What skill level should a photographer be on a tour?
We cater to every skill level. Whether you are a beginner getting to know your camera in search of amazing wildlife. Or a seasoned professional looking to get amazing shots in a short amount of time. Our networking with other local guides will ensure we get the best wildlife action possible. Our experience teaching many clients through the years has helped us be knowledgeable about many camera systems including Nikon, Canon, Sony and Olympus.
What wildlife do you typically see on your tours?
Each season we are looking for different wildlife. Starting with spring we are typically looking for grizzlies with their newborn cubs, black bears, wolves, fox, bison, and large birds like bald eagles and red tailed hawks.
In summer elk and moose females start having their young along with males growing their antlers. Bison are typically in their rut during June and July. We also continue in summer looking for grizzlies, black bears, and wolves, fox, large birds, and our colorful seasonal small birds like mountain blue birds, yellow warblers, northern flickers, etc.
Fall is a great time to get both fall color and elk and moose during their rut season. Fall is also the last chance to catch grizzlies before they hibernate, wolves, fox, bison and large birds.
Winter time we switch our focus now that the bears have hibernated to wolves, river otters, frosty bison, fox, eagles, and if you book a snow coach with us the coveted bobcats of Madison River in Yellowstone. December and January are the best times to see big horn sheep during their rut where rams bang heads and battle for hours.
How many people will be on the tour?
We only host one private group at a time from 1-3 clients.
What times do tours start and end?
This varies with the season but typically you can expect a spring and fall morning tour to start with a 6am pick-up and a 6:30 sunrise, if you booked a half day tour we would likely have you back by 1pm. Fall and spring afternoon tours have a 2pm pick-up with an 8pm sunset.
Summer time is the earliest wake-up call with a 5:15am pick-up and 5:45 sunrise, if you book a half day tour we’ll have you back by 11am. Summer afternoon half day tours start with a 3pm pick-up and return time of 9:30.
Finally winter tours have the best sleep in potential with a 7am pick-up, 7:45am sunrise and a 1pm drop off. If you book a winter afternoon tour the tours start at noon with a 5pm sunset and 5:30 drop off. Times vary month to month but this can serve as a general idea for your travel plans.
What gear to bring?
Photographers are all familiar with their camera gear but we like to mention these reminders just in case. Bring a tripod or monopod. If you are renting a lens make sure your existing tripod can handle the weight. Renting a large 400-600mm is a great idea but make sure you have a tripod that can handle it. If not, then a monopod that runs around $150-200 might be a good suggestion, and doesn’t break the bank compared to a heavy-duty carbon fiber tripod with a gimbal head. Extra batteries and memory cards are a must have. Short lenses are recommended too because we often stop for sunrise/sunset photos or any other landscape shots that catch your eye
What clothing should I wear?
We always check in with folks a few days before our tours to make sure they are prepared for the weather and temperatures that we might run into during our trip. A general rule of thumb is to wear layers, be a little overprepared, and check the weather to gauge what you need. Hiking boots are highly recommended for being on rough terrain and muck boots (if you have them) are particularly great for fall when photographing moose, or winter when standing in deep snow. Please avoid wearing flip flops or loose fitting shoes, these don’t work well on our tours at anytime of year.
All of our tours are based around sunset or sunrise which can have freezing temperatures even on a warm summer day with a high of 80 degrees. Gloves are recommended almost any time of year because your hands are exposed more than any part of your body during the tour. Gloves come in different thicknesses so think ahead based on what time of year you are photographing. In winter thick gloves and hand warmers are highly recommended when temperatures plummet below freezing and often below zero. As a courtesy we bring hand warmers, ponchos, and rain covers for cameras and lenses during every season of the year. If you looking to take it to the next level in winter heated rechargeable gloves are the best option available.
Do we provide transportation?
We are happy to pick you up and drop you off from any hotel in the Jackson Hole area. If you are staying in Alpine, Star Valley, Victor or Driggs Idaho make arrangements to drive to Jackson and we’ll determine a meeting point.
Are food or drinks provided?
We bring bottled water, a thermos of coffee with cream and sugar available, and a jet boil stove to quickly boil water for tea or make more coffee. We provide snacks like granola bars, trail mix, chips, and fresh fruit like bananas, oranges and apples. Our full day tours typically have a mid-day break where we will either drive you back to your hotel for a few hours, or drive to a location so we can buy lunch. Yellowstone is far enough away where we will likely get lunch together and continue our tour after a break.
What kind of vehicle are we driving in?
We are picking you up in a Ford Expedition XL we fold down the third row seating so that we have plenty of room for camera gear, food, and extra clothing. The vehicle is equipped with 4- wheel drive for wintery conditions and snow tires when necessary.
Do we need to bring or carry bear spray?
In short no. We will provide bear spray for the group and both guides will be carrying bear spray at all times during spring, summer and fall.
How much hiking or walking should I expect?
Even though this is a roadside wildlife based tour. We do like to include short 1⁄2 mile to 1 mile hikes to have potential wildlife viewing and get us out of the car. We have a few locations such as the Moose Ponds in the Grand Tetons which is a perfect short hike. This gives us the opportunity to get out of the car to stretch our legs, hoping to find moose, beaver or a great blue heron. If you don’t want to or can’t do much hiking just let us know ahead of time.
Do clients need to pay entrance fees to get into the parks?
Our tour guide permit includes entrance fees for the two guides and our vehicle. The National Parks make customers inside our vehicles pay separately. If you have an annual pass please bring it! If there are 3 people in your group and one person has an annual pass that covers everyone! If you paid the $35 entrance fee to enter the parks within the last 7 days bring that receipt that’s usually taped to your windshield and that will work towards the $20 per client on tour. We will do our best to remind you to bring your pass or receipt but please try to remember as well.
Can I bring my handicap permit?
Yes! If you normally use a handicap permit and it helps us park in more convenient places for you by all means bring it along. If you need your trip to be handicap accessible just let us know and we can easily accommodate.
Do the tours operate “rain or shine”?
Yes, we typically don’t cancel a tour due to weather. The drama of storms creates the opportunity to capture unique wildlife photos that you wouldn’t get on a typical sunny day. Occasionally the parks close roads due to snow but we will be checking in on that often during our tour to make sure we don’t have any issues.
Can you bring a drone?
Unfortunately, drones are illegal in all National Parks so you can’t bring a drone on our tours. If you want to use a drone during your trip ask us about National Forest areas like the Snake River where you can fly a drone.
Are their age restrictions on tours?
Not at all. Neil and Tristen both have kids so we work well with kids of all ages. If it helps to bring a child along on your tour that’s not a problem, we are happy to accommodate.
What is your cancellation policy?
Payment schedule, deposit and final payment:
A 50% deposit is required to hold your date and the balance is due two weeks before the tour.
Why Book a Tour With Us?
As a team of long-time professional photographers and guides, Tristen and Neil have a deep understanding of the animals that inhabit the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and how to get you in the best position for photos. Our photo tours cater to every skill level. Whether you’re
a beginner getting to know your camera, or an expert on vacation looking for the best photos possible. Why waste your time getting to know each animal in every season when we can take you to the exact location an animal was seen last on any given day? We are part of a small group of photographers and guides that share animal location information which will ensure we have the best wildlife viewing possible.
Booking a tour with us you can be assured we have all the proper insurance and permits needed to guide clients in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. With over 20 years of professional photography Neil can help you understand any element of your camera and various camera systems. With Tristen’s knowledge and observation of local wildlife, Roam Wild Photo Tours is the perfect choice for your wildlife photography adventure.