Frequently Asked Questions
Yellowstone National Park is Open!
Yellowstone's Upper and Lower Loops are now accessible to all visitors.
Please Note: The North entrance is currently closed, so visitors will need to enter through the West, South, or East. For up-to-date road status, please visit the National Park Service website.
You've got questions? We've got answers! Read on for answers to frequently asked questions about our guided Yellowstone National Park tours, and other useful "know-before-you-go" travel tips.
Q: How do I book a tour?
A: Tours can be booked online, or you are welcome to make reservations over the phone by calling Yellowstone Vacation Tours directly at 800-426-7669 for tours leaving from West Yellowstone, or at 406-848-5171 for tours leaving from Gardiner. We do not currently have the capability to book tours through our hotel reservation office.
Q: What tour options are available?
A: During the winter we offer round-trip Snowcoach Tours to Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, as well as Snowmobile Tours to Old Faithful (due to seasonal road closures, these are all "there-and-back" tours). During the summer months we offer Summer Bus Tours of the full Lower Loop and Upper Loop leaving from West Yellowstone. Custom tours are also available; for details, call 800-426-7669
Q: How long do the tours take?
A: Expect each tour to take a full day, regardless of where you're headed. Most tours meet and/or leave around 8:00 AM and return around 5:00 PM, but times can vary.
Q: What should I bring with me?
A: Sunscreen (even in the winter), your camera, binoculars, sunglasses, a water bottle, and possibly some light snacks. Purchasing boxed lunches for your party is also highly recommended for all tours, particularly during the winter months when food service inside the Park is extremely limited, but during the summer months as well since summer crowds can result in long wait times for food service. Boxed lunches can be reserved directly through Yellowstone Vacation Tours when you call in to book your tour, but must be ordered at least 24 hours in advance so they can be ready for pick-up on the morning of your tour.
Q: Will we get to stop and take pictures?
A: Yes! All of our guides are knowledgeable and passionate about Yellowstone National Park, and will make sure you get some great photo opportunities no matter which tour you are on.
Q: Am I supposed to tip my guide?
A: While not mandatory, tips are an important source of income for our guides. We recommend tipping your guide 15-20% of the total tour cost.
Q: Is there anything else I should know about before I get there?
A: Yes! Park entrance fees are NOT INCLUDED in our tour prices, but a valid Park Pass IS REQUIRED for each passenger age 16 and older:
- If you are reserving a Snowcoach Tour or Summer Bus Tour with us, a $20 Park Pass is required
- If you are reserving a Snowmobile Tour with us, a $30 Park Pass is required
Q: If I have already purchased a 7-day park pass, or if I have an annual or lifetime pass, does that cover us for our tours also?
A: If you have a 7-day pass, that will cover the passholder only (total of 1) on all tours. Park Passes may be purchased separately from your tour tickets via our online system.
If you own an annual or lifetime pass, that pass will cover the passholder plus 3 people (total of 4) for Snowcoach Tours and Summer Bus Tours. For Snowmobile Tours, the annual or lifetime pass will cover the passholder only (total of 1).
Q: Where do I meet the group for my Snowmobile Tour?
A: All snowmobile tours leave from West Yellowstone, and will meet on-site at the shop you booked through:
- Bookings made through Yellowstone Vacation Tours meet at 415 Yellowstone Avenue, right next door to the Holiday Inn® West Yellowstone.
- Bookings made through Two Top Snowmobile meet at 645 Gibbon Avenue, on the corner of Gibbon and Iris.
Q: What should I wear?
A: You will definitely need some durable snowmobile clothing to protect your body from the elements. We have the following equipment available to rent for all riders:
- Heavy-duty insulated full body jumpsuit
- Snowmobiling boots
- Heavy-duty insulated leather mittens
- DOT approved helmet with face shield
Winter clothing can be reserved when you call to book your tour, and you will then be sized on-site when you arrive. With the above winter gear, most riders will be comfortable enough wearing jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and thermal underwear. If you'd like to dress warmer you are certainly welcome to, but we suggest dressing in layers so you can better regulate your own personal temperature.
Q: Is riding a snowmobile hard?
A: Not at all! It's been said that if you can steer a lawnmower, you can pilot a snowmobile. All of our snowmobiles are automatics, so you don't need to worry about shifting gears or doing anything crazy. Before your tour departs, your guide will give you a full orientation on how each of the simple controls work, as well as what to expect while riding in town and inside the Park. Even the most timid of riders will be a snowmobile pro in no time!
Q: What do I do if there is a bison or other large animal in the road?
A: Just follow your guide's lead. When you ride through Yellowstone National Park, all snowmobile riders must stay single file, so your guide will always be at the front of your "train". If the guide slows down or stops, just do what they do and listen for their instruction.
Q: Do I need to bring anything with me?
A: There are two items in particular that we recommend all snowmobile riders purchase prior to meeting up for your tour; a balaclava and a boxed lunch. Balaclavas are those "ninja mask" style head gear that you may have seen before, and will provide some much-appreciated warmth to the one area of your body that will otherwise be left partially exposed - your face! We sell balaclavas on-site at Yellowstone Vacation Tours if you don't have your own. Additionally, food service inside the Park is extremely limited during the winter months, and since this is a full day tour, you would do well to purchase a boxed lunch before you head out. Boxed lunches can be reserved directly through Yellowstone Vacation Tours when you call in to book your tour, but must be ordered at least 24 hours in advance so they can be ready for pick-up on the morning of your tour.
Q: Any other suggestions?
A: A backpack might be a good idea, especially if you are purchasing the recommended boxed lunches. A limited number of backpacks are available on-site, or you are welcome to bring your own. Wool socks are also a good investment for outdoor winter activities. You will also need a Park Pass for your Snowmobile Tour for each rider age 16 and older.
Q: Where do I meet the group for my Snowcoach Tour or Summer Bus Tour?
A: If you are staying in West Yellowstone or Gardiner, our driver will pick you up right at your hotel lobby. If you are coming in from out of town, please meet at the Yellowstone Vacation Tours main office. Our West Yellowstone office is located at 415 Yellowstone Avenue, West Yellowstone, MT 59758. Our Gardiner office is located at 905 Scott Street W, Gardiner, MT 59030.
Q: What time do I need to be ready?
A: We kindly ask that you be in your hotel lobby ready to go by 8:00 AM. If you are not staying overnight in West Yellowstone or Gardiner, please meet at the main office no later than 8:00 AM.
Q: Do I need to bring anything with me?
A: Purchasing boxed lunches for your party is highly recommended for all tours, particularly during the winter months when food service inside the Park is extremely limited, but during the summer months as well since summer crowds can result in long wait times for food service. Boxed lunches can be reserved directly through Yellowstone Vacation Tours when you call in to book your tour, but must be ordered at least 24 hours in advance so they can be ready for pick-up on the morning of your tour.
Q: Will it be cold on the Snowcoach Tours?
A: Nope! All of our snowcoaches have excellent heaters, so you'll be warm and toasty while you relax on your winter tour of Yellowstone. You would still do well to dress warmly though, since we make several stops for you to get out and take pictures.
Q: Any other suggestions?
A: You will need to purchase a Park Pass for Snowcoach Tours for each rider age 16 and older, in addition to your Tour reservation.