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Winter in Yellowstone NP USA

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An exciting photo tour led by Sony Ambassador Floris Smeets, in one of the world's most famous National Parks, Yellowstone. It is one of the very few areas which doesn't need an introduction as it's reputation precedes itself. There are not many areas which with such high numbers of wildlife. Photo opportunities will be plentiful

Some highlights

  • Large herds of bison covered in hoarfrost

  • Fantastic wildlife e.g. wapiti deer and pronghorn antelope

  • Chance to see wolf, coyote and red fox in winter landscape

  • Magnificent winter landscape

  • Four days with “Snowcoach” in a wintry Yellowstone

  • Geysers with spectacular eruptions and colorful pools of “volcanic water”

  • Our photographic leader shows you all his best spots and you get your own photographic advice and tips in a small group of like-minded people

When Yellowstone National Park was established in 1872, it was the world’s first national park. Then as now, it is an enormously picturesque and wildlife-rich place. Yellowstone is one of the world’s most geothermally active places with lots of geysers, hot springs and other colorful geothermal phenomena, which give us fantastic photo opportunities. The landscape is wild and beautiful with mountains, valleys, waterfalls and lakes and in this there is an incredible wealth of wild animals such as e.g. bison, wapiti deer and bears.

In winter, Yellowstone becomes even more wild and beautiful when the snow covers the landscape and almost all roads are impassable except by special vehicles, so-called “Snowcoaches”. The animals are concentrated around the geothermal areas and the chances of seeing wolves and bobcat increase during the winter.

On this photography tour, we have carefully timed it to give us the best possible chance to experience and photograph Yellowstone National Park in truly wintry conditions. The time is also chosen according to when there is the greatest chance of seeing wolves and the shy bobcat. Yellowstone is America’s answer to the African savannahs with large concentrations of animals, but during the winter the grass is replaced by snow. We will experience large herds of bison, hopefully in the smoke of a geyser. Full of hoarfrost, they stand there like prehistoric animals in the landscape. Wapiti deer, pronghorn, fox, coyote, bighorn sheep and otter are species we normally get to see and photograph. In the mid-1990s, the wolf was reintroduced to Yellowstone, and during the winter the chances of seeing these majestic animals increase. During early winter we have the best chances of seeing bobcat.

For three days we move with our own cars in the Lamar Valley to photograph animals and landscapes. In order to experience the parts of Yellowstone National Park that are closed to normal vehicles during the winter season, we have chartered a so-called “Snowcoache” for 4 days, this is a minibus with huge tires, which can drive on the snow-covered roads.

YELLOWSTONES VOLCANIC AREAS
Large parts of the national park lie in the caldera, a crater-like formation formed when a volcano collapses, which was formed by the Yellowstone volcano’s last eruption about 640,000 years ago. Within large areas of the national park there is a rich occurrence and variety of different geothermal phenomena such as geysers, hot springs, so-called mudpots (hot springs with boiling mud), fumaroles (opening in the earth’s crust that release steam or gases), travertine terraces (rock formations formed by lime deposits from steam). Yellowstone is at least as famous for these phenomena as for its richness of animals. During our tour will we visit the area around “The old faithful” and Mammoth hot springs to photograph and experience some of the geothermal phenomena.

THE LANDSCAPE
The landscape in Yellowstone is very photogenic and we will have many opportunities to photograph the winter landscape. Exactly which places we will visit is determined according to the current conditions for the days we are in the national park.

WILDLIFE
From being close to extinction at the beginning of the 20th century, large herds of bison once again roam the Yellowstone grasslands. It is not uncommon to see herds of several hundred animals together and we will have many opportunities to photograph these magnificent animals, hopefully in a geothermal area where they are often covered in frost. The wildlife in Yellowstone is very diverse and we will meet pronghorn antelopes, bighorn sheep, coyotes, foxes and with some luck we may even be able to see and photograph bobcat. Since 1995 there are wolves again in Yellowstone, today there are 11 packs with a total of about 100 animals. Mainly the wolf packs stay in the Lamar and Hayden valleys. We need a lot of luck to see wolves and even more to be able to photograph them, but the winter months are the best time to experience the wolfs in Yellowstone.

This is a tour not only for the most avid nature photographers, but also for those who want to experience some of the world’s finest national parks and their wildlife up close in an incredible setting. The tour is not physically demanding, but you must be prepared to stay outside in a cold climate for many hours every day.

During the tour, we will also have time for photographic workshops where we will, among other things, go through techniques for next coming days shooting. We will also look at composition and each other’s images, all for you to grow in your photography.

