Yellowstone in Winter Photography Workshop

February 15 - 20, 2022

“Documenting the moment when words can’t.”

Laura Gingerich, Professional Photographer

We consider Yellowstone to be the world’s most amazing national park, thanks to its geothermal features and wildlife viewing. Yellowstone in winter is even more stupendous, offering relative solitude compared to summer crowds. Picture great fields of snow, bison and elk foraging for food, and thermal features steaming in the distance. There could be no better place than Yellowstone in winter for a Photography Workshop with acclaimed photographer Laura L. Gingerich.

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Laura L. Gingerich

Laura L. Gingerich is an award-winning freelance photographer who began her career specializing in documenting relief and disaster assistance worldwide.  She is known for “having an eye for beauty in the midst of chaos”  from her work in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Haiti, Pakistan and West Bank.  When not on assignment, Laura loves sharing her knowledge and bringing photographers together throughout the US and around the globe.

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Yellowstone Photography Workshop

Laura’s friendly, easy-going approach to photography instruction has inspired beginners to advanced enthusiasts for over fifteen years.  She will challenge you to slow down, be intentional, think about the shot, know the camera, follow the light, and study art to create images with the wow factor.  When we’re not in the field, enjoy lively discussions, one-on-one instruction, and image critique sessions in the comfort of our hotels. 
This workshop is open to all skill levels with the focus on shooting winter landscapes, wildlife and the night sky. A detailed gear list will follow registration. Feel free to contact Laura L. Gingerich with photography inquires.

The Setting

We spend the first three nights in the small town of Gardiner at the north entrance to Yellowstone, just steps away from the Roosevelt Arch that signifies the official entrance to the world’s first national park. We’ll make forays into the Lamar Valley, considered the number one place in the world to view wolves in the wild. In addition to spotting for wolves, bison, and elk from the road, we’ll get onto local trails via snowshoe to get up close and personal with the Yellowstone environment. The Mammoth Hot Springs area will provide us new targets for our lenses, with its bubbling hot springs in shades of yellow, pink, and green thanks to the extremophile organisms living within. We even spend one day taking a private snow coach into the park interior, opening up more pristine views. It is then off to a special wolf sanctuary where we’ll sleep for two nights in the lodge on site and have further photographic jaunts into the foothills of Montana’s Bridger Mountains.

Snowshoeing

We’ll spend a good portion of our days on gorgeous trails in open valleys and narrow gorges, along frozen creeks, among groves of Aspens, next to herds of bison, and near the steamy thermal features of Mammoth Hot Springs. If you can hike, you can snowshoe!  Snowshoeing is a blast and easy to learn. We welcome all ability levels including those who have never tried it before. With these “all-terrain vehicles” strapped to our feet we can follow a trail or make a trail of our own anywhere there is snow.

TRAVEL MONTANA THROUGH OUR SISTER COMPANY ZEPHYR ADVENTURES IS AN AUTHORIZED PERMITTEE OF YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK. MAIN PHOTO COURTESY NATIONAL PARK SERVICE.

Details

  • Activities: Photography Workshop, Wildlife Viewing, & Snowshoeing
  • Duration: 6 days
  • Price Per Person
          4 - 5 people: $3,950
          6 - 7 people: $3,950
          8+ people: $3,950
  • Single Supplement: $800
  • Other Info:
    > This trip can be offered as a private workshop. Contact us if you are interested.
    > $100 optional snowshoe rental (or you can bring your own)
    > Third or fourth persons in the same room receive a 15% discount - ask us for details

  • Public Tour Date: February 15 - 20, 2022

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Trip Highlights

  • Experience a national treasure – Yellowstone National Park – in a season where there are few other visitors
  • Improve your photography skills with professional Laura Gingerich, in the field and in indoor workshops
  • Snowshoe in one of the most beautiful locations in the country
  • See wildlife such as bison, elk, wolves, fox, coyote, bald eagles and more
  • Stay in the cute small town of Gardiner at the north entrance of Yellowstone
  • Spend two nights in the company of wolves at a wolf sanctuary

We reserve the right to alter our listed itinerary based on current snow conditions and wildlife movement to maximize your enjoyment!

DAY 1

Your guides will meet you around lunchtime in Bozeman, Montana, where we begin and end our adventure. We’ll transfer from there through the stunning Paradise Valley to Wonderland Lodge, our basecamp in the small town of Gardiner for the next three nights, about 90 minutes away. We’ll have a brief orientation, pack some energy food, and dress for the weather before heading toward the park’s northeast entrance and our first snowshoe hike and photography lesson at Mammoth Hot Springs (Yellowstone’s headquarters). After a short instructional snowshoeing clinic (probably the easiest sport in the world to learn!) we’ll set off to explore the groomed 1.5-mile loop around the upper terraces, learning from Laura the entire while.

