Part II: Shooting Yellowstone East September 10 - 13
The first morning saw us delayed about thirty minutes from our desired departure time; however, after that everyone got organized the night before and we were out on time from then on. Entering at the northeast entrance allowed us to slowly cruise the Lamar Valley to Tower-Roosevelt Junction, looking for wildlife, then either travel north to Mammoth Hot Springs area, or south over Dun Raven Pass and into the Hayden Valley. We chose the southern route the first three days, then the northern route the fourth day.
The first day out it was 18 degrees F, and snowing. After that it warmed up during the day, but the mornings remained quite chilly. Each day as we cruised the Lamar Valley, we had the sun to our backs which allowed us to capture the bison and pronghorn antelope, as well as some spectacular sunrises. While the entire Lamar Valley is great for wildlife, some of the hotspots we always visited were the Pebble Creek Campground area, Soda Butte, and the Slough Creek Road. The wolves however were staying up in the higher elevations for the most part, along with the bears that were around nine thousand feet. As we crept along the Lamar Valley, I kept a lookout for the wolf trackers, and always stopped to talk with them. They are the ones with the antennas on their vehicles, and the portable tracking devices. They will tell you where the activity, if any, is at. We did see one of the wolf packs and heard them howling; but they were too far away to render decent photos. The sun was still in the east as we traversed south to Dun Raven Pass and Hayden Valley too. With a good vehicle, we would have driven up to the summit of Mt. Washburn; but dit not want to risk it in a rental. Along this route, we were able to photograph the Upper and Lower Falls on the Yellowstone River from Artist Point near Canyon, and capture some great scenery all along the way. Going through Hayden Valley to Lake Village we were able to photograph Sulphur Caldron and Mud Volcanoes. Both the Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are prime areas for wildlife, however, Dunraven Pass proved to be an excellent area as well for both elk and bison. After eating lunch with a cup of coffee purchased at one of the establishments in the park, we would retrace our route with the sun in the west, or at our backs again in Lamar Valley. This again provided excellent lighting most of the time because we were able to always have the sun at our backs either going out or coming back.
On the third day, we drove through Lamar Valley and turned north towards Mammoth Hot Springs. Again, the lighting was excellent as was the wildlife. A short way from the entrance to the Petrified Tree road, we spotted a cow and calf moose pair and got some great shots. In fact, upon arrival at Mammoth Hot Springs, there was a traffic jam due to an elk herd that had come down from the mountains to enjoy the relative safety of the humans. Again, with a personal vehicle we would have driven the Blacktail Plateau Drive; but not in a rental. This, like the road to Mt. Washburn summit is a dirt road and with any precipitation it can become difficult.
On the fourth day, we traveled the southern route again as we moved our base to Jackson in order to photograph the Grand Tetons and area. Note: The road from Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris and Madison was closed, as was the road from Old Faithful to West Thumb.