Friday 9/30/2011 ----Meet at Moraine Valley Visitors Center in RMNP at 6:30am
This is located along Bear Lake Road. When entering from the west side Estes Park entrance, after you come through the ranger station, you will go left on Bear Lake Road. It is approximately 250 feet after the ranger station entrance, so it comes up very quick. Follow this all the way down in to the valley and the very first left you can make will lead you up in to the parking lot of the Moraine Valley visitors center. I have gone ahead and screen capped a google earth map of it and posted it here http://postimage.org/image/30l8v9o4k/full/
From here we will decide which direction to go. The lower valley that will below us and is viewable from our position is usually home to some of the best Elk rut action of Fall. I highly advise arriving before scheduled time of 630 especially for those who have never experienced the rut before. There is just something totally magical about hearing Elk bugle before sunrise that will send chills up your spine. As it stands now, some of us I am sure will shoot the rut while others may go hiking, it is all up to you.
We will try to rendezvous back up at around 5pm at an area I have to decide yet. I won’t know this until this weekend when I can see what is a good spot that isn’t packed with people. From here, depending on how everything is going with the rut, we may decide to head to Brainard Lake to try and photograph Moose in the evening hours and stay to photograph the sunset. It is very dark at this area as well and provides excellent star trail photography as well.
Saturday 10/1/2011---Meet at Copeland Lake at Wild Basin area of RMNP at 6:30am
This area is totally separated from the main part of RMNP and is absolutely stunning for nature photography. See screen cap of map. This is kind of a ways outside of Estes Park along Hwy 7. It is shortly after you pass St Malo cathedral (the epic church which looks like this http://jdebordphoto.zenfolio.com/img/v19/p1001566707.jpg and will be on your right side) It is approximately 10-15 miles outside of Estes so you all know. When approaching from Estes watch close for signs, it comes up fast, and you will turn right. Keep following it back as the entrance is set back a bit. Upon entering follow the road to the first lake you come upon and that is Copeland Lake. Getting here early is a good thing as it can get busy with the locals (this is a spot that not many tourists know of) It offers excellent hiking for those of you who wish to and great Aspen stands.
From here after shooting, we will head back over to the main part of RMNP. We will decide before hand where to meet but it is looking like the Fall River Visitors Center right now. For those of you who wish to shoot the rut, I suggest leaving no later than 8-830am from Wild Basin.
A side note—PLEASE be aware of Bears in your surroundings here!
Afternoon evenings we will try to get down to Fern Valley and Old Fall River Road if it is open depending on construction to shoot the Aspen ...afterwards possibly Horseshoe Park for the Elk rut if it is happening there in that area of RMNP.
Sunday 10/2/2011 --- Meet at Lake Estes for sunrise at 630am
Please see attached map here http://postimage.org/image/2vemz8n0k/ The lake right now is very full and provides some excellent shots at sunrise. Shortly after sunrise, we will meet back up at Moraine Valley Visitors Center. (again link posted above with map) From here we will shoot the Elk rut in good light and after, providing it is indeed open, will head to Trail Ridge Road to photograph Pika and Marmots. PLEASE dress VERY warm for Trail ridge and bring a LOT of fluids. This is 12,000 feet high and o2 is minimal, however the elements are certainly anything but! It will be downright freezing cold and the wind will be very strong. If Trail Ridge is indeed open, we can venture over to the west side of the park right after to see if we can photograph Moose. For those of you driving on this day, make 100% sure your gas tank is filled.
Evening is still up in the air right now at this point but I am thinking more than likely it will be spent in the Horseshoe Park area of RMNP. Not 100% sure yet though. We will probably have to wait and see how the day plays out before making a final decision on it.