This private tour through the famous "Grand Circle" of spectacular scenery of the Colorado Plateau in Utah and the surrounding states begins in Salt Lake City, UT. With our luxury tour company, you will be able to see and do more when compared to that of a standard bus or a group tour, in less amount of time, in comfort and only with those you have invited to join you on the journey.
Although the schedule below indicates 5 days, please remember, this is a customized trip just for your requested attractions. We can delete or add to as necessary to meet your timeline.
Starting your tour in Salt Lake City, UT is a great option; you can request any other departure location to customize this journey to your own schedule and convenience – we suggest Bozeman, MT or Salt Lake City, UT.
Your guide will be with you each step of the way and of course act as your porter, concierge and park guide. The Yellowstone and Grand Teton tour is one that the whole family will enjoy and is the perfect balance between times in the vehicle and being outside in the beautifully wild and rugged Wyoming.
Outline of the 2017 Yellowstone and Grand Teton Tour:
Day 1: Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, Old Faithful area
This itinerary gives you the option of starting in Salt Lake City, Utah or Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The drive time from Salt Lake City to our first destination, West Yellowstone, is 4.5 hours. The drive time from Jackson Hole to West Yellowstone is 2.5 hours.
Pick up in Salt Lake City
Expect to be met by Utah Luxury Tours Uniformed Guide with a smile and passion for this unique scenery we are lucky to call our backyard. Your guide will meet you at a hotel of your choice in Salt Lake City or at the airport and you will start your journey. Today's departure will take you north on I-15 along the majestic Wasatch Mountain Range before entering into the beautiful high desert of Wyoming.
Pick up in Jackson Hole
Expect to be met by Utah Luxury Tours Uniformed Guide with a smile and passion for this unique scenery we are lucky to call our backyard. Your guide will meet you at a hotel of your choice in Jackson Hole or at the airport and you will start your journey. Today's departure will take you over scenic Teton Pass, and through rolling hills and farming areas near Victor and Ashton, Idaho before entering into the beautiful high desert of Wyoming.
Upon arrival in West Yellowstone, we will treat you to a nice lunch before visiting the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center. This non-profit wildlife park presents you the unique chance to experience the world of grizzly bears and grey wolves.
Private Guided Tour of Yellowstone National Park – THE VOLCANO
There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle.
—Franklin Delano Roosevelt
The afternoon hours will bring us a quick introduction to Yellowstone National Park.
Setting foot in Yellowstone National Park is a little bit like landing in Oz: You are in a new reality. Colors are suddenly brighter. Strange, marvelous creatures might wander across your path at any moment. The landscape no longer follows the rules that apply to the rest of the world. Here, you can gaze into a hot spring that paints the ground in vivid hues of green, gold and blue. You might glimpse grizzly and black bears, mountain lions, wolves, elk, or bison. Here, rivers boil, mud gurgles, and the earth erupts in violent waterspouts at regular intervals.
As we enter through the West Entrance, following the Madison River, the Pitchstone Plateau to the west and the Red Mountains to the east will surround us. We will head straight towards the world famous Old Faithful, located in the Upper Geyser Basin. This half-mile-wide basin contains the world's greatest concentration of hot springs and more than 150 geysers.Most famous is 135-foot Old Faithful, which erupts about every 92 minutes.
After Old Faithful, we will cross the Firehole River and head for Geyser Hill, which includes a number of geysers and pools visible from the boardwalk. (Total walking distance of 1.3 miles around Geyser Hill Loop.)
Additional hiking options for Old Faithful:
Observation Point: An elevation gain of 160 feet brings you an expansive view of the Old Faithful area. (Total distance roundtrip from Visitor Center is 2.1 miles.)
Morning Glory Pool: This is the most popular hike, which brings you to both Geyser Hill and the Morning Glory Pool. This pool is named for its resemblance to the namesake flower – it hues include blues, greens, and oranges. (Total distance roundtrip is 2.8 miles.)
Castle Geyser: Visible on the way back to the Visitor Center from Geyser Hill, every 14 hours the Castle Geyser goes into a raucous steam phase for up to 40 minutes, and then erupts from a 30-foot-tall cone – one of the largest in the Upper Basin – with bursts that shoot 70-80 feet into the air.
Following our exploration of Upper Geyser Basin, we will transfer you to your lodging for the evening.
