Best of the Tetons, Great Photography Tours In Jackson, WY

Rural Wyoming

There’s a lot more to Wyoming than GTNP and Yellowstone!

Wyoming Map

That’s what this page is about! I could fan out into any zone of the state and find plenty of subjects. For this trip, I started at lunch time on Friday, January the 5th and returned home at sunset on Sunday, January 7. The photos on this page are a result of being “in the field” only two and a half days, covering 750 miles and shooting around 4,500 images. I headed south and stayed south this time. I wish I could have afforded the time and travel expenses to poke about another day or two!

Boar's Tusk

You don’t have to go too far to get out of the tourist resort look and feel many associate with Jackson Hole and the Parks. Just do a drive up Spring Gulch Road to see what I mean. I photograph the local ranches and homesteads regularly. It’s nice to “get out of town” once in a while and in this case, explore “Rural Wyoming”.

I never planned in covering a huge portion of the State. My wish list for wildlife subject matter included wild horses, pronghorns, eagles, hawks, and maybe some deer. I hoped to be able to get to the Boar’s Tusk at sunrise, and then hope for some colorful clouds. I wanted to photograph a few of the active farms and a few of the abandoned ones. A sunset or two would be great! Of course, some of my favorite subjects are grungy, rusting vehicles and textures. I know there are nomadic sheep herders working the BLM lands, and I hoped to find some of them. At any time, I’d stop for subjects with great light. In general, I’d headed towards Rocks Springs and Green River because I know there are two BLM Horse Management Areas there (HMAs). No hurry. No set-in-stone plan. No schedule. No pressure! Of course, if I had wanted to photograph Devel’s Tower, I headed out in the wrong direction!

The photo above was taken on Sunday morning. I checked the weather report Saturday night and it looked promising. The Boar’s Tusk is a unique geological formation in the middle of nowhere. It is identified on most maps about 35 miles northeast of Rock Springs. When I look at the photo, I remember the beautiful morning light and I remember the smell of sagebrush, the clouds ripping by overhead, and the sound of the wind. I had to wait about 30 minutes for the light to hit the formation. It was chilly, but not bitter cold that morning.

White Mountain Petroglyphs

Wyoming is steeped in history! You can find dinosaur bones, Native American petroglyphs, fur trade forts and rendezvous locations, rocks rutted from thousands of Oregon Trail settlers, ghost towns, and territorial prisons. At the other end of the spectrum, Wyoming also has an ample of supply of state of the art wind turbines and is home to the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC). The White Mountain Petroglyphs are located NE of Rock Springs. You can also find Petroglyphs in the Dubois area and near Thermopolis.

Paint Mare and Black Stallion

Wyoming has 16 Horse Management Areas (HMA) administered by the BLM. Additionally, the Pryor Mountain Wild Mustang Range straddles the northern Wyoming border. The Little Colorado and White Mountain HMAs are located just north of Rock Springs and Green River, WY. I found around 50 horses on my one morning on the mountain. Pilot Butte can be seen in the distance, also used by settlers and emigrants as a landmark.

Wild Horse Action

The Wild Horse Loop begins about 12 miles north of Rock Springs and follows the eastern edge of White Mountain to Green River. If you stay on the main roads, you’ll probably be okay, but if you drive on some of the secondary two track roads, you need really good tires. I picked up a shard again this trip, forcing me to change the tire on location. Unfortunately, the tire was ruined. This trip cost me $1400 for new 10 ply tires on my truck! The tires would eventually need changing, so I tried not to let the hassle and expense blemish my trip. I took a lot of photos of the horses while on the plateau, thus I can tell myself it was worth it!

When you find horses during the winter, they’ll likely be in survival mode, and not necessarily in breeding mode (That’s in May and June). Still, stallions fend off challenging youngsters as seen in the photo above. The smaller black stallion was limping badly when I first saw him. The photo shows a swollen ankle, but when the other stallion approached him, you’d never see the limp.

I intended on covering a lot of ground on my weekend trip so I couldn’t spend too long in on place. On another trip, I might spend all three days working the Wild Horses in the Rock Springs area. I should mention that signs on parts of the Wild Horse Loop state the roadway is not maintained from November through March, so Winter access can be dicey.

Log Cabin

Much of Wyoming’s landscape is dotted with buttes similar to the ones above. On my trip south, I pulled over dozens of times to capture shots with bands of light highlighting zones of my photos. This photo was taken near LaBarge, WY.

Jim Bridger

Wyoming is full of surprises! You can find Jim Bridger’s engraving on “Names Hill” near LaBarge, WY. Many of the early fur trappers went on to guide emigrants, railroads, and the army in the building of the nation. This is the same Jim Bridger you might recognize in “The Revnant” movie. Also watch for “The Bridger Trail” in other areas of the State. A lot of early settlers passed through Wyoming to get to somewhere else using trails like the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail. Many travelers stopped to carve their name in Independence Rock. Rural Wyoming was the backdrop for much of what people think of as “The Wild West”. For example, Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall is in central Wyoming.

Green River Night Skies

There are numerous distinctive rock formations near Green River, WY. A new Hampton Inn at the entrance (or exit) of the Wild Horse loop shines powerful lights onto two of the formations above the hotel. I stayed out late on my first evening to try to capture a few stars in front of the rocks. There are areas of Wyoming that you won’t see a single light at night for miles and miles of driving, making the State a premier destination for night photography. It was too cloudy for night shots on Saturday…but…

Rock Springs Main Street

…The historic old downtown Rock Springs worked just fine. I took photos there Friday night, but I liked these better because of the wet streets and blue sky.

Rock Springs Fire House

This historic old building served as the Fire Station at one end and Rock Springs City Hall at the other end. Look for historic old buildings like this one in Rawlins, Laramie, and Cheyenne, WY. Currently, Interstate 80 traces a path along what was originally part of the Lincoln Highway connecting New York City and San Francisco. It was the nation’s first true Transcontinental Highway. In earlier years, the same route was used for the Ben Holladay Overland Trail Stages. The same route along I-80 is an important leg of the railroad system through the state. Look for large train yards in Cheyenne, Laramie, and Green River.

Daniel Station

Wyoming is sprinkled with remnants of the earlier days of the automobile. This little station is located in Daniel, WY.

Frontier Hotel

Signs were necessary to attract traveling tourists. There are many sign relics all across the state, as seen in this capture in Big Piney, WY.

Back Roads

This is part of the three mile road to the White Mountain Petroglyphs. There are large chunks of Wyoming with no cell service. Back road travel has a bit of risk, especially knowing there will be almost no other travelers around. In many years, roads like this would be totally impassable in January.

South Pass Road

Discretion is the better part of valor. After my time at the Boar’s Tusk and Petroglyphs on Sunday, I drove to South Pass in hopes of getting to South Pass City and Atlantic City. I’ve been there in the summer, but didn’t do my homework for this trip. The sign just off the highway says the road is not maintained from December to March. It was clear and windblown for about four miles. I came upon this scene—where I stopped. I could have “easily” gone through this bank of snow with my high clearance truck and brand new tires, but if things go bad, it would be really bad. Unfortunately, South Pass City and the Carissa Mine would have to wait. I was disappointed, but warm as I headed back to Farson.

Moondance Diner

Movie and TV buffs might recognize this this old diner. The Moondance Diner has appeared in numerous shows, but that’s while it was still in New York City. There was quite a bit of press about a Wyoming resident and entrepreneur moving the diner by truck from NYC to Labarge, WY. I tried to go there soon after the move, but the place was still under construction.  The next time I tried, it had closed. Check out the Moondance Diner‘s site .

The Moondance Diner in popular culture (from Wikipedia)

  • In the television sitcom Friends, the character Monica Geller (Courteney Cox) worked at the Moondance Diner, which was depicted as a 1950s theme restaurant. However, the show was filmed in Los Angeles, and only the exterior shots depicted the real diner.
  • In the 2005 rock- mockumentary film The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie, six-year-old Alex faints on the counter of Moondance Diner after drinking and spilling cans of soda all over himself.
  • The cable television series Sex and the City featured scenes shot at the Moondance Diner.
  • In the 2002 film Spider-Man the Moondance Diner appears as the diner at which Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is employed.
  • In a-ha’s music video for its 1988 single “You Are the One“, the band enters the diner.
  • The diner appears in the Miami Vice episode “The Prodigal Son”.
  • The diner appears in Reading Rainbow season 3 episode 9, “Animal Cafe”.

Superior, WY

Superior, WY is described as a “living ghost town”. It’s located about 23 miles east of Rock Springs and seven miles off Interstate 80. The Union Hall at the end of the street in this photo serves as a museum documenting the historic old coal mining town. There were some amazing pano images on display, showing two streets of a robust town in its heyday. I checked the Library of Congress, but found only a few images. Check out the town’s site: Superior, WY

Coal Mine

Superior has quite a few structures to remind visitors of days long ago.

Patriotic Bunting

This patriotic bunting on the Workingmen’s Commercial Co. seems to tell a lot of stories…possibly a Centennial celebration? The event was apparently long ago!

Broken Windows

I could take photos like this all day long! Superior is loaded with possibilities like this one.


Abandoned vehicles are some of my favorite subjects, and Wyoming has a lot of them. I liked the high contrast aspect of this capture at Eden, WY.

GMC Emblem

Many towns in Wyoming have some sort of Historical Museum. Farmers often park an old vehicle near the fence along the highway. I like to take my “obligatory” photos with my standard lenses, then go back one more time with a telephoto lens for some tight shots and details. This vehicle was on the south edge of Eden, WY.

Broken Glass

I don’t know about you, but I find these kinds of shots captivating and extremely fun to capture. This shot was also taken at Eden, WY.

West of Eden

Rural Wyoming is loaded with “roads to nowhere”. I stopped to photograph quite a few of them, including this tunnel of trees down a dirt road west of Eden.

Wildlife Overpass

Wyoming’s migrating wildlife now has safe crossings along some of the busier highways. I pulled over and took this shot at one of the wildlife overpasses near Daniel, WY. High fences along the roads funnel migrating Elk and Pronghorns to underpasses and overpasses.

Snow Fence

In a few areas of the sate, you can find wind farms that capitalize on one of Wyoming’s resources…wind. In other zones, you’ll see snow fences that are meant to slow down the wind—allowing eddies of snow to build up behind them. Better there than on the roads! Interestingly, some of the older fence staves are now being removed and replaced. The old wood is reclaimed and sold as decorative “barn wood” to the builders and designers. This shot was taken on top of South Pass.

Oil Wells

In Northwest Wyoming, much of the economy is driven and supported by tourist’s dollars. I many of the rural areas, coal, oil, and natural gas are then engines that drive the economy. The state’s wellness often depends on the price of gas. Our NW corner likes to see low gas prices to encourage tourists, but if that’s the case, the state coffers suffer. This photo was taken in the gas fields near Pinedale, WY.

Fence Hopping Mule Deer

Mule Deer, Sage Grouse, and Pronghorn populations are suffering declining populations over the past decade. Mule Deer and Pronghorns are still seen on a regular basis.


You can find Pronghorns in almost all areas of the state, sometimes in huge herds. Their migration paths are being affected by development and fences in several areas of the state.

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawks are common in the rural areas of Wyoming in the winter. Golden Eagles are also common in the sage covered zones, feasting on ample supplies of Cottontails.

Golden Eagle Nest

This Golden Eagle nest is one of three I saw above the White Mountain Petroglyphs. It has to be 25 feet tall!


Sometimes you just have to chuckle! This totem pole style post of old license plates was in Superior, WY.

I mentioned earlier that Wyoming is the least populated state out of the 50 states in the Union. It covers 97,105 square miles, yet there are very few roads criss-crossing it. Of the roads that do weave through the state, many of them are closed during the winter months. There are times when you look over the map and realize you can’t get there from here!

Wyoming Population Map

This Census map probably tells a better story than what I could ever try to tell. Large chunks of the state have less than one person person per square mile. Much of the population is clustered in some of the “bigger” cities of Cheyenne, Laramie, Casper and Rock Springs. It’s easy to understand why we don’t have many connecting roads!

Wyoming's Big Sky

In Jackson, much of our sky is cut off by the towering mountains. Drive a short distance into rural Wyoming and things can change drastically. Depending on how you place the horizon line in a photo, Wyoming can have huge and powerful skies. This photo gives you an idea of the desolation and isolation you can find in many areas of Wyoming.

Scenes like this one can plant a seed for future photos. I can imagine going to the Boar’s Tusk again for a night shot with the Milky Way as part of the backdrop. I saw a presentation one time in which Dave Black light painted one of the Four Corners rock formations, with a helper shining powerful flashlights on it from a mile or two off. There are probably numerous similar opportunities for this month’s Lunar Eclipse.


I don’t think of rural Wyoming as only flat prairies of sagebrush—but more about being away from the hectic life associated with a larger town. This shot in Bondourant, WY is an example.

Wyoming Map 2

I wish I had time and space on this page to add even more photos from my two and a half day trip.  I covered only a small portion of Wyoming—as seen in the highlighted red roads.

If you are traveling by vehicle to and from the Jackson Hole area, I’d suggest allowing a little extra time on either end of your trip. Pull over when you see something of interest instead of rushing directly to the Parks. Some stunning features are a bit off the beaten path, while others require that you only slow down, stop and enjoy the sites and attractions!


Costa Rica Scrapbook

A Warm Couple of Weeks in Central America

Sunset at Dominical
Beach at Dominical, Costa Rica

This year, we booked the flights and grabbed the passports for a couple of weeks of warm temperatures, lush green terrain, and time to explore an area rich in wildlife. Despite its relatively small size, Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world. Daily temperatures in Jackson Hole typically range between -20° to +20°F. Daily highs in Costa Rica in January hover close to 88° F. It’s an easy trade!

Costa Rica Brown Pelicans
Brown Pelicans

Costa Rica has been on my “bucket list” of places to go for quite a few years. Since our kids are grown and have moved out of the house, we’ve been able to travel a bit more. Costa Rica lived up to all of my expectations!

Costa Rica's Nauyaca Waterfalls
Nuykaya Waterfalls

This page will not be a travel guide to all you would need to know if you are planning on making a trip to Costa Rica, but more of a journal or scrapbook of what we did and what we saw.

Jesus Christ Lizard

Wildlife is abundant and extremely varied. The rain forests covers most of the country. Each acre probably contains thousands of interesting critters, however they are not always easily spotted.

White-faced Monkey
White-faced Monkey

Some of the animals are easy to spotif you are in the right place at the right time.

Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw: Some wildlife is “common” only is certain areas. Guidebooks can help! Guided trips are even better.


Some the wildlife looks amazingly familiar, including Kingfishers, Osprey, Doves, & Great Blue Herons.


And, some wildlife seems to come from another world or another time. Iguanas are relatively common in Costa Rica, but I find them extremely fascinating.

Costa Rica Vulture
Black Vulture

Costa Rica MapCentral America connects continents of North America with South America. Costa Rica connects the countries of Panama on the south to Nicaragua on the north. The Caribbean Ocean spans the length of the east coast, while the Pacific Ocean runs the length of the west coast. Mt. Chirripó, the highest mountain in Costa Rica is 12,532 ft. above sea level. We could see smoldering volcanos down the spine of the country from our plane window. Before coming here, I knew none of these details!

Costa Rica Beach
Coastline at Dominical

We drove to Dominical, after flying into San Jose.  It is a popular tourist spot for Americans, and many of the locals speak English when needed. A Central American version of Spanish is the common language. The country runs on the Metric System. The country is in the Central Time Zone.

Sunest Surfer
Surfer at Dominical

There are public beaches along the ocean in many areas. Dominical is a mecca for  surfers of all skill levels, while many beaches are signed with notices of dangerous under currents or rip tides.

Sand Dollar

Red Flower
Red Flower

Green is the predominant color in Costa Rica, but other brilliantly colored subjects can be found without much effort. Fruit, like pineapples, bananas, oranges, limes, mangos, and coconuts are abundant and cheap. Restaurants cater to the tourists and locals with a wide variety of food types, usually at prices similar to what we see in Jackson Hole. Hard to beat a a meal cooked with fish fresh out of the ocean.

Three-toed Sloth
Three-toed Sloth

People come to Jackson Hole typically hoping to see Moose, Elk, Deer, Pronghorns, Bears, Bison. Depending on the time the year, they might also hope to see Bighorns and Mountain Goats. In Costa Rica, I might hope to see Sloths, Macaws, Toucans, Whales, Dolphins, Crocodiles, Monkeys, Parrots, and so forth. The country also has many species of big Cats and mid-sized mammals. There are over 50 species of Hummingbirds!

Costa Rica Hikers
Bridge to Nuykaya Waterfalls

Costa Rica has at least 22 National Parks! Considering the entire country is roughly the size of West Virginia, parks are fairly close to most areas of the country. Additionally, the country has numerous reserves and privately protected zones. Some of the National Parks require a certified guide, while others allow self-guided entry. Prices for guided trips seem to range between $28 to $200. (I am sure some are much more). Our hiking trip to the Nuykaya Waterfalls was only $8 per person.

Costa Rica Moth
Detail of Owl Butterfly

Butterflies, jumbo Grasshoppers, and Moths flutter around. Lizards, frogs, toads and snakes are harder to see, but fill the rain forests. Some of them are poisonous. At our duplex residence, we see a variety of birds, insects and lizards. Geckos chirp part of the evening as they wait to ambush small bugs.

