Mountains, Alpine Lakes and Wildflowers in Backcountry Wyoming
July 7–13, 2023
Aptly named, the Cirque of the Towers is a round glacier-carved valley ringed by towering granite mountains. Extremely remote, the cirque was rarely—or perhaps never—accessed before its naming by climber Orrin Bonney in 1941. Today, it is a fabled destination for climbers, backpackers, and photographers able to make the multi-day journey. Join us on an adventure into the wilds of Wyoming!
The cirque is located in Popo Agie Wilderness, accessed by a single trail that winds between numerous alpine lakes and among wildflowers. While many elect to traverse the trail on foot, we’ll be using horses to carry us high into the mountains. Don’t worry if you aren’t a skilled rider—our experienced outfitters will match each of us to our sure-footed horse, so you can just concentrate on enjoying the view. Our gear will follow us, safely packed on the pack horses. Once at our comfortable, fully-outfitted camp, we’ll have plenty of time to photograph this extraordinary area. You’ll have great views right from your tent, but we’ll also explore the nearby alpine valleys, lakes, and waterfalls on day hikes. Since it will be spring time in the mountains, meadows full of wildflowers are even a possibility. Both of your veteran landscape photography instructors will be teaching you a number of techniques: focus stacking, use of shallow depth of field, composition building, and more. You’ll also learn to create stunning nighttime images under some of the darkest skies in the country.
Ready for a wild photographic adventure? Read on!
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, local conditions, and other factors.
July 7, 2023: We’ll meet up at the Diamond 4 Ranch in the early afternoon, for an orientation about riding from one of the wranglers—we’re happy to help with any questions you may have on getting there. The Ranch is about a 4 hour drive from Jackson Hole WY, and the last hour is on a windy gravel road that ascends 3,000 feet in elevation. Afterwards, we’ll have an early dinner, finish our last minute packing, and get some much needed sleep ahead of the next day’s long ride. Diamond 4 Ranch is located at 9,000 feet in elevation, so this overnight will help our bodies acclimate for our 9,500 foot alpine camp.
July 8, 2023: We’ll begin the day with a hot cooked meal on the deck of the lodge followed by an introduction to our horses, and a review of rider safety. There will be sack lunches packed for the day and plenty of fresh filtered mountain water. Our ride will take most of the day—with frequent stops along the way for rest and photography—so we’ll plan on arriving into camp by 4:00 PM. Supplies will already be in camp, but everyone is expected to help set up the tents and fill water containers. Once settled into our private tents, we’ll have time to take a brief walk to photograph sunset. Dinner will be under the stars, around the warm glow of the campfire.
July 9–11, 2023: Each day will start well before sunrise with hot coffee and snacks. We’ll make our way to our sunrise shooting locations mostly in the dark, arriving just before the alpine glow begins. We’ll plan for a big hot breakfast in camp following each morning shoot, followed by some down time for rest. The afternoon hikes will begin at various times based on the location chosen. You will be required to walk to each location carrying your camera pack, water bladder or bottle, rain gear and lunch. On return, dinner will be waiting for us under the stars. On nights with clear skies, we’ll photograph the stars over glacial lakes and gnarled pines.
July 12, 2023: On this final morning in camp, we’ll enjoy the sunrise over a favorite small lake. Then, after a hot breakfast, we’ll pack up and begin the 15-mile ride back to the Diamond 4 Ranch. You’ll be a riding pro by now, so relax and enjoy the views from the saddle! We’ll be back before dark, with time to enjoy a hot shower before dinner.
July 13, 2023: We’ll have breakfast at the ranch, then meet for an extended image review and post-processing instructions. While there is no permanent electricity at the lodge, we’ll have a generator, projector, and large screen at our disposal. The workshop will wrap up at 3:00 PM, at which point we’ll depart the ranch. If you’re driving back to Jackson Hole for your flights home, plan on 4 hours. It’s best to reserve a hotel that night and fly out on the 14th.
Challenging: You are able to handle a strenuous 15 mile horseback ride in and out, and up to 3 miles of walking each day, at elevations of 9–10,000 feet.
Arrive Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), Jackson, Wyoming anytime on July 6, 2023. Flights out can be made anytime on July 14, 2023.
What to Bring
Please see our page How To Prepare For Your Workshop. We will send you a detailed information document 90 days before your workshop. This document will include specifics of where and when to meet, gear and clothing recommendations, and more.
- Shared lodging. Tents are single, cabins are shared.
- All meals, soft drinks, and snacks during the workshop
- All permits and park fees
- All transportation during the workshop
- Tips for crew, drivers, and local guides
- Fully outfitted, guided camping
- Photographic guiding and instruction from 2 pros
- Image reviews and post-processing instruction
- Adventure, fun, inspiration, and a great time!
- Travel to and from Jackson, Wyoming.
- Passport and visa fees (if applicable).
- Any meals or accommodations before or after the workshop dates.
- Items of a personal nature.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Medical Evacuation Insurance (required).
- Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended).
- Anything else specifically not listed as included.
“Exceeded my expectations. This was my first ever workshop of any kind and I did not know what to expect. Marc and Michael were extremely organized and motivated to make the experience a rewarding one for all, no matter the level of the participant. ”