If booked early enough and dependent upon dates, you will have the opportunity to stay at the famous Old Faithful Inn. Just next door to Old Faithful Inn are two other great lodging facilities – Old Faithful Lodge and Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
The world famous Old Faithful Inn:
Perhaps no human contribution to Yellowstone's Beauty is more beloved, or more appreciated, than the Old Faithful Inn. It welcomed its firsts guests June 1st, 1904. Since then it has weathered severe winters, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, and the fires of 1988. It has survived generations of changes in social attitudes and cultural trends. National Landmark Designation, bestowed in 1987, recognizes the Inn's national influence on architecture and construction.
Its design is the creative work of Robert C. Reamer, a 29-year-old architect from Ohio. He utilized local materials to recreate a forest indoors. Construction of the original 140 rooms, today called the "Old House", took place in just 13 months time. Financial support from the Northern Pacific Railroad allowed Reamer's dream to come true.
Today, the historic hotel stands as an enduring monument to what is known as "parkitecture".
The gnarled logs woven into the lodgepole pine, stone, and lumber hostelry have awed visitors and architects alike. From the craftsmen who created the Inn over 100 years ago to Paco Young's painting "Old Faithful" on the dining room chimney today, the artistry of Old Faithful Inn pays tribute to its incomparable environment, Yellowstone National Park.
Day 2: Full day private tour of Yellowstone National Park
Open your eyes, take a deep breath, look around and start taking in the wonders of this magical place, abundant wildlife, unique geothermal features, wild rivers and canyons surrounding you creating the very heart of the Yellowstone National Park. "When you're there, you feel like you're at the moment of creation," says Ken Burns, the award-winning filmmaker and a co-creator of the PBS series America's Best Idea: The National Parks.
"The past is never dead. It isn't even past" - William Faulkner
Mr. Faulkner wasn't talking about Yellowstone when he wrote the above-mentioned quote, but he might as well have been. This land of incredible geology and human history holds no small number of mysteries. Beneath its sunny façade, unknown to its carefree travelers, America's first national park harbors some deep, dark secrets.
Today we are continuing with our Yellowstone Tour. Our first stop will be Midway Geyser Basin. This one-mile stretch along the Firehole River is home to Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone's largest single hot spring and the world's third largest. This enormous pool (370 feet in diameter and up to 121 feet deep) is not only huge, but colorful, too, as rising steam reflects the colors of the rainbow.
The multi-colored Grand Prismatic Spring is 90m across and over 50m deep. The mineral-rich pool has concentric bands of vibrant colors from red to green, due to different sets of heatloving pigmented bacteria in each band. The brilliant blue central part is extremely hot with temperatures reaching up to 189°F (87°C).
After Grand Prismatic, we will drive to Lower Geyser Basin. This area contains all 4 types of hydrothermal features: geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and fumaroles. Nearly 100 geothermal features can be found here. Clay and steam pushing though the rock have created the most popular attraction in the basin, the multi-colored Fountain Paint Pot. This trail is an easy 0.5 mile loop on a boardwalk.
Just a short drive north, we arrive at the Norris Geyser Basin – Yellowstone's hottest and oldest thermal area, known for its acidic waters and propensity for earthquakes. We will find ourselves just outside of the rim of the Yellowstone Caldera, in an area that contains 3 intersecting faults that allow the intense heat to rise to the surface.
This area is large and provides a variety of geysers and features to visit via the boardwalk system. Your guide will suggest a few points of interest based on your interests and preferences.
Just outside of Norris Geyser Basin is the Museum of the National Park Ranger. This museum offers visitors a rare chance to learn about the history and evolution of the Ranger profession from its military beginning in the early 20th century.
Our next destination is 12 miles away at the Canyon Village. Before continuing the tour, we will provide you with a picnic lunch or lunch at a local restaurant depending on your preference.
Yellowstone's geysers are known around the world, but the park's nearly 300 waterfalls might be its most underrated attraction. Within a stone's throw of the Canyon Village are the most stunning waterfalls of Yellowstone: Upper and Lower Falls. Located in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Lower Falls plunges 308 feet into the Yellowstone River. In some places, the walls of the canyon are 1,200 feet tall and 4,000 feet wide.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a breathtaking destination in its own right. Following the South Rim Drive we will guide you to Artist Point. This point is named in honor of Thomas Moran, whose famous painting of this area in 1872 convinced the US Congress to designate this area as the world's first national park. Your guide will recommend a hike based on the conditions and your interests.
