The Other Side of Doubt and the View 22 Project

Rainbow Over Aspens

Earlier this season, I was honored to have been included in the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s View 22 Project. In previous years, only a handful of local artists were selected to portray lands that the Land Trust has protected over the course of their existence. This year, however, they expanded it to 35 artists covering all different mediums. As one of the 35, I happily agreed.

The property I was assigned is a small piece of land located along the border of town along the Flat Creek corridor, between Snow King and Josie’s Ridge. As someone whose favorite places are away from civilization and light pollution, I began to have a little trouble finding the motivation to see what kind of photo I would ultimately capture. I was most thinking of trying to get a shot around sunrise and night, but this proved to be a little trickier than I initially anticipated. I never could find the right conditions at night because of frequent stormy weather, nor could I manage waking up early enough to get there for sunrise due to responsibilities I was managing into many nights. Days began to drift to weeks, until the deadline for getting in some info back to the Land Trust about the final image was rapidly approaching. The pressure began getting to me and I actually had to restrain myself from telling them that I wouldn’t be able to get an image done due to too busy of a schedule.

With the deadline for some info looming only a week away, I began to doubt if I would ever get a worthy shot of the property. Realizing I was just stressing myself out and putting too much pressure on something I do so naturally anywhere else, I finally released myself from all the doubt and pressure that had prevented me from doing anything at all. I decided not to stress myself out with it, but simply accepted that as a worst case scenario, I would just head up there at the last minute one night and get what I could.

The deadline for the info was now just a couple of days away when I found myself heading into town during a stormy day for other priorities. I happened to be parking nearby the property for something entirely unrelated, when I noticed a spectacular rainbow beginning to come out. I checked the time to see if I could spare a few minutes, and sure enough, there was a window of opportunity. I grabbed my camera and rain gear and ran up into the property and began photographing every angle I could, until I ultimately ended up with the image above. The rainbow started to fade nearly as soon as I got this shot, almost as if it were just waiting for me to take advantage of the opportunity. My camera gear was (relatively) soaked, but I was excited about the serendipity that had unfolded right in front of me. I couldn’t have planned it any better. All the elements I wanted were there with no sign of town. All I had to do all along was just relax.

Read on Source Site

Mormon Row Preservation and Enhancement 2015:

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“Cyclic Maintenance  — Long Overdue.”

Construction Sign

July 28th photo: Check back regularly this week and all summer for more images and updates!

Many of the historic buildings and structures are getting some maintenance, structural repairs, and cosmetic touches this summer. Two independent groups have begun work all up and down Mormon Row this summer. Work will continue into September. While it might seem like a disruption to the norm to visitors and photographers, the long term benefit should far outweigh the temporary inconveniences. Workers show up at 7:00 to 7:30, so it might still be possible to get sunrise shots.

First Day's Debris

The T.A. Moulton Barn is a Grand Teton National Park project, headed by Shannon Dennison — Cultural Restoration Branch Chief. Harrison Goodall, a Conservation Specialist from Langley, WA is on hand to help direct the 16+ volunteers from around the country. July 28th photo.

Moulton Barn and Corrals

The John Moulton Barn project, along with the rest of the maintenance along Mormon Row is part of the Western Center for Historic Preservation (WCHP). July 10th photo.They are headquartered in Grand Teton National Park, but work on various projects in the Intermountain Region. Katherine Wonson is the director for WCHP. On site, you might find Jeff Olson, preservation carpenter. Recently their group has been adding cement foundations to the corners of the John Moulton barn, along with repairing and replacing chinking. Additionally, groups of youngsters from the Grand Teton Youth Conservation Program and the Student Conservation Association has been assisting preservation efforts. Earlier in the summer, crews worked on barns, sheds and structures around the Chambers Homestead.

Mormon Row Pathway

Connecting the two “Most Photographed Barns in the World”: July 8th photo: I’ve heard people suggest the T.A. Moulton Barn is the most photographed barn in the world. Over my 30 years of living here, I’d suggest the John Moulton Barn is at least equal in numbers of photographers in the field each morning—if not more. Most people visiting one barn, go to the other, so call it a dead heat! Either way, the Park Service is in the process of linking the two areas with a path. A restroom is included in the plans to be built in a larger parking area along the path, just north of the T.A .Moulton Barn. I haven’t seen the official plans, but I also hear there is a bus turnaround area planned along Antelope Flats Road. (I’ll update details in this section as I can get more concrete info)

Moulton Barn Photographers

Sept 24, 2014 photo

T.A. Moulton Barn Photographers: In the early years of Grand Teton National Park, most visitors were drawn to the mountains, streams, rivers and features along the base of the Teton Range. Over the years, more people venture to the rural East side of the park for a nostalgic glimpse of a less common way of life—by today’s standards anyway. Farms and barns can be found in almost all states, but none of them can compare with the two Moulton Barns when they are viewed with the Tetons behind them. The two barns are popular all year, but even more so in the Fall when the leaves of the cottonwoods begin to turn yellow and orange. Aspens are more common at the John Moulton Homestead, attracting big crowds as they change colors.

Moulton Barn Photographers

Sept 24, 2014 photo

I’d seriously doubt John Moulton could have ever envisioned photographers lined up to take photos of his barn as he started building it in the 1910’s. A crowd like the one above is uncommon, but both barns have a steady flow of tourists and photographers at all times of the day and night. Both barns are popular with photographers doing star photography and light painting. Antelope Flats Road is gated from sometime in mid-December until the snow melts in April, but numerous hardy souls still snowshoe, hike, or cross-country ski into the area for Winter images.

.A. Moulton Barn & Fence 1964

T.A. Moulton Barn, 1964. Sue Ernise’s father took this shot during one of his family’s summer stays at the John Moulton homestead. The corrals, chicken coup, and other structures have fallen down since the photo. See more of his photos on these two pages:

 

Josette Katcha, a preservation specialist intern, is onsite at the T.A. Moulton Barn project almost full time. She told me the #1 goal for the barn is stabilization and preservation. Additionally, some interior work would be in anticipation of future interpretation. Projects along Mormon Row are receiving “cyclic maintenance —long overdue.”

Morning Meeting

Morning Meeting: July 28th photo. Harrison Goodall can be seen in the red jacket going over the prior day’s accomplishments and detailing the current day’s assignments. Most people, including myself, have never seen the inside of this old barn. Note: I was given permission to be onsite and signed an acknowledgement of risk form with the Park. Visitors and photographers are requested to stay out of the work zones.

Harrison and 2x4s

Harrison and 2x4s: July 28th photo. Maintenance and stabilization has been ongoing off and on since Labor Day of 1994. Harrison is pointing out how some of it wouldn’t exactly be considered historically correct, prompting a smile from restoration specialist Nick Wujek. For more info on the 1994 restoration, check out the book Legacy of the Tetons: Homesteading in Jackson Hole by Candy Vyvey Moulton

Early Structural Supports

Early Structural Supports: July 28th photo. Some early structural maintenance was designed to simply hold the building upright. This year’s crew is removing some of the earlier work and bringing the building back to its original state. Someday, we may all get to see the interior close to original as possible.

Removing Old Supports

Removing Old Supports: July 28th photo By the time I go back tomorrow, these supports in the original center section of the barn will be “history”.

Hog Shed

Hog Shed: July 28th photo. Paul Hodgdon (GA), Sheila Bricher-Wade (WI), and Lee Chavez-Goodall (WA) can be seen working on the hog shed addition on the North side. The rotting old flooring was ripped out on Monday and piled next to the north side of the barn.

Horse Shed

Horse Shed: : July 28th photo. A couple of other teams of volunteers are working on the horse shed on the south side of the barn.

Horse Shed Progress

Horse Shed ProgressJuly 29th photo Mike Wujek, a restoration specialist from New Jersey, heads the team working on the “horse shed” part of the barn. The timber running down the center of the shed needs to be replaced, so Mike’s group built temporary lifts to hold the roof up while a new timber can be set in the original location. A new “sleeper” will be added under the posts.

Clark and Melba c.1919

Clark and Melba Moulton c.1919: David Moulton supplied this shot of the original barn. At the time, if had a flat top roof. Later, an additional five or six foot section was added to the front along with the roof and hood.

Trimming the New Decking

Trimming the New Decking: July 29th photo. This image shows the front, left corner of the original T.A. Moulton barn. Bob Haynam (Moose, WY) is seen here trimming the new decking, added over the original barn section.

Hay Loft:

Hay Loft: July 29th photo. Harrison Goodall is seen here going over the “battle plan” for work in the loft. They are standing on the new deck. Fred Chapman (WY) has his back turned. Matthew Masters (Loveland, CO) listens for instructions.

MoultonBarnDec23_2013

Moulton Barn Dec23, 2013. Most tourists see the barns along Mormon Row only in the summer and fall, but they have to stand against the elements all year. Heavy snow settles on the north facing roof and hog shed addition. The bracing and cables seen in the previous image are helping ensure the structure doesn’t crumble under the weight.

David Moulton

David Moulton, working on removing one of the supports in the front of the barn. July 29th photo.

Sleeper Timbers in the Hog Shed

Sleeper Timbers in the Hog Shed: July 29th photo. The new sleepers are being reinstalled in the north addition. Plastic Visqueen is being added in the hand dug trough under the logs to allow the crew to add rot retardant. Eventually, a new floor will be added over the sleepers. Much of the current work will be “buried” from view of future tourists enjoying the old barn.

Another Sleeper Timber:

Matthew Masters, Lee Chavez-Goodall, and Paul Hodgdon can be seen here hauling in a new section of the sleepers going into the north section of the barn. Sheila Bricher-Wade is bringing up the last sling, but slightly out of sight. July 29th photo.

2015 Volunteers

2015 Volunteers: July 29th photo. You might say this group is “half a bubble off”…maybe a couple of bubbles off! Many of them have been volunteering each summer in Grand Teton National Park on multiple projects. I can’t help but feeling their time spent here is close to a family reunion. I suggested the observation to Sheila Bricher-Wade. She replied, “Yes, but we get to choose this family.” If you were to click on last year’s post, you’d see many of the same faces. Preservation Begins on the John Moulton Homestead! (2014). The crew worked half a day today to allow them to enjoy parts of the Park.

Young Volunteers

Young Volunteers: This group showed up temporarily at the T.A. Moulton barn to help. (I’ll try to get their group name). The group leader discovered they had gone to the wrong barn initially.  They moved on north to the John Moulton Homestead to help with the Western Center for Historic Preservation (WCHP) group. Either way…thanks!


 

This year’s preservation efforts along Mormon Row are a joint venture between Grand Teton National Park, the Grand Teton National Park Foundation, Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, and a group of volunteers from around the country.

You Can Help!

Both private and corporate donations can be made to either of these two organizations: (Note: you can earmark donations to specific projects like the GTNP Mormon Row restoration projects.) Grand Teton National Park Foundation and Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund

Additional Pages and Resources

Check Back for More Photos of the Progress at the Homestead!