Tours, Parks, and Guides

Guided tours are common in almost all regions we visited. Like Jackson Hole, being out very early or late makes a difference. Wildlife is more active during those hours. We took quite a few tours and we winged it several times. The guided trips are well worth it! They know where to look (sometimes a result of the animals not moving very far or they return to a limited number of resting places), and they are good at spotting animals. Some parks, like Parque Nacional Marino Balena require a guide. If interested, check out Anywhere Costa Rica for additional information on tours and travel.

Hacienda Baru: This place is only a few miles from Domincal. I went there several times…possibly the best deal we found! Normal entry is only $8 per person. Guided Bird Watching tours are only $25 or so. A ticket is good all day, so you can return several times. If you return with your previous map and ticket, entry is only $4, and good all day. I did a two hour morning tour, which turned out to be a private tour for $20. After my tour, I returned several more times and found things I know I would have missed.

Crested Guan
Crested Guan

Post Trip Reflections

I had originally planned on making a post while in Costa Rica, then adding photos to it regularly during the trip. My Norton Security protection stopped while in Costa Rica and I was hesitant to be online without it. I waited to submit this post until I was home and safe. Looking back, I’d say we had a great trip. My wife is already talking about another trip there. (I’d like to get back to Sanibel Island in Florida someday, too). The beginning of the “dry season” starts in mid-December in Costa Rica and runs for four or five months. January is a good month to be there. We heard the whales are in a few of the bays in February, so that might be a worthwhile consideration. We based our trip out of Dominical and we spent a lot of our time within 40 miles of there. It’s a much bigger country, so we know we only scratched the surface. I’d definitely budget for as many guided tours as possible if going there (again). I didn’t find time to take a night tour, but many places offer them. Maybe next time! I’d also like to time some of my shots better. For example, the Nuykaya Waterfalls shot was taken in mid morning on a bright day. I might prefer to go there on an overcast day, but that simply isn’t an option when you only have a few days. Same for the shot of the Macaws…by the time the tour made it to the park entrance, it was already mid day. At Carara National Park, we paid a guide to show us additional locations outside the park. I could now go there at sunrise and have chances for photos with much better light.

If You Go: There aren’t many road signs in Costa Rica. The rental car company offered a “Mobile Hot Spot” cube ($8 per day), which came in handy for connecting to the Internet and navigation. The “Waze” app worked well for navigation. “WhatsApp” allows people to call the US (if connected to the Internet), without the normal out of country fees. It also works for texts. I used a Spanish/English app to help with tough words. That app is downloaded onto the phone, so an Internet connection was not needed. I also downloaded a speech version of Spanish/English. We had “Cellular Data” turned off on our phones, tablets and computers.

The Wet Season: We were in Costa Rica in the “dry season”, but I asked about the wet season. Along the coast, the guides told me it can often be clear in the morning, then turn cloudy by noon and rain the rest of the day. Most tourists don’t like that scenario so those months equate to the “off season”. Some roads can be impassible and dangerous. The Baru River, for example, was only knee deep in January, but the high water marks along the river indicate it could be a dangerous and raging river at times. Personally, I’d like to go there when the seasons are changing!

Bull Moose
Jackson Hole, Wyoming in Winter

Back in Jackson Hole, snow is deep and temperatures are dropping to well below freezing. When we pack up to leave Costa Rica, we’ll be re-entering a more familiar environment and reality.

Below, I will include a list of the gear I chose for this trip, and following that section, I’ll add a few more random photos. Cheers! MJ

My Costa Rica Equipment Choices

It is always difficult to know what equipment to take, or to be more specific, how much can be stuffed into legal sized bags. Photographers coming to Jackson Hole surely suffer the same dilemma. I chose to bring my Nikon D5, figuring it could handle the low light situations. Speed might also be a factor. I picked a Nikon 24-70mm all around landscape lens and a Tamron 150-600mm lens for the wildlife shots. I own a new Tamron 150-600mm G2 lens, but I haven’t been 100% satisfied with it. I own a Nikon 200-500mm lens, but I like the extra reach of the Tamron lens. The obvious filler lens would have been my Nikon 70-200mm lens, but instead I chose my older style Nikon 70-180mm Zoom Micro. I love that lens! It work fine as a standard lens, but it also is incredibly sharp when used as a macro lens (Nikon calls them Micro). I managed to get my disassembled four piece tripod and ball head into my travel duffel bag. Lastly, I brought a Nikon SB910 strobe, and SU800 controller, Radio Poppers, and a CamRanger. I carried the core of my gear in my ThinkTank back pack. That turned out to be a good call since our checked bags didn’t arrive with us in San Jose. Delta Airlines delivered them to us in Dominical the next day, but I have to admit the thought crossed my mind that I might never see my tripod and strobes again.
I would make exactly the same equipment choices again today, for all the same reasons.
Note: I read over the Costa Rica customs documents about photography gear. It mentioned allowing only one camera body.I am not sure how strict on that issue, but it might be worth noting here. 

Additional Random Photos

Black-headed Vultures

Black-headed Vultures: Dominical Beach

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret: Dominical Beach

Diocesis De San Isidro

Diocesis De San Isidro: San Isidro, around 30 miles inland from Domincal

Diocesis De San Isidro

Diocesis De San Isidro:

Downtown Market

Downtown Market: San Isidro.

Farmers Market

Farmers Market: Tuesdays and Thursday in San Isidro.

Fresh Onions

Fresh Onions: Tuesdays and Thursday in San Isidro.


Watermelon: Tuesdays and Thursday in San Isidro.

The Edge of the Rain Forests

The Edge of the Rain Forests: Near Dominical

Cherry Tanager

Cherry Tanager: Hacienda Baru Wildlife Refuge near Dominical.

Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel Monkey: Along the Sierpe River on the Osa Peninsula.

Costa Rica Heron

Tiger Heron: Baru River near Domincal.

Coastal Sunset

Coastal Sunset: South of Dominical


Squirrel: Hacienda Baru Preserve near Dominical

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron: Parque Nacional Marino Balena on the Osa Peninsula.


Crocodile: Along the Sierpe River at Sierpe on the Osa Peninsula.


Crocodiles: Take from the bridge over Rio Tarcoles near Carara National Park.

Nesting Macaws

Nesting Scarlet Macaws: Carara National Park.

Flying Macaw

Flying Scarlet Macaw: Carara National Park.

Costa Rica Heron
Tri-colored Heron: Along the Baru River near Dominical.




























A Trip to Jackson Hole

—Suggestions from a 30 Year Resident.

This page contains thoughts on a few topics that could help make your trip to Jackson Hole more successful, enjoyable, and productive. It’s longer than I had originally hoped, but I believe the information might be valuable enough to be worth the time it takes to read it!


A Few “Keywords” to Consider

Practice — Patience — Persistence — Preparedness — Pragmatism

All pros still practice—no matter the discipline. No doubt, rookies need more practice. If you are planning a trip to Jackson Hole, you might consider taking your camera and favorite lenses to a local soccer game and practice beforehand. Players move quickly and erratically, just like a Fox or Pronghorn! Practicing on soccer kids is great because failures aren’t disasters! You get plenty of chances and you can always go back for additional practice. You seldom get second chances with wildlife in the Tetons. The moment is over in an instant and is difficult to repeat.


Patience is usually a more difficult discipline for a traveling photographer. I’m often guilty of the “greener pastures syndrome” when out of town, too. Should I wait for the clouds to break, or wait for the animal to move towards water in the evening, or should I move on to something that might be better right now? The answers to the questions are often based on previous experiences—and we simply don’t have those gifted to us. The experiences require us to actually have the experience in the first place! (Of course, a guide can help!) I’ve seen tour companies drive up to an owl perched on a branch. The tourists pile out of the van, get their shots, then climb back in the van and head down the road in search of a different subject. Once gone, the owl flies down and captures a vole or mouse and the patient photographers get the shots! Animals never actually follow the script we’d like them to follow, of course, but anyone watching owls long enough knows they eventually do fly!


Persistence is a luxury for a resident photographer. Once I find a good sunrise location, I can return to it as many days as it takes to get the shot…you know…with purple skies and rose tinted clouds. Tourists coming here, or when I am somewhere else, are forced to do their best with the day or two in front of them. Sometimes, I’ve gone back to a subject half a dozen times to try to hit it perfectly, only to have a passing tourist walk up and get that same shot on their first time. Great for both of us! Even on a short trip, persistence can pay off. If a specific animal, like a fox, isn’t visible at the time, driving by several other times can increase the odds of seeing it. Luck is great…but most of our best shots are often obtained through persistence.

Schwabacher Pano

Practice and Preparedness can be intertwined. If you are buying a new camera for your trip to the Tetons, I’d suggest having a camera body shipped to you weeks before coming to a place like Jackson Hole. Same for your tripod, ball head or Gimball head and all of the plates and attachments. Dial in the camera’s Autofocus Fine Tune with each lens and make sure all of your tripod parts work together. Give it a good workout! With Alpenglow fading, you definitely don’t want to be struggling with your gear! Likewise, you don’t want to have to figure out how to change ISO or Aperture settings when a Bull Moose is crossing a stream in front of you! If on a trip with me, I can help, but you’ll eventually want to make simple changes without too much of a delay.

Moose Calves

Preparedness can take on several different forms. You can pre-visualize an entire series of shots you’d like to capture before you come to Jackson Hole. However, there are additional realities that you need to understand. You will not be able to capture an image of a Bull Moose with a big set of antlers in February, March, April, May, June, and July. The window for antlered Moose is late August to the end of December. That’s simply a reality associated with the yearly life cycle of a Moose. You might not get the antlered Moose shots in the summer, however other opportunities await photographers. Baby Moose, or calves, are born in early June. You might see them in the willows and grassy bogs throughout the summer. Baby bison, pronghorns, deer and elk are also born in the early summer—not that they are easy to find! You won’t be able to photograph a Mountain Goat in the summer with a full winter coat. If you were to see one, the coat would be quite shaggy. Each month and each season offers a virtual patchwork of opportunities, but not all of them are optimum at all times of the year! In short, you need to do some homework so you can be prepared to find particular seasonal opportunities. Or, stated another way, if you want to photograph a specific subject, you need to schedule your trip to coincide with its optimum period.

2015 Daily Journals:
Jan: | Feb: | Mar: | Apr: | May: | June: | July: | Aug: | Sept: | Oct: | Nov: | Dec:

Each month, I create a journal of what I see during that month. The links above cover the entire year of 2015. While there are always a few variables from year to year, the overall pattern remains relatively consistent. If you are planning a trip to Jackson Hole, I’d strongly suggest you go over the months surrounding your upcoming trip. If you have the time to scroll through all of them, you might be inspired to return during one of the off peak tourists month to experience the park in a completely different way. The bulk of the tourists leave, but the animals are usually active well into December. Don’t stop your research with just the 12 months linked above! Best of the Tetons is absolutely loaded with tips and posts about this area. Feel free to subscribe to get emails when new posts are made.

Elk in Rose Sky

A Pragmatic approach might help you find your subjects. At about any time, a photographer can wander into a unique opportunity—the kind all of us dream about! Lacking those moments of “shear luck”, you will find that some subjects require a little research. Here’s an example: With only a token bit of research, you will learn that both Moose and Elk can be seen most often during the first hour of light.  More importantly, you will learn that Moose generally inhabit river bottoms while Elk like the forest edges. Early mornings around Oxbow Bend might offer a chance for both, however the most Moose are concentrated along the Gros Ventre River. Historically, the most visible Elk are often closer to Jenny Lake. Those two areas are roughly 20 miles apart. Knowing you can’t be in two places at the same time. you would probably need at least two days to get shots of both. A full week in the Tetons would greatly increase your chances to capture them! Elk and Moose can also appear late in the day, but with the Teton Range casting a shadow across the valley, evening Elk are difficult photographic subjects. Mornings are probably best for them.  You’d have a better chance with evening Moose along the Gros Ventre. If you want to be guaranteed of seeing Elk, and lots of them, visit Jackson Hole in December through March! There will be thousands of them visible each day. With a sleigh ride, you can be within 30 yards or closer to them! As you can see, a pragmatic or practical approach can improve your chances of finding and capturing images of tough subjects.

Elk on Parade

Expectations and Realities

With only a few exceptions, you get only about 30 minutes of premium morning light for a typical (good) sunrise. If you are willing to get up very early, you can get some wonderful images during the Alpenglow period, but the actual sunrise part with color in the clouds and light on the peaks is relatively short. It is possible to capture several unique shots at one location by moving around and by changing lenses, etc. Still, it is difficult to pick up and move to an entirely different location, set up, and capture two or three places during one sunrise.

 Snake River Overlook

So, if you were to find ten really good sunrise locations (there are a lot more), it would mean going to them one at a time over a period of a couple of weeks. Let, me back up. You CAN go to all of them in one day and get shots of all of them in one day, but the beautiful morning light is extremely short lived—and that’s if the clouds cooperate!

Bumble Bee

Many people cruise around the valley during the middle of the day, scouting for their next morning shoot. You can often get good wildlife images during the shoulder periods of the morning or afternoon. On some days, a thunderstorm can pass through the valley and people can capture spectacular images during the midday periods. Afternoons with broken clouds are also great for capturing bands of light drenching just a single stand of trees, barn, or mountain peak. In other words, you don’t want to systematically “sell out” the middle of the day. With the sun very low in the sky, Winter visitors actually can shoot all day.  Summer visitors, here for only one day won’t bother with whether they are shooting at times when others say the light is too harsh. They’re out all day because that’s all they have! I take photos all day, especially when the subject matter is above average. Today’s software is getting so good, we can recover most difficult images. We can draw down the highlights (recovering some that might have been considered blown out in earlier years), and open up shadows on high contrast images.

Cascade Canyon

Open Minded / Scavenger Mentality

When coming to Jackson Hole and the Tetons, the last thing I’d suggest  is to get “tunnel vision” and looking only for a few specific subjects—like bears, wolves, and moose. Some professionals take that approach, but they do it on purpose. I could have added this in the “Reality” section above, but in living here and being out regularly in GTNP for the past ten years, I’ve only seen maybe fifteen to twenty wolves—total! I’ve only been able to get a few halfway reasonable photos of them and nothing really good. Grizzly and Black Bears have a 100 yard viewing and photography minimum distance according to the regulations. In fact, so do wolves. Some rangers let people be closer at less peak times of the year, but the rules are in place to move everyone back at any time. Great shots are not easy to get, and the bulk of those are taken by photographers willing to be out for long hours every day of the season. Moose are some of my favorite subjects, but I work hard to get my images. Occasionally, they will be grazing along the roadways early and late—but usually in the sagebrush. Not that many people are willing to hike the river bottoms looking for them.


Instead of succumbing to tunnel vision, I’d suggest visiting photographers to stay open minded. Move around the valley and stop to take a photo of anything that looks interesting. I mean anything! You’d be surprised what pops up while working on other subjects. Most of that phenomenon is a result of actually stopping or slowing down. Dew drops or rain drops on a leaf or a spider web can make wonderful subjects. Ice patterns in a puddle of water are another. Rusty farm equipment and broken windows on the old homesteads can fill in voids in the day and fill your cards in the process. The big subjects will often fall into place if you are patient and not frantic to get the shots you have in your head. Don’t get me wrong, it helps to have pre-visualized your shots so you can be prepared— if and when the opportunity unfolds. Work the zones where your “target subject” is commonly seen, but stop and capture the other subjects as they present themselves. Be prepared, but be flexible!

Mountain Goats in Snow

Remember the the weather can be finicky and unpredictable. This is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing—and realistically there is nothing we can do about it. I was in the canyon last year and bumped into another photo tour guide. I was by myself and he had two or three grumpy clients. They were not happy about the falling snow ruining their shots of the Mountain Goats. I was there because of the snow! Foggy days, snowy, and rainy days can be very good for some subjects, but that usually means you don’t see the Tetons on the same day. I can usually still fill a card on the days other people had rather stay home. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve bumped into people that are not happy about a few clouds in the sky. They’d rather have a solid sheet of cobalt blue above and behind their Teton shots. I seldom take photos of the range unless there are some clouds. Tastes vary! Just about anything can be a compelling subject—some even more so during inclement weather. Again, be prepared and be flexible!

Summer Clouds

The Coffee Table Book Approach

If you come to Jackson Hole as though you are “on assignment” to create a coffee table book of photos on the area, you’ll likely go home with several cards full of images. This follows along with the preceding section, but having the visual of a finished book can crystallize the concept for most people. You’ll want a big, vista view for the center spread, then a good shot of just the Grand (maybe with the moon setting over it), and a shot of Sleeping Indian and Mt. Moran. The big four locations: Schwabacher Landing, Mormon Row Barns, Oxbow Bend, and Snake River Overlook simply have to be in there. Don’t forget to look for different angles of each. The book would need a wildlife section with a few shots of each of the big game animals—plus a few of the smaller critters like squirrels, ground squirrels, badgers, and of course the various birds. You can capture big stands of trees, then walk into a grove and shoot up into the trees to create images with converging lines. Afterwards, focus on individual leaves, bark and lichen. We have waterfalls, river, streams, and ponds. Some of the still ponds have beautiful floating pads and bright yellow flowers. Of yes, don’t forget the wildflowers and berries! Better yet, watch for a bumble bee on a wildflower! Cold, early mornings are great for Dragonflies asleep on stems. You can occasionally capture captivating shots before they have time to warm up and fly away. Scattered around the valley are historic structures like Menor’s Ferry, Chapel of the Transfiguration and some of the other barns and buildings. We have hikers, bikers, boaters, kayakers, mountain climbers, and paragliders in the summer and people on skis and snow shoes in the winter.  Watch for fishermen in the Snake River and smaller streams. You can find people sitting on the decks of the various restaurants, enjoying an evening glass of wine. If you are lucky, you might get a thunderstorm and maybe a rainbow. Images of the spectacular clouds with no other subjects can be powerful. A passing Bald Eagle or group of Canada Geese could add a cherry to top. Think “grand” then work smaller and smaller until you can’t focus any closer. You don’t have to capture them all in a linear order either! Just shoot away. Oh yes, go to town and capture the buildings, Elk antler arches, stagecoach, shoppers, evening shootout, and the Cowboy Bar sign. Go back at night and do it again! If you are in town on Memorial Day weekend or the 4th of July, there are parades and fireworks. Challenge yourself with this assignment and you’ll go home happy!


