Gardiner-Based Field Seminars

Gardiner-Based Field Seminars

Come join the Yellowstone Forever Institute for a Field Seminar beginning in Gardiner, Montana, the gateway to Yellowstone National Park! If you are a newcomer to the Yellowstone Forever Institute, you will be amazed at what awaits your day of exploration on your Field Seminar. Our goal is to provide you with an enjoyable, high-quality, educational experience and a safe and memorable visit to Yellowstone.

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What to Expect

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 program assistants during your program. Program assistants receive professional training in Wilderness First Aid, emergency response, and bus driving. Additionally, they help with program logistics, cleaning and maintenance of facilities, and anything you might need during your time with us.

Your class payment includes tuition and transportation during your program. It does not include transportation to the park, park entrance fees, and instructor gratuities. For specific class details, including an agenda, a letter from the instructor, class specific equipment, and a recommended reading list, see the course letter linked in the Field Seminar listing.

Lodging and Meals


Due to COVID-19, Yellowstone Forever shared lodging is not available during the time of your Gardiner-based program for summer 2021.

Lodging is typically available at our Overlook Campus, but to ensure the safety of all program participants we have limited the number of people who can stay at that location at one time.

You can find more information booking your own Gardiner-based lodging during your course here.


Meals, snacks, and drinks are not provided for Gardiner, MT-based programs. You will need to bring your own food and it should be able to easily travel in the field with you.

Gardiner has a grocery store and multiple restaurants open in the summertime. All programs begin at the Yellowstone Forever classrooms where there are water fountains to fill your bottles before heading out into the field.

In addition, there are restroom facilities to use at the classrooms.

Program preparation

How fit do you need to be?

Each course is classified in difficulty with a 1 to 5 rating.

  • LEVEL 1: Be prepared to hike up to 1 mile per day, comfortably, through relatively flat terrain on maintained trails.
  • LEVEL 2: Be prepared to hike up to 3 miles per day, comfortably, with elevation gains up to 600 feet. Some off-trail hiking is possible.
  • LEVEL 3: Be prepared to hike up to 5 miles per day, comfortably, with occasional elevation gains up to 1,000 feet in undulating terrain.
  • LEVEL 4: Be prepared to hike up to 8 miles per day at a brisk pace, comfortably, with climbs up to 1,500 feet on dirt trails. Loose rocks, uneven footing, and off-trail hiking are possible. Good coordination is recommended.
  • LEVEL 5: Be prepared for brisk aerobic, destination-oriented hiking up to 12 miles a day. You should be physically conditioned to do these hikes comfortably. Elevation changes up to 2,000 feet on dirt trails or off-trail. Loose rock, uneven footing, steep hillside traverses, and stream crossings are possible. Good coordination is required.

All field activities will be conducted as a group. If you cannot meet the activity level expectations during your program, you may be restricted from participation in daily outings. We will not alter program itineraries or activities to accommodate participants who cannot meet the expectations of the stated activity level.

To see the difficulty level and fitness expectations for a particular course, see that program’s course letter and registration webpage. We recommend you begin an exercise program right away if you have not already done so. Participants residing at lower elevations may want to arrive a day early to adjust to the altitude. To learn more about how specific medical conditions can be affected by Yellowstone’s environment and our activities, please visit

What to bring with you

Below are suggested items to bring to all Field Seminar programs. For equipment and clothing specific to a course, please see the corresponding course letter.

Additionally, Yellowstone Forever field staff assigned to your program will be carrying a first aid kit, bear spray, and emergency communication device.


  • Mask – Facial masks will be required in all vehicles and where social distancing can not occur
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Day Pack – Enough capacity to carry extra clothes, water, lunch, camera, binoculars, field guides, etc.
  • Water Bottle – One-quart minimum
  • Sunglasses/Sunscreen/Lip Protector – Sun at high altitude can burn unprotected skin quickly.
  • Optics – Camera, binoculars, and scopes, if wanted. Yellowstone Forever does provide optics for all programs.
  • Notebook/Pencil
  • Toiletries/Towel
  • Food/Snacks


  • Insulating Underwear – Capilene, polypropylene, or similar wicking fabric.
  • Mid-Weight Insulating Layer – Light, 200-weight synthetic fleece or wool shirt/pullover.
  • Heavyweight Insulating Layer – Wool, down, heavyweight fleece, or other synthetic fabric.
  • Waterproof & Windproof Outer Layer – Lightweight and breathable. Both jackets and pants.
  • Short-Sleeved Shirt – Synthetic wicking shirts are ideal.
  • Pants – Wool, fleece, or tights. Jeans are not recommended.
  • Hats – Both a brimmed sun hat and an insulating hat that covers your ears for cold weather.
  • Waterproof/Windproof Gloves – Lightweight glove liners and wool/fleece gloves or mittens.
  • Socks – Light wool or synthetic liner sock with heavier wool or synthetic outer sock.
  • Insulated Boots – Water-repellent layers outside, thick insulation inside, and fit over thick socks.
  • Off-Duty Shoes – Sandals, athletic shoes, or other leisure footwear.

Frequently Asked Questions

What airport should I fly into?
Commercial airlines serve the following airports near Yellowstone National Park all year: Cody and Jackson, WY; Bozeman and Billings, MT, and Idaho Falls, ID. The West Yellowstone, MT airport is serviced from early May to mid-October from Salt Lake City, UT.

Does YF offer a shuttle service?
Yellowstone Forever does not currently have a shuttle service available.

How do I communicate with the instructor before the class?
All questions and communication about the program can be directed at the Instructor, who will reach out to you first. For general questions please contact us at 406-848-2400 or [email protected]

Do I need to tip my instructor and/or staff?
Gratuities for the instructors are not included but are recommended and greatly appreciated.

Can I rent equipment from YF?
YF does not have rental gear however there are locations in Bozeman, Gardiner, and Mammoth Hot Springs where gear can be reserved.

Download a PDF with this information and more!

Download the PDF