Day 1 | Aug. 18: Jackson, Wyoming
The trip begins on arrival in Jackson, the town on the edge of Grand Teton National Park that’s world-famous for its cowboy heritage and Old West personality. UCLA travelers will have the option to meet the complimentary NHA shuttle at the airport at a pre-determined time and transfer to South Fork Lodge, our luxurious and quintessentially western accommodation for the next four nights.
Our spectacular lodge in Swan Valley, Idaho rests on the South Fork of Idaho’s Snake River, offering a most scenic and memorable venue for our exclusive UCLA eclipse experience.
After some time to settle into our rooms and freshen up, we will gather at 7pm to meet our fellow travelers and UCLA Professor Professor Kevin McKeegan, Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences, for a welcome dinner and introductions in the elegant lodge dining room. The Riverside Bar is sure to be bustling with excitement and UCLA guests may choose to gather on the patio for a nightcap.
Day 2 | Aug. 19. Full day Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Park Adventure
After a sumptuous early breakfast, we’ll depart South Fork Lodge with our Natural Habitat Adventures Expedition Leaders and drive through the northern part of Grand Teton National Park, watching for elk and mule deer with their young. Airleaf balsamroot, blue bells, organ grapes and other wildflowers carpet the meadows in hues of yellow and blue that seem to become more saturated as the sun rises.
As we enter Yellowstone, our Expedition Leaders will share insight into the park’s history and geology. The U.S. Congress established the park in 1872, making it the first national park in the world. It spans 3,468 square miles (8,983 km2), but we’ll focus on the lower loop. First up is the most predictable geographic feature on the planet, Old Faithful, which dependably erupts about every 90 minutes—hence, its name. We’ll walk along wooden boardwalks to photograph the geyser and observe its accompanying hot pools and steam vents.
Gather for a picnic lunch at a scenic spot in the lower geyser basin and visit sites that display Yellowstone’s wonders. The park contains 10,000 geothermal features, accounting for half the world’s total. Also discover the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and its spectacular waterfalls.
Our return route will take us through the western portion of Yellowstone National Park and the Lamar Valley, which is well known for the wolf packs that have been reintroduced and now inhabit this area.
As the sun slides behind the peaks once more, we’ll return to the South Fork Lodge for cocktail hour and a gourmet dinner at our riverside paradise.
Day 3 | Aug. 20.
Our day begins with another gourmet breakfast, followed by a morning lecture by Professor McKeegan on the Sun, Moon, Earth, and the phenomenon of eclipses, including a discussion of thousands of “exoplanets”, planets orbiting around other stars, that were discovered when they produced eclipses with their host star! The rest of the day is free to relax and enjoy the spectacular setting of the lodge or sign up for an exciting array of optional activities offered by South Fork Lodge, at an additional cost:
Full day guided fly fishing trips
Guided whitewater rafting trips
Horseback riding Scenic rafting in the park
Guided mountain biking
Following dinner, we will gather for another informative and thought-provoking lecture by Professor McKeegan on the nature of extraterrestrial materials. He’ll talk about NASA missions that collected samples of the Moon and of the Sun, and guests will get to hold in their hand samples of asteroids – rocks older than the Earth!
Day 4 | Aug. 21. Total Solar Eclipse
This morning, we set up and test our equipment, review safety procedures, and get ready to observe the eclipse. Then, the show begins! At approximately 10:16am, a partial eclipse of the sun will begin. For the next 45 minutes, the moon will gradually obscure increasing fractions of the sun’s disk. At approximately 11:34am, totality will begin: the moon will pass directly in front of the sun, blocking out the majority of its light. For the next two minutes, the sun’s corona will be visible for the first time in the continental USA since 1979. We will view this phenomenon safely through eclipse glasses, which will be provided for all participants. Many people feel that a total solar eclipse is one of the most beautiful natural sights.
Convene for lunch following this natural spectacle to share stories of our experience with fellow travelers. The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy the scenery and amenities of the South Fork Lodge.
Gather with our fellow Bruins this evening at a farewell dinner to celebrate having experienced the magic of a total solar eclipse together.
Day 5 | Aug. 22. Jackson / Home
Enjoy a final morning at the lodge and bid farewell to this spectacular spot. A group transfer is provided to the airport, as our UCLA Total Solar Eclipse event comes to a close. Note: Arrival and departure airport transfer times to be determined, based on 2017 flight schedules.