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Yellowstone Snowcoach Wildlife and Landscapes Regional Event (January 15-18, 2023)

January 15, 2023 - January 18, 2023

Leaders | Travel and lodging | What to expect | Preliminary itinerary

 

Registration is now open

 

Event Overview

Winter in Yellowstone provides for some of the best landscape and wildlife photographs with the park’s magical light, geyser steam, and snow-covered bison. Join Jeff Vanuga (a BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year), Michael Francis, and Mark Gocke for this NANPA Snowcoach Tour in January 2023. This event is back by popular demand, so register early since this event has sold out every time it’s been offered since 2018.

This event will be based in West Yellowstone, Wyoming, and will be a little different than NANPA’s typical Regional Events. We will be renting 14-passenger snowcoaches from Yellowstone Vacations, and attendees will travel into the park by snowcoach for 3 full days. Lunches will be provided (and are included in the registration fee) since there will be limited places to buy meals in the Park at that time of year.

We are limiting this event to 18 paid attendees. There will be one driver/guide, 6 attendees and 1 NANPA photo leader per snowcoach—to allow enough room for people and their photography equipment, and to comply with National Park Service requirements. A driver/guide who is familiar with the area is included in the fee.

 $2995 NANPA Members/$3155 Non-members

  • Registration fee includes 3 full days on the snowcoaches with box lunches each day, and snowcoach driver tips.
  • Attendees are responsible for park entrance fees (Annual Passes, Senior Passes, etc. may be used)

Last Date to Register:  December 10, 2022

Maximum number of attendees: 18

Winter morning at Tangle Creek, Lower Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. © Jeff Vanuga

Winter morning at Tangle Creek, Lower Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. © Jeff Vanuga

Leaders

Photo of Jeff Vanuga

Jeff Vanuga

Jeff Vanuga

Jeff is based in Dubois, Wyoming, and specializes in both advertising and
editorial media. His work has been published worldwide in magazines and major
advertising campaigns.

Jeff leads tours for the largest photography tour company in the world and leads tours for National Geographic Expeditions, Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, First Light Workshops and the Moab Photography Symposium. His work is represented by the Nature Picture Library stock agency. Some notable career highlights include:
·       First place in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the National Wildlife Photographic Competition
·       His book entitled “Fodor’s Compass Guide to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks” took a silver medal in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication from a field of 1,161 entries.
·       Photo District News featured Jeff as one of their top 50 States Photographers and he has hosted TV shows on nature photography for the Outdoor Life Channel and Nature’s Best Magazine.
Jeff was a NANPA Snowcoach Tour Leader in 2018, 2020 and 2022.

Michael H. Francis, photographer portrait. photo by Bob Reynolds

Michael H. Francis, photo by Bob Reynolds

 

Mike Francis

Mike lives in Billings, Montana, with his wife Tori. He is a veteran tour leader and has been a professional photographer for more than 30 years. He’s led photo trips worldwide to such locations as Africa, Patagonia and Madagascar, as well Alaska for bears and Montana for wild horses.
Mike began his love of photography in Yellowstone National Park where he worked for fifteen seasons. He actively hiked and climbed mountains throughout the park and in doing so began his career in taking photos over 40 years ago. The winter trips he leads there are still among his favorites.

His images have been used on hundreds of magazine covers, calendars and postcards, and he has 35 single photographer books to his credit. He has also served on the board of directors and as President of NANPA.
Mike was a NANPA Snowcoach Tour Leader in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2022.

photo of Mark Gocke

Mark Gocke

 

