National Park Tours Show off our Country’s New National Mammal: 5+5+5
American bison, which I grew up calling “buffalo,” were named our national mammal last week. I knew these majestic animals had been vitally important to Native Americans in the plains, but I had a lot more to learn. I’m sharing with you… five bison facts plus five places to see bison plus five top tour companies for visiting some of those areas.
Bison facts you may enjoy:
- Bison are the largest mammal in the U.S. “Bulls” weigh up to 2,000 lbs. and “cows” weigh up to 1,000 lbs.
- If a bison’s tail is hanging down, it’s probably calm. If the tail is standing straight up, hope that you run faster than the slowest person in your group! Bison run up to 35 mph. Our advice: Appreciate them from a distance. No selfies with these guys!
- Teddy Roosevelt did a huge turnaround. In the late 1800s, he enjoyed hunting bison. By 1905, he was instrumental in conserving these animals.
- Bison are nearsighted, but they have great senses of smell and hearing.
- Bison on Santa Catalina Island are descendants of Hollywood “props” originally brought onto the island for a film in the early 1900s.
Five of our parks where you may see American bison:
Grand Teton National Park
Custer State Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Wind Cave National Park
Five of our favorite tour companies and what makes them unique:
Images courtesy of Globus & Pixabay
Globus believes in the importance of helping to sustain our national parks. For the past four years, they have made a donation to the National Park Foundation for every guest booked on their national parks tours. Globus’ brands cumulatively use more “beds” in our national parks than any other tour operator in the world. While all of their national parks tours sell out, one of the most popular is “The Classic Lodges & Parks of the West.” Two of the national parks it visits are Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park. What we especially love about this tour are added experiences– backcountry buffalo safari and chuck wagon cookout in Custer State Park. Many of this year’s tours are already sold out with a limited number of spots on those which do still have some availability.
Images courtesy of Globus & Pixabay
Cosmos is Globus’ brand offering escorted tours on a smaller budget. This fills a need for those willing to mix in tourist class accommodations which may not have all of the “bells and whistles” of more expensive properties and may not be centrally located. They have less meals and attractions included in the price. Cosmos offers “single share” reservations, saving single travelers the “double cost” more typical of tours. Cosmos offers to book you with a same-gender roommate who you will meet the first day of the tour. If they don’t find a roommate for you, you are still guaranteed the lower rate. We picked their “National Parks & Canyon Country with Rapid City” because of its many parks and attractions visited (including Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park) which make it so popular. There are a limited number of summer and early fall departures with some open spots.
Images courtesy of Contiki & Pixabay
Contiki’s tagline is “Empowering young Americans to explore the world.” They’re the #1 travel company for 18-35 year olds with 70% of their participants being young professionals over the age of 23. Their “Northern Adventure,” offered 2-4 times per month through the summer and early fall, includes Yellowstone along with other national parks and stops as you tour from Chicago to Los Angeles. This itinerary is filled with sights to see and adventures to experience with a long list of included activities and meals. They have what they call “ME Time” to explore on your own or to purchase optional activities. On this tour, there are many options including a bison jeep tour which I was told is the most popular choice on this tour. If traveling with friends, you’ll be happy to know that Contiki offers a 5% discount for as few as 4 people booking together, 7.5% discount for 7 or more booking together and 10% discount for at least 10 people on the same booking.
Images courtesy of Access Tours
Access Tours, offering 2-3 escorted small group tours annually, has been in the business of enabling travelers who use wheelchairs and scooters to visit our National Parks for 28 years. Departures are limited to 7-10 people depending upon how many participants use wheelchairs or scooters. Access Tours still has a few spots open on their September “Mount Rushmore” tour which will include visits to Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park. Owner, Clint Grosse, said they had two sightings of bison the last time they operated this tour. Above is a photo of one of the herds seen last year. Because these are small groups by nature of accessibility logistics, there tends to be a lot of camaraderie among the participants and the owner/guide is passionate about the west and America’s parks. Our thanks to Access Tours for their commitment to making national park tours more accessible.
Images courtesy of Tauck
Tauck, pronounced “towk,” operates luxury motorcoach tours with emphasis on cultural immersion. Tauck Bridges, their brand crafted for family and multi-generational travelers, offers great opportunities for two and three generation families to explore, learn and have fun together. Tauck Bridges offers a “Cowboy Country” tour which spends time in Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park along with rafting, a rodeo, a dude ranch stay and more. This tour is recommended for ages 8+, but is open to younger children. There is still limited availability on a few of their June and July departures. I wish this tour had been available when our sons were younger! Note that we can get a “9th person free” with a small group which gives an added bonus for a few families are traveling together or an extended family group.
Additional resources you may enjoy:
With such limited availability for this 100th anniversary year of America’s National Parks, there’s no time to lose if you want to tour them this year. Globus, Cosmos and Tauck are also already taking bookings for their 2017 tours. Whether you are an individual, couple, family or group, Connie George Travel Associates is ready to assist you in seeing our parks— with or without bison included! Give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-532-0989.