Rocky Mountain National Park Collection

This year’s photo adventure to the Rocky Mountain National Park was extraordinary, so much so that I’ve decided to add a new collection just for the park into my website. Included in this collection are my favorite landscape images of the lakes and mountains, including Trail Ridge Road, Sprague Lake, Bear Lake, moose, elk, Moraine Park and much more. Also included are sunsets, sunrises, weather, winter, summer and autumn. Check back often as I’m still adding images as quickly as I can from this trip where almost 3000 captures were added to my vast collection of images! The Rocky Mountain National Park Collection can be viewed by click the link!

 

 

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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!

Coyote on the Hunt
 

Pre-Trip Adrenalin

It’s almost time… our annual pilgrimage to Rocky Mountain National Park to see the elk rut. Actually it kicked in last night, that nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach that won’t let you sleep. I hate that feeling, the uncertainty, the wondering if everything is ready, if I have forgotten something. I finally managed to fall asleep but I was already awake again at 3:00 this morning 😦

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

I did catch a break though while I was drinking my coffee and watching wildlife videos on YouTube. I was kind of half asleep watching a video on setting up the Canon R7 for wildlife, one which I had already watched before, when I heard a tidbit that I had never noticed… The “Wild Alaska” guy said on the main AF settings he leaves “tracking set to off, that way you can turn it on and off with a button. If you set it to on it is always on.”. Now I had noticed that tracking wasn’t behaving properly, I programmed the exposure lock button to turn on and off tracking but it seemed tracking was always immediately coming right back on and disrupting my focus point selection. Well I did what he said and switched the main tracking setting to off and now my programmed button works the way I want it to. That’s an important setting for me because it is quite often that I need to have a very precise focus point to aim through branches or grass to grab right onto the animal. Also important when you set animal tracking to off, go ahead and leave animal eye focus turned on.

The second minor issue I got ironed out this morning while setting that up is that the lock button also locks in a focus point. I couldn’t get the joy stick to change the location of my points and finally determined that on my last photo outing I had used the lock button to lock down the exposure. I didn’t realize it also locked up the focus points, so that and the tracking issue were awesome things to get ironed out BEFORE the trip!

So it turned out that last year’s trip was a bit to early in the month and we missed peak rut season, but despite that I got some great video of the elk herd in action and one of my favorite elk pictures (above) of all time! Click here to see the full video on my YouTube channel!

Well anyway, I hope to be able to post some phone videos to my channel throughout the trip so stay tuned!

Miracle in the Morning

Foggy Eleven Mile

There’s only one word I can think of to describe yesterday’s photo trip… and that is “Stunning!”. The journey was underway before the first rays of sun began to warm the mountainsides so my first goal was to just not hit an elk or deer with my truck before sunrise. As I pulled into the meeting place at Eleven Mile Canyon a few golden rays of sunshine revealed a layer of fog that had settled in over the cool early autumn morning. I was prepared for wildlife photography, but the beauty of the canyon in the morning forced me to dig into my camera bag for my 18-150mm landscape lens for a few shots of the scene unfolding before me!

Soon Kevin arrived and our trip was underway. The plan was to drive straight to Jefferson Lake about an hour’s ride to the north, to look for moose. Many times we have made the trip in vain, only once have we ever seen a moose. On a dreary rainy afternoon a couple years ago we saw one cow moose with her two calves under the darkness of the pine canopy, but we had never seen the great beasts feeding in the beauty of the shimmering beaver ponds in the soft golden glow of early morning light.

Foggy Elk Herd

The trip was barely underway however when I spotted movement in the dense fog. A closer look revealed a herd of elk in an open meadow. It looked to be three big bulls with around 20 cows. We were careful not to scare them into jumping the fence, something our Rocky Mountain elk don’t seem to be very adept at doing. The bulls knew better than to let the herd run out onto the highway, quickly rounding up the group and moving them east toward the safety of the forest and away from the threat of humans. Eventually the majestic animals settled down and we had the opportunity to shoot away for a while, until the scene was adequately captured

Bald Eagle

A few more miles down the road and a giant bird was spotted in a tree along Highway 77, otherwise known as Tarryall Road. The majestic bird didn’t quite look like the usual red-tailed hawks that usually line the roadway and closer inspection revealed an amazing bald eagle. We carefully exited the car, hoping to capture a few images before the great bird took flight. However as it turns out, the eagle had no interest in vacating his perch, especially not for a couple of photographers consigned to the other side of the barbed wire fence. So we photographed and waited, moved around and waited… until it became apparent that the big raptor was not going to fly. With the hope of moose still before us, the decision was made to abandon the position and head for the beaver ponds.

