photography, travel, workshop


Autumn is just around the corner, and as you all know, it’s my favorite season. The color and the drama are incredible, and as I’ve mentioned before so many times, I have a few favorite spots that I hit up every year in the fall.

This week, I wanted to feature the southern San Juans of Colorado, and more specifically, the Telluride area.

I’ve been visiting this little piece of heaven for 25 years now, and it never disappoints. Even in the years when I miss peak, it presents me with  something amazing to behold.

The uniqueness of the area, I think, lies in the combination of high elevations and lots of aspens stands. Because of the elevation, geographic location, and boxed in nature of the area, it tends to get a lot of snow in the winter. That’s why it is considered one of the best ski areas in the country. But also, it means that the colors typically catch fire in the fall because of high precipitation values leading up to it.

The vistas one can experience here are simply unparalleled. National Forest public land access is great, allowing for the leaf peeper to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time.

But another cool aspect of the area is catching the first snow. Typically in late September/ early October, the first significant winter precipitation hits and it often coincides with the peak color. The drama of the weather and contrast of the fresh dusting is my favorite!

And the colors aren’t at all limited to the autumn spectrum. The deep purples and blues, and even greens are still abundant even at that late time of year. It’s really spectacular.

And then the skyfire! Pinks, reds, orange, you name it. Every color in the spectrum is displayed in this gem of a location.

I’ve been exploring the area for a long time, and many of those years as a pro photographer. The last 5 or so, I’ve been leading intimate workshops for those interested in being led to some amazing spots and growing in their love for art, nature, and photography.

Oh, and it should also be mentioned that Telluride has some exquisite restaurants and bars, as well as shopping and spas, so we really get to pamper ourselves and even relax a little during this dynamic and exciting time of year.

Every time I visit Telluride and the southern San Juans, I find new nooks and lovely compositions. It really never gets old.

If this looks like a place you’d like to see and explore, let me guide you through one of my favorite places on the planet! We will learn, grow, experience awe, eat amazing food, and genuinely have a great time together. If you’ve ever wanted to just hang out with a professional photographer and get the one on one time to ask all of your burning questions, this is your chance.

I have just a few spots left for 2020, so check it out on my website and sign up for the experience of a lifetime.

— Andrew

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education, photography, travel

#findyourpark | ROCKY MOUNTAIN

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is the quintessential Summer mountain destination. With cool temps in the 40’s to upper 70’s, it’s a nice getaway from the sweltering heat of the lowlands. It is incredibly beautiful in any season, but Summer offers the most to see and do since the elevations can reach in to the 14k’s. And what better time to visit this iconic park, than the Summer of 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

I admit that I visited this park a little later in life. My family used to go camping in Colorado every Summer, but for some reason, we stayed mostly in the south/ southwest part of the state, in the San Juan mountains. I did not first visit Rocky Mountain National Park until 2013. But I’ve made up for lost time and visited many times in the last several years. It is a truly spectacular park with much to see and do.

There is so much to see and do, in fact, that this post is in no way comprehensive. It is simply a list of some of my favorites, and many of the “musts”.


When To Go

As I’ve stated, Summer is definitely the most popular time of year, and for good reason; good weather (just watch out for afternoon thunderstorms!), abundant wildlife, easy access, etc. But Fall is spectacular with colorful foliage, no mosquitos, and energetic wildlife, frantically preparing for the harsh Winter to come. It’s moodier in the Fall. The weather is unpredictable and makes for more interesting photos.

Winter is quite nice in its own way as well, but very cold, and many of the roads are closed. The road to Bear Lake is open though. Winter transforms any mountain destination into a peaceful, quiet scene, and RMNP is no exception. Plus the crowds are virtually non-existent.

How To Get There

RMNP is one of the most easily accessed National Parks, as it is a short drive from Denver International Airport. Flights into DEN are relatively cheap, and so are rental cars. So whether you drive or fly, it doesn’t have to break the bank to get there.

From Denver, head north along I-25 until reaching Loveland. Take 34 to Estes Park, which is right outside the park. There are other routes to take from Denver, but I have found this to be the quickest, least trafficked.

Driving Trail Ridge Road at night, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Be prepared for many cars, trucks, and RV’s on the road into Estes Park, and RMNP, especially in Summer. If you’ve been to Yellowstone or Yosemite, reference these memories. Just take your time and relax. Enjoy the scenery, even if traffic jams aren’t your thing :) Chances are, if you keep your eyes peeled, even with all the people and automobiles, you’ll get to see wildlife wherever you are.

Where To Stay

If camping isn’t your thing, there are so many options in and around the wonderful little town of Estes Park. From cheap motels, to swanky hotels with all the amenities, there is no shortage of places to stay within 15 minutes of RMNP. However, even with an abundance of options, the wise traveler will book as early as possible to ensure their desired accommodations. This area receives over 3.5 million visitors every year, so plan ahead.

