Northern National Parks

Have you ever wanted to experience Northern National Parks in one go but didn’t really know how to fit it all in? We’ve got you covered! We created a brief 10-day tour itinerary encompassing destinations like Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Glacier and Banff National Parks.

Day 0: Travel day to Jackson, WY

Your guide will meet you at the airport and transport you to Jackson where you’ll stay for two nights.

The reflection of Grand Teton Range and Mount Moran, Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park
The reflection of Grand Teton Range and Mount Moran, Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Day 1: Tour Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park contains not only incredibly beautiful mountain scenery, but also a diverse array of wildlife and vegetation. A great many of the West’s iconic animals roam freely throughout the park, including bison, elk, black and grizzly bears, golden eagles, moose, wolves, deer, pronghorn antelope, and coyotes. Scores of plants and trees garnish the landscape, including big leaf sagebrush, sedges, firs, lodgepole, whitebark, and limber pines, spruce, aspens, cottonwoods, alders, willows, and cattails.

Day 2: Travel to Yellowstone National Park

It’s a short two-hour drive from Grand Teton to Yellowstone National Park.

Old Faithful

Possibly the world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful, is legendary for its spectacular and regular eruptions, thrusting 3,700 to 8,400 U.S. gallons (14–32 liters) of scalding water to a dizzying height of 106 to 185 feet (30–56 meters).

Midway Geyser Basin | Excelsior Geyser | Grand Prismatic Spring

Located at Midway Geyser Basin is Excelsior Geyser, another of the world’s biggest. During the 1880’s it erupted to a height of 300’ (91 meters). It erupted again in 1985 to a height of 80’ (24 meters). Beyond the impressive 300’ wide crater is the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the United States, and the second largest in the world, next to one in New Zealand.

Great Fountain Geyser

One of the grand geyser of the world, it erupts every 8 to 12 hours. It is near White Dome Geyser, sports a massive cone, and erupts every 12 to 24 minutes in a jet of water that turns to steam and spray.

Day 3: Tour Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is a little reminiscent of the Rotorua area in New Zealand with its geothermal phenomena of geysers and bubbling mud. Yellowstone is set at a high elevation straddling the Continental Divide and represents a large and very active hot spot. Alpine conditions with lakes and forests add to make this a popular tourist destination. The natural beauty, wildlife and significance of the area have been recognized for some time when it became the world’s first national park in 1872. It’s a sanctuary for buffalo, coyote, grizzly bear, moose and elk and the smaller pine martins, ermine, squirrel and otter. Most of the park is in Wyoming, but it overlaps into Montana and Idaho. The Continental Divide passes through the Park just to the south of Yellowstone Lake. Yellowstone National Park has a mixture of glacially-formed and thermally-formed landforms. Old Faithful Geyser is associated with superheated water from deep underground.

Yellowstone’s geyser features and hot springs are primarily the result of the fact that it sits on top of one of the world’s largest “mega” volcanoes, and it may be due for an eruption! Its last eruption occurred around 640,000 years ago and the result was the “Yellowstone Caldera”. A caldera is the crater left behind when a massive chamber of magma under pressure explodes from the Earth’s crust.

Yellowstone River

The north-flowing Yellowstone River takes two major plunges within a quarter mile (400 meter) of each other, first in leaving the picturesque Hayden Valley, and then secondly, when plummeting an awesome 308 feet (33 meter) into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Day 4: Travel to Glacier National Park  

Followed by 8-hours of driving (incl. sightseeing stops along the way), you’ll settle into wonderful accommodations near the west entrance or inside the park at one of several outstanding lodges, depending on your lodging preferences.

Wall waterfall along Going-To-The-Sun road in Glacier National Park, USA
Weeping wall waterfall along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, USA

Day 5: Tour West Glacier National Park

Start the tour in the great cedar and hemlock forests that lie within the Lake McDonald Valley. Traverse the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road to the high alpine region of the park and stand on top of the Continental Divide. Discover incredible mountain ranges, glaciers, waterfalls, and wildflowers along the way as your Red Bus glides along the glacially carved Garden Wall. The “Going-to-the-Sun” Road is a scenic landmark crossing Glacier National Park between the west entrance near the community of West Glacier and the east entrance at the town of St. Mary. This 50-mile paved road was completed in the 1930’s. In 1983 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1996 it was designated a National Landmark.

