September 16–22, 2017
Hear the bugle of Yellowstone elk on a weeklong adventure during fall rutting (mating) season, when males take to the meadows to spar over their harems, locking antlers and letting out their high-pitched calls. On guided excursions by vehicle, helicopter, and on foot, explore the prime elk habitats of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and learn about local wildlife from National Geographic experts and the lodge’s resident naturalist. With Lone Mountain Ranch as your base camp, experience authentic Montana ranch life, venture into the backcountry on horseback and bike, and cast a line into the region’s shimmering trout streams.
Transfer from the Bozeman airport to the ranch. Get settled in your log cabin, then delve into the wonders of the backcountry on horseback or mountain bike. Or try your hand at fly casting at an Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing clinic. Later this afternoon, gather with fellow travelers at a welcome reception hosted by the lodge naturalist, and learn about elk migration patterns at a National Geographic map exhibit. Then sit down to an authentic Montana feast at the lodge’s restaurant and saloon.
After breakfast, head out on a guided driving and hiking excursion to nearby Gallatin National Forest. Spot elk in the wild using high-tech scopes and optics provided by the lodge. Return to the ranch for lunch, followed by a guided adventure of your choosing. Saddle up and join the ranch’s experienced wranglers on a horseback ride; explore the rugged backcountry by bike; go fishing in some of Montana’s top Blue Ribbon trout streams; or spend the afternoon at your leisure. Wind down the day over cocktails in the saloon, then enjoy a presentation by a National Geographic expert before sitting down to a gourmet, ranch-style dinner.
Rise early and join the lodge naturalist on a scenic helicopter flight from the ranch to the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Then head into the, visiting highlights including Roosevelt Arch and Mammoth Hot Springs, where fascinating travertine terraces look like a cave turned inside out. Observe the elk rut and hear the shrill bugles of the bulls, discover the park’s fascinating petrified forest, and view bison and other creatures en route to the wildlife-rich Lamar Valley. Enjoy lunch in the field at Pebble Creek, where the craggy peaks of the Absaroka Mountains set a dramatic backdrop. Travel back through the Lamar Valley, watching for elk, bison, grizzly bears, and gray wolves along the way—and stop at the tumbling three-step Undine Falls. Fly back to the ranch by helicopter and recount the day’s adventures over dinner.
Greet the day with an early morning yoga session, then take a wagon ride to a remote cabin, where a hearty “cowboy breakfast” awaits. Join a guide on a morning horseback or mountain biking ride or a fly-fishing excursion. Enjoy lunch in the field or at the lodge restaurant. This afternoon, hear a presentation by a National Geographic expert, then head into the prime elk habitat of Gallatin National Forest on a guided excursion to witness the rut in action. Back at the ranch, dine on traditional Western fare prepared using local ingredients.
Enjoy an early breakfast, then set out on an all-day guided tour of the western part of Yellowstone National Park. Seek out elk gathering along the Madison River, then discover the park’s most stunning geysers and hot springs, including Old Faithful and the enormous, rainbow-hued Grand Prismatic Spring. Tonight, gather for wagon rides, live music, and an elk bugling competition over barbecue.
After breakfast, join a guided excursion to Gallatin National Forest to observe elk in their prime habitat. Get a closer look using scopes and optics provided by the lodge. Return to the lodge for lunch, followed by an afternoon at leisure. This evening, sip cocktails in the saloon, then enjoy a photo retrospective of the week’s adventures before sitting down to a final farm-to-table dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.