Essence of Winter

Yellowstone National Park

January 27 - February 4, 2018
Cost: $6,150
Leader: Tom Murphy
Group Size: 8
Days: 9

Safari Overview

Capture images of Old Faithful geyser lit by moonlight and ice-covered Bison alongside thermal pools. Track Elk, Pronghorn, and Red Fox amidst a snowy and steamy landscape. Listen for echoing howls of packs of Gray Wolf haunting the stillness of Lamar Valley. Step carefully around delicate, chalky mineral terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs and discover multihued steaming pools and bubbling mud pots in the Geyser Basins. Draw on Tom Murphy’s 40 years of exploring Yellowstone in every season to create photographic stories of winter survival that leave your audience speechless. Delve into the heart of Yellowstone National Park.

• Observe Yellowstone’s famous wildlife – Bison, Elk, Gray Wolf, and more.
• Photograph spouting Old Faithful geyser and other fascinating geologic features.
• Learn about animal behavior and natural history from Yellowstone expert Tom Murphy.
• Study photographic composition and technique in this hands-on photography workshop.
• Travel by private van and snowcoach to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities.

Itinerary Updated: September 2017

Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Jan 27 Arrive in Bozeman, Montana, USA. Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Bozeman West
Jan 28 - 29 Meet Tom and follow the Yellowstone River south to the park. Explore Mammoth Hot Springs and wildlife-rich Lamar Valley. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Yellowstone National Park B, L, D
Jan 30 Ride alongside dramatic cliffs and geyser basins into central Yellowstone. Old Faithful Snow Lodge, Yellowstone National Park B, L, D
Jan 31 - Feb 1 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 2 Photograph winter scenes and wildlife while traveling north to Mammoth. Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Yellowstone National Park B, L, D
Feb 3 Revisit Lamar Valley. Enjoy a farewell dinner then return to Bozeman. Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Bozeman West B, L, D
Feb 4 Depart home from Bozeman, Montana. B

Our Trip Leaders

Tom Murphy

Tom has offered custom photographic tours and seminars for nearly 30 years, specializing in engaging locations such as Yellowstone National Park, Antarctica, and Africa. He travels and photographs extensively throughout Yellowstone and has hiked thousands of miles and skied on hundreds of extended overnight trips in the backcountry. Much of his work in Yellowstone was highlighted in a popular PBS Nature series program, Christmas in Yellowstone, and several of his own books. His passion and talent is photographing wildlife in their environment to tell the story of life and survival. He is a popular teacher, known for his easy-going attitude, helpful demeanor, and one-on-one style of instruction.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Arrive in Bozeman, Montana

Jan 27

Arrive in Bozeman, Montana for overnight.

Meet Tom and explore northern Yellowstone

Jan 28 - 29


Meet Tom Murphy in Bozeman to embark on this special photographic journey. The opportunity to experience Yellowstone with Tom is a real treat because he knows this wilderness like very few do and is eager to share it. Learn how to use the knowledge of animal behavior to capture wonderful wildlife images and draw on Tom’s skill in landscape and abstract photography to recognize scenes and compose excellent images. Journey south along the Yellowstone River into northern Yellowstone National Park. Discover the wild countryside where Bighorn Sheep, Elk, Pronghorn, Bison, and Coyotes roam. 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.

Note: Specific destinations within the park are subject to change depending on weather conditions and wildlife.

Ride by snowcoach into central Yellowstone

Jan 30

Photographing by snowcoach in Yellowstone National Park

Travel south from Mammoth Hot Springs to central Yellowstone by snowcoach, stopping along the way to photograph wildlife and the intriguing topography of Yellowstone. End the day in the Old Faithful area before settling in for three nights at the historic Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

Central Yellowstone National Park

Jan 31 - Feb 1

Old Faithful Geyser

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, smokey fumaroles, and thermal pools of rainbow hues. Capture early-evening images of geysers illuminated by the setting sun and full moon, weather permitting.

Winter scenes and wildlife en route to Mammoth

Feb 2

Tom Murphy in Yellowstone National Park

Return to Mammoth by private snowcoach, passing Yellowstone Lake and exploring beautiful Hayden Valley en route. Work on perfecting photographic technique while composing images of Bison, Pronghorn, Elk, and other wildlife in different park habitats and pristine winter landscapes.

