Autumn in Yellowstone

Story and photography by D. Robert Franz

© D. Robert Franz

© D. Robert Franz

Autumn,  (The Quiet Season). Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, holds an endless fascination for travelers from all over the world and for good reason. With its unrivaled natural geologic wonders and abundant wildlife the park is a magnet for people seeking adventure. The crowds pose a bit of a problem for nature photographers, who generally prefer to pursue their passion with a bit more solitude. June, July and August, are the busiest months in the park so it makes sense to schedule serious nature photography excursions into Yellowstone during times of lower visitation, winter, spring and fall.

© D. Robert Franz

© D. Robert Franz

I’ve found from early October until the park closes for the season on the first Monday in November, to be ideal for serious nature and wildlife photography. Visitation declines dramatically after the end of September but the parks natural wonders, beauty and wildlife activity doesn’t. Autumn weather is pleasant but can also be variable, ranging from warm sunny days to comfortable yet cooler days to possible snow events. The variety of weather conditions can make for dramatic photographic opportunities. Less crowded boardwalks and trails at Yellowstone’s famous thermal areas allows photographers to use tripods and make studied compositions without interfering with other park visitors.

© D. Robert Franz

© D. Robert Franz

Wildlife activity within the park increases in the fall. Cooler weather brings the wildlife out of the forests and down from higher elevations. It’s the mating season, or rut, for ungulate species such as elk, moose, mule deer, and pronghorn. The bison rut will be tailing off but some activity still occurs. The males of these species are at their peak physical condition and make ideal photographic subjects. Confrontation, posturing, chasing and fighting between rival males is exciting to witness and photograph. All species of wildlife are busy preparing for the rigors of the impending winter. Both black and grizzly bears are feeding constantly preparing for hibernation and become much easier to find. Foxes and coyotes may been seen hunting the open meadows. The wolf packs who are no longer tied to their den sites caring for young pups become more visible during the fall. All of these factors give photographers a greater chance to capture memorable wildlife photos. Park rules require you to maintain a distance of 100 yards from bears and wolves and 25 yards from other park wildlife so bring your telephoto lenses.

American elk or wapti (Cervus canadensis) © D. Robert Franz

American elk or wapti (Cervus canadensis) © D. Robert Franz

NANPA has scheduled a regional event during this great time of the year, October 6th-9th, 2016. Join us this Autumn to take advantage of the ideal conditions to photograph the many wonders that are Yellowstone National Park. Learn more about the NANPA Regional Event in Yellowstone- http://www.nanpa.org/events/regionals/yellowstone-national-park-montana/

 

About D. Robert Franz

D. Robert Franz has been a full time professional wildlife photographer for the past twenty five years.  With formal training and university degrees in wildlife management, geology and earth science, Robert has an extensive knowledge of the natural world.

His nature and wildlife photography has been extensively published worldwide (over ten thousand published images including hundreds of front covers). Robert’s photographic prints have hung in the Smithsonian and the United States Congress.  He is also accomplished assignment photographers specializing in nature and environmental issues. Robert has been leading photo tours since 1989 and now conducts high energy nature & wildlife photo tours through Franz Foto Instructional Tours. In the past, Robert led tours for Wildlife Images Photo Tours, Voyagers, Natural Habitat Adventures & Close Up Expeditions.  Robert, his wife Lorri and their Great Dane Shelby live in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem near Cody Wyoming.