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Teton County Fair 2015: A Photographer’s Perspective.

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Jackson Hole’s Mid-Summer Break Filled with Bright Colors, Flashing Lights, and Non-Stop Action.

(Note: As I post this page, there are still two more nights at the Fair. If I have a chance to go again, I’ll be adding more photos to this page. Check back! And…remember YOU have two nights to get to the Teton County Fair!)

Teton County Fair Wide Shot

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/60 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, 1 EV,  ISO 640

Teton County Fair: I find this time of the year fun and exciting. A few miles north, animals and tourists scurry about doing what animals and tourists do. Down the Snake River Canyon, fishermen fish and whitewater enthusiasts paddle through the rapids in kayaks and rubber rafts. In town, and for only a single short week, we are given a chance to experience the thrills of the rides, the familiar barking of the carnival midway workers, and enough color and flashing lights to send our senses into overload. (Click this image to see it much larger!)

Starship 2000

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/13 at f/22, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 2000

Starship 2000: In previous years, I spent a fair amount of my time capturing images with lots of blurs, similar to the shot above. Check last year’s post: Fair Time! Photos from the Teton County Fair.

Mike with Strobe

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 52 mm, 1/100 at f/9, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 2000

This year, I changed my approach some by taking a Nikon SB910 strobe with me.  Not every shot includes the extra light, but having it gave me some additional options. The SB910 was triggered using an on-camera SU800 controller. The normal infra red signals don’t communicate well in bright sun and require “line of sight”, so I added a Radio Popper transmitter and receiver to change the IR signal to radio frequency. To trigger the camera, I used a Vello FreeWave Micro Wireless Remote Shutter Release. It works great on by my Nikon D4 and Nikon D800. They make additional controllers for other brands and models. The wide shot of the Fair near the top was washed with light from the strobe. Without the strobe, the shot would have been dull, flat, and generally silhouetted in the foreground. Some shots worked well without the strobe, too!

Zipper and Vertigo

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/50 at f/2.8, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 125

Zipper and Vertigo: The layout of the rides and midway changed considerably this year. From a photographer’s perspective, I think the change was for the better. In the past, the general configuration went from East to West. This year, it changed from North to South and was pushed against Flat Creek Drive. This layout eliminated a few annoying power lines behind some of the rides and attractions. Evening skies remained deep blue much longer. The Jackson Hole fair is unique in a few ways. There are no admission fees—so it is cheap to simply mill around each night. The rides and attractions are tightly configured into the allowed space. The people at Frazier Shows don’t have a problem with photographers taking photos, and the workers seem to enjoy having photos taken of their rides.

Aliens

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 44 mm, 1/200 at f/14, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 500

Aliens: For the most part, I go to the Fair to simply have fun, experiment, and learn. Other than taking a few photos for a blog post like this one, I don’t have any particular use for the images, and as a result, don’t have any editorial restrictions. The aliens in this shot were actually vivid green. While in Lightroom, I experimented with quite a few of the sliders to come up with a unique color scheme that makes me smile. The fair gives me plenty of room for experimenting—both in the capture and the post processing.

Dots

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 52 mm, 1/100 at f/9, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 2000

Dots: On this shot and on quite a few others, I turned the focus button on my lens to manual and then purposefully put the scene out of focus. After seeing some of the results from these experimental images, I can see how I might use the effect on other, more finished images.

Duckies

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/1 at f/14, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 100

Duckies: The concessionnaires at this attraction let me set up the tripod next to the spinning rubber ducks for a few shots. When the flash settings are turned to “rear-curtain sync”, the flash fires at the end of a long exposure. This allows for blurred movement, but then a tiny bit of sharpness at the end of the blur. Objects near the center of the spinning move much less.

Carousel Horses

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/4 at f/16, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 1000, ©2015 Mike R. Jackson, All Rights Reserved

Carousel Horses: This is a typical shot of the horses, augmented with a little fill flash via the remote strobe.

Motion

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/1 at f/22, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 640

Horses in Motion: This shot was taken with Rear Curtain Sync as the horses flew by.

Horses Oncoming

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/1 at f/22, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 640, ©2015 Mike R. Jackson, All Rights Reserved

Carousel: This is close to “my vision” for this shot. I was looking for long streaks with a split second of stopped details.

Ghostly Horse

Shooting Data: NIKON D4, Tamron 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 150 mm, 1/6 at f/16, Aperture priority Mode, -3 1/3 EV,  ISO 320

Ghostly Horse: I could go to the fair and shoot a thousand more shots of the carousel horses and never recreate this 1/6th second shot. In reality, most photos taken at the Fair fall into the same category. Lights, people, and conditions are constantly changing. Last year, Frazier Shows opted to leave the Carousel out of the fair. I believe they said it was merely a matter of space. This year, the large Ferris Wheel was being repaired, so the Carousel was back. Who knows if it will be in the show next year? I spent more time there than normal.

Lion's Head

Shooting Data: NIKON D4, Tamron 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 150 mm, 1/15 at f/16, Aperture priority Mode, -3 1/3 EV,  ISO 320

Lion’s Head: Without the fill flash, the blue frame and details on the figure would be almost non-existent. Carnival rides are “ridden hard and put away wet”—  to use a cowboy phrase. Very few of them are pristine, as seen here. A few bulbs are usually missing or burned out. The bottom of the crested frame on this element of the Carousel is broken off. Character?

Lion Head In Motion

Shooting Data: NIKON D4, Tamron 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 150 mm, 1/13 at f/10, Aperture priority Mode, -2 EV,  ISO 320

Lion’s Head: Rear Curtain Sync: 1/13th second at F/10, ISO 320. I experimented with the Shutter Speed to get the length of blur I wanted.

Cliff Hanger

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/4000 at f/2.8, Aperture priority Mode, 0 EV,  ISO 800

Cliff Hanger: A couple of the rides pose problems for me. The Cliff hanger is one of them. The actual gliders lack lights. After it gets dark, they disappear. Also, when dark, there are numerous intense lights in the hub area that shine directly at onlookers (and photographers). My better shots of this ride have been taken while there was still some ambient light.

Cliff Hanger in Drizzle

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 82 mm, 1/400 at f/2.8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 500

Cliff Hanger in Drizzle: “Neither rain, sleet or snow will stop the fair rides!” Well, that’s not exactly correct. They do stop the big rides during heavy rain and lightning storms. Drizzle didn’t stop this ride and provided some moody lighting. I would have preferred the “Freak Out” ride was not behind this ride, but that’s not an option I can control.

Rain Delay

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/400 at f/2.8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 500

Rain Delay: There are moments of transition following a big rain as the rides begin to start running again.

Ring of Fire

Shooting Data: NIKON D4, Tamron 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 210 mm, 1/160 at f/9, Aperture priority Mode, -1/3 EV,  ISO 100

Ring of Fire: I prefer the night and lights, but some rides translate well in broad daylight. On this day, I was drove to the fair early in anticipation of a possible rainbow. Once there, I stayed for the entire change from afternoon light to darkness.

Ring of Fire

Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 24 mm, 1/800 at f/8, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 100

Ring of Fire: Direct light on the silver sides of the ring pushed the exposure down and created some drama in the skies. The ride was ending as I set up the shot. A cloud moved in front of the sun by the time the next ride was loaded and the effect was negated.

Midway

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/6 at f/22, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 2000

Midway: I tried this shot with the strobe lighting the fair goers, but that distracted from the the scene. It’s easy to shoot it both ways and pick the one I like.

Zipper Detail

Shooting Data: NIKON D4, Tamron 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 600 mm, 1/50 at f/9, Aperture priority Mode, -2 EV,  ISO 320, ©2015 Mike R. Jackson, All Rights Reserved

Zipper: Using a telephoto lens, I concentrated on small areas. The lights change constantly, so I took lots of images.

Zipper: Blurred Lights

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 160 mm, 1/60 at f/2.8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 80, ©2015 Mike R. Jackson, All Rights Reserved

Zipper: Lights out of focus.

Vertigo With Indigo Skies

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 50 mm, 1/60 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, 1 EV,  ISO 2000

Vertigo With Indigo Skies: This is probably my favorite ride to photograph.

Vertigo and Zipper

 Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8 at 18 mm, 1.30 at f/22, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 320

Vertigo and Zipper: I tilted my camera to slant the horizon on this one. The long exposure created streaks, while the static Zipper ride remained in relative focus. The cages on the Zipper are lit by the ambient light, but disappear in the dark night shots while spinning.

Fair_GoldfishAndHand_July24

Shooting Data: NIKON D4, Tamron 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 600 mm, 1/250 at f/9, Aperture priority Mode, -1 1/3 EV,  ISO 100

Goldfish: If you can throw a ball into a cup, you can go home with one or two of these goldfish. An aquarium sits in each of the four corners. I was set up taking a few shots of the fish when a youngster put his hand on the corner of the aquarium, causing the fish to move to the other side. I suspect this happens hundred of times a day. A human element can be a big plus.

Brynn and Her New Fish

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 140 mm, 1/200 at f/2.8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 500

Brynn and Her New Fish: This fish has a proud new owner.

Another Winner

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 140 mm, 1/100 at f/2.8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 500

Another Winner: For a few dollars more, you can go home with a few fish and mini-aquarium.

Carousel and Riders

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 70 mm, 1/400 at f/2.8, Manual Mode, -3 EV,  ISO 100

Brynn and Father: Hard to beat a good ol’ family shot. I was taking artsy photos of the horse’s head while the ride was stopped when the seat filled with a little rider.

Carousel Horse Portrait

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 98 mm, 1/800 at f/3.5, Manual Mode, -3 EV,  ISO 100

Carousel Horse Portrait: This shot was taken when there was still a considerable amount of ambient afternoon light. I dialed in some heavy negative exposure on the camera, then moved the remote strobe relatively close to the head.

Black and White

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 98 mm, 1/800 at f/3.5, Manual Mode, -3 EV,  ISO 100

Black and White: Same shot after processing through NIK Silver Efex in Photoshop.

Fresh Pizza

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 105 mm, 1/60 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, 1/3 EV,  ISO 640, ©2015 Mike R. Jackson, All Rights Reserved

Fresh Pizza: Kayla Perez and Dominic Fraley were working in the Pizza trailer. I asked Kayla if she would hold the next pizza up for me when it came out of the oven. No problem!

Fresh Pizza

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 105 mm, 1/60 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, 1/3 EV,  ISO 640, ©2015 Mike R. Jackson, All Rights Reserved

Fresh Pizza: Sometimes, all the bright colors can be distracting. I like this one both ways.

Cliff Hanger Tilted

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 at 50 mm, 1/60 at f/6.3, Aperture priority Mode, 1 EV,  ISO 2000

Cliff Hanger Tilted: Blurs are still good! A tripod is a must for this kind of shot.

