Photographer Erika Larsen on Yellowstone

A onetime Fulbright fellow uses photography to connect people and the landscape.

Erika Larsen is one of six photographers who contributed to National Geographic magazine's special issue on Yellowstone. Learn about the other five at

From the Sami herders in Scandinavia to Garrison Keillor in Minnesota, Erika Larsen’s photography projects often take her to places “where the landscape is extremely important to people.” Even so, the onetime Fulbright fellow says she was amazed by the hold that Yellowstone has on residents and visitors alike.

Larsen met Native American archaeologists who felt “tangible moments” of connection with ancestors from centuries ago. She met ranchers who were overcome with emotion when they spoke of passing on their land to future generations. She met travelers from all over the world making a once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Larsen also met park rangers who’d worked elsewhere before. Yellowstone was their last stop, they told her. “Why would you leave?”

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Tracking grizzly bears with radio collars in the 1950s and ’60s, John Craighead and his twin brother, Frank, discovered just how far bears roamed beyond the boundaries of Yellowstone and Grand Teton. The two championed the idea that the parks should be managed as part of a Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem— an idea that took decades to catch on. Now 99, Craighead spends a lot of time in a tepee outside his house in Missoula, Montana. Frank died in 2001.
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Rita Hoggan feeds elk in the Gros Ventre Wilderness area, Wyoming.

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Brothers and ranchers Jim and Dave Hagenbarth are dedicated to finding new ways to keep agriculture sustainable.

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Hilary Zaranek Anderson, shown with her daughters, is a range rider in the Tom Miner Basin area and works on the Anderson Ranch. She is an advocate of having a human presence on the landscape for predator conflict management.

See more from Erika Larsen on her website