Discover the crisp air, scarce crowds, and incredible wildlife of Yellowstone National Park in the fall. Magnificent bull Elk fill the air with frosty breath and clarion mating calls while cottonwoods shimmer in hues of gold. An early snowfall may decorate the landscape, bringing a sense of urgency to animals preparing for winter. Few places in the world match Yellowstone for viewing the dynamics of large mammals and the drama played out between predator and prey.

We begin on the west side of the park, at wildlife refuges and Harriman State Park, vital wetland areas for the Yellowstone Ecosystem replete with waterfowl and significant species such as Trumpeter Swan and Sandhill Crane. After two nights at a beautiful lodge on the Henry’s Fork River, continue with two nights at West Yellowstone from which we follow the Madison River to witness steamy, iconic geyser basins and plentiful wildlife at Old Faithful and other thermal basins. From two nights’ lodgings at Gardiner on the park’s north entrance we visit Swan Flats and Mammoth Hot Springs and venture to Hayden Valley, where we see wildlife and the dramatic Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. Finally, we travel through Yellowstone out the South Entrance where views of the spectacular Grand Tetons frame our journey. Wildlife and fall color are at their prime here. We watch for bull Moose, River Otter, Sandhill Crane, and Pronghorn and have time to explore this dramatic valley from lodgings in Jackson Hole. Dining is fun here too! Raptors on the wing, possible wolf sightings, fall color, and perhaps the first snowfall—this trip is a naturalist’s or photographer’s dream, and your guides have been chosen to help you with both. We circle back to celebrate a final evening at Sacajawea Inn west of Bozeman at Three Forks, the headwaters of the Missouri River.

Absorb the rich legacy that is Yellowstone, the world’s first and still most famous national park, and a World Heritage Site. There is simply no other place like it on the planet. This tour in the fall is a sampler trip, designed not for keen birding but for time to savor this treasured landscape and its signature species, and with time to enjoy photography if you wish, watch animal behavior, and to bird a mix of habitats for classic western species.

Early on they called it Wonderland … and we think you will too.

*Authorized Permittee of Grand Teton National Park*

  • "Great trip, terrific guides. We would recommend this trip to anyone wishing to visit Yellowstone...full of
  • breathtaking natural beauty." — Margaret Nees, 2023 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Marvel at spectacular Grand Teton National Park, enjoying two nights in charming Jackson Hole
  • See Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and Harriman State Park—en route to Yellowstone
  • Visit iconic Yellowstone destinations, including Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs, without the summer crowds
  • Watch for Bald Eagle, Osprey, Trumpeter Swan, and Elk along the rushing Madison River
  • Search for Bison, two species of deer, Elk, Moose, Pronghorn, Bighorn, and Mountain Goat
  • Witness the dramatic Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River
  • Spot possible Great Gray Owl, Pine Grosbeak, Harlequin Duck, American Dipper, numerous raptors including Golden Eagle, and Gray-crowned and Black Rosy Finches
  • Watch for Mountain Bluebird, Dusky Grouse, and Red-naped Sapsucker under colorful Quaking Aspens
  • Savor a relaxed-pace tour immersed in the wild wonder of Yellowstone
  • Travel in comfortable minivans, easy to carry gear and getting in and out of for our wildlife stops
  • Find awe in this region’s landscapes
  • Incredible wildlife and wonderful photo opportunities at every turn!

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sat., Sept. 21 : Arrival in Bozeman, Montana | Yellowstone National Park | Angler’s Lodge


Bozeman is a great small city with a western flair and some of you may want to arrive early to enjoy it. We can make recommendations—book early to find the best rates. We plan to leave from the airport not later than 2:00 PM today to head south to West Yellowstone, following the Gallatin River, film site for the Robert Redford directed film A River Runs Through It.

En route we cross the Continental Divide from the Madison to the Snake River drainage, looking out for Moose and raptors such as Ferruginous Hawk and Northern Harrier. Near Island Park we settle into our lovely lodgings on the river. With luck a Common Loon glides on the river and Caspian Tern fly overhead.
Accommodations at Angler’s Lodge (D)

Sun., Sept. 22 : Red Rock Lakes NWR | Yellowstone Ecosystem’s Western Side


We love exploring the quieter side of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. At Angler’s Lodge we are close to Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Hegben, and Earthquake Lakes, and to Harriman State Park, a conservation area left as part of the legacy of the Harriman family of railroad fame.

