There are few places that are as incredible as Yellowstone National Park in the winter time. The snow-covered landscape creates a pristine backdrop as vents release steam into the icy air. It’s hard to believe that a park that gets 3.5 to 5 million visitors per year can become so quiet. During the winter months, most of the park is closed to passenger vehicles. The only way to access the southern portion of the park is by snow coach, snow mobile or cross-country skies.
2024 Yellowstone Photography Workshop
• West Yellowstone Winter Yellowstone Photography Workshop
• North Yellowstone Winter Photography Workshop
Generic tours are no way for a photographer to get meaningful shots in Yellowstone though. A chartered snow coach or workshop will provide a much better photography experience.
My 2023 Winter Yellowstone Photography Workshop was held January 27th - 29th. The workshop was intentionally held in the middle of winter to increase the odds of dramatic winter weather. While the forecast looked a little rough heading into the weekend, we were greeted with dramatic yet photogenic conditions on all three days of the trip.
Some participants opted to photograph wolves and grizzly bears in a nearby wildlife sanctuary before the start of the workshop. With a fresh backdrop of snow, the results were incredible. On the first official day of the trip we saw a coyote within 10 minutes of entering the Yellowstone gate. Not too much further down the road we found ourselves getting out of the couch again. This time we were photographing our first herd of bison in the snow. Bison are synonymous with Yellowstone so this would be the first of many stops to photograph these incredible creatures. As the day rolled on and the gentle snow fell, we continued to photograph winter landscapes and wildlife.
The next morning, we headed into the park a little earlier because we had a long drive ahead of us, as we were going deeper into the park. The snow continued to lightly fall from the sky creating mysteriously beautiful scenes. We created minimalistic scenes with a few lone trees and snow. Further down the road, we found a small group of bison in a photogenic landscape. As the day rolled along, we found ourselves photographing an incredible winter scene as three evenly spaced bison crossed a snow-covered meadow. The photographs were as poetic as they were beautiful. Moving along, we photographed a group of icy trees that were growing near a steamy vent. The trees would disappear into the fog before revealing themselves from the thick vail.
The clouds cleared overnight and the temperature dropped. While it might sound crazy, the cold temperatures were welcomed by the group because cold air creates dramatic steamy scenes as the angled sun of morning shines on the landscape. Since no trip to Yellowstone is complete without a trip to Old Faithful, that is exactly where we went. We photographed a few geothermal features before making our way to shoot Old Faithful’s famous eruption against a blue sky.
Continuing with our day we were lucky enough to have a large snow-covered bull bison walk straight down the road in our direction. This is the ideal shooting scenario because it allows us plenty of time to shoot as the bison looks straight at the camera. Just when we thought we had enough with photographing bison, we saw a great scene where an adolescent bison was running through the backlit steam amongst a snowy backdrop. Finally, we transitioned to a little landscape photography when we came to the beautifully stark bobysocks trees in the sun.
Yellowstone in the winter is an unforgettable experience and the possibilities are endless. Each year is a different experience with completely different photographs. As soon as my fingers thawed out from this trip, I began looking forward to the Winter Yellowstone Photography Workshop.