As the total solar eclipse traverses the continent on August 21, 2017, its path also sweeps over one of the most photogenic mountain ranges in the US—the Grand Tetons. We will be in the park with our cameras to capture this rare solar event as well as the dramatic towering landscapes of the Teton Range.
The moon’s umbral shadow begins at the Pacific coast off Oregon and arcs over the US to the shores of South Carolina. Grand Teton National Park sits on the narrow centerline where the moon’s shadow turns day into night. Typically good weather and summer temperatures with daytime highs in the upper 70s to low 80s provide comfortable conditions for an exceptional photo opportunity. On the morning of August 21, the partial phase begins as the shadow of the moon passes directly over our pre-selected location. Full totality occurs at approximately 11:36 AM and lasts for two minutes and 19 seconds. The grandeur of a total solar eclipse comes from the dramatic view of the sun’s corona, its outer atmosphere, which we can see only when the moon blocks the brilliant solar disk. This rare cosmic event will not again be visible over the continental US until April 2024!
Often called “the mountains of the imagination,” the sharply-chiseled ridgelines of the Grand Tetons rise dramatically from the basin of Jackson Hole and the Snake River below. Thrusting abruptly upward 7,000 feet, sculpted by ice, water and wind, the tilted fault-block range dominates the western skyline for 40 miles. There are no cloaking foothills to screen the transition from valley to the breathtaking expanse of mountains above. The morning sun paints the rugged range in tones of pink and orange. Classic images abound. We are at Oxbow Bend as sunrise lights the Tetons for reflections of Mount Moran in the early morning still water of the Snake River. At Schwabachers Landing, we walk the river bank for endless possible images, including reflections of 13,775-foot-high Grand Teton at sunrise. The historic barns at Mormon Row set against the mountain backdrop—or a bison roaming in the foreground—never fail as subjects for our lenses.
This is the time of a new moon and, weather permitting, we have the option of shooting “starscapes” over Jackson Lake and the brilliant swath of the Milky Way. On one day we drive northward through the park into Yellowstone National Park. Our goals include Yellowstone Lake and colorful West Thumb Geyser Basin, two highlights of this diverse and wildlife-rich park.
While the national parks, always much visited in the summer, will especially draw photographers for the eclipse, we planned our trip to include quieter, less traveled shooting locations outside of the parklands. In the area around the small ranching community of Dubois and 9,659-foot-high Togwotee Pass, we photograph the colorful eroded strata of the Dubois Badlands. We are out in the best light to catch the red, orange, lavender and pink hues of this extensively eroded landscape. Photogenic Brooks Lake is a hidden gem nestled at 9,095 feet on the Continental Divide.
Throughout the tour, our day-to-day itinerary is flexible, giving us the best opportunity to take advantage of each day’s light and weather conditions. With the magnificent public lands of northwestern Wyoming as our subject, our goals include some of the most iconic images of the Grand Tetons, as well as some of the less photographed—and less crowded—locations outside of the park. Join us as a rare total solar eclipse and dramatic western scenery combine for a unique photo tour.
Day 1 (Aug 18)
Participants fly to Jackson, Wyoming, arriving in time to meet the leaders at the Jackson Hole Airport for the mid-afternoon transfer to our western-style lodge near Togwotee Pass. (D)
We begin our morning with a sunrise shoot in the area around Dubois and Togwotee Pass. Possibilities include the colorful banded layers of sandstone and clay in the Dubois Badlands, and secluded Brooks Lake, in a spectacular alpine setting with the Absaroka Range rising 1,000 feet above. This afternoon we photograph in and around Grand Teton National Park.
Nighttime conditions permitting, with clear skies we photograph the stars as they arc over Jackson Lake and the Milky Way to the south/southwest. Throughout the week, our daily itinerary is adjustable to allow us the flexibility to take advantage of good light, access to subject matter, and unexpected weather. (BLD)
We are in Grand Teton National Park all day today. Our destinations may include Mormon Row at sunrise—for that iconic image of the Moulton barn with the Tetons rising in the background—and Two Ocean Lake. This afternoon, our goals are Jenny and String Lakes and Signal Mountain for panoramic vistas and a good possibility for wildlife.
We will take some time to get organized for tomorrow’s eclipse shoot. Our cameras, long lenses, filters and memory cards are checked and rechecked, and we go over details for proper eclipse exposures. (BLD)
It’s eclipse day! We should have time for morning photography at another of the classic sunrise photo locations in Grand Teton—Schwabachers Landing. In the early hours, before winds crop up to break up the surface of the water on the beaver ponds, we capture reflections of the rosy light on the high ridges. Following the sunrise shoot, we set up for the total eclipse at a location within the national park. We are in place as the moon begins its pass over the sun around 10:17 AM. For the two minutes and 19 seconds of totality beginning at 11:36 AM our goal is to capture the corneal ring as it flares around the darkened sun.
After the midday excitement of a total solar eclipse and following lunch, we return to our lodge for a short rest. Later we concentrate on late afternoon and sunset photography in the Dubois and Togwotee Pass area. We should have another opportunity to catch good light on the Dubois Badlands and Brooks Lake. (BLD)
For photographers, shooting the sunrise at Oxbow Bend on the Snake River is one of the classic goals while in Grand Teton National Park. We are in place as the early morning sun lights the high peaks and reflections of Mount Moran in mirror-like waters are possible before the wind picks up. After breakfast at Jackson Lake Lodge, we work our way northward to Yellowstone National Park, stopping en route for photography. Our goal is the West Thumb Geyser Basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake—at 136 square miles the largest freshwater lake above 7,000 feet in North America. Here, we photograph the colorful pools, hot springs and mud pots against the backdrop of the lake. Following an early dinner at historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel, we shoot the vast lake from Lake Butte Overlook at sunset. A 2-hour drive returns us to our lodge. (BLD)
Day 6 (Aug 23)
We drive to Jackson Hole Airport for flights home. (B)
Togwotee Pass is nearly 10,000 feet above sea level and our lodging for the tour is at 8,664 feet. Persons with heart or respiratory conditions should consult their doctor before enrolling. Although this trip is not strenuous, extended periods at high altitude can be tiring.
- The best opportunity to see and photograph a total solar eclipse from the mainland US in many years
- Photograph the grand vistas of the Teton Range, early morning water reflections, and a geyser basin at vast Yellowstone Lake
- Discover the less-traveled alpine lakes near Togwotee Pass and the colorful Dubois Badlands
- Excellent possibilities for “starscapes” and images of the Milky Way during a new moon
- One convenient lodge for the entire tour
Aug 18 - Aug 23, 2017
Fee: $3,995 from Jackson, Wyoming