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Close Encounters of the Yellowstone Kind

12 Days Self Drive Tours

Virgin Holidays' view

Getting up close and personal with Mother Earth’s a sure-fire way to forget home and find yourself. Nowhere gives close encounters quite like Salt Lake City’s surrounds, which lead you through Yellowstone, cowboy country, and snow-draped mountain ranges.

A captivating cauldron of hot springs and geysers, Yellowstone’s probably the most extreme of the USA’s beloved national parks. With the next seismic burst due any century, 2-nights in West Yellowstone puts you near some of its most active sights, including the Norris and Old Faithful geysers, the Paint Pots, and its largest hot spring, Grand Prismatic.

But Mother Nature comes in all guises, and driving to and from Yellowstone reveals Vedauwoo’s ancient rock formations near Cheyenne, Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver, and Grand Teton National Park. Staying overnight at Jackson Hole and Steamboat Springs ski resorts puts you even closer to nature, with hiking, boat trips and soaking in hot springs.

Land of the cowboys, the Wild West spirit never left Wyoming and South Dakota, and nights in Cody, Deadwood, and Cheyenne let you experience their truly ‘western’ Main Streets, Deadwood’s daily ‘shootout’, historic spots like the Buffalo Bill museum and Calamity Jane’s grave, and maybe even one of the annual rodeos.

Itinerary

Day 1: Salt Lake City

Fly to Salt Lake City from the UK and on arrival pick up your hire car. Upon check in; please ask the hotel reception for your ATI Tour documentation pack which will include your tour essentials. Visit the famed Temple and the Tabernacle. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Salt Lake City.

Day 2: Salt Lake City – Jackson Hole

Arrive in Jackson by early evening. Enjoy exploring the rustic Old West with a walk around the old-fashioned town square of Jackson. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Jackson Hole. Driving distance 491 km.

Day 3: Jackson Hole – West Yellowstone

The short drive today gives you the chance to leisurely explore Grand Teton National Park. In Yellowstone, explore the diverse geothermal features of America’s first national park. Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs are the most famous sights of the park. Yellowstone’s wildlife roam the park freely, so prepare yourself for bison, deer, elk, moose and possibly a bear. Accommodation stay – 2 nights in West Yellowstone. Driving distance 130 km.

Day 4: West Yellowstone

Today, take an unforgettable journey into America’s first national park and nature’s wonderland - Yellowstone. Here, the
Earth is in action with geysers, mountain ranges and rivers, waterfalls, and ancient volcanoes. The iconic spots – Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs and Yellowstone Canyon – will be familiar from photographs, but seeing them in person is a humbling experience. They’re not just as good as you’ve heard – they’re better. In addition to its superb scenery, the park is one of the world’s principal wildlife preserves. Home to eagles, grizzly and black bears, buffalo, elk and much more, you’re bound to see wildlife wherever you go.

Day 5: West Yellowstone - Cody

Founded in 1896 by the living legend Buffalo Bill, Cody offers visitors a taste of the real American West. Upon arrival we suggest visiting the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. In the evening, enjoy attractions that include rodeos, gun fight re-enactments and Western dinner shows. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Cody. Driving distance 172 km.

Day 6: Cody - Deadwood

Travel through the grasslands of South Dakota to Badlands National Park, once home to the buffalo and antelope, and filled with colorful rock formations. Continue on to the Black Hills, sacred to the Plains Indians and home to Mount Rushmore, monument to four great American presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Deadwood. Driving distance 612 km.

Day 7: Deadwood - Cheyenne

Continue to Cheyenne, Wyoming’s capital city that embodies the spirit of the Old West. Considered the nation’s railroad capital, Cheyenne is home to a collection of steam engines, including Old Number 4004, the world’s largest steam locomotive and one of the eight remaining Big Boys on display throughout the country. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Cheyenne. Driving distance 484 km.

Day 8: Cheyenne - Denver

Today you’ll want to get out and explore some of the city’s must-sees. Larimer Square remains the heart and soul of the city, and according to some it’s the place to start your Denver experience. The hip district of Uptown is where you’ll find Denver’s largest green space, City Park. The gold-domed Colorado State Capitol with its 'Mile High' marker on the 13th step overlooks downtown, and a visit to Cherry Creek Shopping Center will round out your Mile High experience. Accommodation Stay – 1 night in Denver. Driving distance 180 km.

Day 9: Denver – Steamboat Springs

Today, you have the day to explore Rocky Mountain National Park. After crossing the Continental Divide of the Rockies, continue to the quaint ski resort of Steamboat Springs. Accommodation stay – 1 night in Steamboat Springs. Driving distance 260 km.

Day 10: Steamboat Springs – Salt Lake City

En route to the Mormon State of Utah and its capital, Salt Lake City. The followers of Brigham Young built one of the best-planned cities in the country. See the State Capital building and visit famed Temple Square and the Tabernacle before arriving at the hotel for the evening. May we suggest dinner at the Rooftop Restaurant for panoramic views of Temple Square (optional)? Accommodation stay – 1 night in Salt Lake City. Driving distance 590 km.

Day 11-12: Salt Lake City Departure - UK

Return your hire car to the airport prior to your flight back to the UK.

This tour is based on a Room Only basis.

*Denotes local charge – Optional trips and excursions suggested on the itinerary are bookable and payable locally.

This is a set tour itinerary, if you have booked any pre/post or optional tour arrangements please refer to your separate vouchers and final documents.