If you’re a camper, like me, you can of course stay at any one of the developed campgrounds within the park, though they fill very quickly, especially in the Summer. There are even several NPS maintained campgrounds just outside RMNP, that serve as popular alternative access points to the park. For NPS camping info, go here.

To download a full, detailed park map of Rocky Mountain National Park, click here or the image below:

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 12.16.56 PM


As you can see in the map, the park is surrounded by National Forest. These can provide great, free (or low cost) camping as well, but keep in mind, it will be primitive. I’ve car camped several times in undeveloped Arapaho (west) and Roosevelt (east) National Forest sites, and really enjoyed the solitude and cheap living. Usually, the park can be accessed within a 20 minute drive from many of these sites. They are first come, first served though, and some roads may be too rough for low clearance vehicles and large trailers/ RVs.

What To Do

I feel silly writing about this, because it would seem obvious to some. But Rocky Mountain National Park really is one of those parks with so much to see and do, it may help to have a few things highlighted for the first-timers.


There is so much to see just from the car window, so a good bit of time can be spent driving. From Many Parks Curve and all of Trail Ridge Road to Old Fall River Road and Moraine Park, many beautiful scenes can be seen right from the passenger seat.

alluvial fan, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Driving Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Trail Ridge Road (TRR) is one of the great, paved alpine roads through the Rockies. Drivers can wind up from Deer Ridge Junction to top out at over 12,000 feet elevation. Keep in mind that Trail Ridge Road closes in mid-October, due to the high elevations. There are many stops along the way to get out and experience, including (but not limited to): Many Parks Curve, Lava Cliffs, Alpine Ridge Trail, Medicine Bow Curve, etc. The Alpine Visitor Center is your best spot for info, restrooms, gifts, and refreshments. It sits atop near the highest point in the road (12183 ft) and boasts phenomenal views. TRR is a must drive for anyone visiting RMNP. Just be sure to hydrate, as it is common to experience symptoms of altitude sickness at these elevations.

Driving Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Old Fall River Road is a one-way alternate route to the top of TRR. Starting about a mile past the Alluvial Fan, cars can switchback their way through forests past gorgeous flowing streams, up steep switchbacks to get a whole different view of the subalpine and alpine ecosystems. Eventually arriving up at the Alpine Visitor Center, at the top of Trail Ridge Road. Keep in mind that this road is only open from July 4 through September. Be sure to take it slow, and bring plenty of water!

silhouetted cyclists on trail ridge road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Wildlife Viewing 

This is one of the best parks in the U.S., except possibly Yellowstone, to view wildlife. Rocky Mountain elk, moose, deer, black bear, coyote, eagles, hawks, fox, pika, big horn sheep, and more can all be seen in one day here.

Cow moose with baby Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

bull elk in velvet in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Slowly driving the main roads is one great way to see wildlife. Begin early and stay late are the mottos of successful wildlife watchers. Dawn and dusk are the best times to see animals, just about anywhere. It can be a gamble to see anything during the heat of the day. Animals are typically resting in shaded areas hidden by the dense forests and rocky outcroppings, making spotting them nearly impossible.

Bull Elk resting in high alpine tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Bighorn sheep crossing the road in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

For very specific tips on where to find certain wildlife, and how to photograph them, see my new eBook, The Photographic Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bighorn sheep crossing the road in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Cow moose in the Colorado River, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

american robin, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Two Mule deer bucks spar on the side of the road during the rut in rocky mountain national park.

Rocky Mountain Bull Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO


In 2013 massive flooding occurred in the town of Estes Park and parts of the eastern side of RMNP. Please check with a ranger station for up to date trail conditions before embarking on any hikes.

hikers, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

RMNP has  hundreds of miles of scenic trails throughout the park, ranging from very easy, to very difficult. Depending upon your skill level there really is something for everyone. Be sure always to hydrate more than you think you need to, and try to avoid late afternoon hiking in the Summer, as lightning is a very real danger.

A front rolls in over Long's Peak in spectacular color.

Long's peak from Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

The Bear Lake trailhead offers several stunning, but heavily trafficked hikes. Due to its high volume of visitors, there are shuttles available to avoid the potential parking nightmare.


The best (and most popular) from the Bear Lake trailhead is, of course, Dream Lake. Download the map above! This is a fairly easy hike and very heavily used, but for good reason. Starting at the Bear Lake trailhead, it is only a few miles to stunning alpine views of Hallett and other peaks. The trail passes Nymph Lake, then up to incredible Dream Lake, and if you keep going, the next reward is Emerald Lake. All three are beautiful and worth seeing and photographing in their own rights. You may not beat the crowds with this hike, but it is certainly a “must see & do”.

hikers at dream lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Sunrise at Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

waterfall near emerad laek, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

There are over 300 miles of trails to hike in RMNP. And all of them have merit. Consult the book recommended above for more great hikes, specific to what you’re looking to see/ achieve.


