Trip Reports: Fall 2010

Today is October 31st, Halloween morning. As I begin to write this trip report, I'm looking out my window to a forest covered in a white blanket of snow. The ski resorts are already open for business. The warm sunny autumn skies we had just a few weeks ago seem like a distant memory. Seasons come and go fast in the mountains... well all of them but winter that is.  I spent a beautiful week in the Aspen area, focusing on a landscape shot I've wanted to get for years. After that though, the state experienced a couple weeks of indian summer. Cloudless skies are less than ideal for photography, so I changed plans and found myself headed to the Tetons on a spur of the moment trip to meet up with my friend Ian. Northwest Wyoming was experiencing similar cloudless, warm weather, but there was plenty of wildlife to keep us busy while we waited for the weather to move in. After 10 or so days  in the Greater Yellowstone Region, I was on my way back to Colorado to photograph whatever was left of the quickly fading fall season. As always, autumn in the Rocky Mountains did not disappoint. Stay warm, and enjoy the photos! - Nate
I began my fall adventures with a trip to Aspen. Independence Pass is the quickest (and most scenic) route for me to get there...

I began my fall adventures with a trip to Aspen. Independence Pass is the quickest (and most scenic) route for me to get there. On the east side of the pass there is this really neat little barn. Every time I drive past it, I tell myself I'll stop and take a photo of it next time I go by. I finally did. I liked the way the yellow aspens contrasted with the red of the barn. 

My main reason for my trip to Aspen this year was to make an image of this scene. This is Capitol Peak, near Snowmass, CO. &nbsp...

My main reason for my trip to Aspen this year was to make an image of this scene. This is Capitol Peak, near Snowmass, CO.  It's one of the many "fourteeners" in the Elk Range. The view from this vantage point in the White River National Forest is just unreal. It's a place you need to see to really grasp the beauty. My first sunset here yielded some decent results. There was a slight dusting of snow on the peak and the sunset was almost really nice, but I knew it would take  more effort than just one try. I returned to this spot for a couple more sunsets before I finally got a shot I was happy with. 

During the days, I took advantage of the overcast skies by looking for some more intimate photos of the golden aspens. 

During the days, I took advantage of the overcast skies by looking for some more intimate photos of the golden aspens. 

As you can see in this photo, the colors were still pretty varied. Some of the trees in this area were already bare, while others...

As you can see in this photo, the colors were still pretty varied. Some of the trees in this area were already bare, while others were still summer green.

Golden aspens in the Castle Creek Valley.

Golden aspens in the Castle Creek Valley.

This fall, more than other years, I saw a lot of really unique color variations throughout the many aspen groves. These light...

This fall, more than other years, I saw a lot of really unique color variations throughout the many aspen groves. These light orange leaves really caught my eye. 

A particularly thick grove of small aspens created dark shadows within the forest, contrasting with these few aspen leaves that...

A particularly thick grove of small aspens created dark shadows within the forest, contrasting with these few aspen leaves that were still clinging on to their branches.

This is why they named it "Aspen"

This is why they named it "Aspen"

Unfortunately, these trees were about a mile up the mountainside, but I had to snap a picture  of the amazing coloring....

Unfortunately, these trees were about a mile up the mountainside, but I had to snap a picture  of the amazing coloring. Aspens ranging from green to a deep red all in the same little grove. A very interesting color that I've never seen in aspen trees. 

I got a great little surprise on  my way back up to the view of Capitol peak. I spotted, from far away, what I first thought...

I got a great little surprise on  my way back up to the view of Capitol peak. I spotted, from far away, what I first thought was an ermine. I pulled my car over and waited a few minutes to see if it would come back. Sure enough after about 10 minutes it popped its head out of the tall grass. To my surprise it was actually not an ermine, but a mink. 

The mink was very inquisitive and would pop out of the grass to check me out every 20 minutes or so. 

The mink was very inquisitive and would pop out of the grass to check me out every 20 minutes or so. 

After about an hour of this back and forth between the mink and myself, it surprised me once again by popping out of the woods...

After about an hour of this back and forth between the mink and myself, it surprised me once again by popping out of the woods with a brook trout. Mink love the water and are quite skilled at catching fish. After showing off  the fish  for a minute or so, it  ran off in the other direction. This was probably good because it was getting close to sunset and it would have been hard to leave this little guy.

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

On the way to the view of Capitol Peak you pass through a few really beautiful Aspen groves. I couldn't resist stopping to take...

