What do you want to shot in the Winter?
NOTE: Unless otherwise stated these tour options can be part of a 3.5, 6, or 8 hour trip.
Sunrise options can be adjusted to start after sunrise as well, but when it happens sunrise is the best photographic time of day in the winter.
Don't see the option you want, we can customize a trip just for you.
NOTE: There will be construction on Bear Lake Road through 2013. This is not the main road in the park, but is the best hiking, snowshoeing, and alpine lake photo area in the park.
Currently the National Park Service has not announced the Spring and Summer Construction schedule. There may be night closures. During the Winter into Spring there are no closures.
Winter Wildlife - All Winter - In the winter season we generally see Elk, Mule Deer, and Coyotes nearly everyday. The Big Horn Sheep are very weather dependent and show up when we have enough snow through most of the winter. In March and after they become very easy to find. We also find Pine Squirrels, Abert's Squirrels, Magpies, and very rarely redtail hawks and eagles. Generally best morning and evenings.
Mule Deer Rut - Nov. 10th - Dec. 15th - The rut season for Mule Deer can often bring out some monster bucks and the mule deer are very easy to see in the evenings. We often combine a trip looking for Mule Deer with chances for Sheep, Elk, and Coyote shots. 70% chance to see.
Coyotes - All Winter - The Coyotes are very active in the mid morning through mid afternoon. They are generally alone, but sometimes in a small pack hunting small rodents. We can often get within 40 yards, and sometimes they are just outside the car window. Its a great time to get them leaping through the grass. 65% chance to see.
Snowshoe Hare - All Winter - Snowshoe Hares are generally only found in the last hour and a half of the evening. These targets require snowshoeing less than a quarter mile one way, some patience, and a bit of luck. Fast lenses and high ISO are also required, even then its probably only a 50% chance we can locate and photograph these amazing white rabbits..err...hares.
Big Horn Sheep - Nov. - Feb. - Through most of the winter Big Horn Sheep are a 50/50 probability. The chances increase dramatically if we have a snow of more than 4 inches the day or so before. There are a few locations outside of the park we can visit for sheep as well. Outside the park the sheep are best seen morning and evening. Inside the park they are more often seen mid morning through mid afternoon, generally in very natural settings. 50% chance to see.
Big Horn Sheep - March - Late winter the Big Horn Sheep become very common. The park population is high on ewes but with some luck we can find Rams. 65% chance to see.
Scavenging Animals - Feb. - March - Late winter is the time the elk and deer die due to the harsh Rocky Mountain winters so when we are lucky enough to find a fallen animal the photo opts can be right out of National Geographic. You can see Coyotes, hawks, and magpies around the carcass. 5% chance to see.
Elk Sparring - Very often in the morning and evening the Bull Elk congregate and we can get some great shots. They will often spar with each other as long as the winter hasn't been too harsh. Just a note the elk loose their antlers around March 10th-15th, so if you want to see animals with racks show up before then. 80% chance to see but happens very quick.
NOTE: Sunrises in the winter are very random and extremely weather dependent. Early in the winter only about 40% of the mornings we get great color in the mountains. Later in winter the chances for a good sunrise generally increases to about 60%. Often we have to adjust plans, so sunrise is a real bet in the winter but when it comes its a great gambel.
Mummy Range Sunrise - In the winter months the sun's rays hit the Mummy Range the best. There is a location along the road we can shot, or hike up a nearby hillside for an amazing panorama of both the Mummy Range and the Front Range including Longs Peak. If we shot by the road it requires a 30 minute before sunrise start. The hiking destination which is less than a quarter mile but has a 20-40% uphill grade requires a start time 45 minute before sunrise.
Horseshoe Park Sunrise - If your looking for rippling ice to reflect the morning color then Horseshoe Park is your place. The Mummy Range gets the best morning light all winter and this is a quick and easy set of locations to get to. Sunrise happens fast so you want to prepare your location as the exposed ice changes from week to week. The start time required is 35 minutes before sunrise.
Moraine Park Sunrise - Moraine Park offers a great view of the mountains with the Big Thompson River running through a grassy meadow. This shot is best March 1st and later. This is a drive up location which requires a start of 30 minutes before sunrise. From there we can hit a variety of landscape locations or search for wildlife. We can also strap on the snowshoes and head into the mountains for post sunrise landscapes.
Dream Lake Snowshoe Sunrise and Ice Abstract Combo (3.5 or 6 hour tour) Easy to Medium Hike - Sunrise at Dream Lake is one of the best 1 mile hike photo spots in the park, and it produces some fantastic photos. This tour requires a start of 1 hour and 30 minutes before sunrise. It is an easy snowshoe hike for fit individuals, medium difficulty for folks from lower elevations and are not as active. After sunrise we can head out onto the ice and shot Ice Abstracts of the world famous ice on Dream Lake. In the 6 hour option we will continue up to Emerald Lake which offers even more great mountain views and some great ice. On the way down hill we can stop at Nymph Lake for landscapes and Bear Lake which has some great ice sickles.
NOTE: Due to Bear Lake Construction, this option may not be available if there are night closures. Unfortunately the closures are only announced 2 weeks prior, so we may need alternate options if you book this option.
Ice Patterns - December - March - There are some places many folks aren't aware of that produce some fantastic ice patterns. Its a great option to focus on for an hour or two, or to visit after shooting sunrise. This location is over a march so there is no risk of falling through the ice.
Ice Sickles - There are a few locations that produce great ice sickles. every year and most are just a short walk.
Ice Abstracts - Rocky Mountain National Park is home to some of the most interesting subalpine lake ice in the US. We'll strap on the snowshoes and hike up to Dream Lake and possibly Emerald Lake to shoot the ice abstracts. We can also shot the landscapes there.