How to Photograph Mountain Goats on Mt. Evans Colorado

I’ve had a few people ask me how I got the mountain goat pictures on Mt. Evans so I thought it might be worth a blog post to explain how to plan a successful photo trip to one of the closest and most accessible fourteeners in the Colorado Front Range!

Beautiful Mount Evans Colorado

Well, the first obstacle you must overcome is the getting there. Ever since the onset of the Covid virus a timed entry ticket is required for entry. To acquire one of these go to the website recreation.gov and set up an account. It’s a fairly easy process and if you like to visit the parks you are going to want one eventually. The site lets you make reservations at all the national parks and many other interesting locations that now require the timed entry permits. For Mount Evans I recommend the 8:00-10:00 a.m. time slot for a couple of reasons, the first being it is the best arrival time to catch the animals when they are active, the second being it allows you the most time on the summit before the inevitable inclement weather sets in. Once you successfully create your reservation you will be given the opportunity to download the PDF ticket which you can print or save on your phone. I recommend doing both, either method is acceptable at the entry kiosk so if you happen to lose your printed version hopefully you will still have your phone!

Mountain Goats on Mount Evans

There are several options when choosing your ticket as there are a number of attractions on the way to the summit, including the Goliath Interpretive Park and the Summit Lake trailhead. The most expensive ticket of course is going to be the one that provides access to all the attractions including the summit area.

There are two routes to the mountain, one from the Evergreen side and another from the Idaho Springs side over old Squaw Pass Road, now known as Highway 103. Take 103 all the way to it’s summit where you will arrive at Echo Lake and the junction with Highway 5 which is Mount Evans Road and the access point to the summit. A short distance up the road  is the ranger station where you will have to present your timed entry ticket. I was told to leave my printed ticket on the dash board throughout my visit.

Marmot on Mount Evans

Here is where the fun begins, the long narrow winding road, mostly without guardrails, that takes you to the summit! Drive carefully, there may be wildlife on the road and it can be a trick to negotiate oncoming traffic both on the way up and the way down. Watch for the mountain goats and bighorn sheep as you ascend the scenic mountain, they don’t spend the night at the summit so as the day warms they can be seen making their way up the mountainside to the summit where they enjoy spending their days.

Hopefully by the time you reach the summit parking lot the wild goats will be there as well… if not you can take the rugged half mile trail to the actual summit and take in the fantastic 360 degree view including the Mount of the Holy Cross and other fourteeners including Gray’s and Torrey’s Peaks. Oh, I forgot to mention, you will want to include clothing on this trip that will cover anything from summer to winter weather! On my recent trip the the sun was shining with about 75 degree temps at Evergreen and on the summit the wind was blowing about 40mph with parkas and winter head gear required!

To actually acquire good photographs of the animals you are going to want a good camera with the capability of manual settings and  a telephoto lens of at least 200mm. This allows you to shoot away from a distance without disturbing the animals. I used my 100-400mm lens and found it to be about right. Of course you can photograph the closer animals with a phone, they are basically unafraid of people

Mountain Goats on Mount Evansand many walk right up to them, way too close for their own safety. Keep in mind that these are wild animals and even though they tolerate people they occasionally feel threatened and may attack. Trust me, you do not want to be attacked by a mountain goat… they can really mess you up!

 

To get the best capture you are going to want to have a good understanding of how to set the exposure on your camera. The goats are bright white and the sky in the morning is going to be bright blue, a combination that is going to wreak havoc with your camera’s metering system. I found when the goats were on top of the rocks with the sky in the background I was dialing in at least +1 to +2 stops of exposure compensation (EC). Later on as we descended the mountain +.3 EC was better for photographing the darker bighorn sheep against the rocks.

Most afternoons severe weather is going to be moving in over the high peaks including heavy rain and lightning. By 2:00 p.m. your day on the summit is most likely going to be over and you should be on your way down. Once the lightning starts you don’t want to be standing outside, it is much safer inside your vehicle. One top of the mountain your chance of getting struck by lightning go from one in a million to highly likely.

A visit to the beautiful mountain towns of Georgetown, Idaho Springs and Evergreen is a great way to spend an afternoon, taking in some lunch, a micro brew and the many gift shops!

I hope you find this article helpful and if you enjoy the content please click the follow button to receive notification of my next publication!

