Photo tips for Bearizona

Author: Amy Horn02_16 Bearizona-6900

Imagine driving your car through a forest in Northern Arizona and viewing wolves,bear, bison, donkey and many more animals. This unique experience is what you will find at Bearizona Park in Williams, Arizona. The park is divided into two main areas, the drive thru park and “Fort Bearizona” where you can stroll through winding walkways to view more bear, fox, bobcat and other North American animals. It you are thinking of visiting Bearizona, here are three tips to better photos.

  1. Upon entry to the park, most cars head straight to the drive through area. In this area, you drive from habitat to habitat looking for wildlife. Hopefully you can spot all 13 bear! A long lens with a focal length of 200mm or larger is your best chance at capturing a great photo. On occasion, animals are on the road, but most often they are off eating, sleeping or walking in the wooded areas so a long lens is crucial. Drive slowly and if you pull off to take photos make sure you leave room for cars to pass you. Something you might not think about is the impact your tinted windows will have on your photographs (for safety, windows remain closed). I found my window tinting gave me an underexposed image by more than one stop. To compensate for this boost your ISO or open your aperture to add more light. Vehicles can repeat the loop as many times as desired to capture the animals in their different behavioral activities.

02_16 Bearizona-6920

  1. At the end of the drive thru area is a parking lot for Fort Bearizona. Fort Bearizona is a small area of animal habitats including multiple bear enclosures, javelina, bobcats, a raptor flight (March – Nov only), petting zoo and several more species. At these enclosures you can take advantage of the close proximity to the animals and use shorter lenses. I recommend focal lengths from 50-300mm to capture these critters. The bear enclosures separate the bear by age and those juvenile bear love to climb the trees. If you don’t see any bear, be sure to look up!
  1. Three times daily the “Wild Ride Bus Tour” loops through the park. In case you were busy driving the loop earlier, riding the bus will give you a chance to photograph the animals. The best seats are closest to the driver and, of course, by a window. The reason seats by the driver are best is that the driver will feed some animals and they trot right on over to the bus.

So, if you are up for a unique experience with wildlife, check out Bearizona Park in Williams, AZ and don’t forget your long lens.

Amy Horn is a professor of photography at Northern Arizona University and an instructor for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.  Join her in the upcoming zoo workshops at Wildlife World Zoo and Arizona Sonora Desert Museum or view her current schedule at or

The Predators Among Us

Author Henry H. Holdsworth/Wild by Nature Gallery


The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is one of the largest remaining, nearly intact ecosystems in the northern temperate zone of our planet. With Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks at its core, the GYE covers over 28,000 square miles, in three states and is home to over half the worlds geysers and a myriad of beautiful mountain ranges, rivers and lakes.   For all the scenic beauty the area possesses, the true heartbeat of the ecosystem is measured by its abundant wildlife.  And with the comeback of the grizzly bear and the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, it is the predators that have re-established Yellowstone as a truly wild place.   It is a place where all the major species once again roam freely, as they did before the turn of the last century, marking the Greater Yellowstone as Holdsworth_Grand_Teton__023one of the few places in the lower 48 states where that scenario exists today.

Simply put, predators make the wilderness wild. With predators in the equation, hiking, camping and wildlife viewing are experienced on a different level than in other natural places.  Your senses are heightened; your awareness of your surroundings more keen and your anticipation of what you might hear or see is more intense.

The definition of the word predator is simply stated as “an animal that naturally preys on others”.   Predators come in all shapes and sizes in Yellowstone, as do the animals that they prey on, and they inhabit many different niches throughout the parks.    Of course the predators at the top of the food chain, such as wolves and bears, garner much _MG_8335_-_Version_2of the attention among wildlife viewers, but there are many others that go about their business in a less noticeable fashion.  Eagles, osprey, pelicans and river otters all patrol the parks waterways searching for fish.  Hawks, owls, coyotes and fox help keep the rodent populations in check.  Kestrels, bluebirds, tanagers and swallows take in large quantities of insects such as grasshoppers and mosquitos.  Seeing an elusive predator such as a mountain lion, bobcat, weasel or pine marten can really make any trip a more memorable one or a once in a lifetime experience.

Once looked at as menaces or competitors by man, predators are now known to play a vital roll in the health and balance of the natural system.  Without predators to keep prey species at their natural carrying capacity, the system is soon altered and other species may suffer the consequences.   Since the elimination of wolves from the area in the Holdsworth_Yellowstone__0531930’s, elk numbers began to grow to some four times their natural population.  Outcompeting other animals for the same vegetation, other species, both plant an animal, diminished as the elk population soared.   With the return of the wolf, and the subsequent decline in elk numbers, researchers have seen changes in the ecosystem that favor diversity.   The growth of more cottonwood, willow and aspen have improved habitat for animals such as moose and beaver.  The comeback of beavers has led to new habitat for waterfowl and songbirds.  The decline of coyotes, a natural enemy of wolves, has also led to an increase in the pronghorn population and more sightings of red fox, both adversaries of coyotes.   Every animal plays a part in the jigsaw puzzle we call the web of life and all the pieces need to be accounted for in Holdsworth_Grand_Teton__017order for natural cycles to run as they were intended.

It has now been twenty years since wolves were returned to Yellowstone and scientists are just beginning to discover the change this has brought to the ecosystem.  After all, this top predator had been absent for almost one hundred years, and it may take another hundred years to truly understand the importance of the predators that live among us.

Henry H. Holdsworth has spent over thirty years photographing and living in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. Educated as a biologist with a background in animal behavior and environmental education, Henry has traveled extensively, but there is no place he enjoys photographing more than his own backyard, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Nationally recognized for his work in such publications as National Geographic, National Wildlife and Wildlife Conservation, Henry work has also been displayed in museums such as the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole. His first book on grizzlies was published in 1997, and has been followed by 16 additional photographic books on the wildlife and scenery of Yellowstone and Tetons.

Henry now divides his time between running his Wild by Nature Gallery in downtown Jackson and leading workshops for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops and photographic safaris in Grand Teton National Park.