Mark Gocke

Mark has lived and photographed in the Greater Yellowstone area for 26 years and has come to know and love Yellowstone for its unique and outstanding natural features and of course the amazing photographic opportunities it presents. He makes countless trips into the park each year and is quite familiar with its many photographic hotspots, whether it be thermal features, wildlife or landscapes.
Additionally, he has spent over 30 years working for wildlife conservation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Starting as a Habitat Biologist in 1991 he then found his calling as a Public Information Specialist, which he’s done for the past 26 years based in Jackson Hole, WY. His job allows him to share his excitement for the wildlife and wild places of this area while also conveying the threats and challenges in conserving these resources. A regular part of his job is to document and convey the many field activities of the Game and Fish Department through both video and still photography, activities including a variety of wildlife captures, aerial surveys, prescribed fires, etc.
He especially enjoys teaching what he’s most passionate about, wildlife and nature photography. He’s led many photographic tours of this area on his own, as well as through the Game & Fish Department teaching wildlife photography at their annual conservation camps for both youth and educators and also our Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshops.
Mark was a NANPA Snowcoach Tour Leader in 2019 and 2022.

Coyote leaping across the water. © Mark Gocke

Coyote leaping across the water. © Mark Gocke

Travel and lodging

Gray Wolf Inn & Suites
250 S Canyon St
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
Phone: (877) 600-4308

Check in time is 3 p.m. Check out time is 11 a.m.

A block of 2 queen bed, non-smoking rooms (rates $99 plus tax and fees) is being held for event participants. This is the hotel where we’ll be meeting and getting picked up and dropped off by the snowcoaches.

To hold a room in the NANPA block, do not contact the hotel directly, instead please email NANPA’s Regional Events Coordinator, Mary Louise Ravese, regionalevents@nanpa.org, to be put on the NANPA rooming list. You will pay for your room at hotel check in.

Cut-off date for hotel reservations in the NANPA block is December 15, 2022. Any reservations after this date will be sold at the hotel’s best available rate.

Snowcoaches

Snowcoaches will be provided by Yellowstone Vacation Tours. Although they are 14-passenger snowcoaches, we will allow just one driver/guide, one tour leader, and 6 attendees per snowcoach—to allow more room for people and photography equipment and to comply with National Park Service requirements. Participants generally have a seat next to them or adjacent to their seating location for gear which includes clothes and camera gear.  Please leave aisles open and clear for others to exit.

We have 3 snow coaches, 3 leaders and 18 participants and we are expected to change drivers, leaders, seat locations and buses every day to give everyone a chance to drive with both a different leader and driver.   All drivers and leaders know the park very well and much can be gained by rotating out daily.  All coaches convoy together which may stretch out for a mile or so and are in constant contact for safety.

Snowcoaches will pick us up at the Grey Wolf Inn & Suites each morning and return us to the hotel at the end of the day. Each coach will be sanitized after every tour. Coaches are heated and windows remain cracked for fogging inside so it may be warm to cool inside, but comfortable for the way we are dressed.  Participants can return to the coach at any time to warm up should they become chilled or tired.

All tripods are stored in a closed cargo box on the outside rear of the coach.  Tripods are retrieved after stepping out and to the rear of the coach. No tripods are stored or carried inside the coach.

Airports and Ground Transportation

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN)
850 Gallatin Field Rd
Belgrade, MT 59714

Transportation to/from the Hotel and Bozeman Airport
Karst Stage offers airport shuttle service between Bozeman and West Yellowstone, http://karststage.com/, Phone (406) 556-3540 or (800) 287-4759

Transportation to and from the hotel—except for the daily snowcoach excursions—is not included and is attendees’ responsibility

Ride Sharing: We will be based at the Gray Wolf Inn and Suites in West Yellowstone.  Let the event leaders know if you would like to share a ride with someone to and from Bozeman.

Note that NANPA does not have insurance for carpooling arrangements and assumes no liability for them. Carpooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the participants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel.

Meals:

Box lunches for January 16, 17 and 18 are included in your registration fee and will be provided on the snowcoach.

Breakfasts, dinners, and snacks are not provided and are attendees’ responsibility. Restaurants, grocery, and convenience stores are located within walking distance of the hotel.

