Best of the Tetons

Fall Feature Image

Foliage Reports September/October 2015 :

Jackson Hole & Grand Teton National Park

During September, I’ll work on two pages simultaneously. This September Foliage 2015 post will contain more specific information about the every changing foliage status in the area. The September 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH Page will contain some foliage information, but will focus more on wildlife and landscapes. You’ll want to go to both regularly.

Archived Resources:

You can go back to the September Daily Updates and Photos pages for the previous two years and probably get a good idea of how the entire month unfolds.

September 2015   | September 2014:  | September 2013: It will probably be apparent that not all areas change at the same time and some of the fall foliage can go well into October.

Foliage Scale 2015

Foliage Scale 2015

This scale should help with visualizing the approximate color hues. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being summer green and 10 being peak), I will give a three part number. The first one is an average of the least changed. The middle number is the overall average and the last number is the status of the most advanced trees in an area. Note: Some aspens and some Mountain Maple turn orange and red, while many aspens, cottonwoods, and willows peak at something in the 8 or 9 range before the leaves fall or turn brown.

Remember, peak Fall foliage is not a one day event! It evolves over several weeks. Some areas go first, then lose leaves while others are just beginning. You should be able to find colorful foliage anytime from around the 10th of September to the first week in October.

Peak Week 2015: Oxbow Bend was probably best on Saturday, Sept. 26. Other areas are at Peak. Some past peak. Mormon Row is very close peak.

NEW Additions to Panoramic Images: Tips for Getting More of the Tetons in a Shot

It’s definitely Pano time here in the Tetons! Adobe Lightroom 6 and CC have a couple of time saving features worth integrating into your workflow. In my case they also reduce the number of files I save, along with helping with my submissions to the US Copyright Office. Take a look!


October 20, 2015 :

Mountain Ash

Mountain Ash: Taken along Snow King Drive in Jackson.


October 19, 2015 :

In Town Foliage

The best foliage around is right here in the town of Jackson!  I took this shot from my upstairs office this afternoon after the rain stopped.


October 14, 2015 :

Lingering Leaves

Lingering Leaves: Hard to pass up some nice color.

The Town of Jackson is actually quite bright and colorful. Both cottonwoods and aspens are vivid, along with some of the ornamental maples mountain ash.


October 13, 2015 :

Young bull In Sage

Lingering Color along the Gros Ventre:


October 12, 2015 :

Mormon Row Foliage

Mormon Row Foliage: We had heavy winds most of the day yesterday, stripping leaves off of most remaining aspens. This photo was taken this morning along Mormon Row. One or two of the trees still have leaves, but they are not as bright as some years. I looked towards Bar-BC Ranch this morning and it looks like most of the bright leaves there are now blown off. There are still bright Aspens along the Moose-Wilson Road.

Young Bull along GV

Last of this year’s Foliage Reports: I might add a photo or two if I find some remaining colorful leaves, but it looks like most areas in the Park are now past prime or completely fallen. Willow shoots, some grasses, and some underbrush is still colorful if you can include them. Cheers! MJ


October 9, 2015 :

I drove home today using the newly graded Moose-Wilson Road. The gravel section is much smoother! There were quite a few yellow trees in the Death Canyon area and scattered along the road in other areas. Keep an eye on the aspens at Mormon Row. Should be peak over the weekend.


October 8, 2015 :

John Moulton Homestead

John Moulton Homestead: The large stand of aspens between the house and barn are a day or two away from peak. The crews have yet to remove the porta-potty at this barn and the “Load-All” at the south barn.


October 7, 2015 :

Aspen Stand

Aspen Stand and Dark Skies: All good things must come to an end! There are still a few yellow aspens scattered around GTNP, including areas around Moose Junction, Bar-BC Ranch, and the Moose-Wilson Road. I haven’t up north in a while but I’d bet there are still a few pockets of color. The upper Gros Ventre typically has lingering color. Most Park aspens are starting to look like the shot above. The next big change for the area will be snow in the mountains that don’t melt during the day. The Moose-Wilson Road will be open again on October 8 at 7:00 am. It’s never “smooth”, but hopefully won’t be a rough as it has been recently. Leaves are still falling into streams and lakes, so watch for opportunities to capture images during this transitional period!


