The Tetons. Majestic sawtooth mountains. Snowcaps above, incredible wildflowers and glacial lakes below. Truly spectacular. Yellowstone is different. One-of-a-kind. Geysers that really erupt on the hour. Turquoise hot springs with the pungent smell of sulfur. Waterfalls, wolves and bears. Buffalo and elk as common as tourists. It’s even got its own Grand Canyon – just as dramatic as the original. On this adventure, you’ll hike, explore, bike and river raft this incredible piece of Wyoming. But don’t think for a second you’ll be able to figure out how Mother Nature did it.
White-Water Rafting on the Snake River 2 Hours
Teton Village Route: 9 Miles (minimal elevation gain)
Fish Creek Road Route: 18 Miles (200’)
Welcome to Wyoming! After meeting we shuttle to the Snake River to inaugurate the trip with a splash! In the hands of expert rafting guides, we maneuver through thrilling Class II and III sections of the river. It’s not only an adrenaline rush but also a great way to experience the wilderness. Upon our return to terra firma, we shuttle to our scenic picnic spot in the small town of Wilson, situated at the base of 8,431-foot Teton Pass. After lunch your leaders fit your bike and give a brief talk on biking techniques and safety. Then you’re off pedaling, either heading straight for the bike path out of Wilson, or adding a few extra miles by taking a detour from the main route for an out-and-back ride along a quiet creek-side road. The mountains of the Teton Range loom in the distance as you pass sprawling ranches and hillside forest. Follow the bike path along the valley floor to the elegant yet cozy Snake River Lodge & Spa. This boutique resort offers plenty of amenities, from a swimming pool and hot tubs to a full-service spa. After dinner at the lodge’s acclaimed Gamefish restaurant, retire to your room or walk to the famous Mangy Moose Saloon for live music and local color.
Jenny Lake Route: 30 Miles* (700’ elevation gain)
Jackson Lake Route: 45 Miles (900’)
Today we shuttle into Grand Teton National Park, a paradise of sawtooth mountains, peaceful meadows, shimmering lakes and dense forests. The Teton Range includes 12 mountains over 12,000 feet, the tallest being Grand Teton at 13,770 feet. Local guides join us as we head out on level-to-rolling terrain, skirting the base of Shadow Mountain with views of the Gros Ventre Range (French for “big belly”). Notice the striking geologic features such as Sheep Mountain (locally known as “Sleeping Indian”), and look for the Gros Ventre Slide, where 50 million cubic yards of earth plummeted down the mountain slope in 1925. The debris created a 225-foot-high dam across the river, forming Lower Slide Lake. It held for almost two years before part of it gave way, sending mud, rocks and water down the canyon and nearly wiping out the town of Kelly. After all this time, the scar is still visible. As you ride across the spectacular valley floor, watch for bison, pronghorn and other wildlife. Continue along a peaceful bike path to sparkling Jenny Lake, created by melting glaciers about 60,000 years ago. Don’t forget to look up once in a while: the views of Teewinot and the South, Middle and Grand Teton peaks are breathtaking. From Jenny Lake shuttle or pedal to our home for the next two nights, Jackson Lake Lodge. In the lodge’s upper lobby, 60-foot picture windows frame the Tetons’ jagged peaks—an image that is particularly magnificent at dawn and dusk. Before dinner, take a dip in the hotel’s outdoor heated pool or sip a drink in the cocktail lounge—huckleberry margarita, anyone?
Free Time in Grand Teton National Park
(Including Walking & Hiking Options of 4–14 Miles)
The day is yours to explore this glorious park. Since biking isn’t an option today, you may choose to don your hiking shoes and shuttle 30 minutes to Jenny Lake, where a scenic boat ride takes you to the mouth of Cascade Canyon. The hike is an out-and-back route, allowing you to go as far as you’d like. The trail climbs steeply to Inspiration Point, then continues gradually along Cascade Creek through a sea of mountain bluebells, dandelions, paintbrush and daisies. If you make it to Lake Solitude (at 9,000 feet), you’ll want to take a break and savor the views of Teewinot Mountain, Mount Owen and Grand Teton. If you prefer to hike closer to the hotel, head to Emma Matilda Lake or Christian Pond. Both areas are popular habitats for moose and trumpeter swans, and open meadows provide unobstructed views of the Tetons and Jackson Lake. We convene for dinner in the lodge’s Mural Room, where panoramic windows showcase the evening alpenglow on the majestic Grand Tetons.
