travel advice - winter in Yellowstone

steepjay

I'm New Here
CR Pro
Oct 24, 2014
22
2
www.johnstone.photo
Hi,

I'm planning a trip to Yellowstone at the end of February, we're going to have about 2.5 days of actual photo time at the park. I see there's a "what to bring" discussion going on for a similarly timed trip, I'm looking more for "where to go". The great goal would be wildlife, wolf / bison / birds but I'm easy, good light and nice scenery are a good way to spend the mornings and evenings as well.

I'm traveling in from the north so was planning to base the trip out of Gardiner, MT unless I get a better suggestion. Not afraid of putting on some miles as needed.

Snowshoeing or doing a snowmobile trip is an option if someone has a suggestion of where to go.

The gear list between two of us is enough to cover most anything, a D700 / 14-24 and a couple 5D3s and 1D's with 50, 70-200, 400/4 500/4.

Thanks for any advice!
Jay
 

steepjay

I'm New Here
CR Pro
Oct 24, 2014
22
2
www.johnstone.photo
Marsu42 said:
steepjay said:
Thanks for any advice!
My advice: Try the search box :->

http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=23218.msg452052#msg452052

See, this is why I dislike posting online. I thought I was explicit enough when I noted the existing post on "what to bring"... I was looking for "boots on the ground" where to go info, which isn't being discussed in that post as that OP already has a trip organized.

Dilbert, thanks for the Luminous link, some real gems on that site.
 

monkey44

EOS RP
Aug 7, 2014
430
0
Try this site and go to the National Parks threads down near the bottom ... you can read, but can't post unless you sign up, free site. It has a lot of Yellowstone info, and if you ask specific Q's, you'll get good answers. Campers spend lots of time on the ground, and will have winter answers for you too -- skiing and snow mobiles run in the park all winter.

The loop roads thru the park are closed, but the upper loop is plowed and open all year. Best to go to that site and ask, as I've not spent much time in winter there --

www.RV.net
 

Marsu42

Canon Pride.
Feb 7, 2012
6,316
0
Berlin
der-tierfotograf.de
steepjay said:
Marsu42 said:
steepjay said:
Thanks for any advice!
My advice: Try the search box :->
See, this is why I dislike posting online.
Sorry it doesn't work out for you. The reason why I was trying to re-directed you is that with very similar topics, it makes sense to participate in the "old" thread because all people interested in it are still subscribed to it. That's why any additional information will be seen by people who might not see the new thread. And now people looking for the same information have to find and read two threads for the general topic.

Last not least, there are so many "I've seen the existing 100 threads, but I'd still like to ask for 17-40L vs. 16-35L" around that duplication on its own will prevent interested people from even opening it, even if there is a minute difference. Have a good trip!
 

bfgit

I'm New Here
Jul 2, 2014
15
4
Ok I have a little experience with Yellowstone in the Winter... the northern range is traversable by your own car between gardener to silvergate/cooke city etc they have to keep it open for their survival and as such in my opinion the best opportunity to shoot wildlife... the reality is wolves can be found all along that route... the lamar valley has always been productive but the wolf packs change in number and size etc so its a good idea to look in at the yellowstone discovery center in Gardiner to find out what the packs are doing... Bison will be found also along the northern range... by the way access into the rest of the park is by snow coach.... noisy, slow and generally speaking scares off the wildlife as do the snow mobiles... the northern range does not have snow mobiles! Otters are often found at "confluence" (at the end of lamar valley before heading upto Silvergate) here the river is fairly fast flowing and doesn't totally freeze over... plus you can see it from the road... and you don't need to go battling through 3 foot deep snow. Unlikely to see any bears unless there is some freak warm up but stranger things have happened.. The truth is that I seen/shot many varieties of wildlife throughout the northern range road, they turn up in places you would leas expect.. look for large groups of crows/raven... they are almost always on carcass, and depending on how old the carcass is, wolves n coyotes will most likely be nearby
 