Pair of Moose

Soon we were rumbling down the rough dirt road leading to the beaver ponds just hoping for a miracle. As we drew near I spotted a huge black figure moving in the mist and the foliage… A moose, and a big bull at that! We found a  good place to pull over and prepared for a few fleeting moments with a bull moose, an amazing event indeed! Much to our surprise the great beast wasn’t too impressed with us and continued his morning feeding only a few yards in front of us. Eventually I was confident that I had some good captures but soon another huge bull came into view… Would it be possible to capture two bulls in the same image, the answer soon came as both animals stepped into the shimmering waters of the beaver ponds with beautiful autumn foliage behind them. The huge beasts slowly made their way across the pond, allowing every possible angle and lighting opportunity. Before it was over I had over 1,000 captures of the powerful and elusive animals logged onto my memory card! It was only 9:30 in the morning and we already achieved  more than we could have possibly dreamed for!

Red-tail Hawk

The only question then was, do we just call it a day or keep pressing for more? The light was still good enough for some hawk pictures so we went back a couple of miles down Tarryall Road again where we knew the red-tailed hawks would be lining the road from their vantage points high on power poles. I was hoping for a capture of a hawk with the beautiful peaks of the Mosquito Range behind them and it wasn’t long before I had accomplished that goal as well! Although it wasn’t until I had brought them up on the desktop computer at home that I was able to see the extent of that success! I didn’t know it out in the field but I had captured exactly the image I was hoping for!

From there it was onward to Antero and Eleven Mile Reservoirs where we were able to capture additional images of more red-tails, white-faced ibis, killdeer, horned larks, and even a herd of American Bison!

I hope you all enjoy a few more images from this fantastic day!!

 

 

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

Pure Joy

That’s about all I can say about my morning of photography. The title came to me when I was filming a little vesper sparrow singing his heart out on the summit of Grouse Mountain. Click the link to the video here if you would like to experience two minutes of joy :)There was also a little house wren at the parking lot singing an equally beautiful song but I was so busy shooting stills that I forgot to film it. I was glad when I encountered the little sparrow that gave me a chance to record the joyous song 🙂

To round out my joyful morning I also encountered a pair of fox kits playing hard at sunrise. I was lucky that one of them managed to run right toward me during his play session and I got some of the best fox captures ever! Then a red-tailed hawk left his perch high on a power pole to also fly right at me and an elk cow stopped to pose for me. Finally a herd of mule deer wandered past in the warm light of the morning sun and I felt that I had earned a nice cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll at the Gold Camp Bakery 🙂

 

If you enjoy the content and wish to contribute to the cause, please just click the above button and select an amount!

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies”!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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!

A Week in the Park

Finally getting recovered from a long but memorable week in Rocky Mountain National Park. We were on the road by 5:00 a.m. intending to enter the west side of the park by 9:00, as per our timed entry ticket.

Trail Ridge Road

It was a beautiful drive over Trail Ridge until we neared the summit where the view was completely obscured by dense fog. No pictures until over the top and on the way down. We didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the towering peaks, the elk rut was the holy grail of the trip.

A line greeted us at the park entry so we pulled in ready for a wait. But soon a ranger greeted us and we showed him our ticket and my America the Beautiful pass, which was good for a wave past all the lines straight to the front and around the kiosks 🙂 I love my season pass !!!

Trail Ridge Road

We were the filled with anticipation as we neared the meadows of the east side, especially Moraine Park where we expected the usual massive herds to be awaiting us. But what’s this, a kiosk at the entry to the meadows. The kiosk was expected at Bear Lake Road where an extra access ticket would be required to enter the heavily trafficked popular area of the east side, but not before our favorite meadow 😦

Apparently only one ticket per day is allowed so I was unable to add the Bear Lake Access and unable to cancel the current reservation. I felt like Chevy Chase at the gate to Walley World in the first Vacation movie 😦 We learned though that we could enter the Bear Lake Corridor before 5:00 a.m. and after 6:00 p.m. Well, although difficult it appeared that we would be able to see the elk after all.

Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

We ultimately decided to head over to Estes Lake to secure a camp site at the KOA. Nice place with luxurious restrooms, never seen anything like it! Private climate controlled rooms as nice as your bathroom at home, each complete with your own shower… amazing!!!

4:00 a.m. was the wake-up time to make it to Moraine Park by 5:00 where we would wait in the cold until sunrise at 6:30, a scene to be repeated four straight days.

Unfortunately the huge herds of elk never materialized. I don’t know if many never returned after last year’s devastating fires or if the conflagration had altered their routine. In any case we saw a few elk each morning and evening while searching in vain for the Sprague Lake moose before leaving the Corridor.

_MG_7377We whiled the afternoons away by traversing Trail Ridge and crossing over to Poudre Lake to search for the elusive moose. There was an old broken down cow convalescing there but she was in no mood for accommodating the hoard of photographers eager to capture her likeness. She was content to relax in the tall grass, out of the view of our prying lenses.