October 6, 2015 :

Cow Crossing the Gros Ventre

Cow Crossing the Gros Ventre: While the cottonwoods in most of the river bottoms are bare, low willows and ground cover is still colorful. Many of the trees in and around town are still bright.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel: This was taken in my back yard. I like the idea of using the season’s bright colors to accent other subjects. I’ll be back to brown and rust backgrounds soon enough!


October 5, 2015 :

Fall at the Box L Ranch

Fall at the Box L Ranch: Just outside the Park, cottonwoods and aspens are catching up. This was taken on along Spring Gulch Road.

Fog and Fence

Fog and Fence: Taken along Spring Gulch Road.

Fog and Barns

Fog and Barns: This pair of barns are along Spring Gulch Road. The Tetons are sometimes visible over the distant ridge, but today a layer of fog settled into this part of the valley and lingered for a good part of the morning. Grasses around the valley are mostly amber and rusty in color.

Cottonwoods and Fog

Cottonwoods and Lifting Fog: Spring Gulch Road.


October 4, 2015 :

Peach House

Peach House: I took this image before there was any usable light, but it shows the status of the aspens at the John Moulton homestead on Mormon Row. Give it a couple of days for peak. The crews have finished the barn just to the north, but there was still a porta-potty out front.

Aspen Trunks

Wavy Aspen Trunks: I stopped on my way to the cascading creek near Taggart Lake trail head.

Bar-B-C Cabin

Bar-B-C Cabin: The aspens at historic old Bar-B-C dude ranch are vivid right now.

Bar-B-C Cabin and Outhouse

Bar-B-C Cabin and Outhouse: Restoration is underway for some of the cabins, but these two structures haven’t had much tender loving care in a long time.

Aspen Leaves in Water

Aspen Leaves in Water: These leaves were floating in a puddle of water at Bar-B-C ranch.

Country Road

Country Road: This is actually the Moose-Wilson Road just before you get to Death Canyon road. Colors are bright there, with some still on the lime green side.

Teton Village Mountainside

Teton Village Mountainside: Taken just north of Teton Village on the Moose-Wilson Road.

Today’s photos should give you an idea you can find areas of color if you look for them.


October 3, 2015 :

If you’ve been reading this page all along, you’ll already know the peak foliage season in Jackson Hole is mostly over. There’s still some brigh yellow around the Moose Visitors Center and along the Moose-Wilson Road. Check out Bar-BC ranch on the West side of the Snake. There are some good Aspens around Wilson and down Fall Creek Road towards Munger Mountain.


October 2, 2015 :

Aspens and Clouds

Aspens and Clouds: I took this shot early today while we still had a bit of light peaking through clouds in the east. This spot is south of the road at the Buffalo Valley road entrance.

Aspen Trunks

Aspen Trunks: We had “soft box” light at times today, with filtered morning light.  I took this shot along the Moose-Wilson Road. The aspens in that section of the park always seem to change last.

Lost Leaves

Lost Leaves: Without the Teton Range, I chose to shoot down most of the afternoon. Dark clouds rolled through the park after lunch. By later in the afternoon, the rain began in earnest.

Foliage Comments: Much of Oxbow is now well past prime—or more correctly “blow off”. There are still yellow leaves around there, but the big stands are gone. There is still a lot of trees with color in town and around the edges. Bar-B-C is still colorful in the Park, but rains and wind may take its toll there, too. It will take a little more effort and creativity to capture fall now…but it’s still out there.


October 1, 2015 :

Schwabacher Inlet

Schwabacher Inlet: Remaining cottonwoods are amber or ochre in most areas of the river bottom.

Schwabacher Landing

Reflection Pool at Schwabacher Landing: Over the past 10 years, the spruce trees have been growing behind this pool. This is now making the mountains appear smaller and are cutting off some of the range. Several large clumps of grass have been growing along the near side of the pool making it harder to photograph.

Mormon Row

Mormon Row: The roof on the south side of the barn is now shingled, but workers still have trailer, trucks, ladders, spare timber and equipment scattered around the area. You can see the porta-potty near the far right cottonwood. Aspens are beginning to turn, so we all hope the workers finish and clear the area soon.

Roof Exchange

A Change of Seasons at the TA Moulton Barn: The roof at this barn is now bright colored pine. Just for a test, I extracted the roof from a 2013 image of the same barn and added it over the new roof. Worked fine!

The cottonwoods near the road along Mormon Row are losing leaves fast and are covering the ground. It’s a good time to be at this barn.


