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Rocky Mountain National Park Photography

Rocky Mountain National Park

Main elk viewing areas – East side of Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • Moraine Park
  • Horseshoe Park
  • Upper Beaver Meadows

Main elk viewing areas – West side of Rocky Mountain National Park:

  • Harbison Meadow
  • Holzwarth Meadow
  • Throughout the Kawuneeche Valley

Click here to download a map of the park.

The quieter side to stay in Rocky Mountain National Park is near the Grand Lake area entrance is where you will most likely find moose. Of course, early morning and at their dinner time is the best time to go looking. Take a look at the image to the right. We, unfortunately, did not get a good moose picture. It was taken before we ate breakfast on the Grand Lake side of the town in the Kuawuneeche Valley, where many moose call home.

We ate Sagebrush BBQ and Grill for dinner and liked it so much we went back for breakfast.  Go early for any breakfast. There are lines everywhere at your quick take-out places.  Better yet, bring a thermos in your suitcase, pack your meal to go and get out there early.  Then you don’t have to worry that the lines will hold you up. Lines were holding us up, and it was late September.

Some viewing areas are closed at night, not to interfere with the rut. This sign says September 1 through October 31.

How to Photograph Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States, and for a good reason – its views are breathtaking. Photograph the park Rocky Mountain National Park so that you can come home with beautiful memories – and amazing photos to match.

Popular Areas to Photograph

There are many areas to photograph in Rocky Mountain National Park. Some of the most popular spots include:

Bear Lake Area

This is a great place to photograph the park’s wildlife, including bears, elk, and deer. You can also get some great views of the mountains from here.

The Moraine Park Area

This is a great place to photograph the park’s landscapes, including its alpine lakes, forests, and meadows. You can also get some great views of the Rockies from here.

Adams Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park

Adams Falls is one of the most popular areas for photography within Rocky Mountain National Park. The falls are located on the Big Thompson River and are easily accessible from the main road. There are several pull-offs along the road where you can park and walk to the falls. Adams Falls is a great place to photograph both day and night. During the day, the sun illuminates the falls and creates a beautiful rainbow effect. At night, the falls are lit up by spotlights, which creates a stunning effect.

Milner Pass and Poudre Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

Two of our favorites are Milner Pass and Poudre Lake. Milner Pass is located on the Continental Divide and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. There are numerous hiking and backpacking trails in the area, so there is plenty to explore.

Poudre Lake is a gorgeous alpine lake that is perfect for those who love to fish, so you can get photographs of people fishing. The trail around the lake is easy to follow and makes for a great hike.

Gore Range Overlook, Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park

The Gore Range Overlook on Trail Ridge Road is one of the most popular areas to photography within Rocky Mountain National Park. The overlook provides stunning views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and forests. Many visitors enjoy photographing the scenery from this vantage point.

Far View Curve, Rocky Mountain National Park

Looking for a breathtaking view of Rocky Mountain National Park? Then head to Far View Curve! This popular spot is located on Trail Ridge Road and offers stunning panoramic views of the park. Be sure to bring your camera, as you’ll want to capture the beauty of this place forever.

Rainbow Curve, Rocky Mountain National Park

If you’re looking for a breathtaking view of Rocky Mountain National Park, look no further than Rainbow Curve. This popular spot is located just off the main road and offers stunning views of the mountains and valley below. Visitors can also find several hiking trails nearby, making it the perfect place to explore the park.

Deer Ridge Junction, Rocky Mountain National Park

Deer Ridge Junction is one of the most popular areas in Rocky Mountain National Park. The area is known for its stunning views, abundant wildlife, and easy access to various hiking trails.

One of the most popular trails in the area is the Deer Ridge Trail, which offers hikers beautiful views of the valley below. The trail is also great for seeing various wildlife, including deer, elk, and bighorn sheep.

another great option for hikers is the Emerald Lake Trail. This trail takes hikers to one of the most beautiful lakes in the park, Emerald Lake. Along the way, hikers will also pass by Dream Lake and Nymph Lake.

The Flattop Mountain Trail is a great option for those looking for a more challenging hike. This trail leads to the summit of Flattop Mountain, which offers stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding area.

No matter what your hiking level, Deer Ridge Junction has a trail that’s perfect for you. So come on and enjoy all this amazing area has to offer.

How to Get to Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is located in north-central Colorado, about an hour and a half drive from Denver. To get there, take I-70 west from Denver and exit at the town of Estes Park. From there, follow signs for the park.