Itinerary

  • Day 1 (3/1) (Dinner)
    Flight to Bozeman, Montana.
    Overnight at hotel in Bozeman.

  • Day 2 (4/1) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
    We leave Bozeman for Gardiner in the morning. In Gardiner we check into our hotel. We spend the rest of the day in the Lamar Valley looking for animals. Here we can experience most of Yellowstone’s wildlife.

  • Day 3-4 (5-6/1) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
    We continue to explore the Lamar valley these two days. The road goes through an exciting landscape and we get to experience a unique animal life. We can stop our cars whenever we want and go out and take pictures. Along the Lamar River we have great chances of seeing otters and the bald eagle also hunts here.

  • Day 5 (7/1)(Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
    Today we travel by snowcoach from Mammoth Hot Springs to the interior of Yellowstone. Here we will experience geysers and other geothermal activities but also a lot of animals. We will have a special focus on the Yellowstone river, Hayden Valley and Geysir Basins which are located around the famous geyser “Old faithful”. We spend the night in West Yellowstone just outside the national park border.

  • Day 6-7 (8-9/1)(Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
    During these days, we continue to go with snowcoach. We move in the areas we told you about for day 5. Exact planning is based on weather and animal activity. We will have great opportunities to photograph bison covered in hoarfrost from geyser steam.

  • Day 8 (10/1) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
    During the morning we continue to explore Yellowstone with our snowcoac
    h. In the early afternoon we will return to Mammoth Hot Springs. We continue in the early evening to Bozeman where we spend the night.

  • Day 9 (11/1) (Breakfast)
    After breakfast we leave for the airport and out flight back home.

 

Fill in the booking form.

Or contact us for inquiries for other dates and other questions.

2025:  3 - 11 January (Open for booking)

9 days

Yellowstone, United States

6 - 8  participants

Shared double bedrooms in middle class hotel

Guided by Floris Smeets

SEK 59.900,- (SEK 11950,--deposit) 

(Approx. € 5010,- or $ 5300,-) 

Bozeman, Montana

Price includes

  • Shared double room 

  • Meals according to itinerary 

  • Local guides 

  • National Park fees 

  • Photo lectures

  • All local transport (minibus and snowcoach) including transfer to and from Bozeman airport

Single rooms: SEK 5500,-

Price does not include

  • Return flights to Boseman (NOTE! Please contact us for information on airline tickets before you book your flights)

  • Visa

  • Medical tests and vaccinations

  • Travel insurance

  • Cancellation protection

  • Drinks

  • Eventual gratuities

  • Items of a personal nature.

Passport and visas

Please check with your nearest US embassy about passport and visa requirements for you. When checking in for a flight, a passport is required.

Photo equipment

As we will be photographing many different types of subjects, everything from landscapes with and without animals to portraits of mammals and birds, it is advisable to bring everything from wide-angle lenses to telephoto lenses. When looking for pumas, lenses like a zoom 80/100-400mm or 500mm are excellent. A 70-200 mm zoom should be supplemented with a longer focal length or 2x teleconverter. To increase the focal length, teleconverters should be used in certain situations. A crop-format body ostensibly turns 400mm into 600 or 640mm. With a full-frame body, you should have a 1.4x converter with you if the longest lens has a focal length of 400 mm. If you have access to two camera bodies, it is good to have both and have slightly different focal lengths on the bodies. Tripods are a bit cumbersome to carry around, but can be useful when shooting on foot. Tripods can also be good if we get opportunities for night photography.

Clothing

The temperature in Yellowstone can in January vary between a few degrees above the freezing point and up to -30 degrees. Proper winter clothing and, above all, spacious, warm shoes (winter boots) are recommended! We recommend you to bring a good amount of different layers of clothing so that you can adjust the amount of layers to the temperature. 

-Merino wool base layer

-Long sleave shirts

-Fleece jacket

-Warm woolen sweater

-Warm winter jacket (preferably down)

-Insulated trousers such as skiing trousers

-Winter boots (Baffin Control Max for example)

--Several layers of gloves (base layer in combination with a photography glove). We recommend Vallerret Photography Gloves 

-Warm hat

-Scarf

-Sunglasses

-Rain clothing for in case of wet snow

-Hand- and feet warmers can be useful 

 

Accessibility for the disabled 


The accommodations are reasonably accessible, with a bit of help. The vehicles we use have less restrictions in case of reduced mobility. Nature and above all the snow can be an obstacle in the case of reduced mobility. If you have any questions or doubts, please contact us first so we can discuss what the possibilities look like.

Gallery

All images by Henrik Karlsson

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