sky with the sounds of crunching snow and jingling harnesses of the draft horses who guide you. There is snowshoeing close to the NW corner of Yellowstone Park and a hike to beautiful frozen waterfalls on the Gallatin River. In Big Sky, dogsled teams of beautiful huskies pull you down the trail where the only sounds are of panting dogs and the swish of sled runners on the snow. Imagine the excitement and thrill of driving the team, operating in harmony with these well-trained athletes!

Yellowstone, the world’s first National Park, was created to preserve for all time the essence of this wilderness with its fragile thermal wonders that struck awe in the hearts of early explorers, and to provide a safe habitat for its wildlife to roam.

See our 2016 Yellowstone Winter Wonderland Photo Journey and Guest Reviews!

Come join AdventureWomen for a spectacular February 2017 winter adventure in Yellowstone—the BEST time to be in the Park—during prime wildlife viewing season, and with the fewest number of visitors.

PLEASE NOTE: Our Yellowstone Winter Wonderland adventure begins the day after our Ski Clinic ends. Stay in Bozeman for both of these trips, have a day in between to catch your breath, and experience the best of what the Bozeman and Yellowstone areas have to offer! You buy only one plane ticket for two vacations!

Main Attractions

  • Snowcoach tour into Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful geyser and thermal features.
  • Luxury log cabin accommodations at our favorite Montana Guest Ranch and winter sleigh ride.
  • Drive your own dogsled for the morning in Big Sky!
  • Explore Yellowstone’s Mammoth Hot Springs, the terraces, and the Lamar Valley, home to wolves, elk, bison, and more!
  • Enjoy snowshoeing into the backcountry for a winter wonderland adventure.

What You'll See and Do

  • Dog Sledding
  • Natural History
  • Photography
  • Sightseeing
  • Sleigh Ride
  • Snowcoach Tour
  • Snowshoeing
  • Wildlife Viewing

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Yellowstone: A Dramatic Winter Wonderland

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Sunday, February 5, 2017 - Arrive in Bozeman and Transfer to Gardiner, Montana
Plan to arrive at the Best Western Plus GranTree Inn in Bozeman, Montana by 1:00pm at the latest for our group pick up and transfer to Gardiner, Montana, our home for the next two nights. The Best Western Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is conveniently located next to the Park’s north entrance and is a great place to stay.

Check in to our hotel and relax before we have dinner and orientation at the “Cowboy Grill.”

Dinner

Overnight at Best Western Plus by Mammoth Hot Springs
905 Scott Street W
Gardiner, MT 59030
406-848-7311

Day 2

Monday, February 6 - Wildlife Watching in the Lamar Valley and Snowshoeing at Mammoth Hot Springs
This morning after breakfast, depart with a sack lunch, entering Yellowstone’s northern end of the park through the Roosevelt Arch. This archway was the first major entrance for Yellowstone, our first National Park. In 1903, President Roosevelt was visiting Yellowstone and was asked to lay and dedicate the cornerstone for the arch. Above the arch is carved what can be argued as the best motto for National Parks around the globe: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People.”

Your destination is the Lamar Valley in the northeastern part of Yellowstone National Park, where you will view wildlife with binoculars and a spotting scope, and have an overview of the history, geology, and ecology of the wolves, bison, elk, coyotes, birdlife, and other animals in Yellowstone.

Returning to Mammoth Hot Springs, explore the unique and famous “travertine terraces” before returning to your hotel in Gardiner.

Tonight’s dinner is on your own.

Breakfast and Sack Lunch

Overnight at Best Western Plus by Mammoth Hot Springs

Day 3

Tuesday, February 7 - Transfer from Yellowstone’s North Entrance to Big Sky, Montana
After an early breakfast, pack up and depart Gardiner, driving north through Paradise Valley and along the famous Yellowstone River, with stunning views of the Absaroka Mountains. Passing through Bozeman, turn south and travel along the Gallatin River (where much of the movie “A River Runs Through It” was filmed), to Big Sky, Montana. On the way to Big Sky, stop to pick up lunch at one of AdventureWomen's favorite sandwich shops.

This afternoon take a guided walk to Ouzel Falls, walking on a snow covered trail for one mile each way. Designed and built by the Gallatin Valley Land Trust, the trail accesses a spectacular 60 foot waterfall where the South Fork of the Gallatin River falls over a break in the Canyon. In the winter, these falls are frozen with magical ice crystals, forming a lacy curtain of rime (an accumulation of granular ice tufts on the windward sides of exposed objects that is formed from supercooled fog or cloud and built out directly against the wind) and other treasures that the cold weather brings.

