The Best Adventure Photography Trips: Yellowstone National Park, Montana/ Wyoming/Idaho

Sep 1, 2009
Outside Magazine
Bison in Yellowstone

Bison in Yellowstone    Photo: courtesy of National Park Service

"The classic Yellowstone wildlife image is an animal's rear end," says Ken Sinay, owner of the Yellowstone Safari Company. Indeed, most rookies here get so excited by the sight of wolves, elk, bears, and bison that they zoom in for close-up "trophy shots" of animals and go home with images of retreating fur. Give your subjects room in the frame and allow the setting to breathe—fog rising off the Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley, for example, makes a dramatic background for a grizzly shot. And arrive with a strategy. Want to see wolves? Hit touristy Lamar Valley (ground zero for the park's 1995 wolf-reintroduction program) in winter, when there are fewer visitors and the canines' dark fur stands out against the snow. Looking for bison? The rut peaks in August. A chance to see both? Take an SUV-supported day trip or a multi-day backcountry trip with Yellowstone Safaris (day trips, $650 for one or two people; two-day trips from $1,525; "Use long lenses and try to anticipate the animals' movements," says wildlife photographer Tom Mangelsen. "We don't need another moose-butt shot."