Essence of Winter

Yellowstone National Park

January 12 - 20, 2019
Cost: $6,450
Leader: Tom Murphy
Group Size: 8
Days: 9

Safari Overview

Visit Yellowstone and 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 amidst 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. 
• Travel by private van and snowcoach to maximize wildlife viewing opportunities.

Itinerary Updated: March 2018

Print Trip
Date Description Lodge Meals
Jan 12 Arrive in Bozeman, Montana, USA. Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Bozeman West
Jan 13 - 14 Meet Tom and follow the Yellowstone River south into the park. Explore Mammoth Hot Springs and wildlife-rich Lamar Valley. Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner B, L, D
Jan 15 Ride alongside dramatic cliffs and geyser basins into central Yellowstone. Old Faithful Snow Lodge, Yellowstone National Park B, L, D
Jan 16 - 17 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
Jan 18 Explore Hayden Valley en route to Mammoth Hot Springs to photograph winter scenes and wildlife. Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner B, L, D
Jan 19 Revisit Lamar Valley. Enjoy a farewell dinner then return to Bozeman. Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Bozeman West B, L, D
Jan 20 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 12

Arrive in Bozeman, Montana for an overnight stay.

Meet Tom and explore northern Yellowstone

Jan 13 - 14

Big Horn Sheep

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.

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

Ride by snowcoach into central Yellowstone

Jan 15

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 at the historic Old Faithful Snow Lodge.

Central Yellowstone National Park

Jan 16 - 17

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.

Explore Hayden Valley via Mammoth Hot Springs

Jan 18


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

Jan 19

Bobcat by Debbie Thompson

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 home from Bozeman, Montana

Jan 20

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


Visit Yellowstone and capture images of snowy Old Faithful geyser, ice-covered bison, foxes, coyotes, and perhaps wolves.

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Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy $6,450
Single Supplement $2,090

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, 2018 $1,000
Final August 15, 2018 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. 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 17 and 18.
  • Accommodations for the nights of January 12 through 19.
  • Meals from breakfast on January 13 through breakfast on January 20.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages during meals.
  • Gratuities for snowcoach drivers and meal service.
  • Gratuities to porters at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in Yellowstone National Park.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare, airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Gratuities to luggage porters at hotels outside the park.
  • 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 beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation/Release Form.


Daytime temperatures are usually around 0°F (-20 °C), but may reach up to the 20’s°F (-5°C). Subzero overnight temperatures are common. Warm winds will occasionally push daytime temperatures into the 40’s°F (5–10°C), causing significant melting of the snowpack at lower elevations, but cold snaps may drive temperatures much lower. Snow is a good possibility.

Fitness Level

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.


Airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent 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 that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in Bozeman, Montana at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) by the night of January 12. Depart from Bozeman anytime on January 20.





Travel in a private 15-passenger van between Bozeman and Mammoth Hot Springs then in a snowcoach deep in Yellowstone National Park. For maximum flexibility, we charter the snowcoach on two days.


  • 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 nature: We try to spend as much time in nature as possible, 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.