A relaxing and thorough way to take in the sights of Yellowstone National Park is with a bus tour. Tours vary, but there are some basics that apply to most.
1. Pickup Location
Every bus tour company has a different schedule when it comes to pickup locations. Common locations for bus tours are at the main park campgrounds, the park entrance, or at one of the major tourist hotels in West Yellowstone and Bozeman, MT. Overnight tours rarely begin at park campgrounds or entrances. Instead, these typically begin in nearby towns or in the larger tourist locations further outside the park, such as Jackson Hole, WY.
2. Tour Loop
There are three main tour loops offered, although the specifics will vary by the tour company. The upper loop tours include visits to attractions such as Tower Falls, Dunraven Pass, and the Mammoth Hot Springs. The lower loop tours usually take in the perennial park favorite, Old Faithful. There are also wildlife viewing loops, which may take in some of the natural geographic wonders but are more focused on traveling to areas where wildlife are currently active.
3. Overnight Options
Overnight tours are a possibility, but the logistics for these are as varied as the bus companies that offer them. Some overnight tours are all-inclusive and provide motel stays and meals near the park, while others are camping tours and you may need to bring your own gear or even supply your own food. Overnight tours can be a single night or multiple nights, and many include all of the main tour loops.
4. Necessary Gear
What you bring depends on the type of tour, so it is best to contact the bus company in advance. For a day tour, plan to bring sunscreen and bug spray, as well jackets and gear to cope with the changing weather in the park. You may also be responsible for bringing your own food and water, so make sure you have plenty on hand for a full day at the park. The tour company will have a first aid kit on hand, but bring extras of any medication you require just in case your tour is delayed.
5. Booking Tips
Park bus tours fill up quickly for the peak Yellowstone tourist season that typically runs June through August. Most tours stop running in winter, typically from November through April although specifics depend upon the weather for any given year. It can be easier to book in the spring and fall seasons.
Contact a Yellowstone bus tour service for more help.