Planning a trip to Yellowstone is exciting, but it’s no secret the process can be a little daunting. With 2.2-million acres to explore and endless itinerary options, an all-inclusive package might be the answer for a lot of potential visitors.
Enter Lodging & Learning programs—an immersive educational experience combined with comfortable in-park lodging and private transportation. The programs are a collaborative effort between the nonprofit Yellowstone Forever and Yellowstone National Park Lodges, the park’s primary source for lodging, camping, and activities.
The vacation packages offer an easy trip-planning solution for adults, families, children, and couples. Programs take place throughout the year, and include multiple nights’ lodging in park hotels, meals, expert instruction by a Yellowstone Forever naturalist guide, and the use of scopes and other field equipment. Each program offers a variety of activities depending on park location, participant age, and time of year—including cross-country skiing, wildlife watching, or creative activities for children like painting and photography.
“Our expert naturalists live in Yellowstone and know the park well. They know how to escape the crowds and take participants to places where they can connect to nature in a wilderness setting,” says Yellowstone Forever program manager Zachary Park. “These aren’t sightseeing tours—the programs are designed to deliver a truly immersive and inspirational experience.”
The programs were first conceptualized in 1998, when Yellowstone Forever (then the Yellowstone Association) saw the potential to offer all-inclusive packages combined with high-quality, educational programming. With Yellowstone National Park Lodges on board, the collaborative programs first kicked off in the winter of 2000. At the time, not many inclusive package options existed in Yellowstone National Park—and the programs quickly became a hit. Today, the two organizations offer 11 different Lodging & Learning programs, each with multiple start-dates.
Popular packages include:
Yellowstone for Families. Children ages 8-12 and their families explore canyons, waterfalls, and geyser basins, while enjoying activities like animal tracking, wildlife watching, painting, and hiking. The adventure begins in Mammoth Hot Springs and travels from there to Old Faithful or Grant Village.
Old Times on the Grand Tour. Participants board a classic Yellowstone bus with a retractable top for wildlife viewing, and explore the park’s colorful history and geology on walking tours of historic sites and thermal areas.
Old Faithful Winter Expedition. Those looking for a winter vacation package can embark on a journey to Old Faithful, accessed only via snowcoach in the winter months. The program features walks and snowshoe adventures around geyser basins and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, as well as four nights at Old Faithful Snow Lodge. See images from our recent February 2018 trip!