Pharoah's Revenge

Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 at 100 mm, 1/500 at f/2.8, Aperture priority Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 500

Pharoah’s Revenge: There’s a treasure trove of unusual subject matter at the Teton Country Fair right now. It’s a great place to experiment, make mistakes, learn from them, and generally have fun like a little kid. Better yet, there are about five nights, so even if you don’t get what you want one night, you should have second and third chances. If you are shooting in RAW format, you have additional chances to modify the original capture.

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(Note: As I post this page, there are still two more nights at the Fair. If I have a chance to go again, I’ll be adding more photos to this page. Check back!)

Here’s a link to last year’s Fair post: Fair Time! Photos from the Teton County Fair.

Please, if you like this post and know others that might want to see it, share it by clicking on any of the Social Media icons.

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Defeated by Cream Puff Peak

Hiking Trail in Mountain Meadow

Distance (one way): 6 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Best time of year: Spring, Summer

If the hike hadn’t been as challenging as it was, I might have felt a little demoralized by the name, but summiting Cream Puff Peak does not come easy for anyone, especially once the 6-7 foot wildflowers have grown in. This hike is definitely not for novices or anyone looking for a casual day in the mountains.

After my safe return, I discovered there were two main routes up the peak. I was using a popular guide book by Rebecca Woods called Hiking the Tetons (a mandatory addition for anyone wanting to hike in the area). The trailhead I was directed to was on Bull Creek Road, just west of The Shield (a popular climbing destination) and Granite Hot Springs. As I began hiking, I was thankful I was in long pants. This trail is seldom used so the vegetation along the trail was dense at best, and at least a few feet high. It had also rained the previous day, which meant a lot of the plants were still very wet, soaking my legs as I brushed past them all.

It didn’t take long for the trail to begin gaining significant elevation, at which point I noticed four turkey vultures circling overhead. It was a breezy morning, so assuming they were just enjoying the breeze, I admired them and then moved on. I popped in and out of not-so-dense forests of fir and spruce and even the occasional aspen grove, the latter becoming more frequent as the elevation increased. With the increase in elevation came more and more wildflowers. Duncecap larkspur, mules ear, lupine, and Indian paintbrush carpeted endless meadows on the mountainsides. Views to the south opened up as well with the higher elevations. It was also at this point that I began to notice those same four vultures circling overhead again. I thought it a little peculiar, but then I was distracted by the view of the northern Wyoming Range and continued my climb through the sporadic evergreen and aspen trees.

Aspen Trees and Undergrowth

The trail continued upward, seeming to approach a distant ridge up above as I popped out into another larger meadow about 1.5-2 miles into the trail. As I hiked through the meadow, I noticed a shadow on the ground flying past in the shape of a large bird. I looked up, and again, those same four vultures were circling, now making an occasional pass only about 30 above me. At this point a person’s imagination starts to kick in. Was there a reason I was the only one on the trail and being stalked by vultures? Is there something up ahead that I’d rather not know about? There was only one way to find out. Of course had I been more influenced by bad Hollywood movies, I might have started to wonder if the vultures were well underway in a mental attack on me. Maybe they had learned that with enough persistence, they can cause a human to panic and run and just have that person injure themselves, doing the work for them. Fortunately, I know nature doesn’t reflect idiotic Hollywood movies like The Grey. As I continued on, I told them I was healthy and wasn’t going down, and I never saw them again.

The views to the south only got more and more impressive as the trail ascended through the wildflower meadows, and it didn’t take much longer for views to the east to begin to unfold too. Pinnacle Peak popped out over the eastern ridge with other neighboring peaks, and shortly thereafter, the trail crested a significant ridge where sweeping views to the north were finally revealed. Some of the Gros Ventre Mountains’ finest peaks were showing off in a mesmerizing 360 degree panoramic view.

Hiking Trail in Mountain Meadow

The trail then cut west heading down toward a small evergreen forest, supposedly with a hunting camp on the south side which I wasn’t able to find, or even see. The trail began to descend into the woods, and became somewhat difficult to follow at times. I lost the trail more than once and even became confused by now obsolete forks, until it finally emerged from the forest into a large, open meadow covered in wildflowers that were easily a minimum of five feet high. I followed the trail, thinking my hike was nearing its end with one last climb up the distant ridge, when all of a sudden the trail was gone. It had completely vanished into the overgrown meadow and there was no sign of it. I headed back to the treeline and noticed a fork I hadn’t seen before. I took the new trail, but suffered the same fate. Fortunately, this one of the rare exceptions where I actually brought the guide book with me. I took it out, read about where I was, but still couldn’t make any sense of where I was supposed to go. I had apparently missed my opportunity farther back on the trail to scope out the ridges and meadows to see more accurately where I was supposed to be going. In fact I wasn’t even sure at this point which peak was Cream Puff Peak. There was a distant ridge, and I knew I needed to get on top of it.

I picked the latter fork and headed back into it, determined to get somewhere. My pace slowed to a crawl as the thick plants, all competing to be the tallest, seemed to be grabbing at my legs to hold me back. After only a few dozen yards, I came to a small stream, producing just enough water to refill, had I needed it, but at about 10-15 feet down a small ravine, had produced some steep inclines that made getting down and across a rather tricky task. I worked my way down the bank, slipping a couple of times until I had reached the stream, but I didn’t have time to plan my jump across. I felt my balance give out and so I just made a leap of faith, hoping I wouldn’t land into a stream I couldn’t see. I hit solid ground, got my bearings, and made my way up the steep incline as best as I could.

After bushwhacking for what seemed like miles, I was a couple of hundred yards from the tree line where I lost the trail. Fortunately, I found a game trail (or possibly a rarely-used hiking trail) which made things slightly easier, though the plants still seemed hesitant to see me proceed. I forced my way through the game trail until I realized it was turning toward the opposite direction that I wanted to be going. I could either head off the makeshift trail with no real certainty where I should be heading, or continue up to the next ridge to at least get a better view and get my bearings. The path of least resistance, so to speak, in this case was the latter.

Unnamed Gros Ventre Peak

I reached the ridge and found a very impressive view of a large peak just to the north. I knew it wasn’t Cream Puff Peak, but I was wondering why I wasn’t making my way there in the first place. It was certainly the most impressive looking in my reachable vicinity. I checked the time, and realized I wouldn’t have the time to summit either peak. I needed to be back in the evening and I had already been going for over three hours and 2pm was quickly approaching. I also knew it wouldn’t be easy getting back to the actual trail. I glanced back up at (to my knowledge) the unnamed peak, and regretfully turned around to be sure I’d be back in town when needed. As a not-so-smart compromise, I decided to hike to the other side of the meadow. With uneven terrain, thicker brush, and even more stream crossings, this proved to be one of my poorer decisions. I fell multiple times, tore up my pants, and am pretty sure I got stung by something on my leg. Though it was only 200-300 hundred extra yards or so, it probably ate up at least an extra 30-45 minutes going back the “scenic” way.

Having finally reached the trail again (I was at least smart enough to consistently look back to make sure I’d find it), I was beginning to get very hungry. I had a quick snack, and proceeded back up the trail to the initial ridge that opened up all the views for me. Here I had a (relatively) proper meal, while also getting a much better lay of the land. Now determining where both Cream Puff Peak and the hunting camp were, I had a much better understanding of where I was actually supposed to go, and just how far off the trail I had actually gone. Cream Puff Peak was apparently much farther south than I thought, and the ridge I was going to was too far north. All I could do at this point was to save that valuable information for next time, and enjoy my lunch and the tremendous views that were in front of me before heading back down.

Sage Grouse in Wildflowers

After over six hours on the trail, I saw a whopping total of zero other people. In fact I didn’t see a single other mammal either. There were plenty of signs of deer, elk, and moose, but nothing else, unfortunately. In addition to my stalking vulture friends, there were a few hawks out, and plenty of sage grouse to practically scare me off the trail as they began to fly. You don’t know how startling it is until you’ve experienced it.

So, if you’re looking for some solitude and a good challenge, this one’s definitely worth a shot.

Getting there: From Jackson, take Highway 191/189 south to Hoback Junction. Follow the highway east and into the Hoback Canyon. Continue along the highway for roughly 11 miles and there will be an obscure, unsigned dirt road on the left. If you pass The Shield or the road to Granite Hot Springs, you just missed it. There will be a parking area just up the road, still visible from the highway. Walk up the road a bit more, and a sign marking the trailhead will be visible off the road to the left.

Read on Source Site

July 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH:

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A monthly journal of wildlife reports, scenic opportunities, and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!

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Recent Daily Updates Archives:
2015:
July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov:
| Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013:
Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug:

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Check out the July Overview!

Monthly Overviews for JH / GTNP . Get a quick look at 12 months side by side.

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July 15, 2015 :

A Morning of Horses and Barns!

Barn with Lit Peaks

Barn with Lit Peaks: Taken near Teton Village on the Moose-Wilson Road. Nikon D4 and Nikon 70-200mm

Single Horse and Clouds

Single Horse and Clouds: Nikon D4 and Nikon 70-200mm

Incoming Horses

Incoming Horses: Nikon D4 and Nikon 70-200mm

Running Horses

Running Horses: Nikon D4 and Nikon 70-200mm

Pronghorn Buck

Pronghorn Buck: I did a quick pass through the south part of the park. I found two Moose along the Moose-Wilson road. No Owls again today. Bison and Pronghorns were along Mormon Row. It started raining as I made it to the Gros Ventre, so I didn’t have much of a chance to see Moose there.  Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

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July 14, 2015 :

A Morning of Moose!

Bull Moose in Willows

Bull Moose in Willows: Lately, there has been three or maybe even four nice bull moose hanging around the Gros Ventre River. They are often seen from the pull-out roughly 2.3 miles from the highway. This morning, one of them was grazing on willows just under the ridge. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Morning Moose Crossing

Morning Moose Crossing: The bull fed for a while, then headed for the river. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Mid-River Moose

Mid-River Moose: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Moose in Shadows

Moose in Shadows: I shot over 300 photos of this moose crossing the Gros Ventre this morning. Very enjoyable! Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Owls? Like yesterday, I hiked a couple of miles in two areas, but never saw an owl. Maybe others had better success.

Upcoming Plans?  If you are planning a trip to the region, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • This Weekend: Annual Wilson Fire Department Chicken Cookout: Stillson Parking Lot ~ Wilson, WY
  • All Summer: Jackson, WY: Farmer’s Markets ~ Saturdays on the Town Square.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: Rodeo on Wednesday and Saturday nights all summer.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: JH Shootout on the Town Square at 6:30 nightly (except Sunday).
  • West Yellowstone, MT: Smoking Waters Mtn. Man Rendezvous: July 31-August 9
  • Fort Hall, ID ~52nd Annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival & Pow Wow  ~ August 6-9, 2015

Trail Horses Through Dust

Kicking Up Dust: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Afternoon Dust

Afternoon Dust: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Bison

The Bison are Back!: This afternoon, roughly 80 Bison crossed Antelope Flats Road. Another herd of about the same size was grazing near Mormon Row—seen in the photo above. Jackson Peak (sometimes called Mt. Jackson) can be seen in the distance.