September 30, 2015 :

Aspen Grove

Brilliantly colored aspen stands are still looking good, but you have to look a little harder this week. I’ve been going to this little stand regularly during the foliage season and it is finally peak. Look for the gravel road just south of Spread Creek and Moose Head Ranch. There are other brightly colored aspens at the Moose Head Ranch entrance.

Sunlit Aspens

Aspen Grove: This grove of aspens are just south of Cunningham Cabin. I shot this one with a short telephoto from the entrance road.

Aspen Stand

You probably seen this stand a few hundred times at the west end of Oxbow Bend. I used a 70-200mm lens on a full frame body to isolate the grove and reflections.

Oxbow Island

This group of aspens is on the island across from the parking area at Oxbow Bend.

The Bend from Above

Still lots of color at Oxbow Bend. The stand below the upper parking lot is about half gone (or half there).

Patches of Sunlit Aspens

Patchy clouds let small bands of light through at times.

Foliage Notes: There are still nice stands of colorful aspens scattered all over the valley. Some of the classic shots may be past peak, but all you have to do is look for the new opportunities. Check out the aspens at the entrance to Moosehead Ranch, the gravel road just south of there, around Cunningham Cabin and Triangle X, and the brilliant stands at Bar-B-C.


September 29, 2015 :

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing: I only made it as far North as Schwabacher Landing today. There’s a little yellow, but less than some years. Wind is taking its toll on the leaves right now in many areas. Tomorrow’s foliage report should be much more complete as I plan on going to most areas.

Mormon Row: For whatever reason, crews didn’t do much on the south roof of the John Moulton barn yesterday. It looks about the same as it did all weekend. Leaves are beginning to turn on the aspens and cottonwoods there, so we all hope they hurry. The T.A. Moulton barn roof has been completed for several days, but it still has an outhouse and Grad-All parked behind it. They are not visible from the normal viewing zones, however.

Emma Matilda Fire: I believe the controlled burn is completed, but I got a report the road back to Two Ocean Lake was still closed.


September 28, 2015 :

Bull Crossing Sage

Bull Crossing Sage: This Bull Moose was crossing the sagebrush flats northwest of Kelly. I included a few closer shots of this bull on the Daily Updates page, but included this heavily cropped image to show the distant cottonwoods. The cottonwoods along Ditch Creek are thinning. There are a few prime trees mixed into groves of partial leaved and trees with fallen leaves.

Shadow Mountain: I drove to the top this morning to photograph the setting full moon. I had hoped for a few remnant clouds mixed in with the moon, but it cleared fully by the time the moon neared the jagged peaks. The aspens are mostly blown off at the top, while there lots of good leaves at about half way down. I would have stopped to take photos if there had been clouds.

In Town: Aspens look great along the side of Snow King Mountain near the Post Office. Cottonwoods in town look good in many areas, along with the ornamental or domestic maple trees. Plenty of color to go around.


September 27, 2015 :

Prime Aspens

Prime Aspens: There are plenty of prime Aspens around the valley, but you better capture this crop quickly. Wind has been blowing hard enough to start knocking them off the stems. I didn’t make it to Oxbow today, but I got a report that some of the leaves are blowing off at the river’s edge, while the upper lot was still looking good. Hurry!

Moulton Barn

Moulton Barn: The cottonwoods at the Moulton Barn are still changing. Right now, they are still dull compared to some years, but maybe that will change. I used an adjustment brush in Lightroom to darken the bright new roof. A couple of people are asking about a tutorial…sign up to get a first look at the post!

Mormon Row

Thomas Perry Homestead: Some of the cottonwoods at this site are beginning to turn.

Cow Moose

Willows: The willows and cottonwoods along the Gros Ventre are generally dull and blown off, but there are pockets of color and remaining leaves. The Gros Ventre and Snake are past prime, but that’s misleading know it never really had a good prime period.

Shadow Mountain: I can see the trees from the road and many of them are still looking good. I heard a report of the leaves being blown off at the very top.

Death Canyon Oct 16

Foliage Comments: If you’ve been following this foliage page from the beginning, you’d know I have been saying the foliage changes in different areas at different times, and even varies considerably within a specific region. The point is there will be good foliage opportunities for quite a while throughout the valley. I’ll still be photographing foliage during much of early October. The image above was taken on October 16th, 2011. You can see there were still green trees even then.


September 26, 2015 :

Oxbow Bend First Pink

First Pink: A bit of pink light lit some of the clouds for a few minutes this morning.