PARK PASS: Anyone entering the National Park will be required to have a park passPlease purchase a park pass in advance and have it with you when traveling on the snowcoach and anytime you enter the park.

 

Coyote mousing (leaping up in the air prior to striking) in winter. Yellowstone National Park. © Jeff Vanuga

Coyote mousing in winter. Yellowstone National Park. © Jeff Vanuga

What to expect

Preliminary Schedule

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Arrival and check into hotel.  Registration, Meet & Greet and orientation at 6:00 pm, at the hotel.  Other topics and questions will be answered at the Meet & Greet.

January 16-18, 2023

Participants will take daily snowcoaches from West Yellowstone, Montana to the interior of the park in winter.  The snowcoaches provide transportation that takes us into the interior of Yellowstone and into the heart of winter to view the park’s magical light, geysers, waterfalls and winter wildlife.  In recent years the coaches have moved from tracked to wheeled vehicles which are more efficient, faster and most importantly quieter.  As conditions allow, we will visit the regional geyser basins with one day planned for the east side of the park around Hayden Valley. Schedules are fluid due to weather conditions, wind and other variables.  We’ll be in the field on snowcoaches January 16, 17 and 18. The event wraps up late in the afternoon on January 18.

Photography Locations

Our photography locations have been chosen to explore the amazing diversity and wildlife of Yellowstone National Park. Some of the locations that we will most likely photograph include:

  • Canyon Area
  • Hayden Valley
  • Firehole River Area
  • Madison River
  • Norris Geyser Basin

Leaders are familiar with the areas that you’ll be visiting, and locations will be based on what’s most photogenic at the time, wildlife activity, weather conditions, etc.  Photography locations will be announced on Sunday night during the Registration/Meet & Greet.

Note, we will not be going to Lamar Valley. Snow coaches do not go to Lamar Valley in the winter. The road through the Lamar Valley is the only road that is open to regular vehicular traffic in the winter.  Year round it is open weather permitting from Mammoth Hot Springs to Cooke City, MT, so it is not an option from where we are based in West Yellowstone. If you are interested in visiting the Lamar Valley, you should make arrangements to drive there on your own.

Health and fitness

Yellowstone National Park is located on the Yellowstone Plateau and has an average elevation of 8,000 ft (2400 M).  We will be predominantly traveling at this elevation up to near 10,000 ft.  Altitude is a concern for some people traveling from lower to higher elevations in a short amount of time.  If you suffer from heart, lung or other disorders or you think you may be impacted in a way that may affect your health you should consult your doctor prior to departure.  One should be in decent physical health and prepared for higher altitude and extreme weather conditions.  Precautions are to walk slower than usual, watch your breathing and drink plenty of water.  Water is an important factor at this altitude and hydration is a key component in the west and at higher altitudes.  DRINK WATER!  If you think you are having issues after arrival, please inform one of the leaders.

Add sunscreen to your list as the UV can be very intense on bright sunny days and reflective snow.

 

Photo f colorful pool of thermal water in winter. A thin sheen of ice is across the surface and steam is rising.Photo credit: Mark Gocke

Photo credit: Mark Gocke

General:

This event is designed for nature photographers at all levels of experience. For the best experience, please know your camera before you arrive, and bring your manual in case we need to look up something.

Assistance will be available in the field for those who wish to improve their photographic skills. If you already have plenty of photography experience, Jeff, Michael, and Mark will ensure you get to the best locations at the best times to capture those perfect shots.

Please keep in mind this NANPA Regional Event is a designed to be a photo tour, not a photo workshop. In other words, there are no formal instruction sessions planned, there are no assignments, you will not be receiving any handouts or the like. That being said, your leaders Jeff, Michael and Mark have experience as photography workshop leaders and are available to answer questions and give you guidance. If you need help, please advocate for yourself and speak up and ask for help – Jeff, Michael and Mark are happy to help. Be aware that many of your fellow participants may also be accomplished photographers in their own right and may be able to help you too.  Part of the regional event experience is the camaraderie that comes from sharing experiences and lessons learned among participants. If you notice someone with the same or similar camera, perhaps they can help you with an issue you’ve been wondering about, and maybe you can return the favor.