 

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Bighorn Sheep on Mount Evans

Photo Adventure on Mount Evans

Beautiful Mount Evans Colorado

A photo trip to Mount Evans is always on the top of my favorite things to do list and time was running out on this season’s opportunities at that place. So yesterday was the day when all the stars aligned for our second road trip of the year to this beautiful 14,265 foot peak. I was able to get a timed entry ticket for 10:00 a.m., so Kevin and I met in Woodland Park at 7:30 for the journey. It was a beautiful day for a road trip… 46 degrees at sunrise with nothing but sunshine all around 🙂

By the time we hit Evergreen it was warming up pretty good so we were thinking that it was going to be brisk but pleasant on the summit. Our first warning that the pleasant part of that was at risk came at the entrance to the fee area at Echo Lake where the bulletin board showed zero animal sightings and a 25 mph wind at the peak. No matter, we continued the journey looking forward to seeing the mountain goats on the summit area.

Mountain Goats on Mount Evans

We successfully navigated the narrow winding road past all the terrifyingly steep cliffs and found a good parking spot at the top. As I attempted to open my door, the reason for the warnings on the board became suddenly apparent. The wind by this time was probably blowing 40mph and I could barely open the door. We had to strategically open one door at a time so that the entire contents of the vehicle didn’t fall victim to the wind tunnel effect and become scattered debris all over the mountain.

In that kind of wind I knew that I wouldn’t be changing lenses so I attached only the 100-400mm without the 1.4x extension and left everything else safely in my backpack. There were no goats to be seen so we took the short hike around the summit house into the full force of the gale in search of the herd. It wasn’t long before my ears and fingers were stinging from the cold, and I was breathing hard in the thin air of 14,000 feet of elevation as the wind sucked the remaining oxygen out of my lungs.

Mountain Goats on Mount Evans

Our usual trek to the very summit was unanimously abandoned as we agreed that we both seen it plenty of times and there was little to prove by going up there on this day. With no wildlife to photograph, I snapped a few images of the distant peaks and we hiked back to the vehicle for the trip down. A couple of switchbacks later I spotted a small herd of the bright white mountain goats slowly making their way to the summit. We found a place to park on the narrow road and got out for a few shots of the beautiful creatures before they crossed over the next switchback above.

Since it appeared the animals were on their way to the summit we got turned around and went back up. By this time it was considerably warmer and the wind had died down to a more comfortable velocity, much better for a good session with the wildlife 🙂 We followed the beasts around for an hour or two as they clambered over the boulders, up and

Marmot on Mount Evans

down, here and there… until they eventually tired and lay down for a nap. The last goat standing stopped on top of a boulder with the beautiful blue Colorado sky in the background and posed for a bit, allowing for what was arguably the best images of the morning!

The trip down the mountain was also fruitful, as we saw some awesome scenery, a couple of herds of bighorn sheep and a few chubby and fairly friendly members of the marmot population. There was a considerable delay as one herd of the sheep had decided to own the road for a while, backing traffic up in both directions. the main attraction / problem here was a youngster who couldn’t quite decide where he wanted to be. So he was all over the road, at times worrying his mother as he climbed the embankment on the high side.

Bighorn Sheep on Mount Evans

Eventually we reached the end of the treacherous road at Echo lake, however the day was far from done. A recent tip from a parks ranger had us on the trail of the elusive moose at Jefferson Lake, a place neither of us had ever been. It appeared Guanella Pass out of Georgetown was going to be the quickest and most direct route so down the mountain we went, to Idaho Springs and I70 over to Georgetown and the entrance to the pass. Guanella pass is now a pleasant completely paved byway past Mount Bierstadt and down along beautiful Geneva Creek, eventually to Highway 285 and a short jaunt to the west to the town of Jefferson which is also the highway 77 junction and a shortcut back to Highway 24 near Lake George. So what looked like a difficult and long trip to this newly discovered wildlife area actually turned out to be pretty conveniently situated as a place we can visit regularly, less than half the distance to Waterton Canyon and on paved roads all the way except for the last few miles back into the recreation area! Plus I discovered that my season pass to Eleven Mile Canyon is also good at the new recreation area 🙂

Red-Tail Hawk

As we entered into the fee area it became obvious that this was indeed excellent moose country. The lady ranger told us where the huge beasts could be found, but unfortunately none had been seen in recent days. Two trips through the beautiful wetlands produced only tracks, no actual moose.

By this time the day was well spent and we decided to take Highway 77 down past Tarryall Reservoir for one last attempt at seeing some of the large lowland animals. We soon discovered that we were in prime red-tailed hawk country and were able to capture some excellent images of the beautiful raptors in flight in the golden light of dusk. Here at the computer looking over the images in Photoshop I can see that I have garnered some of the best raptor in flight images that I have captured!

All in all it was a hugely successful day and I will be at the computer for some time processing, uploading and printing the best of the best  🙂

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Mountain Goats on Mount Evans

Beautiful Eleven Mile Canyon

Whitewater in the Platte

Please enjoy this short film of the whitewater in Eleven Mile Canyon! I was hoping to spot the eagles and the osprey but I had to settle for the beauty and power of the roaring whitewater on the South Platte River. I did enjoy setting up the tripod for some long exposures of the water which due to my early arrival I was able to accomplish without an ND filter.

