2020 Winter Wildlife Workshop in Yellowstone National Park


January 18-25, 2020


Join award-winning professional wildlife photographer Sam Parks on a week-long winter wildlife photography workshop in Yellowstone National Park

To reserve your spot or request more information, contact Sam via email at sam@samparksphotography.com or by phone at (307) 640-3388

Workshop Overview

Winter in Yellowstone is a truly world class destination for wildlife photographers. With such a spectacular diversity and quantity of wildlife to be photographed on a pristine layer of snow in a stunning landscape, it is widely regarded as the absolute best location in North America to photograph wildlife during the winter. 

Our primary objective on this workshop will be the stunning array of wildlife that is commonly encountered during the winter. We will be on the lookout especially for predators, most of which are much more active during the winter. Foxes, coyotes, and wolves, all sporting their beautiful winter coats, are in the midst of their breeding season, making them especially active. We will also be on the lookout for smaller predators, including river otters, long-tailed and short-tailed weasels (both of which turn white in the winter), pine martens, and if luck is on our side, maybe even a bobcat, which are known to frequent the Yellowstone interior during the winter. We will also be on the lookout for Yellowstone's herd animals, such as bison, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, moose, and mule deer. These animals will be concentrated on their winter range or migrating to lower elevations. The presence of large herds moving through a landscape blanketed in snow will present us with compelling photographic opportunities. Bull elk and buck mule deer will still be sporting their large antlers, making them especially attractive photo subjects. Bighorn sheep rams, which retain their impressive horns throughout the year, are commonly encountered and make for excellent subjects as well. Of course, we will spend ample time striving to achieve the iconic shot of a bull bison covered in frost and snow. While the large animals and predators get most of the attention, we will also stop for any small critters we may encounter, which can include beavers, raccoons, snowshoe hares, white-tailed jackrabbits, muskrats, and red squirrels. The bird life during the winter, while not as diverse as the spring and summer, can be exceptional and we will keep our eyes peeled for bald and golden eagles, trumpeter swans and other waterfowl, dusky and ruffed grouse, waxwings, woodpeckers, chickadees, and possibly owls. While wildlife is our primary objective, we can also stop for any landscape opportunities we may come across, including the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and the famed geothermal areas of Yellowstone. 

This is an intensive workshop meant to maximize our time and photographic opportunities. We will be in the field during the entirety of shooting hours each day (about 9-10 hours that time of year). This is primarily a road-based trip, but there may be opportunities for some short walks if snow conditions allow. Although exceptional fitness levels are not required, you should be comfortable carrying your camera equipment for short distances. This workshop is suitable for photographer's of all skill levels. Sam will be alongside you to photograph at all times and offer any photographic instruction you may desire. Depending on your specific needs and desires, we will cover composition, exposure and focusing techniques, how to properly expose a snowy scene, how to best capture compelling "animalscapes" in this winter wonderland, as well as more basic wildlife techniques such as improving your understanding of light and anticipating animal movements. Sam shoots Nikon and is well-versed in their camera bodies. He also has more limited experience with some Canon cameras as well. Sam is a capable, but not exceptional, photo editor and he can go over his Lightroom processing techniques one night of the workshop, if desired. More importantly, we will strive to capture the image correctly in camera the first time, with minimal post-processing needed. In addition, Sam will share his insights into the amazing wildlife of the area, including tracking basics and species-specific habitat and behavior information. 

Workshop Itinerary

Day 1: Sam will pick you up at the airport or your lodging in Bozeman, Montana around mid afternoon on the 18th and we will depart to West Yellowstone, Montana. Light and weather permitting, we will stop for any wildlife or landscape opportunities we may encounter along the way, but this first afternoon is mostly a transport day. After checking in to our hotel in West Yellowstone, the Stagecoach Inn, we will go out for an introductory dinner as a group. 

Days 2-4: On our first three full days, we will enter the interior of Yellowstone through the West Entrance via a private snowcoach charter. Our primary objective will be the spectacular wildlife opportunities of the Yellowstone interior, which may include frosty and snow-covered bison, elk, coyotes, foxes, river otters, weasels or ermines, snowshoe hares, trumpeter swans and other waterfowl, and if luck is on our side, maybe even a bobcat, which are known to frequent the Madison River during the winter. We will also stop for the numerous landscape opportunities the interior has to offer, such as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and Old Faithful. Because this is a privately chartered snowcoach, we are in complete control of where we stop and what we do each day. 

