Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park – 2020

Fall is hands-down my favorite season. I plan photography trips months in advance with the excitement really kicking in when the first leaves in the mountains start to change in late August. Then the days become noticeably shorter and the mornings a little cooler and a little crisper.  Finally, by late September it’s prime time for fall colors and wildlife photography.

When I lived in Washington State, I’d travel to the Cascades to photograph the larches. In California I’d travel to the eastern Sierra. And in Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park has often been a second home during fall.

Below are a few of my favorites from this fall, all taken during the last week of September. 

This fall wasn’t the best for the aspens in terms of their yellow leaves, but you can always find pockets of great color.
The less visited west-side of the Park, while having fewer Aspens overall, had the best display of colors this year (in my opinion). 
The Bear Lake area of the Park is popular for a reason. It’s where I always send people when they ask for recommendations for their first visit. Here, Hallett Peak, is framed by the aspens and boulders surrounding Bear Lake. 
More of those aspens and boulders. I could photograph for hours among these trees. Unlike photography during other times of the year, as the sun rises higher into the sky, the light can actually improve in the tree canopy as the light filters through the yellow leaves (whereas during the summer, the light can become quite harsh with a lot of shadows).
You’re not supposed to be able to photograph wildlife with a large zoom and a long exposure, but this guy – apparently one of the older and larger elk in the herd – sat so still in the predawn light that I got away with it. It turned out to be one my favorites from the trip.
On our final day, we saw this bull in the field but he was a little too far away to photograph. So, we left, took down our tent and then returned to find him again. This time I hung out with him for about an hour working my way around him to find some good angles and then patiently waited for him to look my direction.

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