Fall in Yellowstone offers a variety of wildlife in a golden landscape, including herds of elk during their mating season, bison spreading out after their rut, and coyotes hunting throughout the day. Although the vibrant yellows of fall aren’t as expansive in Yellowstone as in other places, the grasses do turn gold and create a great backdrop for many wildlife encounters. Some mornings are even frosty or snowy, offering another unique environment for photography. Fall is the best time of the year to find great gray owls hunting in the tall grasses. Bears are seen less in fall compared to spring, but we may still see a few as they prepare for hibernation.
- September 24-30th, 2023 (5 days)
- October 2-6th, 2023 (3 days) FULL
- October 8-14th, 2023 (5 days)
- October 16-20th, 2023 (3 days)
- October 22-28th, 2023 (5 days)
WHY MY WORKSHOPS ARE UNIQUE
2023 is my 10th year living year-round in West Yellowstone, and my 7th year as a full-time wildlife photography guide. Similar workshops are often led by those only visiting the park during the time of their workshop each year. Living here full-time means I spend a lot of my free time in the park myself, have a great network of local guides to share sightings with, and have an intimate knowledge of not only the park but the entire surrounding ecosystem as well.
A small group limited to three photographers allows for instruction tailored to your individual skill level. Many people enjoy the company of new photographer friends, without the feeling of being herded around in a large group. A single vehicle means we can easily park in more places, especially when it gets busy around special sightings.
My workshops are a combination of learning about your gear, photography techniques, and the wildlife of the Yellowstone ecosystem. Learning about the different species that inhabit Yellowstone, their tracks or signs, and their seasonal movements can help you be more efficient with your own trips in the future.
MORE DETAILS AND WHAT TO EXPECT
These workshops are based out of West Yellowstone, Montana. I would recommend lodging at the Best Western, Gray Wolf Inn, or Stage Coach Inn. You are responsible for flights into Bozeman, Montana, and transportation to West Yellowstone. There are rental cars or possible shuttle options available, and I’d highly recommend extending your trip down to Grand Teton National Park for great fall color and moose action.
We will travel around most of the park over the three or five workshop days. All roads are open this time of the year, except for Dunraven Pass possibly closing in late October due to snow. Yellowstone is huge so there can be a lot of travel time in between wildlife sightings. Multiple days help increase your odds of seeing a greater variety of animals.
The majority of our animal encounters will be right near the road. There may be times some walking along the road is needed to get into a better position, and we can take a short hike if everyone is interested. We are never very far from the vehicle, so you can return at any time if it gets too cold. Most of the day will be spent traveling along the upper or lower loops looking for wildlife. There are some spots we can sit and wait as well whenever we're ready for a break. We are out in the park all day, without going back to town. We will stop in a pullout to have lunches.
This is an instructional photography workshop, and any skill level is welcome. Though not completely necessary, you should be comfortable with basic settings for your specific camera. I use Canon gear myself but I am pretty familiar with many cameras from Nikon and Sony as well. Post-processing instruction is optional but possible at the end of each day.
We will meet as a group the first night for an introductory dinner in town to meet everyone and answer any last minute questions. I will pick everyone up from their hotel in town each morning.
Not sure which date to choose?
The majority of the elk rut will be around the last week of September and the first week of October, although it’s slightly different every year. The elk will still be around all of October though, especially in the town of Mammoth Hot Springs.
Fall visitation will be highest in September, tapering off through the end of October when we can drive for miles without seeing another vehicle. The chance of snow increases as the season gets later. Some roads may occasionally close, depending on the severity of the storm.
The first two weeks of October are probably the most ideal choice to balance crowds with snow risk, but the end of the month is a great way to visit in the "off-season" with few people around.
COST AND WHAT'S INCLUDED
The total cost of $2,497 (5 days) or $1597 (3 days) includes transportation and instruction for the days in the park, plus an introductory dinner on the first night.
A 50% deposit is due to book
The 50% remaining balance is due 90 days before arrival
You are responsible for your flights, lodging, and transportation to West Yellowstone. I've found most people like to have the choice of where they stay and not share a room. You'll also have the flexibility to stay and explore before or after your trip.
After booking, you'll receive a confirmation email from me within a couple of days with trip details and questions about your gear. About three months before your trip, you'll receive another email with details on paying the final balance, more gear recommendations, and see if you have any questions.
- We will meet for an introductory dinner on the first date listed
- The next three or five full workshop days will be spent touring the park. We can meet for dinner as a group again if anyone would like.
- You'll depart on the last date listed
- Each day is roughly sunrise to sunset, depending on weather conditions.
- You may want to arrive in Bozeman, MT an extra day before and depart an extra day after in case of weather delays.
I'd highly recommend having a mirrorless camera capable of animal eye autofocus and a 400mm, 500mm, or 600mm lens with teleconverters available for the best image quality. I use the Canon R5 with a 400mm f/2.8L IS II and a 2x extender most of the time. Lenses like the Canon 100-400, 100-500, or Nikon 200-500 are perfectly acceptable, just know you will occasionally want the extra reach a 1.4x extender offers.
Tripods are not required, but you can bring one if needed. The vast majority of my still images are shot handheld. A monopod is also a good compromise for easy traveling.
Fall in Yellowstone can be cold, rainy, or snowy. I'd highly recommend having the following: quality gloves (ideally liners plus a bigger glove), a warm hat, warm wool top and bottom base layers, an insulated jacket, a waterproof outer jacket, warm pants, thick wool socks, and insulated waterproof boots. If you need pretty much everything, I'd recommend going to a local store like REI and telling them where you're going so they can outfit you completely. I can also offer recommendations for individual pieces of gear as well. Layers are important, as the temperature varies a lot and you'll get warm after walking or cold after standing too long. I'd highly recommend bringing hand warmers, and a pair of electric hand warmers like this one can last you all day.
Travel insurance is highly recommended because of the uncertainty of weather conditions causing airline or travel delays.
Your initial deposit is refundable up until 180 days before the workshop date. Within 180 days of the workshop date, we can only refund your deposit after we are able to replace your spot. The final balance is due 90 days before the workshop date. Within 90 days, no refunds are given unless we are able to replace your spot in the workshop.
Trent Sizemore Photography, LLC is authorized by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, to conduct services in Yellowstone National Park.