Days 5-7: On Day 5, we will get an early start to check out of our hotel in West Yellowstone and travel up to Gardiner, Montana and check in to our hotel for the second half of the trip, the Best Western. During this second half of the workshop, we will enter Yellowstone through the North Entrance each day to explore the Northern Range, including the famed Lamar Valley. The Northern Range is most well known for its substantial wolf population and these final three days will give us our best chance to photograph them. Still, the Northern Range is about so much more than just wolves and we will keep our eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, frosty bison, bull elk, coyotes, red foxes, river otters, moose, weasels or ermines, and whatever else we may encounter. 

Day 8: Weather and time permitting, we will take one last brief early morning wildlife drive on the Northern Range, before returning to Gardiner to check out of our hotel and head up to Bozeman. You will be dropped off in Bozeman by 11AM on the 25th. 

*Itinerary subject to change due to events out of Sam's control including, but not limited to, severe winter weather, road closures, etc.

Why Go With Sam?

Sam is local to the Greater Yellowstone area and has spent more than a decade photographing and studying this spectacular ecosystem. He spends over 250 full days in the field annually in search of the area's exceptional array of wildlife. There are very few workshop leaders or guides with as much experience photographing the wildlife of the area as Sam. This unique insight will allow us to maximize our photographic opportunities during this week long workshop. Sam has received several national awards for his work in Yellowstone during the winter, including the Grand Prize of the 2014 Defenders of Wildlife photography competition, for his winter wolf image, and the top prize in the professional wildlife category of the 2016 Nature's Best/Yellowstone Forever competition, for his image of the winter pronghorn migration on the Northern Range. This trip is intentionally timed to take place just prior to the big rush of photographers and tour groups that occurs in Yellowstone around the first of February, but while wildlife activity is just as good, if not better. This means we will face much less competition at wildlife stops from other photographers and tours than February workshops would. This workshop is limited to just four participants, allowing Sam to provide more attention to each participant and giving us more room to spread out in our vehicle and snowcoach than other workshops. 

Workshop Details

Dates: January 18-25, 2020 (8 days, 7 nights)

Cost: $3995 (price based on double occupancy. Add $400 for single supplement.)

Deposit: 25% of the total cost is due immediately to hold your spot. See terms and conditions below. 

Limited to 4 Participants

Whats Included

  • All lodging during the workshop: 4 Nights in West Yellowstone at the Stagecoach Inn, 3 Nights in Gardiner at the Best Western (Based on Double Occupancy. Add $400 for single supplement)

  • Pick-Up/Drop-Off in Bozeman, MT

  • Comfortable, Roomy Transportation during the workshop

  • Private Snowcoach Charter (3 days)

  • Box Lunch, Continental Breakfast at our Hotel, and Snacks/Water each day

  • Introductory Dinner

  • Photographic Instruction (if desired)

  • All taxes on Services

What's Not Included

  • Airfare to/from Bozeman

  • Any lodging in Bozeman before or after the workshop

  • Dinner Tabs - except the Introductory Dinner on the 18th (we may decide to go out as a group for dinners on some nights, if desired, but each participant will be responsible for their own tab.)

  • Specific snacks/beverages you may decide to purchase during the workshop. (Sam will have some basic snacks and bottled water in the vehicle for you)

  • Gratuity for Snowcoach Drivers/Guides

To reserve your spot or request more information, contact Sam via email at sam@samparksphotography.com or by phone at (307) 640-3388

Terms and Conditions

  • A 25% deposit is required to hold your reservation. This deposit is refundable up until 120 days before the first day of the trip, minus a $300 administrative fee. Within 120 days of the first day of the trip, the 25% deposit is entirely non-refundable.

  • Due to costs incurred by Sam in securing lodging/Snowcoach/vehicle reservations, your full balance for the total cost of the tour is due by November 15, 2019 with no exceptions. Failure to pay the balance in full will lead to us to invite the next person on the waiting list. After November 15, the total cost of the workshop is non-refundable, unless Sam can book your spot and the workshop is full.

  • Payment can be made by check or a personal PayPal payment. I can also accept a credit card (Visa, Discover, MasterCard), however an extra 2% processing fee on the total cost is required for credit card payments.

  • We reserve the right to cancel the workshop for any reason including, but not limited to, a lack of participants. In such an event, participants will be refunded in full. However, we are not responsible for any additional expenses you may incur.