Clients on group flights will fly to Salt Lake City today and make their own way to the start hotel, as should Land Only clients.
After a trip briefing we drive north along Route 15, leaving Salt Lake City and Utah behind. Our journey takes us alongside mountains and lakes, crossing Idaho and passing through the beautiful Targhee National Forest before we arrive into the valley of Jackson Hole in the state of Wyoming. This popular mountain resort hosts an abundance of skiiers in the winter months, whilst summer sees walkers and other thrill seekers enjoying the area and its proximity to Grand Teton National Park. Although first and foremost a ski-resort, the area of Jackson Hole certainly maintains a 'Wild West' feeling! On arrival, we'll settle into our campground and enjoy a short walk in the area (approx. 4 - 5km, 1.5 - 2 hours). Today's driving time: approx. 6 hours.
Famed for its soaring, fang like peaks, the 64km Grand Teton Range represents the archetypal jagged mountainscape. Rocky spires, forest and lakes fill the park, with more than 12 pinnacles reaching over 12,000ft. Rich in fauna, inhabitants of the area include buffalo, elk, Black and Grizzly bear, Bighorn sheep, moose and mule deer. There are many self-guided hikes available today, walking amidst dramatic scenery and appreciating the geology and nature of the area. Due to the national park regulations, our leader can't hike with the group but he/she will prepare you for today's walk, which is likely to be Amphitheater Lake, a scenic hike with excellent views of the Teton Mountains (approx. 13km, 5 hours). Today's driving time: approx. 1 hour.
After breakfast we pack up camp and drive to Yellowstone National Park, our home for the next four nights. Part of the highway clings to the side of the 24km long Jackson Lake, the expansive ice-blue water reflecting the Teton Range on a clear day. Entering Yellowstone, the scenery starts to change from striking jagged peaks to colourful open meadows and rolling terrain, the regular lava flows having flattened the largest geological features in the south of the park. This afternoon we'll take a walk amidst this fascinating volcanic environment (approx. 8km, 2.5 hours) before returning to set up camp. Today's driving time: approx. 3 hours.
When Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872, Northern Rocky Mountain wolves (a subspecies of the Grey wolf) were native to the area. In the years after, predator control was regularly practiced and the wolf population faced a huge decline, with packs rarely sighted towards the 1940s. In 1995, 66 young wild wolves from Alberta were re-introduced to the park. They have bred very succesfully and there are now thought to be more than 1,000 wolves in the Greater Yellowstone Area. We spend today with a specialist wolf tracking guide, venturing into the park wilderness by foot and vehicle to learn about these remarkable animals. Modern tracking is performed by using technology such as radio collars. Our guide will explain this to us, along with how wolves live and hunt together in Yellowstone and how the pack hierarchy works. It's important to note that we may not always be lucky enough to see wolves, but this is our goal and at the same time we are likely to see numerous other wildlife species. Today's driving time: approx. 2.5 hours.
Yellowstone overflows with geothermal features; geysers, bubbling mud pools, bright multicoloured hot springs and fumaroles! The park is famous for its volcanic history and there are estimated to be 10,000 thermal features - nowhere else on earth (not even Iceland or New Zealand!) can boast its concentration of geysers which are scattered amongst several distinct geyser basins. We spend the day with a local geology guide to explore the many effects of volcanism for which the park is famous. The multicoloured springs (caused by the hot, nutrient-rich water being more suitable for different species of coloured bacteria at different temperatures) are a particular photographic highlight. Our specialist guide will explain about these volcanic hot spots and the various causes of the phenomena that we will see today, leading walks around some of the parks most interesting features (distances vary depending on the walks taken). Today's driving time: approx. 2 hours.
Today we'll take our knowledge of Yellowstone's wildlife and geology onto a wilderness daywalk in the park. Our route will depend on the group's general ability and fitness, but will offer both scenic and natural interest. Our aim is to leave some of the well known geysers and crowds behind, exploring this true wilderness together for our last day in spectacular Yellowstone. It is likely this will involve a walk to view the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls (approx. 6km, 1.5 - 2 hours). More strenuous options are available and the leader will advise on these, depending on the wishes of the group. Today's driving time: approx. 1 - 2 hours.
Leaving Yellowstone behind we'll cross into the state of Montana and travel through mountains to the impressive Holter Lake, widely considered the most awe-inspiring of the upper Missouri Lakes. This popular recreation area has good options for walking and wildlife that we can enjoy this afternoon. The birdlife in this area is renowned, with sightings of Osprey, Heron and Eagles common. The location lends itself to leisurely walks around the shore of the lake (a popular area for fishing) and also, time permitting, in the surrounding hills. Our campsite tonight is relatively basic (no showers) but in a wonderful setting. Staying in this area allows us to break up an otherwise very long journey to Glacier. Today's driving time: approx. 5 hours.
After breaking camp, our journey through the mountains of Montana will continue as we head towards Glacier N.P. Once in the national park boundaries we'll travel to the area of West Glacier where we establish our camp for the next three nights. In the late afternoon we'll take a short walk to a sunset observation point before dinner (approx. 4km, 1.5 hours). Today's driving time: approx. 4.5 hours.
After breakfast, we'll meet up with a Glacier N.P. wilderness guide and spend the day exploring the heart of the park using the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Due to the huge amount of snow that falls on this route, the road is usually only open from June to mid-October and gives the only vehicular access to the centre of the park. We'll take walks en route and our guide will help us try to spot some of the huge variety of animal species for which this park is famed. Due to its inaccessibility, towering cliffs and broad hidden forested valleys, the park still contains nearly all of its original endemic species in healthy populations, including Grizzly bear, wolverine and lynx. Big horn sheep, mountain goats, coyote and wolves are also common, the latter of which recolonised the park naturally in the 1980's. Today's total walking distance approx. 12 - 14km. Today's driving time: approx. 2 hours.
Today we will discover more of the eastern side of Glacier N.P. There are dozens of trails to choose from, such as the St Mary Valley starting at the long lake of the same name exploring creeks, waterfalls, gorges and forests amongst the huge peaks, glaciers and wildlife. Alternatively walks to Iceberg Lake and Hidden Lake are possible. Leaders are not permitted to hike with the group in Glacier, but will prepare clients for all available options and tailor these to suit interests and abilities. Today's driving time: approx. 1.5 hours.
We pack up camp this morning and leave Glacier behind to make our way towards Couer d'Alene in the state of Idaho. En route we will stop at the historic mining town of Wallace, known as the 'Silver Capital of the World'. As we reach Couer d'Alene, we'll take a short walk in the scenic area of Tubbs Hill for views of the impressive Couer d'Alene Lake as well the marina and town. Today's driving time: approx. 7 hours.
Crossing into the state of Washington we make our way towards Seattle, our final destination. Today's journey takes us past the border of Mt Rainier National Park where the imposing Mount Rainier stands; at 4,392m this is Washington's highest volcano and one of the world's most dangerous! We'll make a lunch stop at Keechelus Lake, one of a collection of three lakes that border the national park. There should be some free-time on arrival in Seattle to explore the area downtown. The tour ends today for Land Only clients (do not book a flight that departs before 9:00pm). Flight Inclusive clients spend tonight in a Seattle hotel and depart tomorrow. Today's driving time: approx. 6 hours.
The trip ends in Seattle today for Flight Inclusive clients. Transfers can be arranged at the hotel to get to the airport.
Arrive London the following day.