Yosemite in Autumn

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No other photo location in North America can generate as powerful an image of soaring granite monoliths and spectacular glacially-carved valleys than Yosemite National Park. More than any other landscape, Yosemite is the setting that defines the Sierra Nevada and, in a broader context, stands as a geographical icon for the American West. Within the park, the names of its prominent features—El Capitan and Half Dome—not only immediately evoke the legendary presence of John Muir and Ansel Adams, but also embody the quintessential symbols of the American wilderness.
"Carefully chosen locations made a huge difference in the quality of our images. Your chosen photo leaders are pros. "
- R. Vasavada

Autumn in Yosemite is a season of welcome transition. Summer crowds diminish, returning clouds add drama to crisp blue skies, and the mad rush of waterfalls and cascades has stilled, now in wait for early winter rains. The sunlight, harsh in summer, lies at a lower angle, painting the park’s iconic formations with a softer, mellower light. Temperatures are generally mild with sunny days and cold nights, yet in this season anything is possible—dramatic storm clouds gathering for a sudden rain, rolling low-lying tendrils of morning fog, a layer of frost on the fall-cured grasses of Yosemite’s great meadows, or an early snowfall to highlight autumn leaves.

The fall is the best time of year for creating “reflectionscapes.” The Merced River flows at a gentler pace and autumn-hued foliage and granite monoliths are framed in the mirror-like waters. Cottonwoods flash a golden stroke of color along river banks. Sunlight on Half DomeLeaf color in Yosemite has a subdued palette and is at the whim of moisture, light and weather. The rose reds of dogwoods and the yellow hues of black oak and bigleaf maple can highlight dark green groves of conifers or soaring gray walls.

Our daily schedule revolves around the light, weather and color. We are out early to catch the fingers of swirling mist in the valley—conditions that can promise a spectacular image. The quiet waters and the always photogenic grand vistas of Yosemite Valley keep us busy until golden sunset light falls on El Capitan.  We have time to compose diverse images from wide-angle landscapes with fall color to intimate scenes in still corners. Abstract compositions of rock, leaf and grasses present unique possibilities as textures and colors spring to life in the low light.

The towering rock walls that form the bones of Yosemite’s spectacular valley are at their finest in warm autumn light. The swiftly changeable fall weather adds an element of potential dramatic photography as clouds, mist and a possible early snowfall offer options for new photographic subjects and locations. From grand vistas to quiet reflections, from colossal crags to the delicate reds of dogwood leaves, and from expansive meadows to a moonlit nighttime sky, Yosemite in autumn is a never-ending source of inspiration.

See Eric Rock's Trip Report for our latest Yosemite in Autumn photo tour
For trip questions or to enroll give us a call at (206) 463-5383

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (Oct 20, 2024)
Participants arrive in Fresno, California, by early afternoon today. We include round-trip transportation to Yosemite National Park and our convenient lodging within the Yosemite Valley. (D)

Days 2–6 
We spend these five days exploring some of the best photo opportunities in the park. We shoot the classic photo icons and grand vistas of this remarkable landscape—Half Dome, El Capitan, the Tunnel View, Valley View. Fall colors in Yosemite National ParkEighty-one miles of the Merced River runs through Yosemite National Park, including a stretch in Yosemite Valley that marvelously reflects the surrounding rock formations for innumerable opportunities for beautiful images during the low water levels. In a year of good color, dogwoods turn shades of red and bigleaf maples form bright yellow outlines along river edges, carpeting Fern Spring and the still waters at Pohono Bridge and Sentinel Bridge with their leaves. The soaring columnar trunks in a grove of giant sequoias, the autumn-dried gossamer web of water at Bridalveil Fall, and mule deer feeding at the edges of meadows. Glacier Point, Upper Yosemite Road and Tioga Pass offer an opportunity to create images of classic vistas and to chase tree color in the high country, conditions permitting (the roads typically close by mid-November). Our schedule allows us to take full advantage of color and light conditions and each day’s always changeable weather. (BLD)

Day 7 (Oct 26, 2024)  
We drive to the Fresno airport this morning. Please schedule your return flight for no earlier than noon. (B)

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris is an Authorized Permittee of the US National Park Service.

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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Yosemite in Autumn

Oct 20, 2024 - Oct 26, 2024

A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.


All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposits we accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days prior to departure and may be paid by check or bank transfer. If you wish to make your final payment with a credit card a 3% convenience fee will be charged.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation. Based on the cancellation date the following apply:

Trip deposits are non-refundable.
150-91 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 50% of the total trip cost.
90-61 days before the trip start date: We will refund any payments made exceeding 75% of the total trip cost.
Within 60 days of the start of the trip: No refund.