The name “Ouzel” is taken from a small aquatic songbird who easily survives difficult winter conditions where there are clear, fast flowing streams. Also known as the American Dipper, the Ouzel has the benefit of several unique adaptations such as an inner protective eyelid and an extra layer of downy feathers, allowing it to dive into cold, often turbulent rivers and streams, swimming, and walking along the bottom of the river. It uses the pressure of water on its wings and tail to help keep it down while it searches for insect larvae and other small animals on which to feed.

After the walk, travel a short distance south to 320 Guest Ranch, your home away from home for the next two nights. In 1898, when the west was wilder, two homesteads totaling 320 acres were combined to form the 320 Ranch. In 1936 Montana’s first woman doctor and first pathologist, Dr. Caroline McGill, purchased the working cattle ranch as a rest and relaxation retreat for her friends and patients. Today, picture a quiet place, just north of Yellowstone Park and just south of Big Sky Ski Resort, where the pristine Gallatin River winds through sage and towering pines, snow-covered mountains rise against crystal-clear blue skies, and there’s an abundance of pure, clean mountain air! That’s where you find the 320.

At 5:30, get ready to glide beneath a deep-black, star-dotted Montana sky, with only the sound of crunching snow and the jingling harnesses of the Percheron draft horses, which are skillfully guiding you along the frozen Gallatin River. The wool-wrapped wranglers talk about the 320’s remarkable history, and maybe tell a few tall tales along the way. You arrive at the mountain man campsite, where you’re handed a steaming mug of cowboy chili, and some hot cider spiced with rum!

Return to the ranch for a scrumptious dinner in the 320 Steakhouse Restaurant, before turning in after a busy day, to your comfortable, cozy log cabin.

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at 320 Guest Ranch
205 Buffalo Horn Creek
Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730
406-995-4283
www.320ranch.com

Day 4

Wednesday, February 8 - Backcountry Snowshoeing Near the Northwest Corner of Yellowstone
Today you have a short drive to a remote corner of the Yellowstone Ecosystem close to the Park. Putting on your snowshoes, begin at the trailhead and quickly access the hidden wonders of Yellowstone’s high country winter.

You will see signs of how wildlife survives the struggles of winter, the magic sculptures snow covered trees form, and hear the silence that such a snow-blanketed landscape offers. Your route follows a large creek most of the way as you travel along rolling terrain for about 4 hours. The distance you travel depends on snow conditions and how often the group stops. Bring along a box lunch to snack on.

Returning to the trailhead, drive back to the 320 Ranch. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure, and dinner tonight is in the 320 Steakhouse Restaurant.

Breakfast, Sack Lunch, Dinner

Overnight at 320 Guest Ranch

Day 5

Thursday, February 9 - Guided Snow Coach Tour into Old Faithful, with Winter Wonders Along the Way
After an early breakfast, transfer by van to West Yellowstone and your private and spacious 14-passenger snowcoach tour into Yellowstone National Park and Old Faithful. Sit back and relax in the winter wonders of Yellowstone while enjoying a guided tour in comfort and warmth into the park’s pristine winter environment.

Sack lunches are provided as you travel at a comfortable pace with outstanding views and opportunities to get out and take pictures along the way. Look for bison, elk, and coyote, and experience the greatest concentration of geysers in the world. Journey along the Firehole and Madison Rivers where you can see bird life that includes Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles, and a variety of ducks, geese, and possibly water ouzels. Continue to Fountain Paint Pots and Biscuit Basin, and see the sights at Old Faithful. If you’re lucky, you just might catch a glimpse of Old Faithful geyser erupting. Winter around Old Faithful Geyser Basin is magnificent, and you can see lots of animals, steaming pools, geysers, and surreal surroundings that glisten like diamonds in the sun and snow.

Stay at Buck's T-4 Lodge, conveniently close to tomorrow morning's dogsled trip. Dinner is on your own tonight in Buck's dining room, recognized as one of the finest restaurants in Montana.

Breakfast and Sack Lunch

Overnight at Buck's T-4 Lodge
46625 Gallatin Rd
Big Sky, MT 59730
800-822-4484
www.buckst4.com

Day 6

Friday, February 10 - Dogsledding at Big Sky Resort, and Return to Bozeman
After breakfast, shuttle to Huntley Lodge at the Big Sky ski area, where you are met and transferred to Moonlight Basin for your half-day dogsled adventure.

