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2-3 Days in Yellowstone?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by rgugler, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. rgugler

    rgugler Mu-43 Regular

    Hello all!

    I'll be heading up to work in Montana the first full week of May, driving through Colorado and Wyoming. I'd like to stop and camp in Yellowstone a few days to try and get some better photos. I drove through it once several years ago, but wasn't able to do more than stop and watch Old Faithful once before the sun went down. I checked the road openings, and it looks like the roads from Old Faithful to the north end of the Park will be open.

    If you had 3 days in Yellowstone, where would you concentrate your time?

    Any tips for great photo opportunities in the spring? Wildlife is my main focus, since I'm not sure how much hiking I'd be able to do alone with all the snow and bears starting to wake up. I believe there is a recommendation out from the park to stay in groups of three or more.

  2. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    I've only been there once, in May 2012. We timed our arrival to when the major hotels and other facilities in the park opened around May 20 that year.

    Many of the hiking trails on the western side were closed as the bears had their new cubs and it's better to stay away from them. As a result I did almost no real hiking during our stay.

    The bison are all over the place and are easy to find; after a day or two you start getting annoyed when the block the cars. I saw plenty of bison, some deer and a wolf.

    The major attractions are the thermals and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, along with Yellowstone Falls.
  3. rklepper

    rklepper Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 19, 2012
    Iowa, USA
    At the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone make sure you hike the long stairway down. Gets you a wonderful view both of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and of Yellowstone Falls I think maybe it's called upper Yellowstone Falls.
  4. puckpack

    puckpack Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 10, 2014
    Our family went through there last summer and drove the beartooth highway. If it is open, I highly recommend it. Beautiful views!!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  5. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    Here are a few shots from our trip.

    Attached Files:

    • Like Like x 1
  6. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    If you are camping, consider the Tower area. Close to lots of things....Lamar valley for wildlife, The falls, the tower and not far from Mammoth springs. If you are going to Montana, consider driving the Beartooth highway (NE entrance/exit)...gorgeous amazing drive up to 11,000FT w/360 views...if the snow is cleared....might be iffy that time of year. I went in June. Supplies can be had cheap in Gardner, MT just outside the NW entrance.
  7. foxtail1

    foxtail1 Science geek & photo nut Subscribing Member

    Dec 30, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    I was going to suggest Lamar Valley — excellent wildlife. I do not know if Beartooth will be open then or not (I doubt it), but it's superb. The thermal areas between Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs are amazing. If I had to chose my favorite, it would probably be Grand Prismatic Spring. The colors are indescribable.

    BTW, if you are coming across from Cody, Chief Joseph Scenic Byway is a really nice road.
  8. newbert

    newbert Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 22, 2012
    Glens Falls, NY
    All great recommendations so far - but let me go out on a limb.

    I'm not sure what you're planned route is, but if you're coming north from Colorado, you should seriously consider a few days in Grand Teton National Park. It's about 50-75 miles south of Yellowstone and has lots of wildlife and gorgeous views. Much smaller than Yellowstone, so fairly easy to get around too. For excellent info, here's a blog written by a photographer that'll give you LOTS of tips on where and when to shoot. I wish that I had known about this blog before my trip last year....
  9. rgugler

    rgugler Mu-43 Regular

    I did look into that, as I drove south through there once and it was beautiful, but the South entrance of Yellowstone is still closed when I'm driving through, so I would spend a lot of time getting back out of Grand Teton to head north again. I'll have to catch it on my way home in the fall!

    Right now I believe I will be heading in through the East entrance and head to the Old Faithful area for the first day, Mammoth area for the 2nd day, Tower for the 3rd, and exit through the Northeast entrance! This will of course all be weather dependent, and I am rather flexible when traveling, so it could change at any time! Last time I went through I drove in through the West entrance and then south by Old Faithful and on through Grand Teton. Unfortunately I was low on time and couldn't stop much at all!

    Thanks for all the information and pictures!
  10. newbert

    newbert Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 22, 2012
    Glens Falls, NY
    Yes, if the south entrance to Yellowstone is closed, scratch the idea about Grand Teton.

    If you're coming in from the east, you will really should take the Chief Joseph Highway out of Cody Wyoming. Beautiful scenery! The Beartooth Highway is spectacular as well, but will lead you east (away from Yellowstone) from where it junctions with the Chief Joseph Highway.

    As you enter Yellowstone from the east, you'll be passing through Lamar Valley. There should be lots of wildlife there (although mostly Bison). Old Faithful is towards the western end of Yellowstone, so perhaps you should re-order your locations as follows: Tower - Old Faithful - Mammoth. As I recall, the Gibbon River is not far from Old Faithful and can offer some beautiful sunsets there:

    View attachment 354544

    View attachment 354545

    View attachment 354546

    Maybe you'll get lucky and see a moose in this area. That's what we went looking for. We had to settle for the sunset though....:smile:

    If I recall correctly, the Norris Geyser Basin is located between Old Faithful and Mammoth, as well.

