I left Fort Collins on January 20th for a brief visit to Grand Teton National Park to photograph the Teton Range covered with snow. During the long drive around the north slope of the Wind River Range, I started to be concerned about the lack of snow. The roads were clear and the hillsides were bare, including the colorful Painted Valley just outside Dubois, WY.
That all changed as I got closer to Togwotee Pass, which was snow-packed and icy. The drive from Dubois to Jackson took much longer than expected, and I drove much of the way in the dark.
On the 21st, I drove to Glacier Overlook to wait for sunrise. The temperature was well below zero in the pre-dawn darkness, which made waiting difficult, but the sunrise was worth the effort. It took 45 minutes for my hands and feet to warm up after I got back in the Jeep.
I tried to drive to the Mormon Row barns, but Antelope Flats Road was not plowed beyond the first residence, and I forgot my snowshoes, so I could not get to that location. I went as far north in the park as the north end of Jackson Lake, stopping to walk out onto the frozen lake on snowmobile tracks. On the way back, I stopped at Colter Bay Village (completely buried in 4 feet of snow) and Jackson Lake Lodge (closed for the season).
Just below Jackson Lake Dam, the turbulent water of the Snake River was creating clouds of water vapor which quickly froze on the trees along the bank. The resulting "ghost trees" were pretty spectacular.
Later in the evening, I drove to Teton Point Overview to shoot a night sky filled with stars above the Tetons. At this time of year, the brightest part of the Milky Way was not visible, but the sheer abundance of stars was impressive.
On the 22nd, the forecast was for more cloud cover, so I drove to Teton Point Overlook to shoot the sunrise. More clouds above the mountains held the promise of more interesting shots. With clouds to the east, the sunlight hit the mountaintops later, so this time I waited in the Jeep. At about 9AM, the clouds gathered and made a more dramatic background with the peaks still in sunshine.
On the 23rd, I returned to Fort Collins via the southern route through the broad Green River valley between the Wind River and Wyoming ranges.
Along the way, I happened upon an isolated, abandoned cabin that seemed to embody the cold conditions and the wide-open valley.
To see more photos from this trip, please check out the Grand Teton Winter gallery at http://www.mikebucherphotography.com/f513743166