One afternoon we lucked out and spotted a cow feeding in some unmarked beaver ponds near a picnic area. She watched us watch her for about an hour before wandering off. Others told us there was also a calf so we returned a couple of hours later after lunch but both animals had disappeared by then.

Each day began the same, at 0400 as we became more and more weary from the short cold nights as we slowly added to our collection of wildlife images. The third morning was our most successful as we found ourselves in the midst of a frenzied herd of cows and four bulls.

I was able to capture some awesome video of the crazy scene, the likes of which I’d never seen. Normally a bull will fight to the death to keep intruders out, but this herd had four bulls apparently working together to manage one herd. Once again I wonder, did the terrible fire result in some kind of unknown survival technique we were previously unaware of? There is also a complete video of my adventure in the park including the exciting drive up Fall River Road, a couple of waterfalls and of course all the wildlife!

Our week in the park is regrettably over with, I always feel a twinge of sadness when I have to leave this photographer’s paradise. Now that I’m retired though I really should make the effort to get there more often. A winter trip has long been on my to do list, perhaps this will be the year!

Red-tailed Hawk in Flight

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.

Rocky Mountain National Park 2021

Limited success on our first day in the park… We decided to go in the west side this year and finally reached the entrance at about 9:30 a.m. It was a bit discouraging to see all the fire damage but signs of recovery are already visible!

Not too far in we came across the tail end of a huge herd of elk on their way into the high country and got a couple of nice pictures before they vanished. At Poudre Lake we saw a lone cow moose resting in the tall grass, too far away for pictures. As we rose high onto Trail Ridge the fog thickened to the point where we could barely see. However not too far past the visitor center it cleared up and I got some beautiful mountain pictures

High hopes for a great day in Moraine Park were dashed when we discovered that it is impossible to upgrade your entry pass to include the Bear Lake section which is where all the good stuff is. So all we could do was wait until 6:00 p.m. for general entry to open. We drove around to the locations we could and saw a couple of lone bull elk and one sleeping bull moose.

Layton we discovered that the elk in Moraine Park were waion the inaccessible side, too far away for pictures. Luckily there was one straggler near the road on the way to the campground and he posed for some pictures.

We are hoping for a better day today, we found that if we get in before 5:00 a.m. we can go right to Moraine Park without a pass. We might also try Sprague Lake if we don’t have any luck at the Meadows.

Amazing Alpine Hike with the Elk Herd

Funny how things work out… As I sat sipping my coffee this morning I decided I didn’t want to do any driving today. For one thing gas prices are insane, and for another… I really don’t like spending time on the road. So the plan I worked out included a short drive to my favorite trailhead and a good hard hike.

When I reached the first summit it was so pretty and quiet out that I decided to stop and capture a few seconds of video and post it as a greeting on Facebook. I sat and enjoyed the ambiance for a few minutes while the video clip uploaded and then I headed back down the trail. But then I began to hear the birds singing over in the woods, some song that I didn’t recognize. So I decided to take the hike to the next summit and hoped I might catch a glimpse of the new birds.

Herd of elk in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

As I neared that summit I could see over to the next high peak, and on it was a beautiful herd of elk. I knew if I cleared the summit they would see me and take off, so I quietly got my camera ready and began to film and photograph. As I watched through my long lens I wondered what the cows were looking at so I moved up a bit further and saw that  they were watching over their crop of new calves! It was then that I knew for sure I was going to have to make a real video 🙂

I filmed for awhile and then decided not to disturb them by walking toward them so I just went back down through the forest the way I came. As I neared forest edge a grouse startled me by jumping out of the grass right at my feet and flying into a nearby tree. I got a few seconds of footage of that guy and took a few stills before he grew annoyed with me and flew away for good. But I was glad to see the little fellows have returned to my mountain. They normally like to run along the ground on the high ridges so perhaps I’ll get some better pictures of him another time.

Dusky Grouse in the Morning Light

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video and if you wouldn’t mind and you like the content, please like and subscribe!

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.

A Wildlife Photography Smorgasbord

I wasn’t sure what I would encounter this morning as I made the familiar trip to Eleven Mile Canyon. I knew that shooting the eagles and osprey was going to be an iffy proposition with both species in the midst of their brooding

Herd of Elk

and hatching season. I always look for elk and deer as I pass the beautiful Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. Even though they are rarely spotted, large herds of the magnificent beasts reside there and I always hope to see them.