There are so many great backpacking opportunities within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park, well, and many more in the immediately surrounding areas for that matter. If you plan to backpack in RMNP, you will need a few things specific to the park: First, stop at the Wilderness Office for a permit and current wilderness information. For more info, go HERE. You will also need a bear proof food container. I recommend this one. Next, you will need a good map. The one provided above is great for basics, but if you choose to venture out in to the backcountry, you will definitely want this map.

Timber Creek, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

sunrise at Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Creek flowing out of Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Fern Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

This is clearly a Rocky Mountain NP specific, (very) short list. If this is your first time backpacking, I recommend reading up on what gear and clothing you will need generally, and how to prepare for several nights in the backcountry. Any time you step in to the wilderness, life becomes very serious, and all about survival. That statement is not meant to scare anyone away from enjoying such an experience, it is simply to highlight the fact that trekking into the wild, with none of the comforts/ securities of modern life can take many people by surprise. Search and rescue missions have increased exponentially in recent years, often due to the unpreparedness of people. Be aware! And enjoy responsibly.

night at Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

If you are looking for a beautiful, quick overnighter, Timber Lake, and Odessa Lake are my favorites. Both are under 8 miles one way and offer beautiful views, and a wonderful backcountry experience. The Timber Lake trailhead is on the east side of the park, just 10 miles north of Grand Lake. Odessa Lake can be accessed either from the Bear Lake or Fern Lake trailheads.


Sport fishing is allowed in the park, and all that is required is a valid Colorado fishing license. There are many idyllic streams, lakes, and rivers within the park to break out the fly rod or spinner reel, where one can experience peace and solitude. But be aware of any regulations and or conservation efforts in place before packing up and heading out. All current regulations and information can be found HERE.

creek in forest, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Fly fishing Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Dream Lake outlet waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

creek near dream lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

timber creek, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO


This park is one of my favorite for all of its photographic opportunities. Regarding landscape, wildlife, stars, and general nature photography, it is one of the best.

Stars over dream lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

columbine, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

A front rolls in at dawn over Long's Peak in spectacular color.

There are of course the tourist spots, where you’ll be elbowing other people to get some of the classic postcard shots, but then there are the off the beaten path spots. I am now putting major time and effort into providing you with all of my favorite secrets within our National Parks, and I’m excited to announce Rocky Mountain NP as my first eBook! You can look forward to maps, locations, photo tips, and much more in this soon-to-be-released eBook. Pre-order it HERE to get a discount.

smooth rose, Rosa blanda, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Stars over Long's Peak and Bear lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

I hope you have found this information useful. Even more than that though, I hope this encourages you to get out and experience one of our national natural treasures, Rocky Mountain National Park! As always, for the most up to date, comprehensive park information, please visit the official NPS website for RMNP.

— Andrew

Ellen and I have hit the road full-time! Help us on our mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside by checking out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further and further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our wild lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 2-4 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE

Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
I’m excited to announce my “A Photographic Guide To Our National Parks” Ebooks:
See what’s NEW
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
Andrew R. Slaton | photographer // prints
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
Image Brief // Andrew R. Slaton
For assignment work requests, please email me:
Thanks for visiting!
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2016
photography, random thought, travel

Telluride’s Bounty

I had the absolute pleasure of spending this year’s peak Autumn colors in Telluride, CO.

It’s rare that I stray to far from my usual Wyoming stomping grounds for the Fall, but 2015 was a little different. Thanks to some amazing friends, we had a golden opportunity. And though I missed ol’ Wyom, the southern San Juans put on a great show for us. I have to admit, it was the best display of Autumn I’ve ever seen.



Wilson Mesa put on a show and lit up several mornings, evenings, and even once by starlight for us.

It would prove to be one of our more fruitful locations.





Alta Lakes had shifts in hues I’d never seen up there…






Several of us photographers went up to Gold King to shoot trail running, and the light danced for us. With bouts of clouds and snow, of course.




With each new solitary morning I spent hunting for photos, the aspens grew bolder.





We marveled at the beauty.


Even Hunter Trek felt compelled to try to take it all in with us at Cornet Creek Falls.


On my last morning drive, the high country got the dusting I had been waiting to see. The chill in the air noticeably bit harder.



That rare mix of golden light and winter clouds appeared… it’s truly the most dynamic time of year. My favorite time of year.



Fog rose from the warm valley floor into the sharp, cold. Golden warm hues mingled with blue, cool tones.