The terraces are unique from other thermal areas of the park. As hot water rises through the limestone from below it interacts with hot gases and forms an acidic solution that dissolves the rock and ultimately deposits a white chalky material known as travertine, which forms beautiful terraces on the side of the hill that we can walk among. Because we are at a lower elevation than most of the Park, the snow depths here entice wintering elk and deer to stick around and you’ll probably see many of them at Mammoth.

Tonight Laura will provide a workshop and your guides will host a happy hour and dinner in their lodge room in front of a roaring fire.  We’ll get to bed early tonight as we’ll be out the door tomorrow before the crack of dawn!

Snowshoe Mileage: 1.5 miles 

DAY 2

After a very early breakfast, we'll pack our trail lunches and be on the road while it’s still dark. Our destination? Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, arguably the best place in the world to see wolves, specifically in winter when they follow the ungulates (elk, deer, etc) down from higher terrain. As the pale morning light reaches the pristine valley, we’ll be on the hunt for glimpses of these ephemeral icons of the wilderness, armed with spotting scopes and binoculars.  Our hope is to see a lone wolf, or a pack of wolves, as they awaken for the day and begin moving. As our van trundles along the road, we’ll stop frequently to get out to photograph the landscape and the animals around us, and to hear learn techniques from Laura. 

At some point, we’ll get out to hike, starting at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch and following Rose Creek up to one of three wolf acclimation pens built for the controversial reintroduction of wolves in the park in 1995. Three wolves transported from Canada were housed in this historic pen until they would acclimatize and not run back north. The pen was opened after several months and the three wolves began their new life in Yellowstone.

You’ll be happy to relax with a glass of wine or hot chocolate next to the fire tonight and regale one another with stories from the day.  We'll again do a workshop with Laura. It's an early dinner at the Wonderland cafe again before lights out. Another exciting day awaits us tomorrow!

Snowshoe Mileage: 3 miles

DAY 3

Today we head straight into the Park’s interior via the Grand Loop Road, closed to traffic for the winter!  We’ll have a private snowcoach transport us for the day - a van fitted with either gigantic snow tires or special treads similar to a snowmobile instead of wheels so it can easily cross the snow-covered roads. Our first stop is Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone's thermal areas and home to Steamboat Geyser, the tallest geyser in the world — when it erupts it can go up to 400 feet in the air (more than twice the height of Old Faithful)! There are over two miles of boardwalks and trails here to experience the hundreds of densely packed geothermal features in one of the most extreme environments on earth: geysers, pungent odors, hot springs with all the colors of the rainbow, microscopic life, and hissing steam.

From there, our snowcoach trundles along — likely experiencing a few “buffalo jams” (Yellowstone’s version of traffic jams) before arriving at our next destination: the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. This 20-mile long canyon carved by the gorgeous Yellowstone River features a colorful stone interior (including the “yellow” stone for which the park was named) and a couple of waterfalls that will knock your socks off. We’ll get out and hike on our snowshoes along the rim overlooking the falls before returning to Mammoth the same way we came.

Once again, dinner is at the Wonderland. Afterward, we’ll don our warm clothes and walk guided by starlight, moonlight (or headlamp) to the iconic Roosevelt Arch to toast the world’s first national park.

Snowshoe Mileage: approximately 3 miles

DAY 4

Today, we'll get up early and take a short drive to Mammoth Hot Springs before donning our snowshoes and hiking the old wagon trail from Mammoth all the way back down to our hotel in Gardiner.  We'll capture the changing light, grand sweeping vistas, and herds of bison, elk and antelope.  After checking out of the Wonderland, we'll take a slow drive back up the Paradise Valley, stopping along the way to snap shots of this gorgeous place as opportunities present themselves.  We'll enjoy a very down-to-earth lunch in the saloon at Chico Hot Springs, before getting into our swimsuits to soak in the mineral hot springs.

From there, it is another hour to a wolf sanctuary appropriately named Howlers Inn, where we will spend our last two nights. The Wolf Sanctuary at Howlers Inn was set up to house captive-bred wolves that cannot be released into the wild. This intimate and cozy space has several decks and seating areas outside (with a fire pit) for viewing the wolves in their 3-acre enclosure. 