On the way to the view of Capitol Peak you pass through a few really beautiful Aspen groves. I couldn't resist stopping to take some photos. 

The sun was getting low on the horizon and was peeking through the forest just enough to light this one branch of leaves.&nbsp...

The sun was getting low on the horizon and was peeking through the forest just enough to light this one branch of leaves. 

More beautiful light and aspen trunks.

More beautiful light and aspen trunks.

Shadows and light.

Shadows and light.

After a few welcome distractions I made it to the Capitol Peak view I've been wanting a photo of for so long. It was an hour...

After a few welcome distractions I made it to the Capitol Peak view I've been wanting a photo of for so long. It was an hour or so before sunrise, but already, the light was spectacular. 

* This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print *

Since my first evening here a few nights before, the mountain had received another dusting of snow. This time it was a lot heavier...

Since my first evening here a few nights before, the mountain had received another dusting of snow. This time it was a lot heavier. There's nothing like golden aspens contrasting with the freshly dusted white peaks. 

After many nights waiting for everything to come together I was rewarded with this amazing sunset. The pink alpenglow on the...

After many nights waiting for everything to come together I was rewarded with this amazing sunset. The pink alpenglow on the mountain was just unreal. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

After my first week of travels around Colorado I checked the weather and realized there weren't going to be any clouds for the...

After my first week of travels around Colorado I checked the weather and realized there weren't going to be any clouds for the next 10 days at least. I quickly made a change of plans, and decided to head to the Tetons. I drove straight through the night and got to the Oxbow bend just in time for sunrise. As you can see, the Tetons were experiencing unseasonably warm and dry weather, much like Colorado. It was a beautiful scene nonetheless. This photo was taken at dawn, about 30 minutes before sunrise. 

The first rays of light hit the top of these mighty peaks. Mt Moran can be seen on the right.  The Grand is the mountain...

The first rays of light hit the top of these mighty peaks. Mt Moran can be seen on the right.  The Grand is the mountain peaking over the hill on the far left. Suddenly the sleepiness from my all night drive has worn off. 

Here, just as the light begins to hit the beautiful aspen grove on the Oxbow Bend, a beaver decides that it would be a good time...

Here, just as the light begins to hit the beautiful aspen grove on the Oxbow Bend, a beaver decides that it would be a good time to swim through the reflection of Mt. Moran. It added a few big tail slaps for good measure. At one point the beaver came up onto the shore and stared down another photographer for a few seconds. Apparently this beaver does not like photography. That's the great thing about the Oxbow bend though. Aside from the amazing scenery, it is absolutely teeming with wildlife. At any given time you can expect to see, eagles, moose, bear, elk and many other birds and mammals. Just don't expect them to cooperate with your photographic endeavors.

A beautiful indian summer morning on the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River. 

A beautiful indian summer morning on the Oxbow Bend of the Snake River. 

I think if I had to think of a theme for this years fall trip it would be "black bears" they were everywhere. Currently...

I think if I had to think of a theme for this years fall trip it would be "black bears" they were everywhere. Currently in a state of hyperphagia, these bears spent all day in the plentiful hawthorn berry bushes, putting on as many pounds as possible. The thick brush they were feeding in made photography a bit difficult, but allowed for some great opportunities for close ups.  It was also fairly hilarious to watch these guys climb around in trees that could hardly support their weight.

I've been lucky enough to observe bears in many different environments and situations, and one thing that always amazes me is...

I've been lucky enough to observe bears in many different environments and situations, and one thing that always amazes me is how precisely  they can use their huge claws as tools. Whether cracking open a clam in alaska or stripping berries from a branch, they are truly impressive animals.

This is Ian doing his best Where's Waldo impression. 

This is Ian doing his best Where's Waldo impression. 

A good look at the berries these bears are after. 

A good look at the berries these bears are after. 

This bears technique was to stand up and grab a branch and then put all of its weight into pulling the branch to the ground....

This bears technique was to stand up and grab a branch and then put all of its weight into pulling the branch to the ground. Very funny to watch. 

A photographer next to me tasted one of these and said it was horrible, but the bears love them.

A photographer next to me tasted one of these and said it was horrible, but the bears love them.

A little black bear peaks out from under the brush.

A little black bear peaks out from under the brush.

The only time the bears come out of the trees are when they need a drink. About every hour or so they would get out of the hawthorn...

