2017 Summer Trip

Photo Notes

Yellowstone

Artist Paint Pots

Photograph the main paint pots on the hill in the morning. In the afternoon, the best areas are in the shade. Use fast shutter speeds to catch bubbles as they burst.

Great Fountain Geyser

Be sure to shoot Great Fountain at sunset!

Sheepeaters Cliffs

Best area for shooting marmots is near parking area. The rocky area downstream has a few marmots, but they're much harder to photograph. We saw no pikas.

Swan Lake

This is a good sunset shot with the lake in the foreground and the Gallatins in the background; especially if there's snow on them. Swan Lake Flats is a good area for elk.

The Hoodoos

This is supposed to be an area to see pikas, but we didn't see any in the area on the north side of the road where there is a small parking loop. Check out other side of road next time.

Gibbons Meadow

Gibbons Meadow is an excellent place to photograph wildlife in early morning and late afternoon. Wildlife includes daily routine of one coyote, bison, Canadian geese, and elk. Excellent landscape shot with meadow in foreground and snow-covered mountains in the background.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Very interesting shot looking down on the "town" at twilight from the top plateau of the terraces. Active areas of the terraces vary from year-to-year. Currently best area is right near the entrance at the bottom of the boardwalk. Be sure to shoot reflections in the pond below Canary Springs.

Hayden Valley

Hayden Valley is a "can't miss" area for wildlife in early morning and late afternoon. Alum Creek, Mary Mountain trail area, and Otter Creek are great areas for wildlife as well as landscape photos. Look for swans at Alum Creek. Look for badgers east of road in meadow near bridge beside Alum Creek.

Fishing Bridge

Fishing Bridge can be a great sunset shot if there is snow on the mountains behind Yellowstone Lake. Check river bank on east side of river for beavers.

Trout Lake

Trout lake is a short hike just beyond the Lamar Valley. Although we didn't see the otter family, it was still a pleasant hike up from the parking area next to the road. To hike around the lake, hike clockwise to reach the inlet at the opposite side of the lake. Good wildlfowers shortly after beginning the hike around the lake and there is a good viewpoint over the valley below the ridge holding the lake.

Yellowstone Lake

Time permitting, spend more time looking for wildlife around Mary Bay and Sedge Bay. Steamboat Point has good potential for a sunrise location.

The Black Hills

Custer State Park

Allot at least two days to explore Custer State Park. Spend one full day doing the wildlife loop, There are several prairie dog colonies, bison, wild burros, and pronghorn antelope in the park. There are also great vistas of rolling hills and lush, green valleys.

Sylvan Lake

Check this out as a golden hour or sunset location.

Needles Highway

Needles Highway winds around and back over itself several times as it crosses a ridgeline. Views aren't great, but the tunnels and pigtail curves are interesting. Be ready to shoot movie clips with an iPhone going through the tunnels. It's slow, but worth the drive. Do it as a morning shot to get the Mt. Rushmore shot through the tunnel.

Badlands National Park

Visitor Center Area

Keep watching the formations across from the Visitor Center as sunset approaches. Golden-light shadows provide depth and contrast to the otherwise gray formations. Wildlife are the stars of the park, but this area can be gorgeous. Look for the huge rams here also.

Sage Creek Rim Road

The junction of Sage Creek Rim Road and Highway 240 was our best location to shoot bighorn sheep. The ridges of the badlands formations were filled with bighorn sheep females and lambs. Roberts Prairie Dog Town is a huge area of prairie dogs and provides an opportunity to shoot them right next to the plateau edge with the valley below as the background. Hay Butte Overlook is a good sunset location.

Burrowing Owls

Interspersed with the prairie dog community at the eastern exit on Highway 240 were at least two families of burrowing owls. This is a morning shot to get light in their eyes and deserves several trips back to get good images.

Pinnacles Overlook

This is a good sunset shot, but needs good clouds.

Yellow Mounds

Yellow Mounds isn't shown on any maps. It's just past Dillon Pass and fills a valley between ridges. This is an early-morning shot and needs good, bright light to bring out the yellows and greens. It's a great shot in the early spring.

Prairie Dog Town at Horton Road

This was my favorite place to shoot prairie dogs because the county road provides a place to park right next to the prairie dog holes. Parking the same place gets them used to us so they basically ignored us after a couple of days. There are burrowing owls here also, but they were too far away to shoot easily. This is a morning shot.

White River Overlook

This overlook is an excellent sunrise or sunset location for shooting the White River Valley. Clouds are essential for good images.

Norbeck Pass

With good clouds over the formations, Norbeck Pass is a good place for sunset shots.