Grand Teton National Park 2019

Grand Teton National Park 2019 by Randy Dykstra (website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter):


One of my favorite places on Earth is the Grand Tetons.  My time with that area spans from a trip I missed after graduating High School and always regretted to today where I conduct annual photography tour/workshops and share my experiences with others.   This blog is a compilation of photos from my 2019 event.   It was an excellent trip and there was an absolutely great group of photographers attending. We had attendees from California, Texas, Washington and as far away as Germany. We all experienced a special time in the Tetons.


The Iconic Oxbow Bend.

Wildlife was the main interest of the my participants, so we spent a lot of time searching for what turned out to be abundant and diverse amount of critters. I lost count on the number of moose sightings we encountered.

Shoshone, the largest moose in the area made a couple appearances. He always had 3-4 cows nearby.


Shoshone, currently the largest moose in Tetons


Hello, Over there.


There were other males around including one that hung around the meadows near Dornan's trading post and created a couple of large traffic jams. I don't know his name but he's a young uprising bull. He had a couple of cows around and didn't seem to mind the hundreds of photographers, clambering around to try to get a photo. He even treated us to "lip Curl" or (Flehmen response).



"Lip Curl" (or Flehmen response) Smelling a female nearby.

The rut was still in full session, however, most of the mature males seemed to have things settled. However, a couple of young males were still jousting about, but there was no harem in sight for either of them.


Young bulls establishing ranking

There were a number of unattached females, but food seems to be more on their minds than the boys.


Munching on willows


Moss is a favorite for moose.

The Tetons are also one of the most epic landscape areas in the country. Two of the top 3 voted landscape locations in the USA are located within Grand Tetons National Park.  Oxbow bend and Schwabacher Landing provide iconic images (Tunnel view in Yosemite is #1). On this trip, we were even treated to a swim by by a young beaver, but all of us photographers were setup for low light HDR landscape shots and wasn’t able to react in time to get a good animal shot.


Schwabacher landing's beaver pond

The bison were on the move. First day nothing. The next day we saw 3 herds of bison with hundreds of individuals in Elk Ranch flats, where had they all been hiding?  But days after that the herds stayed quite a way off in the distance, not near any roads and much too far for our lens. But while they were close they put on quite a show!


Bison grazing in Elk Ranch flats




Skirmishes happen once in a while.


Hey!... why is that guy jumping around for?

The trees have grown but you can just imagine Ansel Adams making a photograph of this site and hoping yours will be half as nice.


Snake River overlook

The elk was out in force, with the rut in progress, and hearing the bugling in the morning was just special! We even got to witness some Not Safe for Work encounters and also various weather conditions. But the fall colors in the background made images extra special.





Males spend all their time keeping track of his harem or fending off other males.

The next photograph is NOT SAFE FOR WORK. But it does show elk doing what elk do during the rut.


Not sure if you want this or not  feel free to remove

The Tetons have so many iconic photographic opportunities that photographers have to figure out some new ways to shoot them. The T.A. Moulton Barn is probably the most photographed barn ever.



Pronghorn Antelope dot the meadows. Typically, you see their white rear-ends at a distance as they munch on the various grasses. But occasionally, they come close to the road and you can really appreciate the second fastest land animal on our planet.





Young males jousting in a bachelor herd.

The fall colors were late arriving this year, and only lasted a short time as another early winter storm came through the day after this tour ended and knocked most of the leaves to the ground.



Several coyotes were seen in the meadows. You could watch them from afar hunt for moles and other rodents. But, one of the funniest things I’ve seen with animals, there was a herd of female pronghorns chasing a coyote all over the meadow in between the bison. Finally, the male pronghorn had to come and round up his herd and left the coyote to hunt. It was really fun watching them on the hunt and pouncing quite often to our enjoyment. But where else in the world (besides Africa) do you see multiple large animal species with a single frame?



A flying coyote?


All of this animal activity and everywhere you turn is an awesome view.


Weather changes quite fast in autumn.

Black bears were busy preparing for their winter's nap, feeding on berries and roots, and whatever carrion they could find or catch. Sightings were made of both brown colored and black colored black bears. These do not happen every year and so it was indeed special.





Smaller animals also were seen. We saw two beavers, One while we were taking landscape photos at Schwabacher's landing, however, all our cameras were on tripods with wide-angle lens that none of us was able to get a shot off during the brief encounter. Earlier however we did photograph one swimming up the Snake river. Squirrels and chipmunks also were darting about, making preparations for winter.




The Teton range, viewed over Willow Flats and Jackson Lake

Not to be overlooked as they usually overlook us. Our feathered friends, while usually present, seldom are they in a photographically easy location. Bald eagles made a few appearances, often without notice and only a brief flyover. Osprey also showed up occasionally.




Osprey

There is just so much to see in the Grand Tetons, Not many other places allow you to combine large-sized animals with incredible landscapes!





These are only some of the highlights of the trip. We spent most of the time out and photographing. We did have two classroom sessions and a photo review, but when you are immersed inside one of the most incredible places on earth, you want to be outside enjoying and photographing it.

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