The only time the bears come out of the trees are when they need a drink. About every hour or so they would get out of the hawthorn trees and come down to this little pond for a drink. In the middle of the day when temperatures got really high, they would also take quick dips to cool down. 

After shooting the bears for a few hours we moved on towards the Antelope Flats road, where we spotted a herd of bison. They...

After shooting the bears for a few hours we moved on towards the Antelope Flats road, where we spotted a herd of bison. They were grazing the flats, while a wildfire burned in the background. There were many fires burning in and around the park. 

A large plume of smoke rises into the air. 

A large plume of smoke rises into the air. 

The smoke combined with the cloudless days created really hazy conditions for most of the trip.

The smoke combined with the cloudless days created really hazy conditions for most of the trip.

Looking the other way from the same vantage point as the previous photo it's easy to see the haze created by the fires in the...

Looking the other way from the same vantage point as the previous photo it's easy to see the haze created by the fires in the area. As the sun got lower dramatic rays of light started to shine past the peaks of the Cathedral Group.

When we saw the rays developing through the smoke we decided it might be a good idea to head to a location for a sunset shot....

When we saw the rays developing through the smoke we decided it might be a good idea to head to a location for a sunset shot. We weren't really planning on doing any landscape photography for sunset so we scrambled to the Snake River Overlook, which was close by. I'm glad we decided to head that way, because the display of light that evening was just amazing. 

The famous "Snake River Overlook" at sunset.  ** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine...

The next morning we went back to the area where all the bear action was. Sure enough, the bears were there yet again. While most...

The next morning we went back to the area where all the bear action was. Sure enough, the bears were there yet again. While most of the photographers were distracted by the berry crazed beasts, I found this cow moose nearby feeding on aquatic vegetation in this small pond. I sat on the shoreline for quite some time watching and photographing her. 

She was a very good model. Always striking  poses for me.

She was a very good model. Always striking  poses for me.

She had a young calf nearby who was also feeding in the water. Unfortunately, it was blocked by brush.

She had a young calf nearby who was also feeding in the water. Unfortunately, it was blocked by brush.

This is my favorite shot of this moose. It was really nice to sit and watch her for such a long time.  ** This image is...

This is my favorite shot of this moose. It was really nice to sit and watch her for such a long time. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

Beautiful early morning light.

Beautiful early morning light.

One more. 

One more. 

After the moose wandered off I returned to where the bears were feeding. It was mid-day now and really warm for an October day...

After the moose wandered off I returned to where the bears were feeding. It was mid-day now and really warm for an October day. The bears were making frequent trips to this little creek to get a drink and cool down. 

This beautiful cinnamon black bear emerged from the trees on its way to the creek. 

This beautiful cinnamon black bear emerged from the trees on its way to the creek. 

Taking a moment to ponder what's so interesting about drinking from a creek possibly?

Taking a moment to ponder what's so interesting about drinking from a creek possibly?

It was hot standing here taking photos of this bear, so I can only imagine how hot they must've been with their new winter coats...

It was hot standing here taking photos of this bear, so I can only imagine how hot they must've been with their new winter coats. 

After a good drink, it's time to lay down and cool off for a minute. 

After a good drink, it's time to lay down and cool off for a minute. 

Looks refreshing.

Looks refreshing.

This time of year the bears have only one thing on their mind... food. You could tell that this bear would have loved to sit...

This time of year the bears have only one thing on their mind... food. You could tell that this bear would have loved to sit in the water all day long, but it's instincts know it has to eat as much as possible to prepare for the fast approaching winter. 

Break time is over.

Break time is over.

Back into the woods to feed on berries.  ** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

Bears weren't the only ones making the most of this autumn bounty. Flocks of cedar waxwings were also feeding in the nearby bushes...

Bears weren't the only ones making the most of this autumn bounty. Flocks of cedar waxwings were also feeding in the nearby bushes. It was great fun watching and photographing them. 

The little birds were pretty hard to spot in the fall foliage. 

The little birds were pretty hard to spot in the fall foliage. 

Two waxwings perched together on a brach of a dead tree. 

Two waxwings perched together on a brach of a dead tree. 

Eying up more berries. 

Eying up more berries. 

A beautiful blue sky day. 

A beautiful blue sky day. 

A little masked waxwing hanging on to the branches of the hawthorn bush.

A little masked waxwing hanging on to the branches of the hawthorn bush.

Not a cloud in the sky.

