Winter in Yellowstone: A Place of Exquisite Beauty

Bison Grazing in a Snowstorm

Last week, along with a dozen other photographers, I made a trip to Yellowstone National Park. I found winter in Yellowstone to be a unique experience: it was cold, harsh, snowing. Temperatures ranged from -15°F to +20°F – even colder with a whipping wind – but it was also serene, starkly beautiful and unspoiled. No bustling tourists that you see in summer, just you and the sounds and sights of nature in hibernation or survival mode.

Snow Coach

The park is closed to all cars in winter. We traveled by a Snow Coach, a vehicle with a tractor drive, specially chartered for the purpose. Along with snowmobiles it is the only way to access the icy, snowed-in park roads. It trudges along at 15-20 MPH and provides ample time to soak in the winter beauty of the Yellowstone plateau which rises 6000 to 11000 feet above sea level.

A Frozen Walk to Midway Basin, Yellowstone NP

Yellowstone is the first National Park in the U. S. It was so designated in 1872 by President Ulysses Grant. The concept of a National Park was mandated for the first time – a wilderness and biosphere reserve to be maintained in unspoiled form for the enjoyment of the people. It is also huge, encompassing more than 2 million acres or about 3500 square miles (larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined).

It boasts the largest caldera of a volcano on earth, and while the volcano has not erupted full bore since 640,000 BC, simmering volcanic activity is still very much evident, as the hot spot just below a thin crust of earth sends up plumes of gurgling steam, erupting geysers and boiling mudpots. In winter the icy landscape is covered with a steamy vapor from all the hydrothermal activity that dominates the lava dome in the huge caldera.

Music Video of Photos and some Video Clips:

Old Faithful

Yellowstone has some 10,000 hydrothermal features, about two thirds of all such features in the world! The most famous, of course is the Old Faithful geyser which has been erupting faithfully every 93 minutes, year in and year out. See slideshow from trip.

Near this famous geyser is the origin of the Firehole river, which is fed by hundreds of hydrothermals creating a steaming, vaporous, fuming river, which never freezes as it runs through an icy landscape in temperatures sometimes as low as -60°F.

Clouds of Steam Over Firehole River

The Yellowstone River also originates in the park and flows into Montana and eventually into the Missouri river. It is huge – bigger than the Missouri and, had it been discovered before the Missouri, the biggest river system in the U. S. would properly have been called the Yellowstone river instead of the Missouri/Mississippi.

Lower Canyon Falls

The Yellowstone River forms a magnificent canyon – known as the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone – flanked by the majestic lower canyon falls. The Grand Canyon runs for 26 miles and is more than a quarter mile deep encompassing a sharp icy drop to the river from the towering mountains of the Yellowstone plateau.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

You see many animals wintering in the park. There are bison, their shags all covered with snow, rooting in the snow for the soggy grasses beneath. You also see the beautiful red fox, elk, coyote, trumpeter swans and, if you’re lucky, wolves.

Trumpeter Swans in the Steamy Madison River

Lots of beautiful pictures to share from this memorable trip. Please check out a slide/video show here.

A Red Fox Checks Us Out

It was a great week at Yellowstone National Park. My toes are still thawing out but it was well worth the discomfort. The mind was feasted with a landscape displaying its stark beauty and a bioscape of ethereal charm.

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21 Responses to Winter in Yellowstone: A Place of Exquisite Beauty

  1. Dounia says:

    Beautiful shots – thanks for sharing!

    Like

  2. Mary-Ann Milford says:

    Ashok–I was in Yellowstone last June with family from England–there was a lot of snow then, no as much as in the Winter–your photos are magical. Thank you for sharing, Mary-Ann

    Like

  3. Amita Shenoi says:

    OMG! Ashok, this is so awesome!! I am so so envious 🙂 Would love to be part of any such photography expeditions in the future…..
    On our dog-sledding trip along Alaska’s Brooks Range in Feb ’96…. I recall my fingers almost getting frozen when I slipped off my gloves for barely a few minutes to capture some wildlife on camera… How did you manage?
    Thanks for sharing…
    Cheers!
    -A

    Like

  4. Naren Gupta says:

    Gorgeous!

    Like

  5. Subhas sarkar says:

    Ashoke – absolutely wonderful and facination. Subhas

    Like

  6. Somitra Saxena says:

    Wonderful pictures!

    Like

  7. Gita says:

    Well written photo essay complimenting some amazing pictures! Enjoyed both!

    Like

  8. Sid says:

    Beautiful! I went there in July of 2010. Looks completely different in the winters. So far it’s been the most beautiful place I’ve been to in the US.

    Like

  9. Kumar says:

    I loved the pictures, screne and beautiful, a feast to the eyes and soul. I have been to the park in
    summer. It looks so different and much beautiful in these photographs. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  10. Kiran says:

    Ashok, sitting in india right now and just finished viewing your beautiful pictures and video. Loved it, thanks for sharing.
    kiran

    Like

  11. JP Banerjee says:

    A great photo essay which captures the enthralling icy collage of Yellow stone during winter.We are motivated to be there whenever the opportunity arrives.
    Keep sharing such unique escapades across the globe…….JPBanerjee

    Like

  12. Atul Bhalla says:

    Truly beautiful -and how different from the normal summer viewing! Thanks for sharing the photos – hope you thaw out soon!
    Atul

    Like

  13. Timo says:

    What can I say! I wish I was there. This will enthrall even the folks at Yellowstone. Keep on sharing.

    Like

  14. my god ashok…this is truly a poem come alive. Am transported to a different world after watching this. What an achievement. This is a work of art that you have created. stunned ! Unbelievable. sheer beauty.
    dhanashree

    Like

  15. Parvati Dev says:

    Surreal!

    Like

  16. Banashri says:

    Dear Ashok
    Yellowstone was the last place we visited in the US before leaving in May 2010 and we were bowled over and thought that we had done it all but your magical pictures of Yellowstone in Winter are absolutely entrancing and have made me realize how much more unique it is under a coat of snow…. THANK YOU Banashri..

    Like

  17. Steve Bundy says:

    Hi Ashok, Wonder filled photo essay, thank you for bringing Yellowstone to us.

    Like

  18. Akhil Kumar says:

    Truly fantastic. what a treat!
    Akhil

    Like

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