Yellowstone in the Winter

Yellowstone Winter Firehole

This past winter I spent five full days exploring Yellowstone National Park by snow coach.  Passenger cars are not allowed at that time. The only modes of transportation inside the park are snowmobiles or snow coaches.  I signed up with Gerlach Nature Photography Workshops led by Barbara Eddy and John Gerlach.  It was a wonderful time with two very knowledgeable leaders.  We were exploring the park daily from shortly after sunrise to past sunset.

Gerlach Nature Photography Workshop

A workshop is the only way to explore Yellowstone National Park in great detail for five days in a row.  John and Barbara made sure we saw the best locations in the best light.

John Gerlach with his 600mm Canon lens.

Such workshops are filled with photographers of varying skill levels.  While these photos of John and Barbara show them with their cameras, both would frequently call out to see if anyone in our group needed assistance.  It is also helpful that they split their talents between Canon and Nikon.  I shoot with a Sony…

Barbara Eddy scoping out some elk.

We would at times wait and wait for a fog to lift, better light for a better photograph.

A minimalist scene, white frosted trees on a white background.


Green moss in a warm stream in the winter time.

The scene of green moss seemed to be a random stop along the road, not a well marked popular pull-out spot.  But John and Barbara knew right where to go to see this unusual moss growth warmed by a hot spring.  Our daytime temperatures never got above 20 degrees.

It was late in the day when Barbara told the driver to pull over and stop one more time.  Most of us had already called it a day. We were tired and packed up for the day.  Turns out the view behind us was certainly worth the one last stop.


Trip to Mammoth Hot Springs

At the very north end of the park is the small town of Mammoth.  It is a lengthy drive and one most tours do not tackle.

Steam from a geyser coated adjacent trees with extra thick frost on the way to Mammoth.


In the winter there is one main attraction in Mammoth Hot Springs.  Hope you can guess what it is…

The late afternoon light fades and illuminates only the tops of the cold mountains.  Another day in Yellowstone Park.

Old Faithful Geyser


Old Faithful is not the biggest geyser in Yellowstone, nor the most regular.  But it is the biggest regular geyser.  We visited it twice and shot photos from different angles.


While the eruptions of Old Faithful are said to be predictable, they can vary between 35 to 120 minutes apart and only last for 1.5 to 5 minutes.




















A short walk away is a second very photogenic geyser, Castle Geyser.  I’m confident I took over 25 photos of this single geyser, just trying to get the plumes of steam in a good, visible position.  Still nothing more than a snapshot, but fun in one of the most beautiful parks in our national parks system.


Castle Geyser

Castle Geyser near Old Faithful


Gibbon Falls


During my summertime visit to this park, I took almost identical photos from the same vantage points as in this winter visit.  With a waterfall, cliff and a single walkway, there is not a great variety of new and different angles.  My technique was to zoom in and experiment with different exposure times.




The Grand Prismatic Spring

This is one of the ‘don’t miss’ stops for any visit to Yellowstone, summer or winter.  The boardwalk can be coated with much ice in the winter, so numerous people in our group wore metal cleats with their boots.  Those of us who didn’t, wished at times we had.  The hill near this pool, which affords an elevated view, is not accessible in the winter and may even be closed in the summertime now.  So a stroll along the boardwalk is what you do and it is well worth it.

Grand Prismatic Spring

View across the Grand Prismatic Spring and the Excelsior Geyser.


Long Lines in Yellowstone Park. Even in the winter.

Long lines in Yellowstone Park. Even in the winter.


So Where are the Animals?

That is for my next blog… when I get around to it.  This posting was only about seven months late, but I’ll try to post about the animals we saw soon.  Too much golf, short domestic trips and relaxation keep getting in the way…

14 thoughts on “Yellowstone in the Winter

  1. Great photos, Harold, as always. I think Yellowstone is much more beautiful in winter than in summer. Yes, it’s cold, but the stark contrast between deep snow banks and boiling pools is breathtaking. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Your photos prove how beautiful Yellowstone is in the winter. You certainly caught the chill in the winter photographs. It was cold for us in July. Looking forward to seeing the animal photos.

  3. Beautiful photos! We have only been there in the summer so it was nice to be able to see what it looks like in the winter.
    We are excited to see your blog(s) again. Can’t wait to see the animals!
    Great job Harold!

  4. Great photos, Harold. Your dedication to your craft shows in the excellent results you got. Love your nature shots and traveling with you.

  5. Thanks Harold … I am always “herky jerky” in my timing to get to view your blogs. Great shots from your winter tour.

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