Exploring Montana’s Wildlife: Photography Tips and Tour Recommendations

Capturing Montana's Wildlife

Welcome to Montana, where the rugged landscapes and abundant wildlife offer endless opportunities for photographers to capture the essence of nature. 

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, embarking on a photographic journey through the Big Sky Country is sure to be an unforgettable experience. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into practical photography tips, highlight the best spots for wildlife sightings, explore essential gear, discuss safety measures, and recommend guided tours and workshops to help you make the most of your adventure.

Understanding Your Audience:

Before we delve into the specifics, let’s address some common questions and concerns that photographers often have when planning a wildlife photography trip to Montana:

  • Where are the best spots to photograph wildlife in Montana?
  • What equipment do I need for wildlife photography?
  • How can I ensure my safety while photographing wild animals?
  • Are there any guided tours or workshops available to enhance my skills?

Finding the Perfect Spot:

Montana boasts an array of diverse ecosystems, from snow-capped mountains to sprawling prairies, providing ample opportunities for wildlife photography. 

Here are some prime locations to consider:

  • National Parks: Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park are iconic destinations renowned for their breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife. From bison grazing in Hayden Valley to grizzly bears roaming the alpine meadows, these parks offer a wealth of photographic opportunities.
  • Wildlife Refuges: Montana is home to several wildlife refuges, such as Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge, which provide havens for migratory birds, waterfowl, and other wildlife species. These protected areas offer quiet sanctuaries where photographers can observe and photograph wildlife in their natural habitats.
  • Scenic Byways: Embark on a scenic drive along Montana’s picturesque byways, such as the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park or the Beartooth Highway near Yellowstone. These scenic routes wind through stunning landscapes, offering glimpses of wildlife against a backdrop of towering mountains and pristine lakes.

Essential Photography Gear:

When it comes to wildlife photography, having the right gear can make all the difference in capturing that perfect shot. 

Here’s a breakdown of essential equipment:

  • Camera Body: Choose a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a high-resolution sensor and fast autofocus capabilities. Look for a camera with a high frames-per-second (fps) rate to capture fast-moving subjects.
  • Telephoto Lens: Invest in a quality telephoto lens with a focal length of at least 200-500mm to bring distant wildlife up close. A telephoto lens allows you to isolate your subject and achieve stunning bokeh (background blur) for professional-looking shots.
  • Tripod: A sturdy tripod is essential for stabilizing your camera and minimizing camera shake, especially when using telephoto lenses or shooting in low-light conditions. Look for a tripod with adjustable legs and a ball head for maximum versatility.

Safety First:

While photographing wildlife can be thrilling, it’s important to prioritize safety for both yourself and the animals. 

Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Maintain a Safe Distance: Always maintain a safe distance from wildlife to avoid disturbing their natural behavior and risking personal injury. Use a telephoto lens to get close-up shots without encroaching on their territory.
  • Observe From a Distance: Practice responsible wildlife viewing by observing animals from a distance and using binoculars or a spotting scope to get a closer look. Avoid approaching or feeding wild animals, as this can habituate them to humans and lead to dangerous encounters.
  • Respect Wildlife Habitat: Stay on designated trails and respect wildlife habitat by minimizing your impact on the environment. Avoid trampling vegetation or disturbing nesting sites, and never litter or leave behind food scraps that could attract wildlife.

Guided Tours and Workshops:

For photographers seeking to enhance their skills and explore Montana’s wilderness with expert guidance, guided tours and workshops offer valuable opportunities for learning and discovery. 

Here are some benefits of joining a guided tour or workshop:

  • Expert Guidance: Learn from experienced photographers who know the best locations, lighting conditions, and techniques for capturing stunning wildlife images. Gain insights into composition, exposure, and post-processing from professionals who are passionate about sharing their knowledge.
  • Safety in Numbers: Joining a guided tour provides added safety and peace of mind, especially when venturing into remote wilderness areas or encountering potentially dangerous wildlife. Traveling with a knowledgeable guide ensures that you’ll have assistance in case of emergencies and access to insider tips for maximizing your photographic opportunities.
  • Immersive Experience: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Montana’s landscapes and wildlife while learning new photography skills and techniques. Whether you’re exploring iconic national parks or hidden gems off the beaten path, guided tours and workshops offer unforgettable experiences that will inspire and enrich your photographic journey.
Capturing Montana's


Embarking on a wildlife photography adventure in Montana is a rewarding pursuit that allows photographers to connect with nature and capture its untamed beauty through the lens of their camera. 

By following the tips and recommendations outlined in this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your photographic journey with confidence and creativity. 

From scouting prime locations to selecting the right gear and prioritizing safety, every step of the process contributes to creating memorable images that celebrate the wonders of Big Sky Country.

We invite you to share your experiences, photos, and favorite wildlife photography spots in Montana in the comments below. 

Let’s continue the conversation and inspire each other to explore, learn, and grow as photographers. 

Happy shooting!


What wildlife can I expect to photograph in Montana?

Montana offers diverse wildlife photography opportunities, including bears, wolves, bison, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, and various bird species like eagles and owls.

What photography gear is recommended for wildlife photography in Montana?

Essential gear includes a durable, weather-sealed camera body, a variety of lenses (wide-angle, standard zoom, telephoto), a sturdy tripod, and key filters like circular polarizing and neutral density filters.

Are there specific safety considerations for wildlife photography in Montana?

It is crucial to respect wildlife by keeping a safe distance, following park rules, never feeding animals, and being bear aware with bear spray and proper food storage. Additionally, respecting geothermal features and being prepared for weather and terrain challenges are important safety measures.

Where are the best locations in Montana for wildlife photography tours?

Yellowstone National Park in Montana is a prime location for wildlife photography, offering dramatic landscapes and diverse wildlife such as grizzly bears, bison, moose, wolverines, lynx, and more. The park provides excellent opportunities for capturing wildlife in their natural habitat.

What are some recommended wildlife photography tours in Montana?

Yellowstone Wildlife Guide Company offers photography tours that provide early morning light opportunities to capture iconic North American wildlife like bears, wolves, bison, and elk. These tours focus on Yellowstone’s native flora and fauna, offering a comprehensive wildlife photography experience