Alta got colder, bluer, and snowier each day.



It had arrived. That very short time between Autumn’s farewell and Winter’s settling in.


There’s not enough money in this world to equal the richness of that feeling. To witness the fullness of Autumn. Especially in a magical place like Telluride.

— andrew

Join me on an amazing adventure… check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
Big Bend NP // Night/ Landscape // 2016
Isle of Skye // S C O T L A N D // 2016
Highlands // S C O T L A N D // 2016
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
Image Brief // Andrew R. Slaton
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
Andrew R. Slaton | photographer // prints
For assignment work requests, please email me:
Thanks for visiting!
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015
photography, travel

The Art of The “Workcation”

Every time I travel I get asked, “Business, or pleasure?”

Often my answer is “Well… both.”

A puzzled look frequently follows.


It took Ellen and I a few years to find the proper balance of a true workcation.  One that could satisfy both of our insatiable desires… the desire to be productive, and the desire to relax and recharge our proverbial batteries.

It’s not an easy balance for someone who loves what they do, and would be doing it whether he was getting paid or not.  That’s why every single trip I ever took when I was single was simply work.  But you see, that’s no fun for another person once they get added into the mix… maybe the first few times, but trust me, it gets old.  What might have started as fascination in the beginning, quickly turns to frustration, when your traveling partner seems to prefer working to relaxing and being in the moment with you.

And as most adaptations grow from necessity, so too did the invention and refinement of the workcation.



Look, we’re not made of money here.  Work trips are our vacations… and vice versa.

So how do we find equilibrium?

Here are 5 important steps to striking the perfect balance between work and vacation, illustrated with images from our last Wyoming workcation…

1. Proper planning.

Nowadays, Ellen and I set aside specific days/ times on our trip to work.  With her starting a yoga business recently, she gets something out of it too… free marketing photos!  When there is a set, realistic schedule, both of us have very well managed expectations…. and those of you who are married or in long-term relationships know how important these are!



2. Use what you have to your advantage.

I feel productive when I’m getting photos that I’m confident can sell.  That’s how I am able to justify all of the travel, if I’m not on a specific client’s dime.

So Ellen becomes my model… a lot.  As I’m sure you all have seen.

But it’s great because we can do the things we love to do together, like hiking, and I can spend a few minutes in between our quality vacation time, working, snapping sellable images.



It’s also important to note that Ellen is particularly sweet and understanding that when extraordinary opportunities present themselves, work takes the front seat.

But don’t take advantage of your partner’s generosity.


3. Know when to put work aside.  Be sensitive to your travel partners needs.  

As previously mentioned, my wife gives grace like a boss.  So it’s only fitting that I approach her with the same tender understanding.

It’s never fun to play second fiddle to work with a loved-one.  So know when it’s time to put the camera or laptop down and enjoy your partner.




4. Enjoy your work so much, it is vacation!  

Be so passionate and enthusiastic about what you do, your travel buddy can’t help but want to be involved.

They may actually grow to love the process too.

But it must be genuine… manipulation will be sniffed out immediately!




5.  Be realistic, schedule dedicated work time.

What Ellen and I found works the best, so I’m not too antsy to shoot the entire time we’re trying to relax and be “in the moment”, is really quite simple…

I schedule a week alone, to focus completely on work.  I either fly her in a week after I’ve arrived at a destination, or she flys out a week before I return.

That way, I always know that I have at least a full week of work under my belt already, or ahead of me.

And it allows me to relax.  Which makes the time more enjoyable for us both.






It is rare that we take a proper “vacation”.  Part of it is financial, but another part is that we both really love what we do for a living.

So workcations are our norm.  And we like it that way.

They are tax deductible, and if you are careful, they are oh… so… enjoyable.

Here’s to 2015: a new year of workcations to nourish our souls and share with all of you!

— andrew

Take your photography to the next level… check out my NEW workshop dates:
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2015
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2015
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
For assignment work requests, please email me:
Thanks for visiting!
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2015
photography, travel

Telluride // Fall Color

The timing was pretty close to perfect for this year’s Telluride Photo Fest.

Colors were in full force in the southern San Juans of Colorado.








It was my first Fall in Telluride… and I have to say, it was pretty epic.  I only wish I had more time to actually shoot.  I was in meetings almost the entire week.  So next time, I will be heading up there just a few days earlier….

~ andrew

Take your photography to the next level… check out my new workshop dates:
Grand Teton Photographic Tour/ Workshops 2014
More Destination Photo Tours/ Workshops 2014
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
Tandem Stills + Motion // andrew r. slaton
If you are interested in purchasing prints from this post, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
andrew r. slaton // photographer // prints
For assignment work requests, please email me:
Thanks for visiting!
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2014