No other method of travel over snow can compare with dogsledding! This trip to the past is one you will never forget. The energy, excitement, and enthusiasm of these amazing huskies is a wonder to behold. The dogs love to run and their high spirits and big, lovable hearts quickly win yours.

Experienced guides give hands-on instruction so you can feel, first hand, the thrill of driving a sled dog team. Lift your foot off the brake and make for the hills as the dogs “mush” ahead. Your ten-mile trip allows for plenty of photo opportunities and snack time as we travel through the beautiful mountain scenery of Moonlight Basin Ranch. If riding is more your style, you are welcome to ride inside the sled.

After dogsledding, stop for lunch at a local restaurant, then return to Bozeman and check into the Best Western Plus GranTree Inn. After freshening up, depart for your last night's dinner celebration at the home of AdventureWomen's founder in Bridger Canyon.

Breakfast and Dinner

Overnight at Best Western Plus GranTree Inn
1325 N 7th Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59715
406-587-5261

Day 7

Saturday, February 11 - Farewell Montana!
You may depart on the hotel’s shuttle at any time during the day for the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field and home.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Yellowstone: A Dramatic Winter Wonderland

Traveling to Yellowstone


Health Requirements and Health Insurance

You MUST have your own health insurance, and not have any physical problems or conditions that would be adversely affected by cold weather, or altitudes of approximately 7,000 feet.

Experience and Conditioning

We rate this trip as MODERATE. The better physical condition you are in, the more you will enjoy your week. You may consider beginning or increasing your workout routine before this trip (walking, treadmill, aerobics, whatever you find most comfortable), so that you are in the best condition possible. We also assume that you will come with a flexible, adventurous, and enthusiastic spirit, and a wonderful sense of humor that winter fun in Montana requires!

About Our Guide

Leslie Stoltz moved to Montana more than 25 years ago to conduct research in Glacier and Yellowstone Parks. This served as the foundation for a career of teaching and guiding visitors in national parks and wild areas throughout the Rocky Mountain West. She settled in Big Sky to guide hiking and cross country ski tours, where she shares her expertise in birding, edible and medicinal plants, and wildlife observation. Leslie has led many AdventureWomen and other company’s trips over the years and we are fortunate to have her as our guide for this one!

How To Register

Call the AdventureWomen office at (800) 804-8686 to determine space availability and register for this trip. We can complete your registration, including taking your credit card deposit over the phone. As a courtesy, we can hold your space for five days while you are making personal and travel arrangements.

If you prefer, you can register online by clicking "Sign Up for this Trip" on the trip page.

Please be sure to read the AdventureWomen policies before registering!

Traveling to Bozeman, MT

It is important that you plan to arrive at the airport in Bozeman, Montana, and be at the Best Western Plus GranTree Inn for your 1:00pm pick up on Sunday, February 5, 2017, for the group transfer to Gardiner, Montana, and the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman-Yellowstone Airport at Gallatin Field is served by Delta, United, Horizon, Frontier and Allegiant Airlines.

If you cannot arrive on February 5 by this time, you should plan to come in one day early, just to make sure that you are able to be on the group transfer to Gardiner. If you miss the transfer, there really is no other way to get there except to rent your own car and drive.

We will be staying at the Best Western GranTree Inn, 1325 N 7th Avenue, Bozeman, Montana 59715, on the last night of your trip, Friday, February 10, 2017. You are free to make your departure any time of the day on Saturday, February 11, 2017.

If you choose to come early or stay longer, please make your own reservations for extra nights directly with the Best Western. Call Christie Ratz at 406-556-6205 or email her at grantreesales@montana.com and tell her you are coming on the AdventureWomen Yellowstone trip. Or, if you make your plane reservations with our air agent, Ciretta Green at Travel Café, she can also make hotel reservations for you.

The hotel provides free shuttle service to and from the airport. You can call the hotel (406-587-5261) a day or two ahead of your arrival to request shuttle service and they will be waiting when you arrive. Or you can call when you arrive and they will come pick you up.

Once you have your air schedule, we request that you fax, email, or mail it to AdventureWomen so we know your arrival and departure time.

Making Travel Arrangements to Bozeman

We suggest that you book your air reservations with our travel consultant soon after registering for this trip! We also suggest that you might consider coming in a day early (on Saturday). In addition to winter weather issues, airlines these days cancel flights often, so arriving a day early assures that you will be here on Sunday, the day the trip begins.

