Planning Our Fall Trip

Nothing like a photo book to get you motivated

There are a bunch of great reasons to go on a photography workshop with a professional photographer (see our blog).  One came to mind this weekend as I planned our photo outings and punch list for our fall trip, that is, a professional workshop leader will have planned the trip out and will get you to the right place at the right time to get the best photo possible.  When you do it yourself, it is a lot harder.  However, if you are a do-it-yourself-er,  or if you are just going on vacation, here are some suggestions for planning your trip.

Mary and I started with a vague “plan” to shoot fall color in Ouray, CO and then go to Mesa Verde, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands.  We did just some cursory research and decided we would do 3 days in Ouray, 2 days at Mesa Verde, and 3 days at Arches and Canyonlands.  We “knew” we could not do Canyonlands justice as it is a huge park with a lot to see.  Because of our work schedule, being gone for 8-9 days (two weekends and one week) is about the best we can do.  So, here our my itinerary.

AM Travel to Ouray Ophir Pass Backside
PM Last Dollar Road, Telluride South Fork Road Yankee Girl Mine and Red Mountain Pass
  Telluride Dinner Dinner in Ouray
AM Dallas Divide, West Dallas Creek Road Drive to Cortez Balcony House firt tour of the day Drive to Moab Sunrise at Delicate Arch Mesa Arch Canyonlands Travel Home
  Spruce Tree House or Fairview Ruins Spruce Tree House or Fairview Ruins Windows Section Devils Garden Trail Grandview Point Overlook
PM Ophir Pass Cliff Palace last tour of the day Hovenweep Afternoon Windows Section Windows Section Drive back to Moab
  Sunset at Square Tower House Sunset at Delicate Arch or open Sunset at Delicate Arch or open Sunset at Delicate Arch or open

In order to create this itinerary I used the following resources.  I almost always start with Bob Hitchman’s newsletters.  If you are a serious photographer, you probably already subscribe.  If you are interested at all in travel photography, he is a must.  We needed four newsletters for this trip.

Then I used our new favorite guides by Laurent Martres.  He has three volumes for Utah, Colorado and New Mexico, and Arizona.  These are beautiful, detailed, comprehensive, and informative guides.  Between Hitchman and Martres, I have a good idea of where we are going, when to be there, and how to get there.  I do not use one then the other, but go back and forth dialectically to get the best plan I can.

Furthermore, I comb our photo book library looking at how others made their photos.  We have several photo books of the national parks and of the southwest.  All of us have seen the classic shot of Delicate Arch at sunset, but there is also a compelling image of it at sunrise, too.  Likewise, we all have seen Mesa Arch, even if you did not know its name, I guarantee you have seen it.  So, I get a good idea of a few different ways to shoot these iconic places.

Lastly, looking at these images gets me motivated and excited for our trip.  You need to get up for these long trips with all of the travel, lugging the gear, the early mornings and late evenings, hiking for miles, bad food, and bad hotels.  We endure all of this to be at the right place at the right time to make our own photo and memory of these iconic and quintessential American National Parks.  By the way, if you have not seen Ken Burns’ PBS series, The National Parks, you should.  It is a great motivator to get out and see them for yourself.  To see some of our images of national parks, go to

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