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Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra

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Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra


I am trying to clarify whether Ranger led programs at Yellowstone are the same as, or any more or less than, tours booked through xanterra. Specifically, I would like to participate in an evening Ranger led program (since we are spending the night in Gardiner am thinking either Canyon or more likely the Mammoth Evening program). Does anyone have experience with either of these options, and if so, do you know if there is an advantage to booking a xanterra evening "Wildlife Encounter" or similar program instead? Thanks

PS I should say that we will be in Cody the next night, and if there are anyone knows of evening programs on the eastern end of YS I would love to know about them as well

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1. Re: Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra

Here is a link to the summer ranger led walks and talks. nps.gov/yell/…yellowstone-today.htm

Having never done a Xanterra tour, I think they are on a small yellow bus and last longer and go to various park areas. The ranger talks or walks or evening programs are usually a few hours, and focus on a specific topic or area. Read the newspaper above for details. The ranger programs are free.

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2. Re: Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra

I have not done Xanterra tours either, but have taken many paid tours in other areas. The likelihood is that any concession led tour will be a "canned" tour led by someone who is not an experienced naturalist or historian. I can almost guarantee that ranger led programs will be more informative and rangers will know much more about the park if you have questions. I have been to many evening campfire programs in National Parks around the country and they are almost always quite good. I have been to evening programs at Canyon and they were great and I would have no doubt that any at Mammoth would be equally fine.

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3. Re: Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra

the evening ranger programs are talks and the paid tours take you in a bus to drive around and look for animals

Jackson, Ohio
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4. Re: Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra

We are headed to YPK in Aug 2015

We plan on taking both,,,,

The Red Bus Tour I took in Glacier, albeit led by a great guy who had memorized a script was unmatched.

The two are totally different, that's why I mix them

Denver, Colorado
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5. Re: Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra

If you look at the 2014 summer schedule for ranger-led programs you will see that most of the day time programs are done in the field where you meet the ranger at the listed location. The evening ranger programs are held in the various campground amphitheaters and at the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center (since there is no campground at Old Faithful). They are slide shows and talks with a question/answer session. The rangers prepare them and it is usually not possible to know more than a week in advance what the topics will be.


Yellowstone veterans advise against driving in the park after dark so if you are staying in Gardiner, I would only consider the program at the Mammoth campground amphitheater at night and not the one at Canyon, since that is a long drive back to Mammoth over roads with lots of potential for animals on them.

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Old Faithful Visitor Education Center
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6. Re: Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra

Yes do not drive in the park at night. If doing an evening program then do it in the area where you are staying for the night.

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7. Re: Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra

I have participated in a few ranger-led walks and talks, but have never paid for a tour through Xanterra.

I can say that most of the ranger-led programs were excellent and FREE. I enjoyed most of them very much. One, however, was an outlyer. It was as if this ranger didn't have any training and didn't really have a clue how to put together a program. But it was free, so I didn't feel like I'd wasted anything more than a little time (and could have left at any point if it wasn't necessary to get her signature on my Jr. Ranger booklet to earn my patch - yes, adults can do it, too!).

On the other side of the coin, while I have not participated in Xanterra programs, I have taken a course through Yellowstone Association to become a Certified Interpretive Guide and at least one of my fellow participants was hired by Xanterra. Seeing him going through the course and making his presentations to earn the certificates at the end, I would absolutely recommend taking any tour he'd lead. All Xanterra guides go through a similar course before beginning work as tour guides.

Of course, there's always the option to take a Yellowstone Association tour. They are truly invested in their craft and the payment you make for the tour supports the park. www.yellowstoneassociation.org

8. Re: Ranger Led Tours vs. Tour booked through xanterra

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