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend: Taken from the hillside. The entire area is in peak or at least close to peak conditions. Wind will start stripping them soon. Get there while you can!

Oxbow and Canada Geese

Oxbow and Canada Geese: I spent most of my morning at the upper parking lot. I heard someone say they counted 130 vehicles along the road and in the main parking lot. I waited a while, then went to the same areas after many of them split and was treated to some great light and clouds.

Oxbow Bend

Classic Parking Lot Shot:

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing: Fall colors in the river bottom remain dull this year.

TA Moulton Barn

T.A. Moulton Barn: This was taken from a high vantage point using a painter’s pole, Nikon D810, and a CamRanger and PT Hub. Cottonwoods are changing there.

Fallen Leaves

Fallen Leaves: This shot shows the fallen cottonwood leaves and the bright new roof on the barn.


September 25, 2015 :

Alpenglow at Oxbow

Peak at Oxbow: This was taken before the sun came up this morning. The entire area is bright and either peak or very close to it. There was a hint of wind this morning.

Cathedral Group

Cathedral Group: By later in the morning, wispy clouds began blowing in.


Clouds Over the Teton Range: There’s a little more color in the Snake River bottom now than earlier in the week. Of the trees with leaves, many are close to peak.

Upper Lot

Upper Lot at Oxbow Bend: By mid afternoon, there were plenty of clouds we have been wishing for at sunrise. These aspens are now in peak form.

Friday Foliage Comments: I’d say things are about as peak in the north as they will get. By late afternoon, wind picked up and leaves are blowing off the trees in some areas. Saturday is probably your best shot at Oxbow this year…hoping for some clouds however at sunrise. The cottonwoods out of the river bottom are gold in many areas, but a little behind in some areas like the Mormon Row barns. Schwabacher Landing looked better than I remembered as I drove by. I didn’t drive down to see up close. The John Moulton barn is still under construction with the top section needing shingles. There was still some equipment parked behind the TA Moulton barn, but most of it was out of sight for most of the normal shooting locations. Get here soon!


September 24, 2015 :

Oxbow and Steam

Oxbow and Low Fog: Large Trout were rising regularly this morning creating circles in the water.

First Light on Aspens

First Light on Aspens:

Classic Oxbow Bend

Classic Oxbow Bend: No clouds at sunrise today, but it is still beautiful.  The Bend is very close to peak.

Upper Lot

Oxbow Upper Lot: There hare a few hints of lime green in the upper stand, but they are now mostly prime.

TA Moulton Barn

TA Moulton Barn: I used a polarizing filter on this one. Colors may still need some adjusting in a final image, but you can see the status there. The cottonwoods are changing daily. The roofers completed the roof on this barn today and should have the remaining equipment out of the area tomorrow. The boards are raw and bright. I burned them down some in the photo above in Photoshop.


Leaves are falling off the close trees and landing on the ground.


Wrangler: This rider is part of a team spraying remote parts of the valley for weeds and noxious plants. You can see the green cast on their hooves.


September 23, 2015 :

Lupine Meadows

Lupine Meadows: Aspens near the base of the Teton Range are mostly prime now. This was taken across Lupine Meadows as the first few rays of golden light were bathing the valley.

Chapel of the Transfiguration

Chapel of the Transfiguration: The aspens stands behind the Chapel are a day or two away from peak. Aspens near Taggart Lake trail head are at peak or close to it, including the stands behind the small cabin near Cottonwood Creek picnic area.

I spent most of my morning trying to photograph bull elk on the Teton Park road. You have to be up very early to see them. There are several on the daily updates page: September 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH: A Monthly Journal

Occasionally, you can get wildlife AND landscapes during that magic half hour of light, but that’s more of the exception than the rule—at least for me. Moose are sometimes seen and photographed at Schwabacher Landing, but at this time of the year, there is so much activity. I’d bet on fewer animals being there. I didn’t make it to Oxbow Bend this morning, but much of it should be peak or very close to it now. Some people get Elk swimming across Oxbow Bend, or even Moose around the edges. Fall at Oxbow Bend.


September 22, 2015 : First Day of Fall!

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend at Alpenglow:

Remnant Alpenglow

Remnant Alpenglow:

Upper Parking Lot

Upper Parking Lot: Since I was there last, the upper lot has changed considerably.

Aspen Stand

Aspen Stand: Bright colors with morning light. Taken near Moosehead Ranch.

