Frequently Asked Questions

We recommend folks layer their clothing as mornings can be cool, and the afternoons can be quite a bit warmer. We recommend you bring a national park pass (if you have one, if not you can get it on tour), camera, extra memory, chargers, sunglasses. We also recommend you bring a lunch, coolers are available in the summer.

Yellowstone tours from West Yellowstone (summer only) are up to 8 hours (11 hours for the Beartooth Tour)
Yellowstone tours from Big Sky (Summer and winter) average about 9 to 10 hours.
Yellowstone tours from Bozeman (summer) 9 to 10 hours; (winter) 7 to 8 hours.

We do not include meals on any tours. We have found over the years, people throw away 1/2 of the lunches, and the fact meals would be a cost we pass onto you, we have found there is less waste when groups bring their own lunch. The restaurants in the park are often crowded and slow.
For multi day tours we always use lodging with restaurants facilities or restaurants nearby.
We can help arrange meals for large groups, please inquire.

All private tours may be customized, when starting your day, our guides will often ask about what you would like to see during the day. Please note Yellowstone is huge and it is not possible to see the entire park in a day, we recommend choosing from the north or south sides of the park, then planning from there.
We do not customize small group tours.

The wildlife can vary greatly from one side of the park to the other, along with the time of year (day) you are here. Remember, wildlife is never a guarantee, and every day is different. In general the most common wildlife is:
Lower Loop: elk, bison and ospreys are common. Black bears, grizzly Bears, mule deer, bald eagles and coyotes are possible, but not seen every day. Rare sightings of wolves and moose can happen.
Upper Loop: elk, bison, pronghorn, mule deer are often common. Black bears, grizzly bears, wolves, eagles, bighorn sheep, moose, coyotes, mountain goats, whitetail deer, badgers, and fox are all possible. The best season for wildlife is May and June.
Winter wildlife adventure: mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, bison, pronghorn, coyotes, bighorn sheep and bald eagles are common. Wolves are viewed most trips, but not all. Moose and fox sightings happen but not every day. Tours in March and April may see one of the first grizzly or black bears just out of hibernation.

Tours are great for children or families. The kids often stay entertained looking for wildlife, although because of the mileage, you may want to bring some activities for your kids to bring along. As for small kids, every child is different, some do great, others can have a rough time on long vehicle rides. Private tours may shorten the trip to the length of day you choose. Kids really love our overnight backpacking trips.

Because of Yellowstone’s diversity, there is no “best time of year” to visit. Anytime is good.

Keep in mind much of the park is closed 11/01 through 12/15, and again between 03/15 and the 3rd Friday in April. During this time, the only open road is from the North Entrance to Cooke City. There is no access east of Cooke City, south of Tower Jct., south of Mammoth, including the West, South and East Entrances during this time. We do offer the Winter Wildlife Adventure from Big Sky and Bozeman as day trips and 2 or more day trips from West Yellowstone, Big Sky, Bozeman and even Jackson (this is the only time of year we offer trips from Jackson, with the exception of multi day vacation packages).
The best time for wildlife is December through June, with July and August being the toughest months.
The best time of year for the thermal activity is June through mid-September.
The best time of year to not see snowfall: July and August (June and September may see some quick snowstorms).
The best time of year to beat the crowds is October through May. We are open year round.
The best time of year to avoid mosquitoes and other bugs: August through early May.

Our vehicles do have room for wheelchairs, however, the vehicles do not have lifts. You would be able to get from the chair into the seat (much like getting into a car seat- we use Suburbans and Expeditions). There are many wheelchair accessible trails in Yellowstone and the guides will know the best ones. The park even has a wheelchair accessible backcountry campsite, and we have conducted wheelchair accessible backpacking trips.

Guides carry bear spray. Guides have been through professional driving courses, NPS wildlife safety courses. Guides have First aid to Wilderness First Responder certifications. Backcountry guides are experts at setting up campsites that will not attract wildlife, and all backcountry safety protocol.

You may book online, or you may call our office at 406-10105-231010 or email us at

In October through April, we recommend you wear your ski clothing in layers, with cold mornings and warm afternoons, with a 20 to 50 degrees temperature difference between the am and pm. Hats, gloves and boots that are good for walking on snow and ice are advised. It is better to have too much than not enough. It is rare this time of year to have weather that requires shorts. Facemasks for winters are also recommended. Lows are -40 to 10+ (the average low is -20) and highs are normally 0 to 35.

In May through September, snow is still possible, especially in May and September. Once again layering clothing is advised, with cooler mornings with lows of 25 to 45 and highs between 55 & 65 (65 & 80 in July and August). Shorts, jackets are often worn in the same day. Smoke is possible in the summer months as well. Raincoats are good to have along on summer days.

Phone chargers, camera chargers, extra memory cards, sunglasses, swim suits (on multi day trips- no swimming on day trips), medications, insurance cards in case you have a medical emergency, water bottles (water refilling stations throughout the park).

Park Entrance fees are not included on any tour. If you have a Senior Pass, an America the Beautiful Pass, Golden Access Pass or Military Pass, bring it with a photo ID with a signature that matches the signature on the pass. Active and retired military should bring their military ID for a Military Pass. These passes will cover the pass holder and 3 more adults. If you qualify for these passes, do not get them until you get to the gate as they are time sensitive and 12 month passes start on the date of purchase.
15 and under are free.
16 and up are $20 per person, for a 7-day pass to Yellowstone only.
Those who qualify for a senior pass (62 & over/ US residents only), or the Golden Access Pass (those with a permanent disability) must bring an ID showing age and residence or medical records to prove you qualify.

If you are traveling through in a private vehicle, before your tour and you have at least 2 adults, do not buy the $35 car pass, buy 2 single passes for $20 each ($40) or a year pass for all of the parks for $80. The park will not upgrade your pass.

4th graders can qualify for the 4th grade pass which will cover 3 adults on a tour. Download and print out the form at Bring the printed form on tour, forms on phones will not be accepted.

Active and retired military receive a free park pass, just bring your military ID.

We do not include the park entrance fees as many folks have their own pass already or qualify for a cheaper pass than the by the person rate. Once again, we do this that we don’t pass on a cost to our guests who already have a pass.

We recommend you purchase your pass at the gate on your tour. Those purchasing a year pass, should purchase their pass at the gate of the first national park site you visit.

Deposits for day tours require a $200, non-refundable deposit at the time of your reservation. The balance is due 7 days prior to the tour date. Cancellations made within 7 days will be charged the full amount. Any cancellation prior to 7 days will be charged the $200 and refunded any other amount paid.

For Multi Day Tours including lodging. A deposit equal to 1/3 of the package price is due at the time of the reservation. The balance is due 30 days prior to the tour date. Because of the complexity of multi day trips, and multiple vendors with multiple cancellation policies all multi day trips are non-refundable.

The guides average about 15 to 20% of the tour rate (about $100 to $200 per day). Gratuities are not included on any tour, and cannot be paid by credit card.

All tours do carry spotting scopes. Additional optics such as binoculars are not provided. Please let us know of any more special requirements such as wheelchairs, service animals, etc. For multi day trips, please let us know if you require a 1st floor or accessible room.

Yellowstone Tour Guides is not responsible for any lost items. If found we will make every effort possible to return them.

Why Choose Yellowstone Tour Guides?

When is the best time to book your backpacking adventure?

We recommend you contact our office between October and mid-February so that we are able to secure the best campsites for your dates.

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