Not a cloud in the sky.

Some chaotic berry passing going on.

Some chaotic berry passing going on.

Cedar waxwing on a limb.

Cedar waxwing on a limb.

 A fall bounty of hawthorn berries brings the low lying areas of Grand Teton National Park to life. Bears are the crowd...

 A fall bounty of hawthorn berries brings the low lying areas of Grand Teton National Park to life. Bears are the crowd favorite, as one can imagine. They clumsily climb among the small branches, which can barely support their weight. A bear though, can pack on many pounds in the fall when a food source like this is abundant. Upon closer inspection you can see many other animals feeding on these little morsels. Birds, like the Robin and the Waxwing, for example. Here, a Cedar Waxwing perches on a branch after being handed a berry from another member of the flock. Berries play a large roll in the life of a Cedar Waxwing. It is not uncommon to see a group of them lined up on a branch passing berries down the line so that they all can eat. Waxwing pairs will also pass items such as berries back and forth between each other as an act of courtship.

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

Later in the evening we spotted another cinnamon black bear in the woods. I set up with my camera facing straight down this fallen...

Later in the evening we spotted another cinnamon black bear in the woods. I set up with my camera facing straight down this fallen tree hoping the bear would walk along it. Not long after, the bear did just that. Sometimes you get lucky!

For sunset, we decided to head over to Schwabachers Landing. I was hoping we would see those amazing rays of light that we'd...

For sunset, we decided to head over to Schwabachers Landing. I was hoping we would see those amazing rays of light that we'd witnessed previously. There was no crazy light that evening, but it was still a beautiful scene. 

Early the next morning we found this big bull moose watching over a couple of cows. I'd seen many moose already on this trip...

Early the next morning we found this big bull moose watching over a couple of cows. I'd seen many moose already on this trip, but this early in fall they're still often deep in willows and other thick bushes, making photography impossible. This was the first one I'd seen out in the open. 

A beautiful moose indeed. 

A beautiful moose indeed. 

These photos were all taken about 30 minutes before sunrise, when the light was still very blue. 

These photos were all taken about 30 minutes before sunrise, when the light was still very blue. 

Moose in sagebrush before sunrise. 

Moose in sagebrush before sunrise. 

Looking back, keeping an eye on the two cows he had with him.

Looking back, keeping an eye on the two cows he had with him.

First light.

First light.

Beautiful early morning sunlight warms up the scene. 

Beautiful early morning sunlight warms up the scene. 

I was only planning on spending a couple of days in the Tetons, but a quick look at the weather had me re-thinking my plans again...

I was only planning on spending a couple of days in the Tetons, but a quick look at the weather had me re-thinking my plans again. There were still zero clouds in the forecast for almost a week. The weather that was supposed to move through in a few days would coincide perfectly with the peak of fall color in the Tetons, so we decided to move northwards into Yellowstone for a few days before heading back. Right when we got into the park we came across two coyotes hunting in a dry meadow. The light was a little harsh, but it was really fun watching them hunt. 

Even the coyotes seemed overheated as they stalked through the grass. 

Even the coyotes seemed overheated as they stalked through the grass. 

Coyotes use their incredible hearing and smell to pinpoint the exact location of their prey. They then pounce on them, hopefully...

Coyotes use their incredible hearing and smell to pinpoint the exact location of their prey. They then pounce on them, hopefully hitting the target perfectly. It's fascinating to watch.

Coyote on the hunt.

Coyote on the hunt.

Coyote in a golden field. 

Coyote in a golden field. 

A close up view of the Antelope wildfire, seen from Dunraven Pass. I believe this was a lightning caused fire. 

A close up view of the Antelope wildfire, seen from Dunraven Pass. I believe this was a lightning caused fire. 

A wider view of the fire. If you look closely, you can see the burn path where the fire has already traveled. 

A wider view of the fire. If you look closely, you can see the burn path where the fire has already traveled. 

Smoke rolling into the lower valleys. Taken from Dunraven Pass. 

Smoke rolling into the lower valleys. Taken from Dunraven Pass. 

Ian photographing bison at sunrise. 

Ian photographing bison at sunrise. 

Another shot of Ian photographing bison. (He's the one on the far left if you were wondering)

Another shot of Ian photographing bison. (He's the one on the far left if you were wondering)

We spent the majority of our three days in Yellowstone trying to get a photograph of this black bear sow and her two cubs. We...

