Our RV friend, Betty Prange, worked in Yellowstone for three summers driving the historic 1930s yellow buses. An accomplished photographer and writer, she gave several tours and brought her photography skills to the photo tour. We would have loved to take the tour with her, but she did not come back this summer. Instead, our guide was Doug Hilborn, who has been in the park for more than 30 years and is an accomplished landscape photographer. Doug was knowledgeable and personable.
Each photo tour, the guides judge by clouds and weather where they'll go. With clouds, there was the possibility of a good sunrise. Here we are at Fishing Bridge. The one on the left is one of mine. George captured the geese flying overhead with the rising sun in the background.
We were also on the lookout for a mama grizzly bear and her cub. We talked to people who had seen them cross the road towards Lake Hotel. She could go to the hotel or back towards Fishing Bridge. As we were about to leave the bridge, we saw people running that way with cameras so we made a quick U-turn, jumped out at the bridge and George got this shot. A classic shot is one of the bison with the steam coming out of vents- another photo of George's.
We also looked for interesting landscape photos. We shot photos of the opposite side of the road with a nice S curve and mountains in the background. Because of the haze from smoke, it will take some HDR work to get a good photo. The other side, though, I thought was equally pretty with the yellow marsh grasses and more visible hills. Doug also directed us to some pretty fireweed that contrasted with the dark trunks of burned trees and small green lodgepole pines. I preferred the close up of a fireweed that had a bit of its cotton left.
This was a neat place for a reflection shot. Luckily we got there right before the wind disturbed the water and the shot was gone. George got this nice one framed by trees. As far as wildlife, we did see a cow elk being followed by a younger bull elk, but it was too dark to get a good shot. We also found an eagle and watched four deer come out of the woods. George took this photo of the four of them.
We did not get very far north on our tour. A few days prior, Doug had been taking his tour up to Hayden Valley where a carcass attracted wolves and bears. However, a carcass only lasts a couple of days before it is picked clean. One location at the Yellowstone Falls has a beautiful rainbow, but with the changing sun as summer ends, it is not as visible or pretty. Basically each tour is different, depending on what the day brings. Doug may spot the bison near the steam vents once every week or two; the grizzly may or may not be in the area. It was fun riding in the historic buses. Ours had been in service in Skagway, Alaska when I was there in 1998 and 1999. The tour operator there sold them back to the park. Xanterra paid to have them refurbished at considerable cost and they are now back in the park. I'm standing by Doug on the left and George and I are standing up on the seat with the top down in front of the Lake Hotel in the other.
We do recommend the photo tour as an excellent way to see the park. It might be boring if you don't like taking photos, though Doug had binoculars along too. Betty told us that sometimes non-photographers come because the time is convenient and they don't enjoy it as much as those taking photos- even if you only have your cell phone camera. Another option for your RV travels! Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
Photos by George and Jaimie Bruzenak