Yellowstone's Lamar Valley in Winter: Wildlife and Landscapes
February 5–10, 2022
Yellowstone National Park is the oldest and arguably the most picturesque National Park in the world. Although created to showcase its many unique hydrothermal and geologic wonders, Yellowstone is equally prized today for having the densest concentration of charismatic wildlife remaining in the lower 48 states. Bear, wolves, moose, and bison all inhabit the park. Altogether, the park is home to at least 61 kinds of mammals and hundreds of species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish.
Situated in the northeastern corner of the park, the Lamar Valley’s open spaces and converging rivers provide excellent habitat for much of Yellowstone’s wildlife. Think bison clustered in a snowy meadow, thick coats obscured by snow and breaths visible in the cold morning air. Or envision a red fox pouncing on a mouse under the snow, its fine hearing attuned to the stirrings of its tiny prey. We may also see otters playing and grooming in the Lamar River, or a lone moose on a ridge in the distance grazing on willow. With luck, we’ll have a chance of seeing wolves on a kill, and if we look carefully we may even spot some of the park’s more elusive creatures such as the wolverine, or its distant cousin the long-tailed weasel! It can take some patience sometimes, but patience tends to pay off handsomely. While this workshop is largely focused on wildlife, we’re always on the lookout for interesting landscape compositions as well. The valley includes some sweeping scenes, and many smaller, more intimate ones. We will also make time to photograph some of the park’s thermal features near Mammoth Hot Springs, including the travertine terraces.
Since our Lamar Valley workshop takes place in winter, this can mean extreme temps. Don’t worry, though—we’ll be sure you are well-prepared to enjoy your time here with the right clothing and we’ll also teach you how to properly prepare your gear. As an added benefit winter means fewer crowds, and also the unparalleled beauty of steamy hydrothermal features, icy riverine vistas, and frost-cloaked trees! We’ll be traveling through the valley each day in large, comfortable vehicles, and everyone will have a window. We’ll spend nights in the town of Gardiner, based close to the park for those early morning departures! Days will be long and tiring as we seek to make the most of wildlife opportunities and light, but we’ll be sure to stop for a hot lunch in nearby Cooke City as well.
This workshop is suitable for the beginner or advanced photographer. Either way, we’ll be there to help with technical settings, composition, and shooting techniques in this challenging environment. We want you to come home with plenty of sharp, properly exposed images of wildlife, and for those interested, we can work on advanced techniques like motion blur, panoramas, and focus stacking as well. And of course, we’ll make time for our signature image reviews and post-processing sessions whenever possible!
About the wildlife: This workshop offers significant opportunities for photographing wildlife, and while we do our best to maximize our wildlife encounters—based on past experiences, local knowledge, and the current conditions—we need to impress upon you that the wildlife really is wild and that we don’t control it.
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, local conditions, and other factors.
February 5, 2022: You should arrive at Bozeman airport (BZN) no later than 1:00 PM today. We will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to our hotel in Gardiner, where you’ll have some time to settle in. In the late afternoon, we’ll head out to photograph the wildlife and landscapes we encounter around Gardiner. On return, we’ll have dinner, followed by an introductory meeting to discuss weather conditions, wildlife reports, and shooting preparation.
February 6–9, 2022: Each of these days will begin very early, so we can catch the wildlife starting their day! We’ll have a pre-dawn breakfast, then head out in our private winterized snow bus into the Lamar Valley. The Lamar Valley is one of the premiere wildlife viewing locations in Yellowstone, so we anticipate plenty of opportunities for great shots. Bison, fox, elk, and coyote are regulars and we’ll work to catch a glimpse of less commonly spotted wildlife such as otters, and maybe the long-tailed weasel! One day we may focus on bison herds, and the next on elk at Tower Junction. We might work to photograph waterfowl and eagles, or we may work our way through heavy snow to follow otters down a creek. Days will be long and full to take full advantage of the location, and to maximize our chances at sightings. We’ll of course take breaks from the wildlife action for hot lunches in Cooke City and we’ll also be sure to visit the geological features in the area.
February 10, 2022: This morning we’ll have a final breakfast at our favorite local restaurant, then we’ll drive you to Bozeman airport. Flights home can be scheduled today for anytime after 1:00 PM.
Moderate: Walks in snow of up to one mile with modest elevation gains, at 7000′ to 8,000′ altitude. The temperatures can be very cold.
Arrive Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN), Bozeman, Montana before 1:00 PM on February 5, 2022. Flights out can be made after 1:00 PM on February 10, 2022.
What to Bring
Please see our page How To Prepare For Your Workshop. We will send you a detailed information document 90 days before your workshop. This document will include specifics of where and when to meet, gear and clothing recommendations, and more.
- Double occupancy lodging. Single available for $450 supplement.
- All meals, soft drinks, and snacks during the workshop
- All permits and park fees
- All transportation during the workshop
- Tips for crew, drivers, and local guides
- Image reviews and post-processing instruction
- Photographic guiding and instruction from 2 pros
- Travel to and from Bozeman, Montana.
- Passport and visa fees (if applicable).
- Any meals or accommodations before or after the workshop dates.
- Items of a personal nature.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended).
- Anything else specifically not listed as included.
- Single rooming available for $450 supplement.
“Special note: Although all Muench people were superb, I want to pay special note to Lisa. She is a real gem. Her knowledge teaching skills and ability to communicate with groups and individuals is incredible. ”