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The Yellowstone Association Institute, one of the most respected field schools in the national park system, provides instructors to accompany small groups for a personal introduction to Yellowstone.

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bulletProgram Descriptions
bulletRates and Reservations
bulletTrip Planning
bulletAbout YAI


Educational Adventures

from the

Yellowstone Association Institute

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Educational adventures are a fun way to get an inside look at the natural history of Yellowstone National Park.  Our instructors are expert naturalists who enjoy sharing their knowledge with visitors of all ages. They will meet you at a predetermined location and join you in your vehicle to provide a personal introduction to the park’s wildlife and ecology.  Participants provide their own vehicle, meals, personal clothing and equipment.



Program Descriptions

The focus of Educational Adventures is on observing wildlife in the natural environment of Yellowstone National Park.  Our most popular programs are described below.  Other programs are available by special arrangement.


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Morning or Evening Wildlife Watching

(approximately 6 hours)

All-Day Wildlife Watching

(8 hours or more)

The best times to see wildlife are at dawn and dusk, and you will be there to see the action! Most programs include a combination of roadside viewing and short hikes in prime wildlife habitat. These schedules are flexible and can be modified to meet the needs of your group.


The morning option begins with a pre-dawn drive to the Lamar Valley so that you will be in the best position to see wildlife at first light. Viewing is usually done along the road and can be good until about mid-morning, when animals become less active. At that point, groups typically opt for a short hike or driving tour with the instructor. The program ends at mid-day, around the noon hour.


The evening option begins with the short hike or driving tour, followed by wildlife viewing until nightfall.

This program is for serious wildlife watchers who want to take full advantage of daily viewing opportunities. During long summer days, the group gathers for morning viewing, takes a break of 4-6 hours during the mid-day, and gets together again for evening viewing. (Another possibility is morning viewing followed by a longer hike ending in the late afternoon or early evening.) For short winter days, the instructor can be with the group from dawn until dusk.

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Yellowstone Association Institute instructors have spent countless hours in the field observing wildlife, conducting scientific research, and leading instructional programs of all types. Their close knowledge of Yellowstone’s wildlife, like wolves and bears, along with their quality binoculars and spotting scopes, will increase your chances of observing many species in their natural habitat.

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Rates & Reservations

Number of People

Morning or Evening* Wildlife Watching

All-Day* Wildlife Watching
1-4 $165 $210
5 $190 $235
6 $215 $260
7 $240 $285
8 $265 $310
9 $290 $335
10 or more inquire for a quote inquire for a quote

Yellowstone Association Members receive $10 discount for each day spent on an educational adventure

*described under Program Descriptions

To make arrangements for an Educational Adventure contact the registrar at the Yellowstone Association Institute.  The registrar will confirm instructor availability and contact you to collect payment. Your reservation will be confirmed in writing and you will receive a mailing that includes an equipment list, a reading list, and a park entrance pass valid on the day of your Educational Adventure. All participants are required to sign a Release and Assumption of Risk form.

Yellowstone Association Institute

P.O. Box 117

Yellowstone National Park

Wyoming 82190

Phone: (307) 344-2294

Fax: (307) 344-2485

Full payment for Educational Adventures is required for guarantee of your reservation. Payments can be made by phone (307 344 2294) with VISA, Discover, or MasterCard; or by mail within 10 days of your reservation or it will be canceled.

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Payment for an Educational Adventure is fully refundable, less a $35 processing fee, if cancellation takes place at least 60 days prior to the scheduled day of the Educational Adventure. No refund can be made for cancellations received fewer than 60 days before the scheduled day of the Educational Adventure. Your Educational Adventure can be rescheduled, or your fee can be applied to another Yellowstone Association Institute course before September 30 of the same year on a space available basis. The Yellowstone Association Institute reserves the right to cancel an Educational Adventure at any time, in which case you will receive a full refund.