Aspen Trunks

Mid-morning Aspen Stand: Taken along the Moose Wilson Road.

Foliage Status: There’s good color in most areas of the north and northeast. Most color in the south part of GTNP is dull or brown, though there are exceptions.


September 21, 2015 :

Mountain Maple

Mountain Maples and Aspens: Taken along the Palisades Reservoir west of Alpine Junction. I was at this spot last week, on a rainy and overcast day. The colors were bright, but I had hopes of them turning deep maroon and red. This year, many of the Maples are duller and turning brownish instead of maroon. Still, it’s possible to get some nice shots.

Colorful Leaves

Colorful Leaves: It doesn’t take that much effort to find trees with deep colors. They vary from green to orange, to red, with the duller ones mixed in.

Rural Road

Rural Road: This little scene caught my eye as I was driving by. I did a U-turn and stopped to capture it. Aspens in the south part of the Snake River Canyon and along the Reservoir are behind many of the Aspens in the JH area, but like everywhere else, there are bright spots and green patches nearby.

Grays River

Grays River: The Grays River joins the Snake River just north of the town of Alpine. Those two join the Salt River and eventually become the South Fork of the Snake as the water leaves the Palisades Reservoir Dam. Grays River runs east out of Alpine, then south. If you are up for an adventure, fill up the vehicle and make the trip. You’ll  either end up at Daniel or all the way to La Barge. I drove up 10 miles today, then turned back towards home.

The best color I saw yesterday was around Oxbow Bend and on north toward Lizard Creek, all around Triangle X and Moosehead Ranches, Moran Junction area and the Buffalo Valley Road. Enjoy your day. MJ


September 20, 2015 :

The Bend

The lower stand of aspens at the west end of Oxbow Bend always gives me problems predicting when it might peak. The south tip usually goes first while the north end stays green for a while. In a good year, the south end holds the leaves while the north catches up. Wind can strip the south leaves before the north leaves finish. I am always amazed at how much it can change in a single day and especially two days.


The trees in the upper lot are behind this year, but they usually all turn at about the same time. The photos above should give you a good idea of what to expect if you go north.

Upper Band of Trees

Remnants of Alpenglow: At the upper lot.

Pacific Creek

Pacific Creek:

Snake River Bottom

Snake River Bottom: Some zones of the Snake River have bright yellow cottonwoods, while others are either dull yellow, brown, or fallen. This is across from Triangle X as the river bends towards Deadman’s Bar. Just up the road, along the highway, cottonwoods are much more yellow along Elk Flats, Spread Creek, Moosehead Ranch, and the Buffalo Fork River.


September 19, 2015 :

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing: When the light hits the cottonwoods, they brighten up though they are still dull. I don’t know if they will turn brighter yellow this year, but river bottom cottonwoods south of there look brown.

Spread Creek Road

Spread Creek Road: Not sure if this little access road has a name, but it is just south of Spread Creek.

Mt. Moran at Oxbow Bend

Mt. Moran at Oxbow Bend: The south group of Aspens are ahead of the rest of the stand of aspens at the west end of the bend.

West End

West End: Oxbow Bend always works best with calm water.

Upper Lot

Upper Lot: The upper lot (a few hundred yards east of the big pull out) is still days away from peak.

Jackson Lake Junction

Jackson Lake Junction: Most of the best color is north. Aspens can be from summer green to bright orange as seen here.

Arizona Meadows

The Meadows at Arizona Creek: This area usually looks good in the fall. It should be even better in a few days.

The next three or four days should be good around Oxbow Bend and along Jackson Lake.


September 18, 2015 :

TA Moulton Barn

TA Moulton Barn: The far right tree is just now beginning to turn. There are a few pieces of equipment parked behind the barn to be used to finish roofing the barn. I didn’t see any workers there.

John Moulton Barn and Roofers

John Moulton Barn: Roofers say they should be finished with this barn by next Friday. Hope so! Aspens are still green there.

Silver Roof

Hereford Ranch: I parked at the end of the paved portion of Antelope Flats road and hiked roughly a mile to the upper Hereford Ranch barn. I took this photo on the way back. It is only a half mile or so off the East Boundary Road. Aspens along the bottom of Shadow Mountain are yellow in many areas.

Lower Barn

Lower Barn: This is the same barn from a different angle.

Stand of Aspens

Stand of Aspens: I took this shot from the same area. I expected it to be more yellow, but much of this stand is still green. It could still make a nice shot in a few days.

