• On arrival in Salt Lake City, Utah, we meet our local guide and head to our accommodation nearby.
    • Accommodation: Microtel Salt Lake City Airport, 1-night on half board basis
    • Rising early this morning, we head northwards to Antelope Island State Park, home to bison, mule deer, pronghorn (an antelope) and other desert animals. Millions of birds congregate along the shore of the Great Salt Lake, offering unparalleled opportunities for birding.
    • After a morning on the Great Salt Lake, we continue eastwards and climb across the Uinta Mountains, where red crossbill, pine grosbeak, American three-toed woodpecker and black rosy-finch are all possible, before continuing to Green River in the neighbouring state of Wyoming.
    • Accommodation: Holiday Inn Express Rock Springs, 3-nights on full board basis
    • Starting early, we head just outside Rock Springs to look for species at the northern end of their range, such as juniper titmouse, grey vireo and Scott’s oriole, then head north to Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in the Green River Valley, one of the primary migration corridors through southwest Wyoming. More than 113 species breed and raise their young here in summer. We also see large and small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and even bats.
    • For the remainder of the day we go birding at La Barge Creek, where black bears are occasionally seen foraging along the creek. We finish the afternoon exploring the Fontenelle Dam migrant trap, where migrant songbirds travelling westwards over the mountains often rest during the day. We never know what will appear, as this site has almost 30 species of wood warbler on its list
    • The big day! We head north, with a stop at Ray Lake to see blue-winged and cinnamon teal and eared grebes, to prepare for the first total solar eclipse visible in the USA for 26 years, which takes place shortly before noon.
    • After witnessing this unique natural spectacle, we have the rest of the day to visit Wind River Indian Reservation, established in 1868 for the Shoshone tribe, and now the seventh largest reservation in the USA.
    • Swapping stargazing for scenery, we visit Whiskey Basin to look for bighorn sheep, montane birds such as mountain chickadee, red-breasted nuthatch and black-bellied magpie, and maybe even our first Barrows’s goldeneye.
    • In the afternoon we visit the National Bighorn Sheep Centre before continuing into Shoshone National Forest to enjoy spectacular vistas at Brooks Lake, where grey jay, pine grosbeak and bald eagle are found. Our destination is a mountain lodge east of Moran, where we go owling.
    • Accommodation: Togwotee Mountain Lodge, Moran, 1-night on full board basis
    • Descending from the mountains, we get our first sight of the Tetons as we head towards Jackson Hole, birding as we go.
    • We spend the afternoon near the National Elk Refuge to see trumpeter swan, violet-green swallow and sandhill crane. On arrival in Jackson Hole we can walk in a nearby canyon to seek out boreal and northern sawwhets.
    • Grand Teton National Park includes the peaks of the 65-kilomtre-long Teton Range, plus the valley of Jackson Hole. The park lies just 16 kilometres south of Yellowstone, which – along with the surrounding National Forests – constitutes one of the world’s largest temperate ecosystems, with flora and fauna that have existed since prehistoric times.
    • Accommodation: Motel 6, Jackson Hole, 2-nights on full board basis
    • We explore Grand Teton National Park, following the Moose-Wilson Road, where great grey owl is regularly seen. Wood duck, western tanager and belted kingfisher are all present, so there is plenty to keep us busy.
    • Leaving the valleys behind, we take the Aerial Tram up Rendezvous Mountain for spectacular views and possible sightings of black rosefinch, Clark’s nutcracker and golden eagle, plus a variety of finches, sparrows and warblers.
    • The rest of the afternoon is spent in the southern part of the park, visiting Phelps Lake, Moose Wetlands, and the Gros Ventre sectors, with an evening drive in search of owls.
    • Heading north through Grand Teton National Park, we visit Jenny Lake – our best opportunity to see black-backed woodpecker – Jackson Lake Dam, and Two Ocean Lakes, before entering Yellowstone National Park in the early afternoon.
    • Famed for both its wildlife and geothermal features, Yellowstone is the largest habitat for megafauna in the United States, with almost 60 species of large mammals that include grizzly bear, black bear, grey wolf, the threatened, lynx, mountain lion, free-ranging herds of bison, elk, moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain goat, pronghorn and bighorn sheep.
    • The southern end of the park offers beautiful scenery as we look for mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk, moose, American bison, and over 200 species of bird en route to Grant Village, beside Yellowstone Lake.
    • Accommodation: Brandin' Iron Inn, West Yellowstone, 1 night on full board basis
    • Today we visit Old Faithful geyser to see a very different aspect of the park. Yellowstone Lake sits on top of the continent’s largest super-volcano, which creates an amazing 50% of the world's geothermal features.
    • Accommodation: Super 8, Gardiner, 3-nights on full board basis
    • Yellowstone – and the Lamar Valley in particular – is one of the best places in the continental United States to see grizzly bears and wolves – so we dedicate the entire day to searching the valley and surrounding mountains for these alpha predators.
    • We spend another morning in the Lamar Valley, before making our way down Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River, taking in the sweeping cliffs and the stunning Lower and Upper Falls, where we might see harlequin duck, hunting osprey, and any lingering songbirds.
    • Heading back south from Yellowstone, we cross into Idaho state, visit Palisades Reservoir on the Wyoming/Idaho border, then Bear Lake close to the point where Idaho, Wyoming and Utah all meet.
    • The scenic drive down Logan Canyon to re-enter Utah provides great birding and scenery before we reach Brigham City, named after Brigham Young, second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (Mormons).
    • This is mainly a travel day with several short stops along the way for gentle birding.
    • Accommodation: Days Inn, Brigham City, 1-night on full board basis
    • This morning we start at Bear River Migratory Bird Reserve where among the many migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, we might see: Clark’s grebe, Caspian tern, American white pelican, and – on a good day – thousands of western sandpiper.
    • Continuing south along the Great Salt Lake, we spend our final evening close to Utah Lake, south of Salt Lake City, where we go owling to see flammulated, northern sawwhet, northern pygmy, western screech and great horned owls, along with common nighthawk and common poorwill.
    • Accommodation: Best Western Timpanogos Inn, Lehi, 1-night on full board basis
    • On our final day we can enjoy a visit to Timpanogos Cave National Monument and some relaxed birding along the American Fork River, before heading to Salt Lake City airport for the flight back to London.
  1. Day 15 Arrive UK