I was fortunate to spot a small herd of bighorn sheep along Highway 67 on my way home and was able to get a few nice captures and a nice video of the big animals interacting along the mountainside!

Bighorn Sheep Herd

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Waterton Collection and New Photoshop Techniques

Working on some new stuff these days… I finally have enough images of beautiful Waterton Canyon to make a separate collection on my website for them.  Included in this amazing category are tons of bighorn sheep, beaver, deer and the lovely pristine waters of the South Platte River as it streams out of the Rockies on it’s way through eastern Colorado and Nebraska, all the way to it’s destination as it joins the Mighty Missouri River near Omaha.

Bighorn Sheep Waterton

Fortunately I was able to add a few more to the new Waterton Collection today from our latest mountain bike adventure yesterday. The sheep weren’t too active on such a lazy beautiful early winter day but we were lucky to see Scruff all by himself making his way past the cliffs and up to higher ground where he would enjoy his day from the lofty heights of the canyon walls.

Bighorn sheep herd in Waterton Canyon Colorado

As we rode up the rugged road we did spot the entire herd  resting up on a grassy mountainside, not a very photogenic scene but a welcome sighting anyway. As we waited and hoped for them to come down for a drink in the river a rumor emerged that a beaver was busy building a new lodge near the diversion dam at the 2.5 mile marker near the picnic grounds.

Beaver in Waterton Canyon

We decided to take a quick ride up there to see if we could get a shot of the little guy hard at work. Indeed, we did catch a few glimpses of the hard working wilderness construction worker as he brought a few sticks from upstream to add to his new home which will hopefully house up to six of the photogenic aquatic rodents in the near future!

After a small lunch at the nearby picnic grounds we headed back down for another look at the sheep herd which had barely moved in the hour or so that we were upstream. We watched for about 45 minutes for any sign of action before giving up and heading back to the truck.

I’ve been messing around with a couple of features that I’ve never felt the need for in the past, the radial and graduated filters now available in Adobe Camera Raw. Others have been using these features to create much more dramatic images so I guess I’m going to have to keep up!

Bighorn Sheep Waterton

Anyway, I have been using the radial filter on certain wildlife images, mainly the portrait style captures of bighorn sheep. I just click on the animal’s head, adjust the ellipse to cover a pleasing area of the face and horns, select invert selection to adjust only the background and less important parts of the subject and make adjustments to darken or brighten the background as needed to make the face stand out more. You can also adjust the percent of feathering to make the transition in the mask less noticeable. In this particular image I left the face alone and darkened the back part of his body and the cliff walls to create a more dramatic effect.

South Platte River in Waterton Canyon

The use of the graduated filter is more obvious, darken or lighten certain parts of the image to correct uneven lighting. To use this I just select the filter and drag up or down to set the direction of the effect. You an also change the angle of the horizon to match the needs of the image as well.  In this image the contrast between the dark and light parts of the river was too great to create a useful image so I used a dark filter on the top half to calm down the intense brightness of the sunshine on the water.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile CanyonAs the action in the bighorn sheep rut season winds down I am looking forward to the next great mating season in Colorado. The time of the eagle migration and mating season is nearly upon us and rumor has it that a few of the  great raptors have already been gathering in Eleven Mile Canyon. I am also looking forward to up to 50 bald eagles making their winter visit to Barr Lake State Park next month to fish and look for a mate! Be sure to hit the follow button so you don’t miss any upcoming action in the Colorado wilderness!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Bighorns in the Water

Another magnificent morning in beautiful Waterton Canyon… That seems like such an understatement! When photo associate Kevin and I arrived, a small part of the herd was already on it’s way down the embankment and into the river for a

Waterton Bighorn

crossing to the rugged cliffs on the south side. I would have never dreamed that such an inhospitable place would be their choice location for the day! But there they were, standing precariously often pushing and shoving, on the towering cliffs along the South Platte River. We remained at that location for quite some time, watching and photographing the nerve wracking action!

Waterton Bighorn in the Platte

A crowd began to gather upstream where another part of the herd was coming down from the mountains to the north, and we decided to move on, choosing to photograph in the brighter light of sunshine on that side. While we worked the north side rumors began to spread of a bigger herd a few miles up the canyon and eventually we decided to ride up past the dam and check it out. The river is more beautiful there, and more accessible to sheep and photographers alike!

Pair of Waterton Bighorn

As we neared the location a couple of rams were walking down the dirt path towards us. We readied our cameras and got a few shots of the regal creatures striding towards us. It wasn’t long before they too entered the river for a crossing to the prize grass on the other side, affording us a great opportunity for some awesome images if the sheep wading through the beautiful pristine waters of the South Platte River.

