What would you pay for a customized tour of Yellowstone?
That's an intriguing question in the wake of today's news from Xanterra Parks and Resorts that it is ready to whip up a personalized tour of the park for groups as few as two or three to as many as 36.
Already there are plenty of options for Yellowstone visitors, and those at other parks, in search of interpretation. Just look at the myriad offerings from non-profits such as the Yellowstone Association, the Grand Canyon Association, and the Yosemite Association, just to name three.
Even the National Parks Conservation Association is getting involved, offering a series of free guided hikes in Shenandoah National Park.
Xanterra's pitch is aimed at groups interested in a fully customized tour of Yellowstone. This can be as simple as one of Xanterra's guides joining you in your own car or as elaborate as chartering a 36-passenger bus to haul your clan about the park.
Naturally, this type of customized tour doesn't come cheap. If a guide joins you in your car, the fee is $310 for the first five hours, and then $45 for each additional hour. Opt for the bus and the price rockets to $590 for the first five hours and then $45 for each additional hour.
Compare those costs to an $18.95 guidebook, and these treks seem exorbitant. Do you really need such personalized day trips in Yellowstone, or any other park, for that matter?
(Hell, I've been giving advice for free to those who contact me. Perhaps I need to change my ways.)
I really enjoy cruising about Yellowstone on my own and making discoveries -- at no cost -- along the way. Of course, I'm within a half-day's drive of Yellowstone, so I have plenty of opportunities to explore the park.
If, on the other hand, you're embarking on your first and only trip to Yellowstone, this might be a good option for you to consider if you and your group really want to come away from the trip feeling you've experienced Yellowstone and all it offers.
I can say the Xanterra guides I've encountered over the years are well-versed in the park and offer many great insights. And while Yellowstone National Park does offer an array of ranger-led programs, the park's staff just can't handle groups the size that Xanterra can.
For more information on Xanterra's offering, call 307-344-5518.