Whether you take a photo tour with me here in the Tetons or not, the Coffee Table Book approach can guide you to lots of shots on just about any subject. I used it when we went to Maui a couple of years ago, and again last year when we were on Sanibel Island, FL. We’re headed back and I’ll apply it again. But remember, I just wrote “any subject”! Think about how you might make a coffee table book on rodeos. How about fly fishing, or tractor pulls, or covered bridges, or your kid’s summer of baseball! Think big at first and then work to the smallest of details.

Schwabacher Landing

Smarter Today

I recently heard a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “I’d like to think I am smarter today than I was yesterday”. Digital photography is ideal for helping photographers grow—and grow quickly! Almost all technical information about a particular shot is stored in the metadata. We can see which camera took the shot, which lens we used and whether we used a flash. We can see the shutter speed, ISO settings, and Mode (aperture, shutter, manual). EV or exposure compensation is recorded, along with the settings for white balance. On my D4 and D810, I can even add an audio note, such as the name of the athlete or something about the subject. On some cameras, you can include the GPS location of the shot. The stored data can be a valuable tool if people care to evaluate their own shots. If you see a little motion blur, it is easy to establish the correlation between shutter speed and blurred or frozen motion. You can establish your “pain threshold” for high ISO noise on various subjects. It can take some time to know how to use the information, but it is there. Think of your photography experience as a “journey”, not a “destination”.

Grizzly Family

Fly fishermen remember “the ones that got away” more vividly than they remember the big ones they actually landed. Sometimes, the lost fish was a result of not playing it carefully enough. Sometimes, the fish wraps around a branch and gets away at no fault of the fisherman. Photographers remember the shots “they didn’t get” in much the same manner. Those shots can haunt us for a long time. However, the lost fish and the missed photos can make us more prepared…”Next time, I will make sure I am at 1/800th second or faster”, or “Next time, I will be ready if the grizzly stands up”. When back on the computer, we can review all of our photos in Lightroom and learn again. “I took some shots with a polarizing filter, but I wish I had rotated it on a few to eliminate the effect”. Or, “I had some glare on the water. I wish I had thought to pull out my polarizing filter for a few shots”. How about, “It looks like I shot everything from a comfortable height of about 5′, but I wish I had kneeled down or laid on my stomach for a few shots”. Even…”Man, there were some beautiful clouds that day, but it looks like I was in too much of a hurry to leave for greener pastures and didn’t wait for light to hit the peaks. I can’t imagine that where I went was going to be any better”.


Luckily, there can be second chances to visit our favorite places, like Jackson Hole or Sanibel Island. Better yet, the improvements we make as a result of a mistake at one shoot can be applied to many other locations. The barns along Mormon Row are not drastically different than photographing covered bridges in Vermont and New Hampshire. Sunsets in Maui are quite similar to sunsets in Florida. Occasionally, we get sunrise and sunset events that rival them. The sin, at least to my perspective, would be to continue making the same mistakes after you know you made them originally. I might initially try something as an improvement, but need two or three more tries before actually seeing the positive results. Each mistake and each attempt builds on our overall experience.

Moose at Dornans

Jackson Hole Awaits You!

If you are coming here, bring your camera, lenses, tripod, and tools to download and view your photos. Bring clothing and gloves to keep you warm for the early mornings, then remove layers as the day warms. Dedicate more than a day or two in the valley to really give yourself a chance to experience the region. In four or five days would be even better, and you’ll usually get at least one great sunrise. That means, of course, you have to get up very early each morning to get the shots you see in travel magazines. Have breakfast AFTER the sunrise and AFTER the big game animals have bedded down for the morning.  If you stop for breakfast first, you’ll likely miss the best of both.

If you would like to book a customized one-on-one photo tour with me, I’d love to take you. Click Teton Photo Excursions for lots more information!

“Must Read” Feature Posts at Best of the Tetons!

There are lots of posts on this blog now…maybe too many? Some of my favorite and most informative posts were written within the first month of creating this blog site. If you are short of time, I’d still suggest reading this group:

Cheers! Mike Jackson







The National Elk Refuge & Miller Butte:

A Mecca for Winter Wildlife Photography.

Ram in the HeadlightsLocated on the north edge of the Town of Jackson, the National Elk Refuge offers unique wildlife viewing opportunities during the winter months. By almost all standards, visitor access to the refuge is very limited. Of the 24,700 acres, visitors are confined to 10 feet either side of roughly four miles of roadway during the winter. Visitors are asked to park only in designated pullouts, of which there are currently very few. Work on the roadway is scheduled for the summer of 2015, including adding additional pullouts and expanding the sizes of several of the existing pullouts. Along the highway, visitors are told to pull off the highway only in one of the three or four designated pullouts and are told NOT to cross the bike path and approach the fence. I guess I could identify the issues above as the “negatives” at the refuge. It’s a refuge, not a park!

The positives far outweigh the inconveniences of limited parking, limited access, and narrow (sometimes slick) roads. The positives, of course, are the animals you might see there. The short list would include elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, and bison for the prey animals. Predators and scavengers would include wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, foxes, and a variety of raptors and birds. You might not expect to see all of the animals in these lists on a single drive-thru, but you “could” see several of them. That’s the beauty! You simply never know what you might find there from hour to hour, day to day, week to week or month to month. I often go back two and three times in a day!

Update Dec. 2015: Over the summer months of 2015, the National Elk Refuge reworked the roadway and added a generous number of pull-outs along Miller Butte. Additional improvements include better drainage along the roadway. As before, the Refuge reminds people to park only in the pull-outs and insists people NOT let the Bighorns lick the salt and chemicals off their vehicles. You might also find some useful information in this document: Refuge Road Wildlife Viewing Guide.

Summer and Winter: Two worlds.

National Elk Refuge

During the summer months, the National Elk Refuge could appear barren of animals. In a nutshell, you will likely travel “through” the Refuge on your way “to” something else. A few additional roads allow access to areas of the National Forest, such as Curtis Canyon and hiking trails to Goodwin Lake, Sheep Mountain, Mount Jackson and so forth. As in the winter, visitors are confined to a few feet either side of the roadways as they pass through the Refuge. Crews plant and irrigate fields on the refuge for forage for wintering elk, bison, and now pronghorns.

Flat Creek on the National Elk Refuge

Fly fishing is allowed in a section along the highway from August 1st to October 31st, but only fishermen with licenses and gear are permitted to be on the refuge. In the late fall, hunting is allowed for elk and bison in some areas. Otherwise, regular tourists cannot mingle off the roadways. Elk and most of the game animals will have moved off the refuge and into their summer ranges, leaving the range mostly uninhabited. Small critters like ground squirrels, voles, gophers, and chipmonks may be taken by Northern Harriers, Red-tailed hawks, Burrowing Owls, American Kestrels, Eagles and so forth.

National Elk Refuge

By late November, snows in the high country start pushing some of the large game animals to the Refuge. I start looking for Bighorn Sheep around Miller Butte on Thanksgiving. Elk start filtering in around the same time, but the big herds typically show up later. Predators and Scavengers follow the prey animals. I’ve seen wolves on the National Elk Refuge, but I’ve never seen them up close. Whether you see them or not, just know they are around! Wolves and other predators follow the prey animals out of the refuge in the Spring. Kills by the wolves, along with natural winter deaths, bring in the smaller scavengers of fur and feather. Mountain Lions have been observed on the Refuge over the years.

Bighorns and the Beginning of Winter

The Chase

Around Thanksgiving, I start cruising the Refuge watching for the first of the Bighorn Sheep. Early snows prod them to move out of the high country and onto the slopes of Miller Butte. By the first week of December, I expect to see reasonable numbers of both ewes and rams. The rut usually begins around the middle of December and continues until the middle of January. This page from Best of the Tetons contains quite a bit more information and lots of photos: Bighorns of Miller Butte. The page has a map showing the roads and pullouts along Miller Butte.


Mass of Elk

Elk migrate from long distances, including Yellowstone, to winter at the National Elk Refuge. I overheard a biologist say there are roughly 5,500 elk on the refuge with additional elk around the edges. You can check the refuge’s official site for more specifics: National Elk Refuge. When driving out onto the Refuge, expect to see mostly cows and calves. The big bulls seldom hang close to the roadways, but you still might see one mixed in. For the best view of wintering elk, consider taking the sleigh ride. Sleigh Ride on the National Elk Refuge: It might be the best deal in town! Bulls can occasionally be seen on the ridge line of Miller Butte. Wolves on the refuge can greatly impact where the elk and other animals are grazing on any particular day.


Bison Herd

Traditionally, the wintering bison hang in the northeast section of the Refuge and are not visible to the winter tourists. Occasionally, a heard will move to the southern section and even south of the road. Wildlife officials may haze them back off the road for the safety of tourists, hikers, bikers, and photographers. They are quick and dangerous! Watch for them in the last mile of the winter road section.


Elk and Pronghorns

During the winter months, Pronghorns traditionally move from the Teton valley to areas south of here—such as Big Piney, Daniel, and Marbleton. Over the past few winters, a small herd began staying in the valley. Now that herd seems to be growing in size. I counted over 45 recently along the roadway near Miller Butte. They also appear to be becoming more tolerant of the passing vehicles, hikers, and bikers.

Mule Deer

Hillside Mule Deer

Hillside Mule Deer: I’ve seen a few mule deer actually inside the fence in the National Elk Refuge, but most are along the road and hillside West of the highway. Other than some of the commercial businesses along the road, the National Elk Refuge owns much of the land. Deer and Elk can be seen grazing along either side of the road early in the mornings and on the hillside after first light. You may also see some of them by making the drive up to the National Museum of Wildlife Art.



Recently, the newspaper reported two packs of wolves roaming the National Elk Refuge and making kills. I’ve seen them on the hillsides before and was able to hear them howl, but I’ve never been there as they chase game into close proximity to the roads. Maybe I will be in the right spot at the right time and capture some of it.



Coyotes are more common on the National Elk Refuge. Most stay off the roads and scavenge on winter kills or feed on the leftovers from a wolf kill.


Red Fox

Red Foxes aren’t that common on the Refuge, but I’ve seen them several times just south of the Miller House.


River Otter

River Otters occasionally cruise Flat Creek in search of small fish. I’ve photographed them on numerous occasions from the observation platform just north of the visitor’s center.



Trumpeter Swans and an occasional Tundra Swan can often be seen along Flat Creek. Check out this Feature Post: Trumpeter Swans: A Family of Swans Along Flat Creek in the Summer of 2014. During the winter, much of Flat Creek can freeze over for short periods, but the Swans and other waterfowl quickly return when sections of the waterway open up again. Flat Creek runs through much of the National Elk Refuge.


Golden Eagle

Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles can be seen on the National Elk Refuge at any time of the year, but are more plentiful during the winter months. Winter kills bring in the scavengers of all kinds. Watch for Ravens swarming, then look for nearby eagles, foxes, coyotes and magpies. During the winter months, watch for Rough-legged hawks hovering around the valley floor. In the summer, watch for Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harriers. I’ve seen photos of Burrowing Owls taken on the Refuge.

Scenic Opportunities

Miller House with Fog Bank

The Historic old Miller House sits in the middle of the National Elk Refuge. It always makes a good subject for photography. The house and areas immediately surrounding it are closed to human activity during the winter months.

National Elk Refuge

Sleeping Indian (AKA Sheep Mountain) rests on the far east side of the valley. Check out this earlier Feature Post for more locations: Sleeping Indian: A Lesser Photographed JH Icon

Scenic Comments: I typically don’t go to the National Elk Refuge “thinking landscapes”. Wildlife is usually higher on my priorities. If the light is hitting the Miller House or Sleeping Indian in a special way, I will always stop to photograph it. Access is limited, as I mentioned earlier, so we must shoot only from the roadways. A couple of distracting power lines run through the refuge and the angles are just not designed for photographers, especially while on the Refuge Road. From the highway, many more possibilities are available to viewers and photographers. On the North side, the National Elk Refuge and Grand Teton National Park are separated by the Gros Ventre River. Visitors can roam the north side of the river, but cannot cross the river to the Refuge side.

Curtis Canyon

On May 1st, the roads into the interior of the Refuge open back up, allowing people to cross into the National Forests. On that morning, the road is packed with antler hunters heading into the wilds outside the refuge. Additional photographic opportunities can be found by driving up the Curtis Canyon Road.

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Here Today, Gone to Maui!

A Jackson Hole resident magically morphs into a Maui tourist.


I had to put the “shoe on the other foot” and become a tourist for about 10 days. I’m not used to it! When heading out in the mornings in Jackson Hole, I usually live up to my old Eagle Scout motto: “Be Prepared”! I take everything I think I might need—and sometimes two of everything. Here in the Tetons, I get the luxury of going to a spot over and over until the light and the clouds cooperate. I have all year. Tourists come and go here like the waves on the beach there. I get to pick the best times of the day and the best times of the year. Like I said, it’s a luxury.


I have enough camera gear to fill a van. When I packed my gear to go to Maui, I probably had to make similar decisions people have to make if they get on a plane to fly to Jackson Hole and Yellowstone. Some people coming here have their prime lenses shipped to a trusted friend in the valley. I didn’t have that option, however. In reality, packing was probably easier for me because I was only going there for “vacation” time and vacation photos. I doubt I’ll ever sell one, nor use the images for anything much more than a blog post. Some people coming to the northwest corner of Wyoming probably need and want the very best images they can capture, so they need their pro gear.

Fiery Sunset

The day before we headed out, I grabbed my small camera bag. Naturally, I have two, but I didn’t think the bigger one would fit in the overhead compartment. There was no way I wanted to check the photo gear. By the time I zipped it up, the poor thing was stuffed. It did fit in the overhead compartment—and it made the trip with no problems!


I would have loved to have taken the 200-400mm lens and the 70-200 mm lens, not to mention the regular 24-70 mm workhorse lens and my wide angle 14-24mm lens. I would have loved to have taken my Gitzo tripod, ball head, and Wimberley Sidekick. I chose to take my Nikon D4 body and the all around Nikon 28-300 mm zoom lens. It’s not quite as sharp as my other pro lenses, but it’s lightweight and does a very good job. The tripod was another issue. Before I left for Hawaii, I took my Arca-Swiss ball head off my tripod and found a corner for it in the bag…just in case.

Fiery Sunset

My wife, Darla, and I went light. I had one small suitcase and one camera bag. She had a handbag and purse to carry on the plane and one mid-sized suitcase. Our friends met us at the airport and saw our “load” and said, “That’s it?” Of course, they had three or four big bags each, some of which contained computers, snorkel gear, and other “essentials” for a trip to Maui.

Palm Trees

So, I went to Maui without a tripod. Oh, that hurts to think about it—especially knowing I hardly ever take a shot without one! I got up before sunrise the first morning and took photos hand held, then knew I’d be buying “some kind of tripod”. That turned out to be a good call, and I know I’ll use it some other day. Now, I have three tripods instead of just one and a backup.

Hana Sunrise

The tripod I purchased came with a lightweight ball head. I pulled my Arca-Swiss Z1 ball head out of the bag and replaced the small one. The D4 seemed to be happier on the heavier ball head. I used the tripod for my morning and evening landscapes, long exposures on the waterfalls, a few remote controlled family shots, and several night images.

Giant Sea Turtle

Maui doesn’t have a lot of wildlife—above water anyway. But then, it does have killer sunrises and sunsets. Stunning, in fact! If I could have squeezed it in, I would have loved to taken my 35 megapixel D800 body and my pro model 24-70mm lens for the morning and evening shots. And, there were a few times, I longed for the reach of 400mm on my 200-400mm zoom lens. Those occasions would have probably been limited to the shooting at the ocean of the surfers and later with some of the birds.

Giant Turtle

The 28-300mm VR lens worked fine, however, and it focuses amazingly close!

Night Bonfire

This was my first trip to Hawaii. I suspect I went through much of the same experiences people have when they come to Jackson Hole for the first time. If you do your homework by going through some of the pages on this blog, you’d be far ahead of the others that don’t! Let’s say I went to Maui in the latter shoes. I didn’t have a clue about any of it—other than I knew there’s an ocean, sand, waves, and some lush forests. I picked up some of the many travel brochures and trip guides and studied them…just like people do here. I certainly felt like a tourist, made worse by my snow white legs and chest when on the beach. Oh well.

Night in the Bay

I was out before daylight on most mornings after scouting out locations during the afternoon hours the day before. Darla and the rest of the group were just waking up and finishing their coffee when I’d drag in from the early morning shooting.