Hiking options include:
South Rim Trail: A short, mostly flat 1mile long trail which will bring us to the start of Uncle Tom's trail.
Uncle Tom's Trail: Originally built in 1898 by Tom Richardson, this short steep trail leads us to the base of the lower falls, descending 500 feet via 328 steps.
Brink of the Lower Falls: From the North Rim, a 400-foot descent will bring us to one of the most thrilling places to stand in the Park… as you stand at the waterfall's edge, watching it fall 308 feet to the base of the canyon. This is twice the height of Niagara Falls!
For our guests with limited mobility or less interest in hiking, your guide will take you to classic viewpoints such as Lookout Point and Inspiration Point on the North Rim.
In the afternoon hours, your guide will drive you through Tower-Roosevelt area on the way to our final attraction of the day: Mammoth Hot Springs. This northwest section of the park features travertine terraces, created when hot water and gases ascend through limestone deposits, sculpting the rock along the way. Once exposed to the air, calcium carbonate from the limestone is deposited as a rock called travertine.
While the great volcano shaped the central and southern parts of the Park, glaciated valleys, high peaks and limited thermal activity, characterize this region. There are two options to view the terraces. A 1-mile boardwalk hike of the Lower Terraces, or a 1.5 mile drive of the Upper Terraces.
This region of the park is great for Elk viewing due to the abundant grasses planted by the original guardians of the Park, the U.S. Army. We will finish the day by returning to the Old Faithfull area, where a well-earned dinner and a good night's rest awaits.
Day 3: Completion of Yellowstone, Private Tour of Grand Teton National Park
We complete our stay in Yellowstone today with visits to Mud Volcano and the largest alpine lake in North America, Yellowstone Lake. The waters are icy despite the thermal activity below the lake's surface, but options for recreation and great views abound around the lake.
In the morning hours, we visit wildlife-rich Hayden Valley on our way to Mud Volcano. Hayden Valley is our best opportunity to spot elk, bison, and moose. Your guide will have binoculars at the ready as the wildlife move throughout the valley.
The Mud Volcano is an area of mud pots – turbulent pools of hot muddy water which smell of sulfur – that can be seen up close via a 0.7-mile loop along the boardwalks. These fascinating, mysterious features are some of the most acidic in the park.
Continuing upriver, we will reach Fishing Bridge, which provides several hiking options for those interested.
Pelican Creek Nature Trail: 1-mile roundtrip through forest to a fine pebble beach along the lake's edge.
Storm Point Trail: This 2.3-mile loop will bring us to a secluded shoreline on the east side of the lake. For a panoramic view of this less-visited area of the Park, we will drive to Lake Butte Overlook. On a clear day, the Teton Range is easily visible more than 60 miles away.
Our last Yellowstone attraction on our way south to Grand Teton is one of the most unique features of the park. West Thumb is an excellent example of a volcanic caldera inside of the ancient Yellowstone caldera. In more recent history, Native American tribes such as the Crow, Shoshone and Bannock resided in this area.
Mountain men of decades past were known to catch a trout in Yellowstone Lake, swing their rod around and dip the fish into the boiling pool of the Fishing Cone without removing the hook. Your guide will take you to the Fishing Cone and surrounding geysers, pools and mudpots.
Following our visit to West Thumb, we head south towards our next destination of Grand Teton National Park. The drive out of the America's First National Park will take us on the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.
This parkway lies at the center of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and commemorates the many contributions to conservation by Rockefeller on behalf of America's National Park System. Established in 1972, the parkway encompasses 24,000 acres connecting Grand Teton National Park with the world's first national park, Yellowstone. Visiting Jackson Hole in 1926, Rockefeller was dismayed by haphazard development marring the landscape. With a vision to protect the spectacular Teton scenery, Rockefeller began buying land, later donating over 32,000 acres of Jackson Hole valley to the federal government. His philanthropy ensured that views of the Teton Range and public access to northern Jackson Hole would be preserved for future generations.
We will visit Jackson Lake Lodge for a late lunch and spectacular views of the Teton Range through the lobby windows.
After a busy few days of touring in Yellowstone, we drive along the main road – visiting several scenic viewpoints on our way to Jackson. These points of interest include: Oxbow Bend with its famous views of Mount Moran and the meandering Snake River, Cunningham Cabin Historic Site, as well as Moulton Barn.
