North America Tours Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park - Best Tours & Trips 2019

Yellowstone, which spans parts of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, is one of America's greatest national parks: a haven for wildlife, a repository of active geothermal wonders, and a favorite of campers and sightseers, a wealth of forests, mountains, rivers, and more. A Yellowstone tour is much more than its most famous icon, the Old Faithful geyser.
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Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Tour Styles

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 302 $ 9,235

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Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

Travel Theme

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Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Top Yellowstone National Park Experiences and Attractions

Top Yellowstone National Park Experiences

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Yellowstone National Park Trip Reviews

322 Yellowstone National Park Tour Reviews - Summary 96% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 245
Great 64
Average 10
Disappointing 2
Terrible 1
Value
4.7
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.7
Lodging
4.7
Transportation
4.7
Meals
4.7

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Excellent, with a few minor exceptions.

5.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 4.0

We just returned from a Caravan tour of Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, and Grand Tetons. Although there were just a couple of things we did not like, overall it was a very enjoyable seven days. The tour director was superb, very helpful, always available, friendly, and a pleasant person. The driver was very good at his job, extremely experienced and knowledgable. The trip was well planned, most of the hotels were above average in quality, the bus was comfortable, the included meals were good.

Financially, it was a good buy overall. However, it did cost somewhat more than expected based on the advertisements. Although Caravan advertises that "most or all" meals are included, in this particular tour only nine of the twenty meals were included, and of these, only one of the seven dinners. In addition, there was heavy emphasis on gratuities, with too-frequent reminders. Suggested amounts were given, and even the minimum suggested amounts seemed rather high to me. We were given to feel obligated, rather than left to decide on our own based on the quality of the service. Caravan stated that the only gratuities not included in the price were those to the tour director and driver. However, gratuities to hotel maids and local guides, and shuttle drivers were also not included, and suggested amounts for these were given by the tour director. Overall we spent about $150 on gratuities, even though staying in the lower range of the suggested amounts.

But we are glad we went, and will consider Caravan again when planning another trip.

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Operator Caravan Tours

National Parks Wonders

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

The itinerary was well paced. Some days a little light and some days a little long if you did all the optional experiences, but over all just right. The insight into sites while driving there, sometimes viewing the introductory film while on board were time saving and a great use of drive time. We had to change plans due to snow closures but the substitution was just as great if not better for me personally.

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Operator Trafalgar

National Parks Wonders

4.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

The parks and stops along the way had something of interest for everyone. The scenery, wildlife, science, art, music, history- in addition to humorous anecdotes, were enjoyable.The only place I would not care to visit again was Deadwood.

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Operator Trafalgar

National Parks Wonders

3.0
  • Value 3.0
  • Guide 3.0
  • Activities 3.0
  • Lodging 3.0
  • Transportation 3.0
  • Meals 3.0

didn't buy much of anything

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Operator Trafalgar

National Parks Wonders

2.0
  • Value 2.0
  • Guide 2.0
  • Activities 2.0
  • Lodging 2.0
  • Transportation 2.0
  • Meals 2.0

Wasn't impressed with Deadwood tour. Too much about Kevin Costner and not famous sites.

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Operator Trafalgar

Scenic Parks Explorer

1.0
  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 1.0
  • Activities 1.0
  • Lodging 1.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 1.0

The first part was okay, but the second part not so much. We only spent half a day at the Grand Canyon. The Monument Valley tour was not complete and we did not have a tour guide but a truck driver. I felt we wasted a lot of time in Rapid City.
Also we just got dropped at our hotel on the last afternoon. I guess we were lucky because they could have left us at the airport. We had to pay for all of our transportation to and from the airport before and after the trip.
The tour of Temple Square in Salt Lake City was proselytism. I did not go on this trip for this. We heard very little about the history of Salt Lake City.
Based on this tour, I will never ravel with Trafalgar again.

PS Almost everybody on the bus came down with some kind of respiratory infection.

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Operator Trafalgar

Yellowstone National Park Tours and Travel Guide

Yellowstone National Park Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Yellowstone National Park: a natural treasure, the holy grail for outdoorsmen -- many of us have grown up hearing stories about the park and its majestic herds of buffalo, rolling valleys, winding rivers, and breathtaking mountains. It’s no wonder that this park is at the very top of many travelers’ bucket lists.

Volcanoes, Geysers, and Hot Springs - Oh My!

One of the most fascinating and unique features of Yellowstone is the fact that it sits on top of a massive, dormant volcano. The volcano is what creates the many steaming hot springs, gurgling mud pots, and spitting geysers in the park. In fact, Yellowstone National Park has more geysers than anywhere else on the planet!

Of all Yellowstone’s geysers, Old Faithful remains the most famous. The notorious geyser sits in a historic district, and can be viewed on a boardwalk. About every hour, it erupts, jetting hot water over 100 feet into the air. A visit to Yellowstone provides an opportunity to see such rare hydrothermal features, like Old Faithful, up close.

The geysers are not the only feature created by Yellowstone’s volcano. Some of the most interesting and unique attractions in the park are the fascinating “mud volcanoes.” These mud pots (also called paintpots because of the minerals which tint the mud an array of colors) seem like something out of a science fiction film, and can often be heard and smelt -- they are also called “sulphur caldrons” -- before they are seen.