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July 13, 2015 :

Rusting Away

Rusting Away:  Last Fall, I packed up the truck to drive out to the Bar BC Dude Ranch to do some late evening light painting on this old vehicle. When I got to the turn in,  I found  the gate locked for the season. Last night, I drove out tonight to give it another try. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm lens.

Bar-B-C

Bar-B-C Vehicle with Teton Range: I didn’t return home until Midnight last night, so I’ll post these photos in today’s section. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm lens.

Outhouse with No LightThe historic old Bar BC Dude Ranch is roughly 2 miles east of the Taggart Lake trail head on the Teton Park Road. Head East on the dirt road and park at the top of the hill. The ranch was the second Dude Ranch in the valley, attracting the rich and famous of the day. (Bar B C Dude Ranch via Wikipedia.)

There are still quite a few of the old buildings, some of which have been partially restored or repaired. The ranch was quite large and attracted many writers, poets, and well-to-do travelers from all over. The old outhouse is still standing as seen in this photo. It had a ceramic stool…something you’d expect over a couple of wooden holes seen in “regular” outhouses.

Bar-B-C Outhouse

Bar-B-C Outhouse with a little light added. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm lens.

Cabin in the DarkCabin in the Dark: Last night, I took a couple of flashlights down the trail. This one was lit with a 2 million candle power flashlight, with a 20° grid and a couple of neutral density gels to cut the light down. The shot on the left is the exposure without any supplemental light.

Cabin Entry with Light

Cabin Entry with Light: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm lens.

Bar-B-C Cabin

Bar-B-C Cabin and Stars: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm lens.

Night Sky

Night Sky: This is 14mm big sky shot from the hill above Bar-B-C. The streaks are vehicles moving across the highway. Blacktail Butte runs the horizon line near the center. The bright areas on the right are lights from the Town of Jackson, the JH Airport, and cars on the highway during a 25 second exposure. Shooting Data: NIKON D800, 14.0-24.0 mm f/2.8 at 14 mm, 25.00 seconds at f/2.8, Manual Mode, -2/3 EV,  ISO 3200

Spring Gulch

Spring Gulch: When I see clouds like this developing, I drop everything and try to make a quick trip to the Park. I headed straight to the flowers on Antelope Flats Road, but they are now past peak. I didn’t see owls this afternoon, but there were three nice bull moose on the Gros Ventre River. Bison seem to have disappeared in the southern end of the park. Pronghorns are more common. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Trumpeter Swan

Lone Trumpeter Swan: I’ve been watching for a set of baby swans lately, but have only seen this one loner near the bridge on Flat Creek.  Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

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July 12, 2015 :

Landing in Tight Quarters

Landing in Tight Quarters: I found a few bull Moose along the Gros Ventre this morning, then looked for other subjects. This owl was hunting on the Moose-Wilson Road. I came home with quite a few nice shots from this morning. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Trail Horses

Trail Horses near Teton Village: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Young Great Gray Owl

Young Great Gray Owl: I spent a good portion of my day yesterday trying to get shots of the baby Great Gray Owls. You might get a chance to see them if you keep a keen eye out for them. Recently, I heard there were something like 24-28 nesting Great Gray Owl pairs in the region. Watch for them along deep woods areas along the Snake River, Fish Creek Road and Fall Creek Road. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Feeding Time

Feeding Time: Before you ask, I don’t know where their nest is/was. The only thing I can offer right now is they are off the nest and will be learning to hunt on their own. The parents may continue to feed them along the Moose-Wilson road or my move them into the back country. Who knows? Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

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July 11, 2015 :

Tetons, Fog, and Clouds

Tetons, Fog, and Clouds: Taken from the side of the highway near the Welcome to Grand Teton National Park sign.  Nikon D800 and Nikon 70-200 mm

GGO Take-Off

GGO Take-Off: Yesterday’s Great Gray Owl was back. Maybe I should simply say an owl with no tags or bands was back. No telling how many different owls I have been seeing. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Spit Second of Landing

Spit Second of Landing: This owl was near the overlook on the Moose-Wilson Road. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Upcoming Plans?  If you are planning a trip to the region, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • This Weekend: Pinedale, WY: Green River Rendezvous Days: July 9-12, 2015 : Parade, Trader’s Row, Mountain Man Museum, Pageant
  • This Weekend: Antique Show at Teton Village
  • This Weekend: First of two Center For The Arts outdoor Art Shows ~ Miller Park
  • Fort Hall, ID ~52nd Annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival & Pow Wow  ~ August 6-9, 2015
  • West Yellowstone, MT: Smoking Waters Mtn. Man Rendezvous: July 31-August 9
  • All Summer: Jackson, WY: Farmer’s Markets ~ Saturdays on the Town Square.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: Rodeo on Wednesday and Saturday nights all summer.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: JH Shootout on the Town Square at 6:30 nightly (except Sunday).

Plein Air Painter

Plein Air Painter: Bill Sawchuck is one of around 40 painters scattered around the valley this week painting “in the open air”. I saw him working along Spring Gulch Road and he graciously let me take a few photos. Bill shows his work at Trio Gallery on north Cache. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm

Wrangler and Horses

Wrangler and Horses: Taken near Teton Village this afternoon. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Horses Going to Pasture

Horses Going to Pasture: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

More Trail Horses

More Trail Horses: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummingbird: I captured this one in the back yard just before dark. Nikon D800 and Nikon 200-400 mm

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July 10, 2015 :

Northern Sunrise

Northern Sunrise: As I was heading north this morning, I saw nice color in the east and north. I didn’t think I could get to Schwabacher Landing in time, so I turned onto Antelope Flats Road and made it to Mormon Row as the color begin to bathe the mountains. Nikon D800 and Nikon 70-200 mm

Moulton Barn and Corrals

Moulton Barn and Corrals: Lots of people like to wait until the sunlight hits the barn, which is also great, but I prefer this period of the sunrise. The peach, pink, and lavender hues are usually replaced by amber and gold by the time first light hits the barn. This shot is actually two captures I stitched together into a single, small “pano”. There were four or five photographers in the scene, but I cloned them out in Photoshop. It’s difficult to go there this time of year and not have three or four in your shot. (Click on this image to see it much larger) Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm

TA Moulton Barn

TA Moulton Barn: Last Monday, I took a couple out for a One-on-One Photography Excursion. I was showing them how to control depth of field using both distance and aperture settings by focusing on the fence post near the center at F/22 and then F/2.8. After the mini-lesson, the light turned amber gold and we all took shots from this spot. I did the bonehead mistake of not switching back to F/11 and took my shots at F/2.8. They were far from optimal. This morning, I went back and re-shot my scene. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm

Tetons and Tipi

Tetons and Tipi: I shot this one from the vehicle at Dornan’s. I used NIK software to convert it to yellowed sepia. Nikon D4 and Nikon 70-200 mm

Great Gray Owl Taking Off

Great Gray Owl Taking Off: I spotted “the Owl” early this morning along the Moose-Wilson Road. Yesterday, I created this post New Feature Post!  C3 ~ GTNP’s Showboat Great Gray Owl. Interestingly, this is not C3. This one doesn’t have tags, bands, or antenna. This Owl used the exact same perches C3 uses! Shooting Data: NIKON D4, 150.0-600.0 mm f/5.0-6.3 at 350 mm, 1/1000 at f/6, Manual Mode, -2/3 EV,  Auto ISO 7200

Wet GGO with Vole

Wet GGO with Vole: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Out of the Grass

Out of the Grass: No tags! Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Eyes on the Landing Perch

Eyes on the Landing Perch: Great Gray Owls focus on one spot, whether it is a mouse or a branch and then fly directly to that spot. They are so focused they don’t watch for dangers like passing campers or vehicles. Some pay the price and are found along the roads. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Diving Owl

Diving Owl: I took quite a few shots of this owl on the various perches and branches, but spent most of my morning trying to get flight shots. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Mule Deer in Summer Flowers

Mule Deer in Summer Flowers: This nice buck was grazing along the Moose-Wilson Road near the south entrance. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

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July 9, 2015 :

One Flowers

One Flowers: The skies were overcast and the Teton Range was cover with clouds, so I headed back to Antelope Flats Road to try some experimental photography. The plan was to set up, then focus on a single flower or maybe two and let everything else fall out of focus while shooting “wide open”. And with low, dull light, I took a Nikon SB-910 strobe controlled by a Nikon SU-800. To help with communications, I added a pair of Radio Poppers to convert IR (infra red) signal into RF (radio frequency). Lastly, I used an RFN4-s to trigger the camera as I held my strobe very close to the flowers. The strobe was set to Manual at 1/32nd power. Nikon D800 and Nikon 200-400 mm

Sticky Aster

Sticky Aster: The camera was set to underexpose by a stop or so, then I punched in some light in the focused zones. I took several hundred images. Some worked better than others, but the effect worked out about as well as I had hoped. I spent a couple of hours of the morning amongst the flowers. Nikon D800 and Nikon 200-400 mm

Wildflowers: Photography Tips, Suggestions & Resources

Great Gray Owl Landing

Great Gray Owl Landing: Before heading home, I made a loop to the Moose-Wilson Road. C3 (numbered by a tag) was out hunting and putting on a grand show. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Diving Great Gray Owl

Diving Great Gray Owl: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

C3

C3/Great Gray Owl: Unless the image is being submitted to some sort of Audubon or National Geographic site, I usually remove the tags and rings. This one also has an antenna wire sticking out its back. I’m not say “you should”…only that “I do” when something man made is causing a distraction. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

New Feature Post!  C3 ~ GTNP’s Showboat Great Gray Owl. This page contains ten photos of this owl—all taken today!

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July 8, 2015 :

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan: Taken along Flat Creek just north of the Visitor’s Center. Nikon D4 and Nikon 200-400 mm

This morning, the sky was gray and clouds hovered in front of the top of the Grand. We’ve had a couple of good morning sunrise days already this week, so I looked for other opportunities. I did a Kelly loop, then a few passes along the Moose-Wilson Road. Bison were far out in the pastures in the Kelly area. Same for Pronghorns. I didn’t see any owls on the Moose-Wilson Road. I saw one two year old moose cow near the old Beaver Ponds, but didn’t get shots. I’ve heard reports of a Black Bear sow with two cubs in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, so I made a couple of passes there.

Touron

Outside the Park “Touron”: I took this shot Monday night along the Teton Village Road near the “R Park”. This bull, a cow, and a young bull caused a sizable traffic jam. I am always amazed how close people think they have to get to take their shots.

