Yellowstone Snowcoach Wildlife and Landscapes | January 21-24 2022

Magical light, geyser steam, snow-covered bison, and more!

River Otters grooming each other on winter ice. Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming © Jeff Vanuga

Please review the NANPA Regional Events COVID-19 Event Policy before registering for this event.


Event Overview

NANPA’s Yellowstone Snowcoach regional event is back by popular demand. Winter in Yellowstone provides some of the best landscape and wildlife photographs with the park’s magical light, geyser steam, and snow-covered bison. Travel by snowcoach into the park each day to seize photographic opportunities for three full days. Jeff Vanuga (a BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year), Michael Francis, and Mark Gocke will lead this extraordinary tour for NANPA in January 2022—with one professional photographer and one professional driver/guide, both very familiar with Yellowstone in winter, per snowcoach.


Just the Facts

  • Date:  January 21-24, 2022
  • Leaders: Jeff Vanuga, Michael Francis, and Mark Gocke
  • Cost:  $1,750 NANPA member; $1,950 non-members.
  • Location:  West Yellowstone, MT
  • Last date to register: December 20, 2021
  • Maximum number attendees:  21

Snowcoaches and Meals

The Yellowstone Snowcoach regional event is slightly different than NANPA’s typical regional event. Lunches will be provided (and are included in the registration fee) since there are limited places to buy meals in the park at this time of year. 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 7 attendees per snowcoach—to allow plenty of room for people and photography equipment and to comply with National Park Service requirements. Snowcoaches will pick us up at the Holiday Inn each morning and return us to the hotel at the end of the day. Each coach will be sanitized after every tour. Masks or other face coverings are required to be worn by all passengers while on the coach. 

The registration fee includes all costs for the experienced drivers/guides, including tips, and boxed meals for lunches. Attendees are responsible for their own snacks and dinners.

© Mark Gocke

What to Expect

This event is designed for nature photographers at all levels of experience. 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, Mike, and Mark will ensure you get to the best locations at the best times to capture those perfect shots.

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

© Michael Francis

2022 Yellowstone Snowcoach 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.

Please read the NANPA Regional Events COVID-19 Event Policy below.

Leaders

Jeff Vanuga

Jeff Vanuga 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, First Light Workshops, and the Moab Photography Symposium.  His work is represented by Getty Images and the Nature Picture Library stock agencies.

Jeff’s images have won first place in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and the National Wildlife Photo Contest. He’s placed in NANPA’s Showcase and Nature’s Best Photography competitions in multiple years, and placed first in the 2015 Olympus Global Open Competition Places to Preserve—out of 120,000 submissions.

Jeff has hosted TV shows on nature photography for the Outdoor Life Channel and Nature’s Best Magazine. His book Fordor’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 competition from a field of more than 1,000 entries.

This is Jeff’s third time leading NANPA’s Yellowstone Snowcoach tour, having led the event in 2018 and 2020 as well.

Jeff Vanuga

Michael Francis

Mike 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 was a NANPA Snowcoach Tour Leader in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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 lives in Billings, Montana, with his wife Tori.

Michael Francis photo by Bob Reynolds

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 Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshops.

Mark was a leader for NANPA’s 2019 Yellowstone Snowcoach Tour and is looking forward to being a leader again in 2022. 

Red fox hunting in winter snow © Jeff Vanuga

Potential Field Locations for Yellowstone Snowcoach Wildlife and Landscapes Regional Event    

Leaders are very familiar with all sites and will have scouted the areas prior to the event. We will photograph in the areas that offer the best photography opportunities at the time of the event.

Canyon Area
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is roughly 20 miles long, measured from the Upper Falls to the Tower Fall area. The canyon was formed by erosion as Yellowstone River flowed over progressively softer, less resistant rock. The Upper Falls is upstream of the Lower Falls and is 109 ft. high. It can be seen from the Brink of the Upper Falls Trail and from Uncle Tom’s Trail.

The Lower Falls is 308 ft. high and can be seen from Lookout Point, Red Rock Point, Artist Point, Brink of the Lower Falls Trail, and from various points on the South Rim Trail. The Lower Falls is often described as being more than twice the size of Niagara, although this only refers to its height and not the volume of water flowing over it.