As I neared the monument I spotted a couple of elk cows out in the open and quickly found a place to pull over. Much to my surprise there were many more scattered around the meadow, all heading my way in a big hurry! Not sure why they were in such a hurry, I guess they just didn’t want to be left behind. I looked across Teller 1 to the west to see what they were moving towards and spotted the bulk of the main herd already waiting on that side. I just started shooting as many of the little groups as I could get my camera focused on… I know these moments are over as quickly as they begin. Later I wished I had shot a little video footage, but the still pictures are my bread and butter and they are often all I have time for.

Bald Eagles at the Nest

Eventually all the animals were on the west side of the highway, relaxing and feeding in a thick patch of reeds as they meandered toward the dense forest to the west. I wanted a capture of the entire herd but by this time all the beasties were facing away from me.

As I approached the entrance to the canyon I noticed that both bald eagles were in the nest so I stopped for a couple of images and some video as they cackled and squawked about something. We now have at least three great blue herons on the lower stretch of river but they were too far away for a meaningful image. A few merganser ducks, a couple of mule deer and some red-winged blackbirds rounded out the big variety of wildlife that were out enjoying a beautiful Colorado spring morning.

I went back to check on the osprey but there was little action at the nest… mama is sitting deep in the nest on the eggs and papa osprey is back on his regular perch high on the ridge to watch for threats, something he seems to have a great amount of patience for! I watched for a while but the cold wind blowing over the ice water of the South Platte River was more than I could handle for very long!

Mule DeerAgain there are far too many images from today to fit them all in this blog post, so please feel free to follow my Instagram page to see  the rest and much much more!

Also watch my Youtube Channel for a short video clip of the eagles!

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.

Merganser Ducks

Sand Hill Cranes and the Dunes

Well we took a much longer road trip than usual yesterday, all the way over to the Great Sand Dunes and the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. The journey started early, with a 3:30 a.m. wake up alarm followed by a sleepy drive over the pass where I met up with Kevin in Divide. We were already heading over Poncha Pass in light snow before the sun even

Sand Hill Cranes

started to rise. One stop for fuel and a gas station cappuccino later we were at our first destination, the wildlife reserve at Monte Vista hoping to spot some sand hill cranes to photograph. We knew we were pushing the limits of the great semi annual migration and the spring flight to the Nebraska Sand Hills, but were still hopeful that we might see a few of the amazing birds lingering behind.

The morning visit yielded a few captures of a small number of the great birds wandering around the refuge but we quickly decided to move on. The plan was to try another refuge located a few miles to the east, near Alamosa called the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge. It was exciting to see the Rio Grande River for the first time, and a beautiful northern harrier, but once again, the visit resulted in limited success.

Northern HarrierOnward to the Great Sand Dunes… It looked like it was going to be a cold dreary day at the dunes as heavy clouds were building over the Sangre de Cristo Range, but really it wasn’t too bad. We hiked a bit in the soft sand but the imposing dunes and the approaching winter weather convinced us that a trip to the summit of the dunes at this time of the day was not in the cards. I did get a few nice pictures of the towering piles of sand and the magnificent

Sangre de Cristo Range though, which I was pretty pumped about 🙂 One thing I learned, even though the wind wasn’t that bad, the fine sand blowing across the surface is not going to be friendly to camera equipment. Next time I’ll bring and old camera and lens with a rain cover over the gear for good measure. And no changing lenses while on the dunes! That fine sand could grind up internal DSLR parts in a hurry!

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

From there we decided another visit to the Monte Vista Refuge was in order. We were hoping some more of the birds had completed their daily travels in pursuit of food and had returned to the wetlands. A quick stop at the riverside viewing area proved the decision to be a good one. Several hundred of the gangly birds had gathered near the viewing area in a large bunch and we had a blast photographing them walking and hopping around as they foraged in the rich  grasses along the banks with a magnificent panorama provided by the snow capped San Juan’s in the background.

_MG_0983Eventually the birds began to squawk and hop around while stretching their wings so we believed that a mass take off was imminent, the very event we had been hoping to photograph. Unfortunately the entire flock didn’t take flight at once but we did get some nice pictures of a number of good sized groups leaving the wetlands for their nightly roosting locations in the fields.

At that point it was  getting late and we decided to head for home… but the photo ops were not completely over with, the view of the western slopes of the Sangre with the afternoon sun shining through storm clouds was magnificent! Some of the scenes were so fantastic that photo stops along the roadside were necessary! And that wasn’t the only excitement on the way home… the wildlife began to come out for the evening and we saw deer, buffalo and a huge herd of elk in the Platte River Valley on the high prairie between the front range and the big mountains of the continental divide.

Beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Today finds me sorting through over a thousand images as I identify the best ones for my website and a few for the YouTube video that I have just completed! I hope you enjoy the video and please don’t forget to give it a thumbs up and hit that subscribe button! My channel is finally beginning to grow with all of your help 🙂

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.

Herd of Elk

 

 

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