We spent the majority of our three days in Yellowstone trying to get a photograph of this black bear sow and her two cubs. We saw them every morning and every evening on the same hillside. Unfortunately she was pretty skittish and never came close enough for useable images. I'm guessing she was a first time mother... Very cautious. Either way, it was great fun getting to see her and her babies so frequently. 

A beautiful row of aspen trees I noticed while waiting for the bears.  ** This image is available as an exclusive limited...

A beautiful row of aspen trees I noticed while waiting for the bears. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

This is a heavily cropped images of one of the curious bear cubs peeking out of the grass to see who I was. 

This is a heavily cropped images of one of the curious bear cubs peeking out of the grass to see who I was. 

Sunrise over the river. Taken near Tower Falls with beautiful fog hanging in the lower river valley. 

Sunrise over the river. Taken near Tower Falls with beautiful fog hanging in the lower river valley. 

Tower falls bathed in early morning light.

Tower falls bathed in early morning light.

On the short walk back from the Tower Falls overlook we spotted yet another black bear. This one was foraging through the thick...

On the short walk back from the Tower Falls overlook we spotted yet another black bear. This one was foraging through the thick brush, which made photography pretty hard. We waited around for a while to see if it would come out into the clearing but it never did. 

Also near Tower, we found this beautiful mule deer buck. 

Also near Tower, we found this beautiful mule deer buck. 

I was excited about this photo when I took it, but became less enthusiastic about it when I realized I focused on the deers butt...

I was excited about this photo when I took it, but became less enthusiastic about it when I realized I focused on the deers butt instead of its face. Oops.

Two ravens at sunset in the Hayden Valley.

Two ravens at sunset in the Hayden Valley.

A large herd of bison graze in an open meadow in the Hayden Valley. 

A large herd of bison graze in an open meadow in the Hayden Valley. 

One of the best moments of the trip came long after sunset while leaving the Hayden Valley. We were pulled over on the side of...

One of the best moments of the trip came long after sunset while leaving the Hayden Valley. We were pulled over on the side of the road when this gorgeous wolf came trotting right past us. We followed it a bit through the woods, and into this field. It never payed one bit of attention to us. I was amazed at how fast this wolf was moving, considering it was traveling at an easy trot. I took this really grainy photo when it was almost dark just to record the memory. A nice surprise indeed. 

On our last morning in Yellowstone we packed up camp and started driving south towards the Tetons hoping to see something on...

On our last morning in Yellowstone we packed up camp and started driving south towards the Tetons hoping to see something on our way. At the midway geyser basin we found a herd of bison in the fog, just as the first rays of light crested the horizon.

Beautiful golden light. 

Beautiful golden light. 

The herd was made up of mostly cows and calfs, but there were a few massive bulls bellowing for their attention. 

The herd was made up of mostly cows and calfs, but there were a few massive bulls bellowing for their attention. 

A deep bellow from this bull bison broke the early morning silence. It's breath visible, on this chilly day.  ** This image...

A deep bellow from this bull bison broke the early morning silence. It's breath visible, on this chilly day. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **


This is what a bison looks like when they bellow. It's amazingly intimidating considering how silly they look. 

This is what a bison looks like when they bellow. It's amazingly intimidating considering how silly they look. 

The herd moving through the open field at first light.

The herd moving through the open field at first light.

Another large bull.

Another large bull.

So after a few days of waiting on the bear family to no avail, we found ourselves back in the Tetons hoping for the weather that...

So after a few days of waiting on the bear family to no avail, we found ourselves back in the Tetons hoping for the weather that was predicted to move in. (there are a lot of clouds in this photo. It  was actually taken on the last day of my trip.)

Right away, on the first day back, we were greeted with big white puffy clouds against the bright blue sky. It had been so long...

Right away, on the first day back, we were greeted with big white puffy clouds against the bright blue sky. It had been so long that I thought I was seeing things! This is the northern Tetons, reflected in the perfectly still water of Jackson Lake at mid-day. 


** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

I had been eying up this grove of aspens the week previous, but without clouds the photo wouldn't have been as interesting. When...

I had been eying up this grove of aspens the week previous, but without clouds the photo wouldn't have been as interesting. When I saw them this day I could hardly believe what a perfect scene it was. This fiery orange grove of aspens was by far the most vibrant I've ever seen. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

Ian waiting for a moose to possibly come out of the brush.

Ian waiting for a moose to possibly come out of the brush.

