MONTANA: EXPLORING BIG SKY COUNTRY
August 29 - September 8, 2023

Montana: Exploring Big Sky Country August 29-Sept. 8, 2023

featuring Yellowstone and Glacier National Park

Highlights:

• Bozeman  •  Yellowstone  •  Old Faithful  •  Yellowstone Grand Canyon  •  Mammoth Hot Springs  •  Gates of the Mountains  •  Great Falls  •  Glacier National Park  •  Going-to-the-Sun Road  •  Whitefish  •  White Water Rafting  •  Flathead Lake  •  Kootenai Traditions  •  Historic Fort Museum at Fort Missoula  •  Smokejumper Visitor’s Center

Montana, Big Sky Country
Step outside, take a deep breath in, and look towards the mountains – you’re in the big sky country of Montana now. Explore both the Northern and Southern Loops of Yellowstone National Park, and visit Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s Grand Canyon, Mammoth Hot Springs, and more. Venture through Paradise Valley to Helena, the “Queen City of the Rockies.” Cruise on the Missouri River through the Gates of the Mountains, named by legendary explorers Lewis and Clark. Spend time in the mountain town of St. Mary Village before heading to Glacier National Park. Take an adventurous white water rafting trip or a calm, scenic float down the Flathead River. Meet a descendant of the last Kootenai chief, and learn about the importance of the land in native life. Get a glimpse into the heroic and dangerous life of a Smokejumper. A land of wilderness, adventure, and beauty, Montana is waiting for you.

Day 1 Bozeman, Montana – Tour Begins
Montana is wilderness, adventure, and beauty, and you’re about to see what makes it unique, as well as its crown jewels. Today, arrive in Bozeman, the jumping off point to explore the northern and southern loops of Yellowstone, America’s first national park. With a camera ready and boots laced tight, there’s a good chance we’ll come across roaming bison, roaring geysers, and more. Tonight’s stay is at the AC Hotel Bozeman Downtown.
 
Day 2 Bozeman – Yellowstone Southern Loop – Gardiner

This morning, pass through Yellowstone’s western gate and venture into the Lower Loop, the road that encircles the entire lower half of the National Park. Our first stop will be at the Grand Prismatic Spring, where steaming azure-blue waters clash brilliantly with the bright orange of the clay earth surrounding it. We will see why this is one of the most photographed spots in the entire park – its unearthly beauty is something to behold. The best spot to take it all in is at the overlook, and we’ll have enough time to take the 20-minute hike up if you choose. Afterwards, we head to Old Faithful, the legendary geyser that you can “set your watch to.” Enjoy lunch on your own, walk the boardwalk trails surrounding Old Faithful, and check the time on the next eruption. No drive through Yellowstone is that quiet, though – we’ll gaze out the window at the mountains, plains, cliffs, and forests. Bison, elk, bears, eagles, wolves, and antelope call this incredible slice of wilderness their home, and we might spot them at any time. Lodging tonight is at The Ridgeline Hotel At Yellowstone. (B, D)

 
Day 3 Gardiner – Yellowstone Northern Loop – Gardiner
Today, explore the Yellowstone Northern Loop. Our first stop will be Mammoth Hot Springs. Here, bubbling pots of geothermal water trickle down the step-like terraces, creating incredible shapes and colors. Explore the boardwalks that wind through the steaming landscape. Next, we head to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone lookout, standing over the massive, 20-mile-long canyon. Its craggy walls are streaked with brilliant whites, pinks, and oranges from the volcanic minerals contained in the rocks. The Yellowstone River roars along at the bottom over three different waterfalls. Later today, we return for the second night at The Ridgeline Hotel at Yellowstone. (B)
 
Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs

Day 4 Gardiner – Paradise Valley – Helena
This morning, we head through the sweeping vistas of Montana’s Paradise Valley. In the distance is the Absaroka Beartooth Mountains to the east, and the Gallatin Range of the Rocky Mountains to the west. Arriving in the capital of Montana, Helena, we visit this city with rich gold rush history and beautiful Victorian era architecture. These days, the “Queen City of the Rockies” is less known for gold and more known for its great local restaurants and microbreweries, as well as a stunning trail system in the surrounding landscape. For the next two nights, we stay at Doubletree by Hilton Helena Downtown. (B, D)
 
Missoula

Missoula

 
Day 5 Helena – Gates of the Mountains – Helena
We start the day today with a local guide showing us around the beautiful and welcoming mountain city of Helena on a narrated, train trolley tour. See the opulent mansion district, marvel at the Cathedral of St. Helena, and roll by governor’s homes. Pass by a restored miners’ village, enjoy the unique architecture along Last Chance Gulch, and catch a glimpse of the Old Fire Tower. After exploring the city a bit, you’ll have time on your own to enjoy the charm of downtown Helena before heading to the Gates of the Mountains. Here, on the shores of the Missouri River, you’ll follow in the footsteps of the most renowned explorers in American history – Lewis and Clark. Climb aboard a boat and cruise these storied waters, follow the path Lewis and Clark took on their legendary journey across this vast wilderness, and take in the natural beauty. Meriwether Lewis himself named this stunning canyon the Gates of the Mountains, and you’ll discover just how it must have felt to come across this awe-inspiring sight. Tonight, return to downtown Helena Doubletree by Hilton for an evening at leisure. (B)
 