Hereford Barn

Hereford Barn: The barns shown in today are on GTNP property and are accessible to anyone willing to hike to them.


September 17, 2015 :

NEWS: Moose-Wilson Road Re-opens to Through Traffic.   The Moose-Wilson Road was re-opened in its entirety around midday September 17 after black bear activity on the road subsided.

Big Valley of Maples

Mountain Maple in Snake River Canyon Update: Just returned from a drive down the Canyon. It is GOOD, but not really peak. There are a few maroon trees, lots of red, orange and amber Maples. At the same time, there are lots of green Maples and some just beginning. It WAS worth the trip, however. Aspens are spotty down there, just like here. Same for river bottom Cottonwoods. The entire area will probably be better over the weekend. Check out the section called “Down the Canyon” on this page: Outside the Park: Alternative Places to Visit, Hike, Fish, and Photograph. There’s a map with some of my favorite pull-outs.

Mountain Maple

Mountain Maple: Variegated hues of green, gold, and red.

Red Maple Leaves

Red Maple Leaves: There are lots of colorful Mountain Maple trees very close to the road just past Wolf Creek Campground and on south towards the mouth of the canyon.

Maples and Aspens

Maples and Aspens: There’s a deep red or maroon maple near the top of the image. Soon, many more of them will be that color.


September 16

Wet Leaves : Sept 2014

Yesterday was a dark, wet, gray day—other than a few brief periods when the sun broke through late in the evening. Today is starting out much the same following rain most of the night. Foliage usually looks best when it is being hit by sun light, so I didn’t take any photos of the vista views. The silver lining of these rainy days will be the possibility of snow on the mountain peaks once the clouds lift and we see the bright leaves again. Some Cottonwood and Willow leaves in some areas are falling and some seem to be turning brown. Wind isn’t helping. I have seen a few photos of red Mountain Maple from the south end of the Snake River Canyon. I am ready to make that trip soon. Oxbow could be close to peak when the clouds lift on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. The Cottonwoods and Aspens at the Mormon Row Barns were still mostly green the last time I was there.

During this wet period, you might find this post of interest: Making the Best of a Rainy Day:

Afternoon Recon Mission:

Teewinot Snow

Teewinot Snow: Snow is now covering roughly the top third of the range. This was taken just north of Jenny Lake Junction on the Teton Park Road. The Grand is covered with the cloud behind Teewinot.

Oxbow Bend

Some parts of Oxbow Bend are turning as seen here.  The Choke Cherry bushes are brightly colored. The south end of the Aspens along the Bend are turning, while the north section is still mostly green. By Friday, I suspect we can start shooting that portion and expect good color, even if it is not all peak at the same time.

Oxbow Upper Lot

Oxbow Upper Lot: This was taken from the parking lot just to the east of the main Oxbow Bend parking lots. These trees typically turn orange. It is still early for that group.

Gros Ventre Cottonwoods

Gros Ventre Cottonwoods: I just about need to do a complete separate color chart for the south half of the park. The willows and cottonwoods are turning brown or losing their leaves early this year. Instead of a bang, we are getting a “dud”. Many of the cottonwoods at Schwabacher Landing are more yellow. On the Snake, Schwabacher seems to be the dividing line. Most river bottom trees south of there are brown or bare, while cottonwoods north are more seasonably turning yellow. There are lots of yellow stands of cottonwoods around Moran Junction.

Gros Ventre

This is a typical scene along the Gros Ventre. There will be a few golden trees, a few green trees, and a good mix of brown and bare trees.

The cottonwoods along Ditch Creek and around the Mormon Row barns and Antelope Flats road are not as brown as the ones in the river bottoms nearby. They look much better, but are still much farther behind.

Aspens are looking much better lately. Valley wide, aspens are “spotty”. There can be patches of prime trees next to green ones. Some have brown leaves, but by far less of an issue than the southern cottonwoods. Many are in prime condition above the Oxbow. Aspens on the east side of the valley, mainly along Shadow Mountain are looking good. Some are peak, but they probably need another day or two.

Mountain Maple are reportedly turning red in the south end of the Snake River Canyon. I’m planning on going there tomorrow. Check back!


September 14

Upper Hillsides at Oxbow Bend

Hillsides above Oxbow Bend: Some of the bank of aspens at the West end of the Bend are starting to turn, along with a few in the upper parking lot. It looks like they might turn orange this year.

