Yellowstone Winter Wrap Up

March 14, 2013  •  1 Comment

Boiling River

With Spring officially here in a week and warmer temperatures returning, I've made my final trip to Yellowstone for the winter season.  My next in Yellowstone will come some time at the end of April, so I thought I'd post a wrap up of the season.  It was a very mild winter in Yellowstone, both in terms of snow fall and temperatures.  The really cold mornings that produce amazing photo opportunities were few and far between this winter.  That doesn't mean it wasn't cold by my normal people standards, but the minus 20 and colder mornings didn't happen, except on one or two rare occasions.  Snowfall was much less than normal too.  The large snow drifts that often form along the road on Blacktail Plateau never materialized and sagebrush was still visible in most areas, where normally it is completely covered with only the tips showing at best.  This also made landscape photography tougher than usual as clean, crisp snowscapes never materialized.  As such, I took some time to photograph different landscape subjects, such as the cascades at Boiling River (above) or the peaks of the Abasaroka Mountains outside the park (below).

Edge of Winter

Wildlife photography was much challenging than in some previous winters as well.  Wolves were not seen as frequently as in the past.  Last winter, I didn't have much success photographing wolves, but there were several really good opportunities, I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This year, opportunities for wolves were just really slim.  Fox also weren't seen as often and I was shut out on fox sightings for the first winter in several years.  Coyotes were seen more frequently than last year but still not in the numbers I saw them three or four years ago, when I saw 18 in a single day.  Elk were good subjects and were visible in the usual places.  Bison also were very visible, as always, and made great subjects.  Bison often make the best subjects on days or at times where conditions are at it's worst, as seen below.  They are so well insulated that snow, ice, and frost cling to their coats.

Winter's Embrace

Last winter, my excitement was over photographing my first bobcat, though it was outside the boundary of Yellowstone National Park.  This winter didn't really yield any rare sightings of any species.  A group of moose in Round Prairie made the biggest "unusual" photo opportunities for the winter season (not that moose are that unusual but seeing them in Yellowstone is not a common occurence anymore).  They presented many photographers some unique opportunities.  Probably my highlight of the winter was some time spent in Grand Teton National Park where very cold mornings, tons of moose, and some beautiful scenery presented amazing photo opportunities.  I had the most fun this winter finding bison in unique and challenging situations for photos.  As always, even when things are not productive, a slow day in Yellowstone isn't a bad thing!



Judith Conning(non-registered)
Beautiful images as usual Steve and thanks for your comments on the weather - I don't feel quite so bad about not getting to Yellowstone this year.
Very saddened to hear what happened to some of the wolves in the Lamar Canyon pack - a bitter cascade from one hunters bullet. if only they consider the disruption they cause to the social order of these amazing creatures.
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