All prices are per person and include:

  • Services of the naturalist leader
  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Accommodation
  • All meals
  • Guided activities
  • Entrance fees

Accommodation

Accommodation is selected on the basis of proximity to key birding and wildlife sites, and consists of mid-range hotels and lodges. All rooms have en suite facilities.

Meals

All meals are included. Breakfast is taken in the hotel/lodge, and dinner is either at the hotel/lodge or a nearby restaurant. Lunch may be either a picnic or a light meal at a typical diner.

Birds

Although late August may not be the optimum time of year to see birds, this is right at the onset of the migration, so there should be plenty to see – from the many migrant shorebirds along the Great Salt Lake, to migrant passerines, mountain-dwelling species, and species right at the northern end of their range.

  • American plover
  • Sagebrush sparrow
  • Mountain chickadee
  • Great grey owl

Mammals

Yellowstone National Park is the largest habitat for megafauna in the United States, with almost 60 species of large mammal, some of which we may also encounter in parks and reserves elsewhere.

  • Brown (grizzly) bear
  • Grey wolf
  • Bison
  • Bighorn sheep

Flora

The wide variety of habitats and range of altitudes visited on his trip ensure that we encounter a flora that is every bit as varied as the fauna.

Scenery

Between them, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks contain some of the finest scenery in the continental United States, and large tracts of territory remain virtually unaffected by the intervention of man. With habitats that vary from high mountain peaks to open plains, and from dense forests to rushing rivers, there is much to enjoy here.

Photography

There are excellent photographic opportunities, particularly in the dramatic landscapes of 'Mountain West'.

Walking

We walk in a variety of locations in search of birds, mostly on good and level trails. Where trails are steep in parts, we take these slowly. Although on occasion we reach an altitude of more than 10,000 feet, we do little walking at this elevation.

Flights

Price includes scheduled flights London – Salt Lake City – London.

Ground transport

One or two (depending on the size of the group) 12-seat Chevrolet Express Vans (or similar – with a maximum of 9 people per vehicle), driven by the local guide and tour leader.

Altitude

We reach a maximum altitude of around 11,000 feet on the trip by Aerial Tram from Jackson Hole up Rendezvous Mountain.

Climate

We travel in summer when temperatures in the desert can reach over 30⁰ Celsius, so expect it to be hot and generally dry. In some places it is cooler – particularly in the evening – due to the elevation. Temperatures in Salt Lake City range from an average low of 20⁰ to an average high of 31⁰ Celsius during August, whereas in Jackson Hole they range from an average low of 5⁰ to an average high of 21⁰ Celsius

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