You can drive on your own to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and see geysers and wildlife. But you run the risk of missing out on really experiencing the parks, says Chrissy Wolf, wildlife expeditions multi-day and custom tour coordinator at Teton Sciences Schools in Jackson, Wyo.
“You’re not going to get the education you’ll get from our guides,” Wolf says. “Our guides have 60 cumulative years of experience in the area. You’ll see things you won’t see without a trained eye, and you’ll learn a lot you wouldn’t by yourself.”
This includes being able to use the Teton Science Schools’ powerful spotting scopes and binoculars to see the hairs on a grizzly bear lounging in a meadow, the eyes of a bison staring back at you and an eagle mid-flight. The scopes, along with your guide’s deep well of knowledge, make for a unique, immersive park experience.
Why Wildlife Expeditions?
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019, Wildlife Expeditions, which is part of Teton Science Schools, offers year-round tours of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. Choose a half-day outing like a sunset tour or opt for a seven-day excursion to watch wolves. Wildlife Expeditions is Jackson Hole’s first and only nonprofit tour provider. Because the tours are van-based, you’ll get out of the vehicle for light walking occasionally, but there is no strenuous hiking involved. All tour proceeds go back to Teton Science Schools’ mission to inspire curiosity, engagement, and leadership through transformative place-based education with nearly 15,000 participants of all ages annually.
The Teton Science Schools serve students pre-kindergarten through 12th grade at the Teton Valley, Idaho, and Jackson, Wyo., independent school campuses as well as offers summer camps, field education for visiting school groups, professional development and consulting, AmeriCorps volunteer opportunities and wildlife tours.
What’s amazing about Wildlife Expeditions is you are guaranteed a window seat on every public tour since vans seat 11, but Wildlife Expeditions only books seven people per tour. Conversely, you can schedule a private tour and bring more than seven people along. And no matter which tour you book, you’ll be treated to fantastic local treats, including fresh blueberry muffins from Persephone Bakery in Jackson, coffee, tea, hot chocolate and a complimentary water bottle.
Winter Tours with Teton Science Schools
In winter, you can experience the wildness of Yellowstone and Grand Teton without the crowds when you go on a snowcoach tour with Teton Science Schools. As you explore the wintry landscape, you’ll find it easy to imagine how early explorers felt as they traveled through this magical landscape. There’s a silence and sense of awe that permeates each turn on the tour.
Longer excursions allow you to really immerse yourself in an unforgettable park experience. In “Winter Wildlife and Wolves of Yellowstone,” a seven-day tour, you’ll feel the pulse of the park and its wildlife as you explore Yellowstone via snowcoach, covering the South, West and Northeast entrances. Wildlife Expeditions also operates half and full-day winter tours in Grand Teton National Park for those looking for a shorter wildlife excursion with a knowledgeable guide.
Summer Tours with Teton Science Schools
In summer you can go on a number of tours in both Yellowstone and Grand Teton. Choose a Yellowstone Full-Day Tour, a Grand Teton Sunset Tour or experience the landscape via raft when you sign up for the Scenic Float and Wildlife Tour. On the scenic float trip, you’ll float down the Snake River with a guide, starting or ending with either a sunset tour or sunrise tour in Grand Teton National Park. The sunset and sunrise tours are most popular for good reason.
“The sunrise and sunsets are beautiful, but there’s also more activity with wildlife around sunrise and sunset,” Wolf says, noting wildlife like to move around when it’s cooler out. “When it’s sunny and in the 70s mid-day, the animals look for shade.”
For a unique experience, you can go on a spring or fall tour. In spring, the parks’ wildlife have a lot of youngsters around them. See them learning how to walk, hunt, follow the herd and more on the three-day “Spring Wolf and Bear Tour.” This trip may include stops at Old Faithful, the colorful Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. Or head to the park when the leaves are changing on the “Fall Wolf and Bear Tour.” This three-day trip brings you to the heart of the Lamar Valley, known as America’s Serengeti because of its amazing concentration of wildlife.
Wolf, who went on one of these three-day tours, returned moved by what she saw and learned.
“It blew my mind,” Wolf says. “It’s amazing how our guides can talk for 16 hours a day and never repeat themselves.”
Teton Science Schools’ Three Tips for Travelers
- Wear layers. While Teton Science Schools’ vehicles have heat, it can be cool outside, especially in the mornings and evenings when temperatures can drop 30 degrees lower than mid-day.
- Bring a hat, mittens, snow boots and a waterproof jacket when you explore Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks during the winter months.
- Stay hydrated. It’s easy to get dehydrated on hot days at altitude. Avoid headaches and more when you bring your water bottle with you and drink it.
For more information:
(307) 733-1313 or (877) 404-6626 to book a Wildlife Expedition
700 Coyote Canyon Road, Jackson, Wyoming 83001