We plan our day according to weather and road access, with plans to spend time looking for Moose, Northern Flicker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, and both Hairy and American Three-toed Woodpeckers. Big valley meadows here are frequented by Elk, the river bottoms by Moose; in view of the Centennial Mountains we hope to find Prairie Falcon, Golden Eagle, and a host of waterfowl species. In groves of conifers we look for seed-eating specialties like Pine Grosbeak, Cassin's Finch, and Pine Siskin. Enjoy a picnic lunch afield.

Common Loon and Red-necked Grebe use the lakes here, and the area has always been a stronghold for the Yellowstone population of Trumpeter Swan. Harriman State Park has extensive trails and several wildlife viewing areas. Osprey and Bald Eagle are frequent sightings here, too.

We return to our lodgings on the river for a nice dinner and some time to enjoy the views.
Accommodations at Angler’s Lodge (B,L,D)

Mon., Sept. 23 : Harriman State Park | Yellowstone’s West Entrance | Madison River Norris Geyser Basin


We make an early morning foray to nearby Harriman State Park to be there at prime light for photography and prime time for birds and mammals. At Silver Lake we have a good chance to find a variety of ducks, grebes, and Osprey fishing. We return to Angler’s Lodge to enjoy a hearty brunch and pack up our gear to head to Yellowstone.

Our next stop is West Yellowstone where we stay for three nights. From here this afternoon, we enter Yellowstone Park and drive up a wildlife-rich corridor along the Madison River. At this time of year Elk often congregate in the lushness of the river corridor. On sunny days they seem to savor the warmth … perhaps they know winter is coming. Cow and calf herds lounge, feed, and interact. Big bulls may bugle, round up the females, or do some sparring. With luck a pair of Trumpeter Swan may be regally gliding near one of the bridges.

At Madison Junction we turn north to go walk and explore the Norris Geyser Basin, hottest in the park. A loop trail reveals a variety of mudpots, fumeroles, and geysers. Colors of the hot springs here are incredible. We then retrace our steps back to West Yellowstone, watching for wildlife as we go. Dinner tonight is at a favorite local restaurant.
Accommodations at Three Bears Lodge (B,L,D)

Tues., Sept. 24 : Old Faithful | Upper Geyser Basin


We have the full day to explore several thermal basins today, all leading into the grandest of them all at Old Faithful. Photographers and naturalists equally delight in seeing boiling mudpots, crystalline pools of rainbow colors, and steamy misty landscapes. We should spot Coyote, Killdeer, Barrow’s Goldeneye, American Dipper, and possibly River Otter.

After breakfast we head out and enjoy a stop along the Firehole Falls Loop. We continue on to Fountain Paint Pots to walk the boardwalk loop there. Then it’s on to Grand Prismatic Spring and then the Upper Geyser Basin, which holds not only Old Faithful Geyser but also a host of other impressive features such as Grand, Beehive, Riverside, and Castle Geysers and Morning Glory Pool. We take time to walk the loop that winds between them.

Walking back along the Firehole River is memorable. As we travel in three mini-vans for ease of carrying gear and stopping for wildlife, we can offer options this afternoon. Some may want to return to West Yellowstone for free time or to experience the Wolf and Grizzly Discovery Center. Others may wish to do more photography and birding along the Madison on the route home. Some may want to linger in the area for sunset light over one of the thermal areas on our return drive back.

This is a free night for dinner as we may be on different schedules, and in West Yellowstone restaurants abound. You are welcome to join the guides or strike out on your own.
Accommodations at the Three Bears Lodge (B,L)

Wed., Sept. 25: West Thumb | Lake | Hayden Valley | Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone | Dunraven Pass


Today is a full but rewarding day. We leave West Yellowstone in the morning to drive the grand loop, this time going beyond Old Faithful over Craig Pass to reach the West Thumb Geyser Basin, a small thermal wonderland right on the lake. We walk a loop here that is often good for birding, with a chance to see Fox Sparrow, Pine Grosbeak, or Red Crossbill.