    Have a great trip!
  11. mcasan

    mcasan Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 26, 2014
    Lamar Valley with long glass. For M43 that means at least 150mm but preferably something like a Panny 100-300 or 300 prime.

    As luck had it, the last time we were there was when the government shut down the parks. Our planned last day at Old Faithful Inn happened to be the last day the park was open. We already had reservations in Jackson Hole so we headed south as planned. We had a 4wd Jeep and drove to the end of the Gros Ventre road which is 30+ miles into the mountains east if Jackson. I highly recommend that....weather and vehicle permitting. Go out at least as far as Slide Lake. You will see why it has that name when you get there.
  12. rgugler

    rgugler Mu-43 Regular

    I will have the 45-200mm, so hopefully I could get some shots with that! I have a Jeep Patriot with 4 week drive, but it is only a 4 cylinder, so not really meant for off road. I'll keep that on my list for when I head through in the fall. Thank you for the information!

    I love getting off the main highways and taking all the tiny back roads! I did a road trip from Seattle to Kansas last fall via Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. It was amazing. My best find was the Grandview Campground in Inyo National Forest in California. I got there after the sun set, and the sky was just amazing! The sunrise was beautiful too, but I had to get going, so no good photos. I hope to go back some day to try and take some pictures. Didn't want to ruin the experience by trying to take crappy pictures with my point and shoot.
  13. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    Grand Prismatic Spring

    I second the recommendation to see the Grand Prismatic Spring. Try to get there in the later afternoon. I got one of my all-time favorite shots there with an Olympus Stylus film camera w/a fixed 35mm lens.

    Attached Files:

  14. kenez

    kenez Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 18, 2012
    There is a steep hill on the trail to Fairy Falls that will allow you to get a good perspective on Grand Prismatic Spring (if you are willing to hike up). I would also recommend taking Uncle Tom's trail and the trail from Artist Point in the direction of Point Sublime for some great waterfall and canyon views.

    Attached Files:

  15. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    LUCKY! I so want to go back to Yellowstone. I was there once years ago and shot many rolls{all of which were lost in a flood! :frown: }. I personally prefer getting away from the touristy spots but even those offer lots of great shooting if the other people will get out of your way. One thing to not do is wait on Old Faithful{faithless}. It isn't as regular as it is suppose to be and I stood there in light rain for almost an hour to get a crappy couple of shots.
  16. JohnF

    JohnF Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 1, 2010
    Oberursel, Germany
    I'll be there for five nights in July with the wife. Lots of great tips, thanks! We booked cabins next to the lodge back in August of 2013...

    I'll be travelling with my E30, 12-60, 50 macro, 70-300, as well as a Vivitar Series 1 600 f8 solid cat lens, as well as an EPM1 and EPL2 with 14 f2.5 and a Leica 180 f3.4 APO for time-lapse work, with the Panny adapter from 4/3 to m4/3. Still working on a single bag to carry them all, but worst case is the Tamron backpack I normally use for carrying a Gigapan Pro with me. Sadly that won't be making the trip, as it was a promise made to the wife that I wouldn't spend all of my time taking photos. :-(

    I'm torn on a travel tripod. I have a Gitzo reporter, but that's heavy. I've used a Gorillapod SLR, for similar travel, but that's a tad limited for any lengthy work besides relatively static time lapse work. Carbon, sure, but far too much money...probably will end up taking both the Gitzo and the Gorillapod...
  17. I'd suggest scouting Yellowstone first on Google Earth.

    If leaving Yellowstone driving north past Big Sky be cautious, there was a memorial was killed here memorial every mile or two. The road ran on the west side of the river.

    There is an elk preserve at or near the south entrance. I did not appreciate how mNy or how close they stood alongside a road at night until looking through a night scope.

    If you have access to a camera with a night vision option you can scope out the nocturnal creatures. I've a good friend in Townsend, Mt. Winter is sneaky up there.

    Yellowstone Weather | Four-season Yellowstone National Park ...
    www.yellowstonepark.com › Plan Your Trip
    Yellowstone National Park weather is dynamic due to the high altitude of the park . ... Official Map PDF · Park Access · Gateway Towns ... Be sure to include a winter jacket, pants and shorts, a wool sweater and mittens no matter what time .... Start planning your Yellowstone vacation today with our free trip planning package.

    If you ever have a chance to attend a Mountain Medicine meeting do. Most is not medicine but survival and neat mountain stuff.
    Been there done that.
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