Afternoon in the Park

Landing Osprey

Landing Osprey: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Purple Lupine

Purple Lupine: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Shaggy Pronghorn Doe

Shaggy Pronghorn Doe: Taken along Mormon Row. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Pronghorn in Motion

Pronghorn in Motion: Panning at 1/40th second. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Moulton Barn with Early Clouds

Moulton Barn with Early Clouds: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm

Sunset over Mt. Moran

Sunset over Mt. Moran: Tonight, the best color was in the northern sections. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm

badgerWhile I was on the road taking the photo above, a Badger walked towards me, then passed directly in front of me — apparently on its way back to its den.

Mormon Row Pathway

Mormon Row Pathway: This is a “record shot” showing the new pathway being built next to the roadway connecting the two barns. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm

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July 7, 2015 :

Click to view slideshow.

 I added a little fill flash to my Wildflower shots this morning. The clouds in the East were dulling the light on the flowers at times.

Wildflower and Clouds

Wildflower and Clouds: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm with Strobe

Dark Tetons

Tetons in Shadows:This group of Widlflower shots were taken along Antelope Flats Road.  Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70 mm with Strobe

Meadowlark

Meadowlark: Taken along Mormon Row Road. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

OneFlowers and Aspen Trunk

One Flowers and Aspen Trunk: Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Buck Mule Deer

Buck Mule Deer: Two bucks were milling around near the Gros Ventre Junction as I was heading home.   Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Buck in Shade

Buck in Shade: This buck was standing in the shade of a small cottonwood tree. It looks like he is still adding points to his velvet covered antlers. A minute or so after this shot, he bedded down in the sagebrush. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Pink

Shadow Mountain Wildflowers: I prepped another half dozen Wildflower images I took this morning on Shadow Mountain, but figured I already had enough images for today. There were Sticky Geraniums, One Flowers, Indian Paintbrush, Fireweed, Penstemon, Scarlet Galia, and a number of species I couldn’t identify. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Afternoon:

Dusty Horse Herd

Dusty Horse Herd: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird: Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

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July 6, 2015 :

Golden Morning

Golden Morning at Mormon RowNikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Chambers Homestead

Chambers Homestead on Mormon Row: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Wildflowers

Wildflowers on Antelope Flats Road: Nikon D800 and Nikon 14-24mm

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Penstemon

Penstemon at Colter Bay: Nikon D800and Tamron 150-600mm

A Day in the Park: I took a couple out for a “One-on-One” photo excursion today. Light was beautiful in the morning following overnight rains. In between helping them with their photography and shots, I was able to sneak in a few captures for today’s entry. Besides the landscape opportunities, we managed to find a Great Gray Owl. I believe both of them were able to get some great captures. Flowers along Antelope Flats Road are still in peak shape.

I have a couple of openings for photo excursions for later in July. For more info: Mike Jackson’s One-On-One Photography Excursions in GTNP. (Golden Era Studios / Mike R. Jackson is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service and the National Elk Refuge.)

Lilys Bee

Lily & Benson’s Bumble Bee: The goal was to capture a Bumble Bee in flight. I shot my still image with a Nikon D800. I switched the body to a Nikon D4 knowing it can shoot at 10 FPS. I let Lily & Benson take some images while I walked to the Colter Bay Visitor’s Center for a pit stop. When I returned, they had captured several nice images with a Bumble Bee in the air. I have no way of knowing which of the husband and wife team took the shot, so I included both names. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

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July 5, 2015 :

Eclectic Sunday! I did a quick zip around the southern part of GTNP and stumbled upon a variety of subjects. By comparison, today was cool and pleasant. Clouds rolled in after the Fireworks last night and there was a light wind to help keep the temperatures down.

Pronghorn Buck with Summer Wildflowers

Pronghorn Buck with Summer Wildflowers: This nice looking buck was crossing Mormon Row when I saw him. All I had to do was wait until he moved into the flowers and hope he’d look up for a few seconds. I typically photograph Pronghorns either out the window (over a bean bag) or standing against the door and shooting over the hood. They often spook if you pull out a tripod and get out into the open. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Pronghorn Doe

Pronghorn Doe: The variety in colors and texture behind this Pronghorn attracted me initially. She was also along Mormon Row. On a sunny morning, I would have been shooting into a backlit situation, but the slightly overcast skies made the shot work. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Bluebird

Bluebird: I would have preferred to capture this male Bluebird on a more natural looking branch, but this happens to be the kind of object they land on all the time. He let me pull up fairly close in my van and shoot out he window. This would have been a very tough shot into the sun on any of the last mornings. I’ve seen Bluebirds near the TA Moulton Barn almost every time I’ve been there in the past month or so. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Uinta Ground Squirrel

Uinta Ground Squirrel: This little critter near the parking lot at Schwabacher Landing seemed to be begging for a photo. It posed on a buckrail fence for quite a while. I photographed this one out the window of the van (always with the vehicle turned off). Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow: Unlike some of the other subjects from today, this Swallow allowed me to capture two exposures and then was off the perch and flying around Schwabacher Landing searching for insects. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Mystery Shorebird

Sora Rail: Richard Pontius sent me a note to identify this bird as a Sora Rail. This bird made a loud, distinctive call, similar in many ways to some of the Kingfisher calls. This was also taken at Schwabacher Landing. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Schwabacher Landing Tidbits: I bumped into a “Best of the Tetons” subscriber this morning that has been spending a lot of time there. She said she saw a Black Bear one day and a Grizzly another, along with beavers, Mallards with babies in tow, and other waterfowl. Moose are seen at Schwabacher Landing at times, but she hadn’t seen one.

Molting Mallard

Molting Mallard: At the time I took this shot, I wasn’t sure about this bird either. After seeing it on the computer, I am fairly sure it is a Mallard drake going through a molting stage. I can see some of the blue green feathers in its head. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Driggs Fireworks 2015: Last year, I spent one night photographing the Fireworks at Huntsman Springs in Driggs, ID. It was such a wonderful show. This year, I suggested my wife and her friends go there to see it for themselves. Things changed, however. Hunstman turned the fireworks event over to the town of Driggs and the golf course was closed to non-Hunstman Springs members.  Maybe the event went off well and all were satisfied, but my wife and friends came back to Jackson Hole to watch our event.  That gave me a chance to try a new spot several mile south of town and at an elevated position. The photo is at the end of yesterday’s entry. I’ve never seen a Fireworks photo from there.

Trumpeter Swans: Recently, I caught a glimpse of a pair of Trumpeter Swans with four or five babies. If you are driving by Flat Creek, keep an eye out for them. This is about the same time we first saw them last year.

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July 4, 2015 :

Happy 4th!

Dusty Trail Horses

Dusty Trail Horses: Morning’s gold light on area horses. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Dusty

An Upcoming Year of Wishes: Western images are on the wish listNikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Pronghorn Buck

Pronghorn Buck: Taken along Mormon Row Road. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

The Gros Ventre

The Gros Ventre: Bull Moose posing along the river this morning. 150mm. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Bull Moose in Summer Grass

Bull Moose in Summer Grass: 600mm. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Bubble Performer

New Feature Post: Downtown Red, White & Blue ~ Patriotic Colors on Display at the 4th of July Parade.

For additional recent shots, click the June 2015 Daily Updates and Photos Page. July was active and busy last year, and I expect it to be again this year, so please check back regularly! The image above was taken on July 1st of 2014.

Upcoming Plans?  If you are planning a trip to the region, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • TODAY! Jackson, WY: 4th of July Parade & Fireworks: Saturday, 4th of July
  • TODAY! Driggs, ID: Celebrate America, large fireworks display: Saturday 4th of July
  • TODAY! Driggs, ID: Hot Air Balloon Festival, early mornings July 02 – July 05
  • West Yellowstone, MT: Smoking Waters Mtn. Man Rendezvous: July 31-August 9
  • Pinedale, WY: Green River Rendezvous Days: July 9-12, 2015 : Parade, Trader’s Row, Mountain Man Museum, Pageant
  • Jackson, WY: Farmer’s Markets begin on Saturday, July 11 downtown.
  • TODAY! Jackson, WY: Rodeo on Wednesday and Saturday nights all summer.
  • TODAY! Jackson, WY: JH Shootout on the Town Square at 6:30 nightly (except Sunday).

Jackson Hole Fireworks at Snow King Mountain

Fireworks at Jackson Hole’s Snow King Mountain: Taken from the hillside on East Gros Ventre Butte. Nikon D800 and Nikon 70-200mm ~ 3 seconds, F/8, ISO 1250

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July 3, 2015 :

4th of July Weekend Begins! I was out early and found three Bull Moose along the Gros Ventre River.

Bull Moose in Willows

Bull Moose in Willows: Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Cautious Approach

Gros Ventre Approach: Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Gros Ventre Crossing

Gros Ventre Crossing: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Morning on the Gros Ventre

Morning on the Gros Ventre: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Side Channel Crossing

Side Channel Crossing: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Touron

Notes for iPhone users: The Moose images above were taken at roughly 45 yards from the subjects with a telephoto lens. The only way to get a similar shot with an iPhone is to be very close. That would be dangerous and illegal! I was speaking with Bill Kerr last week. He’s a Yellowstone ranger. He pulled out his cell phone then said, “This is the worst device  ever invented for Yellowstone…people get way too close with them.” The shot above was taken in 2008. I was ready to get bloody shots on all the news feeds that day!

Wildlife Notes: Days are still very long right now, with highs in the low to mid 90°s. Most of the dark mammals bed down as soon as the sun starts heating their backs, so if you want to see them, be out very early. Sunrise is at 5:46 am and first light over the eastern mountains is close to 6:00 am in many areas. Many of the moose, deer and elk will pull back into the shadows early. By 7:30am, expect them to be down and out of sight for the bulk of the day. Moose will often stand up in the daytime just long enough to move to a new shady spot. By about 6:30 pm or so, watch for them to start moving around a bit and feed on fresh willow branches and leaves. Great Gray Owls are having to feed their hungry babies and may be hunting more in the middle of the day than when they are only hunting for themselves. This should also apply to Foxes and Coyotes until the young are hunting on their own.

JH 4th of July Tidbits: It has been warm and dry lately. Fire Danger ratings are high. Fireworks are prohibited in Teton County, except for the big events at Teton Village and Snow King. Gasoline is running around $3.05 per gallon for self-serve unleaded at many stations.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird: Nikon D800 and Nikon 200-400mm with Nikon Strobes

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird: Nikon D800 and Nikon 200-400mm with Nikon Strobes

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Summer is Here! …a bonus section today!

Crowded Location

I took this shot last September. I have similar ones taken at Oxbow Bend around that time, too. A recent newspaper article said Yellowstone is smashing visitor records this year, and I’m sure the Tetons are well above averages. Each morning, I see a group of photographers at both of the famous Mormon Row barns and the parking lot is almost always full at Schwabacher Landing.

