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“Take the Photo Safari Tour”

Wake Up to Wildlife Tour
Reviewed July 16, 2012

We took the Photo Safari Tour from Old Faithful Inn and had a GREAT experience! You are guided by a professional photographer. We only had point and shoot and iphone cameras. Some of the others on the tour had good cameras, multiple lenses and tripods. Our guide was Barrrett Hedges, Grand Champion Winner of the National Geographic 2010 Wildlife Photo Contest out of 14,000 entries. Barrett is just 26 years old and has incredible experience and education in wildlife photography. He is a really fun guy and a great storyteller. Check out his website bearheadphoto.com, and fall in love with his work like we did.
This tour gets you up and out before all the crowds are even awake. You will have been to alot of the beautiful sights (both wildlife and scenic) before they get crowded when there is lovely mist and the sky is changing with the rising sun. Then you are back at 11 am. in time for a nice lunch at The Old Faithful Cafeteria. Book this tour with the xanterra phone number for Yellowstone Lodging.

2  Thank Lion67566
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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39 - 43 of 47 reviews

Reviewed June 25, 2012

The historic yellow bus was wonderful, our guide was pleasant and professional, and we saw 12 species of wildlife including grizzy bear, black bear, bison, pronghorn, bison, and wolves. And of course wonderful scenery. This tour departs from a number of Yellowstone hotels, and it was a great experience.

3  Thank herestoadventures
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 13, 2011

My wife and I stayed at Roosevelt Lodge as part of our time in Yellowstone, in part so that we could have easy access to the Lamar Valley. We expected to explore the area on our own, but at the last moment decided to add the Wake up to Wildlife Tour on a historic Yellow Bus. We had taken a Red Bus tour when we visited Glacier National Park in 2009 and that tour provided an outstanding introduction to the park, so we figured that this tour would provide an equally good overview of the Lamar Valley. We were not disappointed.

Our tour was on a Saturday in early September. We made the reservation for the tour just the afternoon before (probably only able to do this as it was near the end of the season). The staff at Roosevelt Lodge took care of the reservation details. The tour originated at Mammoth and arrived at Roosevelt Lodge at 7:00 to collect us. The stop at Roosevelt was also used as a coffee break and rest stop for the tour. The bus was nearly full when it rolled in from Mammoth, so my wife and I had to split up (no big deal), but I got lucky and got to ride shotgun. I reckon we were on the road toward the Lamar Valley about 7:15.

Our driver/guide for the tour was Charlotte and she was an OUTSTANDING guide! She was extremely knowledgeable about the park and the wildlife, a great communicator, and was a lot of fun. Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat was a great opportunity for discussion with Charlotte as well as for photos.

The tour covers the Lamar Valley, and I am sure that the tours vary from day to day based on what critters are out and about. The plan for our tour was to head over to a bison carcass located near Soda Butte Cone (the bison had been gored and died the day before, so the wolves and bears had been feeding). However plans do not always work exactly as laid out as we hit a bison jam about 10 minutes out of Roosevelt Lodge and trailed the herd for quite a while before they exited the highway. This was actually very cool, as we were traveling with the herd and had the big animals all around the bus. We saw a LOT of bison on the trip and got some good shots. We also saw a couple small herds of pronghorn, but mostly we kept heading east toward the carcass.

On the drive to the carcass area, Charlotte gave us some history on the wolves, which were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995. The original wolf population was eradicated in the early 1900s. The first reintroduced pack in the Lamar Valley was the Druid Pack, however they were challenged by the Slough Creek pack and driven from the valley about 5 years ago. However, the Druids regained control of Lamar Valley 2 or 3 years ago but were then stricken by mange and decimated. Only a couple of animals survived and became the core of the Lamar Valley Pack.

As we got closer, we saw a lot of cars and many folks out in the field with spotting scopes. Charlotte was able to wedge the bus into the parking area (horse ride loading turnout). Once unloaded, we headed out to see what we could see.

We walked out to one of the groups with spotting scopes and got hooked into where the wolves were. They were about a mile across the valley in the sage brush. We saw five or six wolves from the Lamar Valley Pack. Seems they had clashed with another pack and the pups were scattered about, so there was a lot of calling and movement trying to get the pack back together. The regular watchers said that this was an extraordinary viewing and action, so we were very lucky.

We were there until well after 9:00 then headed on east to look for Mountain Goats. We spotted one on Baronette Mountain; it was just a little dot on the mountain side, but easily visible through the spotting scope. Charlotte had a scope and binoculars to share, but if you have binoculars, bring them along on the tour. Then we headed back the way we came toward Roosevelt. All was quiet at the carcass site when we passed, so we kept cruising. We saw a lot of bison and pronghorn and one mule deer during the return trip and made a couple of photo stops. We also spotted several ospreys and a Clark’s Nutcracker. We were back at Roosevelt Lodge at about 11:00.

Overall, this was an excellent tour and a great introduction to the Lamar Valley. We were fortunate to see so many animals. The bison herds were huge and seeing the wolf pack, even from a distance, was a tremendous treat. While we could have done the same drive ourselves, we would have missed all the information provided by Charlotte. Plus, having someone else do the driving so that we could both enjoy the scenery and the animal watching was a major plus.

Note that coffee, juice and muffins are also included with the tour. Tip: bring binoculars if you have them.

22  Thank OhioHick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2011

We took the tour from Mammoth. We were taken in a refurbished "old bus" which is an interesting experience of itself. The driver/guide was knowlegeable and enthusiastic. The route took us out into the Lamar valley where we saw lots of bison, a couple of bears, elk, pronghorn deer, a fleeting glimpse of a wolf and some smaller mammals. However, we had driven through the valley on our way from Cody the previous day and covered the same territory.
If you get up early, take a flask of coffee and some eats with you and keep your eyes open you can probably see as much as you would on the tour, albeit without the input of the guide. Generally where there was wildlife to be seen there were groups of people armed with cameras and binoculars, so just stop where they are and ask what they're looking at (if its not obvious)

15  Thank Chris W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 7, 2011

We took the wake up to wildlife tour from Canyon Village it was well worth waking up early for! We had a very fun and interesting tour guide who did not disappoint! We saw a wolf and two black bears, plus loads of bison! the yellow bus was so much fun and we learned so many interesting things we would not have heard if we had explored on our own. I highly recommend this tour!

6  Thank cookie64
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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