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Yellowstone in Winter
2024 Trip Report

Winter in Yellowstone National Park is a very special place at a special time of the year. I am just fresh back from two very successful Van Os Yellowstone in Winter photo safaris.

This year’s weather during the tours was more varied than usual—perhaps even more so than in my decades of leading winter tours in Yellowstone. Personally, I embrace all kinds of weather because it adds atmosphere to our photos. Whether capturing landscapes or wildlife, we aim to convey mood and iconic beauty. Our first tour basked in warm weather and clear skies, while the second week gifted us with daily snowfall. From crystal-clear days to dramatic cloud formations, both weather patterns presented challenges and opportunities for Yellowstone photographers.


Winter photography is an art of adaptation, making the most of whatever nature provides. Our tours revolved around leisurely days spent traveling in comfortable snow coaches, carefully assessing conditions as we explored Yellowstone during this quieter season. My fellow leader, Jeff Vanuga, and I draw upon years of experience to strategically position ourselves for optimal photographic opportunities. We plan ahead, remaining flexible to seize the rarefied light that bathes Yellowstone’s best landscapes.


The park’s diverse terrain ranges from pine forests to open meadows—a place where bison thrive and confront winter on their own terms. It’s also the territory of the Wapiti Lake Pack of wolves and the famous Mollie wolves. Within this interior, we also find some of the best opportunities to photograph coyotes and foxes as they navigate snowy landscapes. Our slow drives along the Yellowstone and Madison rivers often yield elegant images of wintering trumpeter swans.

During our time in Yellowstone, we spent two nights at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. Here, we could slow down even more and explore the Upper Geyser Basin on foot, allowing plenty of time to photograph the characteristic geysers and hot springs throughout our stay. Over the course of both weeks, we easily captured dramatic images of famous features, including the Morning Glory Pool and the Grand Geyser, as well as multiple eruptions of Old Faithful itself.


This year our tours concluded with a day exploring Yellowstone’s famous Northern Range. We had the opportunity to capture images of wildlife that had migrated out of the park’s interior to seek more favorable winter conditions in the snow-shadow area to the north. Most notably, we encountered a significant portion of Yellowstone’s elk herd during safe and close-up encounters. Our base at Mammoth Hot Springs allowed us to photograph unique details of the hot springs terraces when we weren’t out searching for wildlife.

Working with the camera in winter brings its own set of surprises. While the cold wasn’t the main challenge during this season’s tours, there were still wintery surprises. Modern digital cameras and lenses excel at creating stunning winter images. What I appreciate most about photographing Yellowstone in winter is the opportunity to teach the art of fieldcraft in winter photography. Fieldcraft involves maximizing the quality of your images by skillfully using your gear in various photographic situations. It’s not just about having top-notch equipment; it’s about knowing how to use it effectively, especially in challenging wintry conditions. After all these years, I still get excited when our photo travelers capture dynamic light over familiar landscapes or action shots of wildlife surviving in Yellowstone’s winter terrain.


In summary, while the allure of wolves, coyotes, foxes, and bison against a winter landscape draws us to Yellowstone this time of year, it’s the complete experience shared with like-minded photographers that truly makes this national treasure a place worth revisiting. As another successful season of Van Os Photo Safaris Yellowstone in Winter tours concludes, I eagerly anticipate next year and the myriad photographic encounters it will offer.

Upcoming Related Tours

Yellowstone in Winter

Capture images of the very best of Yellowstone’s snowy interior—unique geothermal features, snow-encrusted landscapes, and iconic wildlife—with an expert leader who knows the park intimately. Flexible itinerary with five snow coach days and short walks to explore geothermal areas and landscapes.

January 25 - 31, 2025
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