Ken Papaleo: X Marks the Shot: Rocky Mountain National Park Photos - Estes Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park Photos - Estes Park, Colorado

“X Shot” Information

Camera - Canon EOS Mark III
ISO - 100
Lens - Canon 24 -70 zoom
F/stop - 5.6
Shutter - 1000

I usually enter Rocky Mountain National Park through Estes Park but this trip I took Hwy. 34 out of Granby, the back way. It was early October, the rut season was underway and the aspens were turning. Trail Ridge Road, the highest major highway in North America toping out at 12,183 feet, runs right through the park. There are 72 named peaks in the park that are above 12,000 feet. Driving up above the tree line, I came across a small herd of elk crossing the road. Traffic came to a halt and park visitors jumped out of their cars, armed with cameras. I stayed back, using my 500 mm lens, to capture the crossing. After all the herd were safe, the bull disappeared over a hill with his ladies. Driving on, I passed two cyclists on a steep climb. I drove by and pulled over at the top. As the first bike approached I started shooting with my 70 - 200 zoom.  Unfortunately the cyclist stared at me the entire time, wrecking the photos. Quickly I changed to my 24 - 70 zoom and dropped behind the front of my car. This gave me a few seconds to shoot before the slower cyclist turned and saw me. This position also gave me a great background view of Long’s Peak in the distance (X Shot.) I arrived at Moraine Park (inside RMNP) late afternoon. The elk were active while I and others took pictures, but some just set in lawn chairs watching. Once the sun went down and the elk settled in for the night, I drove back up above the tree line. Pulling in at the Forest Canyon Overlook, I saw a beautiful sunset behind the Never Summer Mountains to the west. After heavy snows hit, the higher parts of Trail Ridge Road are closed until spring.

“X Shot” Location Information

1. Drive time from Denver 2 - 3 hours.
2. I-70 west to the Empire exit - hwy. 40.
    Hwy. 40 north to Granby. Take hwy. 34 north out
    of Granby to park entrance.
3. There are other ways to get to RMNP
4. Always check ahead to see if Trail Ridge Road is

Ken Papaleo
Colorado Photographer


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About Me

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Evergreen, Colorado, United States
I worked for the Rocky Mountain News for 28 years, until they went out of business. I now do freelance work, post this weekly blog, ski and play with my four grand children. I still have the love to get out and take photographs, which brings me great peace and comfort.

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