Lamar Valley and return to Bozeman

Feb 3

Bison in Lamar Valley

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 and bidding Tom farewell.

Depart home from Bozeman, Montana

Feb 4

Fly home from Bozeman or extend your trip to explore more of this region.


Capture images of snowy Old Faithful geyser, ice-covered Bison alongside thermal pools, plus fox, coyotes, and perhaps wolves.

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Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy $6,150
Single Supplement $1,990

We reserve the right to charge for cost increases that occur between when we set tour prices and the date of travel, for example, changes due to the cost of lodging and transportation. If you are a single traveler and you desire, we will find a roommate for you. If we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement fee. Single rooms are subject to availability.

Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Second March 15, 2017 $1,000
Final August 15, 2017 Remaining balance

Payments will be due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space. For reservations made after a due date, all past payments will be due with registration. By sending your initial deposit, you agree to accept our payment schedule and cancellation policy as a contract. If payments are still outstanding two weeks after the due date, your space may be forfeited.


Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another tour if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.


  • All leaders, transport, park entry fees, and permits for all activities described in the detailed itinerary.
  • Privately chartered snowcoach vehicle on two days in Yellowstone National Park.
  • Lodging for the nights of January 27 through February 3.
  • Meals from breakfast on January 28 through breakfast on February 4.
  • Gratuities for snowcoach drivers and meal service.
  • Gratuities to porters at the Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, airport transfers, packing, camera gear, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Gratuities to porters at hotels outside the park, if you would like assistance with your luggage.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance. Read more about travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.


Daytime temperatures typically hover around 0 °F (-20 °C), but may reach highs in the 20s °F (-5 °C). Subzero overnight temperatures are common. Occasionally, warm winds will push daytime temperatures into the 40s °F (5-10 °C), causing significant melting of the snowpack at lower elevations, or cold snaps may drive temperatures much lower. Snow is a good possibility (adding great beauty to both scenic and wildlife images). Vehicles are heated. In general, climate change has made weather patterns less predictable, so come prepared for a wide range of temperatures and conditions.

Fitness Level

Be prepared to walk and carry all of your camera gear. The group will go slowly and will not cover vast distances (usually under a mile), but you should be comfortable walking with your gear or standing for several hours at a time, and, occasionally, walking short distances in snow.


Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed flight information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. We’ll be happy to assist with extra hotel nights if you choose to extend your stay at either end.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Bozeman, Montana at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) by the night of January 27. Depart from Bozeman anytime on (or after) February 4.





Between Bozeman and Mammoth, the group will travel in a private van driven by Tom Murphy. From Mammoth into central Yellowstone, transfer to the Old Faithful Snow Lodge will be in a park-operated snowcoach, possibly shared with other visitors to the park. The coach will make stops along the way for scenic and wildlife photography. The two other snowcoach days will be in a privately chartered snowcoach for maximum flexibility; the route and stops will be determined by Tom and the driver to get the best photographic opportunities possible.


  • Non-smoking policy: We have a strict non-smoking policy. Smoking is not permitted at any time or any place during our tours.
  • Maximum time in the field: We try to spend as much time in the field as possible to observe wildlife behavior, sometimes resulting in long days but giving you a more in-depth experience.
  • Itinerary route: The itinerary route, stops and plans are subject to change by unforeseen circumstances beyond our control, such as weather or road conditions.
  • Additional forms: For some of our tours, you may be asked to fill out additional forms (e.g., medical questionnaire).
  • Travel to remote places is exciting, but it is important to understand and accept the risks, both medical and logistical. Minor medical problems can usually be treated, but because we are often far from medical facilities, there can be no expectation for immediate medical treatment or evacuation, even in cases of trauma. Anyone with health problems needing close medical supervision should not consider going on this tour. Bring enough medication for the duration of the trip for any chronic medical needs, since pharmacies are usually not available. When you send your deposit and signed Reservation/Release Form, you certify to us that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for yourself or for other trip participants.