Montana Tour Map
Day 6 Helena – Great Falls – St. Mary
Today, venture to Great Falls, where the mighty Missouri River thunders down from the Rocky Mountains, over five waterfalls to the great plains below. This was a massive obstacle for Lewis and Clark’s expedition in 1805. They had to carry their boats over land for a month to make it from the lower falls to the upper falls. You will not have to work that hard, because it’s your choice! Visit the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center where you can learn about the trials of the legendary expedition, followed by hiking along the Missouri River -OR- explore the exhibits at the C.M. Russell Art Museum during a guided tour, where you’ll see the art of Charles Russell, a cowboy-turned-artist from the turn of the century, as well as his original home and log studio. Afterwards, continue to St. Mary, the eastern entryway to Glacier National Park. Lodging tonight is at Great Bear Lodge At St. Mary Village. (B, D)
 
Day 7 Glacier National Park – Going-to-the-Sun Road – Whitefish
Head into Glacier National Park to board one of the 1930’s vintage red buses and venture down one of the most breathtaking roads in North America, Going-to-the-Sun Road. Sit back and admire the views of the valley as our “jammer,” one of the experienced guides, drives us through this natural landscape. Relax and take in all the majestic sights, before heading to the town of Whitefish where forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains unfold in every direction. Stay overnight for 2 nights at The Firebrand Hotel. (B, L)
 
Day 8 Whitefish
This morning, enjoy some leisure time in the quaint, picturesque town of Whitefish. Always listed as one of America’s 25 prettiest towns, indulge yourself with time to stroll around, do some shopping, or just relax. Perhaps you’ll stop for lunch at one of the great restaurants found along Central Avenue or buy some Huckleberry jam from a local shop. A true favorite in Montana, huckleberries can be found in snacks, drinks, candy, and more. Your morning leads into an adventurous afternoon, because it’s your choice! Grab a paddle and get ready for a white-water rafting adventure -OR- take the calmer, scenic route on a float down the Flathead River. No matter which style river journey you choose, the awe-inspiring views of Glacier National Park await. Tonight, tell tales about your river escapades while sitting down for a mouth-watering barbeque dinner. This is our second night at The Firebrand Hotel. (B, D)
 
Montana's Mountains

Montana’s Mountains

 
Day 9 Whitefish – Flathead Lake – Missoula

Depart Whitefish and drive south, journeying along the western edge of beautiful Flathead Lake. Carved by the ancient glaciers that give Glacier National Park its name, Flathead Lake stretches almost 200 square miles. Quaint, small towns dot the shores here, built with the beautiful backdrop of nature behind them. We might even spot some orchards, growing Flathead cherries. Encompassing most of the lake is the Flathead Reservation, home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation. At one point, these tribes had territories that stretched out of Montana and into Idaho, British Columbia, and Wyoming. The Hellgate Treaty of 1855 set aside Flathead Lake for the tribes, reducing their lands to a fraction of what it once was. Tribal land was once again shrunk in 1904 by over half a million acres. Despite all of this, the Tribal way of life continues on to this day, passed down from elders to children through a rich oral and spiritual tradition. Getting a glimpse into these traditions, we meet a descendant of the last Kootenai chief, and learn about the importance of the land in native life. Afterwards, head to the final stay on our journey, the eclectic city of Missoula, where we can enjoy a relaxing evening at leisure. Tonight is the first of two nights at the Double Tree Missoula Edgewater. (B) 

 
Moose in Montana

Moose in Montana

 
Day 10 Missoula
Our day in Missoula starts off with a visit to the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, a 32-acre site with over 20 structures including a collection of nearly 50,000 artifacts that tell the fascinating history of Missoula County. Next, visit the Smokejumper Visitor Center. Learn how and why these legendary firefighters do what they do – jump out of planes and parachute into dangerous wildfires. Missoula is home to the largest smokejumper base in the United States, and we’ll visit the ready room, smokejumper loft, the National Smokejumper Memorial, and a fire lookout tower originally built in 1930. This evening, enjoy a memorable farewell dinner with fellow travelers, where we can raise our glasses and toast to a wildly fun Montana adventure. The second night at the Holiday Inn Missoula. (B, D)
 
Missoula, Montana

Missoula, Montana

Day 11 Missoula – Tour Ends
Say goodbye to Big Sky Country and its beautiful sights as you head home. (B)

Includes:

  • Roundtrip Airfare from St. Louis
  • Roundtrip Pickup from Southern Illinois to STL Lambert Airport
  • Air Taxes
  • Cancellation Waiver and Insurance (due to medical emergency)
  • 10 nights’ accommodations 
  • 16 meals: 10 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 5 dinners
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Mammoth Hot Springs
  • Helena Train Trolley Tour
  • Lewis and Clark Center -OR- C.M. Russell Art Museum
  • Going-to-the-Sun Road
  • White-water Rafting Adventure -OR- Scenic Flathead River Float
  • Historical Museum at Fort Missoula
  • Smokejumper Center
  • Luggage handling
  • Driver’s Gratuity
  • Step-on Tour Guide Gratuities
  • Deluxe motorcoach transportation
  • Fully escorted by Jane’s Journeys

Book By November 30, 2022 & Save $100 Per Person:

Double: $6,748    Double: $6,648
Single:  $8,548   Single: $8,448
Triple:  $6,648   Triple: $6,548

 

$1,047 deposit per person (which includes cancellation waiver and insurance) is due upon reservation.  Final payment due by June 30, 2023.  For bookings made after Nov. 30, 2022 call for rates.
 
 
 
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