Kayaking on Yellowstone Lake 3–4 Hours
Yellowstone Lake Biking Route 24 Miles (600’ elevation gain)
We start the day with a shuttle to Yellowstone National Park. Founded in 1872, Yellowstone holds a special place in both domestic and international history as the world’s first national park. It has since served as a model and inspiration for the establishment of national parks across the globe, encouraging the preservation of endangered wildlife and stunning natural landscapes so that they can be enjoyed for generations to come. Yellowstone Lake—the park’s biggest lake and the nation’s largest alpine lake above 7,000 feet—is a pristine setting for paddling in our sleek two-person kayaks. If you’ve never kayaked before, not to worry: our guides offer expert instruction before we push off. During our excursion, you’ll learn more about the lake’s history, including how the area recovered from devastating 1988 fires, and be able to check out an area known for its geothermal activity. As you pass a shoreline flowing with steaming water, notice how the soil’s color has been altered by its mineral content. Yellowstone Lake is prime bird-watching territory, so keep an eye out for white pelicans, waterfowl and even bald eagles. Midway through our paddle we pull ashore to stretch our legs and relax over a picnic lunch. This afternoon, reunite with your bike and head out on a ride that hugs the lakeshore, with the Absaroka Mountains coming in and out of view. Your destination is Lake Yellowstone Hotel, a Colonial-style inn that’s been restored to its 1920s brilliance. We’re in good company: Presidents Harding and Coolidge stayed at the hotel during their visits to the park. You’ll have time to enjoy live music in the lobby before we adjourn to the dining room for dinner.
Walking & Hiking Options:
Canyon Rim Route: 3.9 Miles* (200’ elevation gain)
Grand Canyon Route: 7.4 Miles* (600’)
Inspiration Point Route: 9.2 Miles (1,200’)
This morning’s destination is one of the park’s most dramatic features: the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. More than 20 miles long, 1,200 feet deep and 4,000 feet wide, it was formed about 10,000 years ago. Two thundering waterfalls and multicolored canyon walls make this one of the most photographed places in the park. Exploring on foot is the best way to get a feel for the area’s grandeur and diversity. Set out on Clear Lake Trail, passing through open meadows and stands of lodgepole pine, watching for bison that occasionally graze here. The trail eventually opens to reveal your first view of the immense canyon from the south rim. Steep jagged walls of pink, yellow and orange cradle the surging Yellowstone River below. Continue to Artist Point for a magnificent view of impressive Lower Falls, the origin of this powerful flow of water. For a closer look, explore Uncle Tom’s Trail, which drops 500 feet in a series of stairs and inclines. The rest of the hike alternates between quiet secluded stretches and popular lookout points. Watch for ospreys that build nests atop rock pinnacles protected by the canyon walls. The hike concludes at aptly named Inspiration Point.
In the afternoon, shuttle to Upper Geyser Basin, home to more than 20 percent of the world’s geysers, including the granddaddy of them all, Old Faithful. It’s about 91 minutes between spectacular eruptions—the interval has lengthened over the years, in part due to earthquakes. Each performance lasts between one and five minutes, shooting 3,700 to 8,400 gallons of boiling water into the air.
Madison Route: 19 Miles* (200’ elevation gain)
Firehole Canyon Route: 23 Miles (500’)
With still more geothermal spectacles to behold, head out on a final spin through the heart of Yellowstone. Beginning in Upper Geyser Basin, bike alongside the Firehole River to Lower Geyser Basin, stopping along the way to visit some of the park’s most fascinating natural displays, such as Great Fountain Geyser and Fountain Paint Pots, and to take in the sights, sounds and smells of this strange wonderland. The route ends at the Madison picnic area, where the Firehole, Madison and Gibbon Rivers converge. We dig into a farewell picnic before our trip ends with shuttles to West Yellowstone and Jackson.