Camera Gear

When visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, bring your camera gear! This beautiful park is home to many types of scenery, so you’ll want to be prepared to capture it all. Here are a few things to keep in mind when packing your gear:

-A sturdy tripod will be vital for getting sharp landscape photos.
-A wide-angle lens will help you fit the majestic mountains into your frame.
-For wildlife photography, bring a telephoto lens and a bean bag or monopod to help stabilize your camera.
-Be sure to pack plenty of extra batteries and memory cards, as you’ll likely take lots of photos.

Rocky Mountain National Park Where to Stay

USE camera information photography

Photography Information

Here is some basic information for your trip. You can find more detailed instructions on some of our other pages.

survivel food ghost hunt with white letters

Photography Hot Spot Location Photography Information

Rocky Mountain National Park is at its peak visitation in summer and fall. June – September. Trail Ridge Road is open only from Memorial Day to mid-October, but the dates may vary. The crowds are thinner in early June and later September. Fall foliage starts to peak in mid-September. The yellow Aspens make for some astonishing images.

Spring can be a chance to get some new growth, or you could still be hit with a blizzard. You can photograph both, but there is a chance of plane delay if a storm rolls in. June will vary and can be rainy. July – September. OnTrail Ridge Road, it can be 15°F–20°F cooler than at the park’s lower elevations. Wildlife viewing and fishing photography are good all year long, but fall has the rut when the bull elks get active. The rut plus yellow aspen and fewer humans in mid-October are ideal.

 

Camera Settings


Aperture Priority

It is generally used to control the depth of field (control how much is in focus from your subject’s back). If your shutter speed drops to 1/30th sec. or lower because you lack light, you must put your camera on a tripod to avoid blurry pictures. Anything handheld below 1/30 sec will be blurry. The higher the “f” number, the less light will come in, and your shutter speed will drop to let more light in.

When your “f” number goes up, your aperture closes. At f-22, you are barely letting any light in. Always watch your shutter speed when taking your shot; look at the bottom of the screen through the viewfinder and check your shutter speed. Do not let your shutter speed go too low when hand-holding. Sometimes you cannot get a super high f stop because you do not have enough light. This will happen quite often, such as a sunset. Again, put your camera on a tripod; now, your photos will not blur except for any subject moving in the image.

You might want the opposite effect. That is when your subject is entirely focused, and the background is blurred, called the bokeh effect. You will use your lowest F-number, such as 2.8 or 3.5. Go as small as your particular lens will allow. Shooting in Aperture Priority allows you to control this.

Shutter Priority

If you have moving subjects such as people, you will want to shoot in shutter priority to be sure your images come out sharp. When people are moving slowly, shoot at 1/250th sec, and adjust your ISO accordingly. If they move very fast, increase your shutter speed to about 1/1000th sec. If it’s a bright sunny day, go as high as 1/1200 second for very fast-moving subjects.

Manual Mode

If you have moving waters here, you can do your long exposure running and milky water shots. You will have to use a tripod for this effect. Your settings will vary depending on the lighting and your neutral density filter. You will shoot in manual mode for the milky waters.

ISO is always 100 or as low as your camera will allow. The aperture is f22. Your shutter speed will vary depending on the light. Take some test shots to decide on your shutter speed after you put your neutral density filter on. (It’s like sunglasses for your camera to stop light from coming in).

Use your shutter release or your 2-second timer also to prevent camera movement. Voila. You now have your milky water exposure. You will want at least a 5-second exposure for water. (If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you may not get more than 1/15th of a second in the sun. That does not give you a good effect). Go to our store to buy your ND filter. We like a 3.0 for super long exposure in the daytime, and we have a ten-stop filter for bright sunny days.

AREA INFORMATION


The best hotels while doing photography

HOTEL

INFO

See our recommendations above.  We highly suggest these two outstanding places to stay.

Colorado Cabin Adventures 

Phone: 970-509-0810
info@coloradocabinadventures.com

12082 US Highway 34
Grand Lake, Colorado 80447

The Inn on Falls River

Add your hotel here!

Do you want us to send our photography and ghost hunting friends to your hotel for their photography or ghost hunting trip? Put your hotel information here. We will put pictures of your hotel, the website link, the phone number and your information on your hotel.

Would you like to be a featured hotel like this article or this one?  Please send us an email.  You will be surprised at how affordable our prices can be.

area information - photography

AREA

INFO

Entrance Fees: “Day Use Pass” will be $20 while the weekly pass will increase to $30; Annual Passes are $50.  Rocky Mountain National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, weather permitting.

