Essence of Winter
Yellowstone National Park
January 28 to February 5, 2024
Capture images of snowy Old Faithful geyser, ice-covered bison alongside thermal pools, foxes, coyotes, and perhaps wolves with professional wildlife photographer Tom Murphy. Step carefully around delicate, chalky mineral terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs and discover multihued steaming pools and bubbling mud pots in the Geyser Basins. Witness small crystals and flakes form into “geyser rain” as Old Faithful erupts. Track elk, pronghorn, and red fox amid a snowy and steamy landscape. Listen for the echoing howls of a pack of gray wolves haunting the stillness of Lamar Valley. Delve into the heart of Yellowstone National Park to create your own photographic stories of winter survival that leave your audience speechless.
- Learn about animal behavior and Yellowstone from local expert and photographer, Tom Murphy.
- Observe Yellowstone’s famous wildlife – bison, elk, gray wolf, and more.
- Photograph spouting Old Faithful geyser and other fascinating geologic features.
- Study photographic composition and technique in this hands-on photography workshop.
- Maximize wildlife viewing opportunities with ample stops and detours while traveling via private bus and snowcoach.
Itinerary Updated: May 2023
|Jan 28||Arrive in Bozeman, Montana, USA.||Hampton Inn, Bozeman|
|Jan 29-30||Meet Tom and follow the Yellowstone River south into the park. Explore Mammoth Hot Springs and wildlife-rich Lamar Valley.||Ridgeline Hotel at Yellowstone, Gardiner||B, L, D|
|Jan 31||Explore Hayden Valley by private snowcoach en route to central Yellowstone to photograph winter scenes and wildlife.||Old Faithful Snow Lodge, Yellowstone National Park||B, L, D|
|Feb 1-2||Capture images of wildlife and thermal features while exploring the geyser basins by foot and private snowcoach.||Old Faithful Snow Lodge, Yellowstone National Park||B, L, D|
|Feb 3||Morning walk among the geysers, then return to Mammoth Hot Springs by snowcoach, alongside dramatic cliffs and geyser basins.||Ridgeline Hotel at Yellowstone, Gardiner||B, L, D|
|Feb 4||Revisit Lamar Valley. Enjoy a farewell dinner, and then return to Bozeman.||Hampton Inn, Bozeman||B, L, D|
|Feb 5||Depart for home.||B|
Our Trip Leaders
Tom has offered custom photographic tours and seminars specializing in snowy environments, such as Yellowstone National Park and Antarctica, for nearly 30 years. He also holds a great interest in African wildlife and leading African photo safaris. His passion is photographing wildlife in its environment to tell a story. Much of his work centers on Yellowstone as highlighted in a popular PBS nature series program, Christmas in Yellowstone, and several of his own books (www.tmurphywild.com).
A glimpse into our journey
Meet Tom and explore northern Yellowstone
Specific destinations within the park are subject to change depending on weather conditions and wildlife.
Meet Tom Murphy in Bozeman to embark on this special photographic journey. Drive south along the Yellowstone River into northern Yellowstone National Park. Discover the wild countryside where bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn, bison, and coyotes roam. Use Tom’s familiarity of animal behavior to capture outstanding wildlife images. Take in the distinct smells and sounds of Mammoth Hot Springs where colorful mineral terraces are as spectacular as the wildlife. Explore the wildlife-rich Lamar Valley, the best place to see gray wolves as well as bison, elk, and a host of smaller mammals and birds.
Explore Hayden Valley into central Yellowstone
Travel south from Mammoth Hot Springs to central Yellowstone by private snowcoach, passing Yellowstone Lake and exploring beautiful Hayden Valley. Work on perfecting photographic technique while composing images of bison, pronghorn, elk, and other wildlife in different park habitats and pristine winter landscapes.
Central Yellowstone National Park
Explore the Old Faithful area on foot by way of the extensive boardwalk system. Observe eruptions of Old Faithful geyser and discover other fascinating thermal features. The wildlife at the heart of Yellowstone is magnificent, creating striking photo opportunities amidst the contrasting backdrop of steaming pools and snow-blanketed terrain. Spend a full day exploring the Upper and Lower Geyser Basin by private snowcoach. Search for ideal winter scenes and wildlife to observe and photograph, and delight in bubbling mud pots, smoky fumaroles, and thermal pools of rainbow hues. Capture early-morning images of geysers illuminated by the rising sun, weather permitting.