From here we continue up to Lake, where we make a stop to see the famous Lake Hotel and take a break. At the lakeshore we may find Western Grebe. LeHardy Rapids is our next stop, with hopes of finding late season Harlequin Duck. Hayden Valley is one of the most beautiful landscapes of the park and also home to Bison, Sandhill Crane, a resident wolf pack, and raptors.

At the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone we have lunch, and take time to also stop at viewpoints from the famed Hayden Valley and the Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. Enjoy exhibits on the park’s geology and lunch at Canyon. We may take a peek up Dunraven Pass if we hear of recent bear sightings, and eventually we head back passing by Norris Geyser Basin before returning to West Yellowstone. Herds of Elk should be seen along the Madison River, and with luck we watch the antics and hear the bugle of courting males.
Accommodations at Three Bears Lodge, West Yellowstone (B,L,D)

Thurs., Sept. 26 : South to Grand Teton National Park | Jackson Hole


We head back through Yellowstone Park today, always an adventure as wildlife abounds. We enjoy the Artist’s Paint Pot Drive and a few of the smaller geyser basins along the way. At West Thumb we take a rest stop, then turn south towards Grand Teton National Park. There are scenic waterfalls and some grand meadows along the route. At the Snake River we get out and do some birding as this is a natural corridor for migratory birds.

We stop at Jackson Lake Lodge for lunch with a million dollar view and chance to scan for Moose, Sandhill Crane and other wildlife. At Oxbow Lake we may find White Pelican, a host of waterfowl including Barrow’s Goldeneye, and with luck River Otter. Fall color from all of these pull-offs can be breathtaking with the mountains behind.
We arrive in Jackson with time to check a local boardwalk along a wetland area that is great for birding before checking into our lodgings. It’s hard to choose a restaurant here but we are sure to choose a favorite.
Accommodations at Jackson Hole, Wyoming (B,L,D)

*Naturalist Journeys is an Authorized Permittee of Grand Teton National Park

Fri., Sept. 27 : Grand Teton National Park


We have the full day to explore this dramatic national park, replete with wildlife and scenic views. The park has a loop road, with numerous pull-outs. There are wetland areas visible from some of the viewpoints that have excellent willow and cottonwood habitat and trails to explore. There is an excellent visitor center at Moose and a chain of lakes, one more beautiful than the other. With luck we could find American Three-toed Woodpecker or Dusky Grouse as we explore.

We enjoy a picnic lunch, and as we loop around past Oxbow Lake we stop again to scan. We then pass through sagebrush habitat and from several vantage points get views of the entire Teton Range, with a ribbon of gold in front of it with fall color along the Snake River. Blacktail Ponds is a great birding area.

We return in time for you to look around the fun western town of Jackson Hole before our final celebratory dinner this evening.
Accommodations in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (B,L,D)

*Naturalist Journeys is an Authorized Permittee of Grand Teton National Park

Sat., Sept. 28 : Departures


Depart at leisure today from Jackson Hole*; your guides can provide transfers to the airport until noon. After that please plan on taking a taxi or Uber. Our guides stay in town until noon today, with the option to do some casual morning birding before they drive back to Bozeman to return their vans. (B)
*Our vans need to return to Bozeman. If you prefer that airport, guides can take you back to BZN this afternoon, to drop you at an airport hotel. This is a 4 – 5 hour drive.

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Grand Prismatic Spring by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Bald Eagle by Carol Comeau

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    Group Wolf-watching by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Grand Prismatic Basin by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Elk by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Long-billed Curlew by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Getting the Perfect Shot by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Moose by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Norris Geyser Basin by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Ring-necked Duck by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Group Raft Trip by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Tetons by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    White Pelican by Yvonne Hunter

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Raccoons by Hugh Simmons

  • Bull Moose, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone Nature Tour, Yellowstone Wildlife Tour, Yellowstone Birding Tour, Naturalist Journeys

    Bull Moose by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Group Birding by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Gibbon Falls by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Harriman State Park by Hugh Simmons

  • Yellowstone National Park, Birding Yellowstone, Bird Watching, United States, North American Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot

    Old Faithful by Hugh Simmons

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is $4390 DBL / $5495 SGL per person, based on double occupancy. This cost includes: accommodations for 8 nights, all meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), park entrance and other activity fees for activities for 8 days as described in the itinerary, professional guide services, pre-departure materials, and miscellaneous program expenses.