The T. A. Moulton Barn is all that remains of the homestead built by Thomas Alma Moulton and his sons between about 1912 and 1945. It sits west of the road known as Mormon Row, in an area called Antelope Flats, between the towns of Kelly and Moose.
Once home to 22 Mormon families, the Moulton Barn has become a Teton classic for painters and photographers alike. This is the most photographed barn in America - the barn with the Teton Range in the background has become a symbol of Jackson and surrounding areas.
Following this historical stop, we continue south to the town of Jackson to the hotel of your choice.
Jackson offers a wide variety of lodging options from 2-star to 5-star locations. We recommend the following 5-Star option:
Amangani Resort. This first Aman resort in North America – Amangani – "Peaceful Home" in the language of the Shoshone will offer unparalleled luxury and comfort.
A 4-Star option for tonight's accommodation is the The Four Seasons Resort.
Step into any of the Resort's 106 guest rooms to experience the unmistakable charm of an authentic yet sophisticated alpine lodge. From the grandeur of the mountain backdrop to world-renowned lodging and dining, here you'll uncover the perfect mix of adventure and luxury.
Numerous 2 and 3-star options are available in downtown Jackson.
Day 4: Private Guided Tour of Grand Teton National Park
"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn." John Muir.
With no foothills to obstruct your view, the jagged peaks and deep canyons of the Teton Range rise abruptly from the Jackson Hole valley. This precipitous vertical rise of Teton Mountains creates world-renowned scenery that attracts nearly four million visitors per year. Striking, magnificent views provoke wonder. This landscape was born out of an ancient past and shaped by recent geologic forces. The 2.7 billion-year-old rocks found in the core of the range are some of the oldest in North America, but these mountains rank among the youngest in the world.
For those interested in an early start, we cannot think of a better place to capture the Teton sunrise than Schwabacher's Landing. There are no words to describe this place – only a visit can do it justice.
Following sunrise (or before heading to the park if you choose to sleep in), your guide will take you to the local's favorite breakfast location. After a hearty meal, we head north into the park with Jenny Lake as our first destination.
This glacial lake will serve as a gateway to our first hikes of the day. We will use a shuttle boat to ferry across the lake and have several hiking options to return back to the vehicle. Options include Inspiration Point, Hidden Falls and Jenny Lake Loop.
For our guests with limited mobility, we will book a scenic boat ride that does not require hiking.
We will drive along the Teton Park Road towards Signal Mountain.
From the peak of Signal Mountain you are able to see the lay of the land and appreciate the area's unusual geology. This low mountain rises alone, 800 feet above the valley; and from its summit, a broad panoramic view reveals the Snake River curving gently down the length of the valley floor, as well as the abrupt transition from flat valleys to mountains.
For lunch, your guide will take you to the Colter Bay Village, where you can choose between a picnic or a sit-down restaurant lunch. At Colter Bay, relax at pebble-covered beaches with view of Mt. Moran and the remote peaks of the Tetons.
Hiking options at Colter Bay:
Lakeshore Trail: You can choose the 1-mile or 2-mile loop, that both follow the shore of Colter Bay to a forested peninsula.
Following your visit to Colter Bay, there are a few more places to visit that your guide will help you choose from before you return to Jackson for the evening:
- Dip your feet, swim and/or hike around String Lake. This alpine lake is the warmest of all the lakes in the Jenny Lake region.
- Visit Snake River Overlook: This viewpoint is where Ansel Adam's most famous photograph was taken with the river curving beneath highforested banks.
On your way south towards Jackson, your guide will take you to Menor's Ferry Historic District.
- Your third option for this afternoon is a scenic Tram Ride at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Jackson Hole Aerial Tram goes from Teton Village at 6,311 feet to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain at 10,450 feet, and provides unbeatable views of the Tetons and the surrounding Grand Teton National Park below.
Day 5: Activities of Jackson – Hot Air Ballooning, Rafting or Scenic Float
The final day affords you the opportunity to experience the adventurous aspect of Jackson that represents the Wild West heritage it was founded upon.
- Option 1: Hot Air Ballooning After your Hot Air Ballooning Adventure, we suggest making a stop in the town of Jackson, giving you an opportunity to visit local stores and galleries, or just simply to enjoy the moment of relaxation in this friendly cowboy town.
- Option 2: Whitewater rafting on Snake River This white water experience is on a class 3 river (ratings from 1-5), with 8-10 sets of real fun rapids. After every section of whitewater you go through there is a calm section following. This wide and deep river is great for jumping in for a quick swim! Some sections are up to 80 feet deep.