We’ll enjoy a dinner at the Inn and another photography workshop with Laura, before tucking into bed.  Perhaps we’ll be serenaded by the wolves as we drift off to sleep!

Snowshoe Mileage: 4 miles

DAY 5

Our hosts, Nate and Aurelie, will make us a fantastic breakfast to begin our day. After the structure and activity of the past few days, today is an opportunity to play things a bit more by ear. There are loads of options for subjects to shoot: the towering snow-capped Bridger Mountains out the door of our inn or close-ups of the wolves at the sanctuary. We might also take a trip into the cute historical town of Livingston to check out its thriving gallery scene, or a drive down Jackson Creek Road could offer some good opportunities for photographing (for example) old barns. We'll have a final dinner to toast a wonderful week together.

DAY 6

Today is a relaxing morning. Feel free to have your morning coffee or tea while looking out at the wolves. We can also stroll the property’s 42 acres and enjoy the serenity of the rolling hills and mountain backdrop.  You’ll have time to shower and pack up before we check out and return to Bozeman by 11:30, where you can choose to extend your vacation or return home.

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Trip Accommodations

NIGHTS 1 - 3 >> WONDERLAND LODGE / GARDINER, MONTANA  Wonderland is brand new, beautiful, and small -- only 6 super cozy rooms -- and conveniently has a great restaurant on the main floor. It is in the heart of the tiny downtown of Gardiner, right next to the entrance of Yellowstone National Park. From our snowy haven, we can set out on a variety of adventures.

NIGHTS 4 - 5 >> HOWLERS INN / BOZEMAN, MONTANA  This beautiful small inn sits on 42 acres and is ringed by mountain peaks. It is also a wolf sanctuary, allowing us to observe wolves in close proximity, right from some of the rooms!  It will be an experience you won't forget.

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Arrival & Departure

Your guides meet you in the hip university town of Bozeman, Montana around noon on the first day of the trip. If it’s possible for you to fly and arrive that morning, we can meet you at the airport. Otherwise, you can arrive any time the day before the trip begins. We’ll return to Bozeman’s airport the last afternoon of the trip, allowing you to fly out that afternoon. We can also leave you in downtown Bozeman so you can extend your stay, or visit nearby Big Sky Ski Resort. Bozeman (airport code BZN) is served by many major airlines: Alaska Air, Allegient, Delta, Frontier, and United.

What's Included
  • A local Travel Montana guide.
  • Field and indoor workshops with professional photographer Laura Gingerich.
  • Double occupancy lodging is included. If you are traveling solo, we will match you with another traveler of the same gender. However, you may pay a single supplement to have your own room.
  • All of your dinners and breakfasts are included, as well as trail lunches most days (starting with dinner on Day 1 and ending with breakfast on Day 6). Gratuity for these meals is also included.
  • All your transportation is included once you meet your guides on the first day.
  • We will have a couple spotting scopes and binoculars for the group to share.
  • Trail passes and park entrance fees are included.
  • NOT INCLUDED: Snowshoe rental, beverages, desserts, optional gratuities to your guides, personal expenses, and travel to and from the destination.
When To Travel

Gardiner is over 5,000 feet and Mammoth Hot Springs is over 6,000 feet in elevation, so winter in Yellowstone can be cold and snowy. The key for a snowshoeing vacation is to pick the time period when there is plenty of snow on the ground and yet temperatures are moderate. In the early winter, in December and January, daytime highs average only 27 degrees and the snowpack is not yet full. So we prefer late January through March when there is usually more snow on the ground, temperatures are warmer, and we have more daylight hours. Keep in mind it is still cold and snowy in these months but that is what we expect with a winter tour!

Snow

Weather is always unpredictable and winter in Yellowstone is no exception! It is possible that there may be no snow, but don’t fret, as we will simply replace snowshoeing with hiking if there isn't enough snow.

Changes to Your Itinerary

While everything under “What is Included” will remain the same, the actual restaurants, hotels, and activities listed in our itineraries are subject to modifications. Changes that are out of our control are common – a restaurant closes or loses its awesome chef, a winery changes its visiting hours, a hotel gets remodeled, a road or trail undergoes construction. You are entrusting us to create an outstanding vacation for you and so it is possible we may take the liberty of making necessary changes (even at the last minute, during the guides’ scout trip) to the itinerary that will improve your overall trip experience. If there is any one experience that is going to make or break your trip, please discuss this with us in advance! We attempt to keep our website itinerary as current as possible and communicate any major changes with you in the weeks prior to the tour.

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