Granite FallsIn October of 2013, the Parks went through the infamous Government Shut Down. I “got on my horse” (slang for got busy) and created this page: Outside the Park: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph. If things begin to feel crowded here, take the short drive down the Hoback, then up Granite Creek to Granite Falls. It should be running clear by now. Also check out: Granite Falls and Granite Creek: If you have a good 4-Wheel Drive, consider a trip down to Bar BC Dude Ranch or up Shadow Mountain on the other side of the valley. Fall On Shadow Mountain. The post was created in the Fall, but it’s still a great option in the summer, especially for wildflowers

Occasionally, a person or group will already be in your shot. Actually, that’s almost always the case at any of the popular spots. Sometimes you can wait them out. Other times, I’d suggest just taking the photos with them in the scene and then removing the person or distraction in post production: Abracadabra: Now You See Them—Now You Don’t!

Evening Outing:

Bull Moose on the Gros Ventre

Bull Moose on the Gros Ventre: I only managed to get one shot of the bull Moose today. I believe there were at least three bulls and I saw one cow. People have been telling me about a cow with a calf in the area. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Mountain Bluebird with Insect

Mountain Bluebird with Insect: Also taken along the Gros Ventre. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

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July 2, 2015 :

Early Morning Barn

Early Morning Barn: Alpenglow at the TA Moulton Barn. Also, check out: Alpenglow: Morning’s Fleeting Phenomenon Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Setting Moon

Setting Moon: The full moon was my catalyst for being up so early this morning. If you like photographing rising and setting moons, check out this old post: Shooting the October Moon: Tips for Being at the Right Place at the Right Time. This is a three shot pano image stitched in Lightroom. Why? I walked out into the field to photograph the setting moon at 600 mm. (See below) When I pointed the lens at the barn, I found I could not get the entire scene in the lens at 150mm, and I knew I didn’t have time to get back to the vehicle for the 70-200mm lens. With a set of vertical orientation shots, I knew I could capture the shot before the moon dipped behind the mountain. I’ve used this same technique a few times when I wanted to capture a full rainbow, but didn’t have a wide angle lens on the body at the time. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Setting Moon

Setting Moon: Taken from Mormon Row over Blacktail Butte. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Northern Mountains

Northern Mountains: Stitched pano looking north from Mormon Row. (Click the image to see it much larger). This image ended up being 14″ tall and 68″ long when left at the native resolution of 300 DPI. Four 35mpx images can create a huge file! Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm at 260mm

Light Rays

Light Rays over Shadow Mountain.  Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

If you have been paying attention to the most recent set of Feature Posts, you might notice a wide variety of subjects. GTNP, with its wide array of landscapes and wildlife possibilities, is always at my doorstep, but there are plenty of other regional events and subjects. Back in January, I created this Feature Post: An Upcoming Year of Wishes. I have been systematically going through the list. We are planning on going over to the Fireworks display in Driggs next Saturday and I’d like to experience one of the days at the Hot Air Balloon Festival. There are a few upcoming Mountain Man Rendezvous and I’d like to go photograph the Wild Mustangs again soon. The rivers are clearing, so it is also time to begin photographing fishermen on the rivers and streams.

I can always use your help if you have a chance to spread the word about this site. It is constantly growing, but your help would be greatly appreciated!

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July 1, 2015 :

The year is now half over! Wow!

Morning Shots:

Flat Creek

Flat Creek: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

The Grand With No Clouds“When something worthwhile catches your eye, stop then and there and snap the shot!”

That’s advice I gleaned from Dave Ryan many years ago while I was taking a photography class at the JH Art Center. No telling who passed the advice along to him! I’ve mentioned it here on Best of the Tetons a few times over the past couple of years. The advice paid off for me today. As I was driving through town to head north, I saw the clouds begin to light up over Flat Creek. I turned into the pullout and set up on the observation platform where I took at least a hundred shots.  I loaded up and continued on North.

The small photo above was taken at the Gros Ventre Junction only a few minutes after the shots at Flat Creek. I was expecting similar clouds and color over the Tetons, but instead, it was devoid of clouds and lacked any kind of color. There may actually be times when the shots down the road will be equal or better than the one at hand, but in my experience, that is the exception and not the norm.

Gros Ventre

Gros Ventre: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Tall Summer Grasses

Tall Summer Grasses: Taken along Mormon Row Road. Pronghorns and Bison are common along the road, but also watch out for Wolves, Raptors, Meadowlarks, Coyotes, and various songbirds. In the Fall, Grizzlies have begun to travel along Blacktail Butte following gunshots during the Elk Reduction Program. I’ve seen both Grizzly and Wolf tracks in the snow going up and down the road.  Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

One Flowers

One Flowers: Taken along Antelope Flats Road. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Morning Photographers

Morning Photographers: Want to make the Tetons loom huge over the barns? Check out this post: Distance and Scale Relationships in the Tetons ~ Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Schwabacher Landing Beaver Dam

Taken on July 1st of 2014…the date is incorrect.

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One-On-One Excursions Openings: I have a couple of openings for mid/late July. The trips are designed to help people learn to use their DSLR cameras and help photographers find some of GTNP’s nice shooting locations. Click the link for more information. (Golden Era Studios / Mike R. Jackson is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service and the National Elk Refuge.) The Snake River is starting to clear. If you are a fisherman/photographer, you might enjoy this trip:  Hybrid Photography & Fly Fishing Trips in GTNP

 

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C3 ~ GTNP’s Showboat Great Gray Owl

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Don’t Expect to Find Him Hunting Every Day, But On Some Days, He Can Put On A Great Show!

Perched and Watching

Perched and Watching: Most Great Gray Owls are tolerant of humans. I’ve never found Great Horned Owls to be as “photographer friendly”. C3 has been seen off and on along the Moose-Wilson Road for several years.

Great Gray Owl Landing

Landing: On a good day, C3 moves from perch to perch or dives for voles, mice, and pocket gophers with a fair amount of frequency.

Perched

Perched shots are fairly easy. As far as I know, C3 is a male. He finds a snag or branch, then watches and listens for rustling in the deep grass. Interestingly, he can isolate those sounds from the sounds of passing vehicles, clicking cameras, and talking spectators.

Diving GGO

Flight shots are considerably more difficult. You have to be set up and “on your camera” the entire time. When he leaves the perch, you must be able to follow his flight while hoping the autofocus in the camera does its job.

Diving Great Gray Owl

Win a few and lose a few!  He does, too! C3 is a very capable hunter, but he comes up empty clawed once in a while.

Successful Hunter

Successful Hunter: Sometimes, the Owls eat their catch while on the ground. Other times, they fly to a nearby tree to polish it off.

Great Gray with Catch

Great Gray with Catch: Currently, the owls have young coming off their nests. They are hunting more to support the growing family. I expected C3 to fly towards me with his mouse, but ate it while perched on the old Aspen branch.

Resting and Watching

Resting and Watching: We had rain in the area the night before these shots were taken. Once C3 lands in the deep grass, his wings are often wet. These are some of my favorite perched shots—with its wings relaxed and drying.

Atop an old Lodgepole Pine

Atop an old Lodgepole Pine: C3 landed in the top of this tree twice. I like to capture them lower in the trees unless the sky is blue—but I also liked the pose well enough to live with the gray sky.

C3

C3 has a bright blue tag on one leg and a silver ring on the other. I’d like to know whether blue tags are reserved for males?  C3 has a tracking device with a wire protruding from feathers on his back. These are all “man made” distractions (something all too common now in the Parks). For most purposes, I remove the tags, leg rings, and wires in Photoshop. Without doing so, I feel the beauty and integrity of the animal is compromised in my photos (by the researchers). I’m not saying “you should” remove them…only that “I do” — unless submitting images to certain kinds of magazines like Audubon or National Geographic.

Photography Notes: All of the images on this page were captured on a single morning in July using a Nikon D4 and a Tamron 150-600mm. I set the camera to Manual Mode, then set the Shutter Speed to 1/1000 or 1/1250th second. The Aperture was set to F/6.3 and up to F/7.1. I set the ISO to Auto-ISO, allowing that leg of the exposure triangle to fluctuate as needed. Most of the shots ranged between ISO 640 to ISO 2000. I was using Matrix Metering and 9 point Continuous Focus.

Owl Notes: It is often worth a drive down the Moose-Wilson Road at some point during the day. There may be chances to see Moose, Deer, Elk, Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Herons, Beavers, Grizzlies, Black Bears, Foxes, Pine Martens, and a variety of waterfowl. Owls, like the other species, are possible, but not guaranteed. I probably drive the road ten times to see the owl once.

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July 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH:

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A monthly journal of wildlife reports, scenic opportunities, and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!

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Recent Daily Updates Archives:
2015:
July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov:
| Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013:
Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug:

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Check out the July Overview!

Monthly Overviews for JH / GTNP . Get a quick look at 12 months side by side.

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July 7, 2015 :

Click to view slideshow.

 I added a little fill flash to my Wildflower shots this morning. The clouds in the East were dulling the light on the flowers at times.

Wildflower and Clouds

Wildflower and Clouds: Nikon D800and Nikon 24-7-mm with Strobe

Dark Tetons

Tetons in Shadows:This group of Widlflower shots were taken along Antelope Flats Road.  Nikon D800and Nikon 24-7-mm with Strobe

Meadowlark

Meadowlark: Taken along Mormon Row Road. Nikon D800and Tamron 150-600mm

OneFlowers and Aspen Trunk

One Flowers and Aspen Trunk: Nikon D800and Tamron 150-600mm

Buck Mule Deer

Buck Mule Deer: Two bucks were milling around near the Gros Ventre Junction as I was heading home.   Nikon D800and Tamron 150-600mm

Buck in Shade

Buck in Shade: This buck was standing in the shade of a small cottonwood tree. It looks like he is still adding points to his velvet covered antlers. A minute or so after this shot, he bedded down in the sagebrush. Nikon D800and Tamron 150-600mm

Pink

Shadow Mountain Wildflowers: I prepped another half dozen Wildflower images I took this morning on Shadow Mountain, but figured I already had enough images for today. There were Sticky Geraniums, One Flowers, Indian Paintbrush, Fireweed, Penstemon, Scarlet Galia, and a number of species I couldn’t identify.

Upcoming Plans?  If you are planning a trip to the region, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • This Weekend: Pinedale, WY: Green River Rendezvous Days: July 9-12, 2015 : Parade, Trader’s Row, Mountain Man Museum, Pageant
  • This Weekend: Antique Show at Teton Village
  • This Weekend: First of two Center For The Arts outdoor Art Shows ~ Miller Park
  • Fort Hall, ID ~52nd Annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival & Pow Wow  ~ August 6-9, 2015
  • West Yellowstone, MT: Smoking Waters Mtn. Man Rendezvous: July 31-August 9
  • All Summer: Jackson, WY: Farmer’s Markets ~ Saturdays on the Town Square.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: Rodeo on Wednesday and Saturday nights all summer.
  • All Summer! Jackson, WY: JH Shootout on the Town Square at 6:30 nightly (except Sunday).

