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Bus Tours Tips (7)

Blasts from the past!

On our final day in the park, while pulled over to have a look at the Yellowstone River Rapids, we came across this old Yellowstone NP tour bus making its rounds. The history of the busses goes back to 1935 when the White Motor Company won a design competition for busses specifically for touring in the National Parks. At their peak, ninety-eight of these busses were on the road in the Park until they were gradually phased out in the mid-1960s due to wear and tear. However, in 2001 a fleet of eight of these busses was eventually purchased from the Skagway Streetcar Company of Alaska for restoration, exhibition and limited tour duty in Yellowstone once again.

We saw similar busses in Glacier NP a few years ago, painted red in that park. Features of this type of bus include a roll-down top if the passengers want to enjoy a sunny day, as well as roll-down passenger windows along both sides of the bus and a driver who narrates the various scenes as the cruise takes place.

While we were leaving the Tower Falls area on our first day in Yellowstone, we spotted a yellow stagecoach (2nd photo) making a few dust clouds as it took a small group of visitors for a ride. Stagecoach travel in Yellowstone started not long after the railroad (and the resulting people) came to the area in 1881 and continued in various forms until 1917 when the coaches were no longer allowed as automobiles became all the rage. The type of stagecoach we saw was originally built in New Hampshire and came in either four-horse or six-horse versions, depending on the passenger seating numbers (with the largest type capable of touring 18 people). Today, tours in the modernized versions (1950-70s) are provided by Stagecoach Adventures at the Northeast Entrance, Tower and Roosevelt areas of Yellowstone and most take a half-hour to cover their tour routes.

Bwana_Brown's Profile Photo
Oct 23, 2010

Historic Yellow Bus Tours

Sit back and relax, while letting someone else do the driving. While touring on the historic 1937 touring buses, you will not only enjoy the views, but you will also find interesting narrated trips, where you will hear stories about the past in Yellowstone. You may purchase tickets for All Day Tours, Partial Day tours, or Evening Tours. One evening tour is the Yellowstone Lake Butte Sunset Tour, which will give you beautiful views from the Lake Butte Overlook as well as other scenic views. The park concessionaire, out of Yellowstone Lake Hotel and Fishing Bridge RV Park, operates this tour. There are also Evening Wildlife Tours and others that depart from Mammoth Hotel, as well as other evening tours that originate from Old Faithful Inn. There are various types of Partial Day and All Day Tours offered departing form Lake Hotel, Fishing Bridge RV Park, Old Faithful Inn, Mammoth Hotel, Canyon Lodge, Roosevelt Lodge, and Grant Village. Some of these tours operate daily, others only a few times a week. There are also varying operating dates, some begin at the end of May, but most begin sometime in June. Some end in late August, while others run into mid- September. If you would be interested in one of these tours, visit the web page listed below, choose Plan Your Trip, then Available Activities, then Historic Yellow Bus Tours. Here you can read a short description of each tour, and get additional information. I highly recommend that you make reservations ahead of time. This can be done at the same web page or by calling the phone number listed below.

views of another one of these wonderful historic buses, see my other two photos attached with this tip.

KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo
Mar 24, 2015

Montana Fund Adventures

This company does a two day tour from Billings, MT to and through Yellowstone National Park. For those who don't want to have to rent a car or drive themselves, this is a good way to go. There are several meals included in the package as well as lodging.

Dymphna1's Profile Photo
Apr 04, 2011

A Day Out By Snowcoach

As I have said earlier on this page, the only way to get around Yellowstone in the winter is by oversnow transport and taking a snowcoach tour is an ideal method of doing so.

There are a wide variety of operators to chose from, all of whom offer pretty much the same deal, and all the hotels have their own preffered service which can usually be booked through the desk.

A typical tour will include being picked up from your hotel about 8.30 am then driven through the park to either Mammoth Springs or Old Faithful, with stop-offs for photo-ops en-route, aiming to arrive at the destination around lunch-time. You should have time for a leisurley lunch and then return via a slightly different route, expecting to be back early evening - about 4.30.

