Wildlife at Yellowstone
Favorite Spots for Wildlife in Yellowstone
Like I mentioned above, wildlife can be spotted throughout the park. That said, here are a few of my personal favorite spots for photographing wildlife in Yellowstone National Park.
- Grizzly Bears. I've seen Grizzlies in all areas of Yellowstone. Surprisingly, I've seen many of them right along the road. One my favorite spots for grizzlies is to drive along the road to the East Gate just after Yellowstone Lake. The grizzlies like to feed along the road in the late afternoon. While I'm on the subject of bears, make sure you keep a can of bear spray on your person as you walk around the park. It's better to be safe.
- Big Horn Sheep. Big horn sheep can often be spotted on the cliffs on the road between Mammoth and Gardiner, MT. This is a good afternoon shoot as the cliffs are mainly on the east side of the road.
- Pronghorn Antelope. Pronghorn are located mainly in the plains in the northern part of the park. Try Lamar Valley for pronghorns.
- Wolves. Lamar and Hayden Valleys are good spots for wolves. Get up early and head to Lamar for wolves. You have to be patient and a bit lucky.
- Coyotes. Coyotes are located throughout the park. I've had really good luck in Hayden Valley for coyotes.
- Elk. Elk are also found throughout the park. My best luck has been in the Madison and Norris areas.
- Bison. Bison are prevalent throughout the park. Lamar Valley usually has really big herds of bison. Watch out of bison traffic jams in Norris and Madison. Remember, the bison have the right of way.
- Yellow-bellied Marmot. Check the rocks at Sheepeater Cliff Picnic Area.
Yellowstone Wildlife Photography Tips
- Be ready! Wildlife can often be seen as your driving throughout the park. It is best to keep a camera and medium range telephoto lens close by as your driving around the park. Check your camera setting before heading out so your ready to photograph the wildlife.
- Be safe! Park regulations require that you stay at least 25 yards away from most large animals and 100 yards away from bear and wolves. Also, make sure to carry bear spray if you are away from your car.
- If you spot a carcass, stake it out. Sooner or later, something will be along to claim the carcass. We spotted a carcass with ravens on it while driving through Dunraven Pass. Within an hour, a coyote showed up to claim the carcass and the next day a black bear was on the carcass.
- Don't be afraid to ask the rangers and other photographers what wildlife they have seen and where they have seen it. The rangers and most people are very helpful when asked nicely.
I recommend at least a 500mm lens, preferably a prime lens such as a Canon 500mm f/4. I've also used a Sigma 150 – 500mm lens with success. A 1.4x teleconverter is also handy as some of the shots of the wildlife may be far off. At a minimum, I would recommend a 300mm lens that retains autofocus with a 1.4x teleconverter.
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