Yellowstone National Park Vacations

Yellowstone National Park Vacations
More than 3 million people visit Yellowstone annually--an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island put together--but most depart having experienced relatively little of what the park has to offer. Beyond bison, bears and Old Faithful, the nation's first national park provides a wonderland of vacation opportunities ranging from guided motor tours to challenging wilderness backpacking adventures. Prices given reflect 2010 rates.

Lodging

Set the tone for your multi-day Yellowstone vacation by choosing from the park's variety of lodging options. The park has 12 developed campgrounds offering both tent camping and RV sites. Campgrounds range in price from $12 to $35. Five campgrounds take reservations in advance. For more upscale accommodations, the park offers everything from rustic cabins to luxurious hotel rooms, none of which have Internet connections or television.

Packages

Park-authorized concessioner Xanterra Parks & Resorts offers Yellowstone vacation packages designed to take the guesswork out of planning your trip. If you're looking for a romantic adventure, consider the Yellowstone Couples Adventure Package, featuring guided hikes and motor tours. Meals and five nights at Old Faithful Lodge are included for $1,659 per person. Xanterra's lineup also includes educational, historic, fishing, family-oriented and winter vacation packages.

Motor Tours

Xanterra Parks & Resorts' ever-popular Yellowstone in a Day tour via van or bus takes you to the park's must-see features for $70 per adult; $35 per child ages three to 11. Beyond this basic overview tour, more in-depth guided motor tours include a wilderness excursion, journeying on a historic trail, and exploring Yellowstone's major geothermal features.

Sea Kayaking

Explore a remote portion of Yellowstone Lake's 132 square miles of surface area with Far and Away Adventures. Specializing in "high-end wilderness luxury," this concessioner will take you on an unforgettable overnight journey. Ride across the lake on a cabin cruiser, and then sea kayak to the campground. Unwind with a late-afternoon paddle, fly fishing, or lake shore relaxation before enjoying a gourmet organic dinner and deluxe camping accommodations.

Fishing

Spin or fly fish for native cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake guided by a park-licensed concessioner, such as Teton Troutfitters. This catch-and-release, full-day fishing expedition gains you access to some of the lake's premier fishing spots by motorboat for $550 per person. Alternately, sign up for a guided fishing trip on nearby Lewis Lake, known for its brook, brown and lake trout.

Backpacking

Leave the main roads on foot for closer encounters with the park's 67 species of mammals, 290 waterfalls, and 10,000 thermal features, including some 300 geysers. The Yellowstone Association's multi-day backpacking courses make use of the park's 1,000 miles of back-country hiking trails and 301 back-country campsites. The 10-day Northeast Corner Backpack Expedition: Cooke City to Gardiner the Hard Way teaches wilderness travel skills along with park history for $1,000 per person.

Article Written By Alli Rainey

A professional writer since 1997, Harvard graduate Alli Rainey has written several books, including "Wyoming: An Explorer's Guide." Her articles have appeared in "Climbing Magazine," "Rock & Ice," and "Men's Fitness," among many others.