Tour cost does not include: round-trip airfare to and from Bozeman, Montana (BZN). The tour cost does not include items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, or gratuities for luggage handling or personal services.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival Airport: Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)

Arrival Details: Plan to arrive September 21, no later than 1:00 PM

Departure Airport: Jackson Hole Airport (JAC)

Departure Details:  Please plan September 28 flights at a time convenient for you. Your guide will make airport transfers until noon. If your flight departs in the afternoon, please plan on taking a taxi or Uber. You also have the option to return to Bozeman with the guide and fly out of BZN. See below Departure Travel Tip for details.

Arrival Travel Tip:  We have a 3 hour drive on our first day so we strongly recommend you come in a night early. We travel to Island Park, past West Yellowstone on the first day, and as there is no public transport to Island Park so a delay could mean renting a car to catch up or a costly private transfer. The good news is that if you arrive early, Bozeman is a scenic and fun town to explore. The Museum of the Rockies is an excellent introduction to natural and cultural history. The downtown area is trendy with western-themed shops and restaurants, very walkable. The airport is 10 miles from downtown so depending on your interests, you may want to choose a hotel that offers shuttle service to town, choose a downtown hotel, or rent a car. Taxis and Uber are readily available, too. You will either need to return to the airport by 1:00 PM or be at the Best Western GranTree Inn by 1:30 PM on September 21.

Hotel Recommendations:  Just want to rest up and have the option to take a hotel shuttle downtown? We can pick you up at this hotel: Best Western Plus GranTree Inn (406) 587-5261

If you prefer to stay adjacent to the airport, we recommend:  Holiday Inn Express & Suites Belgrade (406) 388-7100 Do you want to splurge a bit and stay right in the downtown area? We recommend: Kimpton Armory Hotel Bozeman (406) 551-7700 Element Bozeman (406) 582-4972

Departure Travel Tip:  Our vans need to return to Bozeman. If you prefer to depart on a round-trip to and from that airport, guides can take you back to BZN this afternoon or drop you off at an airport hotel. This is a 4-5 hour drive. If you prefer to extend your stay in Jackson, there are many things to do! You could continue to explore Grand Teton National Park, visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art, or even take a gondola ride in nearby Teton Village. A rental car is the easiest way to explore areas outside of downtown Jackson, but other options include a taxi, Uber, or Jackson’s excellent public bus system (SMART). If you do plan on extending your stay in Jackson, the best option would be to add nights to our last night hotel on the tour, the Lexington Hotel at Jackson Hole. If this is your choice, then please book this hotel online and give us the confirmation number that we can submit when we send our final room list, the goal being you don’t have to change rooms.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

Montana

Yellowstone

  • Bryan Calk

    Bryan started birding at Fort Clark Springs in southwest Texas when he was 10 years old and never stopped. He got his first taste of guiding while leading trips for the Rio Brazos Audubon Society during college. After graduating from Texas A&M in 2015 with a degree in genetics, Bryan worked as an avian field biologist on several projects across Texas and New Mexico. Currently residing in Albuquerque as a professional birding tour guide, he leads field tours, workshops, and youth birding programs across the US. In his free time, Bryan enjoys butterflies, searching for herps, photography, art, cooking, and gardening.

    Other trips with Bryan Calk

  • Hugh Simmons

    Hugh Simmons' interest in photography began when he was a young boy, as did his love of nature. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology during which he was “sparked” by a chance encounter with an Eastern Towhee. Not long after college he took up birding with, of course, a desire to photograph birds. Today he enjoys sharing his decades of photographic knowledge to help others get the most out of their photography whether it be of birds, landscapes, flowers, other wildlife or people. Hugh is a founding member of the North American Nature Photographers Association and served on the board of directors of the National Audubon Society. He is a long time board member of the Chesapeake Audubon chapter in Maryland and is the Audubon Climate Watch Coordinator for his area. Hugh also volunteers with the Cape May Bird Observatory and the Phoenix Wildlife Center.