GOOD CAMPING

CAMPING

Where to camp while doing photography or ghost-hunting

Add your campground here! Do you want us to send our photography and ghost-hunting friends to your campground to stay during their ghost-hunting trip? Put your campground information here. We will put a picture of your establishment, the website link, the phone number and your information on your campground to make it easy for our photographers and ghost hunters to find you. They are good at getting there in the dark.

Would you like to be featured in an article as a place to stay while doing photography or ghost hunting? If so, please send us an email. You will be surprised at how affordable our prices can be.


 

Camping

Manor Park of Estes – Estes Park

Spend the night or the whole summer with them. They offer nightly, weekly, monthly and seasonal rentals.  Centrally located between Rocky Mountain National Park and the town of Estes Park, you’ll see wildlife and get to enjoy fishing on the Big Thompson River (with license).

Click here to go to Rates and Reservations.

15 – October 15.  970-586-3251.

Great location! 5 minutes to Rocky Mountain Natl Park
Jellystone Park of Estes
5495 US-36, Estes Park, CO 80517

Surrounded by Roosevelt National Forest, Jellystone Park of Estes is the perfect Campground and RV Park for your family to explore nature at its best!  Relax in nature, or join their planned activities for “kids” of all ages.  A variety of sites are set among towering Ponderosa pines where wildlife abounds. Weekend Pancake Breakfasts.  Pet-friendly campsites!

Seven Pines Campground

Hermit Park Open Space
FOOD & DINING

FOOD & DINING

Add your Restaurant here!

Do you want us to send our photography and ghost-hunting friends to your Restaurant after their ghost-hunting or photography trip? Put your restaurant information here. We will put a picture of your establishment, the website link, the phone number and your information on your Restaurant to make it easy for our photographers and ghost hunters to find you.

Check out this article at the link. Would you like to be a featured restaurant like in this article? If so, please send us an email. You will be surprised at how affordable our prices can be.

WEATHER

 WEATHER?

 Don’t forget that you can use a rain sleeve on your camera if it is raining. If it is bright and sunny, you want to use a low ISO such as 50 or 100.

If you photograph cloudy days, you can do running water or waterfall photography to help avoid the glaring sun. You can also use an ND filter to get long exposure for dramatic effects, even in the sunshine. If you ghost hunt indoors in abandoned places, be careful!

Go to our Photography Store after reading about waterfall photography or neutral density filters.

PHOTOGRAPHY INFORMATION

AT A GLANCE

Lens: Wide Angle but you may find a bird or two. Not much wildlife here.

Gear List at a Glance: Circular polarizing filter, neutral density filter, tripod, shutter release, wide-angle lens.

When to Go:  The only time not to go is when they close the road down due to winter conditions. Check with the park before you go. Fall is ideal.

SHUTTER PRIORITY

If you have moving subjects, you will want to shoot in shutter priority to assure your shutter speed is high enough to have your subject in sharp focus. For people walking by, approximately 1/250th of a second is appropriate, and adjust your ISO accordingly. If they are running fast, increase your shutter speed to about 1/500th of a second. A fast bird flying by would be shot at about 1/1000th of a second. If it’s a bright sunny day, go as high as  1/1200th of a second. Remember, the higher your shutter speed; the less light comes into the camera. It should not be an issue outside during daytime hours. For More Details, see our Shutter Priority Page.

MANUAL MODE

You have moving waters here. You can do your long-exposure running and milky water shots. You will have to use a tripod for this effect. Your settings will vary depending on the lighting and your neutral density filter. You will shoot in manual mode for the milky waters. ISO is always 100 or as low as your camera will allow. The aperture is f22. Your shutter speed will be the only variable depending on the light. Roll your shutter speed until your meter reads zero. (In the center)  Use your shutter release or your 2-second timer to prevent camera movement when exposing. You will want at least a 2-second exposure for milky water. If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you may not get more than 1/15th of a second in the sun. 

If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you can buy one here. We highly suggest you do not go anywhere without one. It makes all the difference between lifeless images and outstanding, dynamic images.

APERTURE PRIORITY

Aperture Priority is often used to blur the background of your images and control your depth of field (how much from the subject to the background is in focus). For more information on this – see our Aperture page 

ISO

The higher you set it, the more light comes in when exposing an image. The higher the number, the more digital noise, so if possible, stay below 800. If you need to go higher to get the shot, you can use Topaz Denoise to filter out the digital noise later.