- Option 3: Scenic Float on the Snake River For those seeking a ride that is calmer and where you will not get wet, the scenic float on the Snake River is a great option. This option is also suitable for those with limited mobility.
- Option 4: Jackson Hole Aerial Tram This is an option today if the weather did not cooperate for yesterday afternoon.
Following your activity, you will have lunch in Jackson. Jackson, Wyoming is a beautiful mountain town, flanked by the Teton Range and home to Town Square's boutique shopping and nightlife. Jackson is a major gateway for millions of tourists visiting nearby Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and the National Elk Refuge.
Jackson is host to a number of world-class arts organizations, including the congressionally designated National Museum of Wildlife Art, the Grand Teton Music Festival, and the Center for the Arts. The large arches of shed elk antlers at the four entrances to the town square are popular attractions.
Jackson Hole was originally populated by Native American tribes including the Shoshone, Crow, Blackfeet, Bannock, and Gros Ventre tribes. John Colter entered Jackson during the winter of 1807- 08 during the return journey of the Lewis & Clark expedition. The area became a prime area for trappers and many famous mountain men traveled through the area in the early 1800's. David Jackson gave his name to the valley after a winter spent on the shores of Jackson Lake.
Following lunch, your guide will drive you to Jackson Hole Airport or Salt Lake City, Utah. If you have an extra day to spend exploring the west before returning to Salt Lake, we recommend visiting Lava Hot Springs, Idaho to break up the drive and enjoy some relaxation following your tour. We believe this destination is a great finale, especially for families who enjoy activities on the water and in the air.
We will arrive to the custom made oasis of Lava Lodge in the afternoon hours, just in time for you to soak in the relaxing hot pools before a dinner downtown.
Day 6: Lava Hot Springs activities and return to Salt Lake City
This morning you have a choice of activities:
Option 1: Enjoy the thrill of Lava Zip line and Rope Park.
Option 2: Experience tubing down the Portneuf River.
Option 3: Relaxing in the local Lava Hot Spring pools.
On our way back to Salt Lake City, you will have the chance to make a brief visit to Antelope Island State Park near Ogden, Utah. Antelope Island is the largest island on the Great Salt Lake (15 miles long and 4.5 miles across), and it is home to free-roaming herds of bison, bighorn sheep, mule deer and pronghorn antelope. The oldest rocks on Antelope Island are some of the oldest found anywhere on Earth. The Farmington Canyon Complex, at 2.7 billion years old, is older than rocks found at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
Your guide will walk with you to the famous Historic Fielding Garr Ranch where you can experience a western ranching living history. You will learn about pre-historic Lake Bonneville, major freshwater springs supporting island abundant wildlife and vegetation, Oolitic sand (unique feature of Great Salt Lake) and many other fascinating facts about this place.
Before returning you to the airport or your hotel for the evening, we will be happy to show you the historic Temple Square and downtown Salt Lake City.
We will be sad to see you leave, however we hope, that by this time you all have fallen in love with this spectacular scenery of bottomless Yellowstone canyons, wild rivers, geysers, mountain peaks, lakes and glaciers we call home. We sincerely hope that the combination of rustic and rugged Wild West along with the luxury of your private tour guide, fine dining and excellent accommodations will create exceptional memories and stories to treasure.
This tour can be conducted in 5 or 6 days.
Dear Utah Luxury Tours,
It's been a few weeks and we're getting back to our normal routine. Just want to thank you again for the amazing trip (covering 5 states and 5 National Parks) you custom tailored for us. The parks were great, the scenery spectacular, and the amount of territory we covered was unreal. But the true essence of the trip was our guide's enthusiastic involvement, pleasantness, patience, and flexibility, from his accommodation of our dietary requirements to his detailed knowledge of all the areas we travelled. This made the journey not only extremely enjoyable, but informative and educational as well. Please feel free to use us as a reference for your unique touring company. Best regards from Howard, Mimi, Maurice and Susan.
Sheila and Simeon
6-Day version – including additional day in Lava Hot Springs*
Our destination specialists will help you choose your preferred type of accommodations in the area of our destinations – For this tour, we recommend a combination of 3 to 5 star lodging properties which include:
Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions about the region, or details of our tours. We look forward to assisting you in any way we can with your trip planning.
Reserve your luxury adventure today! Call (855) 456-UTAH(8824)