All hotels & locations are subject to change based on availability, final hotel list will be confirmed 25 days before departure.

Dates & prices

The table below shows our escorted tour departure dates.

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Prices are described as Guide prices on this website and may be higher or lower due to availability and date of departure.

Prices are for departure dates listed, ex-UK and are per adult based on two adults travelling and sharing a standard room and with return economy flights where stated. Single room and flight prices are available at a supplement.

Please note some tours are subject to minimum numbers, please call our travel experts or visit your local retail store for full details as well as our latest prices.

Tour information

Please click here to download a pdf of the tour itinerary and additional tour notes.

Pre/Post Tour information

If you would like to extend your trip or make the tour part of a longer holiday, we can easily add on a pre or post night stays for you. Our Sales Team will work with you to arrange the best connecting flights and book any additional hotel stays. Simply tell us what you’d like and we can arrange it.

Time difference

GMT -8 hours

Tour inclusions

  • Accommodation listed above
  • Welcome phone call from American Tours International on Day 1
  • Virgin Holidays branded rucksack with tour documentation and Atlas, please ask when you check in at your first hotel for your ‘ATI Pack’
  • Beach blanket
  • Starbucks gift card

Tour exclusions

  • All flights and airport transfers in the UK
  • Travel Insurance
  • Car hire and insurance unless this has been booked by the sales consultant
  • Items of a personal nature such as food, snacks, drinks, laundry, tips and gratuities
  • The required ESTA application
  • Anything not detailed on the itinerary

Dining inclusions

Room only basis.

Included activities

Tours listed in the itinerary.

Accommodation

Accommodation listed on the itinerary is a mix of 3-4V graded properties. Please note some tours are up to 3 weeks in duration and there may be some nights when staying in remote locations e.g. the National Parks, when the ‘V’ rating may vary. Hotels are subject to change up until 30 days prior to departure, but you will be advised of any changes.

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Your holiday may be affected by travel restrictions or cancellations

We are continually reviewing our flying schedules, taking into account the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against all non-essential travel. Depending on when you are due to travel, your holiday may be affected and we’ll email you to let you know.

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For extra piece of mind, new bookings made before 31 August 2020 for travel up 30 April 2021 also have the flexibility to amend free of charge. If you need to change don’t worry, you can move your holiday as far out as 31 December 2021 subject to availability.

Latest Foreign & Commonwealth Office repatriation travel advice


Over the past few weeks, we have repatriated our customers from overseas who wanted to come home.  

Please visit this page to keep up to date with the Government’s travel advice on returning to the UK, and to register for email alerts.
 

How would you like to talk to us?

With many customers needing our help, we are prioritising those customers due to travel before 06 October 2020. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Stay tuned for the latest updates


Rest assured; we will notify you as soon as we know if your holiday has been affected.  

We are prioritising those customers due to travel before 06 October 2020. Log in to Manage my booking where you can message us about your options or you can give us a call. Bear in mind you may have to wait longer than expected. We continue to review this and working to open up these options to more customers. In the meantime check out our FAQs to see if this can help answer any immediate questions.

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Let’s talk


If you need to speak to us to change or cancel your booking, and you are due to travel before 06 October 2020, please log in to Manage my booking to call or message us. 

Payment flexibility


Don’t worry if you’ve missed a payment or just need a little more time to pay; we have options available to help you. If your holiday is going ahead as planned, you can continue to pay for your holiday in Manage my booking, even if travelling in less than 12 weeks. If you’re unsure, you can delay any additional payments by choosing a new time to travel by requesting a call back in Manage My booking for one of our team to look at options. If your holiday is more than 6 months away, you may wish to set up a Direct Debit to spread the cost. This can be arranged whilst rebooking or afterwards in Manage my booking.

We're flexible with your holiday plans


We understand that you may wish to change your holiday plans and we appreciate the need for flexibility. 

We'll be in touch by email letting you know how to register to change your holiday plans. You can also log into Manage my booking to find the details there. 

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

You're good to go


If we haven’t notified you of any changes, your holiday will be going ahead as planned but if you prefer to move your holiday to a later time we can help. Log in to Manage my booking to request a call back to amend your holiday. Please bear in mind we’ll work through requests in departure date order so may take longer than usual for us to get back to you

Please look out for emails from us or visit our dedicated Covid-19 (Coronavirus) page for the latest updates.

Thank you for your patience and understanding


Payments are being prioritised based on when the request was made, working in order from March 2020 onwards. We will always try to process refunds at the earliest opportunity, for requests before August our maximum timeframe is 120 days. As we are steadily reducing the maximum processing time for each new request, for refund requests made in August, we expect the maximum processing time to be 80 days, from the date the refund is requested. For those requesting a refund in September, we expect it to be processed within a maximum of 60 days, and then reduce to 30 days for refunds requested in October, before returning to normal levels.

We'll be in touch soon


To finalise the amendment, one of our customer advisors will phone you. We need to work through amend requests in departure date order so we can prioritise those with the most imminent travel plans, so you may have a longer wait than usual until we’re able to ring you back. We will help everyone that wants to move their holiday.

I returned early from holiday and have further questions?


You can contact our team by emailing feedback.backhome@virginholidays.com to discuss options on unused portions of your holiday. If you need to contact our team about amending an existing holiday or requesting a refund please log in to manage my booking.

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