When you book your trip with Grand American Adventures you can rest assured that you’re in safe hands with our Specialist Tour Guides. Providing a wealth of local knowledge and expertise on selected wildlife and geology trips, our guides help you experience the areas far beyond the scope of your average visitor, whether it’s tracking wolves in Yellowstone or enjoying an exhilarating hike with a naturalist across Yosemite National Park.
Following one of our Specialist Tour guides, Jay Burleson, that has been shortlisted for this year’s Wanderlust Travel Magazine’s World Guide Awards, we take an inside look into Elaine Stedman and her husband’s unforgettable holiday on our Yellowstone Winter Wildlife In-Depth trip.
Visiting for their first time back in 2012, the couple wanted to return to see the transformation of Yellowstone National Park during the winter months. Elaine mentioned, “We saw a lot on our first trip, but a large part of the experience was travelling in a convoy with other tourist cars, so we really didn’t get to understand much about what we were seeing. We absolutely loved being there though and felt that during wintertime it would be even more magical.”
Before looking to go on a small group tour, the couple considered going independently, “We are experienced travellers, fortunate to have travelled all over the world…but we soon discovered trying to visit Yellowstone in winter and join everything together to get the trip we wanted, was simply not feasible. Fortunately, as it turned out, joining the Grand American guided tour gave us great insight into so many aspects of the park that we hadn’t got the chance to see, or full appreciate on our previous visit.”
They were quick to mention that, “Our guide [Jay Burleson] made each day special. Just the nicest guy you could ever want to meet. Very knowledgeable, approachable and utterly committed to making sure everyone got from the trip just what they wanted, while gently keeping us within the overall itinerary.”
On their winter wonderland journey, Elaine and her husband even got to experience diamond dust – a beautiful phenomenon when ground-level cloud composes into tiny ice crystals. “Jay guided us to the things he knew we’d enjoy...it was unbeatable! On our last day we saw what happens when air freezes – this is so easy to miss without a guide! He was the glue for the group, converting a bunch of individual travellers into a really happy set.”
While on a Grand American Adventure you can relax safe in the knowledge that our expert Tour Leaders take care of all the logistics and are constantly working to ensure that everyone gets the most out of their experience. Elaine noted, “It was totally stress-free. The specialist guides’ knowledge and enthusiasm shone through, and they were all such nice people. You just don't get that type of experience travelling independently.”
“Imagine being in one of the most beautiful places on earth with hardly anyone else there, and how special that is, and then having people who know the place intimately showing you around – that was winter in Yellowstone with GAA”, she mentioned nostalgically. “If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to go then do so. The animals and scenery are stunning, and few places match the grandeur of Yellowstone in winter.”
When asked what was the highlight of their experience, the couple said, “It was the day Jay walked us to a place called Black Sands Pool. We never found it when we had been there in 2012. It’s the only time in my life I have ever felt the earth literally shake below my feet”, she continued, “Yellowstone’s geothermal activity can be read about in books but experiencing it first-hand was really something else.”
So, what’s next for the adventurous pair? “Going on a trip with Grand American Adventures to Yellowstone National Park was our first ever guided group tour, but it definitely won’t be the last”. The pair are ready to hit road again. “We enjoyed it so much we have already booked the Total Eclipse trip to Argentina in 2020. You can really appreciate how travelling with Grand American Adventures can add so much value to your holiday (sorry to sound so corporate!)” Elaine jokingly added.
To enjoy the ultimate winter wonderland experience in Yellowstone National park for yourself, check out our Grand American Adventure trips here.
*Elaine and her husband were interviewed in August 2019