Introduction

Old Faithful Photo Safari

Old Faithful Photo Safari

If you want a relatively stress-free way to see, photography and/or video the sites in the vicinity of Old Faithful, consider the Photo Safari. More than just a “haul-you-here-and-there” type of tour, the Photo Safari is a way for you to become familiar with your camera as well as the Park. Steve (my partner) and I were two of six in our party, with Wim Kolk as our driver, guide and mentor. Along with us was his colleague-in-training, Barrett Hedges. After gathering us in the lobby of the Old Faithful Inn at 5:45 am (!), Wim explained what the morning would entail.

Wim (on the right, in the ranger uniform) talking about the possibilities of our location
Wim (on the right, in the ranger uniform) talking about the possibilities of our location

Whether you were a novice photographer or more advanced, Wim offered guidance on how to look for things to shoot, how to “see” what you will photograph and how to manipulate your camera to accomplish your goal. While the eight of us traveled from site to site, Wim fielded our questions about the park and its history.

Wim pointing out how one can tell the age of a "young" tree.
Wim pointing out how one can tell the age of a "young" tree.

Part of the novelty of the Photo Safari is that we travel in old-style comfort. The restored yellow touring van transported through the safari. As it was intermittently snowing (and, of course, cold), the canvas top remained closed. But we weren’t crammed in and so had room to spread out with our equipment and the provided blanket (used by me for sure between outings).

Our classic yellow touring bus, with a winged admirer...
Our classic yellow touring bus, with a winged admirer...

Part of what is gained from the early start is that you are able to get to some of the sights and sites without the hoards of fellow tourists and visitors. We were also visiting a limited number of locations so we weren’t rushed. It was sad and humorous to see a particular tour group that arrived at the Fountain Paint Pots shortly before we did already completing the loop as we were barely starting our adventure into the site. Some of these visitors were literally jogging on the boardwalk (it could have been because of the cold temperature, though).

Sample from Yellow Photo Safari: Gibbon Falls (click for full size image)
Sample from Yellow Photo Safari: Gibbon Falls (click for full size image)

Our particular option was $90 per person, took visitors between the Old Faithful Inn and the Madison Junction (and sites in-between) and included a muffin-and-juice breakfast, which we enjoyed halfway through the morning. Necessity stops were offered.

Tech taken on the Photo Safari:

  • iPad (3rd generation)
  • Canon Digital Rebel (aka 300D)
  • Canon HF10 HD video camera
  • Kodak EasyShare Z915
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7

If you are only in Yellowstone for a short period of time, check out the various tours. If you don’t mind an early start, our particular one is well-worth the costs and leaves you time to catch your breath before venturing out to the Old Faithful Geyser and the nearby thermal features.

Tip: wear good walking shoes, with good traction. Many of the thermal features can only be reached by walking long and winding wooden boardwalks. Many of the boardwalk areas have stairs as well. If you fall off, you may burn yourself or worse!

Before heading to Yellowstone, find out what the extended weather forecast is for the time you will be there so that you can dress appropriately for the environment. The first night we were there it snowed, with an overnight accumulation of three to six inches of snow. By late Monday, you wouldn’t have known that it had snowed at all but it was still very cool.