If, on the trip start date, your space has been resold and the tour is full—as designated by “Limit” number of travelers on the tour website page—we will refund your payment, minus the non-refundable trip deposit and any discounts given to resell your space.

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

We strongly encourage you to protect your travel investment and purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. We can provide travel insurance options, or it can be purchased online. A CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policy is available. Trip participants without travel protection insurance are considered “self-insured.” Without insurance you assume all risks and losses for any conditions requiring your cancellation.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you, or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health, including viral illnesses, occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, and applicable health advisories. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or email address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or email messages to info@photosafaris.com.

Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific details that are included in your trip fee. Generally, these include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch, or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, internal tour air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages, and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry, or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Most of our trips are priced in double occupancy (shared) accommodations. Single accommodation is available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodation or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations, and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins, or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea is included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks, as well as alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two people traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger (trip participant) in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motor coach, automobile, van, boat, ship or aircraft or any other conveyance, and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts, bankruptcy or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay, cancellations or changes in flights or other tour services, and by force majeure including sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine, epidemics, pandemics and outbreaks, or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in flight schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure due to low enrollment, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non -refundable air tickets, visa fees, travel insurance premiums and medical related expenses; 3) At the company’s sole discretion, suspend or postpone any trip due to force majeure or disease outbreak in which case the trip may be rescheduled, or a refund issued less any non-refundable deposits paid to tour component providers on behalf of the passenger, or a travel credit given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 4) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 5) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A signed Registration Form with the Enrollment Conditions and Release and Assumption of Risk sections must be returned by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington.

I have read, understand, and agree to the terms, conditions, and provisions of the enrollment information, as stated on the Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris website and the Enrollment Conditions section of this form, especially noting the policy on cancellations, refunds, and limitations on responsibility.

I am aware that during any trip or tour that I am voluntarily participating in under the arrangements of Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., a Washington corporation, and its employees, agents and associates, certain risks and dangers exist while traveling in the United States, foreign countries, and wilderness areas in any country or territory that include the possibility of property damage, bodily injury, and death. There is a possibility of accident or illness occurring without access to immediate or timely medical treatment or facilities. There is a risk of tropical or communicable diseases that may require quarantine and removal from the tour at my expense, food-related illnesses, the risk of personal injury and property damage or delay or inconvenience by forces of nature, wildlife or wildlife models, quarantine, political instability, acts of terrorism, strikes, government restrictions or regulations change, thefts, and the risk of accidents during travel while on foot or by aircraft, train, automobile, van, bus, boat, ship, or other conveyance. I understand that such risks cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of this trip or tour. In consideration of, and as part payment for the right to participate in such trips, tours and/or other activities and services arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates, I have and do hereby assume all risks, and hereby release Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents and associates, and will hold them harmless from any and all liability, actions, causes of actions, debts, claims, and demands of every kind and nature, howsoever caused, which I now have or which may arise of or in connection with any of my trips or tours and participation in any activities arranged for me by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, agents and associates.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this Agreement, I agree to indemnify them and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, I agree to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington and further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict-of-law rules of that state. The terms hereof shall serve as a release and assumption of all risk for myself, my heirs, executors, and administrators, and for all members of my family.

If any part, article, paragraph, sentence, or clause of this Agreement is not enforceable, the affected provision shall be curtailed and limited only to the extent necessary to bring it within the requirements of the law, and the remainder of the Agreement shall continue in full force and effect.

I acknowledge that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my participation in this activity, I may be found by a court of law to have waived my right to maintain a lawsuit against Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., its employees, shareholders, agents, and associates, based on any and all claims from which I have released them.

Yosemite in Autumn: Easy Activity Level

Van transportation. Photography from the road and easy walks on established national park trails.

Trip Details
Oct 20 - Oct 26, 2024
Fee: $5,695 from Fresno, California
Deposit: $1,500
Limit: 7 participants
Activity Level: EasyEasy
  • Capture the legendary vistas of Yosemite’s signature domes and towering walls during the park’s quieter autumn season 
  • Fleeting fingers of morning mist drape the valley and warm low light turns granite icons to gold at sunset
  • Low water levels and patches of autumn color create perfect conditions for reflections in rivers and lakes
  • Trip includes all meals, lodging, ground transportation, national park fees, photo guide and instruction
Tour Leaders
Josh Miller

Josh Miller

I enjoyed having all the details -- lodging, meals and transportation -- arranged for me. It was great having an experienced and knowledgeable guide take us to the best spots for photography, including places totally off the beaten path where we didn't have to compete with crowds…It was a wonderful trip, and I came home with some amazing photographs.
A. Sullivan

The leader knew the park well and took us to the right places at the right times to make fantastic images!
M. Bush