Underwater Sea Turtle

Above the water, I can’t say too many things were that different as they relate to photography.  Underwater photography…well that’s a different proposition entirely! A friend let me use an underwater camera for one of the dives. It wasn’t easy for me because I was having to learn to breath through a snorkel and take photos with a foreign camera at the same time.


Just like visitors to the Tetons on a four or five day trip, I had to accept the conditions of the morning, day or evening. It seems the mornings and evenings are usually spectacular there, especially knowing you can look another direction if it isn’t great in the other one. Still, if it was raining when we went to a specific waterfall, that’s just the way it was going to be. There was usually no going back for another chance. Sometimes, people come here for four or five days and never see the Teton Range. I suspect some people never see the top of the Haleakala Crater either.


Before it was all over, we made the drive around the entire island and we spent a lot of time along the ocean. We got to snorkel in two places. We saw the giant sea turtles, both on the beach and under water. We saw surfers, boarders, wind surfers, and kite sailors.

Poinsettia and Bee

We spent money like tourists, had a great time at the Halloween event, and ate some wonderful food. I had at least a hint of a tan when I made it off the plane.


I saw things in Maui I’ve never see here. It was a feast for the eyes! But then, someone from Hawaii might be equally impressed by our wildlife and snow.

Textured Leaf

Just about anywhere you turn, there’s some sort of potential subject! My D4 ended up with around 6000 actuations added to it, virtually filling every CF card I took with me.

Sunset in Maui

I hope to get to go back someday!


After returning home, Darla wanted me to make a book to document our vacation. I spent a few days creating it and then published it through Blurb. If you’d like to view the book, click the thumbnail cover image and flip through the pages. (Hit the four way arrow in the lower right corner to make it fill your entire screen and then hit the ESC button to go back to regular view)  There are a lot more images in the book!

Return to JHIf you are planning a trip to Jackson Hole, bring as much of your gear as you can! It’s a great place for landscapes, nightscapes, wildlife, and close-up photography—and that’s not counting all of the possibilities for outdoor sports and activities! I’d suggest bringing lots of memory cards and a tripod! Of course, spend some time going through the posts at Best of the Tetons for a huge head start. If you’d like to go with me on a one-on-one photo excursion here in the Tetons, click the link for more info! No matter how you get here and how much gear you bring, I hope you have an equally rewarding experience.

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January 2015 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH:

A monthly journal of wildlife reports, scenic opportunities, and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!

Daily Updates Archives: ~
2018: June: | May:Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2017: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2016: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan: 
2015: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013: Dec: | Nov: Oct: | Sept: | Aug:


Where’s the January Overview information?

Starting this month, you can click on this new page: Monthly Overviews for JH / GTNP to get a quick overview of each of the 12 months side by side. Check it out!


January 31, 2015

Cow Moose

Cow Moose: At lunchtime, I did a quick trip to the area near Flat Creek on North Cache. A cow moose and calf were putting on a show on the north side of the Visitor’s Center.

Barrow's Golden Eye

Barrow’s Golden Eye: This pair was on Flat Creek.

Barrow's Golden Eye

Barrow’s Golden Eye: Springtime already?

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch: This one was in my back yard late in the day.

Tomorrow I will be uploading a new February 2015 Daily Updates page.

February One-On-One Photo Excursions: I have several openings available for February.  Click Here to see last year’s February Daily Updates to get an idea of what you might see here. You can also book for March and other months. I have a new Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens on order. Anyone with a current Nikon DSLR taking one of my Excursions will be able to use the lens on the trip. (should be here soon) The lens has been getting a lot of positive press. I am purchasing mine from Perfect Light Camera and Supply in Idaho Falls after hearing his positive reviews following their recent Africa trip.


January 30, 2015


Wedding Trees: “Up the Gros Ventre” taken before first light this morning. There’s a map to the Wedding Trees on this page: “Up The Gros Ventre” — Unexpected Treasures


Grand to Moran: A wide shot taken from the hillside next to the Wedding Tree.

Shane Cabin

Gros Ventre River Basin: Taken from the roadway.


Shane Cabin: I waded out into the deep snow for this one. I wanted to include the cabin, Grand and the snowmobile tracks. It will take several good snowfalls to cover them up.

International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race:

Sled Dog Race

Sled Dog Race: Taken on the Town Square tonight.

Race Spectators

Race Spectators:

Sled Dog Mushers

Sled Dog Mushers: I went downtown to the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race: Tonight was a ceremonial beginning of a multi-day race. I took a Nikon D4 with a 70-200mm lens and an off-camera SB-910 strobe. I was in manual exposure with ISO 5000, 1250th Second, F/5 or F/6.3. The camera was set to High-Speed Sync for the strobe action. Ideally, I would have had someone holding the strobe a bit to the side to eliminate the “blue eye” in some of the dogs….but I went by myself and just held the strobe over my head with my left hand.

Be sure to check out the new post: Focus Stacking: Increased Depth of Field by Combining Multiple Images


January 29, 2015

Lots of News Today!

Luther Tayler Homestead

Park finds, fixes graffiti on “Shane” cabin : Story in the JH News & Guide. There’s a photo of the graffiti in the daily along with the story. The news story also says the Luther Taylor site is in line for some historical designation within the park.  “After completion of a park Historic Properties Management Plan — which faces public review this spring — it’s expected to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Skaggs said.” You can read more about the site in these Feature Posts: “SHANE” — The Epic Western Movie Filmed in Jackson Hole and The Shane Cabins: Authentic Homestead in Grand Teton National Park

US Copyright Office: Last night, I uploaded a couple of copyright submission groups to the US Copyright Office. While most of the steps are the same, they streamlined the actual upload step. We can now select an entire group of zip files at a time. Earlier we had to add them one at a time and then add the file name manually in another field. A few months ago, they raised the cost from $35 for a submission group to $55.

Three Bighorn Rams

Three Bighorn Rams: Taken on the National Elk Refuge around lunch time. I also saw three eagles on a carcass along the highway and north of Wilcox Gallery. Swans were fairly active on Flat Creek.

Focus Stacking: After making the Copyright submission, I added an extra section to yesterdays comments. If you checked in early, you might want to scroll down to see the late night additions!

‘King of Snow King’ dies at 71: Here’s a story by the Wyoming Business Report about the passing of Manuel Lopez. A torchlight parade down Snow King, planned as part of the International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race:, will be conducted in his honor.

Featured Event from An Upcoming Year of Wishes

Name of Event: Utah Bald Eagle Day, Farmington Bay WMA
Location: W. of Centerville, Utah; Farmington Bay Waterfowl Mgt Area; Located on the west side of Farmington at 1325 W. Glover Lane (925 South). Take exit 325 off I-15. Turn left on Park Lane and travel west to Clark Lane at the first traffic light and turn right. Travel west to 1525 West, and turn South to Glover Lane, and turn right to 1700 West.
Sponsor: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Schedule: Saturday, February 14, 2015; 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Description: Observe Bald Eagles and chat with DWR biologists.
Web Site:
Telephone: 801-209-5326


January 28, 2015

Focus Stack

Click to view a larger image.

Focus Stacking: A few weeks ago, I did a few test shots of objects in the kitchen. I tried out a feature built into a CamRanger called Focus Stacking. For this shot, I focused on the closest part of the orange, then set the CamRanger to do a total of 10 shots. It automatically stepped the focus deeper into the scene without touching the camera again. The 10 shots have been sitting in my Lightroom catalog since taking them. Today, I let Photoshop Auto-Align & Auto-Blend five of the images into a single image following steps I found on this page: How to Focus-Stack Macro Images using Photoshop

Focus Stack Flattened

A test shot like this gives me ideas for shots in the wild…like frosted berries, flowers, or insects.

Upcoming Events

International Pedigree Stage Stop Sled Dog Race: If you are in town Friday evening, check out this big event downtown.

WinterFest – Jackson Hole: February 13-22. Click the link for more information and schedules.

Out in the Park: At lunch time, I did a quick sweep through the National Elk Refuge. Lots of animals down. There was a bald eagle on one of the carcasses. The previously frozen water on Flat Creek is fully open. I did a quick run out to Kelly where I saw two moose in the Gros Ventre. I found some mule deer around Kelly, but not in good locations for photography. I watched a nervous coyote for a few minutes. A couple of cars stopped and it moved away from the road. Yesterday, I saw a Great Blue Heron fly by while I was at the pond at Boyle’s Hill. I didn’t think they hung around in the winter.

Focus Stack

Focus Stacking in Use: I took this image using a Nikon 200-400mm lens at a long distance from the subjects. I could tell it would be difficult to keep both the distant barns and closer fences sharp—so I took two separate images while locked down on the tripod. The easiest way I found to do this was to place the focus point on the close fence, then hold down the AF Lock (or hold the shutter button down half way) and recompose with the focus point now on the distant barns. I pressed the shutter once which took the shot with the fence sharp, then let up on the shutter button and pressed it again. The camera refocused on the barns for the second shot. Back in Lightroom and Photoshop, I exported the two images into two layers, used (Edit>)Auto-Align Layers and then (Edit>)Auto-Blend while in Photoshop. Check out the How to Focus-Stack Macro Images using Photoshop if you want to go into much more detail on the topic. I did this shot with only two images, but it would be possible to Focus Stack half a dozen captures. If I were to try more than a couple of images, I’d probably set up my CamRanger. Doing multiple shots manually means having to either move focus points on the back of the camera or manually focusing, either of which can jiggle the camera on the tripod ever so slightly. Auto-Align does a pretty good job, however.

Box L Ranch

Box L Ranch: Results of the two blended layers. We are almost at the end of January. I’ll probably go ahead and turn this subject into a Feature Post to make it easier to find in the future. Sign up to follow this blog if you’d like to get a notice by email!


January 27, 2015

Abandoned Ford

Abandoned Ford: We had hoar frost overnight. I took a ladder and some strobes back to the old Ford on High School Road.

8 Foot Step Ladder

This is a setup I’ve used quite a few times. The tripod straddles the top of the ladder, strapped down with a dog leash. I added some extra text and photos on this recent post: Problem Solving “On-the-Fly” or With a Plan:

Frosty Roadway

Frosty Roadway: Taken on the South Park Loop.

Ely Springs Barn

Ely Springs Barn:

South Park Barn

South Park Barn: Also taken on the South Park Loop Road.


Pronghorn: On the National Elk Refuge this afternoon.


January 26, 2015

In-Town MooseMonday—closer to home: I spent a lot of time and gasoline driving all over the valley yesterday. Today, I slept longer, then shot right here in the neighborhood. That was an easy call when a nice bull moose was standing in the neighbor’s yard when I opened the front door! This bull was standing in front of street signs, power boxes, cars and houses at various times. All I had to do was wait until the distractions were not in the scene. Unless I told you, you’d probably never know the following images were “in-town” shots.

Bull Moose Feeding on Willows

Bull Moose Feeding on Willows: We’ve had a Cow moose and two yearlings in the neighborhood off and on all winter. Last week, I saw one of the young ones wandering on its own. I don’t know if the cow kicked them off to fend for themselves or if they got separated. Bulls are less common in my neighborhood.


Bull Moose on Flat Creek

Bull Moose on Flat Creek: Traffic picked up in the neighborhood, so the bull moved through a gate into my next door neighbor’s yard.

Moose Head

Moose Head: I stayed with this moose for an hour or so, getting nice head shots and feeding shots. My dog was barking next door and it caught the attention of the bull.

Bull Moose Entering Flat Creek

Bull Moose Entering Flat Creek: Flat Creek runs through the National Elk Refuge, then through town and eventually into the Snake River. It runs behind my house here in town. For this shot, I was standing on my neighbor’s footbridge over Flat Creek.

Clark's Nutcracker

Clark’s Nutcracker: One of four visiting my back yard today.

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie: I don’t find these birds easy to photograph. There were at least three in the yard today.

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee: From the back yard.

Moose in Afternoon Light

Moose in Afternoon Light: I found the bull moose again this afternoon.

Incoming Swans

Incoming Swans: Taken this afternoon at Boyle’s Hill pond.


January 25, 2015

Sunday in the Park: I was up early today, but clouds were too thick for landscapes. Instead, I drove out early to the National Elk Refuge and made a quick lap. There were lots of elk, sheep, and pronghorns south of Miller Butte. I was hoping to see some wolves chasing elk or bighorns. There have been at least four elk kills visible from the roadway.

Red Fox Watching

Red Fox Watching: I headed on North, checking out Flat Creek on the way. Quite a bit of Flat Creek is open now with a few Swans and Ducks swimming around. I found this male and stayed with him until he curled up for a nap. He spent a considerable amount of time hiking his back leg to mark objects, much like neighborhood dogs.

Red Fox Yawning

Red Fox Yawning: This male slept on this mound for about an hour. I took quite a few images then moved on.


Poser: Most of my shots today were taken from the window of my vehicle. I used a bean bag with VR turned on.

Resting Fox

Resting Fox: I am pretty sure this is a vixen.

Fox Meeting

Fox Meeting: The female seemed more interested in the male than the other way around.

Fox and Fisherman

Fox and Fisherman: The fox went out onto the ice to visit the ice fishermen. The fisherman did a great job of shooing him away and never fed the fox. The fox sat down and patiently waited—but after seeing no fish coming out of the hole, moved on.

Grand Tipi

Grand Tipi: The sky had a nice lavender hue on the way home. I stopped a Dornan’s for this shot and something to drink.

Food & Drink “In the Park”: If you are heading into GTNP, go prepared! Dornan’s store at Moose Junction is open this time of the year, including the pizza parlor / restaurant. The Deli inside the store is not open, however. I drove out the highway from Moran Junction, figuring the campground store would be open in Buffalo Valley. It was closed.  I went on out to the Hatchet Motel at the base of Togwotee and it was also closed. Their gas price signs still say $4.39 / gallon, so I have to assume they have been closed for a while. The only store open inside the park is at Flagg Ranch, catering to the snowmobilers and snow cat riders heading into Yellowstone. Public restrooms are also very limited inside the park during the winter!


January 24, 2015


Saturday in JH: I got up early, looked out at the thick clouds, then decided to finish the new Feature Post: The National Elk Refuge & Miller Butte: Within only a few minutes, the post already has 14 shares and quite a few likes on Facebook. Birds are coming to my back yard feeders. Tempting to stay with them!  I see a little blue in the sky. I may head over to the refuge. (see the new post) or I may head down the canyon to look at the Mountain Goats if they are out. I probably won’t make that decision until I have to turn either left or right at the intersection!

Afternoon Outing: I did a quick loop out to the Elk Refuge, then headed south to Alpine Junction. No goats! The lady at the gas station on the corner said they had been down a couple of days earlier and mentioned one had recently been hit by a vehicle. I drove back to Jackson where I found the mousing Coyote on Spring Gulch Road.

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram: On the National Elk Refuge.

Immature Bald Eagle

Immature Bald Eagle: Taken at the entrance to Rafter J Subdivision just south of town.

Mousing Coyote

Mousing Coyote: This coyote was a little out of my normal shooting range, but I took the series anyway. This was a lethal little hunter. I saw it catch at least six voles or mice in just a short period.


January 23, 2015

The day started out cloudy and cold. I stayed home until lunch time then made a quick drive out to the National Elk Refuge and over to Flat Creek. There were lots of animals out at the refuge, but I didn’t take any photos. Flat Creek is mostly frozen over after several nights in a row of very cold temperatures.

Buck Mule Deer

Afternoon Outing: Late in the day, I made a trip up Spring Gulch Road in hopes of seeing owls, moose, foxes, coyotes,, elk, deer, ermine or ANY other critter. All of them are possible, but I didn’t have much success. I ended up driving up the Gros Ventre. I heard of a kill along the river, but didn’t see any ravens or eagles to mark the spot. Eventually, I ended up near Kelly where I spent the rest of the evening looking for Mule Deer.

Two Mule Deer Bucks

Two Mule Deer Bucks: I believe the front deer is the same buck I photographed a few days ago. It had a broken tine on his antler, too. The smaller buck is missing one antler now.

Sparring Mule Deer

Sparring Mule Deer: I couldn’t move to a better angle, so I had to take what I could get with these two sparring Mule Deer.

White-tailed Doe and Mule Deer Yearlings

White-tailed Doe and Mule Deer Yearlings: The doe on the left is a White-tailed Deer. She was milling around with the Mule Deer.

White-tailed Buck

White-tailed Buck: To be honest, at the time I took this shot, I didn’t realize it was a White-tailed Deer. Besides the smaller ears, their antlers project forward more than a Mule Deer. I believe this is the first time I’ve photographed a White-tailed Buck in Wyoming. I’ve seen a few along the Gros Ventre River, but never got shots. I’ve seen them down in the river bottom near Schwabacher Landing and a few much farther north near the Buffalo Fork River. A friend just sent me this page about Hybrid Mule Deer / White-tailed Deer, occasionally found in Wyoming. At least for now, I will assume it is a White-tailed Deer! The does in the same area definitely have the distinctive white tail I would expect to see.

Buck and Yearling

Buck and Yearling Mule Deer:


January 22, 2015

River Otters

River Otters: I took this shot in early December along Flat Creek. I haven’t seen them lately, but I am always scanning the edges of the water for them. Occasionally, the family goes to the little pond north of the Visitor’s Center. Another group of River Otters hangs around the Oxbow and I’ve seen a family working the Gros Ventre River. When I saw this family last, there were five in the group. Worth watching for them!