Trip Planning

The Yellowstone Association Institute provides many resources on this page to help you prepare for an Educational Adventure. Frequently Asked Questions and their answers are provided. Prior to the trip, guests may wish to obtain the items on our equipment list, which can be important to providing for comfort, safety and enjoyment during the adventure. Before joining others in the pursuit of wildlife watching, please familiarize yourself with etiquette guidelines endorsed by the Yellowstone Association Institute. Reading one or more of the books on our reading list will further enhance your understanding and enjoyment of this experience.


Frequently Asked Questions

bulletWhat should I bring? Our equipment list has a variety of clothing and gear suggestions that will make your Educational Adventure more comfortable and enjoyable. We do not provide food or beverages, so be certain to bring these.
bulletWhere and when will we meet? The time and place to meet the instructor is made by arrangement during the reservation process. We will gladly meet you in Gardiner, Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower/Roosevelt, or the Lamar Valley.
bulletCan an instructor meet a party in other locations in the park, such as Canyon, Old Faithful or Lake? Normally we would like to work on the northern range of Yellowstone where wildlife species are most abundant and diverse.   This means we normally meet people at Mammoth Hot Springs, Roosevelt Lodge, Lamar Buffalo Ranch, or Gardiner, Montana.  If you would like service from another Yellowstone location, please contact us to discuss meeting places and additional fees for instructor mileage.
bulletWhat wildlife will I see? Some species are season-specific, but we almost always see elk, bison, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, coyotes, bald and golden eagles, hawks, ravens, sandhill cranes, and numerous waterfowl and passerine birds. We sometimes see wolves, black and grizzly bears, foxes, bighorn sheep, owls, and falcons. We rarely see other animals, including mountain lions and river otters.
bulletWill you guarantee my wolf or bear sighting? We would like to, but we can’t. These are rare and elusive animals and sightings are not guaranteed. Joining an educational adventure improves your chances of seeing these animals, but the end result will always be up to the wolf or bear, not the instructor.
bulletWhen should we schedule our Educational Adventure to have the best opportunities to see wolves? Generally, we recommend the "shoulder seasons," fall and spring. These times are good for seeing wolves in particular, and spring is the best time to see a bear.
bulletAre there any bad times of the year to come to see wolves and bears? Yes, unfortunately the most popular time to visit the park seems to be August and September and both of these months are notoriously poor times of the years to see both wolves and bears.
bulletCan you cover subjects besides wildlife in detail, such as geology, cultural history, or outdoor recreation? Yes, through our extensive network of Institute instructors, we can cover almost any Yellowstone subject. Please contact us to ask about instructor availability.
bulletIs transportation available?  We can sometimes arrange to use the Institute’s 15-passenger vans for educational adventures, especially during the winter months. If this is important to you, please inquire when you make your reservation.


Equipment List

The items listed below are suggested for your comfort and enjoyment. The items are not required, but make for a better experience.


Water bottle


Thermos for hot liquids






Insect repellent (summer only)


Sun screen & lip protector




A small piece of foam or stadium chair, for sitting or standing on


Camera & film




Spotting Scope and tripod


Notebook & pencil


Pocket hand/foot warmers

These items of clothing will give the greatest level of comfort and safety. Many people come inadequately prepared for cold weather and are then forced to stay inside the vehicles. Boots, hats and gloves tend to be the weak link in many people’s preparations. Dress in layers and then add or remove some as temperature dictates. Hiking boots are good for the summer but are usually inadequate in the winter

bulletSynthetic underwear such as polypropylene
bulletPile shirt or wool sweater
bulletDown coat or vest
bulletWind and rain shell made of breathable nylon such as Gore-tex
bulletLight-weight gloves
bulletHeavy Gore-tex gloves or mittens (winter)
bulletInsulated hat that can cover your ears
bulletLight-weight hat that can shade your face
bulletNeck gaiter or scarf (winter)
bulletThick pile or wool socks
bulletShell pants (gore-tex) or wool pants
bulletBoots with water repellent layers outside and thick insulation inside

Yellowstone Association Institute


Private Wildlife Watching Guide


Winter Wolf Watch Dates


Autumn Wolf Watch Dates


Spring Wolf Watch Dates



For questions or to make arrangements, email or phone/text:  406~223~6634.

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