Sometimes this happens when an animal is spotted near a road. Photographers and first time visitors alike, all getting the opportunity...

Sometimes this happens when an animal is spotted near a road. Photographers and first time visitors alike, all getting the opportunity to see amazing wildlife up close. (there was a moose in the brush)

Hot air balloons on another hazy day. I can only imagine how great the view was from up there. 

Hot air balloons on another hazy day. I can only imagine how great the view was from up there. 

The same cinnamon black bear from the previous week was still in the same spot as we had left it. This time it was feeding in...

The same cinnamon black bear from the previous week was still in the same spot as we had left it. This time it was feeding in a tree just as the sun was going down. The warm light, combined with the autumn foliage made for some great images. 

They look really cute until they make this face.

They look really cute until they make this face.

Beautiful catch light on this bear's eyes. 

Beautiful catch light on this bear's eyes. 

One last photo from this particular evening. This was my favorite shot from that night.  ** This image is available as an...

One last photo from this particular evening. This was my favorite shot from that night. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

A hazy sunset at Schwabachers Landing.

A hazy sunset at Schwabachers Landing.

Base camp, under the stars, in the Tetons. 

Base camp, under the stars, in the Tetons. 

So the next morning we were at the Oxbow bend before sunrise. Just as the weatherman had predicted, there were clouds behind...

So the next morning we were at the Oxbow bend before sunrise. Just as the weatherman had predicted, there were clouds behind the Tetons. It was a very interesting sunrise with rapidly changing conditions. 

First light casts a beautiful magenta glow on Mt. Moran and the northern Tetons. 

First light casts a beautiful magenta glow on Mt. Moran and the northern Tetons. 

This was the image that I came here for. About 45 minutes after sunrise, the weather that was developing around the mountains...

This was the image that I came here for. About 45 minutes after sunrise, the weather that was developing around the mountains rapidly transformed into really dramatic stormy skies. The sky was still clear to the east, allowing light to strike only the golden aspen trees that line the snake river. I really don't think I could have asked for better conditions than this. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

It was a good thing I got the shots I wanted that morning. At sunset, the same day,  this was the scene. As you can see...

It was a good thing I got the shots I wanted that morning. At sunset, the same day,  this was the scene. As you can see, the storm moved through and took down almost all of the leaves on the trees that were so brilliant just a few hours earlier.

After the amazing sunrise at the Oxbow Bend we went south a ways to see what else we could photograph. I had to stop and photograph...

After the amazing sunrise at the Oxbow Bend we went south a ways to see what else we could photograph. I had to stop and photograph these horses grazing underneath the Grand. It was a great morning, with dramatic light lasting a few hours. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

This is what happens when a bear is close to the road and people don't want to pull over to look!

This is what happens when a bear is close to the road and people don't want to pull over to look!

Later in the evening we spotted this Cinnamon black bear ravaging a berry bush in the rain. 

Later in the evening we spotted this Cinnamon black bear ravaging a berry bush in the rain. 

Reaching for those last berries on the branch.

Reaching for those last berries on the branch.

As happens fairly often when feeding in these comparatively small bushes, this bear fell to the ground. Acting as if nothing...

As happens fairly often when feeding in these comparatively small bushes, this bear fell to the ground. Acting as if nothing even happened, it already had its eyes on the nearest bush. 

A lot of times instead of climbing they would just use brute force to pull the whole tree to the ground where they can reach...

A lot of times instead of climbing they would just use brute force to pull the whole tree to the ground where they can reach them.

This picture made me laugh.

This picture made me laugh.

Ian and Tom Mangelsen checking out another bear just a few yards down the road. I was amazed at how many bears we saw on this...

Ian and Tom Mangelsen checking out another bear just a few yards down the road. I was amazed at how many bears we saw on this trip. 

Standing on the ground to get at the berries. 

Standing on the ground to get at the berries. 

Again, the dexterity of a bear's paw amazes me.

Again, the dexterity of a bear's paw amazes me.

yum.

yum.

Soaking wet, and probably loving it, considering the last 3 weeks of warm sunny weather.

Soaking wet, and probably loving it, considering the last 3 weeks of warm sunny weather.

Bear pull ups?

Bear pull ups?

Reminds me of a wet dog.

Reminds me of a wet dog.

A beautiful cloud at sunset over the Snake River.

A beautiful cloud at sunset over the Snake River.

A closer view of the cloud.