It is clear and cold here again today. I am still going through photos, culling, adding keywords, and organizing them so I can get them all copyrighted. MJ


January 21, 2015

Teton Range and Elk Herd

Teton Range and Elk Herd: Skies are clear today and it’s cold. Flat Creek froze over again except for a few small open spots. Swans were sleeping on the ice when I went by at lunch time. At 2:15 pm, the temperature is 10°f.

Mass of Elk

Mass of Elk: These two shots show the snow pack in the lower valley. This shot was taken just south of the Miller House on the National Elk Refuge.

Winter Half Over? We are now 21 days into January. There was a comment in Bert Raynes’ article in the newspaper with someone suggesting Winter might be half over now. Maybe? Each year is different. We can be on the back side of the big storms, yet we might still get hammered with some big one. It was plenty cold today. I am still dealing with paperwork and documents for GTNP for this year’s photography tour permits. I just finished the end of the year bookkeeping for 2014 and am working on my copyright submissions for December. I put food out for my back yard birds today but never got outside to photograph them. From inside, I saw the red squirrel preoccupied with trying to keep the Clark’s Nutcrackers and Magpies from getting to the peanuts and safflower seeds. It’s fun to watch even if I don’t get out. As I write this late night follow-up, it is -8°F outside. There was a very nice crescent moon tonight, lit beautifully from below.


January 20, 2015

Rob Cole's Custom MetadataCustom (and Private) Metadata for Lightroom: I am not exactly sure where to put this information. I have several third party plug-ins I use regularly. Maybe I could do a single Feature Post showing all of them. For now, here’s one of them. Once this plug-in is installed (using Lightroom’s Plugins Manager), it adds an extra set of fields at the bottom of the Metadata tab. This allows you to add some private information about an image that doesn’t get exported or saved with an exported file. For this example, maybe I want to store the name and phone number of the owner of a special old barn with the image, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to broadcast it to the world. Information inside the Private section might include GPS coordinates to a nest or den. Well, you get the idea! The link will take you to the download site to the free plug-in.  (He takes donations)

Afternoon Outing: I didn’t head out until well after lunch today, then stayed out until the last of the evening light. I started at the Elk Refuge, then Flat Creek, and out to Kelly before heading home down Spring Gulch.

Elk and Pronghorns

Elk and Pronghorns: Elk were all over the place on the National Elk Refuge, including a few sharing space with the wintering Pronghorns. I saw a dozen or so Bighorn Sheep, too. Flat Creek is open. I stopped for a few minutes but decided to go on north for something different.

Winter Hillside

Winter Hillside: Late evening light on Blacktail Butte.

Sheep Herder's Wagons

Sheep Herder’s Wagons: Taken in the small town of Kelly.


Wagon Wheels

Wagon Wheels: Also in Kelly, WY

Curious Mule Deer

Curious Mule Deer: I found a few mule deer milling around in Kelly.

Mule Deer Portrait

Mule Deer Portrait: Also in Kelly.

Mt. Jackson

Mt. Jackson: Evening light and clouds over Mt. Jackson. Taken along Spring Gulch Road.

Red Barn

Red Barn: Also along Spring Gulch Road. The ski slope runs are visible in the background. Light was especially nice late in the day.

Double Gates

Double Gates: During most of the day, clouds covered the mountain range. Just before sunset, they cleared for a few shots.

Wolves! I don’t see wolves very often here in the Tetons. The newspaper mentioned two packs being on the National Elk Refuge. Today, as I was driving around north of Kelly, I got to see four of them on the hillside east of the Kelly Warm Springs. At least three of them were black. The other one was also dark. I saw a few Moose along the Gros Ventre today, too.


January 19, 2015

Monday: Martin Luther King Day

Bull Elk

Bull Elk: Taken on Miller Butte at the National Elk Refuge.

Elk Cows

Cow Elk: Also on the National Elk Refuge. Yesterday, we had light rain and drizzle all day. It melted off a lot of valley snow. I don’t know if the elk I saw today were just moving into the exposed grass or they were being prodded to move to that area by the area wolves. At any rate, there were lots of elk on the south end of the refuge today. I didn’t see the pronghorns today. A few bull elk were along the top of the butte.

Flat Creek is now open: I didn’t stop to photograph anything, but the entire waterway is open in front of the observation platform just north of the Visitor’s Center. There were a few swans and other waterfowl.

Bull Moose with Antlers: I took a couple out for a One-on-One Photo Excursion last week. He made an amazing improvement in his photography in one day. I showed them some of my favorite places to look for moose and other animals. A day or two later, he sent an email with a nice shot of a bull moose complete with antlers. Apparently there are still a few around—even if I am not seeing them!

Yesterday, I tried making a post but my login password did not work. Turns out I filled my hard drive space allotment for the hosting package. I upgraded it and am back in business for a while. If you tried to subscribe to follow the blog or tried to make a comment yesterday, the software probably prohibited the action. If so, try again today! MJ


January 17, 2015

Teton Sunrise

Teton Sunrise: Taken at the entrance to the parking area at Snake River Overlook. Plows hadn’t cleared the area, so I had to walk in.

Light on the Grand at SRO

Light on the Grand at SRO:

First Light

First Light:

Buck Rail Fence

Buck Rail Fence: Taken along the highway near Triangle X Ranch.

Triangle X Gates

Triangle X Gates: I shot this one from the road. I like the way the buck rail fence snake through the scene.

Swan Against Snow Covered Bushes:

Swan Against Snow Covered Bushes: I took this one at Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond just after lunch. I have lots of images from there, but this one has a unique natural texture.

Ram on Rocky Terrain

Ram on Rocky Terrain: Many people like to zoom in on animals to fill their normal frame. Whenever possible, I try to pull back and get a lot more of the scene, especially when it helps highlight their terrain.


Alert Pronghorn: The newspaper reports a pack of wolves now on and around Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge. It also says they had made two kills. Animals seemed to be on more of an alert today.


January 16, 2015

Elk On Ridge Line

Elk On Ridge Line: The weather forecast was for snow starting in the morning, but I had a little light busting through before it started. I kept hoping for a big bull to enter the scene.

Cow Moose In Snow

Cow Moose In Snow: Taken along the Gros Ventre River. There were two more upstream about half a mile.

Mountain Goat Kid

Mountain Goat Kid: The drive down to Alpine Junction yielded only a few tough shots. I was told they were down lower a little while before I got there.

Parade of Does

Parade of Does taken through a wall of snow.

Miller House and Elk

Miller House and Elk:

Stalled Bison

Stalled Bison: Taken at the end of the public road on the National Elk Refuge.

Wintering Pronghorns

Wintering Pronghorns: Also on the National Elk Refuge.

Winter Outing: Falling snow changes every scene. It takes a little more effort to be out in it, but it is usually worth it.


January 15, 2015

Common Merganser

Common Merganser: This group of bird images were still in my camera from late in the day on Wednesday. I just downloaded them. All were taken from the observation platform along Flat Creek on north Cache.


Ravens and Crows are fairly common in Jackson Hole all year. This one flew right over the platform.

Golden Eye Taking Off

Golden Eye Taking Off: Normally, I go to Flat Creek hoping to capture active Trumpeter Swans, whether taking off, landing, or fighting. Many other species of waterfowl also share the waterway. The area is usually fairly active with a variety of birds passing by, sometimes at very fast speeds. It is a great place to hone your “birds in flight” skills.

Golden Eye Over Snow

Golden Eye Over Snow: Mornings at Flat Creek can be good. The sun lifts over the Cache Creek valley at roughly 8:30 am. Many of the sleeping birds begin to wake up and stretch. Fog and steam can make for moody morning images. I also like to go back at about 2:45 pm. Activity often picks up. At 3:30 pm or so, the sun goes behind Saddle Butte. Afternoon light is often golden and casts long, interesting shadows. Snow texture is also more detailed.

Clear and Cold! I am sitting in front of my computer this morning with the heater blowing warm air on my feet. It is -9°F outside even at 10:00 am. Flat Creek my be frozen over today.

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram: Two or three rams were near the road at the bend at lunch time.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle: I wouldn’t call this a sharp image…but worth the effort. The winter kill is 150 yards off the road. I added a 1.4TC onto my 200-400mm lens and stopped down to F/20. I never thought the TC worked that well on my battery of zoom lenses. This was taken on Miller Butte. Yesterday, a biologist from the National Elk Refuge was at the observation platform. She said a few wolves had been spotted chasing elk at the top of Miller Butte.

Grouped Swans

Grouped Swans: The open area of water at Boyles Hill is getting smaller each week. It is pushing the swans closer together.

Swan on Snow

Swan on Snow: Some walk. Some fly to the food bins. The wild birds have full wing feathers as seen in this Swan.


January 14, 2015

Rockefeller Parkway Sign

Rockefeller Parkway Sign: For a change, I headed to the far north end of the park this morning. After a couple of hours, I began making my way back to town.

Winter Trail

Winter Trail: The snow is deep near Flagg Ranch. Workers have paths like this one to travel to and from the lodge and their cabins.

Frosted Trees

Frosted Trees: When the fog lifted, I headed on south. Many of the trees had a layer of frost.


GTNP Sign: I like to capture park signs on a regular basis. I never know when someone will need one for a winter brochure or article, and they work great in personal “coffee table” books. This one is on the Rockefeller Parkway as you reenter the Park. The park map calls this Steamboat Mountain.

Leaning Tree

Leaning Tree: Fog and low clouds were lifting as I passed Jackson Lake.

Buck Rail Fences

Buck Rail Fences: The Park Service replaced much of the old buck rail fencing along the highway, but there are still a few sections of it.

Snake River Overlook

Snake River Overlook: Clouds were thick this morning as I drove North, but were lifting nicely as I came back through.

Teton View Overlook

Teton View Overlook: The window to capture these kinds of shots is often quite short. Once the sun starts hitting the fog bank, it can disappear quickly.

Snow King Chair Lift

Snow King Chair Lift: A change of pace from the normal wildlife and landscape shots.

Snow King Mountain

Snow King Mountain: The sun was just clearing the peak over the Snow King Lift. They recently added new snow making equipment, new lights and a new terrain park. Skiing is free from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Friday if you want to see the improvements for yourself. I’d have to double check, but I believe you can still purchase a scenic pass to the top of the hill so you can take photos, then ride the lift back down.


January 13, 2015

Mid-day Comments: We had low clouds and fog here this morning. By noon, it started clearing, so I made a quick trip to the National Elk Refuge.  Bighorns were down in places. I took a few shots of them. Just down the road were around 45 wintering Pronghorns, but they were a little out of my range. Bison were well out of range.

Miller House with Fog Bank

Miller House with Cloud Bank: The shot I have in my “mind’s eye” for the Miller House is similar to this one. I’d like to get the fog just behind the house, then a band of morning light hitting the ridge of the house, and of course, some colorful clouds over the Tetons. Not too much to ask?

Prancing Ewe

Prancing Ewe: Normally, I spend most of my time photographing Rams, but I like the way this Ewe was prancing by.Ewe Portrait

Ewe Portrait: Taken at the National Elk Refuge near Miller Butte.

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck: This is a tight crop of a female Ruddy Duck captured at the observation platform on Flat Creek. In the summer, the males have a baby blue beak.

Mallard Hen Stretching

Mallard Hen Stretching: Mallards are much more tolerant of humans than most of the other ducks on Flat Creek.

Barrows Golden Eye

Barrows Golden Eye: In flight over Flat Creek. I also saw a few Common Mergansers, but no Hooded Mergansers today.

National Elk Refuge

National Elk Refuge: Almost all of the specks you see in the distance are elk wintering on the refuge.

Parade of Elk

Parade of Elk: These were walking along Flat Creek.

Tidbits: Gasoline prices finally dropped to $1.98 per gallon here. I can’t remember seeing it that low here in a long, long time (or maybe ever).

One-on-One Photography Excursions: If you are going to be in the area and are interested in a One-on-One Photography Excursion, check out the link. I have a couple of openings left in January and several for February.

Check back for additional photos from today. I plan on checking out the trumpeter swans on Flat Creek after making this post. MJ


January 12, 2015

Buck Rail Fence

First Light: Taken along the Gros Ventre River just outside the park boundary.

Eagle Sculpture

Eagle Sculpture: Taken at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.

Young Ram

Young Ram: Taken on the National Elk Refuge near Miller Butte.

Bison Herd and Distant Elk

Bison Herd and Distant Elk: Taken east of Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge.

Landing Swans

Landing Swans: Taken on Flat Creek just north of the Visitors Center


Squabble: Also on Flat Creek.

Mallard Duck

Mallard Duck: Taken from the observation platform along Flat Creek.

Hood Mergansers

Hood Mergansers: I don’t see these too often, but this pair of Hood Mergansers were mixed in with Mallard Ducks, Barrows Golden Eyes, and Trumpeter Swans on Flat Creek.

Swan Coming Out of a Good Sleep

Swan Coming Out of a Good Sleep:


January 11, 2015

Trumpeter Swans Flying In:

Trumpeter Swans Flying In: Between football games, I drove over to Flat Creek and Miller Butte. Flat Creek is open again, attracting Trumpeter Swans, Mallard Ducks, and Barrow’s Golden Eyes.

Swan Taking Off

Swan Taking Off:

Wintering Trumpeter Swans

Wintering Trumpeters:

Mallard On Ice

Mallard On Ice

Sleeping Swans

Sleeping Swans:

Afternoon on the Refuge: I made a drive out the Refuge Road. There were several Bighorns scattered around, but off the road. Elk were up the hillside plus there were around 40 Pronghorns milling around. Bison were towards the south end, but not close to the road today. A Bald Eagle was circling an area at the end of Miller Butte. I set up to try to capture him, but he never came close enough for a decent shot. There was a lot of potential today, but I didn’t stay around long enough. I headed back to the observation platform on Flat Creek.


January 10, 2015

6:27 AM: Teton Pass

Teton Pass Web Cam

Morning in JH: Cloudy and foggy here in town, but it appears to be clear at the top of the pass.

Around the Block: We have a few friends who are bicycle fanatics. They do a trip on bikes they call “around the block”. The leave Jackson and over Teton Pass, through Victor, then over Pine Creek Pass to Alpine Junction. From there, they pedal up the canyon to Jackson. Hard core! I’ve even heard of them doing it twice in one day. I will probably go “around the block” today, but I will be pushing the pedal on the vehicle and pressing the brakes once in a while. I’d still like to get the sunrise shot at the pass and hopefully capture some of the hoar frost shots I missed yesterday. I’ll check for Mountain Goats on my way back home. Well, that’s the plan. Check back!

Teton Pass

Teton Pass: This morning, we had the layer of low clouds, but also a layer of clouds overhead. The sunrise event was not what I had hoped when I got up at 6:00 am.

Pass Skiers and Boarders

Pass Skier and Boarder: By the time I left, the parking lot was filling with people heading up for some free skiing.


Clouds: I pulled out the 200-400mm lens and zoomed in on some details.

Crossing Tracks

Crossing Tracks:

Snow Cover Trees

Snow Covered Trees: Also on Teton Pass

Pine Grosbeaks

Pine Grosbeaks: In the Snake River Canyon near Alpine.

Three Mountain Goats on Steep Slope

Three Mountain Goats on Steep Slope: Taken at the mouth of the Snake River Canyon near Alpine Junction.

Jump Sequence

Mountain Goat Sequence: I include this set here to shot the acrobatic skills. I was shooting at the time with a 10 FPS Nikon D4. (click the image to see it larger)

Goats on the Road

Mountain Goats on the Road: On some days, the goats go onto the road licking salt from the sand trucks. When I saw a semi heading up the canyon at high speed, I spooked this group off the road. That’s not something I like to do, but the truckers do not like slowing down. Within about an hour, they were back down next to the road again.

My Comments: IF you go down there, you might be well advised to park in one of the pullouts when you can. People stop in the middle of the road and half way on the road often, causing jams and plenty of safety issues.

Stacked Goats

Nanny and Billy:

Morning Comments: I had planned on going over the Pass this morning, then through Swan Valley to Alpine Junction. I talked to someone at the top of the pass that told me they didn’t get frost in Victor. I decided to head down the pass towards Jackson and then on down to the goats.


January 9, 2015

Milky Way Over the Tetons

Milky Way Over the Tetons

Silent Hunter

Silent Hunter

Grand Trail Home

Grand Trail Home

Tools of the Trade

Tools of the Trade

If you get a chance, pick up the new issue of Cowboys & Indians Magazine. It contains their annual photography contest. I sent these four in this year. Only the night scene was chosen. I had hoped it might make the cover so I formatted it to fit and allowed plenty of room for their masthead and copy. The still life was a bit of a gamble to put in the “work” category. Everything in that category ended up being action shots of wranglers, riders, and so forth.

My Day: My wife and I needed to make a day trip to Idaho Falls. I had an appointment with an optometrist. I had hoped to take morning photos at the top of the pass, but clouds were still blocking most of the view. Without the appointment, I could have waited it out. The drive to Idaho Falls was beautiful. They had hoar frost on almost everything and the fog was just clearing. Again…an appointment kept me from stopping. I had also thought we might have a chance to drive up the Snake River Canyon on the way back, but that was way too optimistic. It was almost dark when we left Idaho Falls. I came home with two new pairs of glasses, one of which has a prescription designed for working on my computer. Much better!

