The historic Lamar Buffalo Ranch Field Campus is located in scenic Lamar Valley and far from other development. The ranch offers a one-of-a-kind lodging experience surrounded by mountain views and native wildlife. This unique, rustic facility is only available to Yellowstone Forever Institute program participants and to youth taking an Expedition Yellowstone program with the National Park Service.
No matter the season, the Lamar Buffalo Ranch offers a unique experience for visitors! Learn more about what to expect and what to bring depending on the season.
Your class payment includes lodging, tuition, and transportation during your program. It does not include transportation to the park, park entrance fees, and instructor gratuities.
You will find individual class details, including a day-to-day agenda, letter from the instructor, class specific equipment, and a recommended reading list in the Program Information PDF that can be found at the bottom of each class description.
Yellowstone Forever Institute programs and facilities benefit from the hard work and generosity of volunteer program assistants. You will likely meet one, or more, of the volunteers assisting your program. Program assistants receive professional training in Wilderness First Aid, emergency response and procedures, and bus driving. Additionally, they help with program logistics, cleaning and maintenance of facilities, and anything you might need during your time with us.
Yellowstone Forever Institute participants in Field Seminars stay in our comfortable lodging at the historic Lamar Buffalo Ranch as part of their class fee. Participants will stay in a Shared Cabin Triple with up to two other participants. Private Cabin Double (lodging with one other participant of your choice), and Private Cabin Single (cabin to yourself) have limited availability on a first-come, first-served basis.
Each log cabin has three single beds, chairs, propane heaters, and reading lamps. Bring a sleeping bag, pillow, extra blankets if you like, a flashlight for getting around at night, and a non-electric alarm clock (cabins do not have outlets). Stoves, lanterns, and candles cannot be used in or around the cabins, and smoking and food are not permitted in the cabins.
All lodging is available for check-in at 4 pm on the first evening and check-out is at 9 am on the final course date. On-site lodging is required for Lamar Buffalo Ranch courses, and dates are nonnegotiable. Camping and pets (with the exception of service animals) are not allowed. There is no cell phone reception in the Lamar Valley and there is no Internet service. Many guests bring a calling card to use with the common phone.
The communal bunkhouse is open at all times and is the center of activity, where it houses two classrooms, kitchen, and bathroom. Make yourself at home in the bunkhouse by meeting new people, enjoying a midnight snack, and relaxing with classmates.
The first classroom is used as a mudroom where coats and boots can be left by the door. Be sure to bring a pair of slippers or moccasins to wear in the bunkhouse.
The ranch has a shared heated bathhouse complete with men’s and women’s bathrooms and private showers. As there are no bathrooms in the individual cabins the bathhouse is nearby the cabins and has paper towels and hand soap for convenience. You will be provided a code for the bathhouse door per your arrival to the ranch.
Students will need to bring their own toiletries and bath towels.
Unless the program includes catered meals, guests bring and prepare all their own food. The kitchen is a community area where everyone does their own cooking and cleans up after themselves. Meals should be kept simple since you will be preparing your meals in a shared cooking facility. It is equipped with gas stoves, a microwave, toaster, plates, silverware, cooking utensils, pots, and pans. Additionally, ranch staff supply spices, coffee, tea, sugar, and creamer.
Please bring only what you will need during your stay as space in the kitchen and refrigerators is limited.
If your course is catered you will have the opportunity during registration to let staff know of any dietary restrictions you may have. We are able to accommodate all food restrictions and diets. Catering includes all dinners on the first night (check-in), breakfast through dinner on full days, and a continental breakfast on the last morning (check-out).
During the spring, summer, and fall seasons, the Lamar Buffalo Ranch (and Lamar Valley) can be accessed from three different locations by vehicle:
- From Gardiner, MT (North Entrance) to Mammoth Hot Springs then east across the northern range to Lamar Valley. (roughly 34 miles / 1 hour)
- From the Northeast Entrance via Cooke City and Hwy 212. (roughly 22 miles / 33 minutes from Cooke City)
- From Canyon Village head north over Dunraven Pass to Tower Junction then east across the northern range to Lamar Valley. (roughly 11 miles / 19 minutes from Tower Junction)
See Yellowstone National Park’s official website for more comprehensive park road information.
Restricted vehicle access and limited services make winter visits far different than the summer experience. Every year in early November, most park roads close to regular traffic to prepare for the winter season. The only exception is the road between Mammoth Hot Springs and the northeast entrance.
To access the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in winter you will need to come through the northern gateway community of Gardiner, MT. The ranch is approximately 1 hour away from Gardiner. You will start in Gardiner and proceed to Roosevelt (Park signs will say Tower Junction.)
Detailed directions from Gardiner, MT
- Head south on US-89, through Gardiner, for approximately 1 mile, headed towards the Roosevelt Arch.
- Before the Roosevelt Arch turn left onto S 3rd St. and take another left at the stop sign.
- Head to the North Entrance YNP pay station. Once you have paid for your park permit proceed into the park and drive 5.2 miles towards Mammoth Hot Springs.
- Once in Mammoth, at the first stop sign you come to, turn left and travel 18.1 miles to Tower Junction.
- At Tower Junction turn left and travel 10.5 miles until you reach the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, where you will proceed to turn left and park.
Prior to leaving always check park road conditions and closures at https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/conditions.htm or call 307.344.2117 for recorded information.