One of the most photographed spots in Yellowstone is at the Grand Prismatic Spring - and any grand tour of Yellowstone would be incomplete without it. The Grand Prismatic, is one of several pools in Yellowstone, and is the largest hot spring in the United States. The pool is filled with dazzling, neon blue water in the center, and rimmed with vibrant yellow and orange residue. The stunning, otherworldly colors are a result of the minerals and bacteria in the pool.

 

The Scenery

Aside from its impressive geothermal features, Yellowstone is also known for its magnificent natural scenery and pristine wilderness. Among the best sights include gushing waterfalls, like the Tower Waterfall, rock formations like the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, and the peaceful Lake Yellowstone. Another important natural element of the park are its valleys, such as Hayden Valley, which are popular areas amongst tourists to have a picnic lunch and spot wildlife.  

Wildlife

Another reasons people from all over the world are attracted to Yellowstone is because of its abundant wildlife. Because a hunting ban has protected all of the animals within Yellowstone since the park’s inception, animal sightings are common, and some are even unafraid of humans. As a result, there are many Yellowstone wildlife tours that focus specifically on the animals!

In particular, visitors come to see the wild herds of bison and elk, moose, and black and grizzly bears. If you are lucky, you may even see a beaver, an otter, or a wolf -- there are currently 13 wolf packs residing within the park’s boundaries!

 

Yellowstone by the Seasons

Located in the heart of North America, Yellowstone is subject to a drastic seasonal change. In the summer, temperatures average in the low 70’s, and in the winter temperatures below zero are common.

The summer is the most popular time to visit Yellowstone National Park, and although there are certain places that can get crowded, these crowds can be easily avoided -- summer is still a beautiful time to visit the park. During the summer months, all roads and campsites are open, and this allows visitors to see all of the seasonal attributes: the breathtaking wildflower bloom, the trout spawn, elk and mountain goat calving, and the bison rut.  

In the fall, enjoy one of North America’s greatest masterpieces: the autumn. Explore Yellowstone with a backdrop of vibrant yellow and reds as the forest changes color. At this time, black bears and grizzlies are particularly active as they strive to fill their stomachs before hibernation. The park’s population of elk is also in rut, the time of the year that they mate. As a result, visitors can expect to their them bugling and perhaps witness an intense clash between two males.

The winter is a magical time in the park. With many roads blanketed in thick layers of snow, snowmobile tours of the park are a popular and thrilling way of getting around. For those uninterested in the intensity of the snowmobiling, don’t worry -- you can still tour Yellowstone in a historic snowcoach.

 

No matter what season you arrive in, or what you end up doing - America’s first national park is sure to stun and leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.

Top Yellowstone National Park Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

What to Wear

The Summer
During a summer visit to Yellowstone, you should bring comfortable, outdoor clothing, that you can easily layer on and remove. Because Yellowstone National Park sits a mile above sea level on average, you should expect cold nights, no matter season you are visiting in. Be sure to bring a warm jacket or a fleece, and a rain jacket -- weather in the park can be unpredictable!

If you plan to swim in one of the park's countless rivers, hot springs, or go whitewater rafting, consider bringing water shoes. The rivers are rocky and can be uncomfortable to walk in barefoot. Otherwise, make sure to bring comfortable, closed-toe shoes for any hiking you may do.

The Winter
If you are traveling to the park in the winter, anticipate severe and colder weather. This means bringing a heavy waterproof jacket, and wearing wool or other insulating clothing underneath. If you are planning to do any snow sports, dress appropriately, and wear synthetic, fast-drying material as your first layer. This way, if you sweat, the clothing will dry quickly and you will stay warm.

Because of the reflective qualities of the snow, also bring a pair of sunglasses. Make sure to take a long a set of gloves and a hat, too.


What to Bring

As with visiting any national park, it is better to be prepared. Make sure to pack a good water bottle, binoculars, a small day backpack if you are hiking, and of course, bring your camera!  If you plan on leaving the main tourist areas in the park, or camping overnight, it is also recommended that you bring a first aid kit and carry bear spray.


Recreation

Yellowstone has a variety of recreational activities. Some of the most popular include:


More than Meets the Eye

While the most obvious attractions of Yellowstone are physical, the park also has a rich and fascinating history. One of the benefits of taking a group tour of Yellowstone is that your guide will be able to tell you, in detail, about it. If you are interested in learning about the Native American tribes who battled and conducted pow wows in and around the National Park, consider taking a culture-based trip. Go see the Crazy Horse Memorial, tour a Native American art exposition, and even meet local tribe members.

Guided tours often go outside the park to explore the history of the region. A historical tour will guarantee you the opporunity to learn about it. For example, visit old Wild West towns and learn about important figures like Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane, or take a short drive to see the infamous Mount Rushmore.


How safe is Yellowstone?

Many visitors to Yellowstone are alarmed when they first read that bear spray is recommended within the park. Despite this recommendation, the probability of a bear attack is very low -- many more visitors have been injured trying to get close to the geysers than by all interactions with wildlife combined!

With that being said, Yellowstone is an uncontrolled environment. In order to remain safe, keep to your common sense, properly dispose of all of your garbage (especially if camping), and do not feed or harass the animals.  


All Yellowstone National Park tours, river cruises, expedition cruises, and adventure trips. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.7 for all Yellowstone National Park trips.

154 trips from 27 tour companies with 322 reviews

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