    Photo credit: Mike West

    Other trips with Hugh Simmons

Map for Yellowstone in The Fall

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Please talk with your doctor about general health needs. It is a good idea to consult with your doctor about general vaccinations recommended for travel.
  • Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed. After you make travel reservations, please send a copy of your travel itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Remember to pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Health Information

We will share a copy of your health and emergency contact information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency. In addition to bringing any prescription medications with you, we recommend that you have a copy of the prescriptions in case of loss.

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.  

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Food & Drink

We carry water and juices/cold drinks in the cooler each day, and sodas if people like them. Please also plan on bringing and filling your water bottle for hiking each day. We try to use as few plastics as possible!

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Dress is informal and is casual even at restaurants. Layering is a great way to stay comfortable. Protective clothing is essential, whether it be from sun, rain, cold, insects, or vegetation. You need closed toe shoes, and wear comfortable walking shoes with good tread. Hiking boots with good support for hiking and on rocky terrain can work well.

Spending Money

Many people ask how much to plan to bring as spending money. Part of that depends on how much you want to shop. Most shops will take VISA and MasterCard or American Express. Typical items people purchase include local souvenirs and T-shirts, caps, and natural history books.  You may want to bring cash for drinks with dinner (if available) or smaller local purchases.

Gratuities

Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this amount can be split among them.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

Wi-Fi and cell phone service are available in most US destinations, although there are some exceptions in remote locations. Wi-Fi is generally provided in all hotels, lodges, and restaurants you visit, at least in public areas. Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers unless it appears to be an emergency as this disrupts other guests – please plan cell phone calls on your own time.

Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.

Transportation

For this tour, your guides will drive travelers in either full-size or mini-vans or a combination of those two. We ask all attendees to please rotate your seating, so you ride with different drivers and alternate between front and back seats.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives permission to record photos and/or video of your participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochures, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.

 

Packing List +

Please Pack Lightly! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please Pack Lightly!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard-sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure your name and address are printed on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag. Try to ensure that your luggage does not weigh more than 50 pounds total – many airlines now charge a fee for weight over that. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, identification or (for international trips) passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. Your carry-on bag must be able to fit under the seat, or it will be taken away by airline staff and put with the regular luggage. You will want a daypack for field trips, so this is the ideal carry-on.

Dress is very informal. In general, the weather during your stay should be warm, not hot (60-70°F during the day, colder in the evenings and early mornings), unless a storm moves in and we experience rain and/or cold winds. It is best to be prepared for changeable conditions! Light-to-medium weight long-sleeved shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they provide more protection from sun, insects, and vegetation. A fleece garment and a good windbreaker create ideal outer layers – you can alter the number of layers to meet current conditions. Choose clothing that is comfortable, easy, and that you don’t mind getting dirty. Layering is your best strategy for comfort.

Clothing and Gear

  • Lightweight long pants or jeans, (2 to 3 pairs)
  • Lightweight long sleeve shirts such as a turtleneck or sport shirt (4 to 5)
  • T-shirts or equivalent (for layering)
  • Personal underclothing and sleepwear
  • Socks (light to medium weight and easy to wash and dry)
  • A medium-weight raincoat or poncho (great if this doubles as windbreaker)
  • Rain pants /wind pants
  • Comfortable walking shoes (such as sneakers)
  • Light-to-medium weight hiking boots (GOOD TREAD IS ESSENTIAL!)
  • If hiking, TEVA type sandals for stream crossings are handy. Sandals in general are nice for travel days
  • Medium-weight jacket (fleece is ideal, but a sweater or heavy sweatshirt will do. Make sure you can layer it with your windbreaker)
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Hat for warmth, lightweight gloves – early morning wildlife viewing can be cold!
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, etc.)
  • Bathing suit (optional; some lodgings may have spa facilities)

Equipment and Miscellaneous

  • Airline tickets & identification
  • Passport for our international travelers
  • Toiletries
  • Binoculars
  • Camera and extra batteries, film, lens cleaning supplies, and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear, adequate to hold your lunch if hiking
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect Repellent
  • Small flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Umbrella (optional; during occasional rain, this allows you to keep using binoculars)
  • Hiking sticks (optional, if you would like extra support)
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional – guide will have this)
  • Earplugs (optional; hotel noise may bother you)
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)

 

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical and First Aid Items

  • Personal medications
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (including band-aids, moleskin, etc. for blisters)
  • Copies of prescriptions for vital medications and eyeglasses, as well as any medical alerts
  • Insurance information
  • Vaccination records
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts

 

Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Yellowstone and the wolf reintroduction project there; the Read more

There are many titles of interest for Yellowstone and the wolf reintroduction project there; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started. 