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July 6, 2015 :

Golden Morning

Golden Morning at Mormon RowNikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Chambers Homestead

Chambers Homestead on Mormon Row: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Wildflowers

Wildflowers on Antelope Flats Road: Nikon D800 and Nikon 14-24mm

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Penstemon

Penstemon at Colter Bay: Nikon D800and Tamron 150-600mm

A Day in the Park: I took a couple out for a “One-on-One” photo excursion today. Light was beautiful in the morning following overnight rains. In between helping them with their photography and shots, I was able to sneak in a few captures for today’s entry. Besides the landscape opportunities, we managed to find a Great Gray Owl. I believe both of them were able to get some great captures. Flowers along Antelope Flats Road are still in peak shape.

I have a couple of openings for photo excursions for later in July. For more info: Mike Jackson’s One-On-One Photography Excursions in GTNP. (Golden Era Studios / Mike R. Jackson is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service and the National Elk Refuge.)

Lilys Bee

Lily & Benson’s Bumble Bee: The goal was to capture a Bumble Bee in flight. I shot my still image with a Nikon D800. I switched the body to a Nikon D4 knowing it can shoot at 10 FPS. I let Lily & Benson take some images while I walked to the Colter Bay Visitor’s Center for a pit stop. When I returned, they had captured several nice images with a Bumble Bee in the air. I have no way of knowing which of the husband and wife team took the shot, so I included both names. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

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July 5, 2015 :

Eclectic Sunday! I did a quick zip around the southern part of GTNP and stumbled upon a variety of subjects. By comparison, today was cool and pleasant. Clouds rolled in after the Fireworks last night and there was a light wind to help keep the temperatures down.

Pronghorn Buck with Summer Wildflowers

Pronghorn Buck with Summer Wildflowers: This nice looking buck was crossing Mormon Row when I saw him. All I had to do was wait until he moved into the flowers and hope he’d look up for a few seconds. I typically photograph Pronghorns either out the window (over a bean bag) or standing against the door and shooting over the hood. They often spook if you pull out a tripod and get out into the open. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Pronghorn Doe

Pronghorn Doe: The variety in colors and texture behind this Pronghorn attracted me initially. She was also along Mormon Row. On a sunny morning, I would have been shooting into a backlit situation, but the slightly overcast skies made the shot work. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Bluebird

Bluebird: I would have preferred to capture this male Bluebird on a more natural looking branch, but this happens to be the kind of object they land on all the time. He let me pull up fairly close in my van and shoot out he window. This would have been a very tough shot into the sun on any of the last mornings. I’ve seen Bluebirds near the TA Moulton Barn almost every time I’ve been there in the past month or so. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Uinta Ground Squirrel

Uinta Ground Squirrel: This little critter near the parking lot at Schwabacher Landing seemed to be begging for a photo. It posed on a buckrail fence for quite a while. I photographed this one out the window of the van (always with the vehicle turned off). Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow: Unlike some of the other subjects from today, this Swallow allowed me to capture two exposures and then was off the perch and flying around Schwabacher Landing searching for insects. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Mystery Shorebird

Sora Rail: Richard Pontius sent me a note to identify this bird as a Sora Rail. This bird made a loud, distinctive call, similar in many ways to some of the Kingfisher calls. This was also taken at Schwabacher Landing. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Schwabacher Landing Tidbits: I bumped into a “Best of the Tetons” subscriber this morning that has been spending a lot of time there. She said she saw a Black Bear one day and a Grizzly another, along with beavers, Mallards with babies in tow, and other waterfowl. Moose are seen at Schwabacher Landing at times, but she hadn’t seen one.

Molting Mallard

Molting Mallard: At the time I took this shot, I wasn’t sure about this bird either. After seeing it on the computer, I am fairly sure it is a Mallard drake going through a molting stage. I can see some of the blue green feathers in its head. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Driggs Fireworks 2015: Last year, I spent one night photographing the Fireworks at Huntsman Springs in Driggs, ID. It was such a wonderful show. This year, I suggested my wife and her friends go there to see it for themselves. Things changed, however. Hunstman turned the fireworks event over to the town of Driggs and the golf course was closed to non-Hunstman Springs members.  Maybe the event went off well and all were satisfied, but my wife and friends came back to Jackson Hole to watch our event.  That gave me a chance to try a new spot several mile south of town and at an elevated position. The photo is at the end of yesterday’s entry. I’ve never seen a Fireworks photo from there.

Trumpeter Swans: Recently, I caught a glimpse of a pair of Trumpeter Swans with four or five babies. If you are driving by Flat Creek, keep an eye out for them. This is about the same time we first saw them last year.

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July 4, 2015 :

Happy 4th!

Dusty Trail Horses

Dusty Trail Horses: Morning’s gold light on area horses. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Dusty

An Upcoming Year of Wishes: Western images are on the wish listNikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Pronghorn Buck

Pronghorn Buck: Taken along Mormon Row Road. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

The Gros Ventre

The Gros Ventre: Bull Moose posing along the river this morning. 150mm. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Bull Moose in Summer Grass

Bull Moose in Summer Grass: 600mm. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Bubble Performer

New Feature Post: Downtown Red, White & Blue ~ Patriotic Colors on Display at the 4th of July Parade.

For additional recent shots, click the June 2015 Daily Updates and Photos Page. July was active and busy last year, and I expect it to be again this year, so please check back regularly! The image above was taken on July 1st of 2014.

Upcoming Plans?  If you are planning a trip to the region, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • TODAY! Jackson, WY: 4th of July Parade & Fireworks: Saturday, 4th of July
  • TODAY! Driggs, ID: Celebrate America, large fireworks display: Saturday 4th of July
  • TODAY! Driggs, ID: Hot Air Balloon Festival, early mornings July 02 – July 05
  • West Yellowstone, MT: Smoking Waters Mtn. Man Rendezvous: July 31-August 9
  • Pinedale, WY: Green River Rendezvous Days: July 9-12, 2015 : Parade, Trader’s Row, Mountain Man Museum, Pageant
  • Jackson, WY: Farmer’s Markets begin on Saturday, July 11 downtown.
  • TODAY! Jackson, WY: Rodeo on Wednesday and Saturday nights all summer.
  • TODAY! Jackson, WY: JH Shootout on the Town Square at 6:30 nightly (except Sunday).

Jackson Hole Fireworks at Snow King Mountain

Fireworks at Jackson Hole’s Snow King Mountain: Taken from the hillside on East Gros Ventre Butte. Nikon D800 and Nikon 70-200mm ~ 3 seconds, F/8, ISO 1250

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July 3, 2015 :

4th of July Weekend Begins! I was out early and found three Bull Moose along the Gros Ventre River.

Bull Moose in Willows

Bull Moose in Willows: Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Cautious Approach

Gros Ventre Approach: Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Gros Ventre Crossing

Gros Ventre Crossing: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Morning on the Gros Ventre

Morning on the Gros Ventre: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Side Channel Crossing

Side Channel Crossing: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Touron

Notes for iPhone users: The Moose images above were taken at roughly 45 yards from the subjects with a telephoto lens. The only way to get a similar shot with an iPhone is to be very close. That would be dangerous and illegal! I was speaking with Bill Kerr last week. He’s a Yellowstone ranger. He pulled out his cell phone then said, “This is the worst device  ever invented for Yellowstone…people get way too close with them.” The shot above was taken in 2008. I was ready to get bloody shots on all the news feeds that day!

Wildlife Notes: Days are still very long right now, with highs in the low to mid 90°s. Most of the dark mammals bed down as soon as the sun starts heating their backs, so if you want to see them, be out very early. Sunrise is at 5:46 am and first light over the eastern mountains is close to 6:00 am in many areas. Many of the moose, deer and elk will pull back into the shadows early. By 7:30am, expect them to be down and out of sight for the bulk of the day. Moose will often stand up in the daytime just long enough to move to a new shady spot. By about 6:30 pm or so, watch for them to start moving around a bit and feed on fresh willow branches and leaves. Great Gray Owls are having to feed their hungry babies and may be hunting more in the middle of the day than when they are only hunting for themselves. This should also apply to Foxes and Coyotes until the young are hunting on their own.

JH 4th of July Tidbits: It has been warm and dry lately. Fire Danger ratings are high. Fireworks are prohibited in Teton County, except for the big events at Teton Village and Snow King. Gasoline is running around $3.05 per gallon for self-serve unleaded at many stations.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird: Nikon D800 and Nikon 200-400mm with Nikon Strobes

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird: Nikon D800 and Nikon 200-400mm with Nikon Strobes

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Summer is Here! …a bonus section today!

Crowded Location

I took this shot last September. I have similar ones taken at Oxbow Bend around that time, too. A recent newspaper article said Yellowstone is smashing visitor records this year, and I’m sure the Tetons are well above averages. Each morning, I see a group of photographers at both of the famous Mormon Row barns and the parking lot is almost always full at Schwabacher Landing.

Granite FallsIn October of 2013, the Parks went through the infamous Government Shut Down. I “got on my horse” (slang for got busy) and created this page: Outside the Park: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph. If things begin to feel crowded here, take the short drive down the Hoback, then up Granite Creek to Granite Falls. It should be running clear by now. Also check out: Granite Falls and Granite Creek: If you have a good 4-Wheel Drive, consider a trip down to Bar BC Dude Ranch or up Shadow Mountain on the other side of the valley. Fall On Shadow Mountain. The post was created in the Fall, but it’s still a great option in the summer, especially for wildflowers

Occasionally, a person or group will already be in your shot. Actually, that’s almost always the case at any of the popular spots. Sometimes you can wait them out. Other times, I’d suggest just taking the photos with them in the scene and then removing the person or distraction in post production: Abracadabra: Now You See Them—Now You Don’t!

