Itinerary – Most meals included – (B,L,D) denotes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 1 (Travel Day) (D)
Arrive in Estes Park, Colorado for an orientation and welcome dinner.
We will enter the Park before dawn on the first day to witness and shoot the light of the sun as it begins to illuminate Moraine Park. Moraine Park is a jaw-dropping sight to behold as well as to capture from behind a lense. Massive granite peaks soar above lush alpine meadows creating a sublime mountain scene, and an amazing one to photograph. After some mountain photography instruction and image review we’ll head back to Estes Park for a late breakfast and a relaxing break before our next adventure back up in the high country.
Our second adventure of the day is a quest for wildlife shots on the drive up Trail Ridge Road (the highest paved road in North America, and undoubtedly one of the most scenic). We’ll stop to photograph along the way at view points across from the magnificent Gore Range. A short hike is planned near the Alpine Ridge Visitor’s Center in the late afternoon to stretch our legs and seek out for more unique mountain shots.
After our hike we’ll relax, have a snack and then begin photographing the Pano Mountains as the sun begins to set in the western sky. There are many locations along Trail Ridge Road from which to capture the shots we’re looking for, but we have two in mind that provide truly fantastic vantage points for these photographs.
Once we’re done with the day’s photography we’ll return to our lodge in Estes Park for a wonderful dinner and good night’s sleep.
We’ll start hiking before dawn this morning to our photography destination at Bear Lake. Bear Lake is a popular hike with tourists but we’ll show up well before they are out of bed! This lake has amazing reflections, and often smooth water, at first light so we’ll get there early to compose some truly spectacular photographs. After we finish with Bear Lake we’ll hike another mile or so up to one of three other nearby lakes: Emerald Lake, Nymph Lake or Dream Lake depending on the lighting conditions. All of these lakes often act as stunning alpine mirrors reflecting the dramatic mountains surrounding them on glassy water. After exploring and shooting the lakes and mountains we’ll backtrack and then hike up to Alberta Falls, which is an incredible high mountain waterfall with a fantastic backdrop of high summits. We’ll spend some time shooting the falls and learning how to control the midday light with neutral density filters to create stunning slow shutter speed waterfall effects.
After our hike it’s off for lunch and a siesta before we head out in search of elk & moose! We’ll explore until we find the right meadow and, depending on the season, possibly watch the elk rut in action (bulls clashing antlers over the right to mate with the cows). Our evening shoot will be along Trail Ridge Road, at another one of our favorite spots for high country photography. Finally, tonight we’ll stay after sundown and work on capturing Longs Peak with the Milky Way!
Guess what? It’s another early rise as we begin our photography session before dawn at Sprague Lake – arguably one of the prettiest lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park. After that we’ll drive up Trail Ridge Road again to explore the high mountains! We’ll setup for some great shots at one of our favorite vantage points along Trail Ridge for our mid-morning session. After composing our masterpieces we’ll head down to the lush, quiet western side of Rocky Mountain National Park to hike into Cascade Falls. This is a beautiful and vibrant 6.8 mile roundtrip hike that takes us through dotted pine woodlands and alpine meadows ending at a wonderfully photogenic waterfall. We’ll spend some time capturing the waterfall and also be on the lookout for wildlife as this region of the Park is a haven for both elk and moose.
After the hike we’ll check in to our lodge in the quaint, western town of Grand Lake. We’ll have an early dinner then head out to photograph the sun setting over the Rockies!
Today we’ll hike the Cache La Poudre River Valley first thing. This is an excellent hike with ample photography opportunities along the bottom a picturesque mountain river valley. We’ll photograph breaktaking meadows and wildflowers along this six mile route. This will be a fantastic opportunity to photograph wildlife away from the roads as well.
This evening we’ll set up for one final magic hour photo shoot in the western mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park. After that it’s off to bed for a good night’s sleep and to prepare for our final day of adventure in Rocky Mountain National Park.
On our last day we’ll spend the morning photographing the Colorado River headwaters in an idyllic meadow setting, with the high peaks of the Continental Divide framing the backdrop. We’ll enjoy some excellent photo opportunities and a refreshing hike along the river before shuttling back across Trail Ridge Road toward Estes Park. We’ll make occasional stops along Trail Ridge Road to photograph views we haven’t taken advantage of yet, and to enjoy a final picnic lunch up high, over 12,000 feet. This memorable trip will conclude in Estes Park, where we’ll say our goodbyes and start dreaming of the next photography adventure!
Please note that the exact sequence of the itineraries on all photography trips will be based on weather and lighting conditions. The goal on these trips is to make sure we are at the right place at the right time for the perfect light on our subjects. Also, itineraries can change for a variety of other circumstances including floods, forest fires, national park closures, road closures and more. Due to the nature of wildlife and nature photography we do not guarantee any specific sightings or specific compositions regarding wildlife or natural phenomena.