NANPA is authorized by the National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior, to conduct services in Yellowstone National Park.

RESOURCES:  Yellowstone National Park Link https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

Weather & Clothing

Temperatures range from zero to 20° F (-20° C to 5° C) during the day and sub-zero temperatures at night.  In general, it can be anywhere from 30° F to -40° F depending on weather conditions.  As a suggestion prior to your departure, watch the weather forecasts to get a general idea of what temperatures and weather conditions are for the week.  https://www.weather.gov.

What to Bring

Photographing in Yellowstone in winter requires special consideration regarding photo equipment and clothing. Download detailed gear and clothing tips from your event leaders.

 

Foggy morning light on snow-covered landscape with a small stream curving through the scene. Photo credit: Mark Gocke

Photo credit: Mark Gocke

Preliminary itinerary

For questions ahead of the trip please feel free to call or email the event leaders.

  • Sunday, January 15, 2023Arrival and check into hotel.  Registration, Meet & Greet and orientation at 6:00 pm, at the hotel.  Other topics and questions will be answered at the Meet & Greet.January 16-18, 2023Participants will take daily snowcoaches from West Yellowstone, Montana to the interior of the park in winter.  The snowcoaches provide transportation that takes us into the interior of Yellowstone and into the heart of winter to view the park’s magical light, geysers, waterfalls and winter wildlife.  In recent years the coaches have moved from tracked to wheeled vehicles which are more efficient, faster and most importantly quieter.  As conditions allow, we will visit the regional geyser basins with one day planned for the east side of the park around Hayden Valley. Schedules are fluid due to weather conditions, wind and other variables.  We’ll be in the field on snowcoaches January 16, 17 and 18. The event wraps up late in the afternoon on January 18.

Regional Event Cancellation and No Refund Policy:  

NANPA will not offer any refunds for registrations for this event regardless of when the cancellation is made or the reason for the cancellation. NANPA reserves the right to cancel any event or activity due to insufficient registration or any unforeseen circumstances. NANPA will offer refunds if NANPA has to cancel the event. It also has the right to substitute presenters if those originally scheduled cannot attend. Registrants may purchase event insurance as part of the registration process through NANPA’s partner, Allianz. More information on this option will be shown during the checkout process for the event registration.

NOTE:  If you do not purchase event insurance at the time that you pay for your registration, you will NOT be able to go back and purchase it with Allianz later.

If you choose to purchase travel insurance separately, you can do so with your own insurance carrier, or NANPA members can receive a special travel insurance rate through USI Affinity/Travel Insurance Services.

COVID-19 Policy

NANPA is committed to the health and safety of all participants and leaders at any of our events.  We have taken steps to reduce the inherent risks surrounding any public location where people are present.  We ask that you familiarize yourself with our COVID-19 health and safety precautions and requirements prior to your trip.  Masks are discretionary unless required by a particular venue or location.

You should evaluate your own risks when determining whether to participate.  By attending this event and signing the NANPA Regional Events Liability Release you acknowledge and agree that you assume these inherent risks associated with your attendance as we have explained them to you.

Most importantly:

If you have been feeling sick or have been exposed to someone in your household who is feeling sick or has tested positive for COVID-19, PLEASE STAY HOME.

NANPA follows CDC rules and the rules of the state in which an event is held.  Those rules currently are:

NANPA will let you know if anything changes prior to the event.

We thank you in advance for your adherence and support as we work together to keep everyone safe.

 

Thank You to NANPA’s 2022 Regional Events Sponsor

Other

USA States/Territories
Montana
Type of event
On Location
Cost range
$2995 - $3155

Venue

West Yellowstone, MT
315 Yellowstone Ave
West Yellowstone, 59758 United States
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