Trip Report: Yellowstone Wildlife Safari

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!

Grizzly Cub

Rich enjoying a great day on the Yellowstone photography tour

Red Fox in the Snow near Cooke City, Montana

Bison reflection in Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley

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.

Rich, Craig, Amy, Cindy, David, Rich & Crystal posing along the Lone Star Geyser trail. Photo: Amy Schade

Black Bear sow and two cubs

Two Black Bear cubs in a tree in Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly Cub looks on while mama grazes near Yellowstone’ Lamar Valley

Sandhill Cranes in Lamar Valley

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.

Black Bear cub in a tree

Black Bear sow

Amy nailing the shot

A very happy Bull Bison!

Coyote eating in an Elk Carcass in Hayden Valley

Trumpeter Swans in flight

Black Bear cub in a tree

Dancing Bison calf (aka “Red Dogs”)

Black Bear cub

Several Black Bear cubs

Immature Bald Eagle in flight

The Wapiti Wolf Pack in Hayden valley

The Moon above Yellowstone

Canada Geese goslings

Cinnamon colored Black Bear near Yellowstone River Bridge

Black Bear cubs in a tree

Mama Black Bear and cubs near the Yellowstone River

George pretending to be a Bison

Bison pretending to be George!

Bison calf playing in the grass

George & Josh nailing the shot

Backcountry Journeys chariots – we ride in style!

Grand Prismatic Hot Spring

Yearling Grizzly Cub near Gibbon Flats

Bull Bison blocking traffic

David Photographing bears

Cindy hard at work!

Radio collared Grizzly & Cub

Grizzly along Yellowstone’s Gibbon River

Bear Patrol

Grizzly versus Bison

Grizzly Sow with Cub

Portrait of a Bison

Jed taunting Lone Star Geyser

Old Faithful a must on any Yellowstone Photography Tour

Historic Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park

Mousing Coyote

Keith & Josh photographing Riverside Geyser

Josh & George photographing Grotto Geyser

Brian Photographing Geysers

Coyote reflections

Waiting for Castle Geyser

Rainbow in Castle Geyser

Yellowstone’s Old Faithful at night using a long exposure

David, Craig, Cindy, Crystal, Rich, Amy & Rich! Photo: Cindy Roper




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