Evening Outing:

Bull Moose on the Gros Ventre

Bull Moose on the Gros Ventre: I only managed to get one shot of the bull Moose today. I believe there were at least three bulls and I saw one cow. People have been telling me about a cow with a calf in the area. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Mountain Bluebird with Insect

Mountain Bluebird with Insect: Also taken along the Gros Ventre. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

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July 2, 2015 :

Early Morning Barn

Early Morning Barn: Alpenglow at the TA Moulton Barn. Also, check out: Alpenglow: Morning’s Fleeting Phenomenon Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Setting Moon

Setting Moon: The full moon was my catalyst for being up so early this morning. If you like photographing rising and setting moons, check out this old post: Shooting the October Moon: Tips for Being at the Right Place at the Right Time. This is a three shot pano image stitched in Lightroom. Why? I walked out into the field to photograph the setting moon at 600 mm. (See below) When I pointed the lens at the barn, I found I could not get the entire scene in the lens at 150mm, and I knew I didn’t have time to get back to the vehicle for the 70-200mm lens. With a set of vertical orientation shots, I knew I could capture the shot before the moon dipped behind the mountain. I’ve used this same technique a few times when I wanted to capture a full rainbow, but didn’t have a wide angle lens on the body at the time. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Setting Moon

Setting Moon: Taken from Mormon Row over Blacktail Butte. Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

Northern Mountains

Northern Mountains: Stitched pano looking north from Mormon Row. (Click the image to see it much larger). This image ended up being 14″ tall and 68″ long when left at the native resolution of 300 DPI. Four 35mpx images can create a huge file! Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm at 260mm

Light Rays

Light Rays over Shadow Mountain.  Nikon D800 and Tamron 150-600mm

If you have been paying attention to the most recent set of Feature Posts, you might notice a wide variety of subjects. GTNP, with its wide array of landscapes and wildlife possibilities, is always at my doorstep, but there are plenty of other regional events and subjects. Back in January, I created this Feature Post: An Upcoming Year of Wishes. I have been systematically going through the list. We are planning on going over to the Fireworks display in Driggs next Saturday and I’d like to experience one of the days at the Hot Air Balloon Festival. There are a few upcoming Mountain Man Rendezvous and I’d like to go photograph the Wild Mustangs again soon. The rivers are clearing, so it is also time to begin photographing fishermen on the rivers and streams.

I can always use your help if you have a chance to spread the word about this site. It is constantly growing, but your help would be greatly appreciated!

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July 1, 2015 :

The year is now half over! Wow!

Morning Shots:

Flat Creek

Flat Creek: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

The Grand With No Clouds“When something worthwhile catches your eye, stop then and there and snap the shot!”

That’s advice I gleaned from Dave Ryan many years ago while I was taking a photography class at the JH Art Center. No telling who passed the advice along to him! I’ve mentioned it here on Best of the Tetons a few times over the past couple of years. The advice paid off for me today. As I was driving through town to head north, I saw the clouds begin to light up over Flat Creek. I turned into the pullout and set up on the observation platform where I took at least a hundred shots.  I loaded up and continued on North.

The small photo above was taken at the Gros Ventre Junction only a few minutes after the shots at Flat Creek. I was expecting similar clouds and color over the Tetons, but instead, it was devoid of clouds and lacked any kind of color. There may actually be times when the shots down the road will be equal or better than the one at hand, but in my experience, that is the exception and not the norm.

Gros Ventre

Gros Ventre: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Tall Summer Grasses

Tall Summer Grasses: Taken along Mormon Row Road. Pronghorns and Bison are common along the road, but also watch out for Wolves, Raptors, Meadowlarks, Coyotes, and various songbirds. In the Fall, Grizzlies have begun to travel along Blacktail Butte following gunshots during the Elk Reduction Program. I’ve seen both Grizzly and Wolf tracks in the snow going up and down the road.  Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

One Flowers

One Flowers: Taken along Antelope Flats Road. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Morning Photographers

Morning Photographers: Want to make the Tetons loom huge over the barns? Check out this post: Distance and Scale Relationships in the Tetons ~ Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Schwabacher Landing Beaver Dam

Taken on July 1st of 2014…the date is incorrect.

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One-On-One Excursions Openings: I have a couple of openings for mid/late July. The trips are designed to help people learn to use their DSLR cameras and help photographers find some of GTNP’s nice shooting locations. Click the link for more information. (Golden Era Studios / Mike R. Jackson is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service and the National Elk Refuge.) The Snake River is starting to clear. If you are a fisherman/photographer, you might enjoy this trip:  Hybrid Photography & Fly Fishing Trips in GTNP

 

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Red, White & Blue ~

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Patriotic Colors on Display at the 4th of July Parade.

Broadway Before the Parade

Streets were lined with flags and spectators long before the 10:30 am parade. The weather was clear, sunny, and unseasonably warm…perfect for a mountain parade!

Click to view slideshow.

The 4th of July Parade is much larger than the Memorial Day parade. Many tourists and locals spend the middle of the day at the numerous music venues, then gather for the fireworks show at Snow King Mountain. If you are ever in the area, JH is a great place to spend this holiday.

Photography Notes: I headed to the parade about 45 minutes before the first color guard came by and just watched for anything colorful and interesting. I took my Nikon D4 and the Tamron 150-600mm lens today and concentrated mainly on smaller scenes. I shot in Manual Mode: F8 at 1/800th second with Auto ISO.

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July 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH:

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A monthly journal of wildlife reports, scenic opportunities, and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!

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Recent Daily Updates Archives:
2015:
July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov:
| Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013:
Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug:

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Check out the July Overview!

Monthly Overviews for JH / GTNP . Get a quick look at 12 months side by side.

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July 1, 2015 :

The year is now half over! Wow!

Morning Shots:

Flat Creek

Flat Creek: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

The Grand With No CloudsThe Grand With No Clouds:

Flat Creek was ablaze this morning as I passed by. I stopped to shoot it, following my own advice. Actually, Dave Ryan gave me the advice in a class I took at the JH Art Center long ago…no telling who told him? The advice…When something worthwhile catches your eye, stop then and there and snap the shot! It paid off today. The small photo to the left was taken at the Gros Ventre Junction only a few minutes after the shots at Flat Creek. I was expecting similar clouds and color, but instead, it was devoid of clouds and lacked any kind of color.

Gros Ventre

Gros Ventre: Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Tall Summer Grasses

Tall Summer Grasses: Taken along Mormon Row Road. Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

One Flowers

One Flowers: Taken along Antelope Flats Road. Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm

Morning Photographers

Morning Photographers: Nikon D4 and Tamron 150-600mm

Schwabacher Landing Beaver Dam

For more recent shots, click the June Daily Updates and Photos Page. July was active and busy last year, and I expect it to be again this year, so please check back regularly! The image above was taken on July 1st of 2014.

Upcoming Plans?  If you are planning a trip to the region, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Jackson, WY: 4th of July Parade & Fireworks: Saturday, 4th of July
  • Driggs, ID: Celebrate America, large fireworks display: Saturday 4th of July
  • Driggs, ID: Hot Air Balloon Festival, early mornings July 02 – July 05
  • West Yellowstone, MT: Smoking Waters Mtn. Man Rendezvous: July 31-August 9
  • Pinedale, WY: Green River Rendezvous Days: July 9-12, 2015 : Parade, Trader’s Row, Mountain Man Museum, Pageant
  • Jackson, WY: Farmer’s Markets begin on Saturday, July 11 downtown.

If you have been paying attention to the most recent set of Feature Posts, you might notice a wide variety of subjects. GTNP, with its wide array of landscapes and wildlife possibilities, is always at my doorstep, but there are plenty of other regional events and subjects. Back in January, I created this Feature Post: An Upcoming Year of Wishes. I have been systematically going through the list. We are planning on going over to the Fireworks display in Driggs next Saturday and I’d like to experience one of the days at the Hot Air Balloon Festival. There are a few upcoming Mountain Man Rendezvous and I’d like to go photograph the Wild Mustangs again soon. The rivers are clearing, so it is also time to begin photographing fishermen on the rivers and streams.

I can always use your help if you have a chance to spread the word about this site. It is constantly growing, but your help would be greatly appreciated!

750line

One-On-One Excursions Openings: I have a couple of openings for mid/late July. The trips are designed to help people learn to use their DSLR cameras and help photographers find some of GTNP’s nice shooting locations. Click the link for more information. (Golden Era Studios / Mike R. Jackson is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service and the National Elk Refuge.) The Snake River is starting to clear. If you are a fisherman/photographer, you might enjoy this trip:  Hybrid Photography & Fly Fishing Trips in GTNP

 

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Why Yellowstone National Park Needs a Shuttle System

Tourist too close to bison

Yellowstone National Park is exhausted and over-stressed. It’s so heavily visited and trampled in the summers that I believe it’s currently left with only two options. The first option is to completely revamp all the parking lots, consuming and overtaking more natural resources from fragile ground, as well as adding in four-lane highways to account for ever-increasing traffic to an already stressed park. The other option is to close all roads to the majority of motorized traffic from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I don’t doubt that many people would find this preposterous, impossible, and unrealistic, but I argue that the park is currently left either with embracing this option, or continuing to devour its own natural resources in an attempt to scale to meet increasing demand, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.

Before getting defensive, there would of course be exceptions, ensuring that Yellowstone’s most frequent and active visitors aren’t affected at all, but first, step back and look at the National Park Service as a continually evolving entity. The National Parks are, and have always been, an ongoing experiment. The finality and completion of a park like Yellowstone is about as stable as the volcano and fault lines that it rests on. This completely moots any argument about “breaking tradition”, an argument that never carries any weight in any circumstance.

Tourist crawling into thermal feature

The argument for a shuttle system is very simple. During my experience guiding throughout Yellowstone National Park for the past four summers, I observed a very consistent pattern among the vast majority of Yellowstone National Park’s visitors:

  1. Drive to and park at roadside feature.
  2. Get out.
  3. Observe.
  4. Check it off the list.
  5. Repeat.

This population of people enter the park around mid-morning and are out before dinner, unless camping or lodging inside the park itself. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of tourists would not be inconvenienced in any way by the use of a shuttle system, and many of them might even prefer it so they can admire the scenery instead of looking for an opportune time to pass the car ahead of them. Likewise, it would eliminate unnecessary traffic and subsequently all road rage resulting from hurried drivers that underestimated the time from Point A to Point B, making Yellowstone road rage a thing of the past, helping to preserve the wildlife there. Both Zion National Park and Bandelier National Monument use shuttle services with great success, among others, leaving the roads safer and more open for hikers and bicyclists.

As mentioned, there would be some exceptions. Many businesses rely on wildlife safaris in Yellowstone for a significant portion of their revenue. They would be permitted to continue operating as normal, resulting in increased traffic for them plus better viewing opportunities. This would also significantly reduce the stress for rangers controlling crowds near wildlife. Likewise, for avid photographers and opportunists, a system similar to Bandelier National Monument would be incorporated, making use of a flexibility in time. For example, if you arrived to Yellowstone before 8am, for example, you could drive in undisturbed. Gates would close at that time for the day, but reopen again in the late afternoon, around 5pm or so. For those wanting optimal light and wildlife opportunities, this wouldn’t affect them at all since most of them are already doing just that. Also, the road closures and shuttle system would only be in effect during the busiest time of the year, when Yellowstone is overrun with visitation and pushing the park beyond what its budget can handle.

Tourist hanging from a car for a photo

Lastly, and most importantly, this would encourage people to get out and onto their feet, the way a national park is supposed to be seen. Edward Abbey made a similar recommendation decades ago solely for that purpose. Yet now, with park visitation putting unprecedented stress on the natural resources, the park seems to be caught without an alternative.

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