Fall in Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks

September 2021  |  Wyoming

When I was a Freshman in College back in the mid 80's, I had an opportunity to travel with my family out West. That trip sparked a passion in me for the West that has never subsided. There is just something about the vast landscape of the West. Compared to the Eastern U.S. where I grew up and reside today, the mountains are so much bigger and the views around every corner just seem to go on forever. One thing the West does not have that we have back East, is the variety of trees. Besides the evergreens in Colorado, the two most prominent trees I can think of are the Aspens and the Cottonwoods. It is just rare to get the variety of Fall colors that we get in the Appalachian Mountains. But the Golden leaves set against the white trunks of the Aspens is a site to behold.


Captured this image from afar with my 100-400mm lends handheld. Saw this when I was driving on a dirt road looking for wildlife. Loved how the setting sun was illuminating the tips of the trees.


Found this area on last day in the Tetons along a dirt road. Would have liked to have been here an hour or so earlier, but flew out the next morning and was not able to revisit. Loved the variety of colors and textures in the foreground and the trees.

You can still find variety here as the tundra tends to take on different colors of reds, yellows, and purple making for a nice contrast to the Aspens. Some places like this are along the roads while others are long drives down rutted out dirt roads that sometimes involve off trail hiking to get to the spot I want.

The one thing about the Tetons is the fact that most of the Sunrise locations are typically right along the roadside. That is both a blessing and a curse. It is easier to get to for people that may not be in the best physical shape. But it also affords a multitude of people to pull in and witness the sunrise, whether they are photographers or not.


My favorite scenes at sunrise and sunset almost always contain clouds in the sky. But many times in the mountains just before the sun peaks above the horizon, the sky turns this beautiful magenta color for a very short time. It does help with the cloudless sky, but I would say I still prefer some clouds that hold some color, texture, and depth.

This area is known as "the Oxbow" on the Snake River and is absolutely beautiful during the Fall Season, especially if the colors are right and the winds are calm. This image was taken before the official Sunrise and even though it was a cloudless morning, the pink and magenta skies made for a beautiful morning. But because of the easy accessibility of the area, we arrived almost two hours before sunrise to get down to the water's edge so we could avoid other photographers from being in our shot.

Lavender Skies

This was one of two mornings we had clouds, and I had hoped the clouds and color would have been more above Mt. Moran. But in typical fashion, things did not quite line up as I had hoped. Nevertheless, still came away with some nice images this morning.

The Tetons are nowhere near the size of Yellowstone, but there is plenty of exploring to be done in this smaller park. I found this spot for the first time that required a good bit of walking from a more popular spot that was further up the dirt road. It is by no means a secret, but it was a nice surprise when I found it and was able to get there for the sunrise and have the place all to ourselves.


Immeasurable - incapable of being measured, limitless. That is what the Lord is. And to think He created the Heavens and the earth. For you and me to enjoy. To witness such scenes as this and give all the Glory to God. He does this because He loves us. He knows everything about us. And yes, He still loves us. Sent a good friend an image of my family today, and he proclaimed how blessed I am; to which I replied, "undeservingly so, but so thankful for His goodness towards me and my family. Thank you Lord for memories such as these with my family that I will always cherish.

Peace on Earth

When most of us think about peace, we think of a scene like this with not another soul around. And yet there were some 50 other people here this morning, most not photographers, but only to come witness the beauty of these mountains at sunrise. Unfortunately, there is not much peace today in a world where if we disagree, we are enemies. We have to get back to being ok with not agreeing, but still working towards the greater good. United we stand, divided we fall.

In contrast to the previous image, this image was a mere 30 yards from the gravel parking lot. And there were more spectators than photographers. People simply wanting to come out and see the sunrise while possibly snapping a few shots with their phones. In instances like this, you just have to arrive well before sunrise as most of the non-photographers arrive 15 minutes before official sunrise. And in my opinion, miss some of the best colors of the morning. I am typically packing my gear up shortly after the sun kisses the top of the peaks, as I feel the scene becomes too bright and washed out once the sun is fully up.


I had many conversations this past week about the difference in the Tetons and Colorado. As I had conveyed that I did not come to Wyoming for the aspens, but for the grand views just like this one. It is not to say that Colorado does not have grand views, or that Wyoming does not have Aspens. Just that each place is known for it's own thing. In this case, I got a bog view with some nice Aspen gold to top it off.

Shot this panoramic image before heading to Yellowstone for the day. Hit Moose Falls at just the right time and the fog in the trees really added to the scene as the God Beams were shining on the Falls.


Moose Falls is a nice little spot just outside of the Tetons with a short walk from the parking area. I have photographed here several times before, but never made it early enough before the sun completely washed out the falls and surrounding rocks. This morning we made it early enough and has some nice beams of light from the mist rising from the water.

My advice for coming away with some beautiful images, is to do your research and find what types of images you want to take and find the best locations to create these images. Just make sure to give yourself enough space and freedom to come away with some original stuff as well. Of course there are iconic shots that most people will be drawn to, but those locations and shots are iconic for a reason. The most important thing is bringing back work that you are Both pleased with and proud of.

Morning Rumination

Another sunrise from a nice quiet spot along the beaver ponds on the snake river. First thing in the morning before the sun makes an appearance, it begins to set aglow the peaks of the Teton range. Unfortunately, one can not get this beautiful glow and the aspens being lit in the foreground simultaneously. By the time the foreground is hit with the first beams of light, the skies have gone flat. So two unique images minutes apart from the same place.

I will have new work in the Gallery from my Yellowstone/Teton Fall trip in the coming weeks. Be sure to check back or feel free to contact me for more information or any questions I can answer for you.

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