Website below gives all the info you need, go to the bottom of it for a full list of the various operators.

As a rough price guide expect to pay about $85-95 for the tour (this will include a $10 NPS entrance fee, though if you are already a pass holder this will be deducted from the cost) and tip for the guide will always be appreciated - say another $10.

johngayton's Profile Photo
Mar 14, 2006
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Circle of Fire Tour

This is a tour run by Xanterra who also run the hotels at the parks. It is not run by the NPS. This is a full day tour, and travels along the lower portion of Yellowstone's figure eight road system. The major sights include the Upper and Lower Geyser Basins, Yellowstone Lake, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, and Norris Geyser Basin.

On our tour, we started at Old Faithful, went down to Grant to pick people up, stopping at Kepler Cascades first and afterwards at the Lake Hotel, went to Mud Volcano and Dragon Mouth Spring (which was an extra), had a bison photo-op-stop and then did the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Yellowstone Falls. We did both the Upper Falls and then Artists Point to see the Lower Falls.

We stopped for lunch at Canyon Village and several more times to see wildlife. We drove down Firehole Canyon Drive and our last stop was lower Geyser Basin. My grandson went all around the Fountain Paint Pot trail with the guide.

We got back in time for the people from Grant to see an eruption of Old Faithful before the bus took them back.

Our guide did a very good job - and we found out when we got back that we were his first tour.

grandmaR's Profile Photo
Jul 23, 2011

Don’t Wish to Drive?

Yellowstone is a park that will require a lot of driving and walking, it is therefore mandatory that you have transportation. Unfortunately, however, the park does not offer buses or other public transportation to pick you up at one destination, and let you off at another. If you are willing to drive, but are flying in at one of the near community airports, you must rent a vehicle for your trip.

Some people, however, would rather avoid the headache of parking in crowded parking lots, having to make a number of reservations well in advance, and don't mind being restricted to the schedule of a package tour that they will share with strangers. If you are one of these, then you might wish to purchase a package from Xanterra Parks & Resorts. A number of 3 to 5 night packaged tours are available each year. These generally include most or all meals, lodging, transportation, and activities. If you choose one of the all-inclusive packages, you will only have to make the package reservation, and everything else within the park will be taken care of. It is vital, that you check out the packages offered for when you wish to visit well in advance, and make reservations around a year before your planned trip. Generally these package offerings can be found at Xanterra’s Yellowstone Page. Click open the drop down menu under “Things to Do” and choose Brouchures and Downloads.

KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo
Aug 16, 2016

The Yellow Bus Tour

We did not take any of these bus tours, but A lot of other people did. Just Wanted to let you know they are available. They take people to the major sight seeing spots in the park.

pulgaron's Profile Photo
Sep 12, 2002

Top 5 Yellowstone National Park Writers

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"Yellowstone National Park, My Neighbor"
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"Yellowstone National Park was fantastic"
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"Yellowstone National Park"
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Things To Do Near Yellowstone National Park

Things to Do

Mt. Washburn

We started out in mid-morning. Reached the top and enjoyed a picnic lunch looking over the park. We noticed clouds to the west, so we started down. Halfway back, it started to snow (few flakes), but...
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Things to Do

Grand Canyon

Very impressive canyon of the Yellowstone River that runs through the eastern part of the park. It's up to 4,000 feet wide, stretches for 24 miles and 1,200 feet deep at its deepest. It sits just...
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Things to Do

Tower Falls

I really wish they would fix the path to the base of the falls. For now it is not worth walking down the path as it is closed before you can get to the base, and you cannot see the falls from any part...
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Things to Do

Yellowstone Lake

This huge lake is in the southeast part of the park is formed by the inflow of the Yellowstone river. From here you can boat, fish, and swim. Its the largest body of water in the park covering 136 sq...
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Things to Do

Mammoth Hot Springs

In Mammoth the primary rock is limestone. You will see both active and inactive travertine terraces. These terraces are in continual change, old ones become inactive, and inactive ones may once again...
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Getting to Yellowstone National Park


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