Running south from Canada nearly to Mexico, the soaring Rocky Mountains dominate America’s West. Three iconic national parks — Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier — frame the awesome, ice-carved summits, rushing rivers, deep glacial lakes and abundant wildlife of this great range. Explore the peaks and valleys of the Tetons and Glacier on foot and by raft, seeing elk and bison up close and looking for wolves, moose and bears. Experience Yellowstone’s unique geothermal wonders: geysers, mud pots and rainbow-hued hot springs. As we make our way north, stop in historic towns from Jackson Hole, Big Fork and Whitefish to the Gold Rush town of Virginia City, soaking up the atmosphere of the Wild West on our national parks adventure.
Trek through glacier-carved valleys to stunning Phelps Lake located deep within the serene wilderness of Grand Teton National Park.
Raft down the Middle Fork of the Flathead through the heart of Glacier National Park.
Stroll the boardwalks of Old Faithful to see the geyser's regular eruptions and peer into turquoise hot springs nearby.
Hike the rim of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the Highline Trail along the Continental Divide.
Activity Level: Easy and Moderate
We will paddle kayaks for an average of 2 to 3 hours, and will raft 2 to 3 hours (15 miles per day) on Class II— III rapids. We will hike 3 to 6 hours per day (3 to 10 miles) on moderate to steep grades and at elevations ranging from 4,000 feet to a maximum of 7,000 feet.
Itinerary - 8 Days
Day 1 — Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Arrive in Jackson Hole which sits on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, and transfer to our hotel. Gather for an orientation, and get acquainted with this lively mountain town as we stroll to a nearby restaurant for a welcome dinner. The Lexington at Jackson Hole (D)
Day 2 — Grand Teton National Park/Yellowstone National Park
Enjoy a guided hike through the heart of Grand Teton National Park to Phelps Lake, taking in the granite pinnacles of the Teton Range which rise nearly 13,770 feet above the valley floor. After a lakeside picnic lunch, drive north to Yellowstone—America’s first national park, established in 1872. Most of this pristine wilderness rests atop a slumbering volcano whose magna chamber is the source of the park’s rainbow-colored hot springs, steaming fumaroles and erupting geysers. Spend the afternoon kayaking on Yellowstone Lake. (3–5 miles hiking, 3 hours; 2–3 miles kayaking, 2 hours) Headwaters Lodge and Cabins at Flagg Ranch (B,L,D)
Day 3 — Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone/ Midway and Upper Geyser Basins
After breakfast, set out to explore the sulfur-scented Mud Volcano Area, hiking past bubbling mud pots and seething cauldrons. Continue to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, where the Yellowstone River tumbles over sheer cliffs, presenting one of the park’s most magnificent sights. Trek to Upper or Lower Falls to get an overview of the canyon’s vast 20-mile chasm. After lunch, drive west to explore Midway Geyser Basin, home to the richly hued Grand Prismatic Spring — Yellowstone’s largest hot spring. Later, witness the spectacular eruptions of Old Faithful geyser and discover the nearby geothermal landscape of mesmerizing mineral pools and steaming geysers. (3–5 miles hiking, 2–3 hours)
Headwaters Lodge and Cabins at Flagg Ranch (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Old Faithful/Deer Lodge, Montana/ Missoula
Get up and head out for a drive on two-lane roads throughout historic southwest Montana. Visit the state territorial capital of Bannack and learn about its highwayman and vigilante past. Next, journey through the scenic valley of the Big Hole River and explore the Nez Perce battlefield of 1877. Drive over Lost Trail Pass, some of Montana’s most remote country, and then down the Bitterroot Valley famous for its rugged mountain range. Wind down a day of Montana history by visiting Traveler’s Rest, a location where the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped for two days. Fifteen minutes later arrive in Missoula for the evening. DoubleTree by Hilton, Missoula Edgewater (B,L,D)
Day 5 — National Bison Range/Bigfork/Whitefish
This morning, visit one the oldest wildlife refuges in the United States: the National Bison Range located just north of Missoula in the Flathead Valley. View large herds of grazing bison, elk, deer, bighorn sheep and other wildlife as we explore this vast refuge established in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Make our way to the scenic town of Bigfork situated along the shores of Flathead Lake. Go for a hike along the “wild mile” of Swan River, known for its ferocious rapids during the spring runoff. Enjoy lunch on your own at one of Bigfork’s many restaurants before we continue driving to the northern Rockies town of Whitefish — our base for exploring Glacier National Park. (1–2 miles hiking, 1 hour) Grouse Mountain Lodge (B,D)
Day 6 — Glacier National Park/Middle Fork of the Flathead River
Named for the massive ice flows that carved these awe-inspiring valleys roughly 20,000 years ago, Glacier National Park is one of the wildest and most magnificent of America’s national parks — encompassing some 1,800 square miles of what naturalist John Muir called “the best care-killing scenery on the continent." In Lake McDonald Valley, set off on the Trail of the Cedars to Avalanche Lake, passing through hemlock and cedar forests to arrive on the shores of a glassy, emerald-hued lake that mirrors the majestic peaks looming above. Enjoy a picnic lunch while soaking up this stunning backdrop. Later, take to the waters of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River which forms the southern border of Glacier National Park. Paddle Class II and III rapids, keeping an eye out for bears, bald eagles, osprey and elk. Return to Whitefish in the late afternoon and have dinner in town. (4–5 miles hiking, 2–3 hours; 15 miles rafting on Class II & III rapids, 5 hours) Grouse Mountain Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Glacier National Park
Head out early to experience one of the most scenic drives in the country: Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 52-mile marvel of engineering that spans the park from east to west and crosses the Continental Divide at the 6,646-foot-high Logan Pass. As we ascend, take in sweeping views of glacier-carved lakes and cedar forests, alpine meadows and snow-dusted peaks. At Logan Pass, set off on the Highline Trail across wildflower-dotted alpine meadows framed by craggy peaks and frequented by mountain goats, marmots and weasels. Return to Whitefish to celebrate our national parks adventure at a farewell dinner. (6–10 miles hiking, 3–5 hours) Grouse Mountain Lodge (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Whitefish
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight home. (B)
Pricing starts at $4,600 per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $1,400. Airfare to Jackson Hole, WY and return from Whitefish, MT is not included in the adventure cost.
Group Size: 8–16
Accommodations (hotels, tents and cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. If you prefer single accommodations, and if such are available, you can pay a single supplement fee. If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we can assign a roommate of the same gender. If there is no one with whom you can share, a single supplement fee will apply.
See special terms and conditions for this adventure.