On Being Crepuscular in Yellowstone

Yellowstone is certainly crowded during the summer months. There are ways to beat the crowds, and one of the best is to become crepuscular. The term usually refers to animals that are active at dawn or dusk, or both. As a photographer, it’s good to be crepuscular, it’s simply more challenging during the summer months when the edges of the day meet so close together.

On this given morning, I was on the road while it was still dark, hoping to make it to West Thumb Basin in Yellowstone by first light. I’ve learned over the years that it’s better to be early and watch the morning come then it is to be driving while watching the pre-dawn sky light up before you’re ready to photograph.

As I walked the boardwalks into the basin I was surprised to find elk wandering among the features, attempting to get a drink from their edges. I was the only human there.

Suddenly, in the forest on the edge of the basin, I heard a male elk bugle. It was the first time for me to hear such a call. It was almost haunting the way it reverberated through the forest. It certainly caught the attention of this young elk cow.

West Thumb Basin rests along the edge of Yellowstone Lake, a perfect setting in the early morning hours.


The earliest hours of summer are still often cool enough, in the 40’s, to cause steam from the hot springs to overflow into the morning.

There are various plants the love the heat of thermal areas. The soil can be incredibly hot at around 110F (43C), and plants have been designed to thrive there.

From the elk call, to the beauty of the waters, to the steam rising in the air it was another magical morning in Yellowstone. Thanks for walking along with me.


18 thoughts on “On Being Crepuscular in Yellowstone

  1. I love your pictures and the commentary you make. It’s good to try to give others some of your “secrets” about how you come up with the good shots you do. I am also a photographer, although it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to get to YNP (1974 was the last time). I LOVE the area and really do appreciate your sharing you pictures. It’s so good to know that this “stuff” is still in existence. Again, thanks. randy

    • I have, and eventually I’ll add some audio to posts. Mostly I’ve recorded the most eerie sounding fumaroles. The 18th was international listening day, and indeed Yellowstone is one of the best places for listening. The sounds here are very similar to when westerners first arrived in the park. And best of all, It’s still quiet out West!

  2. Beautiful photos! We visited Yellowstone a couple of years ago. Absolutely incredible park. Thank you for taking me back! And you right about being crepuscular. My best memory of the park is photographing sunrise at the West Thumb Basin.

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