LadderUpdates and Comments: A couple of days ago, I made this new Feature Post: Problem Solving “On-the-Fly” or With a Plan:

I included a link to CamRanger’s site where they show examples using their controller and hub, sometimes mounted on a pole. The owners of CamRanger live in Pinedale, WY and were at our local Teton Photography Group meeting a while back. They brought one of the poles along with their products. Wireless Control With the CamRanger PT Hub, MP-360, and Pole  A friend wrote a note after viewing their site, saying she couldn’t find information on the pole. I believe this is it: Wonderpole. The MP-360 can handle up to 6 pounds, rotating a full 360° and tilting up or down up to 15°. My camera and 200-400mm I used for this shot weigh considerably more than that. A D810 (no grip) and a 70-200mm lens weighs just over 5.5 lbs not counting an L-Bracket and I am not sure if the battery is figured in the weight. I would be right at the limit. Another option might be a D800/D810  or a D4/D4s with a Nikon 28-300mm lens. I think the weight with any of those combinations would be well under the maximum. I am not quite as happy with the sharpness using my D800 with the lens as I am with my D4.  I used that combination on most of my shots in  Maui. With the Wonderpole, PT Hub, MP-360, and CamRanger setup, I could have easily strapped the post to one of the wooden fence posts, then raised it to any height (up to about 20 feet) and controlled the shooting from the ground. The height might be limited somewhat by the maximum 15° tilt. Wind could also be an issue. On some shoots, a second person might be needed to hold the post while another person controlled the camera and shooting. Currently, I only have the CamRanger unit and not all of the other gadgets.


January 8, 2015

1:00 PM Teton Pass Web Cam

It has been overcast here in town all morning—same as yesterday! But…if you can get ABOVE the clouds, it is clear and relatively warm. On the right navigation bar (computers) or at the bottom of the page there is a link to the area web cams. This could be a valuable resource! I’ve completed a little of my morning business and may drive to the top of the pass to shoot across the clouds as seen in the lower right image. Yesterday, it was clear in the Canyon past Elbow, allowing me to get crispy shots of the Mountain Goats. Web cams down there at this time of the day (1:00 PM) show fog and clouds in the valley down there, too.

Tetpn Pass

Teton Pass: Based on the web cam shots, I headed up Teton Pass and found clear blue skies above the blanket of clouds.

Teton Pass

Teton Pass: These two shots were taken from the top of the pass. The top of the clouds were at the hairpin turn near the Phillips Canyon trail head.

Misc. Notes: A few weeks ago, there was a big explosion and fire at AmerGas on High School Road. Last week, the was a big fire in Dubois, taking out several historic buildings and quite a few small businesses. I drove by the AmerGas site a few days ago. It looked like a war zone with burned vehicles and partial walls. ~  I received a report of a Porcupine in the “S” curves when going to the Shane Cabin near the Kelly Warm Springs. I saw two moose on my way through Wilson this afternoon on my way to the Pass. One was near the Snake River and one was just outside Wilson. Coyotes, foxes, owls and otters have been effectively eluding me this year.



New Feature Post!  Problem Solving “On-the-Fly” or With a Plan:  This post goes through some of the issues and solutions I tried or considered for this tough little shoot.

January 7, 2015

Last night, I checked the weather reports, then checked the status of the phase of the moon. With partly cloudy skies predicted and with the nearly full moon setting about 3o minutes after sunrise, I set the alarm for 5:45 am. I did my part, but instead of having openings in the sky, we had low, thick clouds. I made it to the GTNP entry sign just north of the National Fish Hatchery before I did a U-turn and headed back home. I worked on this new Feature Post instead.

At lunch time, I drove to the observation platform at Flat Creek, hoping to see some open water and swans. It was still frozen over, but much of it looks soft and gray. It might open up soon. I drove to Miller Butte when I saw a few snow flakes, but didn’t see a single Bighorn. Lastly, I drove over to Boyles Hill and found plenty of Swans but they were either sleeping or not doing much. I took a few foggy, moody photos of a barn, then I headed on home. I finished this new Feature Post, then published it.

I include these notes once in a while to document the fact some days are better and more cooperative than others. But, you already know that!

Evening Vehicle

Afternoon in the Snake River Canyon: I received a text letting me know about the Goats near the road. The note also said the sky was clear and blue. I drove down and had a pretty good afternoon.

Mountain Goat

Mountain Goat along the Snake River at Alpine Junction.

Edge of the Grass

Mountain Goat amongst tall grass.

Evening Light on Two Mountain Goats

Evening Light on Two Mountain Goats: I hung around until the sun went down at 4:30 pm. There were roughly 30 Mountain Goats visible today in the last 1/2 miles of the Canyon.


Sunset in Maui

New Feature Post: Here Today, Gone to Maui!

Here’s a mid-Winter “knuckle ball” for you. In the midst of heavy snow, road closures, and weather advisories here in the Northern Rockies, I just added a new Feature Post about my trip to Maui. It’s not “just a bunch of vacation photos”. I wrote it from a perspective of becoming a tourist in an unfamiliar location—not that unlike tourists coming here. Hope you enjoy the photos and the text!

January 6, 2015

Overnight, we had warmer weather. That’s melting off some of the snow on the streets and making for sloppy driving. The road closure between Moose Junction and Moran Junction stayed in effect until late in the day. The newspaper said there was a much as three feet of snow in the mountains from this storm. At lunch time, I drove over to the National Elk Refuge. I saw only one Ram and one Ewe near Miller Butte. Bison were well north of the road and there were a few scattered Elk on the butte on the south side. Driving back through town, I didn’t see any of the Pine Grosbeaks.

Cabin Fever: One of my favorite “cabin fever” Winter cures is a quick trip over to Boyle’s Hill to check out the Swans. I am almost always guaranteed a few shots of swans and geese. On a good day, it is easy to come home with a thousand images. From my house, it is only about three miles. The other two spots close to town are the observation platform along Flat Creek and the road back to Miller Butte on the National Elk Refuge looking mainly for Bighorns. Readers at this blog might get somewhat bored seeing similar shots I take at these locations. I don’t get bored taking them, however.


More importantly, I keep going back to these kinds of places because of the “unknown” opportunities. I simply never know if today is the day a pack of wolves chase a small herd of elk across the road or up the butte in front of me. A Mountain Lion showed up on Miller Butte a few years back. Is today going to be the day one appears again? I was driving up the road a few days ago and a frisky Coyote was walking down the road. I stopped to watch her for a while, but it was too dark to get any worthwhile shots. The coyote image above was taken in 2009. It walked right in front of me with a chunk of black fur. I felt at the time the coyote was showing it off to me. Richard Pontius, a friend from Ogden, UT was on the road a few weeks ago when a very large herd of elk ran straight at him. They crossed right by his car and then up Crystal Butte behind him. A couple of hunters spooked the elk from Miller Butte. Apparently he was the “lesser of two evils” to the elk that day. I would have loved to have been there to get shots similar to his! It takes a fair amount of luck, but it also simply takes a lot of time out in the field to appear lucky when it finally happens!

Afternoon at Boyle’s Hill:

Tandem Flappers

Tandem Flappers: There were at least 50 Trumpeter Swans at Boyle’s Hill today.

Parade of Seven

Parade of Seven: Families of Trumpeter Swans going back and forth to the feeders.

Single Walker

Single Walker: This one’s mate was probably just out of frame to the right. I liked the simplicity.

Just After Take Off:

Just After Take Off: Only two swans took off while I was there today. I might have arrived there late. On most days, once one pair leaves, others follow.

Swan in Flight

Swan in Flight: This is one of the two seen in the previous photo.


Grand: I’ve never taken a photo from this spot at Indian Springs subdivision.


January 5, 2015

Snow PlowWeather was the big story today. We had quite a bit of snow overnight, augmented by heavy winds. The highway was closed from Moose Junction to Moran Junction this morning.  There are many additional travel advisories.  Keep an eye on the WY Road Report link in the right navigation bar (computer) at the bottom on a smartphone.

Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture: Yesterday, I checked my Lightroom program for updates and saw there’s a new version 5.7. I was still using version 5.5. In the list of fixes and additions, I noticed a feature which is supposed to let people using Aperture import their existing catalogs.  “Apple Kills Aperture, Says New ‘Photos’ App Will Replace It” Maybe this will be a reasonable solution for Aperture users.

Mid-day Outing: I did a quick run to the National Elk Refuge today. Wind was stiff, blowing snow across the Refuge road. They had plowed the few pullouts earlier, so it was possible to find a place to get off the extremely slick road.

Bison Herd

Bison Herd: This was taken at the “end of the road” on the National Elk Refuge. Bison have been in the news lately after a couple of them gored a horse or two in the Kelly area. Around the same time, this herd had moved to the Refuge Road and was causing hikers, bikers, and problems. Rangers hazed them off the road and farther north. They were at least 100 yards out today.

Elk on Crystal Butte

Elk on Crystal Butte: While I was getting my permit to take people out on One-on-One Photo Excursions, I asked about the name of the mountain south of Miller Butte. I was told this is Crystal Butte. I’d estimate a thousand elk lounging on the hillside, just below timberline. The bison herd shot and this one are what I call “record shots”.  The give readers a glimpse of the valley.

Elk Herd by the Warm Springs

Elk Herd by the Warm Springs: There are a couple of warm springs near the Miller House. Elk were near them today.

Bighorn Ram Walking Across the Snow

Bighorn Ram Walking Across the Snow: There were around 40-50 Bighorn Sheep along the valley floor at lunch time. This one spotted some ewes on the other side of the road but couldn’t cross the very slick road. He tried at least a dozen times and eventually gave up.

Greener Pastures

Greener Pastures: In this case, whiter pastures and ewes! I took this shot from the window. He was standing next to the road and trying to figure out how to cross the road. Wind was howling!

One-on-One Photo Excursion. I still have a couple of openings in the last half of January for anyone interested. There are numerous openings in February and March if you’d like to pick your date!


January 4, 2015

Yesterday, I was out taking photos most of the day, so I didn’t get to make a post until late. I had a very good, long day of shooting and didn’t get them processed and posted until well into the night. Besides the images I included, there were LOTS more, including some Clark’s Nutcrackers, Red Squirrels, and Chickadees I photographed in the back yard. I also took quite a few snow covered barns around the valley.

Some days are simply better than others…same as fly fishing! The only way to cash in on the good days you must be out on a few days when things just aren’t happening. Even on days when I don’t take a single shot, just being out is reward enough!


Saturday Swans: Cygnets are still partially gray.


Hoback Wagon: I took the gamble today and headed down the canyon towards Alpline Junction. I took this photo at Hoback Junction.

Eagle in Spruce Tree

Eagle in Spruce Tree: I didn’t see a single Mountain Goat today, nor did I see any tracks.  I found a road kill and spent my time working on shots of the interested birds.

Two for One

Two for One: Needless to say, I had a variety of weather conditions today. This shot has both a Bald Eagle and a Black-billed Magpie.

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie: I got a few keepers of the Magipes, but most will get deleted.

Winter's Grip

Winter’s Grip: I found these in the small town of Alpine Junction.


January 3, 2015

Bull Elk

Bull Elk: Taken on East Gros Ventre Butte before first light.

Elk Refuge Sleighs

Elk Refuge Sleighs: Incoming sleighs and passing Elk on the National Elk Refuge.

Lone Bull

Lone Bull: Single elk along Flat Creek on the National Elk Refuge.

Buck Mule Deer

Buck Mule Deer: Taken at the edge of Kelly.


Bucks: Taken near Kelly. I received a report of a bull Moose with big antlers near the Shane Cabins. I didn’t find him, but it’s nice to know he’s around.

Bighorn Ram

Bighorn Ram: Taken on the National Elk Refuge. Bighorns

Ram Portrait

Ram Portrait: Taken with a Nikon D800 and a 200-400mm lens.

Landing Swan

Landing Trumpeter Swan: Afternoon at Boyle’s Hill.

Flying Swans

Flying Trumpeter Swans: Also taken at Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond.

Trumpeter Swan

Trumpeter Swan: Adult Trumpeter leaving the pond with distant mountains.

Snow Bound Sedan

Snow Bound Sedan: One artsy image from today.

Saturday in Jackson Hole: I originally set my alarm for 6:00 am. After seeing thick clouds, I stayed in bed and waited a couple of hours. Clouds thinned, so I headed out. Clouds were still covering the Teton Range, so I began searching for wildlife and other opportunities. Since it was Saturday, I didn’t feel like I needed to hurry back to the house. That gave me ample time to drive around and find a variety of animals. At one time, I had considered going down to Alpine Junction, but it felt like I was finding plenty of subject matter around town.


January 2, 2015

Happy New Year

This is a timely postcard printed in 1919.  The back side had a 1¢ cancelled postage stamp on it! I ran across this card while working on an upcoming Feature Post about “ephemera”. Ephemera is a term for paper items, such as posters, broadsides, and tickets that were originally meant to be discarded after use but have since become collectible. Over the years, I have been buying and collecting postcards, maps, travel guides and booklets about Jackson Hole and the Tetons. This first post will be an introduction to local ephemera with some examples and tips on where to find these types of collectibles.

Town Postcards

Throughout the year, I plan on featuring specific topics showcasing some of my collection. For example, I have quite a few old postcards (small group shot above) showing downtown Jackson documenting its progress as a fledgling destination tourist hot spot. That Feature Post might be titled “A Nostalgic Look at Downtown Jackson”. I am positive readers here will enjoy seeing them! Sign up to follow this blog to be one of the first to see the new Feature Posts!

Today in JH: Still cold, but instead of -22° mornings, we were closer to only -10°F. Instead of only 8°F highs, we may hit 23°F. It is clear early, but clouds are supposed to roll in for the weekend. At lunch time, I drove through town looking for Pine Grosbeaks and Cedar Waxwings on my way to the National Elk Refuge. The clear skies of morning were being replaced with clouds. I found several groups of Bighorns, but they were just feeding and were well off the road. A few Elk were farther up the hill on Crystal Butte to the south. The bison I saw yesterday were not around today. Flat Creek is still frozen solid.

South Park Barn

South Park Barn: I realize we are in the dead of winter, but I thought I’d post a photo from late summer. I worked on it some last week and then added a few more effects today. Click the image to see it quite a bit larger. Images ©Mike R. Jackson, All Rights Reserved.

Other than the quick lunch loop, I hung around the house much of the day today. We are getting a dusting of snow now and I hope to spend most of the day out tomorrow. >>MJ


January 1, 2015

New Years Fireworks

Torch ParadeNew Years Fireworks: Last night, I drove out to Teton Village to photograph the torch light parade and fireworks. Since I’ve never been to this spot on New Years, I wasn’t sure where the skier would come down, and was not sure if they’d shoot the fireworks off at the same spot as they did on the 4th of July. It was around -14°F when I parked the van along the highway.

At the Teton Village torch light parade, the riders are already at the top of the mountain on Apre Vous peak. At 6:00 PM, on New Year’s Eve, the stream of skiers carrying torches begin to snake down the mountain. If I get to go back next year, I’d start with a 70-200mm to zoom in slightly.

Last summer, I was able to move close to the barbed wire fence and shoot from “under” a power line that runs along the highway. Last night, I found a large berm of snow piled up in that spot, eliminating that option for the night. I ended up shooting from the road. The spot was actually a good one, but there’s a couple of power lines in the images if you look closely. There might be a better spot. Maybe I’ll go out earlier next year and spend some time looking for it.

Skiers worked their way to the bottom as you can see in the small photo above. After the last skier reached the bottom, the fireworks began.

Teton Village

The fireworks display lasted a quite a while with plenty of explosions going off regularly. Still, the entire event was overall quick and efficient—which is good knowing it was so cold.

Snow King Fireworks

Snow King Fireworks: After leaving the JH Mountain Resort, I headed on home, but when I made it back to town, I noticed a few skiers still going up the lift. At Snow King, all of the skiers started at the bottom. After lighting their flares, chair after chair carried skiers up the mountain. At the base of the mountain, hundreds of spectators lined up to watch the event. I don’t know the actual number, but it appeared there were 150 skiers, maybe more. Eventually, all of them make it to the top and they begin their descent. The skiers split up and snaked down a couple of different runs before gathering at the base. Fireworks followed.

The image above is a composite of five or six shots. Four or five fireworks blasts are layered over the base layer with the spectators and string of skiers.

Single Capture

Snow King Fireworks Diplay: This is a single capture: Aperture Priority: 2.5 seconds, ISO 500, F/11, 28mm with a 24-70mm lens on a Nikon D4.

Teton Range January 1

Teton Range January 1: Taken from the Elk Refuge Road near the Miller House.

Sleeping Indian and Rising Moon

Sleeping Indian and Rising Moon: Taken from the Elk Refuge Road. If you checked out yesterday’s Daily Update (Dec: 2014), I mentioned going to the National Elk Refuge and not seeing a single Bighorn. At about the same time of the day today, I went to the same place and found four or more groups of around 10-12 Bighorns scattered along the road.

Boyle's Hill Swan Pond

Boyle’s Hill Swan Pond: Flat Creek is frozen, so quite a few Trumpeter Swans are at Boyle’s Hill for some free food and open water.


Happy 2015!  I’d like to take a second and say THANKS to all the people coming here daily or weekly, along with the readers that make comments here! And SPECIAL THANKS to all that have signed up to follow the blog. I hope to continue to add a variety of  “content” for all of 2015. Even if you aren’t planning an immediate trip to the Tetons, hopefully I can include information that can help you back at your home town. Lastly, if you like what you’ve been seeing, I’d appreciate it if you help me spread the word about the site!


Maybe they don’t have the “mass” of the large game animals and predators, but they are equally fun and equally challenging to photograph!