There is PLENTY to do in Bozeman if you arrive early. Plan to explore the fun town of Bozeman and its historic downtown area. The movies “A River Runs Through It” and “The Horse Whisperer” were filmed in the area! Coming a day early will also allow you to acclimate to an altitude of approximately 5,000 feet. The upbeat atmosphere is that of “a small town in big britches.” While images of cowboys, pioneer women and rowdy miners are still reflected by the locals’ faces, the city’s historic downtown has everything from gourmet restaurants to art galleries. The famous Museum of the Rockies, located on the Montana State University campus not far from downtown, was the permanent home to one of the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons on exhibit anywhere in the world. It was recently sent to the Smithsonian for exhibit. In your final trip information, sent about a month prior to the trip, we will enclose a list of restaurants in downtown historic Bozeman, wonderful places to shop, and some fun things to do if you come early, or stay later

In order to facilitate group arrivals and departures, we ask that you work directly with our travel consultants at Travel Café, Montana's Travel Agency, to make your travel arrangements. Either before or after booking your trip, please contact Ciretta Green at:

1-800-247-3538 OR FAX 1-406-586-1959
email: ciretta@travelcafeonline.com
CANADIAN RESIDENTS, please call 406-587-1188

When calling, please identify yourself as an AdventureWomen Traveler. If you leave a message on Ciretta's voice mail, she will return your call promptly. She will be happy to discuss your travel plans and help you decide when to purchase your ticket for the best rate. If you purchase your ticket through her, she can also help you with hotels and rental cars, should you want to come early, stay longer, or share a rental car or hotel room with another participant. If you do not purchase your air ticket through Travel Café, you are responsible for making your own arrangements for hotels, rental cars, trip extensions, transfers, etc.

NOTE: The recent trend in travel is for travelers to finalize their plans much closer to departure time than was customary in the past. While we try to be as flexible as possible booking last minute registrants, we must often relinquish hotel space and air reservations up to 6 – 12 weeks prior to departure!

Please keep this in mind when making your travel plans.

Final Payment

Final payment is due to AdventureWomen, LLC in a cash form (check, money order or wire transfer) on or before November 7, 2016.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Yellowstone: A Dramatic Winter Wonderland

What's Included:

  • 6 nights twin-bedded, double occupancy accommodations:

- 2 nights at the Best Western Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel in Gardiner
- 2 nights in log cabins at the 320 Guest Ranch, Big Sky, Montana
- 1 night at Buck's T-4 Lodge, Big Sky, Montana
- 1 night at the Best Western Plus GranTree Inn, Bozeman, Montana

  • All meals as listed in the itinerary, plus final celebration dinner at the home of AdventureWomen’s founder on day 6
  • All transportation throughout the trip, from Bozeman back to Bozeman, in a 15 passenger van and a privately chartered snowcoach
  • All park fees
  • Sleigh ride at 320 Guest Ranch
  • Half-day guided dogsled trip at Moonlight Basin, Big Sky, Montana
  • Fully guided tours led by AdventureWomen Associate Leslie Stoltz, resident naturalist/guide in Big Sky and Yellowstone for more than 25 years
  • Snowshoe rental

What's Not Included:

  • Round-trip airfare to Bozeman, Montana
  • Extra night hotel accommodations in Bozeman, if you have to come in one day early
  • Meals where specified
  • All liquor and drinks with meals

Total gratuities of approximately $120: we suggest approximately $100 per participant for your AdventureWomen guide; and $10 per participant to dogsled guides and snowcoach driver-guide.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Yellowstone: A Dramatic Winter Wonderland

What To Bring

VERY IMPORTANT! You will be traveling in a 12-15 passenger van, and there is NOT a lot of room for luggage!

It is IMPERATIVE that you do NOT bring a large suitcase or large duffel bag

Following are the dimensions that are appropriate and safe for fitting into the vehicle, along with 12 women (11 participants and your driver-guide):

Your duffel bag should be NO LARGER than 30 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 14 inches deep. It can have wheels.

Your carry-on bag should be your daypack, which you will need to carry for most of your activities during the daytime. It should be able to fit under the seats in the van (the size that would fit under an airline seat in front of you). If it does not fit under the seat, you will need to carry it on your lap.

Winter Clothing
Winter weather in Montana can be variable and extreme; one day it may be above 50 degrees, and the next day may be below zero! Please come prepared! We recommend layering as it allows you to add or shed clothing according to the weather, snow conditions, and your level of exertion. Having the proper clothing and equipment for winter outdoor travel can make the difference between being comfortable and having a great time, or being cold and miserable.