Spread Creek

Spread Creek: This was taken near Spread Creek (near Moosehead Ranch). There is a lot of color in the Triangle X to Moran Junction.

Stormy Teton Range

Snake River Basin: This was taken mainly to show the storm clouds, but you can see how the river bottom cottonwoods are changing.


September 13

Ditch Creek

Ditch Creek: Cottonwoods are now in the 5-6-7 ranges along Ditch Creek and along parts of the Snake River.

Gros Ventre River Bottom

Gros Ventre River Bottom: Willows are in the 6-7-8 ranges with Cottonwoods still 5-6-7.

Shane Cabin

Shane Cabin: There are Aspens in the 6-7-8 ranges around the south end of the valley, with Aspens in the 7-8-9 ranges near Oxbow and Lizard Creek.

Note: I don’t see any areas where large zones of trees are changing at the same rate or at the same time. Instead, the foliage is patchy, with bright yellows mixed in with greens.


September 11

Today, I drove to most of the major areas of the park. The south end of the park is still spotty, with most of the color in the willows along the Gros Ventre.

Schwabacher Landing

Schwabacher Landing is still more pale green than yellow, but like all areas, some individual trees or small stands are ahead of others.

Chapel Aspens

The stand of aspens behind the Chapel are barely beginning to turn. Same for the aspens and cottonwoods near the Mormon Row Barns.

The aspen stands on the north end and west side of Shadow Mountain are definitely turning yellow. Going north, aspens are more advanced, with lots of color around Triangle X Ranch.

Oxbow Bend

The two main stands of Aspens at Oxbow Bend are still mostly green, but the south side is starting to turn.

Above Oxbow

Aspens all around Oxbow Bend are bright yellow already. This stand is just north of the parking areas.

Northern Aspens

Aspens near the road at Lizzard Creek are yellow, along with many along the highway in the area.

Northern Aspens

This is another stand of aspens at the far north end of Jackson Lake.The Meadows

This golden meadow is just to the west of Arizona Creek. The distant aspens usually put on a good show and are great for shooting up for the converging lines shots. Take bear spray, however. Grizzlies are known to use the power line road as a thoroughfare. I photographed a lot of the images on this post there: Polarizing Filters for Fall Foliage


September 10

GTNP Warm Springs Road

Just a quick entry for today: I took this shot on my way back home yesterday. There was a little haze at the time. I drove by the same spot today and noticed considerable changes in just one day. The residential hillside just south of that hill also changed overnight. I should be north some tomorrow, so check back for a report from up there tomorrow evening. It is also time to dust off the old polarizing filter and have it ready if the angle of the light is favorable for one. Polarizing Filters for Fall Foliage Also, some of the willows in the Gros Ventre river bottom look like they might have jumped up a level or two in the last few days.


September 8

Aspen Trunks and Ground CoverFor this first entry, I’m just going to give an overview. Some of the upcoming entries will be more specific. There was some shifting from summer green to slightly olive around September 1st, prompting me to suggest it might be an early Fall. I would have predicted more changing in the past week than I am actually seeing. Valley wide, we are probably averaging 2-3-4, but there are stands or areas slightly ahead. If you look hard enough, you can even find some near peak trees. Willows along the Gros Ventre and some areas of the Snake are ahead of the Cottonwoods. Cottonwoods, at least at the moment, look duller than I remember and not turning bright yellow. Aspens are shifting in most areas. The brightest group I’ve seen is along the East Boundary Road north of Antelope Flats Road. Mountain Maple (in the Snake River Canyon) is behind last year but maybe ahead of most years. There are less Choke Cherries on the branches this year, but Black Hawthorne berries are plentiful along the Moose-Wilson Road. Mountain Ash berries are bright orange now. Most of the grasses and pastures are golden in color. The underbrush is turning bright colors in most areas.


Recent Photos

Red Leaf

September 4: Colorful Leaf

Orange Aspens

September 4: Advanced Aspens near Jackson Lake Junction.

Grass and Aspens

September 4: Grass and Aspens near Arizona Creek.

East boundary Road

September 6: East Boundary Road north of Antelope Flats Road. Several large stands of aspens are already bright yellow.

Black Bear in Low Grasses

September 6: Black Bear in Low Grasses along the Moose-Wilson Road. In most areas, the ground cover is a mixture of green, gold, and yellow.

Gros Ventre

September 8: This was captured in the morning light, so it has a heavy gold cast. Willows and Cottonwoods are changing fast along the river bottoms.