This page contains photos of some of the smaller mammals found in the Jackson Hole valley and Grand Teton National Park. With few exceptions, I don’t go out looking for the critters. Instead, I am usually out taking photos of something else when I catch a glimpse of something moving nearby.

Short-tailed Weasel or Ermine

I’ve only see a few Weasels or Ermine while out in the valley. They are elusive and seem to always be on the move. This page contains lots of facts about them. Weasel (Short Tailed) or (Ermine) . There are possibly some Long-tailed Weasels in the valley.


Weasel: I photographed this Weasel along the Gros Ventre while searching for moose. I’ve seen photos others took inside the Gros Ventre campground. Other photographers have been known to capture images of them along the road on the National Elk Refuge, though I haven’t been so lucky.


Ermine: Needless to say, seeing a small white mammal in an ocean of white snow is not an easy task! This one happened to run across the top of the snow along the Snake River south of Hoback Junction. I’ve seen them on numerous occasions along Spring Gulch Road, but I have never been able to capture one in my camera. A few years ago, I caught a glimpse of one running across my back yard. I’d love to get thousands more photos of them!

Great Gray and Ermine

Great Gray Owl and Ermine: I’ll take that back. I captured this shot of a Short-tailed Weasel (Ermine in winter) along Spring Gulch Road, but only after the Great Gray captured it first.


You might find a coyote about anywhere in the valley at any time of the year. They are leery of humans as they are shot as pests outside the park.


Coyote: Occasionally, a coyote will stop long enough to get a few shots. I photographed quite a few of them in the National Elk Refuge, along Mormon Row, and at Elk Flats.

Coyote Pups

Coyote Pups: During the past couple of years, coyote raised a litter of pups under one of the buildings along Mormon Row. These two were close to the Moose Visitor’s Center.


Despite the fact there are numerous packs of wolves in Grand Teton National Park, I seldom see them and almost never get to photograph them.


Wolf and Coyote: Knowing wolves are near the top of the food chain, I was hesitant to include them on this page, but I thought this photo merited the inclusion. This large black wolf was milling around on the east side of the park. The Coyotes were amazingly brave around him—possibly trying to lure him away from their den. Watch for Wolves along the Snake River, around Willow Flats and Oxbow Bend, and near Uhl Hill on the east side of the park. Some are seen in the Buffalo Fork river bottom and housing areas.


A lot of farmers kills porcupines on sight. They strip the bark and kill trees and can cause a lot of damage. Inside the Park, they are protected.


Porcupine: I photographed this Porcupine along the East Boundary Road a few years back. It seemed out of place with no trees anywhere near.


Porcupine: This Porcupine had been killing a valley resident’s trees next to his house on West Gros Ventre Butte. A friend of the homeowner trapped the animal. I went with the trapper to release it along the base of the mountain north of Wilson. We had expected it to move slowly out of the trap and get into the closest clump of trees, but instead, it took off like a thoroughbred racehorse coming out of the gate.


Watch for badgers anywhere there are Uinta Ground Squirrels and soft dirt. A few dig holes around the Gros Ventre Campground and around the Mormon Row barns.


Badgers: I photographed these along Mormon Row a few years back. I also seen them in the pastures near Elk Flats and near the Kelly Warm Springs.

Red Squirrels

Most of my shots of Red Squirrels were taken in my back yard. One has been building nests and stashing food there for years. However, they are commonly seen in almost all wooded parts of the valley. At certain times of the year, Red Squirrels harvest cones from the various Spruce and Pine trees.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel. This mother was moving her six babies from one hole to another.

Baby Red Squirrel

Baby Red Squirrel: A few weeks later, the youngsters came out and explored their surroundings before being run off by the mother.

Jumping Red Squirrel

Jumping Red Squirrel: One of the advantages of having a resident Squirrel is being able to get shots like this. I put peanuts in a tree trunk for her. She’d go back and forth getting the peanut and returning to her nesting cavities. I set up with a couple of strobes for some high speed-sync action. She’s an athlete, but she doesn’t wear Nike shoes!

River Otters

River Otters can be found in about any of the valley’s waterways. But, that’s easier to say than it is to actually find them and photograph them. They are constantly on the move and can travel large distances in search of fresh food sources…fish!

Otter Family

Otter Family: I photographed this family a few years ago along Flat Creek. Another group is often photographed on the snow near Oxbow Bend and around the Jackson Lake Dam. I’ve photographed them along the Gros Ventre River and along Pacific Creek.

River Otters with Catch

River Otters with their catch:


These critters are quite a bit smaller than otters, but are often found in the same areas.


Muskrat: I photographed this Muskrat from the observation platform along Flat Creek.


This might be a “least Chipmunk”, but actually, I believe there are at least three species of Chipmunks in the area. They are common in almost all parts of the valley. Watch for them in the tops of the sagebrush and scavenging for food and seeds around campgrounds and pullouts.


Chipmunk: I photographed this one along the Gros Ventre river as it heads out of the Park and into the Slide Lake area. Again, they are common everywhere.


Chipmunk: I took this photo along the Moose-Wilson road a few years ago. Black Hawthorne berries attract a variety of animals including Black Bears and Grizzly Bears, along with many species of birds.

Yellow-bellied Marmots

Marmots are fairly common in the Jackson Hole valley. Watch for them in rock piles along the road.

Yellow-bellied Marmot

Yellow-bellied Marmot: They spend much of their day sunning on the rocks. They are quick to hide if a hawk or predator is in the area. A good place to find them is in the rocks at the National Museum of Wildlife Art. They hibernate in the winter.

Yellow-bellied Marmot

Yellow-bellied Marmot: Occasionally, you’ll find a Marmot in a large tree trunk. This one was near Pilgrim Creek in GTNP. Obviously, they are difficult to spot.

Yellow-bellied Marmot

Yellow-bellied Marmot: As far as I know, this is still a Yellow-bellied Marmot. I’ve seen a few pockets of the dark ones in the valley. This one was photographed at White Grass Ranch a few years ago. I went back to photograph them again, only to be told the Park Service trapped them out and moved them to another undisclosed location in the park. They were interfering with preservation efforts. Another group  of dark Marmots can sometimes be seen at the base of the mountain near the Cascade Canyon and Hidden Falls boat ramp.

Red Foxes

These sly little critters inhabit much of the valley, but are not always easy to find or photograph.

Red Fox

Red Fox: A few years ago, Red Foxes were plentiful in the Wilson area. This one is “mousing”.

Red Fox

Red Fox: They can be very agile while chasing their prey. I’ve watched them capture a mouse or vole, then bury it, mark their spot, and continue hunting. On the way back to the den, especially when they have kits, they gather them up and carry a large mouthful of food to their young.


Red Fox: I prefer Winter for photographing Foxes while their fur is long and full. I photographed this one in the north end of the Park. Lots of people photographed a Red Fox in Karns Meadows a few years back. Some can be seen along the fence lines around Kelly. Check out this earlier Feature Post showing more of this Fox. Red Fox: A Spring Vixen

Red Fox

Red Fox: By late spring, Foxes begin to shed some of their winter coats. While this one might look like a black fox or a silver fox, they are still Red Foxes and will have a white tip on their tail. I photographed this in the pastures in Wilson.

Uinta Ground Squirrels:

Uinta Ground Squirrels are plentiful throughout the sage flats of Jackson Hole. Hawks, owls and other raptors feed on them, along with Badgers, Foxes, and Coyotes. Interestingly, they spend roughly eight months of the year underground or hibernating.

Uinta Ground Squirrels

Baby Uinta Ground Squirrels:  You can see them on almost any summer day around the Mormon Row barns.


Pikas are usually found in the higher elevations. Watch for them in rock piles gathering clumps of grass and vegetation.


Pika: I photographed this little Pika on my way up to Cascade Canyon: One of the Teton’s Many Gems


The American Fur Traders came to Jackson Hole to trap beavers during the time span of 1825-1840. They could have effectively trapped the entire population in a year or two. Populations of beavers are now well recovered. Watch for beavers in the river bottoms and see more images on this Feature Post: Beavers of Schwabacher Landing


Beaver:  I photographed this beaver at Schwabacher Landing. They can also be seen along the Gros Ventre river and Pacific Creek.

Ground Squirrels

There are a few different species of Ground Squirrels in Jackson Hole. At slightly higher elevations watch for Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels.

Ground Squirrel

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel: These are larger than the Chimpmonks found in the valley. I photographed this one near Inspiration Point on my Cascade Canyon: One of the Teton’s Many Gems hike.


Raccoons are mostly nocturnal feeders. They are not native to the region, but have moved in and are thriving.  While fly fishing, I saw a family of Raccoons working their way along the bank of the Snake River.


Raccoon: I photographed this Raccoon in my back yard one night after our dog ran it up a tree. They come around looking for leftover bird feed.

Pine Marten

I have so little experience with Pine Martens…here’s a link with more info: Pine Martin | Wilderness Classroom

Pine Marten

Pine Marten: I took this photo of an elusive little Pine Marten while waiting for a mother Moose and Calf to stand up near Taggart Lake Trailhead. I’ve seen them on the road going into the Laurence S. Rockefeller Preserve, but didn’t get shots. For a while, a Pine Marten was hanging around the parking area a the Pacific Creek boat launch near Moran Junction.


Oh yes! There are lots of others! This guide will give you a much longer list of animals in GTNP: Mammal-Finding Guide via the Grand Teton National Park web site. There are mice, voles, shrews, bats, rabbits, wolverines, ferrets, woodrats, gophers, and the list goes on! As I have the opportunity, I spin my camera around and try to capture them.

If you like this post, please take a minute and SHARE the page by clicking on any of the Social Media Icons below. If you haven’t signed up to follow Best of the Tetons, now’s a great time! MJ

Scalawags and Bridges ~ The Old Buffalo Fork Bridge:

The Early Link to Jackson Hole on the East Side of the Valley.

Where’s This? Okay, I already gave it away in the title of the post! When I first saw this color postcard, I was puzzled. The size of the river made me initially think it was the Snake River, and if so, the bridge might have been somewhere near Deadman’s Bar. The road on the right might have something to do with what is now called the RKO road. Still, things didn’t add up and the angle looked wrong. In reality, the river is the Buffalo Fork River near Moran Junction.  (I believe this postcard shot was by Sanborne)

With a little help from GTNP’s park historian, I found a book titled “A Community of Scalawags, Renegades, Discharged Soldiers and Predestined Stinkers” written in 1998 by Kenneth L. and Lenore L. Diem published by Grand Teton Natural History Association.

1922 Buffalo River Bridge

For many travelers, making their way to Jackson Hole from the East meant going to what is now the Jackson Lake Dam area (then the town of Moran) and heading south through what is now the Teton Park Road. Even then, reliable river crossings over the Snake was a challenge. Grand Teton National Park was not established until 1929, but people were still traveling to the area from all over. Important note: The current highway connection from Moose Junction to Moran Junction was not opened until sometime in 1957 or 1958. (Note: When I first saw this photo, I thought the cleared area near the center was the actual old road, but after inspecting it more closely, I believe that’s just a trail and the road is above and to the right of the frame.)

This quote from the book explains a lot about the old bridge and the shortcut to the town of Jackson:

“In the meantime, a bridge was constructed across the Buffalo Fork River by Noble Gregor and Captain Smith around 1901. This bridge was located about where the current power lines cross the river, about 1 mile east of the present Moran Entrance to Grand Teton National Park (Fig. 28). Shortly thereafter, Gregory bought out Smith. During high water, Sam Gregory (Noble Gregory, Sr,’s father) would camp in a tent set up next to the bridge and would charge toll for travelers wishing to use his bridge. Under pressure from the Teton National Forest, the bridge was eventually turned over to the forest about 1906 (Gregory, Noble, Sr., no date, Lawrence, W.C. and N. Gregory, Jr. 1977). As such, it became a public bridge and was repaired and improved by Teton National Forest (Rosencrans, 1907).”

Buffalo Fork Bridge by Harrison Crandall

Buffalo Fork Bridge by Harrison R. Crandall – The Park’s First Official Photographer: (I didn’t see a date on this postcard, but Harrison’s daughter, Quita, said he moved to the valley in 1923)

The Old Jackson Hole Road

This is a Harrison Crandall painted postcard showing the Old Jackson Hole Road. The caption on the back reads, “The Old Jackson Hole Road” which follows the east border of the Valley. Fences of the “buck and pole” type such as these are remnants of early days and are still a distinctive feature.” I believe this was taken a few miles north of the current Lost Creek Ranch after exiting the ravine from Triangle X Ranch.

After I saw that first postcard and reading the paragraph in the book, I found the old road heading on north just past Elk Ranch. The road is intact until it falls into the current thread of the river.

Current Satellite Map

This is a screen grab using TPE (The Photographer’s Ephemeris) showing a satellite view of the area. You can see the old road in the lower left and top along with current Highway 287 near the top. Still, things don’t look much like the old photos. This satellite image helped with plenty of clues.

Circa 1922 Terrain

Circa 1922 Terrain: I took the liberty to “clone” in what I believe the riverbed might have looked like in 1922 and the color photo at the top of the page. It shows the approximate location of the old bridge. It appears the river changed it’s course and cut off the elbow of the early days. But, this mockup gives me a much better idea of what Sanborne and Crandall were seeing between 1922 and 1958 or so.

Once the new highway road was completed, including the new concrete bridge over the Buffalo Fork, the old bridge was torn down and that section of the road was abandoned. I have no idea when the river channel changed. Power lines now cross the river at about the same area the old bridge was located. They make a scenic shot from Sanborne and Crandall’s photo vantage point less desirable. I’ve also seen other postcards taken from the same spot, but I always liked those two the best.

Additional History Posts on Best of the Tetons


If you like this post, please take a minute and “share” it by clicking on any of the Social Media Icons below. >>MJ

Bar BC Dude Ranch

Jackson Hole’s second dude ranch, the Bar BC Dude Ranch was built by Struthers Burt and Dr. Horace Carncross in 1912.

Bar BC Ranch

On October 4th, I was heading back home after spending the morning at Schwabacher Landing. From the highway, I could see some bright yellow leaves along the west bank of the Snake River. By 10:30 am on most mornings, I would have headed on home. The yellow leaves were beckoning…and it was a beautiful fall Saturday morning. I made the executive decision to drive on over and check it out (again).

(Note: In case you were wondering, the first Dude Ranch in the Jackson Hole was the JY Ranch—1908. The area is now part of the Laurance S. Rockefell Preserve.)

The Road Off the Bench

The Road Off the Bench:

How to get there: Drive north from Jackson to Moose Junction. Turn left onto the Teton Park Road. Drive through the entrance station and pass the Cottonwood Creek picnic area. A quarter mile past the picnic area turn right and drive east on the River Road almost two miles. This road is recommended for 4-wheel drive vehicles only. As the road bends north, park at the small lot near a gate. Walk the cobble-covered hill toward the Snake River to view the remaining ranch structures. You can also view buildings from the terrace by walking to the right of the gate to an interpretive wayside and looking down. Please do not enter any of these buildings as they may be unsafe. (via the GTNP web site)

Bar BC MapMap: “As the crow flies”, the ranch is only a few miles north of the Chapel of the Transfiguration and Menor’s Ferry. Click the link to see a TPE/Google image showing the main roads to the area.

The comments above suggest having a 4-wheel drive vehicle. I drove it in our all wheel drive van with no problems, but the drive from the Teton Park Road to the gully road is rough and full of gravel bottom puddles. I counted 43 on my way back out.  I don’t believe I needed a 4-wheel drive to make the trip to the parking area, but I definitely drove it slowly and carefully.

My morning at the Bar BC Dude Ranch

I made my trip to Bar BC in the middle of the morning and stayed a couple of hours, roaming around and looking for anything of interest. Most of my images from the trip were intended on documenting the area and show you what you might expect. I’d love to go back and catch it with morning light, or even late in even at night for some stars and light painting. The Teton Range looms high above the scene if you move close to the river, yet can be clipped if you get close to the bench. I’d recommend a trip there if you are into history, scenery, or like taking photos of textures and close-up details.


Corrals: The parking area is just at the top of the little bench. The walk down is easy and casual. The corrals have been restored or rebuilt.

The remains of the large dude ranch are available for viewing in Grand Teton National Park. Preservation and restoration on the buildings have been ongoing for quite a few years. It is a huge undertaking with so many buildings and structures. This external page shows images of the restoration projects and give a little more information on the topic.  Bar BC Dude Ranch Restoration

Restored Tack Shed

Restored Tack Shed: Located next to the corrals.

Too Late

Too Late: While many structures have been preserved or stabilized, a few have collapsed under the weight of the winter snows.


Aspens: I dialed my aperture up to F/22 and took this shot into a tiny opening of the leaves allowing the star burst from the sun. No special Photoshop trick or special effect on this image.

Aspen Leaves

Aspen Leaves: The last shot was taken “up”. This was aimed “down” into a puddle of water with floating aspen leaves. Filtered light from the stands of aspens added some glow to a few leaves.

Aspen Trunks

Aspen Trunks: I liked the idea of seeing the peak of the Grand between these venerable aspens.

Row of Cabins

Row of Cabins: One of the informational signs near the parking area suggested the ranch could handle up to 50 guests at one time. The area is quite large with cabins spread all around.

Clubhouse and Cabins

Clubhouse and Cabins: I believe the old fireplace was part of the”main cabin”. The rest of the structure is gone now. The green visqueen plastic sheeting was intended to protect the roofs until restoration teams can get to them.