Bighorn River Crossing

Soon a very large herd of the massive beasts began to make it’s way down the mountains and onto the dirt road and we had an amazing good time watching them interact and cross back and forth across the river in search of the lush grasses along the riverbank.

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Rams at the River

A beautiful autumn day in Colorado lured me to Waterton Canyon where I hoped that I would have the opportunity to photograph the bighorn sheep rams coming down to the river too cool off and maybe even practice their fighting skills in preparation for the upcoming rut season.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As always in Waterton Canyon, my trusty mountain bike would carry me upstream along the South Platte River to the best sheep viewing locations. As I rode along my eyes scanned the canyon walls for signs of action among the wildlife. I have only seen the bears one time, but I always hope for another sighting! On the way in I did encounter a hawk, but by the time I was ready to shoot he was long gone.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

Eventually I reached the upper dam where I have had good luck photographing them coming down the opposite bank. Sure enough, I spotted a big ram making his way out from the shady oasis on the cliff side where they seem to be residing lately. As I watched and waited more and more of their band began to emerge from the darkness of the shade under the pine trees growing right out of the rock. Then suddenly as if  the boss had put the word out, they all rushed down to the side of the river for a drink 🙂

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

As they crowded into the lush grass on the embankment, they occasionally would clunk their heads together as they jockeyed for position along the beautiful south bank of the river. I was fortunate to be able to film a couple of the encounters, the collision of horns ringing out like a gunshot through the valley.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Canyon Autumn

The rams remained at water’s edge for about an hour and a half before heading back up the embankment towards their shady spot. I slowly rode back downstream, looking carefully for more sheep and other wildlife that I might encounter. Eventually I spotted a small herd of females and lambs peeking over the cliff on the north side of the canyon so I stopped for a few shots of that action. They eventually came down and joined a larger group that were just lying in the shade on this hot lazy autumn day.

Autumn Colors on the South Platte River

Finally the lighting was just too terrible for photography so headed for home where later in the day I got some nice fall foliage along another part of the South Platte.

For your enjoyment I have also created a nice five minute multimedia video for my YouTube channel, of the rams coming down to the river and occasionally banging heads as they prepare for the upcoming rut season ! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons more of my images are displayed!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

A Wild Weekend

A wild weekend indeed, starting with the Waterton Canyon bighorn sheep herd! Camera buddy Kevin and I arrived at the trailhead not too long after sunrise hoping to see the big rams somewhere along the riverside trail.

_MG_1910.jpg

A stiff chilly breeze was blowing down the canyon on the way up, enough for cold fingers and ears! Knowing that the window for seeing the animals is wide and unpredictable, we took our time on the ride up. Without seeing any sign of the beasties, we arrived at the picnic area just beyond the crossover bridge and decided to take a long break to rest up and wait for the rams to come down from the high peaks towering above the canyon.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Autumn

Eventually we decided to ride back down and wait by the old dam where the rams often come down for a drink of water from the river.  I imagine we whiled away another hour talking and visiting with hikers and other mountain bike riders. Finally when we were just about ready to give up we heard a holler from from another guy that was resting with us… he was pointing in the direction of the cliffs so we hopped on our bikes and headed over to see what was up!

And there they were, at least eight rams hanging around on the cliff side, snacking on the dry mountain grass and occasionally butting heads to practice up for the upcoming rut season. Eventually they meandered down to the river where we tried to reach the shoreline without bothering them too much and got a few shots of them getting a drink.

Bighorn Sheep in Waterton Autumn

Figuring the show was over for a few hours anyway, we decided to call it a day. however on the way down we ran into the ewe and youngster herd, and they also were on their way down for a drink. A nice bonus to round out an already great day 🙂 In addition to some fun still pictures, I managed to remember to shoot some video as well… I didn’t have my fluid head tripod along so my footage isn’t that great but I did put together a nice montage set to music for my YouTube channel. If you like, be sure to subscribe to my channel! I am still a few subscribers short of being able to get a custom URL for my channel!

Red-tailed Hawk

Another bonus for the wild weekend was a red-tailed hawk sighting this morning. I wasn’t prepared for a bird in flight picture when he took off, but with a 500th of a second shutter speed I managed to get a couple nice ones 🙂

Today will of course be spent processing and backing up hundreds of images. Perhaps if I get done soon enough maybe I’ll start getting my gear ready for our annual pilgrimage to Rocky Mountain National Park! I’m definitely going to have a list this year… Last year I forgot my sleeping bag and only had my winter parka to use as a blanket… Froze my butt off… almost literally!

For your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons of my images are displayed!

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal!

Red-tailed Hawk