TRACING THE RIVERS' SOURCE:
Exploring the Headwater of Two Legendary Rivers
September 16–22, 2012
Historian Guide: Jon G. James
Originating from the slopes of Younts Peak and Thorofare Mountain in the Teton Wilderness of northwestern Wyoming, waters converge to form the magnificent Yellowstone River. The Yellowstone flows northward through America's first National Park and emerges from the mountains near Livingston, Montana. From there it turns northeastward, flowing across the northern plains to its juncture with the Missouri River. These great rivers are the historic water routes of early explorers, traders, and adventurers who provided the course and sustained westward expansion.
Tracing the River's Source takes you on a memorable journey through breathtaking scenery as we explore the headwaters of these two famous Rocky Mountain Rivers. In the company of River Historian Jon G. James, you will visit historic sites and natural features associated with famous and lesser known characters in the history of the American West. We will recount the exciting adventures and stories of early mountain men Jim Bridger and John Colter, Yellowstone explorer and surveyor Ferdinand Hayden, popular western author and Wyoming rancher Caroline Lockhart, and many others. Our historical trek will take us through the rugged badlands of the northern Bighorn Basin, leading to the spectacular scenery of Yellowstone National Park, and then on to the gold rush country of Virginia City, Montana. From Virginia City, we'll head north to the Three Forks region and then through the Gallatin Valley on our return to Billings. You won't find another learning environment like this anywhere else.
Cost: $2,725 Single Occupancy, $2,400 Double Occupancy
There is a $200 per tour reduction in price if you take this tour and In the Wake of Lewis & Clark.
Click to request a 2012 printed Travel Guide.
Meet in Billings for a briefing and welcome dinner hosted by Jon G. James and HistoryAmerica TOURS.
Our adventures begin at Bighorn Canyon, where we investigate the rock cairns marking the Bad Pass Trail, and historic tipi rings dotting the plateau on the western edge of the canyon. At Devil Canyon Overlook, we get a stunning glimpse of the Bighorn River, hundreds of feet below. Travel west through the northern Bighorn Basin and visit the site of Heart Mountain Relocation Center, one of two surviving examples of a World War II era Japanese-American internment camp. Overnight in Cody, Wyoming.
Visit the world renowned Buffalo Bill Historical Center, a complex of five museums celebrating the spirit of the West through exhibits about the life of Buffalo Bill, and comprehensive collections of firearms, Plains Indian culture, and western art. After lunch at the celebrated Irma Hotel, we travel to Yellowstone, America's crown jewel of the national parks, where, after touring several of the park's famous geothermal features, we overnight at Canyon Lodge.
We begin the day at the Canyon Visitor Education Center to learn about the geologic history of Yellowstone. See the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone from vistas at Artist and Inspiration Points. Heading west, we see the thermal features of Norris Geyser Basin, and then continue south to the Upper Geyser Basin and the Old Faithful area. The afternoon stops will be at historical, natural, and scenic highlight stops at the Lower Geyser Basin, Nez Perce Creek, and the Madison River. Overnight in West Yellowstone, Montana.
This morning we travel to Quake Lake and view the effects of the devastating 1959 Yellowstone Earthquake in the Madison River Canyon. The afternoon finds us in Virginia City and Alder Gulch, site of the richest placer gold strike in the Rocky Mountains. We will tour the preserved buildings, hidden alleyways, and narrow streets of this rowdy 1860s gold mining town and the second territorial capital of Montana. We head north to the confluence of the Beaverhead, Big Hole, and Ruby Rivers, forming the Jefferson River. Overnight in Three Forks, Montana, at the historic Sacajawea Hotel.
Today we journey to Missouri Headwaters State Park, where the Jefferson and Madison join together to form the mighty Missouri River. Continue on to Bozeman for a visit to Madison Buffalo Jump State Park and the Museum of the Rockies. From Bozeman, we pick up the Yellowstone River as it flows east to Billings where we have our farewell dinner and last overnight.
Depart at your leisure following breakfast.