Bar BC Satellite View Click Here to see a Satellite View showing the roads and buildings as they stand today. You can click to enlarge the view and scroll around. This map comes from The Photographer’s Ephemera and works off Google Maps. TPE is also available for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. It is a very valuable tool for photography in the area.

Future Projects

Future Projects: Another view of the cabins awaiting restoration. Mt. Moran can be seen in the distance. The map identifies most of these buildings as “dude cabins” and a “mess hall”.


Nails: If this kind of shot “floats your boat”, you can find lots of it at the Bar BC Dude Ranch.

Restored Cabin and Grand

Restored Cabin and Grand: None of these cabins are being fully “restored” for use, but instead are being stabilized to stand up against snows and weather.

Up Scale Privy

Up Scale Privy: Many of the visitors at Bar BC were used to the best. But, in 1912, outhouses were part of the scheme of things.

The Pot

The Pot: Most outhouses I’ve ever seen had a rough wooden seat and were quite primitive. This outhouse sported a porcelain pot (the lid is missing now). The rich and famous were “going in style”!

History and Links

Here are a few links related to the historic old Bar BC Dude Ranch I could find.

Log End

Log End: There are plenty of textures and details at the ranch. The six bursts caught my eye on this log.

Number 15

Number 15: This lettering was on one of the original doors.

Rusty Vehicle

Rusty Vehicle: This old car might make a great light painting subject. The roof of the tack shed is partially visible near the row of aspens.

Vehicle Window

A Window into the Past: I walked down the hill to the ranch with a Nikon D4 and a 28-300 mm lens. No tripod this time! I think it would be a good place to go with my 200-400 mm lens and a tripod to zoom in on small details and textures. A standard lens would be good for most shots, however.

J.E. Stimson Photo of Bar BC at Cayuse Western Americana: This link shows a hand tinted image of the ranch taken over the swimming pool. Worth a look to see the ranch in its heyday and read Cayuse’s description of the historic place.

Park Sign

I mentioned earlier I spent roughly two hours at the site and could have stayed longer. There are no rest rooms, fountains, or services—so go prepared. The road north from the Taggart Lake Trail Head closes on October 31st, eliminating vehicle travel down the “Cottonwood Creek Road”. Most people around here know that road as the RKO road. Much of the area is under a winter wildlife habitat closure during the winter months, so hiking and snow shoeing into the area is illegal. The sign above is located near the parking area at the top of the bench. It gives a little history and includes a map identifying the individual buildings.  The map indicates the Swimming Pools near the Snake River and in front of the Dance Hall.


If you like this post, please take a minute and “share” it by clicking on any of the Social Media Icons below. >>MJ


October 2014 Daily Updates & Photos for Grand Teton National Park & JH:

A monthly journal of wildlife reports, scenic opportunities, and tidbits for both photographers and Teton visitors!

Daily Updates Archives: ~
2018: June: | May:Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2017: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2016: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan: 
2015: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2014: Dec: | Nov: | Oct: | Sept: | Aug: | July: | June: | May: | Apr: | Mar: | Feb: | Jan:
2013: Dec: | Nov: Oct: | Sept: | Aug:

October Overview:

Fiery Sleeping Indian

October:  Normally, peak foliage around Oxbow Bend is during the first few days of the month, but this year, foliage season came much earlier.  Many areas are well past peak to start the month. Last year, the park closed for a couple of weeks in October, but hopefully we won’t see anything similar ever again. Snow will be the big game changer in October. Temperatures drop considerably during the month and some of the snowfall will begin to stick in  areas of the valley. Early snows usually melt quickly on the valley floor, yet remain in the high country. Moose and Elk will continue their rut into the first few weeks and Pronghorns begin their later rut. More migrating birds pass through the valley, or leave the valley. After the Fall Foliage, the bulk of the tourists leave and the valley becomes amazingly quiet and peaceful.

Streamlined Viewing Links


Oldie But Goodie Post of the Day

Stars over Jenny Lake Oct26Night Time In the Tetons:The new moon is in the waxing crescent phase right now. Each night, it will become more bright and will soon affect some of the night scenes. This post shows quite a few night shots from over the years and might give you some ideas of where to spend some late nights or early mornings. Remember, the Teton Park Road will close at the end of the month!


Moose Chase by John Tebbetts

Guest Shot: Moose Chase by John Tebbetts: Taken at Schwabacher Landing on September 30th. The bull was trying to wean the two year old calf from the cow moose.  John was ready for the action as the two splashed across the side channel . John said it this image was straight out of the camera…with the saturation set to vivid.  Click the image to see it much larger. 750line

Artists and Sculptors


October 29

Aloha from Maui! Sorry, I don’t have news to add from Grand Teton National Park, but I am a few miles and four time zones away. They have beautiful sunrise and sunsets here. Wow! I heard the weather was great back in Jackson Hole with a good week on tap.

Current Road Closures:

  • RKO Road: This road runs from the Teton Park Road towards the Snake River, then north along the river to an area just south of Signal Mountain.
  • Mormon Row Road: From about half a mile north of Gros Ventre Road to the Bed and Breakfast.
  • Warm Springs Road: This is the road heading West from the Kelly Warm Springs going towards Mormon Row. The last 1/3 is closed.

Upcoming Road Closures:

  • Teton Park Road (Inner Park Loop Road) closes on November 1st.
  • Bike Path along the National Elk Refuge on November 1st.
  • Fishing on the National Elk Refuge ends on October 31st.
  • Many of the trails on the West side of Jenny Lake will be closed for the season starting on Monday.

One-On-One Photo Excursions:  Book NOW for a One-On-One Photography Excursion in GTNP in November!  Click the link for all the details and let me know if you are interested. These excursions help me pay the bills and put gasoline in the tank to continue offering the blog.

Please let your friends know about Best of the Tetons and share the pages with your friends on Facebook.


October 28

Headed to Maui! My wife worked all the details for this trip. I’m just supposed to be ready to go at 11:00 am. I packed one small camera bag with a D4 and a 28-300mm lens, lots of batteries, lots of memory cards, and a strobe. I’ll have my Verizon tablet with me so I can insert the new November Daily Updates page and one more historic post about the old bridge over the Gros Ventre river.  They are both written and ready to submit. So, even though I might not be roaming the Tetons, I will still be adding to the blog. I woke up here in JH and will be on a beach on the north shore of Maui tonight. What a country!

Snow covered mountains: We’ve had two or three days of cloudy skies and a few storms. As I write this post at 7:30 am, I can look out and see the entire range covered with snow. I had considered trying to be out this morning, but I was afraid of not finishing up some loose ends before needing to be on the plane. I need to keep the wife happy! Still, it is beautiful here this morning and I wish I could be out getting the morning sunrise. Even as I write this an look outside, I see some pink beginning to turn in the clouds. Dang!

Bison TouronsYesterday, I submitted the two new posts. Both had quite a bit of traffic and quite a few comments both online and by email. The photo below with the tourists dangerously close to a mature bison cow and her calf still baffles me. Maybe I should say it haunts me. I was set up, watching that scene unfold, and I was thinking it could get bloody. I was thinking if it did, I’d get the shots and the images would end up on national TV and win all kinds of awards. Yet, I look at the same photos and wonder whether I should have yelled at the people, “Get back! They are very dangerous!” There’s a similar image taken in the Gros Ventre campground in the post about photographing large mammals in GTNP. Campers and tourists were terribly close to a bull moose—and he had his ears down as though he was not happy about the proximity of the people. Should “I” be yelling at the people? Is it my job? Is it my responsibility? The few times I did say something, I received a tongue lashing in response. In almost all cases, I was treated like the villain and not someone trying to help. In almost all cases, I walked away wishing I hadn’t said anything. It’s a tough call! I’ve been on the other side of the fence and had some self-proclaimed “field general” barking orders at everyone, telling us to move back, and telling us the moose is trying to go to the river and we were blocking him. All the time, I knew better and I was thoroughly annoyed during the entire experience. Of course, instead of going to the river, he bedded down where he stood.


October 27

Bison Tourons

Two New Feature Posts! I originally had these two posts combined, but thought it made sense to separate them.  I believe you will enjoy both. The photo above is from the Photographing Large Game Animals post.

Custer: Majestic Bull Moose Along the Gros Ventre River

Photographing Large Game Animals in Grand Teton National Park:

“Here today…gone to Maui”.

Tomorrow, my wife and I are headed to Maui for a week or so. I wanted to get a couple of new feature posts out to the readers before I took off. If things go well, I will add one called Scalawags and Bridges ~ The Old Buffalo Fork Bridge while I am out of town, and I should add a new one for November Daily Updates and Photos.  So, even though you know I am out of town, please check back once in a while.



October 26

Morning Light on Mt. Moran

Morning Light on Mt. Moran: We had overnight rain in town and snow in the high country. I got up early and headed to the Teton Park Road hoping to get a few end of the season shots. (The road closes on the 1st of November). Light and clouds were good, but they covered the peaks on both the Grand and Mt. Moran.

Bull Elk at Before Sunrise

Bull Elk Posing Before Sunrise: So, instead of getting sunrise images, I got lucky and found a beautiful bull elk and his large harem of cows near the road.

Bull Elk with Calf

Bull Elk with Calf: I was all alone for most of the good shooting. I put the camera and lens on the bean bag and shot out the window. I didn’t think they’d tolerate me being out of the vehicle.

Bull Elk Watching His Harem:

Bull Elk Watching His Harem: This bull put on a great show for me. Many of his cows crossed the road behind me, so he had to keep an eye on them, along with the few nearby. I started out shooting at ISO 2000, then gradually reduced it to a very tolerable level of ISO 1250 on my D4.

Gaston and Custer Sparring

Two Bull Moose Sparring: These two bulls have been hanging around together for a few days. I finally got a few shots of them sparring this morning. Immediately after this sequence, the bull on the left went to the river for a drink and the one on the left headed for his “spot” and bedding down for the day. When I left, both were bedded down close to each other.

10 Second Video of Two Bull Moose Sparring: I did a single short video clip of this sparring. Once they moved out of frame, I immediately switched back to stills. The action didn’t last long enough! These two bulls seem to have a lot of respect for each other and are about the same size. With no cows around, the sparring was not “for keeps”.

Upcoming Feature Post: The moose on the right is a bull I call “Custer”. I plan on posting a new Feature Post on Monday with photos of him taken over the past four years. You’ll get to see the growth and maturing of this bull, including some observations about the white spots on his coat. The post will also contain some rules and guidelines along with some suggestions for lenses for photographing moose in GTNP. You might want to sign up to follow this blog to get an advanced notification!


 October 25

Steep Bank

Steep Bank: I headed out early today and looked mainly for moose along the Gros Ventre, Kelly area, and Ditch Creek area. I counted over two dozen moose this morning, along with seeing quite a few mule deer. I found these two bulls along the Gros Ventre River. When the bull on the right took his drink from the stream, he only put two front feet off the steep bank and reached down. The bull on the left came to the same spot, but instead of just reaching to the water, he went all the way into the river to drink. I was ready for him to cross, but he turned back to step up the steep bank. These two bulls grazed on willows and bitterbrush before bedding down only a few feet apart. There were no cows around to force them to compete with each other.


 October 24

Beaver Slide

New Feature Post: Beavers of Schwabacher Landing 

Last night, I added a new Feature Post about the beavers. This morning, I added a few more photos and a labeled map of the area. If you are signed up to received email notices of new posts, you might want to check out the post again!

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker: This woodpecker has been hanging around for a few days. This morning was the first time I have been able to get a shot this year. Males have a patch of red on the back of their head.


White-breasted Nuthatch: These little birds are maybe a little bigger than a Black-capped Chickadee and every bit as figgity.

Time is Running Out! A week from now, at midnight of October 31st, the Teton Park Road will close for the season. Some people call it the “Inner Park Loop Road”. This road allows access to the RKO Road, Bar BC Ranch, the Climbing Ranch, Lupine Meadows, Jenny Lake, String Lake, Leigh Lake, Cascade Canyon, the Old Patriarch Tree, and Signal Mountain (just to name a few).  Personally, I’d love to see the Park Service extend that closure another couple of weeks. Anyway, if you plan on visiting or photographing any of those areas without long hikes, I’d suggest getting there soon.

Evening Beaver

Evening Beaver: Taken at Schwabacher this afternoon.

Old Spruce Warrior

Old Spruce Warrior: This old tree stands in a small meadow along the Gros Ventre. I had originally planned on driving over to the RKO road to the Bar BC Ranch, but when I got to the gate, it has been locked for the season. Maybe next year.

Big Dipper and the Rest of the Cast:

Big Dipper and the Rest of the Cast: At this time of the year, the Big Dipper rests almost flat in the sky just after the sun goes down. I went to this spot hoping I could nestle it over the tree. Worked out great!

Night Sky with the Milky Way

Night Sky with the Milky Way: I took this shot from the middle of the Gros Ventre Road just before pulling out. The distant glow is from the little town of Wilson, seen just past West Gros Ventre Butte.


October 23

Wind Blown Grass

While waiting for Beavers to show up, I spent some time this afternoon taking photos of other subjects that caught my eye. I took a few literal shots of the golden grass against the dark water, then changed settings to get a long exposure. The wind did all the work.

Blurred Grass

Blurred Grass: For this shot, I opened the aperture all the way (F/4 on my 200-400mm) and froze the grass while focusing on only a few of the closest stalks of grass.

Remnant Red and Orange

Remnant Red and Orange: There is still some color around. I shot this one slightly back lit in the very last few minutes of filtered light.

Beaver on the Dam

Beaver on the Dam: A couple of the Beavers finally appeared. They traveled across the dams a couple of times while gathering branches and stems from the riverside. Sunset today was a 6:26pm.


October 22

Alert Bull Moose

Alert Bull Moose: I found this bull moose resting in the shade along the Gros Ventre this morning. I hiked around about a mile looking for another bull, but didn’t find one. I went back to the original bull and the light had shifted enough to put him in the sun light. He slept while I patiently waited for him to wake up. He heard something and became very alert.

Custer in the Cottonwoods

Emerging from the Cottonwoods: This is the moose that caught the attention of the sleeping moose.

Ready for the Meet and Greet:

Ready for the Meet and Greet: The big bull met up with a smaller bull and then headed in the direction of the passing bull.

Watching the Bull Pass Through

Watching the Bull Pass Through: The two bulls followed the other bull towards the river, but bedded down without getting close.

Other Wildlife Today: I saw a couple of moose near the GV River Bridge on the highway as I was heading north. There were around a hundred bison in the hay fields near Kelly and quite a few mule deer in Kelly. A few Pronghorns were along the north side of the Gros Ventre Road. I saw several moose along Ditch Creek road if heading in towards the old Teton Science School buildings. Oh yes, I have another Raccoon to relocate today.

Schwabacher October 20th

Schwabacher October 20th: Not sure where to put this one. I took it a couple of days ago on the D800, but didn’t download it until today with the moose shots above. I was set up at the edge of the water and was waiting for the reds to appear when a beaver swam by with a load of willow sticks. I opted that day to follow the beaver and leave the sunset shots. You’ll see the red in the water on the last photo I posted on the 20th.

Afternoon Bull Moose

Afternoon Bull Moose:

Tack on a Buck Rail Fence

Tack on a Buck Rail Fence: I set this up on the buck rail fence by the Shane Cabin tonight. It was lit with a small pen light.


October 21

Fall at the BarnIt’s dark, gloomy, cloudy, and occasionally rainy here today. This post might help you find subjects: Making the Best of a Rainy Day:

“Photographers sue to stop Grand Teton elk hunt” ~ Readers here might find this story on WyoFile of interest.

Afternoon Outing to Schwabacher Landing: Skies cleared some during the day, but clouds remained on the peaks. It was chilly and the brisk wind made things feel cold. The first time I went to Schwabacher Landing to try to photograph beavers, there was a virtual parade of beavers heading in both directions. Someone said there are seven, but I don’t think I saw that many. The last couple of times I went there, I had less beaver activity. I don’t know that much about the little critters to know if there is a pattern to the activity. Today, however, a guy took two large dogs across the side channel and back towards the main channel of the Snake River. Of course, he didn’t have a leash on either.  If was apparent the beavers knew large canines were somewhere in the area, as it changed their behavior.

Beaver Sniffing

Beaver Sniffing: This is a very tight crop of a long distance photo. I probably have sharper images of this but you should at least get the idea. Normally, the beavers get to this dam and slide on through on their way to fresh willow chutes downstream. Today, the beaver stopped and sniffed the air, then turned back around to the pool.

Leary Beaver

Leary Beaver: A while later, the same beaver tried again. He sniffed at the dam, then traveled down their slide about half way before stopping to sniff and look around. I can’t complain since I got a shot I had been hoping to take, but it was evident they were worried about something other than people milling around. After letting me get a few shots, he turned back and went upstream to the large pool near their lodge.

Pets in the Park: and Pets in GTNP: These two official pages explain the pet rules in GTNP. The short version is you can only have a pet where you can drive a vehicle. Pets must be on a leash at all times and you are required to “scoop the poop”.

Other Wildlife: On the way north, heading towards Schwabacher, there was a “moose jam” near the Gros Ventre bridge along the highway. I also saw a few mule deer on the other side of the road. When I drove back through the area, the cow moose was ten feet from the asphalt road bed, feeding on grasses. There were quite a few ducks around Schwabacher Landing. Clouds were thick at sunset, and wind ruffled the pools of water, so I didn’t attempt any landscapes.