Natural History Tours

Steve and Betsy’s 2014 Tour Schedule

Exploring the Mojave Desert: Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks, March 15 – 21  (Steve and Betsy, WTU)

     The Mojave Desert is huge, and most famous for containing the lowest (and hottest) place in North America – Badwater, at -282 feet, is found in Death Valley National Park. It is a fascinating place, but Death Valley contains so much more than that. There are vast sand dunes, beautiful canyons, and even a mountain 11,000 feet above sea level! And 6 hours away, Joshua Tree NP looks nothing Like Death Valley NP. It is famous for its namesake “trees”, which are actually yuccas, and perhaps even more famous for its strikingly beautiful rock formations. The desert here is much lusher than Death Valley. Come with us and find out why!

NPCA: Spellbound in Big Bend, 4/6 – 4/12, and Big Secret, Big Bend;  4/13 – 4/19   (Steve – OBP)

Two trips, same basic itinerary in the incredible Big Bend Country. This tour focuses on the geology, natural history, and cultural history of the region. We spend a morning at the notable Fort Davis National Historic Site, which was home to the Buffalo soldiers and is now one of the best preserved frontier military posts remaining in the southwest. Then it’s on to walk the breathtaking trails, and to experience the diversity of plants and animals, in a land of massive canyons, desert expanses, and the unique Chisos Mountains of the Chihuahuan Desert.

NPCA: Yellowstone Wildlife Safari, 6/1 – 6/6   (Steve – OBP)

This trip is all about wildlife watching, in one of the best places in the world, and at the best time of the year. Of all NPCA journeys, this one gets you out in the field the most and keeps you there the longest.  Learn about the relationships between predators and their prey, and the connections between species and habitat, in one of the most intact ecosystems in the contiguous U.S.  Oh yes, you will also get to see Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, and other unique thermal features. Smithsonian:

Crown of the Continent, 8/26 – 9/1   (Steve – OBP)

The “Crown of the Continent” is a staggeringly wild place, home to iconic wilderness species like grizzly bears, wolves, wolverines, and bull trout. This journey explores the heart of that mountain kingdom—Glacier National Park in the U.S. and Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.  Trip highlights include:  whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, drives over the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road, walking along the Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Gorge, wildlife viewing in the many Glacier area, a cruise on Waterton Lake, and a visit to the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning.

Yellowstone Wildlife Safari, 9/14 – 9/19   (Steve -OBP)

Another chance to observe Yellowstone’s incredible wildlife and unique geothermal features, but this time in the fall, when the elk are bugling, the grizzlies are preparing to den, and the aspen leaves are turning yellow.  The summer crowds are gone, and Yellowstone is quiet again.

NPCA:  Tallgrass Prairie and Flint Hills, 10/3 – 10/7  (Steve – OBP)

Rich in history, the Flint Hills of south-central Kansas safeguard one of our last native prairie landscapes. Witness an amazing display of tall grasses and late season wildflowers blanketing the vast, rolling landscape of Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. Discover the delicate beauty of this fairly new preserve, a remnant of the grasslands that once covered more than 170 million acres of North America.  Also tour back roads to historic small towns, visit a working ranch with real cowboys and cowgirls for poetry and a chuck wagon dinner, and catch a glimpse of life at a time when one-room schoolhouses were the norm.

NPCA:  New Year’s in Yosemite,  12/28- 1/2/15  (Steve – OBP)

Snowshoe through awe-inspiring groves of towering giant sequoias.  Listen for the thunder-crack of shifting, frozen waterfalls as the morning sun rises.  See Yosemite National Park in a whole new light on this fun, active adventure in the snowy High Sierras.  The park’s dramatic landscape shines with a special glow and the outdoors beckon you to come explore, to play, and to wonder. Opportunities abound to explore on foot, snowshoes, and cross-country skis—and also to just have fun playing in the snow. Expect some fun indoor discovery too, including a tour of the fabulous Ahwahnee hotel, with dinner in the famous dining room.

Australia! At long last. October 29 – November 11  (Steve/Betsy, WTU)

We cover a lot of ground in this tour. We begin in Cairns, in far northeast, where there is an amazing and diverse rainforest. We will spend 7 days exploring this region, including a day on the breathtaking Great Barrier Reef. There a many options for this day, so don’t despair if you don’t swim. After 7 days visiting a variety of forests and all manner of wildlife as well as spending time with local Aboriginals, we fly west to Ayers Rock – which Aboriginals call Uluru. We fly in and out of Alice Springs where we will spend a day, and then drive to Uluru for 3 days. We have many options for our time here, including catching the stunning sunsets, some hiking, seeing wildlife, and time with local Aboriginals. We will also visit Kings Canyon National Park, just a few hours from Uluru. Our tour ends in Alice Springs, from here you have a choice, to fly to Sydney or Melbourne; it is included in the cost. We loved Australia and put this trip together to see some of the best places!

wtu@mcn.net   and  (406) 522-9825