To be clear, Yellowstone National Park is open year-round to snowmobilers and tours, but it isn’t until late April that they clear the roads from the entrance at West Yellowstone all the way to Old Faithful.
The best part about visiting early or late in the season is that you have far fewer tourists to dodge along the boardwalks. This trip was no exception – we had the park to ourselves one evening for a sunset shoot at the Fountain Paint Pots.
On the last morning of our trip, we awoke early for a sunrise shoot, as we had every morning. But this time, we decided we would “see what we could find” given that we hadn’t scouted out a location the night before (typically a very important part of a successful sunrise shoot). We found a spot as the sun approached the horizon, but it wasn’t quite what we envisioned, and we instead chose to park the car and enjoy the serenity.
It wasn’t until we began heading back that we caught the sunrise we hoped for. We were just south of Gibbon Falls, where nearby thermal activity and a crisp spring morning created a volumetric lighting effect as the already-risen sun pushed it’s way through the trees. It was a nice surprise and a great memory as we said goodbye to both Yellowstone and our extended stay in Montana.