Insider’s Guide to Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
Get your fill of geysers, glamping, rodeos, and more on a week-long adventure through the West.
America’s first national park, Yellowstone, remains one of the most beloved and immortalized. Its vast untamed landscape, dotted with bubbling geysers and herds of roaming buffalo, has come to represent the rugged beauty and pioneering spirit of the American West. Trying to experience a wilderness area that spans more than 2.2 million acres in just one week would be daunting for anyone other than a luxury private travel company, All Roads North, whose expert logisticians have mapped a route with all of Yellowstone’s highlights, while also tacking on the best of nearby Grand Teton National Park.
“The biggest challenge of visiting Yellowstone is always efficiency and avoiding being snarled with crowds,” says All Roads North founder, Sam Highley. “We’ve devised a route that escapes the masses while showing Members three very different Yellowstone experiences.” Members begin their private vacation in Paradise Valley, a gateway that gets them into the northern part of the park quickly so they can explore wildlife-rich Lamar Valley in a custom-built safari vehicle with a professional naturalist. “This northern section of the park offers some of the best chances to see grizzly bears, pronghorns, bison and wolf packs,” says Highley.
From the north, Members travel through the dramatic Gallatin Canyon to the western edge of the park, visiting a backcountry corner far from the crowds. To ensure a memorable travel experience, your hiking companions for the day will be a naturalist as well as a team of llamas to carry your picnic lunch. These days, the best luxury adventure vacations incorporate glamping, so All Roads North has arranged a night in one of the over-the-top safari tents at Under Canvas retreat.
The drive south through the lower section of Yellowstone takes in classic attractions, including Old Faithful and the geothermal geyser basins, and is the perfect segue over the Continental Divide and into the northern part of Grand Teton National Park. In Jackson, you’ll swap glamping for a five-star stay at award-winning Amangani resort, tucked away on a butte overlooking Jackson Hole. Order an espresso at dinner so you can stay up for a private, astronomer-led stargazing tour in Grand Teton.
You might need another caffeine fix to rise early to meet your guide and private vehicle for an early morning tour of the park—the best time to spot moose, sage grouse, and pronghorn. You don’t need to be an avid angler to appreciate the evening’s adventure on the Snake River. A two-hour sunset float in a wooden McKenzie River boat culminates with a riverside camp dinner set amidst breathtaking scenery. Jenny Lake, one of Grand Teton’s gems, is the gateway to incredible climbing. The following day, join a professional climbing guide on a boat trip across the lake to take on ascents for both novices and experienced climbers right next to a waterfall.
Be sure to pack your cowboy boots because despite its glitzy clientele, the town of Jackson is still rooted in cowboy culture. Members will get a chance to meet wranglers and riders during a behind-the-scenes rodeo tour before settling into the best seats in the house for the show. If you have an additional week, Highley recommends extending to a luxury ranch, Glacier National Park, or the Black Hills of South Dakota.