If you have never experienced the piercing scream of a bull elk during the rut, you’re in for a treat during this “ELK RUT Photo Tour 2021”!
If you have witnessed the elk rut, you know what an awesome experience it is to hear and photograph the bulls in action.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the go-to spot for elk-rut photography. That’s where we’ll spend our mornings and late afternoons capturing the drama and majesty of these giant deer (ground transportation included in your tour) during mating season.
When not occupied by rutting elk we’ll go in search of other wildlife & landscape shots (including Copeland Falls). With some luck we’ll also train our lenses on the world’s biggest deer species (Alces alces), better known as moose. (No promises, but we’ll look hard!)
This time of year is really special! The aspens will be changing and pikas will be busily laying in a last batch of hay before winter sets in. Also keep an eye out for mule deer, yellow-bellied marmots, black bear, bighorn sheep, pikas, beavers, and more!
Limited to six (6) photographers. ALL-INCLUSIVE:
- Most meals (See note below about breakfast.)
- Lodging [double-occupancy]
- Ground transportation — airport pickup included
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is an estimated schedule & we’ll do our best to stick to this itinerary, but certain conditions may necessitate changes. Good photographic experiences & plenty of chances to view wildlife remain goal at all times.
Monday September 20:
Get settled in your Estes Park hotel (double-occupancy lodging included) — with its Rocky Mountain view — then meet for our Welcome Dinner.
This dinner — as well as most of your other meals** through breakfast on Friday, September 24th — is included in your ELK RUT Photo Tour 2021.
** Please refer to meal information below.
September 21 & 22:
We’ll head out in the pre-dawn to catch the elk as they wrap up a night of carousing. Mature males (“bulls“) have spent the night bugling and bargaining in the hopes of adding females (“cows“) to their “harems.”
Bull elk challenge one another by bellowing and walking back and forth to assess one another’s prowess. If neither backs down, the challenge is on! We may get to watch — and photograph — them battling one another with their antlers.
Once the elk fade back into the forest we will seek landscape photography opportunities. This time of year, brilliant yellows, golds, and oranges paint these scenes in shades of autumn. Deciduous aspen and cottonwoods nestled into evergreen conifers make for some great images.
Come afternoon we’ll stake out our spot for the evening elk party.
Overnight: Estes Park
Thursday September 23:
The morning begins as did the 21st and 22nd: with an elk-rut photo shoot followed by shooting landscapes.
After breakfast, we’ll check out of our Estes Park hotel & head up the famous Trail Ridge Road.
Plan to stop along the way for photo ops and also at the top where marmots and pika zip about. The mountain vistas are breathtaking here!
Spend your final night of the tour in the town of Grand Lake, which is where the Colorado River begins. After checking in and a small rest, it’s time to explore these new environs for photogenic wildlife and landscapes.
Overnight: Grand Lake
Friday September 24:
Our final photo shoot of the tour takes place this morning. After the elk hit the sack and the sweet light fades, we’ll eat breakfast together a final time.
Be sure to exchange contact info with your new friends before we journey back over the mountains and home!
WHAT YOU CAN LEARN ON THIS TOUR:
- How to do pan blurs
- Tips for wildlife photography
- Techniques to get images featuring silky smooth waterfalls
- How to get a starburst in your image
- How to master manual exposure (& when it’s better than priority exposures)
- How to understand what your histogram is telling you
- Tips for landscape images
A note about instruction on my photo tours:
Since skills levels vary so much on photo tours, I tailor my teaching to individual needs. Please do not be shy about telling me what you need.
- Double-occupancy accommodations for four (4) nights.
- Most meals (see meal info below) & non-alcoholic drinks from the first night of the tour through breakfast the last day of the tour.
- Ground transportation, including airport pick up & drop off for those who fly into Denver.
- Jeff’s guidance, instruction and image review throughout (reviews after you return home, too).
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:
Any lodging outside the tour dates. Travel insurance, alcoholic beverages, medical expenses, laundry service or any other personal items.
LOGISTICS, EQUIPMENT & SUCH:
There are minimal physical requirements for this tour. Some shot locations may be on inclines or rocky terrain. It will depend on the elk activity and the fall foliage.
The hike to Copeland Falls is short — just over 1/2 mile round trip — and has an elevation gain of only 15 feet.
Estes Park is at an elevation of 7500 feet and Grand Lake is at about 8300 feet.
Click on this EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST (PDF) to see what equipment I suggest you bring along. You do NOT have to own it all nor bring it all.
If you have any questions about suitable or minimum equipment needed, please do not hesitate to contact me.
The nearest airport is Denver International Airport (airport code: DIA).
We will provide airport pickup & dropoff if you’re flying into Denver (in addition to other ground transportation during the tour).
LODGING, MEALS & TRANSPORTATION:
This tour is all-inclusive, double-occupancy. Singles are only available for those who sign up far ahead of time and even at then are extremely limited. Please email me if you’re interested in single-occupancy.
Meals are provided from dinner Monday night to breakfast Friday morning. IMPORTANT: Due to shoot times & logistics we’re unable to go to breakfast before our morning shoots. We will provide healthy snacks (e.g. apples, KindBars, nuts, etc.) in the field, but highly recommend you pack breakfast items in case you need more for breakfast. We enjoy an early lunch as soon as the morning shoot is over. The timing of dinner will depend upon the evening shoot.
Ground transportation — including Denver airport pickup and dropoff — is included. Please plan to arrive in Denver by 4:00 pm.
GENERAL INFO / SIGN UP:
- DURATION: 4 days, 4 nights
- DATES: Monday, September 20 — Friday, September 24, 2021
- PRICE: $2495 ~ ALL-INCLUSIVE
- SPACE FOR: Six (6)
- DEPOSIT AMOUNT: $500
- PAYMENT DUE DATES: A total of half the cost of the tour due 6-months before departure. Remaining balance due 60 days prior to start date of tour.
Please read our Cancellation Policy before purchasing.(Follow the provided link or go to link under “MORE” on sidebar to the right.) Thanks!
- If Covid-19 virus-related issues affect your ability to attend the workshop you will be issued a full refund or credit toward any of our future events.
- In the event that we are forced to cancel due to a Covid-19-related issue you will be issued a full refund or credit toward any of our future events.
At the start of each event, we’ll ask you to sign this liability waiver. We encourage you to review it before signing up.
COVID-19: If a Covid-19 vaccine is still not widely available when this tour takes place:
- …participants will be asked to wear a mask when within six (6) feet of others (except when with a travel companion and/or lodging roommate).
- …when possible we will dine outdoors to minimize the opportunity for virus transmission. If you prefer not to dine with the group take-out will usually be an option.