- We take a direct flight to Salt Lake City, where we meet our leader/guide and transfer to a hotel near the airport for an introductory briefing and dinner.
- Accommodation: Salt Lake City, 1-night on half board basis
- Rising early we head northeast into Wyoming, passing arid sagebrush valleys, reservoirs and marshes, then follow the Wyoming Range to Jackson Hole. With the autumn migration in full swing we never know what we might see, but waterfowl, shorebirds and birds of prey are all on our list for today.
- We visit Echo Reservoir, Woodruff Narrows Reservoir, Bear River Meadows, Cokeville Meadows, and Palisades Reservoir, which could yield 75+ bird species. Black, common, Forster’s and Caspian tern are all possible, plus around 20 species of waterfowl, 20 species of shorebird, and dozens of songbirds, as well as raptors.
- By late afternoon we start following the Snake River into Jackson Valley, with our first glimpses of the Tetons ahead.
- Accommodation: Jackson Hole, 3-nights on full board basis
- With two days to explore, we make the most of our mornings by visiting famed lowland birding hotspots such as Moose-Wilson Road, where great grey owl, belted kingfisher and Barrow’s goldeneye are sometimes found.
- On our first afternoon we leave the valleys and take the Aerial Tram for spectacular views of the national park. Black rosy-finch, Clark’s nutcracker and golden eagle are often sighted up here, along with a variety of finches, sparrows and warblers.
- We also visit the National Elk Refuge, Flat Creek Observation Point, Phelps Lake, Teton Village, and a number of other birding hotspots, to fill our bird and wildlife lists with species such as moose, Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, red fox, and mountain cottontail.
- Today we head north through Grand Teton National Park, passing Jenny Lake (our best opportunity to see black-backed woodpecker) before taking the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway to enter Yellowstone National Park in the early afternoon with a stop at the famed geyser of Old Faithful.
- Eventually, we reach the north shore of Yellowstone Lake and make our way along the 'Grand Canyon' of the Yellowstone River, taking in the sweeping cliffs and gorgeous Lower and Upper Falls. Along the river we might see harlequin duck, hunting osprey, and lingering songbirds that will start to migrate south any day now.
- We continue north to the Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs at the northern edge of the park. Our destination is the small town of Gardiner just outside the park boundary.
- Accommodation: Gardiner, 4-nights on full board basis
- Among Yellowstone’s most iconic locations are the geyser basin – with the famous Old Faithful – which offers an insight into a very different aspect of the park. Yellowstone Lake (2,358 metres) sits atop the Yellowstone Caldera, the continent’s largest super-volcano, which has erupted with immense force several times in the last two million years.
- Yellowstone – and the Lamar Valley in particular – is one of the best places in the United States to see grizzly bears and wolves – so we spend two days searching the valley and surrounding mountains for these great alpha predators. There is no telling what we might see, but in Yellowstone anything is possible!
- The beautiful scenery at southern end of Yellowstone offers mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk, moose, American bison, and over 200 species of bird at this time of year.
- At West Yellowstone we visit the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre, where rescued bears recover; if we fail to see them in the wild, we’ll get close views here, and learn more about bears and wolves in general.
- After a week in America's premier national parks, we have a long drive back south to northern Utah – though we try to fit in breaks for birding on the way.
- Depending on how late we arrive, we may do some evening birding on the marshes that border the lake, or try owling shortly after dark.
- Accommodation: Brigham City, 1-night on full board basis
- At Bear River Migratory Bird Reserve, west of Brigham City, we see migrating waterfowl and shorebirds: Clark’s grebe, Caspian tern and American white pelican should all be present in good numbers and, on a good day, thousands of western sandpiper grace the mudflats.
- En route south we have spectacular views of the Great Salt Lake from the causeway to Antelope Island State Park, which is home to free-ranging bison, mule deer, pronghorn, and other desert animals. Millions of birds congregate along the lakeshore, offering unparalleled birding; our tally for the day may easily reach 100 species.
- Later, we continue to Salt Lake City airport to check in for the overnight flight back to London.
Day 11 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- All meals
- Guided activities
Typical, mid-range, small town hotels and motels. All rooms have an en suite bathroom.
All meals are included. Breakfasts are generally in the hotels, whereas lunches are a mix of picnics and light meals at a typical diner or roadside restaurant. Evening meals are at restaurants in the towns where we stay.
At the time of our visit the autumn migration is in full swing and there is a lot of bird activity.
- Bald eagle
- Peregrine falcon
- Trumpeter swan
Yellowstone, in particular, is home to many of North America’s mega-fauna species, in addition to an abundance of birdlife.
- Brown bear
- Grey wolf
- Bighorn sheep
Extremely varied – from sagebrush and juniper-covered foothills, to coniferous forests, aspen meadows and alpine habitat, and semi-desert – with an equally wide diversity of wild flowers and plants.
Some of North America’s most imposing natural scenery with the contrasts of high mountains, dense forests, plains and the Great Salt Lake.
There are excellent opportunities due to the exceptional scenery and varied wildlife.
Short walks on largely level terrain; some sections may be on forest trails that are steep and rough in parts, though we take these slowly.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Salt Lake City – London.
12-seater van with maximum eight passengers, driven by tour leader/guide.
We reach an altitude of more than 3,000 metres for a short time on our visit by Aerial Tram to Rendezvous Mountain, but most time is spent at much lower elevations.
In autumn the weather is less dependable than in summer, and there may be snow at higher elevations, so come prepared for all four seasons! Depending on altitude, temperatures may range from -1⁰ to 20⁰ Celsius, but typically average around 10⁰ (higher at the Great Salt Lake). The summer crowds are largely gone, the migration is in full swing, and many hoofed animals are starting their rut – which is marked by interesting noises and behaviour that occur only now.