Photo tours in Yellowstone National Park?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by christal|1, May 14, 2015.

  1. Has anyone ever taken the photo tours in Yellowstone National Park? I think there are couple of different companies that offer them. Though they're pricey, we thought taking a tour specific to photograpny might increase our chances of seeing wildlife since those guides stay up on where the sitings are. And they get a really early start in the morning. If you can shed any light on this, please share! Thanks!
    Here is one of the tours I'm looking at:
  2. I did a photo tour back in the late 1990's. It was okay, but not as great as it was promoted. BUT (and this is important to know) I've spent a lot of time in and around Yellowstone over the years. I cannot say I know every place in the park, but I do have something of a feel for the place. These type things are highly individual. What are your goals for such a trip? How long do you have to spend? What time of year do you plan to visit? I find fall and early spring to be the best times because (a) the park can be crowded mid-summer and in the winter it is often tough to get around and (b) the chances of seeing less common wildlife is greater when fewer people are about. In spring you are likely to see babies and in the fall you will see rutting elk and moose. The "greater chance" to see wildlife isn't something I associate with guided tours. Frankly, I've seen more wildlife when on my own. Again, this is me and may not be the same for you. The question I would ask is whether the person leading the group has naturalist training or if s/he will be accompanied by a naturalist. Understanding wildlife is important for maximizing photo ops.
    I looked at the tours you are considering and, based only on my experience, the price seems fair for what they provide. There are other, more expensive trips that may or may not offer more. I think it is important to ask questions up front before you make a reservation. Only you know what you hope to see/do and whether this type trip will help you achieve you goals. You might ask if the group can hook you up with someone who took the trip and could share her/his experiences. Yellowstone is an amazing place. There are so many photo ops you will go crazy just trying to choose what to shoot and when. Having guidance from someone familiar with both the park and photo basics might be of great help.
    I hope this is helpful. If you have specific questions, feel free to ask me. Yellowstone is one of my favorite places in the world!
  3. Irene, thanks so much for your information. Yes, many of the questions you ask are questions I'm asking myself. We've actually been to Yellowstone three times. The first time only for 2 days, but each of the subsequent times for 4-5 days each. It's a huge park, and I'd really like to stay there for a couple of weeks, truth be told.
    I've gotten a couple of good books (guides) for Yellowstone, and one deals in particular with photography. So I'm trying to determine if we just want to use those and go on our own or try this guided tour. What I meant by 'greater chance' is simply that I think those guides get a heads-up on where the wildlife is congregating, hopefully increasing the chance of seeing something.
    I know of a couple of really good winter tours to Yellowstone, and we hope to do that in the near future. But I hadn't heard of the photo tours until recently. The other thing (hopefully) about a photo tour is that they would go at a pace for the photographer who wants to 'stop and smell the roses'. At least one would hope. Although this one sounds pretty commercial. I'm also not sure they'd be able to give me references of who has gone on them in the past.
    Just curious......I looked at your portfolio (nice work, BTW!), and I saw the picture of Lolo Pass. Are you from Montana? I spent last summer in photography school in Missoula, MT, and I fell in love with the area.
  4. I worked (and lived) in Yellowstone for two seasons in 2012 and 2013. I know the park fairly well. I worked for Xantera at Lake Lodge. I get no compensation or any type of reward for what I'm about to say.
    I attended the Photo Safari's at both locations. I especially like the safari that is in the Lake area. The tour guide knows and loves the park. He plans the safari based on exactly what is taking place in the area. He will do his best to have you at a great sunrise location. After that he will try find the best locations for wildlife. You will probably go for a drive towards the East Gate. Eventually you will go through Hayden Valley to Lower Falls. Weather permitting, he will have you at the falls to photograph the falls with a rainbow. I think he does a great job. Of course, its the luck of the draw with wildlife, but I got to photograph a spectacular sunrise, 5 grizzly bears, many bison in the valley, and the rainbow at Lower Falls.
    The safari run out of Old Faithful is also a good way to see that area of the park. We didn't get to see much in the way of wildlife, but the guide did his best in getting us to various areas looking for the animals.
    For the money, I think the photo safaris are a deal. I think you can tell that I enjoyed the Lake safari the most. The guides at both locations do a great job. I just found the Lake area to be more photographic.
  5. Eric, it must have been great working in Yellowstone! I'll be retiring in a few weeks, and we plan to travel by RV. We hope we're also able to work in Yellowstone at some point, at least for a few months.
    Yes, the rainbow is one of the things I really wanted to see. Once we know where to view it, then we can do it later on our own. So based on the fact that you went on the photo safari and enjoyed it, I think we'll go ahead and book it. If we aren't pleased for any reason, then we'll know in the future. But from what you said, and of course depending on how much wildlife we see, I'm sure it will be great.
    Thank you both for taking the time to give me your thoughts!
  6. If you do the Lake Photo Safari and you have Doug Hilborn as your guide, tell him I said "hi".

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