Top Picks

Merlin App. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. You can download it here.

Field Guide to the Birds of North America

General Reading

Yellowstone, A Visitor’s Companion

A Guide to Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Fodor’s Compass American Guides: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks

Yellowstone, The Official Guide

A Week in Yellowstone's Thorofare: A Journey Through the Remotest Place
Yellowstone: A Journey Through America's Wild Heart

Yellowstone Treasures: The Traveler’s Companion to the National Park

Field Guides

National Audubon Society Field Guide to Rocky Mountain States

Nature Guide to Yellowstone National Park

Sibley Guide to Birds

Birds of Yellowstone: A Practical Habitat Guide to the Birds of Yellowstone National Park--and Where to Find Them

Birds of Montana
Finding the Birds of Jackson Hole: A Bird Finding Guide

Field Guide to Hawks of North America
Birds of Wyoming: Field Guide

Wildlife & Nature

Yellowstone’s Birds: Diversity and Abundance in the World’s First National Park

Sagebrush Country: A Wildflower Sanctuary

Plants of Yellowstone and Grand Teton

A Field Guide to Butterflies of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Butterflies of Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks

Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America

Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West

Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America

Wolf Titles

Yellowstone Wolves: Science and Discovery in the World’s First National Park

The Alpha Wolves of Yellowstone 4 book series:

The Rise of Wolf 8, The Reign of Wolf 21, The Redemption of Wolf 302, and The Alpha Female Wolf

Yellowstone Wolves in the Wild

A Society of Wolves

DVD: Wolves – A Legend Returns to Yellowstone

Bears & Mammals of Yellowstone

Yellowstone Bears in the Wild

Track of the Grizzly

A Field Guide to Mammal Tracking in North America

Natural History

Roadside Geology of Yellowstone Country

The Return of the Wolf to Yellowstone

Mule Deer Country

History & Culture

Roadside History of Yellowstone Travel Guide

Before Yellowstone: Native American Archaeology in the National Park

Empire of Shadows: The Epic Story of Yellowstone

Memoir/Non-Fiction

Yellowstone has Teeth: A Memoir of Living in Yellowstone

Wild Rescues: A Paramedic’s Extreme Adventures in Yosemite, Yellowstone and Grand Teton

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.

 

Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more

General

Bozeman, Montana

Museum of the Rockies

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Yellowstone’s Gray Wolf

Wildlife of Yellowstone

Birds of Yellowstone

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Grizzly Bear Recovery Program – Grizzly Bear Biology

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

National Park Service – Yellowstone

Yellowstone Forever Non-Profit – Protect, Preserve and Enhance Yellowstone

National Park Services Yellowstone National Park App

NOTE: Be sure to download the app before you arrive in Yellowstone as cell service and Wi-Fi are limited in the park

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Reserve

Harriman State Park, Idaho

Hayden Valley

Grand Teton National Park

Geology & Geography

US Geological Society – Geology and History of Yellowstone

Geography Overview

NPS Geodiversity Atlas – Yellowstone

Old Faithful

Thermal Geyser Basins of Yellowstone

History & Culture

PBS Brief History of Yellowstone National Park

Historic and Associated Tribes of Yellowstone

Helpful Travel Websites

Arrival: Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)

Departure: Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) 

Homeland Security Real ID Act

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

ATM Locator

Time and Date


Photo credits: Banners: Bison (NJ Stock), Yellowstone Scenic (NJ Stock), Great Gray Owl (Bryan Calk), Grizzly (Andrew Kenny), Pika (NJ Stock), Yellowstone Scenic (Greg Smith), Bison Group (Andrew Kenny), Fall Color (Greg Smith) Thumbnails: Great Gray Owl (Gary Stone), Bison (NJ Stock), Stellar’s Jay (NJ Stock), Elk (Yvonne Hunter), Grizzly Bear (NJ Stock), Lower Falls (NJ Stock), Yellow-rumped Warbler (NJ Stock), Pronghorn (Hugh Simmons)

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