This May I had the fortune to spend two whole weeks in Yellowstone National Park with some great people. We explored the park on foot and by vehicle with the goal being to spend as much time as possible photographing wildlife, thermal features and the great wild ecosystem that is Yellowstone.
Yellowstone has an average elevation of between 7000 & 8000 feet above sea level. That means constantly changing mountain weather and even in the spring we saw freezing temperatures in the morning, warm days and some periods of intense rain and snow. Extreme weather is part of the experience in Yellowstone and in-fact one of the joys of spending time in the world’s first national park – there is a sense of feeling alive and adventure when you are out in the elements battling for excellent photographs!
As with every trip to Yellowstone the wildlife sightings were completely different each day and one never knew quite what to expect or what they were going to see around any given corner! We had great bear encounters – both Black Bear and Grizzly Bear as well as Wolves, Coyote, Fox, Bison, Pronghorn, Elk and several Bald Eagles.
I took two different groups out over the two week period as well as a shorter private excursion afterwards and then a few days just on my own to hike and explore parts of the park I hadn’t spent much time in yet. Over the years I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Yellowstone – hiking it’s trails, driving it’s roads, camping, staying at the various lodges – it’s an incredibly interesting, diverse place. Every single trip is different and every time I set foot in ‘the eco-system’ I see something I’ve never seen before or in a new light. The diversity is in the weather, the seasons and of course the behavior of Yellowstone’s bewildering wildlife populations.
Some of the highlights of this trip included an excellent photography session with Castle Geyser in which we were able to capture rainbows in the mist of the geyser – seemingly erupting right out of the cone! We also had some good photography sessions at Grand Geyser and Old Faithful put on a few good shows – including a beautiful clear night session using some long exposures on our tripods!
Over the course of the two week period we were able to find several different Black Bear sows with cubs as well as some Grizzlies that were frequently appearing near the Lamar River bridge and over along the Gibbon River.