Ditch Creek

September 8: Ditch Creek: Cottonwoods, grass, Tetons, thin clouds, and haze.

GTNP Warm Springs Road

September 9: GTNP Warm Springs Road: This is a hillside inside GTNP, located across from the Welcome to GTNP sign along the Highway— just north of the National Fish Hatchery.

South of Jackson

September 9: South of Jackson: I drove south of town a few miles to check out the foliage status. Cottonwoods along the Snake River in that area are still “summer green”. Aspens are beginning to change as seen here.



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Comments (17)

  1. Amy

    Thanks for all your hard work. Met you this summer and as I told you in person your blog is fantastic! We will be there the end of Sept and I can’t wait. Will be monitoring this page closely. Hope we don’t miss peak this year. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks for this update Mike. I’m coming in a few days later than I normally do and hope I don’t miss the great colors entirely. I’m hoping for 7-8-9 and some 10. If I don’t get those, maybe I get some good moose shots instead.

  3. Sam Parks

    You’re the best Mike, see you soon!

  4. Thanks Mike. I’m hoping tomorrow morning we’ll have some sun under the clouds in the east for a good sunrise but you never can tell. I suspect many others will be betting on this at Oxbow Bend.

  5. Ly Dang

    Hi Mike,
    Your website is awesome! Do you think I will miss the peak if I arrive on 9/26? Especially the aspens at Oxbow?

  6. Ly,
    It is a crazy year. I think Oxbow Bend will be peaking in the next few days (Sat, Sun, Mon). It is a highlight spot for many. There are plenty of patches of bright yellow all around the valley, but they will be right next to some summer green stands. I’d bet there will be many good spots with great color over your dates.

  7. Joe Turner

    I notice that your Oxbow bend photographs on September 22 were taken from a much higher vantage point than the usual. Do you just climb the hill on the other side of the road to get that angle?

  8. Yep, just climb the hill and look for angles that eliminate the people and vehicles.

  9. The crowd at Oxbow this morning (9/23/2015) was sizable and the payoff was pretty good. There weren’t any clouds but the bend was completely calm (except when geese and ducks landed) and the aspens were a day or two from full-color. Climbing up the hills to the north sounds like a good idea.

  10. Thanks for the update. This page has a few of my comments about shooting there this time of the year: Fall at Oxbow Bend

  11. Hello Mike,
    First of all, thank you for your blog. I’ve used it often. I’m interested in learning from you and I would like to photograph owls. Is the fall the best time? How much time should I allow for something like this. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from you.

  12. Mark, Owls show up randomly in JH. When nesting, the parents have to hunt aggressively as the babies start needing more and more food. Otherwise, they are tough to find. Some people say the parents kick the fledglings out on their own in October, so when that happens, there is a chance more can be found. Hard to say. Hope this helps in some way. MJ

  13. Hi Mike, Thanks so much for your wonderful blog updates! My family and I had (tentatively) planned a trip to GTNP the weekend of 9/26. Since we were coming from Reno NV by car, knowing what foliage (and weather) conditions looked like was key. Your daily blog updates were crucial in helping us decide to take the plunge and make the 10+ hour trip, and we weren’t disappointed! Conditions were perfect, as you predicted, and my family and I had a magical time enjoying and photographing the foliage and surrounding beauty. Thanks so much for the great service you provide via your blog!

  14. Hi Clayton, I absolutely love knowing the site helped you this year. It’s difficult to guess the foliage conditions a month in advance, or even a week in advance. My wife gives me the green light to be out all the time I need this time of the year, so it gives me the opportunity to tromp around the valley and make the reports. Please help me by spreading the word about the site! Cheers, Mike Jackson

  15. John Hollenberg

    Your web site is a gold mine of information–thanks! I am going to the Tetons/Yellowstone with 2 photographer friends in September. Went several years ago and got some great shots. I have a choice of Sept 16-23 or 23-30. Is one preferable (on average, obviously) to hit peak Fall Color?

  16. Hi John, I’d suggest viewing the September Journals (Daily Updates and Photos) for the past three years. They should give you a really good idea. Some of the peak colors went off earlier over the past two years compared to some of the prior years. I’d probably pick the 23-30 window if I had to pick. MJ

  17. John Hollenberg

    Thanks, we will probably go with the 23-30. I know it is best guess and a huge amount of variability, but not being from the area I couldn’t even make a best guess.

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