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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Review: Touring Yellowstone With The Buffalo Bus Touring Company

Above, before heading into Yellowstone National Park, the tour bus made a
restroom stop near the Imax Theater in West Yellowstone. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When planning for our Yellowstone National Park vacation, I decided that it would be too much to unhook and rehook up the sewer, electric and water connections to the motorhome and then deal with traffic in the park and, quite possibly, a rampaging animal that could damage the motorhome.

So, I checked for Yellowstone tours in the park and in West Yellowstone (where we were staying) and settled on the Buffalo Bus Touring Company.

I figured that I did enough driving when we drove over one thousand miles from Los Angeles to West Yellowstone in two days (and repeat the process in going back home), so I elected to let someone else do the driving.

I remembered driving through Yellowstone 25 years ago and had to keep my eyes on the road instead of taking in the wonders of the park. By letting someone else do the driving, I would be able to enjoy the park so much more.

Above, the Buffalo Bus Touring Company bus. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
The Buffalo Bus Touring Company is located in West Yellowstone and they provide free pick-up from the area hotels, motels and campgrounds. The West Entrance KOA, where we were staying, was one of the first pick-up stops by the tour company. We had to be at the KOA's office building at 8:00 a.m. to be picked up. The tour bus was prompt both days.

The first tour we took was of the Upper Loop of Yellowstone National Park. The tour driver for that day was Graham. Besides being knowledgeable about the park, he had a great sense of humor and had plenty of bad jokes to share with the tour group. [Example: What do you call a bear with no teeth? Answer: A gummy bear.]

The second tour was of the Lower Loop of the park. This tour was led by Jay. He, too, had plenty of bad jokes to share.

Both tours ended around 5:30 p.m.

They recommend ordering box lunches through them for $10 each. Unfortunately, they goofed up our box lunch order on the Lower Loop tour (they also did on the Upper Loop tour, but we said something in time to get them before leaving West Yellowstone to tour the park), so we ended up going to the snack bar at the Old Faithful Inn for lunch.

The tour fees are:
  • One Loop: $74.95
  • Both Loops: $139.90
  • Seniors: $5.00 Discount Per Ticket
  • 15 & Under: $64.95
  • 15 & Under: $124.90
Additionally, if one doesn't have passes into Yellowstone, the Buffalo Bus Touring Company can obtain them for you. These are necessary to enter the park. The good thing is, the passes are good for seven days and you can use them to enter the park on your own.

The tour stops at most of  the major attractions of Yellowstone National Park. Their website provides and overview on what places they generally stop at. They are pretty laid back tours with plenty of stops for sightseeing and photography.

We enjoyed both tours and felt we got our money's worth. On the first day, we managed to see bears, bighorn sheep, bison, elk, deer and other wildlife. On the second day's tour, no bears were seen, but we did see the other animals. We were able to spend nearly two hours at the Old Faithful Inn and geyser. We departed after Old Faithful Geyser erupted.

If you prefer to just enjoy the ride by letting someone else do the driving, you should consider using the Buffalo Bus Touring Company. Their website is at: http://www.yellowstonevacations.com/. I thought the prices were reasonable.

My grade: A.

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