Ride by snowcoach to Mammoth Hot Springs
Spend your last morning in central Yellowstone walking among the geysers, then return to Mammoth Hot Springs by snowcoach, stopping along the way to photograph wildlife and Yellowstone’s intriguing topography.
Lamar Valley and return to Bozeman
Return to Lamar Valley for more wildlife viewing. In addition to wolves and larger mammals, search for coyote, red fox, river otter, bald eagle, as well as trumpeter swan, bufflehead, and other waterfowl. Visit Tom’s hometown of Livingston for dinner together before returning to Bozeman.
Depart for home
Travel to Yellowstone and capture images of snowy Old Faithful geyser, ice-covered bison, fox, coyotes, and perhaps wolves.
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Cost & Payments
Costs (in US$)
|Type||Cost Per Person|
|Trip Cost, double occupancy||$7,300|
Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare, singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.
If you are a single traveler, we will try to find a roommate for you, but if we cannot pair you with a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement. Single rooms cost extra and are subject to availability.
|Payment||Due Date||Amount Per Person|
|Deposit||Due now to reserve your space||$1,500|
|Final||September 30, 2023||Remaining balance|
Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space.
Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another trip if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.
- All leaders, transport, park entry fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
- Privately chartered snowcoach in Yellowstone National Park on January 31 and February 2.
- Accommodations for the nights of January 28 through February 4.
- Meals from breakfast on January 29 through breakfast on February 5.
- Non-alcoholic beverages during meals.
- Gratuities for snowcoach drivers and meal service.
- Gratuities to porters at Ridgeline Hotel and Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
- Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.
- All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees.
- Transfers between the Hampton Inn and Bozeman Airport, but the hotel has a free shuttle available subject to hours of operation.
- Extra hotel nights we arrange for you.
- Gratuities to porters at Ridgeline Hotel and Old Faithful Snow Lodge.
- Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance. For more information see travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation Form.
Daytime temperatures are usually around 0°F (-20°C) but may reach up to the 20s°F (-5°C). Subzero overnight temperatures are common. Warm winds will occasionally push daytime temperatures into the 40s°F (5 to 10°C), causing significant melting of the snowpack at lower elevations, but cold snaps may drive temperatures much lower. Snow is a good possibility.
You should be comfortable walking with and carrying your gear or standing for several hours at a time. The group usually covers distances under one mile at a slow pace and may occasionally walk short distances in snow. Please contact us if you have any health concerns that may make this trip challenging.
Unless listed as included, airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later, as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights.
Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Bozeman, Montana (BZN) by 11:59pm on January 28. Depart from Bozeman, Montana (BZN) after 12:00am on February 5.
Travel in a private 15-passenger bus between Bozeman and Yellowstone National Park, as well as around Lamar Valley, then in a snowcoach deep in the park to the geyser basins. For maximum flexibility, we charter a private snowcoach on two days.
Our company ethos has always regarded conservation as inseparable from responsible tourism. We struggle with the dilemma that traveling worldwide expends climate-changing carbon. However, we wholeheartedly believe that traveling with us will cultivate your passion for conserving our beautiful world while stimulating each destination’s local economy. We encourage you to explore the various ways in which Cheesemans’ operates within this context:
- Cheesemans’ Trips are Carbon Neutral
- Offsetting your Travel to/from our Trip: We ask you to pledge to offset the carbon emissions for your travel to and from our trips. Use this tool to calculate your emissions and purchase your carbon offset today through Sustainable Travel International, or through your favorite carbon offsetting organization.
Read our current Terms and Conditions.
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"Tom is a treasure. He obviously is a fantastic Yellowstone expert, but I would happily travel with him anywhere. He is friendly, not at all intimidating and has a great willingness (and ability) to teach - both photography, and about Yellowstone."
Chris Conner, 2022
"Tom Murphy's knowledge of Yellowstone and surrounding area is deep and broad. Besides excellent photography opportunities, he provided excellent historical info about the park and areas we visited."
Steve Thompason, 2022
"Tom Murphy's expertise allowed us to encounter a variety of wildlife that exceeded my expectations and gave me a greater appreciation for his talents in the world that Tom has lived these many years."