Yellowstone national park in spring

Discussion in 'Nature' started by anis, Apr 12, 2008.

  1. Hi all,
    I am planning a trip to yellowstone NP around may first or second week and
    wondering if anyone have any tips on what to expect. I have 5 days to spend and
    I am hoping to cover grand tetons on the way to the park. But it looks like the
    south entrance might not be open in the first week of may in which case it will
    be yellowstone NP all 5 days.

    My questions are
    1. Is it worthwhile to get to the park this early or is it better to wait and go
    in june

    2. What lens are preferred? I am planning to take Nikon 300 f4 afs & 1.4 TC,
    nikon 105mm macro, nikon 18-80mm.

    3. Any specific must see spots ?

    Thank you for information.

  2. It will still pretty much be late winter there. You will avoid the bugs and the crowds, but things will likely be cold and gray. You are forgetting that it's mostly at 8,000 ft. Any lens is a good lens, depending on what you photo. I use everything from a 10-20mm to an 80-400mm. The best thing are the thermal features, such as the mineral pools.

    Kent in SD
  3. Assuming the weather warms up and stays warm for a couple weeks before you go it will be a good time to get there. Just prepare for varying weather. I was in the park last year the 3rd week of May and it ranged from 75 and sunny to snow the day I left. Depending on what you want to shoot perhaps June would be better but there will be a whole lot more people.

    You don't mention if you're shooting digital or film: If you're shooting digital APS the 300mm with a converter should do for most situations. If it's film, you might be a bit on the short side for some things. I shoot digital and with the 1.6x factor my 400 was fine MOST of the time. Not sure if the macro will be useful or not as you will be way early for wildflowers. The 18-80 will do nicely for most landscapes.

    I love the Tetons and, frankly, got the best shots of bears there though I did see quite a few grizzlies in Yellowstone, primarily the Lamar Valley from Roosevelt to Cooke City. Also, the wolves were very active in the Lamar though they tend to stay away from easy camera range.

    In the Tetons, the usual spots: Schwabacher Landing, Oxbow Bend, Mormon Row (e-mail me or see a map of the Tetons for specific directions to these spots)

    Yellowstone, it really depends on what you're looking for. Geysers, waterfalls, wildlife, it's all there.

    Good luck and good shooting. Here's a link to my trip journal and images from last year.
  4. With a little luck, there will be some warm weather, the ice and snow will be melting and the waterfalls should look great.

    Cool mornings should lend themselves to nice shots of the thermal features without having to face bitter cold.

    Wildlife in the spring, though, can look pretty shabby. Elk and deer have just made it through the winter and do not look their best. Grizzlies may be out and about, though.

    Spring and fall really are two distinct seasons in Yellowstone (don't mean to state the obvious), with spring lending itself to wildflowers and waterfalls, and the fall better for wildlife.

    Personally, I would rather go in May and beat the crowds.

    The 18-20 can cover your wide angle needs. I would take a tripod for early morning/late afternoon shots.
  5. pvp


    Any time the majority of the world's kids are in school, is a good time to visit Yellowstone. The crowds will be almost nonexistent.
    The last time I went to the park was in late May. There was still some snow around but most areas were accessible and we had a wonderful time. The bison will be calving in May so you'll have lots of cute little critters to watch. (Deer and elk too, but we saw few of them on that last trip.) We saw a couple of bears with young cubs also.
  6. My wife and I were there in February, and asked two Snowcoach driver-guides when they think is the best time to visit Yellowstone. Both said the third week in May, and for the same reasons: the roads should all be open, the elk and buffalo will have new calves, the bears should be out (some with new cubs), the waterfalls will be at their max flow, and the crowds won't be there yet. But like others have said, be prepared for both warm and cold weather.
  7. I was there from 5/19/ to 5/29 and we had snow rain and sun during that period of time , Love'd it would do it again:
  8. Thank you all for the information. Regarding the camera, I will be either taking D2x or D70. So it looks like the 300mm/Tc1.4 should be good enough.
    I am now considering to change the schedule to be there around the 3rd week of may.

  9. I visited Yellowstone NP last June with my family. It was not that crowded. The weather was great. I mostly used a medium wide angle and 400mm tele on my D200. I wish I could have had a Nikkor 500mm for some Coyote shots. I now have a much better tripod which would have helped a great deal.
  10. Passed through in 3rd week of May two years back, and it was pretty good, with young Bison in evidence and good water flow. If you have the flexibility, go just after they open the majority of the park roads (the weekend of the 17th this year?). If you're looking for wildlife, it's the best; it's also a better time for some of the thermal features, as they have a bit more water than later in the year.
  11. Anis: We are still in the grip of winter up here. The park is supposed to get 9 to 13 inches of snow this weekend. I would wait until June unless you are wanting winter photographs. If you do come make sure you call ahead to check what roads are open. An unusual year. I live in Bozeman Montana, 90 miles north of the Park. Dean (
  12. Carl, great comment. I've got reservations the first week of June and want to bring the longest glass necessary. Would rather do 400 for portability, but will be looking at the 500 very seriously.

    Lauren, what lens did you use for that Bison image?

    Anis, What lens depends on your goal. Mine (even though it is first time visiting) is to really enjoy and capture the wildlife. Unless you have specific needs, take what you have. Though I rarely use a tripod, I suggest one. (I'll even take mine!) Especially for the early am / sunset images.

    This is what my sister used when she visited. Now I just have to pry it from her fingers!
  13. I will be going in June, 3 days in Yellowstone 3 days in Teton, I have to Photo tours set up Yellowstone is with grant village and teton is with Jim Laybourn Wyoming Photo Experience. I am hoping to get some wolves.
  14. Bill, when are you going to be there? I have reservations starting June 10th. Current plans have me in the park for 10 nights

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