Rocky Mountain National Park

Photography Tips & Seasonal Information for Photographers

Spring Photography Tips

(April and May)
Spring comes to the montane environs - elevations 8,000' to 9,500' (2,438 - 2,895 m) - in late April, although snowfall is not uncommon at this time of year. Unpredictable weather alternates between warm and cold, wet and dry.  In June, spring is just reaching the subalpine country - 9,500' to 11,500' (2,895 - 3,505 m), while summer is on the plains.

Wildflowers begin blooming at lower elevations in late April or early May. Many trails are still snow-covered. In late May, Trail Ridge Road opens for the season. 

The possibilities for photographers are endless.  You can leave with photos that appear to represent all four seasons if the weather is cooperative and by driving to different elevations.


Summer Photography Tips

(June, July, August)

On the alpine tundra -- 11,500' to 13,000' (3,505 - 3,962 m) wildflowers bloom from late June to early August.

Afternoon thunderstorms and wind are normal patterns. Before and after shots of the afternoon storm can be spectacular.


Fall Photography Tips

(September, October, November)

September and October bring clear, crisp air, blue skies, and generally dry weather. An early snowstorm may occur.

Aspen leaves start changing colors in mid-September. Elk mating season begins in September and continues through most of October. Trail Ridge Road usually closes for the winter by mid-October. 

The window of opportunity for the spectacular aspen golds lasts less than 3 weeks.  Photographers from all over the world come to Colorado at this time. 

Contact us for up to date information about the progress of the fall color changes & photo workshop opportunities.


Winter Photography Tips

(December, January, February, March)
Lower elevations on the east slope of Rocky Mountain National Park are usually free of deep snow. At higher elevations, arctic conditions prevail. Sudden blizzards, high winds, and deep snowpack are common.  The west side of the park experiences more snow, less wind, and clear cold days during these months. 

Winter photography can be rewarding.  Though Trail Ridge Road is closed there are many other sites available most days in the park and the surrounding National Forest.


Take a moment to compare the image above with the image below.  Why does the one below have more depth?

One of the first rules of adding depth to an image is to put something in the foreground.  The first image above lacks depth because, well... there is no depth in real life.  The second image adds formations that are some distance in front of the back set.  Look at the image below of Cave Tower on Cedar Mesa (south of Moab, Canyonlands and Arches).  Try to visualize the image without the tree stump in the foreground.

Now, compare the image below of Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park with the second image of Fall River, also in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Though there is certainly depth between the spruce trees at Sprague Lake, but Fall River clearly has more depth.  Shooting from an elevated position is a well-known way to add depth.  At first glance Fall River may not strike you as being shot from above, but the water in the foreground is 15-20' below the camera position.

These 2 simple tips are easy to remember and will improve your images quickly!