Colorado High Country
Skies seem clearer at higher elevations and Colorado has plenty of those. We’ll be exploring the state’s San Juan Mountain range, which is the largest within the Centennial State and contains some of the highest and most jagged peaks in the lower 48. It also has a ton of jeep roads which allow fun access into these alpine landscapes.
October 4-9, 2020 — Sold Out, Join Waitlist Below
This is a 5-night, 6-day photography tour. Our adventure begins on the morning of October 4 and ends after a final slideshow on the afternoon of October 9.
$2,450 + applicable taxes. Register below.
Intermediate. Participants should have a firm grasp of the basic principles of photography and of their cameras, and have a comfortable understanding night photography fundamentals.
12, with 2 instructors — 6:1 ratio
HOPING TO GET A SPOT? Sign up Below for our no-fee WAITLIST
Deposit of $500 is required to reserve your spot on the tour.
Balance of $1,950 due on July 6, 2020.
Pay balance here.
You may choose the “Pay in Full” ticket if you desire to pay all at once.
Last day for a cancellation request is July 5 (see cancellation and refund policy).
The fee does not include transportation to and from Ouray, nor lodging and most food. The fee does cover four-wheel-drive transportation into alpine areas, as well as a welcome and farewell meal.
The Ouray Experience
Ever wondered what it would be like if you lived in the Victorian age? You’ll find out. Our home base of Ouray, Colorado, is a charming town affectionately known as “the Switzerland of America.” This delightful locale looks as if it never grew out of the 1880s. Nestled in a tight valley that sits at an elevation of nearly 7,800 feet, Ouray is the perfect base for our excursions into the San Juans.
The mining history in and outside of town is rich and tangible. The beautiful wooden mills, ghost twns and old equipment left behind by the 19th century gold rush will provide us with ample light painting opportunities, and the surrounding mountains will challenge and inspire our sense of night sky photography.
Autumn is an incredible time of year to visit the Rockies. Placid lakes reflecting mountain peaks, dense aspen groves in full fall color, and jagged, towering mountain peaks will be just some of the awe-inspiring beauty we’ll capture both day and night.
On several days we’ll ditch our cars and hop into open-air four-wheel-drive vehicles, letting the professional drivers chauffer us up the narrow mountain roads. Through dense groves of aspen to the dizzying heights of mountain passes, we’ll be treated to some of the most awesome mountain scenery in the states. Don’t worry, if you’re afraid of heights, we’ll put you in the inside seat.
What You Should Know
TAutumn in Colorado is quite magical. Thick groves of glowing aspens, towering peaks and astonishing skies. Short days and mountain drives combine to create a limited amount of time. For this reason, we’ll spend the bulk of this trip shooting. Both day, as well as night. This means the focus of this experience will be on creating images rather than spending time in the classroom.
Since this tour will have no classroom time, it’s designed for folks with an intermediate or advanced level of night photography. Participants must have a command of basic photo skills, know their cameras well, and be comfortable shooting RAW in manual mode with a DSLR or high-end mirrorless camera.
If you are relatively inexperienced, we will provide you with field instruction, and as time permits, impromptu image reviews. If you would like to attend this tour but are unsure whether you have adequate night photography skills, we can offer a preliminary conversation to help you gauge your skill level, or tutoring to get you ready for your adventure with us. Alternatively or additionally, a few of us have written books that may be productive reads.
Night & Light Conditions
While direct flights to this area are few, Ouray, Colorado is serviced by several small area airports.
Montrose (MTJ) — 45 minutes from Ouray
Grand Junction (GJT) — 2 hours
Durango (DRO) — 2.25 hours
During our adventure we’ll take several open-air four-wheel-drive trips up to the higher elevations. These excursions are included in the price of the tour. You will, however, need a rental car to travel to other locations. If you are interested in carpooling or sharing a rental car, let us know and we will try to connect you with other attendees looking for the same. Aside from the jeep tours, you are responsible for arranging and paying for your own transportation.
Food & Lodging
Ouray is a classic example of a western mountain mining town. Think meat and potatoes rather than protein and starch. Motel instead of hotel. That being said, the town is quite charming and does house a brewery, distillery, coffee houses, and one or two places where you might find arugula.
We encourage eating two meals per day—a good late breakfast and a great late lunch/early dinner. When out on our night shoots, you may wish to bring snack food or a sandwich, and plenty of water. Group meals on the first and last night are included in the tour fee.
You are not required to stay at the official lodging, though doing so does make it easier to meet with the group each day. Lodging info and group code will be sent after registering
You are responsible for arranging and paying for your own meals and accommodations.
Expect highs in the mid-60s F and lows in the low-30s.
It’s cold in the mountains at night. Come prepared for winter! Hats, gloves, down coats, long underwear and warm socks. You know the drill. Although daytime temps will be sublime, once the sun goes down, the air can get quite chilly. Layers are a perfect way to adapt to these changing temperatures. The amazing night skies and jaw-dropping autumn scenery will make it all worth it!
As with all NPAN events, you should be comfortable carrying your own equipment over uneven ground in the dark. On this tour we’ll add “at high elevations” to that equation. The good news is that because road access into the San Juan Mountains is remarkable, we’ll never need to be too far from our vehicles! However, while longs walks won’t be required to make great images, even the act of walking 50 yards can be taxing at high altitudes. Our base of operations in Ouray sits at 7,792 feet. From here, we’ll only go up. Before registering, please consider your health and how high altitudes could possibly affect you, and in turn, the group.
Note: To ensure the safety of individuals and the group, National Parks at Night reserves the right for tour leaders to use their discretion to limit an attendee from engaging in a rigorous activity on-site should that person's physical health or ability be in question. If you are unsure about your ability to meet the physical demands of this tour, we will be happy to discuss your concerns one-on-one before you register. You are also, of course, welcome to attend a tour and sit out any physical activity that makes you uncomfortable. In such cases, we can provide you with ideas for alternative shoot locations for that time.
Please read our FAQs section for more information about skill and gear requirements, and other information that pertains to all our workshops and tours.
If you have questions, please contact us—we're happy to talk it over with you.
A perfect place to just … be
I love Colorado. In fact, It was my first introduction to the American West. I recall going there on a ski trip in the late 1980s and promising myself that I would live there within a couple of years. As it turned out, I made my home in Montana instead. A fortuitous change in plans as I discovered my love of photography in Missoula.
The chain of events that led me from ski bum/bartender/part-time electrician to commercial photographer can be directly traced back to a small restaurant in that medium-size town in rural Montana. I’m glad things worked out as they did.
When returning to Colorado a few years later, though, I remembered why I’d felt such a powerful attraction. The relaxed atmosphere, awesome peaks and verdant valleys, the wildness and the unpredictability of mountain weather. The sense of being at home.
“Coming home to a place he’d never been before … Rocky Mountain High.”
The mountains of Colorado call to me. When I am there, the world is right. The crisp, cool mountain air, hot sun and friendly smiles warm my heart. The rivers, valleys and peaks inspire my creativity. Colorado, a perfect place to just … be.