Lake McDonald

The largest of Glacier’s 130 lakes, Lake McDonald is a brilliant sapphire in a detailed setting of red cedar and hemlock forests bound by towering snowcapped mountains. Her alpine backdrop frames one of the best wildflower displays in North America.

Logan Pass

Reclining at the highest elevation reachable via automobile within Glacier National Park, Logan Pass rewards its visitors with dramatic panoramas of wildflower-strewn meadows, craggy mountain peaks, and sparkling glacial lakes, as well as the knowledge that the site on which they stand is annually buried by up to 80 feet (25 m) of snow.

Afternoon tour of Highway 2 to East Glacier Park and your evening accommodations. Some sites and points of interest along this highway include the following:

  • The Middle Fork Flathead River
  • The historic Great Northern Railway
  • Moccasin Creek
  • Cascadilla
  • Paola
  • The community of Essex & the Essex Railroad Depot
  • Goat Lick Overlook
  • Devil Creek
  • Marias Pass, summit 5,220 ft (1,591 meter)
  • East Glacier Park
  • The historic East Glacier Park Railroad Depot
  • The historic Glacier Park Lodge

Day 6: Tour East Glacier National Park

Visit to the Many Glacier area. Yes, Many Glacier is named for it’s “many glaciers”. This area is known as the “Switzerland of North America”. It’s an enchanting valley full of wildlife and spectacular scenery. Sites in the area include the following:

  • A stop for a visit at the waterfalls below Switfcurrent Lake
  • Swiftcurrent Lake
  • Many Glacier Hotel, the largest hotel in Glacier National Park offering a gift shop, the Swiss Lounge, and the lakeside Ptarmigan Dining Room
  • Included is the “Two Lake” Many Glacier boat cruise for about 1.5 hours total. You’ll see the glaciers in this magical valley from the seats of two historic wooden boats – Chief Two Guns on Swiftcurrent Lake and Morning Eagle on Lake Josephine. Enjoy both lakes via a small hike linking the two boats in this two-part tour. The tour begins on the shores of Swiftcurrent Lake, below the expansive Many Glacier Hotel. Take the Chief Two Guns across Swiftcurrent Lake, dock, disembark and walk 0.2 mile to the shores of Lake Josephine and board the Morning Eagle. Cruise to the head of Lake Josephine where you can either disembark and go on a guided or self-guided hike, or remain on the boat to return back across both lakes back to the Many Glacier Hotel.

After a relaxing morning, we will travel the route of the Red Bus “Eastern Alpine Tour”, visiting the stunning St. Mary Lake area and historic Rising Sun Motor Inn. We will travel up the Going-to-the-Sun Road to the Continental Divide and Logan Pass. Take in the infinite splendors and majestic scenery of the entire Going-to-the-Sun Road. Site stops will include those not visited on the first day’s Red Bus tour plus the following:

  • Saint Mary Lake
  • Rising Sun Motor Inn
  • Jackson Glacier Overlook
  • Going-to-the-Sun Mountain
  • Logan Pass Visitor Center
  • Good possibilities for wildlife viewings
  • Weeping Wall
  • Scenic tips along McDonald Creek
  • Avalanche Creek
  • Scenic stops along the shore of Lake McDonald
  • Apgar Village walking tour

Day 7: Travel to Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

You’ll have a short 4 hour drive across the border on your way to Banff National Park. You’ll settle into wonderful accommodations inside the park at one of several outstanding lodges. You’ll be able to relax at the foot of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and enjoy the scenery.

Johnston Canyon Waterfall, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Johnston Canyon Waterfall, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Day 8: Tour Banff National Park, Alberta Canada

During the day you’ll get to ride the Banff Gondola tram and take a short walk around the top of a mountain peak.  From there, you’ll tour Lake Louise and Banff Lake for beautiful overlooks and views of the lake filled canyons below.  At Lake Louise you can enjoy a 90 minute scenic cruise.

You can spend a ½ day at the Banff Amusement Park as well.

Day 9: Tour Banff National Park, Alberta Canada

On your last day, you’ll get to visit a Parker Ridge Trail for a short walk and sightseeing and then head to the lower falls of Johnston Canyon and Bow Valley Parkway where you can see a variety of wildlife.

Day 10: Travel day

Return from Calgary or return to the US side in Kalispell, MT, to return home from there.

Have you found new places you would like to visit but are not ready for a 10-day Northern National Parks tour?! No problem, let us customize a tour just for you.