The volume of water flowing over the falls can vary from 63,500 gal/sec at peak runoff to 5,000 gal/sec in the fall. A third falls is located the canyon between the Upper and Lower falls. Crystal Falls is the outfall of Cascade Creek into the canyon. It can be seen from the South Rim Trail just east of the Uncle Tom’s area.

Hayden Valley
The Yellowstone River flows through here and can be home to otters, foxes, and several species of birds. Wolves can be seen throughout Hayden Valley and along the banks of the Yellowstone River.

Firehole River Area
The Firehole River, fed by thermal sources like hot springs and geysers, stays relatively warm throughout the year. This entire area sees bison, coyote, elk, and otters during spring, as the warm ground keeps snowpack low in many areas. The Firehole Canyon is a short drive through vertical canyon walls, where the Firehole River flows over several stunning waterfalls. The geyser basins here feature the majority of the park’s hydrothermal features, including Grand Prismatic Spring and the Old Faithful area.

Madison River
The closest area to the town of West Yellowstone is the Madison River, along the west entrance road. This valley is home to bald eagles, osprey, elk, bison, and coyotes. A crisp morning would offer the opportunity to photograph a beautiful fog floating over the warm waters of the river. Surrounded by steep mountains formed by volcanic lava flows, the Madison River offers a scenic opportunity to start and finish the day.

Norris Geyser Basin
Norris Geyser Basin is the hottest, oldest, and most dynamic of Yellowstone’s thermal areas. The highest temperature yet recorded in any geothermal area in Yellowstone was measured in a scientific drill hole at Norris: 459°F (237°C) just 1,087 feet (326 meters) below the surface! There are very few thermal features at Norris under the boiling point (199°F at this elevation). Norris shows evidence of having had thermal features for at least 115,000 years. The features in the basin change daily, with frequent disturbances from seismic activity and water fluctuations.

Bald eagle in flight © Jeff Vanuga

Travel and Lodging

We will gather at 6:00 pm local time on Friday, January 21 at the hotel for a Meet & Greet. We’ll be in the field on snowcoaches January 22, 23, and 24. The event wraps up late in the afternoon on January 24. Since winter weather can impact travel plans, we recommend staying in West Yellowstone on January 24, booking flights out of Bozeman on January 25.

Attendees are responsible for their own transportation to West Yellowstone.

Nearest Airport
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

Hotel Info
Holiday Inn West Yellowstone
315 Yellowstone Avenue
West Yellowstone, MT  59758
Phone: (406) 646-7365

NANPA has secured a rate of $107/night plus tax.  Call the hotel or register online at www.holidayinn.com/wyellowstone and enter Group Code: NAN

Cut-off date for hotel reservations:  Monday, December 20, 2021.

Any reservations after this date will be sold at the hotel’s best available rate. 

Meals
Box lunches for January 22, 23, and 24 are included in your registration fee and will be provided on the snowcoach. NANPA will contact you before the event for your sandwich preferences.

Breakfasts, dinners, and snacks are not provided and are attendees’ responsibility. All Holiday Inn guests receive 10% discount on meals by showing room key or room charge card. Other restaurants, grocery, and convenience stores are located within walking distance of the hotel.

Other Expenses
Your registration fee includes snowcoach transportation and drivers’ tips as well as three box lunches. Attendees are responsible for park entrance fees (annual passes, senior passes, etc., may be used).

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


NANPA Regional Events COVID-19 Event Policy

NANPA is committed to the health and safety of all participants and leaders at any of our events. We have taken numerous 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. 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.

Most states adhere to the CDC guidelines, which include fairly strict limitations on those who are not fully vaccinated (fully vaccinated in this context means 14 days after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or 14 days after one dose of the J&J vaccine).

Therefore, NANPA’s health and safety precautions for Regional Events include the following:

  • Participants must remain at least 6 feet apart from each other and the leader unless they are members of the same household.
  • Adequate face coverings (meaning a mask that covers both the nose and the mouth and which fits closely to the skin) are required for all participants and leaders throughout the event. Regardless of what your personal beliefs are on the use of masks, there will be no exceptions to this rule. Our masks keep you safe. Your masks keep us safe. This rule applies to all facets of the event.

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

Please be aware that requirements may change depending upon local, federal, and state policies in place at the time of the event.