The layered use of synthetics, silk, and wool, with protection from the wind, is the goal of your clothing choices. Loose fitting layers allow you to maintain a comfortable, dry body by having flexibility in insulation as outside temperatures change and as your own body temperature and moisture output change with your level of exertion.

It is strongly recommended that you do NOT wear cotton clothing outdoors in the winter, especially next to your skin. Cotton absorbs your body moisture and remains cold and wet, whereas the proper synthetics allow moisture to “wick” (escape from your body) and keep you dry and warm.

Here is a list of suggested clothing, beginning from the inside (next to your skin) to the outside. This should suffice for whatever activity you are engaging in: showshoeing, hiking, dogsledding, or standing idle to watch wildlife. With the proper daypack, you can shed clothes into it if you are too warm, or pull clothes out if you are too cold. Layering is the KEY.

  • Synthetic (polyproylene/capilene) top and bottom long underwear. It should have the ability to wick moisture away from your body. There are several weights available, but a light or medium weight is adequate (we are not climbing Mt. Everest…).
  • Polypro shirt/sweater. A lightweight-200, synthetic fleece garment is recommended.
  • Mid-weight-300 fleece sweater/jacket, which is a slightly heavier layer that can be very helpful for less active times.
  • Down or holofil vest. Down has the advantage of being very light and compact for its warmth, but becomes useless when wet. It is useful here for a warm, compact layer for less active times.
  • Wind shell with hood. A layer that breaks the wind but breathes is important. A breathable nylon shell is good and usually adequate in this relatively dry climate. Gortex shells are also good, and more waterproof.
  • Wool or polypro liner gloves (2 pairs) with over-mitten. Hands usually stay warm while exercising, and a light covering is adequate. Warmer mittens are for rest times and very cold weather. Mittens are warmer than gloves.
  • Shell over-mitten, to protect mittens from wind and moisture.
  • Hat that covers your ears and/or additional ear protection. Ragg wool or synthetic cap, or a balaclava-type hat is good.
  • Synthetic neck warmer (or neck gaiter)
  • Socks. A light polypro liner with a heavier, tall wool sock over the liner is fine. Bring a few pair of each.
  • Synthetic fleece/pile pants or tights. The fleece variety in a 200-weight are excellent.
  • Nylon wind pants or Gortex pants. When you buy a nylon/Gortex jacket, you should be able to buy the pants to match.
  • Gaiters (knee high) to keep the snow out of your boots, and to keep your socks and pants dry (snowshoeing and dogsledding).
  • Boots. Footwear should be warm and large enough to fit over thick socks. Tight boots are the surest way to have painfully cold feet. Sorels are a good choice. Please keep in mind that general hiking boots will not provide adequate insulation and warmth.

Equipment List

  • Water bottle. Drinking plenty of water is absolutely essential to prevent dehydration and fatigue. One quart/liter bottle is the minimum, and a water bottle with an attached lid is the best. “Camelback” and similar hydration systems are generally not suitable for winter conditions, as the tubing and bite valve can easily freeze.
  • YakTrax Pro for added traction on walks that do not require snowshoes. You can purchase these at most sporting good stores or online at www.amazon.com. Be sure to get the Pro version. The strap helps to keep them on your boots.
  • Sunglasses and/or goggles with side protection, to protect from glare and blowing snow.
  • Sun block and lip protector (chapstick) with sunscreen.
  • Your favorite snacks for each day.
  • 2-3 cotton bandanas (much better for blowing your nose than paper tissues).
  • Day pack, to put your water, lunch, snacks, camera, extra gloves, and still have room for clothes that you might shed or return to your pack.
  • Camera, more memory cards than you think you will need, extra camera batteries and battery charger.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Small binoculars for viewing wildlife in Yellowstone (recommend a lightweight pair like Nikon or
  • Minolta, a general game viewing 7 X 28 or 8 X 20).
  • Small flashlight or headlamp (with extra batteries and bulb).
  • Small notebook and pencil.
  • Pocket hand and foot warmers.
  • Extra clothes for dinner in the evenings (casual).
  • Bathing suit for hot tub at 320 Ranch.
  • Toiletries.
  • Underwear/pajamas.
  • Shoes (for inside.)
  • Book(s).
  • Earplugs. For snoring roommates or howling coyotes! We recommend Mack's Pillow Soft White Moldable Silicone Snore Proof Earplugs, which you can buy at most drugstores, or www.earplugstore.com. Good to 22 Decibels!
  • National Park Pass – If you have a senior pass or any National Park pass, please bring it with you.

If you're curious about this trip, we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.