A closer view of the cloud.

My last morning in the Tetons did not disappoint. This was the view looking east, opposite the Teton range. Well before sunrise...

My last morning in the Tetons did not disappoint. This was the view looking east, opposite the Teton range. Well before sunrise, the sky is already on fire. 

The sun came over the horizon and lit up the Tetons.

The sun came over the horizon and lit up the Tetons.

Sunrise Panorama.

Sunrise Panorama.

After so many days of cloudless boring skies, it was great to see some dramatic lighting. 

After so many days of cloudless boring skies, it was great to see some dramatic lighting. 

A bull elk guarding over his cows. 

A bull elk guarding over his cows. 

A closer view of this large elk.

A closer view of this large elk.

Green and gold! what a great combination of colors.

Green and gold! what a great combination of colors.

One last look at the Oxbow bend on my way out of the park. Mt. Moran is just barely visible through the clouds. Very few leaves...

One last look at the Oxbow bend on my way out of the park. Mt. Moran is just barely visible through the clouds. Very few leaves left. 

Somewhere in the middle of Wyoming. Headed back to Colorado.

Somewhere in the middle of Wyoming. Headed back to Colorado.

Two weeks after leaving Colorado, I returned to find it practically winter already. This was sunrise high on the alpine tundra...

Two weeks after leaving Colorado, I returned to find it practically winter already. This was sunrise high on the alpine tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park. The conditions up there were absolutely amazing this morning. Temperature inversion was keeping the clouds stuck in the valleys. Longs peak had been dusted with snow overnight. When the elk arrived, and walked right into the scene, it became perfect. It was snowing pretty hard up here when I took this and a very push ranger was trying his best to scurry me off the mountain so they could shut down the road, but I wasn't about to leave until I made sure I captured this scene right. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

This is the elk from the earlier photo. Not a very big bull, but he somehow managed to collect a pretty decent sized harem. The...

This is the elk from the earlier photo. Not a very big bull, but he somehow managed to collect a pretty decent sized harem. The snow coated Never Summer mountains provide the backdrop. Is it just me or does the lighting in this photo make it look like I took this photo of a museum diorama?

Stunning scenery.

Stunning scenery.

A week or so later I returned to the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. A big snow storm was in the forecast so I started...

A week or so later I returned to the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. A big snow storm was in the forecast so I started my drive in an attempt to get there before sunrise. This region of the park is one of the hardest pine beetle hit areas in Colorado. They have cut down a lot of the dead trees around the road to prevent this from happening, but theres no way to account for every tree. Before the sun came up I was dodging trees like it was a video game. 

As is typical with weather, things calmed down once the sun came up. Most of the animals in the area will be heading for lower...

As is typical with weather, things calmed down once the sun came up. Most of the animals in the area will be heading for lower ground by now, but the red fox thrives in these conditions. This one spent the morning hunting, very successfully I might add. It was great watching it hunt and play in the snow for almost an hour. It wad dead silent at this point, and there was no one else in the park... Maybe I was the only one dumb enough to run the gauntlet of falling trees? Either way it was a great morning. 

Ears to the ground, tracking its prey under the snow.

Ears to the ground, tracking its prey under the snow.

Great contrast between the orange fox and white snow.  ** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art...

Great contrast between the orange fox and white snow. 

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

This squirrel was busy collecting nuts during the storm. 

This squirrel was busy collecting nuts during the storm. 

I walked a ways into the woods to photograph aspen trees against the pines in the falling snow. It was so beautiful in there....

I walked a ways into the woods to photograph aspen trees against the pines in the falling snow. It was so beautiful in there. Perfectly silent, as well.

** This image is available as an exclusive limited edition fine art print **

What a great morning.

What a great morning.

Another panorama of the same cluster of trees.

Another panorama of the same cluster of trees.

Beautiful October snow.

Beautiful October snow.

On my way out of the park, I spotted another red fox hunting in the snow. This one was much further off, and more skittish than...

On my way out of the park, I spotted another red fox hunting in the snow. This one was much further off, and more skittish than the other, so I decided to take one quick photo and then leave it to its hunting. It is now late October and it's fitting that my last photos of the fall season show a lot of snow. The white blanket put closure to the season. From here on out, as far as I'm concerned, it's winter. 

Please note: Photos that are available as limited edition prints are marked as such with a green link underneath the photo. There will be more photos from this trip report added to my print collection, so please check back.