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bfgit

I'm New Here
Jul 2, 2014
15
4
The winter scenery is spectacular assuming you are not in a blizzard... I always stay at the best western in gardener... Snow shoeing is an option but the chances are you won't need to move off the road. Wolves have adapted to use the northern range road to move between areas... as do the Bison,Coyotes, Elk etc... Big tip get Yak Trax for your boots.. Bring some cardboard to stand on for those extended times you are standing waiting/watching... If you see a group of people chances are something is there... Birds in the park are strangely not that abundant. Golden and Bald Eagles are commonly seen on carcasses along with the Ravens. Stellars Jays are often found up in Cooke City... Moose have tended to hang around Silvergate and Cooke City in the past around the willow tree groves.. You are most likey going to do a lot of driving up and down that northern range road between Mammoth and Cooke City... there are no guarantees... that said wolves have always been easier to spot in the Winter in my experience. You may get lucky with a close chance encounter or they maybe 100's of yards away... either way have your cameras ready to go at a seconds notice in your laps... other than landscapes, the only lens I use is 600 f4 and rarely 100-400.. work on the idea that wildlife is going to be at a distance and plan for that . The park has strict rules on how close you can get. Don't mess with the Rangers.
 
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steepjay

I'm New Here
CR Pro
Oct 24, 2014
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www.johnstone.photo
bfgit, thanks so much for all that awesome advice! I was planning to use Gardiner as my "base camp" and I was wondering about the effectiveness of the snow coach option. Based on your info, I think I might do one day in a snow coach to get off the road and see some different scenery and spent the other 1.5 days on the north road.

Thanks again!
 

bfgit

I'm New Here
Jul 2, 2014
15
4
The northern road is maintained and kept open throughout the winter, granted there maybe occasional closures but thats generally measured in hours, as its the only life line to Cooke city and silver gate. However, a severe snowstorm may close it for longer… to be honest it hasn't happened when I was there so your mileage may vary… Snow coaches head out south from Mammoth to the interior i.e. old faithful etc again depending on weather conditions.. there are only a finite number of coaches that head out each day so book ahead and its pretty much a full day round trip… I know a very good guide called Carl Swoboda who runs Safari Yellowstone http://www.safariyellowstone.com in the winter, he is a private contractor but he limits the max number of people in his snow coach and basically will take you where you want..he's also incredibly knowledgeable about the wolves in the park.. fantastic landscapes especially around the geyser areas... Last I knew, snow mobiles were only hirable from West Yellowstone and numbers of snow mobiles are limited in the park
 

bfgit

I'm New Here
Jul 2, 2014
15
4
2WD with chains shouldn't be a problem as long as you're careful and the conditions aren't too inclement, fast driving in the park is a recipe for disaster... I personally would prefer AWD… I have never used chains myself as the hire cars don't use them… Big tip when pulling to the side of the road be VERY CAREFUL when you get off the road there are OFTEN snow covered ditches of varying depths, 3-4 feet off the road… I have seen a fair number of uninitiated find that out the hard way though peeps in the park tend to be generous with help… Another BIG tip… don't just drive up to a group of people by the side of the road, wind the window down and ask what they are looking at… you will ingratiate yourself more with these peeps if you take the time and effort to park up carefully, get out and take a look for yourself… did I mention YAK TRAKS for ur shoes/boots? lifesavers!... "Undine Falls" area historically has had a fair number of Bobcat sightings… Usually early early morning… I have never been lucky though I did find fresh tracks.. TIP … you don't have too many daylight hours in the park so plan to hit the park before the sun comes up… + that gives excellent opportunity for some amazing winter sunrises.
 

bfgit

I'm New Here
Jul 2, 2014
15
4
Also try this site … they have a sightings map http://www.yellowstonewildlife.com/sightmap.php though its not the most up to date but try looking to at the "last year" option it can give you clues as to what turns up where but it is quite limited etc… just remember it's not a zoo, and don't ask the ranger what time they let the animals out! LOL and yes I have heard that asked!! [he says shaking his head and rolling his eyes]
 

bfgit

I'm New Here
Jul 2, 2014
15
4
I know your joking but believe me, I've actually seen that done as well! Lol
 
...I know a very good guide called Carl Swoboda who runs Safari Yellowstone http://www.safariyellowstone.com in the winter, he is a private contractor but he limits the max number of people in his snow coach and basically will take you where you want..he's also incredibly knowledgeable about the wolves in the park...
I know this is an old thread, but thanks for the tip. I am thinking about winter 2021. His prices seem much more reasonable than the specialized photo safaris. I don't need a photo instructor, I just need someone to get me into the interior.